I took an interesting side job last week. Karen Magee, a good friend and hockey teammate (and one half of the Wonderfuls who owned now-closed Jake’s Downtown), runs her own successful business consulting...business. I knew she worked a lot with start-ups, and I’ve stood in awe before at her grasp of business situations, but I didn’t even have the mental tools to imagine all the different things involved in starting your own company. It’s all a bit over my head, to be honest. Karen’s one of those friends you know from locker-room banter and post-game margaritas who turns out to be a wicked-capable professional in her off-ice life. I love that dichotomy.
Anyway, Karen had mentioned needing someone to write business plans. This, as I mentioned above, seemed a bit out of my league. I mean, I place this in the category of grant writing and legal documents—it’s all English, but the rules and emphases are sneaky and different. So I did my usual and backed slowly into the situation.
I was totally surprised, though: It’s actually kind of fun. I mean, even beyond the fact that all the information is provided for you, which is certainly a bonus. I was telling Copy Editor Megan that it’s kind of like those SAT reading comprehension questions, where you have a couple paragraphs to read and then answer a few questions, except in this case they’re like little essay questions. “Write a paragraph using demographic and target customer information to demonstrate the viability of the business.” And it’s absolutely logorrhea ecstasy. I get to take a couple of tidbits of information and write the absolute hell out of them. Turn 10 words into 200. It’s a lot like being on a full-sided soccer field again: all that green grass and the opportunity to just run.
And god, it really gets you dreaming about starting your own business, taking a concept and assigning all these concrete qualities to it. Hammering out the details of a budget and marketing plan, even just printing and distributing brochures, making a website, researching market viability and competition and arguing that this new business is, in fact, needed; accounting for every little expense, right down to the staples, and thinking about being successful and buying all the staples you need. It’s so thorough and satisfying.
It also reminds me of that scene from Transpotting where Rent enthuses about the pace and vocabulary involved in his new real estate job.
So in between adding up market growth and demonstrating solutions to “critical issues,” my mind wanders. I think about starting my own business, a bookstore that sells beer, maybe (heh). I think about making the signs and printing out flyers, about coming up with a business name and logo, about determining location and expenses and working the counter. What beers would I stock? What books? How much fun would it be to research inventory for both? I love the idea of being oh-so-very prepared for everything before taking even the first step. Putting so much preparation and research into it makes it feel safe and comforting.
I dunno, whaddya think? What’s your business dream?