Basic Math & Bad Business Decisions

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Being bad at math and making bad business decisions goes hand in hand. Sometimes we make bad decisions because we don’t know all the cost factors, replacement costs, unforeseen expenses and so on. Can’t do much about that. But sometimes we rationally ignore the basic arithmetic for the sake of vanity, promise or blind ambition.

I keep on telling myself that one day I’ll learn to fix that Smile

It has not happened yet.

In the long, long time ago I wrote a mail server. Over time that monster grew, scaled, exploded in complexity and.. aged.

Over the past month, I have been working on moving to a new architecture and rebuilding the system to incorporate all the new advanced stuff. At some point last week I hit a few major roadblocks that basically made it clear that I would have to rewrite a massive amount of our automation and management infrastructure.


My time is not cheap. I’d like to think that in the marketplace as a VAR I could make double digits per hour if I really tried. 😉 But here I was, about to spend at least a week rewriting an infrastructure for something that A) Worked and B) Wasn’t a massively growing product.

Sanity check here: How many hours would I have to spend to do this? Divide by an average profit per mailbox? How long would it take to break even and make profit again?

What I should have done is have done is put my focus on a more lucrative project.

So I failed.

But, I had a really, really, really good reason – which is what you always say when you do something stupid – in that this new technology will allow us to scale faster and compete with Google and Big Pile of S*** / 360.

The Difference

Any rational person with any common sense would look at the above and agree with me that it was a waste.

But you’d be wrong.

The business owners, CEOs and others would probably take side with me in thinking that what is essential to keeping an organization competitive in the marketplace must be done regardless of tradeoff costs.

But those same people would sack an employee for doing the very same thing.

For business owners and people driving forward, accountability is very fluid. It’s what we make out of it. But employees are paid for a job – and a very specific one at that. I stand to lose millions of imaginary dollars if I fail – but I stand to win them if I’m right. Employees always have only their salary at risk – which they can replace relatively easily with another employer.

The point being, the prioritization of resources can often be frustrating for your employees to understand because they only see their role in it – until the next paycheck. Your role as the boss / owner / CEO is to make sure the company exists years down the road.

I hope this makes sense. There is no right or wrong – but there needs to be a vision and strategy. Sometimes getting from here to there isn’t paved with completely common sense. But if you believe it, and can work on making it a reality, the only real cost is your effort.