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Sunday, January 15, 2017

The Business Really Gathers Momentum, Partial Re-Entry Into The World of Accounting And The Best Explanation of Abuse I Have Seen

Having made it through our first month in Saint John, and enjoying a relaxed Christmas with family in the new house it was time to start the new year. I have been stressed lately because January 2016 was a very slow month, and I had figured that this was naturally a slow time of year, when people were recovering from the excesses of Christmas and not spending money. As a precaution against the possible lack of cash flow, I decided that the time had come to re-enter the world of professional accounting on a part time basis. The last thing I wanted to do is take my focus off the business, so I thought: "How many hours a week can I devote to accounting, without hurting the business? Would I be prepared to work late most weekdays to make up the time?". I thought that I can probably do 2 days a week with no problem and make it up on the back end. Sure, it means I will be working harder than I ever have in a very, very long time. I do it without hesitation, as this business model is really working and it is imperative that I do whatever it takes to give it the best possible chance of success. Our move out here to Saint John was one such step that we took, but it is clear that more is required.

With that in mind I sent resumes to all of the local accounting firms here advertising my services on a part time basis. I was very straightforward in my approach, sending out 10 resumes, just before Christmas - not fantastic timing, but I figured at lease one firm would respond. Three days later, I received exactly one telephone call from a firm downtown. They asked me to come in for an interview on January 10. I enthusiastically agreed and then set about listing material and filling orders.

Far from being quiet, January 2017 is set to become our best month yet. We just received a $1,700 order from a very good customer for Nigeria, which I haven't even really started listing yet, pushing our total sales over $3,300 and we are just at the 15th! We are getting multiple orders and offers every single day, our blog is now receiving hundreds of visitors daily. More and more customers are engaging us, asking questions and sharing our posts. All of this is an excellent sign that the time is right to now develop our webstore. I am very excited by the growing momentum that the business is gathering.

The $1,700 order bears special mention though as it illustrates perfectly the benefits that come with specialization. The customer in question collects marginal single stamps from around the world bearing either plate inscriptions or a plate number. He purchased a plate inscription single from the 1928 Scroll Issue of Canada for $12, or something like that. Thanks to our welcome e-mail, in which we engage our customers and invite them to tell us what their interests are, this customer decided to engage, which opened up the opportunity to offer him some specialized material from early pre-1914 Nigeria. He was eager to purchase, and when it came to price, he did tell us that he was used to purchasing at no premium over catalogue. We explained our pricing philosophy and explained the scarcity of our material and he agreed to our pricing, which was far above full Gibbons. We could never have done this if we were generalists because we wouldn't have had the material to offer him, and even if we did, he probably wouldn't believe that we were in a position to know how truly scarce the material is. This order also illustrates the importance of engaging customers in a non-threatening way and giving them the opportunity to tell you what they want. If you listen, they will tell you, and by doing so, give you the opportunity to help them.

I attended the interview on the 10th and found it to be a completely different experience from any professional interview I've ever had before. Gone was all the discussion of my future aspirations and where I see myself in 5 years - all the BS. Actually, we started the interview talking about my business. They had few to no questions about my qualifications, since the work I am interested in handling is far below my skill level, and the discussion focused on my availability. It felt good to be able to state firmly that I would not want to work more than 2 days a week. They seemed fine with that, understanding that some time is better than none, and when they asked me my rate, I was able to go low: $35-$40 per hour. This week, I received word that they want to hire me for 15-20 hours a week at $40 per hour. On top of this, it looks like I will maintain a relationship with my old firm as well to help them with a limited number of clients. So this will help greatly with cash flow and allow us to retain more of the cash flow from sales to either expand the business or hire staff.

I was on Quora the other day looking through my feed, when I came across the best definition of abuse that I have seen to date. It was so good, I thought I should share it here.

The problem when you are in an abusive relationship is that your abuser will point to all kinds of things that they claim make them a victim of YOUR abuse. This can be both confusing and isolating. Confusing because they can become very good at convincing you that they are indeed the victim at least some of the time. It can be isolating because your mutual friends and family believe them. This is often because your abuser will have successfully isolated you from the people who genuinely care about you and replaced them with people who might like you, but who are ultimately loyal to your abuser. That was certainly the case with my ex wife.

The key thing that betrays such a relationship, this person on Quora said is: The Arrow of Control. They went on to distinguish between setting boundaries and trying to take control. Boundaries, consist of things you put in place to restrict access to yourself by others. Examples are:

"Don't touch me there."
"Don't go through my phone".
"Don't open my mail"

The reason these are healthy boundaries is because the things in question are yours: your body, your phone and your mail. They do not belong to the other person. An abuser will try to convince you that because you are in a relationship with them that they have a right to intrude on anything that could conceivably impact them, which in their mind is just about anything. However, that is what TRUST is for. When you are respected and trusted your partner does not feel the need to cross your boundaries because they trust you to weigh your needs and theirs.

Taking control on the other hand, is when somebody attempts to establish boundaries against you, rather than putting up boundaries for themselves. Examples would be:

"I don't want you seeing that friend of yours again."
"You aren't allowed to spend more than $X without talking to me first."
"I've told you a million times not to accept calls from telemarketers. I don't want my information out there."

On the surface, it is easy to see how they might seem like healthy boundaries, particularly the third one. However, they cross the line because they all ignore the fact that as an individual, you have a right to choose your friends, spend money that is yours and accept whatever telephone calls you want. An abusive partner attempts to curtail those freedoms because they either do not know how to establish healthy boundaries for themselves, or they are too lazy to do so. A healthy individual who is not abusive might say the following to you about the above three issues:

"I don't like this person, but I respect that they are your friend. You are free to see them whenever you want, and I will be polite when I see them, but please do not expect me to hang out with them, and please do not share any intimate information about me."

"You can spend your money as you please, but if we are building a future together, I would like to be involved in major financial decisions."

"I don't like taking calls from telemarketers because I don't like giving them free information. If you want to take those calls, that's your business. All I would ask is that you do not give them any of my information."

In each case, the person making these statements is expressing their preference, preserving your freedom to act as you will, but putting up a boundary to protect themselves. That isn't controlling at all. Do you see the difference?

What this person on Quora said in conclusion is that when you look at nearly all relationships in which abuse is present, there is usually one person who is clearly trying to take control most of the time. In these cases, the other person is usually putting up boundaries, or if they don't know how to do this, being passive aggressive in order to protect what little freedom and autonomy they have as an individual.

That was easily the best, most succinct, simplest and useful description of abuse that I have come across anywhere - bar none. I hope at least some of my readers find it useful. 

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