Starting a Business:

A Journal


“I just had this great idea! Let’s start our own business!”

“Hey, that is a great idea! What kind of business?”

“Well… I don’t know for sure, yet. The idea’s kind of new.”

The discussion that follows this particular exchange will center primarily on considering and rejecting various kinds of businesses and business opportunities.

After some time passes, the idea resurfaces and a suitable business venture is conceived. There are no details, no plans, nothing more than an idea at this point. Mind you, this part is thirsty work and calls for a beer. Or three. And because it is such a grand and lofty and fail-proof idea, it calls for a glass of champagne, a toast to the rousing success of this new venture… and a refill. This is also the end of forward progress for at least another week.

Week 1

You should spend all week thinking about your new business. Become so distracted with your regular place of employment, that all waking, conscious effort is devoted to this, your version of the American dream. You will undoubtedly at this point in the process mull over telling your current boss to “take this job and shove it”, ala Johnny Paycheck. You should discuss this idea with your wife.

Note: After discussing this idea with your wife, remind yourself that shooting her is not an option. You should mull over the viability of divorce.

Special Note: Do not discuss this idea with your wife, your wife’s girlfriends, your girlfriends, your buddies or your business partners. You never know when one or more of these groups will overlap.

Next, you should spend the rest of the week projecting numbers – not dollars, but an increased number of hours you could be home if your wife agrees to let you do this. Always use the word “could” indicating the possibility. That way, when you end up not being home that exact number of hours, her lawyers cannot sue you for breach of contract.

Week 2

Change the name of your company. Again. Assuming of course, that you have not yet registered the name of your choosing with any of the governing agencies that handle such things. It is not a problem to change once your name is registered; those agencies will be more than happy to assist you in a name change. For another fee.

Now, it is time to begin forming business plan. At first, this should be nothing more than vague references to possible places to market your idea and dreams of how much money you are going to make. Share these dreams in the form of hard facts with your wife. This calls for a little bit of research and a lot of imagination. Do the research yourself, don’t ask your wife to do it.

At this point, it is usually necessary to spend some of your money on the new business. It doesn’t matter where or how at the moment. Tell yourself and your wife it is an investment in your future. Correct phrasing for this is “Honey, it is an investment in our future.” Support this announcement with a generous bouquet of roses. She may not believe you, but she will accept the roses.

Week 3

If the idea has survived this long, you are well on your way to success. Work out a budget. Add up everything that you own, subtract what you absolutely need to survive, and plan on overextending yourself for the next five years. It is much easier to borrow money from a bank at this point, while you are just starting out fresh. The reasons for this are many:

  1. Hopefully, you are still gainfully employed and have an income.
  2. You have not yet dumped your entire life savings into your business, thus, you have collateral.
  3. If you own or are buying your house, you then have some equity in the property. That way, the bank is assured that if you no longer have an income, and no longer have any cash, they at least will have a piece of real estate to sell.

Take all your budget numbers to the bank. Work out some sort of income projection for your new business. The general practice for this is to “pull numbers out of thin air”. Banks like projections. Maybe they just like to see how quickly they are going to own another piece of property.

After sweating out an afternoon at the bank – pleading and groveling do not work – it is quite often good therapy to relax. Take your wife out to dinner. Save the receipt; you can count it as a business expense. Make a mental note: from now on, save every receipt you can. Pick them up off the floor at the grocery store. Ask for them at convenience stores and gas stations. Steal them from your neighbor’s trash. Get a receipt for everything.

When you hire an accountant, he or she can figure out which ones you can claim and which ones you can’t. You should argue loudly and logically for keeping the ones they want to throw out. You may just win on a few.

Week 4

This is a good time for some reflection. Look deep into your heart and soul, ask yourself “just what the hell do you think you’re doing?” If the answer to this is “I have no idea”, then you are ready to proceed with your business venture.

Begin talking about your business to all your friends and relatives. Tell them to tell their friends and relatives. They will all say “What a wonderful idea! I wish I was that brave.”

