9 July 2008

The little company that couldn’t...

I once worked for a little start-up company. It was a great experience as I got to try a lot of things I had never done before. I was the President’s secretary and in that role he delegated me to create and type up a job posting, which I advertised in the local newspaper. I conducted interviews and hired my first employee – the receptionist. I had to supervise her as well as run the office. I took minutes at meetings and hosted out of town potential buyers as they came to look at our technology.

Unfortunately they went bankrupt, but I ended up staying on to the very dying days of the company. The only two employees that were kept on to finalize things were me and the accountant.

I learned a few things during that experience. First, I realized that they really had to trust me to keep me on. The accountant and I were the only employees allowed on site other than the bankruptcy people. Second, I got a look into what it was like to be in charge and the responsibilities and risks of owning your own company. The CEO and President who started the company took a chance on a good idea, but it didn’t work out for them.

When we finally finished everything we had to do, I got excellent reference letters from both of them and was able to secure a job within days. We had really gotten to know each other during this difficult time.

The rest of the story...

It was the mid 80s and the company was developing some leading edge technology for that time. We were all excited about it as the staff were encouraged to participate in the pilot project. My friends were sometimes stumped as I sent them recorded phone messages, set to be delivered at a future date, with a simple voice recording to “wake up” or “have a great day”. We called the technology “voice and data”.

I heard later that the technology was sold to an American company who developed it further to something that we know today as “voicemail”.

I was reminded of this experience while reading an article on Anita Bruzzese’s blog called, “Five Reasons it’s a good idea to Stay on a Sinking Ship”.