The Cost of Doing Business

by Gig Girl on March 11, 2010

Every Sunday evening I create an Action Item List with my husband, Scott, to attack during my upcoming week.  This week I had but one daunting task.  Work on my home business plan.  Scott actually verbalized the bullet point first and I had to agree with him.  Due to playing part-time techie on Gig Girl, I had been severely neglecting creating my business plan.  It surprised me that he noticed it as well.  I thought I could successfully distract him with all the work I’ve done on my logo, datasheet and marketing material (aka “The Fun Stuff”) but he quickly saw through the facade and suggested working on putting a  thorough plan in place so once my LLC gets approved I’m ready.  FINE!  Work on home business plan went on the top of my list.  And then my little brother called my cell…

I’ll spare you the blow by blow (you’ll get the intended pun in a moment) but essentially my brother Donny called to ask if I could help him with some marketing/PR duties for his latest business venture.  His company is hosting a huge exhibition and he needed someone to do a little legwork, run some research and make some calls to local media outlets to start talking up the event.   What exactly is the event you ask?  Wait for it….wait for it…CAGE FIGHTING!  Professional and highly-competitive CAGE FIGHTING.  So to illustrate just how diametrically opposed our worlds have truly become, while I’m navigating through critically life altering decisions such as “Can I get just one more wear out of this sweatshirt if I flick that scrap of last night’s dinner off the front?” my sole sibling is President of a company that is coordinating and hosting the first sanctioned Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) fight in MA  It’s weird to feel so proud and so exactly like Danny DeVito to his Arnold Schwarzenegger at the same time…

Checking my calendar out of habit before remembering it’s always wide open, I agreed to help him out pro bono for a myriad of reasons.  He’s my kid brother, I adore him and I want to support him.  Event planning is something I’ve done professionally and will actually be part of my business plan so this counts as field experience.  But most importantly, what girl doesn’t want to add extensive knowledge of highly-trained athletes tousling each other in a giant steel pen for sport to her vernacular and resume??  No brainer!  Immediately hanging up the phone, Scott and I strategized a second action item list with ways to help my brother.  “Just remember,” he said “You can help your brother out and still have time to work on your business plan”.  No problem!!

Except, of course, it was a problem.  I woke up and off I went proofing media copy, contacting local newspapers/radio stations and reaching out to the marketing director at the Lowell Auditorium.  I talked up the event to everyone I connected with, including a very young and effortlessly cool sales rep at one of the radio stations.  “I checked out the website. This event is going to be super sick,” she said.  “Oh yeah…super duper sick,” I said cringing at how doughy and old I must sound.  Who says duper?

Throughout the day I’d touch base with Scott for any insight or suggestions he may have come up with (which he did) and my biggest fan (who isn’t a blood relative) would cheer “Great job!  Don’t forget you have to work on your business plan.”  No problem!

Except, of course, it was still a problem.  As my day concluded I had gotten some good leads for Donny to follow up on, forwarded along several cost proposals for ads and put together an excel spreadsheet outlining the name of every contact I made with company, business title, media options and a status column with notes about our conversation.  Scottie came home and listened to every detail about my busy day and was truly engaged in our dialogue.  “I’m so proud of you!  That’s great!  Do you want to look at your business plan after we eat?” he asked.

Indignantly tossing my head and turning from him I said “Listen!  Enough already about the business plan!  Some people write about business and some people do business!  And as long as your definition does not include actual payment for services rendered, today sir, I WAS DOING BUSINESS!”

Yeah, I’m really going to have to get working on that business plan tomorrow…

{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

Kristin March 11, 2010 at 11:59 am

I think many of us automatically retreat to what is familiar while shying away from the thing we most fear: unfamiliar territory. Sounds like your previous job experience lent itself to the things you did to market your brother. It’s easy to call up those skills still fresh from job experience and it makes the unfamiliar experience of working from home feel familiar. You’re used to handling several phonecalls and making inquiries and taking notes and following up and all of those other things you could do one handed while handling a migraine and planning a birthday party for your 6 year old.
Another thing I learned when asked by another photographer to help market her: It is much easier to market someone else than it is to market ourselves. We can take pride in getting them visibility and traffic while running the show behind a black curtain of anonymity. It is our reputation as trusted friend or relative that is on the line, not our own business reputation. Pushing someone else’s agenda is always easier than pushing our own because we can hide if it fails.
Creating your own business plan is a HUGE responsibility and probably completely unfamiliar. You’ve been contributing to the business plan of another entity your whole life but all of a sudden it’s just you. I think that Scott’s insistence that it be placed at the top of the list is his way of demonstrating his investment and interest in your success and fulfillment at home. He doesn’t want to see you get bored or frustrated. He knows how capable you are and his continued checking in is his way of investing himself in the plan. He can’t be doing it just to nag you, can he? That would be just plain mean of him.
While creating your business plan is a priority, so is recharging your batteries. Making sure you are ready to be the entrepreneur you want to be may mean investing in the tools you need: a fabulous massage and pedicure and a seminar at the local university on creating a business plan. If it’s something you’ve never done before it may be hard to know where to start and the familiar things in reach will always be the things you get to first. Baby steps. Break it down even further. Maybe getting information on the creation of a business plan comes first……..right after some super duper high test margaritas and a soak in the hot tub to “solidify the plan”.

Betsy March 11, 2010 at 12:50 pm

So are those his wonderful signs I see when I get off 93 at exit 46?

GG March 11, 2010 at 2:31 pm

So funny you should say that about putting what we least want to do at the bottom of the list. My brother and I had this very conversation this morning! I have been having so much fun with the cage fighting (now there’s a sentence I never expected to pen) that I just went with it.
As for Scottie – his motive is truly altruistic. I actually have a meeting with a business advisor from the state on March 22nd and the plan has to be done by then! So he’s attempting to keep me on track, which deep down I do understand and appreciate. We actually both cracked up laughing at my ridiculous statement as soon as I said it . Who says “today, sir” in real life conversation?? Between that and “duper” I feel like I should start greeting my family in starched dresses from the 40’s and working in phrases like, “Thanks, doll.” and “You’re the bees knees”.
But good news – I wrote this article Monday. And today I put together 5 pages of the plan! So I shall feel no guilt gulping down super duper magheritas or any other libation the weekend may bring my way. YAY!!

fracas March 16, 2010 at 1:20 am

You are not going to believe this, but before I ever logged in at my blog to see your comment and come here to read your blog and see you mention your brother’s business… my teen had talked about your brother’s business earlier today.

Is that not weird?

Glad you stopped to leave a comment. Hugs from this stranger regarding your difficult year, but I have a feeling you’ll be a huge success at your new business and that things will be alright.

Gig Girl March 16, 2010 at 9:06 am

Too funny about your teen – for me, cage fighting has been like purchasing a car you’ve never heard of before…and then seeing it being driven on the road everywhere! It’s been an interesting venture, that’s for sure.
And thank you for the good thoughts, they are much appreciated. I just happened across your blog and it’s great! Looking forward to updates!!

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