An update, since the world is waiting on me

I think most of these blog posts have to do with me continuing to want to add to the site, but then I never get around to it.  So then a few months go by, and then I decided to write another blog post about how I would like to continue to write blog posts.  I suppose it is some vicious cycle that I just can’t seem to get out of.

Figure 1.  The Blogging Cycle.

Figure 1. The Blogging Cycle.

Actually, I have written a few things, but it has been for my company’s website.  However, I have still decided to hold off on publishing those, because… Well, it’s hard to show anything on my website!  Everything is either in design, in for permitting, or under construction.  As interesting as underground plumbing rough-in is, images of select fill and PVC pipe don’t really state my mission.  But, I guess one sign of me not writing here is: things are actually still going well on the company front.  One of my “career maker” projects is well underway, and maybe I can pay myself (meaning my credit card) back for all of these company expenses.  Although starting an architecture firm is relatively cheap compared to other businesses, it seems like it slowly creeps up on you, especially when bankrolling it without a partner.  Throw on top of that – the decision to do this was right after I made a decision to acquire my first income real estate with a good friend of mine, so say goodbye to tens of thousands of dollars that maybe… I could have used on the business!  I guess by the end of this year, I might add up all of the costs associated with this venture.

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Here is my lease property. It has since been painted, and it is nicer and cooler than my own house.  It is also fully leased.  Yay.

I may have written this here before, I’m not sure, and this Saturday morning, over a nice cup of coffee, or eight of them, I’m not interested in researching it – but the reason I wanted to start this was frankly because a mentor of mine told me:

“if you want to do something in this world, and no one else is doing it, go do it yourself.”

So here I am.  Right now I don’t really look like I’m doing anything differently – I have a small architecture firm with a good team of consultants and contract labor, trying to stay lean through the start-up times, but I plan on truly building it.  However, that’s just the start.  I began the company to eventually develop real estate, which has also been done, and the architecture is a means to help start that venture.  I’m starting my first two development projects, so the business is slowly getting off of the ground, but the deal cycle on those is extremely long…  and the design side keeps growing, so I can’t complain.  The ultimate goal here is to have a design-oriented real estate development company. Honestly I don’t know many successful ones, and none in the area.  So here I am!  Just a chick getting out of the shell, but riding a little wave of success on my way out.  Even though there is nothing on the company’s website, I’m pleased to say that ever since I started this, I have been slowly putting myself into a position to make a real impact on our industry and our city, and I’ll be excited to move expand to the next one (I have a city in my long-range sites).

I took a trip to Marfa in September to write out business plans and get a lot of stuff down on paper.  And take a handful of photos.  I’ll be coming up on six months of that trip, and it will soon be time to revisit and revise it. I looked it over during the New Year, and I know there is a lot that will already need to be changed.  Yes, I’m actually living the advice of writing a business plan, and treating it as a “living document!’  Right now, I guess it is for my benefit only.

View of the Rio Grande as I wrote the first draft of my business plan.  Click the image for my shots of Marfa.

View of the Rio Grande as I wrote the first draft of my business plan. Click the image for my shots of Marfa on Flickr.

So more boring stuff coming your way:

  • Want to start an architecture firm?  This is what it cost me… This will be late in December.
  • I have an upcoming trip, late in the summer, which will include the Philippines and a good portion of China.  This trip will include visiting my sister, who has not left just yet, but has set up her blog here.  I’m also planning on making connections in China, both for development and another little business I want to explore.
  • I’m trying to upload “everyday photos” which aren’t posted every day, but I need some activity on the site!
  • I’ll probably write about my experience on my first half marathon.  Running Sucks.

That’s all I have on the docket right now, other than maybe some shop talk here and there… But for whatever reason, writing and publishing this garbage information is therapeutic to me, so just bear in mind… It’s all about me here.

