More On Self-Made Successes...

Continuing where we left off, every time I see someone crowing about successfully running a small business, I hafta ask:  Have you no employees? Because if you do have employees, you aren't doing it all by your lonesome.  As demonstrated in my previous post, employees can make or break your business without even trying.

Are you selling a product where you must acquire stock or inventory from a 3rd party?

Are you providing a service that requires specialized equipment?

Are you part of a franchise?

...if so, capitalist, please...

Let's make this as simple as possible; let's say you have a business that provides your services to other businesses and / or individuals:  A lawyer, for example, or a prostitute.[1]

Now, in both cases what is being bought & sold is access to your talents and abilities.  Theoretically you could operate your business with no capital outlay for equipment, office space, etc.

Theoretically you do not require a formal education for either profession.  To be a lawyer all you have to do is pass the state bar exam, to be a prostitute all you have to do is pass a bar.[2]

But try acquiring the necessary knowledge to pass a star bar exam without going to law school, or at the very least having access to an extensive legal library.  Yeah, I suppose you could be lucky and just guess correctly if the bar exam is multiple choice[3], but chance favors the prepared mind, and to get access to that knowledge you are forced to rely on hundreds if not thousands of scholars, lawyers, and lawmakers who preceded you, accumulating a vast storehouse of knowledge that you could tap into.

If you labored in a salt mine for 20+ years to earn enough money to attend law school, then I guess you feel a bit more pride in your accomplishment than if you just got a loan or had wealthy family to put you through school.[4]

You're still relying on a vast army that preceded you, to help pave the way, to help set standards and precedent and accumulate knowledge that you could exploit.

Past that point, you are a self-made success only if you support yourself entirely through walk-in trade.  Networking?  Passing out business cards?  Gotta website?  Again, you're relying on others to help you succeed.[5]

And if you do succeed in either profession, you better believe you're gonna need a support team muy pronto:  Somebody to handle office correspondence, arrange appointments, bribe police officers, etc.[6]

This is not to say being either a lawyer or a prostitute doesn't require a lot of hard work, or that one's success in either profession doesn't tie in tightly with one's abilities.

But it does mean you don't go it alone, that you need some form of mutual aid and support.  At the very least you're going to need a clientele base.

(...and granted, sometimes it takes only one...)




[1]  Yes, I know it's an unfair comparison.  My apologizes to the prostitutes.

[2]  They can't all be winners, folks...

[3]  In fact, I can name a few lawyers who I think got their license just that way.

[4]  In Japan, where Western Judeo-Christian morality has less of an impact on cultural mores, it is not uncommon for a young woman to finance her way through college by agreeing to be a businessman's mistress, thus providing an overlap between our two chosen professions.

[5]  That gate swings both ways.  If you want people to talk up your skills, you need to promote the skills of others.  Too many "self-made" successes think it's always only about them & that they're saps to offer help or moral support to anyone else.

[6]  This could apply to either profession.



Dropping A Dime

True Story, Grace Will Bear Me Out: Mr. Guy