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Friday, December 14 , 2018, 11:36 pm | Fair 47º


Paul Burri: Business Advice for People Who Think Business Is Disgusting

The irony of the sentiment is lost on a prospective entrepreneur

As some of my readers may know, I am a SCORE counselor. Briefly, SCORE is a national organization under the auspices of the Small Business Administration that offers free business advice to people who want to start a new business or who need advice on various business issues.

I emphasize free because, in my opinion, SCORE is one of the best-kept secrets in Santa Barbara. We wish more people knew about SCORE and used our services.

Many of my client sessions are with people who are sincerely interested in starting a business and are wise enough to ask for help and advice. Not all of them, however.

(To protect the client’s identity, I will alternate in using personal pronouns. Please bear with me.)

One time I accepted a new client who said she wanted to start a new consulting type business. We talked briefly on the phone and for our first meeting I asked him, as I do of almost all my new clients, to do what is called a SWOT analysis. It sounds technical and complicated, but it is simply a listing of your Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats. It’s a sort of reality check and also a checklist of the areas that might need work.

My client faithfully did her homework and arrived at our meeting with her completed SWOT analysis. Scanning it quickly I noticed that under Weaknesses he had put down, “Business is disgusting.” Apparently the irony of a person who thinks business is disgusting wanting to go into business and asking for business advice totally escaped him.

I had momentary thoughts that I might be violating the socio-economic values of this country if I were to give him any advice at all. But I repressed those feelings because I felt it was my responsibility to give this person the best advice I could. We continued our conversation.

Over the period of about an hour and a half, I tried to gradually change her ideas that all business is disgusting — or dirty or evil or mean. At one point I asked her who she thought would hire her as a consultant and how much they might pay her. He wasn’t sure. I asked for details of exactly what and how much consulting she would provide. Then when I estimated that he might be able to expect about $20,000 for what he proposed to do as a consultant, he replied, “Is that all?” (Do I detect some more irony here?)

The client somehow did not see any philosophical conflict when I asked whether the idea of being a person who expected to be paid for his consulting services — and paid well, by the way — wouldn’t immediately cause him to fall into the category of being in business that by its nature was “disgusting.”

I have no problem with people who are dedicated to making our planet a better, safer, cleaner, healthier, more beautiful place. I heartily agree with that idea. I can even support and encourage people who want to work toward those goals. I can even tolerate people who think that business is “disgusting.” They are entitled to their opinions.

But I wish those safer, cleaner, healthier idealists who want a more beautiful world would somehow learn that all of their wonderful, grandiose ideas take money, expertise (which needs to be paid for) and “disgusting” business acumen to accomplish.

— Paul Burri is an entrepreneur, inventor, columnist, engineer and iconoclast. He is not in the advertising business, but he is a small-business counselor with the Santa Barbara chapter of Counselors to America’s Small Business-SCORE. The opinions and comments in this column are his alone and do not represent the opinions or policies of any outside organization. He can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Click here for previous Paul Burri columns. Follow Paul Burri on Twitter: @BronxPaul

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