A successful entrepreneur shares her thoughts on business success and failure.

Posts published in the Me category:

The Indescribable Anger

Acceptance Today I want to talk about something I haven’t mentioned on this blog. In fact, I rarely mention this in real life, either. But I have a feeling I’m not the only one with this problem–and I think it will do some good to finally speak about it openly.

Years ago, I started noticing I was in significant physical pain when I used the computer for more than a few hours at a time. I used to spend 10+ hours a day in front of a computer. Figuring it was probably just time I invested in some better chairs, I bought myself an Aeron chair (and later, a better desk.)

Except the pain didn’t stop. If anything, it got worse. (more…)

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Are You Making This Common Mistake (That Could Ruin Your Business)?

common mistake in business?
Erica’s note: This is a true story. All names in this post have been changed to protect the parties involved.

During the last recession, in 2002, I picked up some contract PHP programming work to make ends meet. One of the clients I picked up shared an office with another firm. The firm was successful, and I talked to its owner, Sam, fairly often. His business did a few million dollars a year in sales, and Sam himself was wealthy. He was also an excellent business owner.

He considered his employees valuable assets and invested in top-of-the-line computer systems to make sure they could do their jobs well. His business used computers heavily, creating a set of files for each client that were then kept forever should the client ever come back and want more work done. (For this post, it’s not relevant exactly what his business was, although you can replace it with any business that works heavily with computers and keeps a “master record” of client files, such as any accountant or law firm…or perhaps your own business!) (more…)

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The end of the SlashChick era, and the beginning of something even better.

Last month, as I realized the final quarter of 2007 was approaching, I immersed myself in thinking about what I want to do with myself over the next year. 2007 marked the end of several things for me, and notably, the end of one thing I haven’t said much about yet: my SlashChick online persona.

I realized last month that I want to get into blogging a lot more heavily in 2008, and “SlashChick” just didn’t fit me any more. It marked my time on Slashdot, and I don’t spend time on Slashdot any more. It also had connotations of “slash” fiction (male-on-male sex scenes derived from popular movies), which I wasn’t aware of when I created the persona, and to which I don’t have any desire to be attached. I needed a new online persona — one that I was comfortable promoting, one that I didn’t have to explain, and one that most people could type easily if I said on the phone (people had tons of trouble with “slashchick”.) I put a lot of thought into this, since I felt the domain I picked would stick with me for a long time, and I didn’t want to buy a domain and regret the decision later.

I settled, finally, on erica.biz. (more…)

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Introducing Retrograde!

I had a crazy-busy weekend. I am going to Burning Man again in late August (my 3rd Burn!) Last year my friend Erik and I rented an RV and split the cost. The total ran about $2000 to rent for the week. I’m really glad I rented once, because it gave me an excellent idea of how to operate an RV and what to expect in most RV’s.

This year, though, rental was going to be another $2000. Even split, it’s hard to justify that cost. I knew I could probably find something decent to buy on craigslist. I spent pretty much an entire day (Saturday) reading online and trying to decide what I wanted. There are many options. I could have bought a conversion van and put a small camping porta potty in it (cheapest), or bought a truck and a 5th wheel trailer and towed the 5th wheel (most expensive.) I looked at my cash situation — I had about $3K accessible, and could stretch that to $4K at the most. That ruled out a 5th wheel + truck. It still left lots of conversion van options, but after thinking about it some more, I decided I probably didn’t want to go to multiple Burns without an RV or trailer of some sort. Porta potties are nice but you do have to empty them, and a conversion van didn’t get me a fridge or cooking gear.

On Sunday morning I decided I really wanted an RV. (Well, ideally, I wanted a 5th wheel and a truck, but I wasn’t keen on getting a loan to do so.) I hit up craigslist in earnest and started calling around. I made a list of what I wanted: automatic transmission, under 100K miles, working toilet, smogged, runs well, holding tanks for black & gray water were the top priorities. After that, stove/oven, air conditioning, propane refrigerator, solar retrofit potential, and generator were the “nice to have” features.

I found a perfect RV at the very top of my budget: $3900. But it had a generator! So Richard and I drove up to Oakland to take a look. Oh, he was a beaut… I fell in love at first sight. Original 1970’s decor, complete with green shag carpet. A working toilet. A Honda generator!! Air conditioning! Dan and Patricia, the sellers, were as sweet as could be. They spent hours with us showing it off and I could tell they had put a lot of love into it over the 8 years they had owned it.

The RV started right up and I took him for a (very slow) test drive around Oakland and Berkeley. There is some goofiness (the RV door sticks a bit, the parking brake isn’t catching quite right, the sound system was stolen and will need to be replaced, and the stove and oven may or may not work.) But all in all, he’s in excellent working condition considering his age. He drives well and the engine sounds great.

As I was driving him home, I knew he had to have a name. The interior was very retro, and I was amused that I had bought such an old “backwards” RV, so I christened him Retrograde.


Retrograde!

I have to go get him smogged and registered this week. (Dan and Pat gave me a $60 credit toward the smog check, so my total came out to $3840.) I also need to put some insurance on him. I paid cash and have title in hand, which was the best part… I knew I hadn’t stretched myself too thin. Even at about $1000/year in maintenance, which is what Dan and Pat sounded like they had put into him, it’ll still be about as expensive as renting an RV for the next 3 years for Burning Man. Plus, I own him now, and can take him to Tahoe or camping or wherever we want to go. Oh, it was a happy day yesterday. Totally exhausting, but wonderful. Welcome home, Retrograde!

More pictures of Retrograde on my Flickr page

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Welcome to erica.biz!

Photo of Erica Douglass

I'm Erica Douglass.
After selling my online business at age 26 for over $1 million, I created this blog to help you grow your own business quickly.

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