If you’re a good Canadian like myself, you probably know who I’m talking about when I say Red Green. If you don’t, stop…google it…come one back. One of the tenets of the Red Green Show was that duct tape could fix just about anything and I believe that to be pretty true, to a point. Let me tell you a little bit about my sofa.
When my wife and I bought our house, the previous owner was very sweet and left a number of things for us. She was moving into a condo… and I think didn’t like a lot of it. One of the things she left us was a sofa. You know the brown and yellow and mauve sofa covered in flowers that your grandmother had? THAT one. It was comfortable and as a newly married couple who just bought a house and were trying to keep our costs down, it served us perfectly well. But as time went on we began to realize that we wanted something a little more “us”. And so we went looking for a plain, black, leather sofa.
First off, I will tell you that it is actually quite difficult to find a full length, BLACK leather sofa. You can find off-black, midnight gray and ore chocolate than you can shake a stick at but apparently black leather sofas are the sasquatch of the furniture world. Finally, we found ONE. It wasn’t exactly what we wanted but it was pretty close and seeing as though we had no other options, we rolled with it.
The sofa was great. It lasted the entire Friends series, How I Met Your Mother, the entire Harry Potter… Octology… and season after season of EA Sports NHL. It served us well. On nights when I had too much dairy or too many beer, it was my home away from home. And then it got a tear. It was a small tear and we didn’t think much about it but one small tear turned into a couple of small tears. We didn’t want a new couch at the time and so I did what Red Green had taught me to do; I put some duct tape on it.
We bought a roll of black duct tape and covered the tear. And that was great. But an overweight husband, a wife who likes to work on the couch, a hyperactive toddler boy and a copycat infant/toddler girl made short work of that couch and it got to the point where there was as much, if not more, duct tape than there was original couch. We bought roll after roll of duct tape and then eventually switched to Guerilla Tape because if you use duct tape to fix your furniture, you learn more than anyone really needs to know about duct tape.
Finally, the time came to get a new couch. We were going to toss the old one right away but we had a baptism party and I had a super bowl party and so we decided to hold on to it as a second “play couch”. One day, when the kids were playing on the couch, an enormous piece of the “fabric” came off and a smattering of odd smelling black powder came out. That day, I took that couch and put it on the curb.
This is not a story about a couch. This is a story about duct tape and how much you should use, figuratively, not literally…although I LITERALLY can now tell you how much duct tape you need to use to prolong the life of a couch.
As small business owners and entrepreneurs, and also as employees, we always want to get the most out of our resources, whether those resources are computers, desk chairs or even people. But it is incredibly important that you realize when something becomes more cost or trouble than it’s worth. We spent, I kid you not, about $100 on duct tape over the course of a year. I repeat. We spent about one…hundred…dollars…on the duct tape used to give a couch that had met its end, a second lease on life. Here’s another way to think about it. We spent $8.34 per month to rent a shitty couch.
It’s fine if you don’t have the money, at the moment, to make an investment in something. Maybe you can’t pull the trigger on a second display or a new macbook air or a chair with better lumbar support. Maybe you’ve got to keep Scott on the payroll even though he’s useless. It’s fine if you can’t afford those things. Just don’t kid yourself. That bad chair is costing you money and pain. That single 13” display is breaking your neck. That ancient macbook that you built yourself out of spare parts 7 years ago costs you 15% more time due to that stupid spinning beach ball. And Scott? Scott isn’t saving you money because you’d have to train someone to replace him. Scott is shaving years off your life with his shitty work ethic and terrible performance.
“I’ve spent so much on this, I can’t pull out now.”
Yes. You can. And you have to. It’s called sunk costs. You’ve already spent the money. You’ve already spent the time. THAT money that you’ve already spent CANNOT be made back. THAT time that you lost will NEVER be accounted for. Do not consider the past when you are considering your next step in life, love and the pursuit of cold hard cash. The past has no real bearing on what you do next. What do you think? If you spend another year taping up your couch, spending $8.34 a month to live like a vagabond, someone from The Brick is going to hear about you through the grapevine and go, “OH NO. We can’t have THAT! Give that man a COUCH!” This isn’t Oprah.
Go out and make it happen. And stop taking your furniture together and buy a new couch. Figuratively and/or literally.