When I Worked for a Poor Person

“I’ve never worked for a poor person.” 99% of the employed in America would generally agree with this statement. You may cross a Liberal who will point out that corporations aren’t “people.” While true, those who have ever worked for a “poor” corporation soon found themselves out of a job. By definition, being poor means you don’t have the resources to fully provide for yourself.

There are some exceptions to the rule when it comes to being employed by a poor person (or poor corporation), but these exceptions are typically out of choice. For example, a start-up company may forgo short-term revenue for long-term viability. The intention is to become wealthy down the road. You couldn’t operate on that premise indefinitely which is why start-ups either fail early or sky-rocket in value. We must also remove non-profits from the equation. Their business type excludes them from being included as a true business as they are not supposed to be in it for the money and rely on donations to completely fund or fill in the gaps. Remove the special charity aspect of non-profits and they are as stated, not profitable.

Through my short life I have been employed by 8 businesses, 1 non-profit, 1 individual, and self-employed. Most of my jobs hopping occurred when I was in high school and college. My parents required me to fund my own adventures and in short this meant I need an income. So began my job experience. In all their ups and downs, all jobs I have ever held (whether I enjoyed it or not) have taught me invaluable lessons on business and economics. Most of which cannot be taught in school.

One interesting aspect of a young adult is their enthusiasm, at least in my generation, of taking risks. One such risk I took was taking a job from an individual who was cash-flow negative. At the time I did not know this. The business he was running was auction related and since a good friend of mine and I had done something similar to earn an income early in college I was extremely excited to engage in business with someone who sounded like he had a long-term plan. When I was part owner of an internet auction based business, the long-term plan was dreamed up but never imagined. My business partner and I closed up shop when we had finally run out of resources. We were smart. Instead of cutting our losses and running, we shut everything down before we ran into any losses because we knew what the future held.

When I started working with this new business I was promised to be paid the following month. The advertisement I responded to actually had a starting hourly wage in it, but during the interview I was informed that because of the nature of the business (items to sell at auction are not consistent) my pay would being within a month. For the first month I would be volunteering my time. The prospect of this business sounded wonderful and I was happy to postpone monetary gratification in the short-term for the long-term payout. This business was going to thrive and the money would pour in! So my dreams led me to believe.

What started out as one month of no pay turned into two and then three. By the third month I was promised a top of the line lap-top computer in the fourth month. I was already wise about the time I was wasting with this endeavor but hope kept me in it. The lap-top was the last straw. How can a business afford to buy me a $1,500 computer but not afford to pay me that same amount? Anything would have been better than nothing. Think of a small payment as a good-faith token to show it’s worth continuing. Soon after, my “volunteering” came to an end. I had had enough.

Most of those looking for real work would not have been able to stay in a job like that for three months. I had the advantage of living at my parents’ house, college being paid for by scholarship, and having very few expenses. An economy doesn’t run on volunteer work. Volunteer work is what you do with excess capital and time. If the individual I worked for had been honest about his business’ financial state I probably wouldn’t have taken that job. A business that doesn’t pay can’t last. The employee loses out eventually. The business may collapse or the employees gets laid off. Either way, you don’t get paid.