We finally locked up funding for my company. There are some catches, though, and one of them is that we can't use the funding to pay back debt.
This is a problem because our company has been out of money, pretty much, since November. We have revenue, but not enough to cover operating expenses. So we've all given up a portion of our salary for a while now. And we stopped paying rent. And we didn't pay freelancers, (which meant that for the past months, any time something broke, it was very high stakes because we couldn’t hire someone to fix it.)
The lack of money got so bad that one day I was driving to Chicago to meet an investor but the company credit card (which is really Ryan Healy's credit card) was declined. And I didn't have money for gas. So I had to drive back to the Brazen Careerist office and get money from Ryan Paugh, who is the only person in the company who has any sort of financial cushion in his life. But he only had $20, which is not enough to get to Chicago, so the investor had to meet me in Milwaukee. And buy me lunch.
The no-money thing has also been stressful at home. At first I cut back on stuff that was not a good idea. Like, cut back on the vet for our two new kittens, and then it turns out they are not that new, at least to the world, because one got the other pregnant. And now it's really expensive because we have to have a cat abortion.
So I looked for more innocuous cutbacks and thought of my ex-husband. I am supposed to be paying him $250 every month for two years. But he already sort of lives in my house anyway. Because I'm nice. And I thought maybe he wouldn't notice it if I didn't pay him that. Or he wouldn't say anything. Because he's nice.
I also cut back on the cleaning woman who comes every day. Please shut up about how it's a luxury. Anyone who has a stay-at-home spouse has someone doing a quick clean up of their house every day. Also, it's pretty hard to have an ex-husband in and out of my house every day if I have to clean up after him. And, a clean house is so important to women that it is actually a good indicator of whether or not she'll want to have sex. Women like having sex more when their house is clean.
Not that anyone is having sex in my house. Well, except for the kittens. But my point is that cleaning is important.
I also thought it would be good to decrease household help because the other night we were having dinner and my six-year-old found an apple seed. He said, “Let's save this til the spring and then plant it and grow an apple tree. And we can water it every day. I mean, we can pay someone to water it.”
Okay. So I told myself cutting back expenses is an okay thing to do to keep the company going.
And then we got funding, but we are not allowed to use the funding to pay debt. So all the months that people have been expecting to get back pay, they are wrong. That's not happening. And, also, all the freelancers are not going to get paid.
The investor tells me, “Oh, this is fine. Treat your stock like Monopoly money and give it to the freelancers.”
This does not sound right to me. So I call the guy on my advisory board who is plugged in to all things Silicon Valley. He tells me that paying stock is generous. He says a lot of companies would just not pay. Period.
I am still scared, though. I was a freelance writer for five years, and I got so frustrated when people didn't pay.
But I called one of the freelancers we owe money to and asked him if he'd take stock and he confirmed what my advisory board member said: Stock is surprisingly generous and startups screw people over all the time.
Great. Now I'm ready to make the rest of the calls.
Things go pretty well. No one is happy. But we have always hired freelancers we adore, so we have good relationships — well at least we do at the beginning of the calls.
Then I get to my SEO guy. He is a nut. First of all. Let me tell you a little about the SEO world. It happens after dark. I don't know why the SEO guys don't sleep, but they don't. Also, it's always guys. I think because SEO runs a lot like the mob and the mob is all guys. Really, think about it. Who are the top Diggers? Guys who never change out of their pajamas. And who is ranking on Google for top search phrases like “buy guitar lessons right now” or whatever. That's right. Guys who never change their pajamas.
So, anyway, my SEO guy is very gracious about the stock. And I make a note to myself to maybe stop twittering about how he's a crazy person. But then he calls back and says, “Uh. Could I have links instead of stock?”
Really. He tells me his plan to dominate the world by having his various web sites rank high on Google for odd business term searches. And, then, after he shows me all the places on my blog where I mention the perfect business phrase for linking to him, he says, “Um. And also, you know that post about your first date with the farmer? I'd like a link there, too.”
Yep. That's right. My SEO guy has a gardening site, and apparently my farmer page is one of the most popular pages on the Internet for this one, specific word, which he does not want me to tell you because he thinks you will then develop a site yourself to leverage traffic from this word.
I go to the board meeting with Ryan and Ryan. We report that we got the debt off the books and we're ready to take in the money. And I am feeling sort of good. Like we're turning a new page in the life of our company. And snow is thawing, and I'll draw a salary again and I'll get some cute spring skirts. In fact, I'm hoping maybe I'll get enough money to revamp my whole wardrobe: Does anyone want to buy a link on that farmer post?