I'VE CONSIDERED the pros and cons all weekend and sometime around dawn I decide to take the leap of faith and rent new office space.
The fear doesn't subside immediately, but I console myself: Three years ago when i left a professorship to stat my business, my fear level must have been 9.5 on a 10-point scale. Now it's only 2 or 3.
I drive by the new location to survey the parking situation. It looks good. I'll sample it several times throughout the day to make sure it's adequate. The visibility is as good as our current address, and if location-location-location are three major factors in the success of a business, we're making a good move.
I'm beginning to replace the on-call staff I've worked with the past three years with a permanent staff. So, once back in the offce, I review responses to our office manager ad.
They are not encouraging. Some envelopes contain resumes, no letters; other letters, no resumes. Still other letters are handwritten, folded several times and stuffed in small envelopes. Some resumes are Xeroxed so faintly, I can't read them. A few letters are written on the letterheads of current employers and even postage-metered by them.My values eschew this. I wonder if I'm old fashioned.
Almost every letter or resume contains at least one typographical error, grammatical faux pas or incorrect spelling. Since a major part of our business is providing publications assistance, this kind of representation will never do. I decide to place the ad again.
Our usual business day begins at 9 a.m. But, today I'm here at 7:30 because I've agreed to an early appointment with a man who wants interviewing and salary negotiation counseling before a job interview later in the day.
When he made the appointment a few days ago, I questioned the wisdom of waiting until the last minute, but he was adamant. He wanted the appointment this morning, "while it will be fresh in my mind."
Now, I'm speechless when he calls to say that since it's raining he's not going to keep the later appointment, nor this one. He suggests we get together later in the day, when it stops raining. I'm happy to tell him I'm booked for the foreseeable future.
As I unlock the door at 9, a client for whom we had done an overnight rush job appears. I hand him the finished proofreading project and thank him. "Not much to it," he says. I smile at the irony of it. He had underestimated the project by 100 pages when he called to schedule the work, we rose to the challenge and he is saying, "Nothing to it."
About midmorning, I meet with a client who wants us to screen and test the clerical staff for his new office. He also wants us to purchase the necessary supplies and equipment. He heard of us through another client, and I feel good about that. Word of mouth referrals are the best advertising.
I feel overwhelmed by all there is to do, so I make two "to do" lists. One will keep the business operating as usuall and the other will help bring about the move. I delight in checking off the finished tasks.
There are at least 50 things that must be done to move four blocks down the street. I call the landlord to give 30 days' notice. I call the signmaker to arange for removing and rehanging the signs. I call Xerox to move the copying machine, and I call the one dependable mover I know for the rest of the office.
I'm interrupted by a call from my daughter Laurie. She wants to know what my schedule is and I start giving a rundown of the lists. She teases that she guesses she'll have to make an appointment to see me.
I decide to drop everything and meet her and my younger daughter, Leisa, for lunch. It's fun to exchange news and I wonder if there's deeper meaning when Laurie asks, "Mom, do you think it's bad that I don't want a career and I'd rather stay home and be fulltime wife and mother?"
It's deja vu in reverse. I remember 12 years ago when I started college at 30 and I asked my mother if she thought it wrong that I preferred a career to domesticity.
Later in the day I get a call requesting us to do our seminar on "Men & Women in Business: The Differences and the Implications." The combination of this call and lunch with the kids reminds me that happy, thriving relationships are what life is al about.
It's a win-one, los-one day. We win in the morning when the IBM repair person tells us that replacement elements are covered under our service contract for typewriter maintenance. That's a big savings for us and I thank him at least three times -- once for every year we didn't know. Either it's a well guarded secret or I forgot to read the fine print.
In the afternoon, we lose. I had asked C&P to conduct a test to confirm that we use as many extra message units as we are consistently billed for. The results are in: The counter that clicks off the calls units has not erred. I remain skeptical, but I decide it's one of those things that could usurp a lot of energy for nebulous gain.
I end the day by meeting with a client who is getting estimates on our doing the artwork, editing, printing and binding of her company's newsletter. She likes our approach and is happy with our prices.
A man in the outer office isn't, however. I overhear my assistant trying to justify our price for a xerox copy. He says he doesn't understand why we can't charge less -- he wants to pay what he pays at his "regular" place. She explains we're a low volume user and the machine is strictly for client convenience. He shakes his head and walks out the door mumbling that we remind him of beltway bandits.
I do a quick calculation. After deducting the machine plus maintenance plus power, paper and supplies, we probably "make off" with $20 a month.
I walk out the door shaking my head and mumbling too.
I begin the day early by calling government agencies and prime contractors to set up appointments for next week. Until I find a marketing rep who has enough self-assurance to work on commission, I'm in charge of marketing. The people I've talked with are confident they can introduce our services and have "good connections," but don't want to risk proving it at their expense.
Later in the day, two projects come in and I'm excited about both of them. One is from a client who has moved to South Carolina. She is returning here for a conference in October and wants us to handle it. She also wants us to design two one-hour segments on time management and stress management. Feeling like a living example of stress management, I look forward to getting the specs on Monday. In the meantime, I reserve space at one of my favorite sites for small meetings. The price and the atmosphere are right.
The other project involves writing an employe handbook outlining the company background, philosophies, policies and procedures. I immediately assign the projects to me. One of the greatest jous in my business is variety.
I leave early, a rare occasion that I'm trying to make more common. I measure the new office so I can shop for furniture tomorrow. Then, I jump on my bike and head toward Mount Vernon, one of my favorite rides.
Our word processor calls me. She's worried. We were already booked this weekend when we accepted a project from a client who convinced us his situation was desperate. He promised us we would have the entire project by 5 p.m. Friday and that it would be no longer than 150 pages. Turns out that at Saturday noon it has just come in and there are 235 pages so far.
We run through the list of free-lance typists and word processors. Several calls meet with a variety of Sorry, nos. There's company, sick children, husbands who won't babysit, shopping that must be done and so on.
I put my shopping plans aside and spend the next six hours at the word processor.
Thank God I'm cross-trained.
This is the day I like to pamper myself. If I get up before noon, It seems like the crack of dawn. At 9:30, the phone rings and it's our weekend word processor. She tells me that 120 more pages have come, we're staffed for the day and both projects are moving along well.
A call worth waking up for. I decide to read The Post, have breakfast and go back to sleep. But I'm so excited about the finds under the office furniture and equipment classifieds, I jump up and start making calls and appointments. There are several items that sound just right for the client whose office we're furnishing, and a few for us too. If the quality is right, Monday will be a profitable shopping day.
Later in the day I go to the office for my weekly stint of vaccuming, dusting and scouring. I decide that when we move to our new location I'll treat myself to a janitorial service.
At 5:30 I get another reassuring call. The work is done, proofed, priced and waiting for the client.