Bailouts, Stimulus and Coming Out About My Company

If you saw my tweet last night and/or have been reading this blog for a while, you know I have some concerns about bailout(s) for failing companies.

You’ll also notice when I tweet angry I almost always screw up somewhere, like leaving the “n” off “an” – I HATE MY TWITTER TYPOS! I am the Typo Queen.

But the point is still the same, with or without the N. I don’t understand the bailouts, and along with the rest of the country, I am angry over how they were handled. I am glad that Obama is kicking ass and taking names. Call it socialism all you want – when you are using my tax dollars for your dilapidated company, I expect some oversight, some governance. Because that is MY money, dudes. Moreover, that is DECLAN’s debt.

Enter the stimulus package.

I do not claim to be an economic expert. (You should see me try to help my 1st grader with math. What a joke.) Whether we absolutely, positively “NEEDED” the stimulus, I will never know – just like we’ll never know where all that fucking money went for the Iraq war. [Cough, cough, Cheney.]

But I *can* tell you, absolutely, positively, that stimulus is going to better places than bailout.

It’s going to me.

Here’s where I come clean about my company. Full disclosure. Seven years ago, my business partner and I left the cancer center we worked for, took our 12 employees and started Klein Buendel. The name means “small bunch” in German and is derived from our maiden names. We are 50/50 partners, now have 30 employees, and are the 49th largest woman-owned company in Colorado. My partner has a public health background, I studied graphic design. Roughly translated, we build health education web sites. Most of which are funded through grants from the National Institutes of Health, even though we are technically for-profit. Being a for-profit gives us more flexibility than we had at the cancer center, in that I can accept profit jobs to build web sites for outside clients [or logos, or print work, or whatever – including a How To Twitter class I am building at this very moment]. We have more control over our destiny. But we still have the security of getting grant funding from the government to build research driven health communication projects that make a difference in people’s lives.

Will we ever be rich? Hell no. But that was never the point.

Our company is pretty much a freak of nature. Banks didn’t understand us. It took me an hour to get our landlord to dig what we do so we could actually have some office space. We’re just a weird little hybrid, and we keep on keeping on.

Enter the economic crash.

Friends, family, tweeps – everyone is suffering.

We’re not. We just got word that 4 major projects will be funded, including 2 from stimulus money.

Can you imagine the guilt that inspires? We all have been standing around the halls over the last few months with a glazed look in our eyes, feeling like we’re watching the recession march by while we’re ensconced in a hazy, happy cocoon. Feeling really really really lucky and really really guilty. Everyone asks that ominous question with a cringe, “How is your company doing?” and I cringe back as I answer, “We’re just fine.”

But you know what else? I am proud.

Proud as I see the details come forth for stimulus money, the restrictions placed on it. The fact that it is going to states with high unemployment rates, the projects being funded rated on jobs retained and jobs created, seeing the time limits set for the money spent – meaning they want it pumping back into the system, rather than me hoarding it like a squirrel with my mound of nuts.

Proud that while I am not sure about the government’s recovery plan, at least I agree with the terms this time around. And while I feel guilty that I am doing OK, at least I may be able to help others back on their feet in the process.

This article has 31 comments

  1. Rose

    Don’t ever feel guilty for doing ok. It’s not about how much you make it’s about what you do after and I don’t think you’re the type to sit around and lord it over everyone that you’re doing well while they’re hurting.
    Congratulations on the new contracts!

  2. Sizzle

    I don’t think you should feel bad about your success. Be proud! You do good work!

    Lately I’ve felt bad because I actually have a savings account for the first time in my whole life. I work two jobs to make that happen and am really really grateful for both of them. But when so many people are underemployed, it’s hard to feel like it’s okay to feel okay.

  3. Anonymous

    I’m really proud of you! – m

  4. megan

    I have had a rough time of it lately, so I appreciate you seeing it from both sides.

  5. imelda

    I totally agree with Allison.. You’re awesome and you totally rock! Be proud! I would so love to be where you are! Own it!

  6. Anonymous

    you *should* be feeling really lucky.

  7. fruitlady

    Dear friend, I know how hard you work and that the work you do is making an impact to the world. So please don’t feel guilty. Appreciate definitely but don’t feel guilty. I think it’s the weird hybrid ideas, the out of the box thinking, that our country (govt and citizens) need to embrace and stop clinging to ideas that don’t work. I am glad you are succeeding because we need successful companies to keep some semblance of forward progress on the landscape. Hold your head high for this reason and also for what it took personally for you to put this post together and actually publish it. Those of us who know you well understand that this was much much harder for you. Love you!!

  8. Aimee Greeblemonkey

    Sniff sniff. you guys really are awesome.

  9. James

    I totally knew all this. Still pretty cool.

  10. kellypea

    You should be proud. Amazing! Thanks for the “real” story about your connections to the stimulus. I’m surrounded by naysayers and they make me crazy. My husband can tell you about the math. He’s a Republican and he voted for Obama. The economics will work. Congrats to you & your partner.

