Every so often, I get a great idea for a business. Then I discover that somebody else has been doing whatever it is since 1873, or that maybe my idea is illegal or violates the laws of physics. Sometimes I get a little bit further and reserve a domain name or two, but when I get to the part about actually making it happen, I get flummoxed and start watching dog videos on Twitter. That’s because in between having an idea and becoming a rich business boss, there are a lot of annoying details. I know all about that now, because I finally launched a business. By which I mean, my wife and her sister launched a business. I don’t know what that makes me, in terms of the org chart, but I’m hoping to work my way up to kept man.
I won’t tell you what this company sells because I’m not a shill and I’m sure you’ll learn soon enough, when it becomes an evil globe-striding colossus that you can’t live without. But I can tell you why most people don’t start a company. And that’s because it’s just way easier not to.
Let’s assume you have a product. Are you going to make the product yourself? Who’s going to supply the materials? What are you going to call it? You’ll need to design a logo. And then get labels. And packaging. And inserts for the packaging, with instructions. And then packaging for the packaging, because your awesome stuff needs an incognito wrapper for the mail. Congratulations: You’re in business!
Just kidding. You still need to open a bank account. And form an LLC. But before you do that, you should get a post-office box, so that the LLC isn’t registered to your home address, just in case some huge fan/murderer wanted to look you up and come over for an unscheduled visit. Now you’re all set.
Joking! Sorry, you’re nowhere close. You need a website, and possibly one that can handle e-commerce. So you reserve a URL and decide which company’s hosting it. For the site itself, you need a behind-the-scenes platform to build it, so you choose one of those, too, and plow forward. But wait: Your products on your site look like butt, because you’re not a photographer. Time for a professional photo shoot! OK, now you can finish your website and flick the switch and make that sucker live.
I mean, almost. You also need to figure out plans for marketing, advertising and social media. And accounting and taxes and storage, if you’ve got inventory. Then you’re ready for a grand-opening party. Or probably not, but at this point you’re doing it anyway because otherwise it’ll be the year 2075 and you’ll still be going back and forth with your label supplier because some of them are a little bit crooked.
So my wife, Heather, and her sister, Elena, had their opening party at a wine store/bar. The store agreed to host in exchange for bringing in some wine-swilling clientele. My role was to wear a branded T-shirt and hang around eating cheese. Or at least, that was my role as I defined it. That’s the great thing about working at a startup—we don’t get hung up on old-fashioned corporate structures or whether anyone is “actually helping” or “weirding out the customers.”
It wasn’t long before there was a glitch: The wireless credit card reader wouldn’t pair with Heather’s phone, because Bluetooth devices only work when it doesn’t matter. Got a portable speaker playing some background music? That sucker will keep playing 311 even if the rest of your house burns down around it. But if someone’s standing there trying to pay you money, that’s when your phone will be like, “Hey, I can’t find that money-collecting thingamajig, but how about we connect to that heated coffee mug you got for Christmas? I’m good to go on that!” Luckily, I solved the problem because I’m an IT genius, meaning I turned the card reader off and back on without even getting much cheese on it. I guess I can put that on my resume now.
I think the event went well. They sold some stuff and people drank wine and we only had one complaint, from a couple who got home and realized that Elena forgot to put a few of their purchases in their bag. Whoops. She’ll have to reprimand herself during her next performance review with herself.
Now that we’re past the interminable planning stages, I think this business is kind of fun. Especially since I’m just on the periphery, rooting for it to take off. I know some men feel threatened if their wives make more money than them, but not me. I’ll be happy to go full Billy Madison and ride dirt bikes around our compound while Heather kills it on the corporate front. I expressed that sentiment to my friend Dan, and he said, “Oh, all the way. I’d be perfectly happy to be the lazy lion of the pride, indolently flicking my tail as the females go on the hunt.” I think he means it’d be cool if his wife bought him a dirt bike.
I don’t know where this is gonna go, but hopefully in a few years I’ll be sitting on my yacht laughing about Irish tax inversions with fellow captains of industry. Or their husbands. ◆
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