Tag Archives: small business

Friday Afternoon Ramblings – 8/23/2019

In my previous post, I mentioned Nick Hanauer and his belief in a wealth tax. I also pointed out what I see as the shortfalls of redistributing wealth via the government. However, it’s not productive to do that without offering an alternative solution, so as promised, here is my idea for how the super wealthy could impact the lives of average Americans.

On a completely voluntary basis, people with a net worth over one billion dollars could establish foundations that help individuals launch small businesses. Right now, there are millions of working people around the country who have the knowledge and skills to run a small business in their area of expertise, but they lack the capital to purchase the equipment, form the proper entity, and take the plunge into self-employment. They also might lack the knowledge to navigate all of the legal and bureaucratic obstacles.

However, if wealthy individuals like Nick Hanauer provided grants and also business coaches to assist with getting small businesses off the ground, more individuals could have opportunities to be self-sufficient. Because the money is not being filtered through the bloated bureaucracy of government, more of that wealth goes directly to the people Hanauer wants to help.

The major advantage of following this path is that people will have the opportunities to build businesses and wealth for themselves. Instead of government handouts, people will be offered a hand up to self-reliance. Instead of being tethered to larger businesses that may or may not pay decent wages, people from every social stratum could have more equal opportunities based on the effort they are willing to put into growing their businesses.

Obviously, this is merely a thumbnail sketch of the idea, but I believe that it is an idea worth pursuing by those who have the means to make it a reality.

That’s all for now.

Thursday Evening Ramblings – 7/18/2019

I believe in the invisible hand. I believe that when market forces are allowed to function without excessive interference (like onerous regulations or protectionist tariffs) individuals will find an equilibrium for prices and wages.

One factor I’ve never quite understood, and maybe someone out there could explain it to me, is why we fixate on hourly wages for jobs in profit driven businesses. To me, an hourly wage is counterproductive for both the employer and the employee. It offers no incentive for an employee to work harder or be more productive in that position. As long as you show up and do the minimum required, you will earn the set hourly rate.

To me, it makes more sense to establish wage structures that are linked to productivity. If the business as a whole does well, both the employer and the employee earn more money. In the past, before computers were so prevalent, I can understand why this would have been impossible, but today, someone who is skilled at programming and math could easily tailor software for virtually every business that could calculate fair profit sharing wages.

This is an idea that both liberals and conservatives could find common ground on and improve the lives of just about everyone. I’ve worked in a broad range of businesses, and I could see this being applied everywhere I’ve ever worked. I once knew the owner of a repair shop who did this for his mechanics, and he said that his business absolutely exploded after he made the switch. Suddenly, those Friday afternoon jobs that normally were left until Monday morning weren’t quite as difficult to complete because the mechanic wanted the pay on this check.

If I were a person of influence, this would be my cause: to unite employers and employees in productivity-based wages instead of a set hourly rate.

That’s all for now.

Tuesday Afternoon Ramblings – 7/9/2019

On Black Friday of 2016, I found a cheap chainsaw on sale for $99. I heat my home 100% with wood, so at that point in my life, the deal seemed worth it. Unfortunately, the worthless piece of junk tore up within 4 months, and the company refused to cover it under warranty. In related news, I will never purchase another Poulan product for the rest of my life.

In March 2017, I had about $200 credit available on my card and about $150 cash. I was just getting the first baby steps of the tree and landscaping business going when that POS chainsaw laid down on me. At that point, I had to make a choice: buy another cheap POS or get something of quality.

At a local hardware store, I found the 18″ Shindaiwa pictured above for $309, plus tax. After tax, I had less than $5 left on my credit card. That was a difficult choice to make. If the tool doesn’t live up to the ratings, I’m broke. However, there comes a point when you have to take a chance. In economic terms, this is called measuring risk and reward.

I’ve used the Shindaiwa for 2 1/2 years now. It’s my primary tool in the business. The only one that rivals it is my Tanaka weed eater, but that’s a post for a different day. The chainsaw has broken down three times. Two were covered under warranty, but one was a wear item. I’ve probably used $600 worth of chains and bars in that timeframe. I’ve downed some sizable trees and processed a lot of firewood with it.

Looking back, that decision, to scrape together all of my capital and use it to make one major purchase for the business was one of the best steps I’ve taken. The tool has paid for itself a dozen times over and continues to do so. A mediocre tool might have gotten me through one year, but then I would have been replacing it, spending at least the same total amount of money in a shorter timespan. I’ll probably replace that saw within the next year, but it will always hold a special place as the cornerstone of this business.