  11. Liz

    I’m glad to hear that someone is doing well, I think when everyone is going around spouting doom and gloom that it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy – I’d rather focus on positive stories like yours so we can all build on success!

  12. laurie

    There are things that are working and yours is one of them. No guilt. Thank God everything isn’t falling completely apart! I feel the same weirdness about my job – it’s stable and every time someone says, “Why did you go back to teaching after you finished that journalism degree?” (which they do. all. the. time.) I say, “Have you seen the news?”

    We’re socialized to apologize for our success and shouldn’t, no matter what’s happening in our weird world. You’re one of my amazing sisters in art and business and I celebrate your success along with mine (that which could be gone tomorrow, deep breath, thank you thank you!) X.O. 🙂

  13. Eddie

    I have to admit, it’s hard to hear. But I agree with what you say about the bailouts and glad to hear the stimulus is tighter.

  14. Sarah

    I am glad to hear it!
    I, as well, have felt guilty when people ask about Bill’s company. It is doing fine through all this mess too-which is a big surprise, but he does good work-as do you, so I think it is something to be proud of.
    I believe that when companies get fearful of all the gloom & doom, they are more likely to lay people off. Like someone else said, it can be a self-fulfilling prophecy.

  15. monstergirlee

    Fucking A! Go Aimee!
    I am really happy to hear how well you’re doing. Congrats on a job well done, and a job you will continue to do well. Don’t feel guilty. I for one am really happy for you.
    Congratulations my friend.

  16. The Casual Perfectionist

    Don’t feel guilty!! Feel thankful. Feel lucky. Feel blessed. But, don’t feel guilty.

    It’s okay to be doing well when others are suffering. It doesn’t mean you don’t care, and it doesn’t make their suffering any less important.

    Good luck and congrats!!

  17. Alison

    You? Are awesome. Be proud of yourself.

  18. Heather B.

    As I recall I told you that you are awesome and if I am correct we were enjoying some Jesus sushi at the time. So there. You should be thrilled. Congrats!

  19. michelle

    i think that is amazing … innovation and creativity combined to make something that you love, and something that is obviously needed and appreciated … you were lucky enough to find your niche and make it work! 🙂

  20. Anonymous

    really, wow. Awesome to hear. Bravo.

  21. Tree

    You have made your employees and yourselves secure and positioned everyone at KB in a better place than some. Do not apologize and do not feel guilty over this. You were not raking in the dough in the tech boom and you were not raking in the dough in the housing boom. You trudged along, staying true to yourself. That, my dear friend, is a strong sense of self.

    Well done!

  22. Kim

    And you SHOULD be proud! I’d like to think that the companies that suffer so big now (banks, insurance, car companies) are being paid back. Karma. For lying, cheating and not trying o improve their products to help the climate. For being greedy. Now that is being taken away from them. It is a big clean up. Sorry o see the smaller companies that depend on these big guys go down as well. But truth lasts longest and your company is honost and good and the karma there is that you are being rewarded!

    Exemptions make rules. I do not wish to bump anyone into the head. Also, English is not my mother tongue, so nuances in my vocabulary are small.

  23. Burgh Baby

    I know EXACTLY how you feel. I work for a company that is unaffected by what is going on with the economy, but that’s because of some very smart strategy early on. While we’re all getting raises and going nuts because we’re so busy, everyone around us is struggling. Survivor’s guilt is rough.

    And congrats to you! Really, you should be very proud of yourself and everything you’ve managed to do.

  24. Mr Lady

    This is the first thing I’ve ever read about the stimulus that didn’t make me want to throw a glass through a window.

    I am proud of you, Aimee.

  25. Deb Robison

    Rock on! That’s great and you know, we really need folks doing good work in public health. You are our stimulus package poster company!

  26. imaginary binky

    Ding dang, woman! That is excellent news. As someone who has had a business succeed – and then fail – I completely understand the good, the bad, and the ugly that can happen. I’d much rather see someone like you receive that stimulus money for a good cause than have investment bankers or whathaveyou rolling around in it.

    So, I guess I’m saying, I want pictures of you rolling around in cash. You know my email address. Ahem.

  27. Andrew

    I always knew you would rock it! Great job!

  28. Sarah @ BecomingSarah.com

    I don’t think you should feel guilty at all. If you’ve built a quality company that provides quality goods/services, then you certainly shouldn’t ever be anything but proud and happy to see it succeed.

  29. Daisy

    Guilty? No way. I’m glad to see so many other commenters saying the same. You built a good quality company and it’s doing well. Be proud, and keep doing what you’re doing right!

  30. Janey

    I love this post. Cause it talks about you, your passion – and is honest about the economy.

  31. well read hostess

    You didn’t mention a significant different between you and so many other business that are benefitting from stimulus money: you work hard and you work responsibly. They didn’t! You deserve your success. I’m certainly impressed by you!

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