Hot Air: Business Ethics

I’m in the process of noodling ways to get the Charlotte Zietlow book out on the streets and into your hands.

To refresh your memory, Charlotte and I have been working on her memoir since the summer of 2014. It’s a swell story and there’s no doubt this town’d scarf up several million copies of it. That’d work out to something on the order of 37.5 copies for every woman, man, and child in this throbbing megalopolis. Hey, why not? Y’gotta be optimistic when you embark on a biz deal.

The publishing racket is a hellish minefield on which author(s) can be certain to lose at least one limb. That goes for both the traditional and the self- varieties. My task right now is to figure out a way for us to lose as few of our body parts as possible.

There are scads of outfits just dying to help Charlotte and me publish our book. Of course, they all charge cascading fees for their services, the vast majority of which are hidden until that very moment we’ve gone too far to say, Jeez, I never expected that. I don’t think I want to do it.

It’s like the undertaker promising it’ll cost you $7500 for a funeral but, when the day comes, he casually mentions it’ll cost an extra couple of G’s to dig the hole.

It’s not that certain publishers are sharpies, it’s just that…, um…, come to think of it, they are.

Charlotte has proven she knows how to navigate the waters of business. Her Goods, Inc. kitchen products shop — since sold and renamed Goods for Cooks — has been a Bloomington institution for some forty years now. She knows the ins & outs of spending dough and making it. I, OTOH, am likely to sink the ship before it even leaves the dock. I am an artiste, not an entrepreneur.

Between the two of us, we know a passel of  local folks with deep pockets. I can’t tell you how many people have come up to me and said, “Why don’t you ask so-and-so to finance the book? You’re friends. S/he loves Charlotte. Go ask, her/him!”

Ironclad logic — especially when the advice giver isn’t going to be doing the begging.

People lean on pals, relatives, and acquaintances all the time for business seed money. Every once in a great while a pal, relative, or acquaintance unbelts. Hell, the genesis fable of pretty much every successful start-up includes the part where Aunt Jennie forked over a wad and, next thing anybody knew, she’d become a wealthy stockholder.

Of course, nobody tells the sad tale about Uncle Frank whose $10,000 investment in his nephew’s cupcake cafe disappeared faster than, well, his nephew did. The erstwhile cupcake peddler ain’t running around his new town telling all. And Uncle Frank’s mum about it all as well. You think he’s dying to tell everybody what a sucker he was?

It occurs to me that people who borrow money from pals or relatives so they can start-up a business care far more about their businesses ideas than their pals and relatives. I knew a couple who put the touch on pretty much every one of their relatives and friends so the two could open a grab-and-go coffee shop near the el station. Some of their loved ones threw bundles of cash their way. The coffee shop never even made it to its first anniversary. As it became clear to all concerned that the ship was going under, several of the relatives said to the couple, “I think I want my money back.”

Teehee. Apparently, they were unclear on the concept of investing in a start-up. Last I heard, the relatives and former-proprietors haven’t spoken without lawyers at their sides for years.

See, I think about potential outcomes like that. I suppose everybody holding out a hat does. But a lot of people value their dreams more than they value peace around the Thanksgiving table.


“Say, I’ve got this great idea for a…”

Is my dream of getting Charlotte’s memoir out in the world worth risking friends and kin? Answer: No.

You have to be willing to break some eggs to make your cupcakes. Same with Aunt Jenny and Uncle Frank’s hearts to make your dream cafe a reality. So, if you’ve read this far, maybe a little nervously, thinking I was f’inta put my arm around your shoulder and say, “Y’know, I’ve always been able to count on you…,” worry no more.

I’ll do the worrying around here, thank you.

How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying

One thought on “Hot Air: Business Ethics

  1. Chris P. says:

    Hi Mike, I stopped at the Book Corner the other day. The place seems to be coming together…missed seeing your smiling face, though…I hope that you & The Loved One have a wonderful holiday! –Chris

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