Wednesday, February 9, 2011

some real business

The whole business thing got very real today.  I went to a seminar on "Writing a Business Plan" that was hosted by the Seattle chapter of SCORE.  SCORE is an organization that offers free one on one counseling for people starting or owning small businesses.  Retired business professionals offer their services to do the counseling, and teach classes and seminars.  And amazingly enough (I don't know why I find this amazing...maybe because I feel so busy and broke, so I can't imagine offering this much time for free) everyone there, the teachers and the librarian....everyone, seemed truly interested in other people's business success.  Jerry, our main teacher for the day, was telling us a story about one of this clients and he mentioned that he was on the phone with her last night...from his home!  and then emailed this same client at 5am this morning, because he was thinking about her situation and thought of another way to help her.  Wow.  Jerry and our other teachers shared many stories of people like us, with dreams of owning a business or those that has succeeded and then had some pitfall.  Every time Jerry told a story, he used the pronoun "we"; he saw himself as a part of that budding business and has even become long time friends with some of his clients.  I loved the personal stories.

The day started off a little stressful.  Jamie had to work at 7am (thankfully, he is working again right now.) and I had to catch a bus at 7:40am.  The kids need to be to school by 9am.  Thankfully Amy offered to walk the kids to school.  But it hit me at around 11pm the night before that even with Amy walking the kids to school, that left a crucial window of one hour with no one to be with the kids.  With Lily being nearly 11, usually that is not an issue, but in the morning...before school, the variables for meltdowns are too great to leave her with that responsibility.  So again, thankfully, Amy said she would come down at 8am and assist in the getting ready for school thing.  Whew.  I ran out the door and two blocks (uphill) at 7:40 and caught by bus by seconds.  I got all checked in on time at the seminar, and was enjoying the desk to myself, the crappy coffee with powdered creamer, and listening to the small talk about weather when Jerry finally started the day.  I felt fresh and engaged.  Then my phone buzzed.  It was Amy calling.  fuck.  I discreetly texted her to find out that Tallulah was refusing to go to school.  fuck again.

 I left the class and called her from the hallway, and she put TJ (Tallulah June) on the phone.  TJ was whining, loudly.  Crying about hating school, and why can't they go back to Bright Water (the private school we decided we did not want to pay for she cried and held on for dear life when I left her there last year too)  Anyway, after I talked her down off the ledge, I went back into class.  (I later found out it was probably more Lily that helped "the brat" as she fondly refers to her walking to school)  I was way less fresh and engaged, more like cracked out from bad coffee and frazzled from the satellite parenting.  Not to mention feeling horrible about causing Amy duress.  The best part was that Amy texted me to say..."now I feel like I understand more what Louis CK is talking about with the whole parenting thing."

So, aside from all that, the class was great and very informational for me.  I got to see where my business weaknesses are, as if I did not know that all the numbers and spreadsheets and laws would be the least interesting and most troublesome for me to grasp.  I loved the parts on marketing, and working out the operations of the day to day of a business.  Here are some of my favorite quotes from the day:

"Plan for the future.  Set goals...not too high, and not too low.  Stretch! But don't pull a ligament." -Jerry

"Sometimes you will have to just act, even if you don't have all the information or know what the next step should be." -Jerry

"When the Target of Opportunity comes by, be ready.  Be prepared." -Jerry

"These days competition is defined more by how you do something, rather than what that thing/service is."  -Cindy

"Consumers do not buy a thing/service...they buy what it does for them.  So think about why they would buy from you." -Cindy

"Relationship building works."  (in regards to marketing)  -Cindy

"Celebrate the small victories."  -Cindy

Then we got into the Financial Plan portion of the class, and my detailed note taking sorta dwindled.  Well, not totally, but they just weren't as memorable.  One thing that was mentioned from beginning to end was that the process of writing a business plan is the most important.  It is in the process where you learn about yourself, your strengths and weaknesses, your think everything through thoroughly, and you want that to show.

I am looking forward to sitting down with Amy and going over everything I gathered today.  I am also most likely going to set up a one on one counseling session for starting the business, through SCORE.  I don't have grandparents anymore, and these lovely retirees give me that sense of security and encouragement that I imagine you get from they know a shit ton about business, math, computers, spreadsheets and you won't go broke chasing some unrealistic dream.  Jackpot.



Anonymous said...

I am enjoying following your blog and "watching" you grow. I wish you much success. D.

Melissa Baumgart and Amy Baranski said...

thanks, D.