Source: How to pet a kitty – The Oatmeal
As I have mentioned to you in the past, I’ve made a lot of mistakes. Luckily, most of these mistakes were small and didn’t cause much harm to my business or me personally. But on one occasion, my mistake not only brought my business down, but it also almost bankrupted me.
Here is the story of my million-dollar mistake.
The early days
Towards the end of my high school career, I started my first real Internet business. The business was called Advantage Consulting Services (ACS), which consulted small- to medium-sized businesses on their Internet marketing strategies.
At first, like most businesses, ACS struggled. But through blogging, speaking at industry events, and cold calling, my business partner and I were able to grow ACS into a cash cow.
During our peak, we were pulling in millions of dollars with high profit margins. Once ACS started to do well, my business partner and I decided to expand, but we didn’t expand in a good way.
Most entrepreneurs would expand their core business and try to accelerate its growth. But my business partner and I aren’t like most entrepreneurs. We decided we would be different and expand into new ventures that weren’t related to our core business.
The somewhat greedy life
I adopted Motorboat when my family emigrated from Hawaii to California to start over. It was fitting then, I suppose, that my cat waited to die until I returned from college a graduate. I had a few days with her when I arrived at home before she stopped eating, became inert, and remained in a closet in my bedroom until she passed. I say fitting because, as impressively sad as watching her die was, she was well over fourteen, and as much as I felt like my pre-graduate life was inexplicably and unsentimentally linked with hers, so then did her dying remind me that it was time to abnegate the convenience and comfort provided by an attachment to the things I was leaving behind.
Part of that process of voluntary loss involved making peace with the future I had chosen for myself. Writing, in all of the expansive and imprecise meaning associated with the term, had appeared before me as little more than a miraculous accident. I had always written things, but it wasn’t until a cascade of words spilled out of me in a happy constellation and a few important people gave me a phone call that I was forced to consider if this was the identity I wanted to define myself by. To my great dissatisfaction and discomfort, otherwise fair and probative questions asked of me regarding process, craft and upcoming projects became inextricably tangled with the greater looming consideration of exactly what it was that I was doing with myself.