With a supercilious sneer, one of the men from the Chamber of Commerce Leads group that I have joined, said, “By the time you are sixty, you certainly should have learned how to make money!” He has just started a nut-tree farm, in addition to his flower shops, house rentals, and about a dozen other businesses which he and his wife manage, none of which his sons care about.
I smiled and shook my head. “No, Academics haven’t,” I said. “When I wanted money to take my students on tour, or to buy them costumes, or Civil War tents for their reenactments, I went to the Dean and asked for $20,000 or $50,000 or whatever I needed. There was no need to ‘make’ money.” (Admittedly, Dean David Payne called me “the Pickpocket.”)
It’s a different world out here, folks, with a steep learning curve.
I spent several (billed) hours with my accountant yesterday. We did a cost analysis of my new business. Nope, she says, prices are going up. Advertising, going down. Don’t buy a van. Rent! Get the best deals you can. Negotiate a better deal on rooms. Talk to the restaurants about pricing. Add more fine print. Do the Logistics, she says. Negotiate. Negotiate. Negotiate.
“Oh,” says I.
Champagne tours on a beer budget, she says. I am the “champagne,” she says. Where else can anyone get an award-winning, famous speaker, Ph.D. Texas expert Latin Americanist Professor Emeritus as a tour guide? None of the other PTGAH tour guides have your expertise, she says. For years you’ve spoken to all these groups for peanuts. Now its time to profit from their interest, she says.
“Oh,” says I.
Quickbooks, she says. You have to learn Quickbooks and input every expense every night. And don’t mix your personal expenses with the business. Pay yourself a salary. And if you don’t have enough income, you don’t get a salary. You don’t want to wind up like Paul Manafort, do you? she says.
“Oh,” says I, my eyes getting larger and rounder.
Get hooked up with AARP, she says. Talk to Houston CVB (that’s their Convention and Visitor’s Bureau) and find out about the one-day tours they want you to offer. Put your flyers in all the hotels. What about the
Antique stores? Have you contacted the Alumni office at Sam? Get on their mailing list! Get the Chamber of Commerce address list. Marketing, she says. Get out there everyday and spread the word, she says. Work harder, she says.
“Oh, dear,” says I. “Couldn’t I just take my friends on tours and have fun doing that?”
Nope, she says. Time to print another thousand flyers and get out there and spread them around. Who knew the business world would be like this?