The Thoughts of Gunnar


Building a company is hard work: My identity is humbled
January 10, 2007, 9:18 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Building a company is hard work: My identity is humbled

For the past 5 months being in Portland, my man Nathan and I have been giving it a full time go making books. I really like Nathan…he is all out.
I have learned a great deal, transitioning into being much more entrepreneurial than I have been before. Grappling with giving up the security of the same paycheck every two weeks or so, and staying on edge, and getting creative have been the biggest rush. Realizing that being an entrepreneur is what I want to do, that has been tested repeatedly as ‘everything has not exactly seemed to go my way.’ Still, I wouldn’t have traded the past 5 months for anything. Not even a never-ending supply of hot carmel corn. (Hot carmel corn is SOOOOO good.)
Nathan and I are beginning to realize that in the mean time, we are going to need to have side jobs in order for the business to make it. Every time we pay ourselves, lately, it has been taking money out of our marketing budget. (Nathan and I have a marketing philosophy: Don’t do it to be cute or just be there…do it to increase sales.)
We are thinking of getting jobs waiting tables at the same place. Waiting tables, we figure, gives us the most flexibility to balance a business start up and making some income, time-wise. We want that flexibility to nurture our baby of a business, and not take from it in it’s infancy, but allow it to grow and prosper. My problem, and my main lack of excitement over the whole thing, is my ego.
My ego doesn’t want to wait tables, because of my college degree, and my top notch high school pedigree. (If you wonder what that means, please look into Sunset High School, in Beaverton, Oregon. The school flat out has produced the most insanely gifted and talented people on the planet…and I am not even talking about the ones that actually got good grades. Sunset ‘failures’ rock the house, so to speak. And don’t get me started on the athletic dominance of my alma mater…) Being married to an awesome wife who graces me to work some long hours makes this whole thing even possible.
My ego wants me to be known as successful in the eyes of others, in work, and in life. My ego doesn’t want me waiting tables anymore. Yet, my ego looks like it is going to get the dagger right in its gut.
Our publishing business tackles an exceptional niche in the marketplace, yet, I have learned, and am learning, that a great product is such a small piece of the entrepreneurial puzzle. There are legal setups, systems of production and marketing, sales follow through, communications, and wise and timely cash flow management to be in place. Working a side job, I believe, can help us fill in some having to pay each other in the mean time, which can be life-saving too.
What I am most concerned about is staying focused on our publishing business. Yes, I want to work wholeheartedly whereever else I work. But I want to maintain the energy, stamina, and passion for the publishing end too. I think I have been grown up for some time now, (at least, relative to myself.) The demands on me being focused and disciplined with my time are coming full steam ahead. Change hurts. In this case, I know it is good. I want to embrace it.
Attempting to grow in being focused, it has hurt the part of me that desires to be ‘king of socialites’ and ‘at every function known to man.’ I would say in time’s past, I have made those things part of my self-imposed identity. That is having to change now, and it doesn’t want to change easily. It is also hard for me to transition from coming home from the office and being free to do anything to coming home and needing to read or study the market to be the best we can be as a company. I have made progress…I guess I beat myself up for everything less than perfection.
Somehow, I will have to grip for the inner strength to handle it if I have to work a shift during a Duck game…which I can see coming. Oh, mercy on my soul. I am thirty, and one thing I ask…to have Duck season tickets, and just at least watch all of their games in the season. Getting paid money, no matter what amount, to work a job while the Ducks are playing, feels very dirty to me, as if I turned my back on my own soul, and on everything that is right. Maybe I can feel better if I read online gossip about shady characters who play for the Ducks, but as a true Duck fan, even though those things may be true, I choose to ignore them and instead read about all of the OSU Beavers who are totally screwing up. I am so open minded.

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