Joe the Plumber was the main takeaway from last night’s Presidential Debate, and while I don’t get into politics here, I thought maybe it’s time we talk about Joe.
You see Joe Wurzelbacher has been slaving away for years putting in 10-12 hour days to make someone else money. Now he’s about to start his own company. Sound familiar?
Joe’s about to buy the company he’s been working for, because in the bricks/mortar/plumbing world, buying an existing business gets you a customer base, keeps your place in the yellow pages and makes it more likely you’ll succeed. In our online world that seldom happens – startups are just that, and the chances that the employees of say either Microsoft or Google are going to buy out the founders is exactly zero.
But there’s three things you could learn from Joe:
- You are – or soon will be – running a business. Be concerned about the stuff that’s happening around you. Things like differential tax rates, health care credits, politics – the unfun, unsexy, unprogramming stuff. It matters. It can make you or break you back to the ranks of cubicle code monkey. So you’d better spend some time on at least getting a basic understanding of how this stuff works – including the politics part of it, because it will make a difference in the success of your business.
- Take advantage of opportunities. Joe was playing football with his son in front of his house when Barack Obama showed up; he didn’t let the totally unexpected opportunity go by just because it was unexpected. Joe got in there and asked his question – and you should do the same at conferences, of your elected officials or people running for office, of “important” people. Don’t be intimidated- you can’t afford it. It’s been my experience that “really important people” are more than willing to answer a question or two if asked nicely, be they programming gods, tech legends or politicians.
- Have pride in what you are doing. If you listen to the exchange between Joe and Barack, you can hear the pride in Joe’s voice; he’s proud of where he’s gotten and what he’s building. So should you. Starting a business takes guts, and that’s something you should be proud of.