Nobody is God, no individual can make things happen, they do not have the ability, but sometimes you will come across an individual who will genuinely and consistently over time do all they can to do what they said they will do.
Typically I will call these people “friends” as they are people that I can afford to let close, inside the defences… as far as advice goes, that’s all I have got.
As I have alluded to elsewhere, the day job is now defunct, technically I am still on the payroll, but they have treated me with such contempt over the past three years I’m milking these last few weeks on the sick, it’s not like I need a good reference for another job, or that they can give me a bad one, or that a reference from them would be worth shit.
In my career I have presided over a lot of jobs and pretty much been in at the end of the era for that particular trade, marine engineer, recovery driver, long distance motorcycle courier, computer and IT guy, cisco field engineer, I dunno what it says about me that I always seem to get in at the ass end of an era, but I can’t argue with the evidence.
No longer will I be turning up to brand new walmart style retail outlets with 70 staff on minimum wage that are literally opening tomorrow and trying to make things work with a flaky 3G connection because the solitary ADSL connection that is to be their primary data connection isn’t even installed yet.
No longer will I be turning up at regional backbone NOC’s swapping out top end Juniper kit in the wee hours so entire regions of the country can stay up.
No longer will I be turning up at multi-million pound per outlet high street premises and battling with the 2nd line guys in Mumbai trying to get obsolete end of life cisco kit to work just a few more months because everything is outsourced and the management are too tight to spend 200 quid on a brand new Draytek and wave all their problems good bye.
No longer will I be turning up to places with three shift managers all driving high end Audi’s and a senior manager driving a big beemer all looking aghast at the very idea that xDSL may be OK for an emergency backup line, but there is no excuse in 2015 for the primary to be anything other than £250 a month EFM, and it should really be £350 a month fibre to the premises.
No longer will I be doing this and shouldering the responsibility for peanuts.
Don’t get me wrong, when I started with this shower of shit over three years ago, the pay was peanuts, but here it is “here be dragons” as far as It went, and I’d do maybe three separate jobs a week, nowadays it’s two or three jobs a day, plus the staff churn at HQ means that anyone who knew anything there has left, so you always got the wrong kit or no kit or no IOS or no config file or the wrong one or the wrong data, yadda yadda yadda..
For the first 18 months I thought the company was so tight because they were growing so fast and the corporate policy was to float the company and go IPO, now I see that it is just that the company has grown way beyond the ability of the original founders to manage, it has become balkanised in between the different departments, and right at the end of the food chain were the lowly field engineers, arguably the cutting edge and revenue centre for the entire company, but we were treated like shit… so so long and thanks for all the fish.
I can go over to The Register and read all the stories about “on call hell” and boy, you fuckers really don’t have a clue, I can tell stories better than that every single fucking week.
What I have managed to do is leave the company without ever having a single fuckup directly attributable to me personally, so ok the industry is dead, but if it wasn’t at least my name is still good in the sense that nobody is going to look at me and go “oooh, you’re the guy that took NatWest ATM’s and e-banking offline for 28 hours last year…”
*I* can still look at myself in the mirror, even if nobody else is looking and the hall of mirrors and indeed the entire fair has closed down, never to re-open.
Contrarily, the laser business, well, I can’t say that I just banked my first million, or booked three weeks in cuba, but hey, it’s generating income, and it’s steadily increasing, the sort of slow and steady growth that feels solid and trustworthy, and new contacts and customers and enquiries come in every week, and the average value is increasing too.
As sure as fuck I’d be in a world of hurt if I had a 60+k Trotec on lease or HP, but that is a “living on credit” issue, not a “getting work in issue”.. the business is working because I saved and bought my laser for cash, not because it is cheap or anything.
Finance the business badly and it will struggle.
Struggle and scrimp and save and go without and buy for cash and finance the business well and it will pick up it’s own momentum.
Used to be all the spam calls I got were robots asking me if I had been mis sold PPI, or telling me I had been in an accident and was entitled to compo.
Nowadays it is cold calls from companies offering me finance deals and advertising deals and shit, and I close them all down, not interested… the responses from the callers are astonishment, what do you mean you don’t want or need financing or advertising.
I’m happy to tell them, I do precisely *zero* advertising, I have a website, an associated paid for Vimeo channel, and I bought everything for the business for cash, and I am getting enquiries and indeed work from all over the country, everyone uses google search, any my website does the rest.
