Mixed memories, and supporting your local, small businesses

I had to go find another USB/mouse to use while I’m editing and even two years after closing the newspaper, it’s still a little hard to dig among the detritus.

Even among the spider webs and nastiness of our outdoor storage area, the old copies of the paper, the file folders crammed with what was once crucial information to preserve, and the small trinkets people gave or awarded me through the years…. All of this still speaks to me.

And so I run when I find what I need, and pledge to clean it all up at a later date. Maybe next month. But probably next year, same as I always say.

I only share this because I want it to serve as a reminder that if you know someone who is running a small business, please support them. It’s their dream. It’s their baby. And sometimes, it’s their nightmare.

For nine years, that’s what The Oak Ridge Observer was for me. It was my dream. It was my baby. It was my nightmare.

Now go spend some money with a small business, or at least check on your friend who owns one. Help them in some small way. I guarantee you that they need it.

Keep the faith,

Stan R. Mitchell

About me: I write military action books similar to Vince Flynn, Stephen Hunter, and Tom Clancy. I’m also a prior USMC Sgt with Combat Action Ribbon, and a guy who spent 10+ years writing every day in the newspaper business — 9 of them with a newspaper that I started. Please consider subscribing for email alerts — I mostly post about things that either motivate or inspire you.

Powerlessness — Never start a small business — and simplicity

I thought I’d just make this post a two-fer.

First, I read this story earlier today about the founder of Victoria’s Secret, and why he jumped from a bridge and killed himself.

It’s a sad story that paints the brutal path you endure should you decide to launch your own business. (He even became a multi-millionaire at one point.) 

I can completely relate to this man, and I know so many small business owners whose lives have been wrecked by failures and bankruptcies.

Even today, I’m still trying to rebuild myself physically, and I didn’t go bankrupt.

I’m now 34, on my second marriage, and I still can’t even think about wanting kids. (I think that puts me behind — WAY behind — my peers, not that I care because I don’t want kids. Like ever, which means they’re at best probably five more years away. My wife and I have actually talked about adopting since she’ll probably be too old to have them before we’re ready — yep, she’s exhausted by the past few years of owning a business, too!)

And even though I’ve owned the business for seven years, I only recently have been able to afford health insurance and last year I only managed one four-day vacation. This year, my wife and I will be lucky if we get a three-day vacation.

And what’s crazy is this: I’m a picture of the success story. The guy who launched a small business and succeeded.

People in my city point to me as an example of what a young person can do if they dream big. (Usually, the people pointing have great jobs working for other people, and they usually have no idea what I make — or don’t make — each year and what I sacrifice.)

My point is this: DON’T START A SMALL BUSINESS. (I’m writing this in the hopes that I help at least one person out there.)

Let me say that again.

DON’T START A SMALL BUSINESS. EVER.

The people who say you should are one thing: They’re liars. (And if it’s a seminar or book that says it, they’re worse: They’re con men.)

Now some will say, “But, Stan, what of so-and-so? Who became a millionaire?” Believe me, I know him. I’ve read his book — have read probably a hundred business book the past ten years — and for every one of him, there are literally thousands who go bankrupt or lose a minimum of twenty to forty thousand dollars. (The only winners are banks and commercial real-estate owners, who have brutal leases you’re too stupid to totally understand when you sign.)

And I’m not just some nobody. If you want to argue with this post, back it up by saying what you’ve done in the small business world. I’ve raised more than a hundred thousand in capital through multiple financial institutions, successfully brought on eleven investors (while maintaining control of my company), and sold well over a million dollars in revenue.

But, Stan… Yeah, I hear you out there. You’re the guy or gal who was like me more than seven years ago. Can’t sleep at night. Have that something you’ve got to do keeping you up at night.

If you’re that guy or gal, and only “if,” here’s my message.  (Note: It can’t just be some whim, but a burning desire that keeps bugging you for literally months or years.)

If you’re that guy or gal, start small. DO NOT QUIT YOUR JOB. Start something on the side. (At night or on weekends.) Save a shit-ton of money. DO NOT BORROW A DIME FROM THE BANKS, YOUR FAMILY, OR YOUR FRIENDS.

You should also get to know Dave Ramsey better than you know your wife. Listen to him, read his books.

If you start slow, NEVER BORROW MONEY, and begin your small business on the side, then you have a chance and I could sign off on what you’re doing. But otherwise, I could never endorse anyone starting a small business. It’s suicide, believe me. (Oh, you haven’t even read the story I linked to, have you? And you’re wanting to start a small business and yet you can’t even read instructions? Here’s the link again, and no, don’t sign that lease for that small business you’re dreaming of.)

And because I don’t believe in putting out that much negative energy into the world without trying to balance it, here’s a way to help improve your life. This is an article about simplicity and simplifying your life — something you’ll probably never know if you own a small business.

Stan R. Mitchell

Oak Ridge, Tenn.

P.S. Please accept the greatest gift I can give.

P.P.S. Thanks to all who continue to make my novels a success. Little Man, and the Dixon County War  has gone as high as No. 16 on the Amazon UK Paid List (see here and here), and Sold Out has already gone as high as No. 81 on the Amazon Paid List for the category of War (see here and here). Learn more about both books here.