In empathy for millennials (this phrase alone will cause a gasp among certain Sheet writers), I admit to having had a vast cluelessness about business during my “pay for hire” days.
Paychecks were like … magic. And I didn’t think too much about where they came from, or who paid ‘em, or about even the loosest connection between my toil and what monetary value it might be worth to my employer.
I assumed that my employers made money hand over fist.
I couldn’t understand their stresses or why they would occasionally snap at me.
In hindsight, I’m shocked that my businessman father didn’t teach me more about the world of business.
Maybe he tried. I probably wasn’t listening.
It was only when I started my own business that I gained an appreciation for the poor souls who had graciously offered me employment through the years.
Thank you, Benett.
So it was with some amusement and recognition that I sat down and read “Business for Bohemians” by Tom Hodgkinson this week.
Hodgkinson is a Brit. He is also a fellow publisher, and opened a business in London in 2011 called “The Idler Academy of Philosophy, Husbandry and Merriment,” a combination cafe, bookshop and events venue.
So this is a fun guy with a sense of humor, a guy who openly and actively celebrates trying to avoid working too hard.
But then, he started a business and got … worked … over.
At one point, his employees, taking the Idler philosophy to heart, became so brazen in their lack of effort that Hodgkinson resorted to putting a sign up in the break room which ironically read, “No Idling.”
The inmates were clearly running the asylum. It got so bad at one point that Hodgkinson recalls “Fluffball (a female employee), barefoot, wearing a onesie, with stars on her cheeks and a whistle in her mouth, was standing on the counter, waving her arms in the air while Tarquin (a male employee) aimed pelvic thrusts in her direction.”
A friend of Hodgkinson’s, witnesses this and, horror-struck, turns to Hodgkinson and says “Your staff … your staff.” As Hodgkinson observes, it was like something out of Heart of Darkness.
So this book is his advice manual for aspiring entrepreneurs. And a perfect gift for that bohemian in your life who’s got a boatload of energy and ideas but just can’t seem to direct his/her energy or implement his/her ideas.
As Hodgkinson observes, “Bohemians affect disdain for Mammon. They live for art and life, so they say. But if you don’t address financial issues in a grown-up fashion, you’ll end up poor, which is no fun at all … Your chaos will do nothing but profit your oppressor. So you need to get comfortable with the idea of making money. Respect may be nice, but, as punk poet John Cooper Clarke once wisely said, ‘Respect don’t pay the rent.’”
Among the many helpful chapters: The Art of Accounting. How to Sell. The Art of Negotiation. How to Deal With Enemies. Get The Price Right and Get Paid. How To Be Stoic.
The chapters are littered with helpful, self-deprecating anecdotes that make it all seem a little less scary.
The #1 attribute necessary for success: Three words. “Just Keep Going.”
I liked the part in the Negotiation chapter where he suggests, “One way of negotiating is to delegate the process to someone else. You could create a fictional ‘money man’ who works at your company.”
Or, like The Sheet, you can invent a fictional money man who owns the company.