Pay no attention to their sidelong looks and the shaking of their heads. They obviously have a very low quotient of entrepreneurial spirit. Call your bank. They probably have not finished appraising your property yet, or determined just which loan officer is going to get it, but call them anyway. Let them know you are anxious to proceed. Tell them that you don’t really need the loan, you are willing to sacrifice your entire stock portfolio for the success of your business but you think an influx of investment capital is a smart business move; that it will open greater doors of opportunity to get the business off the ground and ensure its success quicker. They like to hear the word “invest”. This is called “bank speak”.

Start thinking about an office. This is not always a smart move when just starting out, but there is the matter of impression. You cannot present a proper image to your clients working out of your garage. And, if the bank gets your house, you lose your office as well. You really cannot present a good image to your clients working out of a garage belonging to someone else. With an office, you will still have a roof over your head for a little while longer, anyway.

Being in business for yourself is exciting and can produce great changes in your life. Your sleeping habits will change. As will your drinking, smoking and swearing habits. Your marital and financial worlds may be turned upside down. Preparation is the key to surviving these cataclysmic upheavals. Even though you may lose everything, you will be one of a small percentage of people able to hold your head high and declare to the world: I am an entrepreneur!

Phrench Phried Physics

Recently, I was in attendance at a business meeting with several colleagues. The meeting proceeded apace, until just shortly after we had ordered lunch. The events that followed gave rise to a flurry of research and experimentation, and ultimately this paper. I discovered that simply by placing my order, I had unwittingly stumbled onto the frontier of a new science.

This phenomenon, though frequently encountered, appears to have been either completely forgotten or willingly ignored since the beginning of the history of the scientific method. I am unable to determine which condition is most appropriate since I have been entirely unsuccessful at uncovering any previous research regarding this particular

What exactly is this uncharted discipline? This heretofore unrecorded phenomenon? It is the physics of french fries. Or as this paper is officially titled: “Observation and Partial Analysis of the Variable Disappearance Rate of Deep Fried Potato Slices.” And in layman’s terms, “Why is it that the number of fries I get to eat is never equivalent to a complete order?”

Following are just three of the several experiments I have conducted.

I) I was seated with two companions. As a control measure, I have absolutely no idea what either of them had ordered. My order was a Monte Cristo sandwich and french fries. Shortly after our food was delivered, I excused myself to retrieve some important papers from my store. (We were in a restaurant at the mall where my store was located.) On my return, I immediately noticed that the volume of the french fries on my plate was considerably reduced from what it had been originally.

Curious, but not yet alarmed, I inquired of the waitress as to the weight of an order of fries before serving. She, looking at me as if I had lost my mind, indicated that she had absolutely no idea (especially since there is no record of any prior research into this subject) what I was asking, but helpfully suggested that I ask the cook, who was sure to know. This astute piece of advice turned out to be the crux of this entire investigation, and the clue that ultimately led to my conclusions.

From interrogating the cook, I determined that the original weight was two ounces. Ignoring the strident protests of the waitress, the thoroughly interrogated cook, and the manager, I hurriedly scooped up the remaining potatoes and dumped them onto the scale. There was only a single ounce! Half of the original volume had disappeared, giving rise to the formula:

where ‘x’ is the volume of fries I was able to eat, ‘y’ is the original volume of fries on the order, ‘t’ is the amount of time I was gone, and ‘n’, the number of companions at the table.

II) The second experiment, initially, was identical: the same companions, the same orders, the same waitress, and exactly the same amount of fries on the order. (Yes, I asked.) This time, however, before leaving the table, I doused the items in question quite thoroughly with ketchup, thus introducing a random number, K, into the equation. Not only did the number of fries that disappeared increase, so too, did the rate of disappearance. Thus:

III) Not wanting to jump to any hasty conclusions, the next day I conducted yet a third experiment and drastically altered the parameters to point up any flaws in my still young hypothesis. This time, I eliminated my companions—I mean I didn’t invite them to lunch, not that I actually eliminated them—I eliminated my disappearance from the table, and I eliminated the Monte Cristo. This time the results were absolutely astounding! The number and weight of fries on the order equaled the number and weight of the fries I ate!

