Want to own a small business? It's not as romantic as you may think. Very few entrepreneurs go on to become the CEOs of publicly held companies. Sure, there are many upsides: the independence, the freedom, the joy of innovation, the girls, the parties, the cheering crowds. But for most of us, running a business means long hours of hard work in industrial parks near the airport. We deal with a lot of headaches. And boy, do we hear a lot of lies! Don't believe me? Here's just a partial list of 27 people who lied to me this past week alone.
1. My banker. My banker personally assured me that I was a "very important customer" as I sat in his branch office. Umm ... really? Aren't you the fifth guy I've seen sitting in that chair over the past six months? And aren't you feeling a little uncomfortable saying how valuable I am when your own office has no personal effects ... anywhere? I'll start believing you if you're even still working at this bank the next time I visit. And by the way, do you know what my business actually does? I didn't think so.
2. The customer who told me he'll pay. Oh, those silly gooses. They always say that. And then 60 days later I have to call and beg them for the money owed to me from a service I already performed. And then I'm the devil and accused of "poor customer service" because I refuse to provide more services until the open invoice is paid. This happened to me last week. Footnote one week later: Invoice is still unpaid.
3. The vendor who says he'll deliver on time. No he didn't. He forgot to tell me they were closed Monday for the holiday. Other than government workers and school teachers, since when is President's Day a holiday? Suffice it to say, the items I needed didn't arrive until the day after he promised. Why do I keep believing these guys?
4. My teenage daughter. I'm not sure what it is, but she lied to me about something last week. Just you wait and see.
5. The customer who told me "money's no object." Why, that's awesome! Then I'm raising my rates to $5,000 per hour. Oh, that's too expensive? Then I guess it is about the money. So ... can we please stop saying that?
6. The guy who promised me more business. I love guys like that. "Yeah, give me a special deal now because there's lots more business where that came from." Here's what I learned in the past 18 years of running a business: I'm likely to grow more hair before I see more business from the guy who makes that promise.
7. The guy who invented those 5 Hour Energy drinks. Running a small business can be tiring, so who can resist a little energy shot in the middle of the afternoon, right? Wrong. All I experienced from one of these bottles was a case of the jitters and an overwhelming desire to drink human blood. Luckily, the jitters went away after only a few minutes.
8. Dun & Bradstreet. They, like many of their fellow credit bureaus, collect and sell financial data about businesses. They also determine the creditworthiness of our country's major banks. Last week, they assured me that the new customer of mine was a good credit risk. Anyone want to take bets?
9. The President. I'm warning you: Do not believe his March Madness predictions. They're always wrong. Oh, and don't believe his claim that the payroll tax cut will help the economy. Tax "rebates" offered to the masses over the years have never worked. But they do make for tasty election year treats.
10. Rick Santorum. He wants us to spend more time with our families. That has to be a lie. Has he ever spent more than five minutes with a couple of teenagers? Has he never watched an episode of Gossip Girl?
11. Gallup. Their latest poll last week reported that our "economic confidence" is the best in a year. Well, let me check my bank account. Oh, cash is down. And my customers are still sitting on quotes and taking a "wait and see" attitude. Other than the makers of the "The Amazing Spiderman" (which looks ... awesome!), is there anyone else feeling so confident about 2012?
12. The price of that new router for my home office. No, it wasn't $129 like I was promised. It wound up costing me $3,129. That would be the cost of the router plus the 15 hours of my time spent over the weekend trying to figure out why it was always going offline and why my wireless printers couldn't connect to it. (Epilogue: Router now working, wireless printers inexplicably go offline.)
13. Charlie Manuel. He's lying when he says he wants to "adjust Ryan Howard at the plate." Any Phillies fan will tell you what he means to say is "when an opponent shifts every single one of their players to right field, we want Ryan to hit the ball to left field because if he keeps hitting like he's been hitting our fans will kill him."
14. Plug and play. That's a lie. Particularly when it came to the new bluetooth headset I purchased for my Dell desktop. There was plugging, but no playing. Instead there was lots of downloading, reinstalling, cursing, stomping, screaming and overseas calls to tech support where it was finally resolved.
15. The US Airways pilot on my flight to Orlando. He said that congestion at the Philadelphia airport would only delay us 10 minutes. Dude, have you ever flown out of the Philadelphia airport? It's never less than a 45-minute delay if you don't leave your gate on time, and even then it's a good 30 minutes. But you knew that, didn't you?
16. My CPA. He lied to me when he promised to have this year's tax returns done in "a jiffy." A "jiffy" to most accountants means getting a FedEx delivered to your house at 11 p.m. on April 14. And God forbid if you have a question on what was done at that hour. But I'm sure he'll stand loyally by my side in case there's an audit. Right? Hello? Hello?
17. The economists on Seekingalpha.com. Those guys seem so smart, don't they? And they all have their opinions about where the economy is going. And yet, they all seem to differ from one another. So who's lying to me? Who cares -- most of them are usually wrong anyway.
18. The researchers in Australia who say that "work is causing cancer." Yeah, yeah. And so does alcohol, baby food, bottled water, celery, Adam Sandler movies, fruit, gingerbread, mobile phones and orange juice. We all know there's only one thing on that list that can truly cause cancer (or at least a very severe case of boredom). Now can we all just get back to work?
19. My "loyal" employee. He says he is. But he's not. Watch what happens when the economy gets better. We try to keep these people. But if they're really good, they get snapped up by Google or Microsoft anyway. Such is the life of a small-business owner.
20. The company that sold me 10,000 prospects for my marketing campaign. They said the data was good. But when 8,000 emails get returned undelivered, I have to question their claim. And I would, if their phone wasn't suddenly disconnected.
21. The guy who told me he was giving me the "best price." No it's not. It's the best price for him. Whenever someone says he's giving me his "best price," I know I'm being lied to. And in this case, I was. Because it was the same guy who sold me that list of 10,000 prospects. Drat!
22. The French. No one from France lied to me this past week. But I'm sure they would if they had the opportunity.
23. The search engine optimization consultant. Well, he didn't actually lie to me. Not exactly. He said that for $5,000, my company could be listed on the first page of Google. And it was. At 3 a.m. Tuesday night. For 30 seconds. And then it disappeared into oblivion. Just like my 5,000 bucks.
24. My IT guy. Either he lied or he conveniently forgot to tell me that moving to "the cloud" would mean that it now takes five minutes to print out a document and five times as long to update a proposal in Word because of the slower performance. Oh, and my cloud server "doesn't support" Internet browsing. So now I'm writing my letters and surfing the Web from my desktop. Didn't I start there?
25. My employee who told me this video was funny. OK, it was kind of funny. Now get the hell back to work.
26. MakeUseOf's List of "inspirational" videos. What, after hearing all these lies you think I can get inspired? Where's a 5 Hour Energy Drink when you need one?
27. The U.S. Energy Information Administration. Last week they said we would become "more energy independent" by 2035. I never believe the predictions of any government agency. Not when they can't even figure out historical numbers without revising them 57 times. And uh ... if we're becoming so energy independent, why are my company's fuel costs higher than ever?
And the one person who didn't lie to me last week? The teenage girl at my local Starbucks who took my order with a bored expression, never looked me in the eye and handed me my coffee like it was a plastic bag of doggie doo. She could care less about me. No, I would never hire someone like her to work for me. But hey, at least she was honest!
Another version of this post appears on The Philly Post.