Forays into business

The spirit of entrepreneurialism has yet to possess me.



The spirit of entrepreneurialism has yet to possess me.

My paternal grandfather started his own radiator-repair business right after World War II and didn’t sell the business until the late 1990s when he was in his late 70s. His son (aka Dad) also owns his own business — two businesses, actually — and just celebrated his 70th birthday.

Then there’s me, who has been content to work for “the man” — or “the woman,” more often than not — in multiple corporate settings with varying degrees of dress codes that either ignored my leather pants and blue faux fur coats or wisely banned them when they heard I was on my way. Barring any hauntings from the Ghost of Bad Decisions Past, I have another 30 years left in me before I celebrate my last Christmas as a wage slave — and that’s probably wishful thinking, as people seem to be waiting longer to retire these days.

Procrastinate as I do, I’m thankful I had workhorse role models in my life, male and female, excelling in careers both professional and domestic.  Yeah, I’d still rather burn my house down than dust the furniture, but I’ve maintained steady employment for 20 years, so go Team Paycheck!

Since childhood, I’ve occasionally entertained — or at least tolerated — the idea of being my own boss. My first foray into business was briefly contemplating selling little cakes I’d make in the Easy-Bake Oven that Santa left me on Christmas Day 1981. No one in my family seemed overly excited to eat “homemade” goodies made fresh from a packet of powder and some tap water, then baked via incandescent light bulb. I quickly realized the market for such treats was too niche to cater to practically. 

A few years later in either third or fourth grade, I decided to hold an art auction in my bedroom. I sketched and colored a variety of pictures — one of which I clearly labeled “masterpiece” — and taped them to my walls, then invited Mom, Dad and my very reluctant brother to bid on items. I made a little more than $1, which was exciting. Not enough to ever do it again, though.

In eighth grade, someone — maybe a fellow student, possibly a transient, who knows — was selling various flavors of stick candy rather cheaply. I bought an entire box of them for 5 cents each with plans to sell them to others for 10 cents each. Sadly, I ate most of them within 24 hours and ended up giving the rest away because I’m nice like that/horrible when it comes to salesmanship.

A feature-writing class in college enabled me to write stuff I could then offer to regional publications, one of which paid $300 for a story I wrote about a bakery. I felt like Pablo Escobar when that check eventually came in. But I learned two things rather quickly back then: 1) Using Pablo Escobar as a reference to how rich I felt wasn’t usually taken well; and 2) Waiting on freelance checks that didn’t come with health insurance, retirement benefits or free parking, which is probably my favorite thing since free chips and salsa at Mexican restaurants, just wasn’t the career choice for me.

Now, here I sit, 39 years old for the third summer in a row, wondering if the be-my-own-boss bug will ever bite and leave its mark … That was an unfortunate metaphor. Anyway, I sometimes fret I haven’t been entrepreneurial enough. Then again, Dad didn’t have his current business until he was almost 60, so maybe there’s hope for me yet — if not for my dusty furniture’s sake, at least for that of my insured health.

 

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