The next morning Andy ushered me, Mike, Steve and Andy’s assistant, Tina into the conference room to outline his business strategy and plan for the next 6 months of the new company.
We sat down around the conference table and devoured coffee and doughnuts while listening to Andy’s plans for reorganizing his business ventures and keeping the company alive long enough for me, Mike and Steve to turn it around from the sales and profits we would get from the selling websites.
As the sole employees of the company we were expected to do everything ourselves from sales, marketing, advertising, customer service and even website design.
When we would ask Andy if he was going to hire someone for a much needed customer service position Andy’s response always was, “Sell more websites and then we will have the money to hire someone new.”
The new website business would be called Amazing e Business, and we were going to sell an easy to use, template based, e-commerce website to business owners nationwide.
Andy had bought a license to sell the software from the developer a company in Orange County, California called WebCreators and assured us when he said: “Selling websites is going to be so easy, you guys should be able to sell 3-5 per week!”
By the time Andy formed Amazing e Business do it yourself website companies like homestead.com were going strong and dominating the market.
Andy didn’t anticipate this and neither did we, everyone in the room thought that the new product would be “gravy” to sell and we bought into Andy’s pitch hook, line and sinker.
Andy spent the next 2 hours training us on how the new website software worked and after we felt we were sufficiently trained he ended the meeting and told us all to go sell.
Mike and I walked back to the sales office discussing the good and bad aspects of the new product while Steve, the outside sales manager went back to his office to continue his usual routine of drinking coffee, listening to Howard Stern and talking to his girlfriends all day until he went home at 3 p.m. looking worn out and tired, like he had been working on business deals all day long.
I could never understand why Andy hired Steve or what he actually did for the company.
Once Mike and I were back in the sales office Mike told me how he really felt about Andy’s new business idea and the direction of the company.
“I can tell you right now, I’m not going to be on the phone trying to sell this thing,” Mike said pointing to my computer screen with one of our new websites on it.
“Why don’t you want to sell it? Andy made it sound like we can easily sell 3-5 of these websites per week,” I said.
“Telemarketing isn’t my job, I’m supposed to be running telemarketing rooms not be on the phone calling every day like everyone else,” Mike said.
“Well, so far the company only has one telemarketer, me, so I don’t think you have that many employees to manage unless you count Steve,” I said.
“Steve never does anything but sit in his office, talk to his girlfriends and drink coffee all day,” Mike said.
I sat down at my desk and shuffled paperwork while Mike continued to complain about Andy, Steve and anything else he was upset about that day until he finally ran out of hot air and went outside for his mid day cigarette break.
By 11 a.m. I decided to stop wasting time and picked up the phone and started making my first sales calls of the day and by 3 p.m. Andy walked into the sales office to see how I was doing.
“How’s it going? How many have you sold?” Andy asked.
I didn’t know if he was joking or really expected the sales process to be as easy as he thought.
“I’ve already sold five websites,” I said grinning.
“No, really, how many have you sold?” Andy asked.
“Andy, I’ve only been on the phone for a few hours, it’s going to take a lot longer than that for me to start making sales,” I said.
“I expect good things from you guys, don’t let me down okay? I’ve got a lot riding on this business.” Andy said.
“I know, Andy, but you’re going to have to give us at least a month to start bringing in sales and get this business off the ground.” I said.
“One month? We need money now, I don’t know how I can keep this company going if it’s going to take you guys that long to start bringing in sales,” Andy said.
“Andy, please just give us time to sell and you should start seeing sales come in very soon.” I said.
Andy looked depressed and then a wild look appeared in his eyes and he looked at his wristwatch.
“Oh, shit, I’m late again.” Andy said.
Andy had his briefcase with him and a big stack of unopened mail and paperwork.
“I have a full body massage from this hot Asian chick that a friend recommended to me. Have you ever tried a full body massage before? If you ask them to they will always do a little something extra for you, if you know what I’m saying,” Andy said with a wink.
That was a typical Andy moment. He could be worried about pending lawsuits against him, bankruptcy and financial doom one moment and the next he could be racing off to a party with friends, wild weekend with a new girlfriend or fun and games with his children.
Andy grabbed his briefcase and paperwork and raced out of the sales office for his massage appointment while I continued making sales calls, contacting prospective business owners and sending them information about our new website builder.