Owning a business versus owning a job

In my last job, I was an “owner,” at least by title and document.  This had its advantages and drawbacks.  One of the advantages was an eligibility to be a part of EO.  My old place didn’t have the income requirements for full membership (it was also founded in 2008), so I was put into the “accelerator program,” which was more of an education tool to help businesses get to the minimum requirements for full membership.

One f the things they talked a lot about was owning a business versus owning a job.  The premise is pretty simple – if you aren’t there, what happens?  If everything hinges on the business owner, they are tied to it.  Although the benefits and rewards can be different, the fact is: its another job.

It gets worse if you simply “strike it off on your own,” which is what I have done.  Somehow, out of the gate, I have done pretty well.  This is in the midst of several life changes, including boo-hooing for months over some girl that really didn’t love me anyway.  I’ve been distracted and self –destructive, and I feel like the fog is just now thinning out.

This is pretty representative of my business plan as it stands.

This is pretty representative of my business plan as it stands.

Somehow I’ve kept things afloat, but I really I have just been working for myself.  There are a lot of freedoms to that, but I don’t really see this as my end game.  Several People have congratulated me, wishing me good-luck on my entrepreneurial adventure.  Honestly, so far, it hasn’t been one: I’ve surprised myself by maintaining my living without a job, which is pretty cool, but now… I feel like its time to build something..

Next year is already looking really good.  However, as I look at it and get excited about the opportunity that awaits,  I still haven’t figured out how to scale the business – it can’t be completely about me.  Its daunting to  think about the expenses of all of that – office space, medical insurance, salaries… At least I’m not out looking to buy a factory and dealing with raw materials, inventory, etc… So honestly the barrier to entry isn’t that high.  But its still a lot for someone who is earning his own way.  But I’ve decided to focus on it.  Step by step.

What is your End Game?

Someone asked me that a week or so ago.  To be honest, I really don’t know at this point what my real end game is.  It is something I will put on my agenda for my “reset” trip.   I have a small list of things to accomplish while I am there, and I honestly can’t wait for the time to come.

Come to think of it, I better book that trip.

This is me back when I knew what my plan was.  What happened?

This is me back when I knew what my plan was. What happened?

Anyway, it is something to think about, especially when you’re striking out on your own.  Right now, I am already starting to worry about how I will accomplish everything I want to accomplish.  I have a lot of work ahead of me – a lot that will earn me quite a bit of fee.  But at some point you have to stop saying “yes.”  If you’re not smart about it, you just wind up spinning your wheels, missing our targets, and then things start to go sour for everyone.

So you have to start thinking – do I want to expand?  What does that look like?  What does another person do to my business?

I have a general idea of where things will go.  A general business plan.  This will get hammered out a little bit during the weeks to come.  But there is something more.  When someone asked me that question, he was asking ME: what is YOUR end game?

At the end of the day, when you build something, it is for you.  “You” might be many things.  A family.  A partnership.  Some fiends.  Or, just “you” against the world.  Or with it, depending on how you look at things.

A year ago, I was in an organization called EO.  I was in what is known as the Accelerator Group, ones who didn’t make – but were striving, to get their companies to a revenue goal to “graduate” to full membership.  Many of the people I met there were on their way, others fell into the category of simply “owning a job.”  It seems like the more influential people I met did not fall into this category – they had built businesses, and more often than not, sold them.  Others, simply built their company around how they anted to live their life.  I don’t know – maybe I’ll do both.

But it all needs to keep one thing in mind – what is the end game?  How do you want to live your life?  What, in your mind, makes it all worthwhile?  And, perhaps more importantly – how do you want to be remembered?

Whether you want to build a business or not, I think its important to think about that.  For a while, I did – but it was only about lifestyle.  In our culture, that is typically tied to income. So income was a goal.

Maybe now – not so much.  Of course it is important.  But, more important is quality of life and enjoying not only the fruits of labor, but the path along the way.  So, for me, the question of “end game” includes the “current game” along the way.

So I guess the answer just got a lot more complicated.  Dammit.