In Medias Res

It  would be convenient to have a nice beginning for this story, but as tends to be the case with real life, there are no convenient beginnings.  So maybe I won't start with the beginning, but with a beginning.

Do you remember taking aptitude tests when you were in middle school? You would fill in little bubbles on the Scantron sheet to find out if you were meant to be an architect or a plumber.  I cheated. 

The test were boring so I'd create patterns in the bubbles. Sometimes I was supposed to be a park ranger, sometimes a mechanic.  I progressed to being a high-school trouble maker. A's in Art, and D's in Math. I drifted though a few different colleges. I didn't know what I was doing there, but that was where you go when you finish high-school. Five-and-a-half years later I had a degree in photography and no idea what to do with it.

While I was in college my sister got me a job as a food runner in the kitchen at the restaurant she worked at. I planned on working there for a year while I figured myself out.

Instead it took twelve years. I like to think of myself being equal parts clever and determined, both of which are great assets in the restaurant industry. That made me successful. I worked my way up to running the bar (how I became a bartender is a great story I'll have to share some day.) I bought a house, met my wife, and managed to live a comfortable life. I wasn't happy. I was miserable. I moved to different restaurants hoping the change would help. It didn't.

The problem wasn't the restaurant. The problem was me. I've never been comfortable having someone else decide my fate. It chafes.

So I decided to go into business for myself. I had planned everything out perfectly. I was going to start a gourmet ice cream company. I spent years designing logos, researching recipes, looking up rules and regulations.  All the while working at my regular job, telling myself that it was all worth it because I was on my way out.

I was wrong. I spent four years planning that business. In that time four separate ice cream joints opened around my house and I had to conclude that there was plenty of ice cream around. I spent so much time planning the perfect business that I had missed the chance to start one.

Then I read about a conference about entrepreneurship. The main speaker had an interesting proposition. He wanted everyone to take $100 and start a business with it. That's it. Don't follow your dreams, don't plan the perfect strategy, don't find investors, don't search for you dream job. Just take $100 and figure out how to make it more than $100.

For $100 I couldn't start a food service operation. My main area of expertise was out of the question. I had always had a slew of hobbies though. I was on a leather working kick. I had made myself a nice simple wallet. When I showed it to a coworker he asked if he could order one. Just like that I was in business. (I cheated a bit. I started with $150.)