Mike left after having his mid day cigarette break and I was lone employee there for the rest of the day and responsible for locking up the building at night.
Since Andy had laid off almost all of the employees in the company he had rented out all of the remaining offices in the 2 story office building and we now had tenants that paid rent for their office space every month.
I quickly became friends with the new tenants in our building because I always staid late and was the last employee to lock up the building at the end the day.
My favorite tenant was the owner of a small collections business, a middle aged, married, overweight, African American guy named Larry.
After my day ended I walked over to Larry’s office to see how he was doing and to get a dose of his “wisdom”. Even though Larry was a middle aged, married man he still loved women and never stopped talking about women and giving me advice on romancing them anytime I was around him.
“Are you dating anyone new?” Larry asked.
“Nope, I’ve been unlucky with the ladies for a while,” I said.
“Man, you have to get out there and start playing the field. When I was your age I dated a different woman every night and I loved every minute of it,” Larry said.
“I don’t know man, I think I want to wait until I get a better car before I start dating again,” I said.
“If you wait that long, it’s never going to happen! Don’t you have any women you admire now?” Larry asked.
“Yeah, a few,” I said. I didn’t really feel like dating or being socially active since my marriage to Becky but thought I’d play along with Larry.
“I once had a business where I was a ‘love doctor’ and I helped men and women get dates and here’s some sage advice for you. All you need to do to get women interested in you is compliment them, talk with them, listen to them and let them be your muse. Once they see that you listen to them then they will want to spend more time with you,” Larry said.
“I’ve already tried that before,” I said.
“Well didn’t it work?” Larry asked.
“I had a woman friend that I used to work with and I would talk with her at different times during the day. One morning she came to work and told me that she had a dream about me,” I said.
“She had a dream about you? That’s good. Was it a romantic dream?” Larry asked.
“No, she said that in her dream all we did was talk and it wasn’t romantic at all,” I replied.
“She probably only saw you as a friend, you have to stay out there and keep looking for women because there’s ‘plenty of fish in the sea’.” Larry said.
“Larry, aren’t you married?” I asked.
“Yeah, I’m married, but I tell you if I wasn’t I’d be out there showing you young bucks how it was done,” Larry said.
“I better get going, I’ll see you tomorrow.” I said.
“Yeah, my wife is expecting me home for dinner so I better get going too.” Larry said as he shut down his computer and closed down his office after another dismal business day in the collection business.
I locked up the building and drove home to work on my art and forget about work. When I finally got home Brian was out on the deck in front of our duplex with his friend Sal and his girlfriend Betsy, barbecuing steaks, drinking beer and anything else we had left over in the fridge.
“Dude you’re right on time!” Brian said as he handed me a beer.
“What am I ‘on time’ for?” I asked.
“Sal bought the latest Tiger Woods game and we’re about to start playing,” Brian said.
Playing Tiger Woods golf had become a fun addiction for us and we played the game anytime we could during the week, sometimes staying up until the early morning hours when we still had to go to work.
Brian’s girlfriend Betsy tolerated our video game playing ways but would quickly become bored and would always fall asleep on the couch while we enjoyed our game.
Our other favorite ritual that we enjoyed during our time living there was watching wrestling every Monday night.
Life was good even though I had the stress from work I didn’t worry about work when I went home at night because I continued working on my art and enjoyed hanging out with my cousin Brian and our friends.
Even though I tried to not let work seep into my personal life it would soon consume a big part of it as I took on more responsibility in the company and I became the company “go to guy” whenever Andy, Mike or Steve had computer problems, needed research done on the Internet or errands run I was the man to get the job done.
I didn’t mind being so busy with work because I felt like I was a part of something special and would have done anything I could to help the company.
The downside of this was that the more time I spent working on other projects the less time I could spend on making sales for the company and new revenue wasn’t coming in.
Mike stood by his word and never picked up the phone to sell websites and Steve continued being Steve which involved staying in his office every day, in his own world.
This upset Andy but he continued to keep Mike and Steve employed because he wanted to believe that they would bring in the one “big sale” that would turn the company around.
With little to no revenue coming in, paydays were always a hectic experience and I always had to rush to Andy’s bank to cash my paycheck before it bounced…