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  D.F.'s Column Archive

August 23, 2006

No More Boss? The Joke’s On You, Newbie Entrepreneur!


Tell me the best thing about being an entrepreneur, said the joker to the thief.


Being rid of my boss, from whom I can’t get no relief!


Ah yes. No boss. I remember that pipe dream too. I will make my own rules and set my own destiny, and the best thing is I can never be fired and I will always get a fair performance review!


Since then, I have had more bosses than most people have weekends. And I’ve probably been fired more times than Billy Martin, although in fairness he kept getting fired over and over again by the same guy.


All these bosses are known by day as “customers” or “clients,” and by necessity, they are many in number. (If they’re not, you will soon return to having only one.) Because you have so many different bosses, you are virtually assured – at all times – of having the best boss, the worst boss and every kind of boss in between.


My most recent worst boss waited until I drove two hours to a meeting at his office to inform me that I am completely unqualified for the task I was hired to perform, and that everyone in his company hates my work. He is thorough. He followed up in writing and told me all the same things, helpfully carbon-copying his attorney.


Of course, he fired me.


Well! When your horrible boss fires you, at least you don’t have a horrible boss anymore, right?


Not if you’re an entrepreneur, Bunky! There’s still the one from two years ago who never paid me, then ran up my legal bills while he opened online casinos out of Venezuela. (Hugo Chavez gets a cut of the action and I get nothing? Oh that is so unfair, boss.) In between Mr. Hypercritic and Mr. Black Jack, there was the real estate broker who let his secretary send me a memo saying: “I am troubled by your poor righting ability.”


Bosses galore!


This one asks if you’re available for a meeting in 45 minutes. That one sends you a memo giving you a week’s notice on a requested meeting, then isn’t there when you show up. A week is too long for him to remember! One fired me after a week because of my close, professional connection to the evil power brokers who murdered her father and stole his brain. I could probably use connections to people like this, but as far as I know, they exist only in the brain of my erstwhile boss, which is regrettably still inside her skull.


Of course, the entrepreneur has some great bosses too. They appreciate your work, pay you fairly don’t make a federal case out of it when you make the occasional mistake. And fortunately for most of us, the good ones comprise the vast majority of the bosses for whom we work.


But entrepreneur beware. Going off on your own does not free you from the scourge of bad bosses. Quite the contrary, it makes them a permanent fixture in your life. If you have several customers, one of them has to be the worst. So, you say? Quit that account! Does you no good. You merely shorten the list, and the next-worst boss takes over the position of dishonor.


At least the bad-boss experience for entrepreneurs is filled with variety. Bad business relationships rarely last long, so you get to quickly file them into the memory bank or – as we call it at my company – the Hall of Arseclowns.


It’s wise to have a sense of humor about such things in business, and not to judge yourself too harshly because of the inevitable fact that someone, somewhere, will find you to be a complete and utter hack.


“Even so, they can’t all fire me at once!” says the undeterred, fresh-faced newbie. That is generally true, although if anyone can do it . . .


Nearly seven years into the no-boss experience, and knowing full well that the next bad boss is only a soon-to-be-regretted phone call or e-mail away, you might think I’d rethink the whole idea of being an entrepreneur.


What? And work for somebody else? What kind of crazy arseclown idea is that?



© 2006 North Star Writers Group. May not be republished without permission.


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