I ordered a second batch and again added the random number k. Once again,

Two possible theories readily suggest themselves from these experiments:

  1. A Monte Cristo either produces or attracts a black hole that devours only french fries;
  2. A Monte Cristo secretes, or exudes antimatter particles that reach out like fingers to annihilate the physical substance of french fried potatoes.

Obviously, much more research into this burgeoning science will be required before any definite conclusions can be reached, and tons of government money will be required to do this research. However, I believe a word of caution is in order here. We do not know yet that these black holes or antimatter particles confine themselves to the destruction of only french fries. The first step, and probably the most expensive, is going to be in determining what other substances are at risk. Please send your contributions to the Phrench Phried Physics Research Center in Glendale, AZ so that we may continue this important work.


This legal disclaimer and warning label is required by the FDA, the FCC, the IRS, the Surgeon General, the ATF, DOT, FBI, OSHA, NASA, the local PTA, and the OMB.

Please observe all known and implied safety measures when conducting your own experiments in this area. Remember, new sciences can be dangerous to the unwary experimenter.

Restoring the Good Name of a Retired President

"Mama. How come I look like I’m a hundr’d years old or more and you still look the same as you did when Daddy was president? No, that’s not the question I wanted to ask you. Darn this old failin’ mem’ry. What I wanted to ask is, you’re not really my mama, are you? I mean, are you one of them space aliens? Not illegal are you? I remember there was this big ol’ set to about illegal irrigation back when I was Mr. President. El Presidente. The Presidio.

"No, no. That’s not it either. It’ll come to me…

"Mama, what ever happened to that Mr. Cheney? What was his name? Dick. And what do you mean when you say he was aptly named?

"Did Rumy ever get that real estate deal he was workin’ on done? Seems to me he should be swimmin’ in oil by now. Can you do that? Swim in oil, I mean. Is that possible? Man, what a lucky guy. To find that much oil that nobody owned and nobody wanted. The Shock and Awe Ranch must be huge. Is that how we got our oil, Mama? By findin’ it somewhere that nobody else had thought to look?

"And the rockets red glare. The bombs bursting in air… That was a catchy tune that Rumy used for his theme song for his ranch, wasn’t it, Mama? Did we ever have a theme song for any of the houses we lived in while I was growin’ up? I wish I’d a thought of a theme song for that ranch down there in Crawford. That would have been nice to have music playin’ every time Laura and I pulled into the driveway.

"I miss ol’ Rumy. Secretary of D-Fence. Just like in a football game. D-Fence. D-Fence. Yay! Go Team.

"Now I remember what I wanted to ask you, Mama. Do you think I was a good president? I mean, I never really wanted the job, but I was more than happy to take it. I always tried to do the best job that I could, just like you always taught us to do. Set your sights on a goal and never wave. I mean never waiver.

"Just like Guantanamo. Sounds kinda like Geronimo, don’t it, Mama? I remember there was a short name for it too, ’cause nobody could get the real name right. We used to call it Guano, I think. Wasn’t that it? No, it was something else … what was it? I know. Gitmo; short for ‘git more info’, I think.

"Mama, am I old enough now to be eligible for Social Security? Oh, no, never mind. I remember now, that went belly-up – why do they call being out of money going belly up? – just a few short years after I was done being the El Presidio. I really like that word.

"Did we ever manage to balance the budget, Mama? How’d it get over or under or imbalanced in the first place? I remember all them numbers I used to have to look at and approve. I usually just picked the highest one. You know me an’ math. But I figured bigger is more and more is better, right?

"How come Conde doesn’t come by any more, Mama? Boy she was so smart. I’m not sure I ever understood a single sentence of hers, but she was so smart I just kinda figured she had to be right. It really didn’t matter what the subject was. She kinda reminded me of you sometimes. ‘Cept she doesn’t look much like you. She always knew what she wanted, though, just like you. Is she an alien like you, too, Mama?

"Mama, just one more question. Did Karl ever write that tell-all book about that president he used to work for? I think that would be a great book to read, full of intrigue and espionage. I always did like espionage stories like the ones Daddy used to tell. Good night, Mama."