At which they are all even more amazed, this simply is not possible.
It is, because I am not one of the 16 other small businesses (apart from Pissy World and the big boys in IT like wot I used to work for) in this city of 125,000 people offering to do PC repairs.
I have gotten in early enough to beat the rush.
If I won a squillion pounds tomorrow on the lottery (a neat trick, seeing as I do not buy lottery tickets as they are a tax on the feeble minded) then I’d go out and buy for cash bigger premises, a couple more lasers, and a couple of big pukka 3D printing machines… and sit back and watch the money start to roll in… and it would, simply by being an early adopter.
But that shit only works if you do not do it on finance or lease.
And now the FED has finally raised rates (after joking that we do not know how to raise rates, as nobody working here now was working here last time we did…) which means in shades of the saying that the US gets a runny nose and Europe gets the Flu six months later, that interest rate rises are *finally* coming here too.
About fucking time.
This two decades of essentially free money has fucked everything up, because instead of making things affordable, it has led to the price inflation of everything, why not, since everyone has free money anyway..
We have a situation where today a *very* large proportion of new drivers do not then go out and buy a 50 quid clunker for their first car.. oh no.. they traipse down to the main dealers and sign a lease agreement on a brand new fucking car… why not.. it’s “only” £195 a month…
Hell, they have *no* mechanical ability of any kind, and at mechanic rates of £75 to £125 an hour, that old £50 clunker is going to cost them 200 quid a week in mechanic bills just to keep on the road.
This total and utter lack of any real world inteligence or ability is why we have companies like the one I worked for, working for clients like the ones I turned up at, and why we have people locally buying a 3000 quid crowdfunded laser cum 3d printer from the states and starting up a laser / fab business, which by the way is up and running and being promoted before the new toy even gets shipped.
And then if it gets shipped, they find out the hard way that it isn’t like knocking up some shit in Word and hitting the “print” button and sending it to the local colour laser printer…. do that and 95% of your jobs will turn out as scrap.
So you got to get a whole suite of new software, then you have to learn how to use it properly, then you have to learn a whole bunch of other skills.
So one day a guy hands you one piece of paper with some hand scribbled notes on what their customer wants laser engraved, what sort of layout they want, but it is all very vague and how’s yer father, and BTW here is a cheapo black and white laser printed image of their logo, can you incorporate that up here in the design? Image above.
And being brutally honest unless you have that software suite, which costs a lot of money, and are *proficient* in using it, you’ll just prove GIGO (Garbage In, Garbage Out) and you will *never* get anything that does not look like total shit, so you’ll do a bad job and give yourself and lasering in general a bad name.
Then there is placement and laser power settings suitable both for the material and what the client hopes to achieve, and so on…
If, however, you do do and have all those things, you can produce what you see here, and yes it still has “smear” around the lettering etc from where the laser blows all the cellulose and oils and other shit out of the wood directly into vapour, but that cleans up easy, and anyway, I clearly advertise “laser time only” I do not do “finish” work, and that makes me cheap.
So this is a £30 laser job (the board is 690 mm wide) and if you have already purchased the laser and software and everything else for cash, all it costs you is a little wear and tear on the laser machine itself and the tube, and a little bit of electricity, meanwhile I’m sat in the other room (monitoring progress with iSPY and IP cameras) drinking coffee and doing clerical work and writing up pro-formas.
It’s good work if you can get it, and it’s work I am proud of, work my customer will be delighted with. work that enables my customer to make a sale he otherwise would not have, and *his* customer will have his socks blown off.
And at no point do I have to deal with cunts or assholes or wankers, because I simply say no, not interested bruv, when they enquire.
£30 is *really* cheap for this work, but on the other hand it’s 30 minutes laser time, and apart from loading and unloading the laser, laser time is automatic, once you hit “Start” that’s it, you are committed, sit back and watch it produce beauty or scrap, too late to make any changes.
Sure, there is 10 minutes of faffing around with the correct software and tools to get that hand drawn paper sketch laser ready, and sure there is £2 to attribute to wear and tear and light and heat, but 95% of that £30 is pure cash in your wallet profit.
The rest, well I sat here in my crib drinking coffee and typing this… it sure beats working for da man.
Wasn’t it Karl Marx who said “The workers control the means of production.”… well that is certainly true of me, and that, in a nutshell, is why this business is working. NOBODY else has any influence or say or financial stake in it.