If a resignation falls in the woods, and nobody is there to hear it…

11 Jun

So I’m at my wits end. Take the multiple ceiling collapses that keep happening around my house due to a faulty roof, multiply it by a bratty toddler, a screaming infant and a regret-less wife, add infinite zero incoming work and subtract the fact that I haven’t been able to bring much (if any) new business since Christmas 2012 and you get the summation of my ridiculously unprofitable year so far.

In the meantime, a stellar client that I picked up just before all this fun stuff hit the fan is suffering, because I decided to let myself be thrown into a project, that from the word jump, has been consistently unprofitable and still to this day has little value. If they were a client, I could easily say that they were violating my 80/20 rule. That rule basically says that they are eating up 80% of my resources while accounting for less than 20% of my revenue. In all honesty, they’re more like a 75/0 rule (which mathematically shouldn’t exist anyway — divide by zero). They’re eating up 75% of any sort of “free time” I have at all (which isn’t much to begin with) while providing absolutely ZERO income.

But I digress. Here’s more to my point. A wise man once told me that there is a difference between a hobby and a business.

A hobby is something that you not only love to do, but it doesn’t matter how much time (or money or sacrifice) you throw put into it. It’s not meant to generate a profit and is all for fun. It doesn’t hurt anybody and it doesn’t take away from your bounty, mainly because you have a surplus. I know some folks like that, blessed that they are, and God-speed on their hobbies.

A business is for profit. It is a money generating machine, whereby you place time, money, sacrifice and service into this “magic black box” and an excess of currency comes rolling out the other side. You then take this newly generated income and either put it into your own affairs (the fruits of one’s labor) or you put it back into said business (advertising, promotions, expansion, improvements, growth, so forth). At some point you either sell said business or you dissolve it.

Nobody likes to be in a “tree house” business. That has always been my own little term for these little fad start-ups like back in the “tech bubble” days. It’s basically a hobby trying to be a business. If you want to see a good example of folks who have had to endure such a business, go visit oddtodd.com or someone similar.

Basically you get hired by these businesses that somehow received an over-abundance of funding for a market that the owners of said business have no honest clue how to actually penetrate, so they hire a bunch of people, expecting one of them to be some sort of visionary lapdog, but in the meantime the business operates like a hobby with unclear goals, crappy leadership, vague direction, low expectations and eventually  the whole damn thing comes crashing down and the good folks who were mindlessly coming into work every day without a clue what the hell they were supposed to accomplish are greeted with a big “Sorry, we’re closed” sign on the office suite door. In the words of the Todd-meister, when they finally ‘wake up’ they look around and say, “Hey? What the hell happened..??”

Usually when I get involved with a business, I expect a clear-cut notion of where in the hell it is going, what its end-goal is and to what duration we (as a group of folks trying to accomplish all of this) are willing to beat our collective heads against the wall before we simply say “enough is enough” and call it quits. I expect to know exactly what I am to be doing at any given time during this process, and low-and-behold, I expect a minimum level of compensation. I have taken it in the shorts way too many times with these “hobbies” and “tree house” businesses to want to endure yet another round of it. Tack on the fact that I have a family that I am responsible for, then you see why I simply do not have time to play games anymore.

Since I am already less than impressed by the notion of receiving gratitude over monetary compensation, you can probably understand why I am weary of putting forth sponsorship of certain projects using my company’s name. If that company does something inappropriate or contrary to something that myself or someone representing my company would do, then that sponsorship actually hurts my company’s reputation. For instance, if I sponsored some sort of art group, and they were displaying lewd performance art or a crucifix in a jar full of urine, then those whom my business serves (who would not be too fond of such things) would certainly take offense to my association with such a group. The consequences of that could easily lead to losing said client and therefore losing revenue from that client. I would immediately drop my sponsorship from that group in order to attempt to salvage my reputation, unless of course I was making some sort of statement or taking a stand against some atrocity, whereby I would take such a monetary hit with some sort of value of pride at least.

Needless to say I found myself in quite a predicament these past few weeks when an outfit that I was performing technical work for decided to outright bash an individual who was closely tied to a larger group of people that make up a significant portion of my clientele. To make the situation worse, I could have just as easily turned the situation in all of our favors, if I had been made aware that this outfit was poised to take this action, instead of finding out entirely after the fact. Sure, there appeared to be a nuance of back-pedaling from their actions, but in the end, it is like Glenn Beck once explained on one of his shows while at Fox — (paraphrasing) when he says something, he has to stick behind it. If he lets fly an opinion of somebody, integrity had better follow along with it. Sure, that opinion may eventually change, but if someone got up every morning and back-tracked from what they said the day before, after a while people would quit listening to that person until after they came back with their retractions. That doesn’t display character or integrity thereof. So, the bashing had to stand. Over the next week to ten days, as this slowly made its way to the ears of my clientele, I began to receive feedback that was just as I expected and not favorable to this outfit. By design the question was posed (directly and indirectly) as to why I was continuing to support this outfit. Without any significant monetary compensation to endure such a debacle, I turned in my resignation.

That resignation was ignored, to the best that I can fathom. In fact, the verbal gratitude has increased, but now with the added loss of monetary compensation, this has become a real lose/lose proposition. To keep what is left of my own personal integrity, I am deciding to go ahead with continuing with this outfit only for a little while longer, only because I see a slight glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel. It immediately caused me to review the status of this outfit, to where I determined that it was not being ran like a business at all. It was not generating any revenue and for the most part, the product being delivered had little significant value in and of itself. It was not being adequately promoted, advertised or otherwise circulated. It made me sad to think that I was spending all this time and effort and sacrificing significant time on this hobby that was making very few people happy and me miserable. Usually when a hobby stops being fun, you quit. When a business stops being fun, then you stop what you’re doing and fix it.

So I’ve looked over some ways to dove-tail some aspects in that may or may not benefit myself and/or my business in the next couple of days. If it works out, then great. If it doesn’t then I guess I’ll just resign again. This time I guess I’ll put a greater point on it. In the end, if I’m going to waste my time, it will be on something that I enjoy doing and also something that doesn’t cause me to have to sacrifice time with my family or the income that I need to sustain them.

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