real money: cash, facts, and entrepreneuring

There’s a great scene in Erin Brokovich where hot biker guy asks Brokovich (played by Julia Roberts and her push-up bra) for her phone number.

“You want my number?” she snaps. “How about 3? That’s the number of kids I’ve got. And how about 31? That’s how many days late my rent is. And how about 15, ‘cause that’s how many dollars I’ve got left in my bank account.”

If only we were so real at business conferences. Venture capital, ROI, cash flow, cost of goods … there’s always lot’s of strategy talk, but rarely a drill down into specific dollars. So did you raise a million bucks or did you put $10k on your credit card? What does “turn a profit” really mean? How close is a ‘close call’? Facts give perspective. So let me throw out a few numbers for all you entrepreneurs and artists making your way:

$150,000 = the book advance my former business partner and I received for writing Style Statement. Originality goes a long way in publishing.

$70,000 = (yes, seventy) the production cost that we carried for the book … portrait and product photography, set dec, travel, graphic design and materials. That was a dumb move. We should have shared creative control with the publisher and let them carry the design costs.

$1.87 = approximate book royalty per book (which the author gets only if the advance is earned out.) Note: very few authors ever earn out their advance.

$6000 = cost to design this site. I could have done it myself more austerely, but it would have taken 3 months to launch instead of the 8 weeks we did it in.

$128 = cost of a Logitech Laser mouse, which has brought me untold delight.

$600,000 = capital-raised for my last company.

$11,000 = my income for the first year in business at my last company.

$17,000 = my income for the second year in business at my last company.

$85,000 = my salary for the third year in business at my last company.

$0 = what I left with from my last company.

$7000 = annual cost of full time daycare for my four year old.

$170 = hourly rate for my accountant.

$3000 = my standard speaking fee.

$250 to $350 = what you should expect to pay for a good lawyer.

$600 = money I saved using Picnik for photos instead of buying Photoshop.

$25 = the donation I make to Women for Women International or Kiva on behalf of each Fire Starter client.

$9 = what I paid for my last pair of jeans at Value Village. Stretch Dickies. Fantastic.

1 = the singular principle that guides me: evoke the truth.