That’s all for now.

Wednesday Evening Ramblings – 6/26/2019

I’ve always felt like something of an anomaly. I have a strong dislike for large government and authoritarianism, but I tend to be pretty progressive about social matters. In my youth, because I came from a blue collar background, I studied Marxism and dreamed of a proletarian utopia, but after deeper analysis, I came to see the beauty of free markets. As a result, I’ve never felt at home with either political party.

I’ve always considered myself an independent moderate with a strong libertarian leaning. I’ll admit that I used to have a severe dislike for most conservative philosophies, but honestly, since I got out of jail, the people who have shown me the most love, compassion, and mercy have been conservatives. The majority of people who ghosted me are liberals. Something like that makes you rethink your own prejudices.

If I had to give myself a true political label, I would say I’m a neoliberal, which isn’t to be confused with a Democratic liberal. Neoliberals believe that free markets and economics are the keys to personal and social liberty. The reason why Marxism fails is because it doesn’t take into account that people are going to act in their own best interests most of the time. It’s impossible for any monolithic, central government to operate efficiently enough to account for individual taste, individual ambition, individual ingenuity. However, free markets can.

In our system, you have the opportunity to choose your own profession. You have the opportunity to start your own business. Yes, there are inequalities and not everyone starts out on equal footing, but I’ve seen numerous examples of people who started with nothing and built thriving enterprises. The mother of one of my best friends in college was from Vietnam. She barely spoke English when she moved to Memphis with her GI husband. After their divorce, she had virtually nothing, yet because of her personal ambition, intelligence, and will, she built a very successful import business.

I’ve also seen the opposite. Spoiled kids who had every advantage and opportunity, yet somehow managed to fumble it all away, usually through debauchery and laziness.

I wanted more than anything to be a novelist. That ambition drove me to study hard in college, practice crafting stories throughout my late teens and early twenties, and produce a damn fine fantasy series. It never caught on commercially, so in some respects, I failed in that career. But I learned so much about myself and the world and business that I wouldn’t trade the experience for anything.

Now, I have a small tree and landscaping business that I literally started with my own two hands. I work hard everyday, but I’m happy and content with the value I add to people’s lives. I’m not wealthy, but that’s okay because I’m growing something that feels real. Anyone can do the same. Anyone can find a skill they have and apply it to solving problems in other people’s lives. That’s what free markets are all about.

That’s all for now.

Friday Afternoon Ramblings – 6/21/2019

Two and a half years ago, I had a hand-me-down Pontiac on its last legs, a handful of tools that were mostly worn out, and not much else. The lady I had been working for online sent me a message one afternoon that said some friends of hers needed some dirt moved around for a flower bed. That was her pitch. Some dirt moved around.

I have a master’s degree in writing. Once upon a time, I was a bestselling author, ranked number #134 of all books on Amazon. Not all fantasy books. All books, fiction and nonfiction. I was #2 in fantasy. I’ve delivered presentations to crowds of hundreds. I was a college instructor for over 16 years.

A tiny sliver of me felt insulted, humiliated, and demeaned that I had been reduced to moving around some dirt. But only a tiny sliver.

The rest of me saw an opportunity. Building a flower bed is my kind of work. Physical labor, dirt, nature. I could already see the flowers growing. In the back of my mind, I thought: landscaping business.

See, here’s the beauty of America and the free market. Everything is capital. You don’t have to have money to possess capital. An idea is a form of it. Your skills are a form of it. Anything and everything you can imagine can be transformed into an asset. I didn’t have much material wealth, but I did have a strong body, a broad knowledge base, a plethora of skills, and a vision for becoming my own boss.

Anyone who is willing to take the risks and put in the effort can develop their own business. The universe is full of problems that need to be solved, and people and businesses are willing to pay to have their problems taken care of.

That’s all for now.

Draxis Soaps

My friends Kevin and Sarah Jo are trying to expand their con circuit business. They make custom soaps with fandom themes. Please, take a look at their Kickstarter page and help them out. All levels of pledging receive samples. Kevin has been a big supporter of mine for several years, so I’d love to help drive a few backers his way. If you can, please help them expand their business.

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/769009678/draxis-soaps-homemade-themed-soaps