Sunday, 14 October 2012

Business Startups: Avoid the Vanity Business

Vanity Publishing: This is when you pay to have your book published because no publisher believes strongly enough in the commercial potential of your book to cover the costs.

Vanity Business: This is when you run a business that is not profitable.

There are lots of benefits in owning  a Vanity Business. The main one is that you appear successful and expert to your friends and family. You get to boss people about and shake hands on equal terms with lovely people who run Proper Businesses. You can have serious discussions about Marketing Budgets. You can bandy about the words: develop, growth, entrepreneurial. You can be suddenly generous with your time and resources and cry that you have the best customer service in town. You can give jobs to people that would not otherwise have jobs and love yourself for it. All of these fun things are underpinned by the sneakiest of the Seven Deadly Sins: Pride.

The only problem with the Vanity Business is that it is not viable unless you are already rich. If you are going to make like Marie Antoinette, then you better have the funding of Marie Antoinette.

This morning I came down from Cloud Cuckoo Land for long enough to face the fact that may be a vanity business. Last week, my and my team worked consistently hard. Customers came in with their broken computers and left smiling with their fixed computers. Several mentioned that we were wonderful and one bought me a bottle of Prosecco and some beer for the lads. I won't bore you with the figures, but our income was 50% of our expenses.

This was not a freaky week. It was a typical week.

Six people are reliant on I mean reliant in the sense that if the business fails they may have insufficient food. Four are employees and two are my children.Oh hang on! There's a seventh person! Tch! I forgot about me!

A thing I hear a lot is that I must be doing all right if I've survived 6 years of economic difficulty. I always love to hear this and generally I smile and admit that it must be so. It was only in the early hours of this morning that it hit me. A profit of £0 is easy to maintain even during years of dark recession.

If you want to start a new business, watch out for that pride. The following categories of entrepreneur need to be extra careful:

  • women who are used to trying to make everyone happy at their own expense
  • parents who view everybody as their children and needful of their selfless aid
  • people who grew up in non-commercial families. In my own family, we discussed the books we had read and explored new ways of calculating the area under graphs and were slightly appalled and embarrassed by the very existence of money.
Oh my business-starting friends! Learn from my mistakes! 

And Oh Dear Me! Maybe I can learn too....


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