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Business is Hard Part II

People are not always who you expect them to be.

I behave mostly the same whether I am at work (IRC), in person, or in IM/regular chat I try to behave the same way in business dealings. I am not going to intentionally fuck someone over for me to make an extra couple dollars. I also will not intentionally leave a project that we have a contract for unfinished. I will work to deliver everything that I agreed to deliver and if I cannot I will refund accordingly.

I have found out, over the last week, that not everyone is like that. I recently had the misfortune of renting from a person I had known for about 10 years. I knew he was a smart business man otherwise he would not have made the 100s of millions of dollars he has in the bank or the summer homes in New Zealand but I never thought he would fuck me over.

In renting from him I chose the best possible location then went through the list of available buildings his being the only one in my price range in roughly the right vicinity so I took it. It was old and cold. The floor was an awful ugly brown, there was a huge back room with cracks in the doors and windows that air would directly blow through.

When I first moved into the building there was talk of the ceiling leaking and that it would be fixed by the first weekend I was there. The work crew came out and “fixed” the roof and I thought everything was cool. Two weeks later it rained and the ceiling was leaking again, turns out, the work crew didn’t actually repair the leak they only replaced the ceiling tiles to make it look like they had done the work. We immediately called the landlord who came down and looked around. We told him about the numerous violations for electricity and wiring in the building and he said, “You make better detectives than tenants” and then he told us “If you don’t like it, get the hell out.”

Get the hell out.

I had not anticipated that as a response I would get, knowing this guy for the last 10 years I would have thought it would be something like “We’ll fix it, give us a couple days” or even “It’s going to take a week to get it fixed” but never “Get the hell out”. So now I am left scrambling. I have about 20 computers in a building with monitors and all sorts of electrical equipment with a ceiling that is raining. I have clients who have been to the building that know that is where we are located.

I make arrangements for the computers to be stored out of the weather. Now what? Broken and beaten we begin to look for another storefront, some guy offered to let us use part of his building. Do I want to be bounded by his hours? No. Do I want to be stuck in some shitty corner of town? No. Do I want to have my business directly affected by another person? Not only no, but hell no. I have too much experience with business to know that this is a bad idea.

Now I go looking through every other building in town. I found one! The perfect fucking building, downtown, right in the main traffic area, big enough to hold all of the equipment and still have space leftover, but not big enough to kill me with the heating bill. (The old place cost $175 for power for one month.) The only problem was the landlord. He had, to that point turned down 7 potential renters. There was an arcade, a lawyer, and a few other tenants that definitely made more money than we did and had bigger community ties than we did.

Some people really are good people.

I called and talked to the new landlord expecting that we would get rejected out right without even being looked at completely. The landlord told me to write up the information he would need to make a decision and process our application. Since I figured we had no chance at getting the place I was brutally honest about us and our financial situation, as well as, 2/3 of us having extremely bad credit. I was also extremely forthright about our services and lack of ability to get into the building for another month because of the financial situation caused by the first rental.

Over the next couple of phone calls with a good word put in by our prospective neighbors (whom we all knew and liked) it was settled that we had the place the very next day. I called the landlord back to let him know we couldn’t accept because of the financial situation. The landlord agreed to drop the rent with security deposit from $1200 to just the $700 for rent. After pouring through my finances it wasn’t possible for me to pay that much after all of the damages done from the first place.

On the call following this the landlord

insisted that the first payment be $500 rather than the $700 and that we have 17 days of free rent

. Yes, you read that right, he insisted that we have 17 days of free rent and that we only pay the security deposit. In which world does this happen? Until now I had no idea that there were people that were this “good”. Of course, we accepted and signed the lease as soon as his wife could get there to give us the papers.

If you try, sometimes things will work out.

Three days before this we were broken and bruised not knowing if we could succeed without a building. Now we were set up with a better location in a better building with less wasted space.

Lesson learned here:

Be the Juggernaut; break through every fucking wall anyone can throw at you.