Jim O.'s paraphrasing all the classic excuses and complaints you're likely to hear from business owners.

Everyone tells me it's a terrific organization. I hear they offer some great educational programs that will help me run my business better and make some money. But I just can't afford to pay any dues right now. I'm behind on a bunch of bills, and I'm working my tail off just to keep my head above water. Don't those trade and business associations know they'd get a lot more members if they didn't charge so much? Maybe some day ....

I would love to attend some business seminars, but they cost way too much. I don't see how all those other contractors can afford to take a day away from their business just to sit in a classroom, and pay for the privilege on top of it. They say it's worth the money, but I just can?t afford it.

We'd have an easier time making ends meet if my wife could get a paying job, but then who would keep the books and answer the phones while I'm out doing the work? I can't afford to pay anyone to do that.

And what's wrong with people these days anyway? Nobody wants to work for what I'm willing to pay them, and when they do, for some reason it always seems to end up there's something wrong with them. Whatever happened to the good old American work ethic? What's wrong with starting at the bottom?

I'll catch up with the bills later

I wouldn't be so broke if those damned suppliers didn't make me pay for everything up front. Just because I'm a little behind with everyone doesn't mean my credit is no good. Why doesn't anyone want to give the little guy a break anymore?

And have you seen what they're charging nowadays for top-grade materials? Granted, it's good stuff and will last a lot longer than the inferior products I always use, but I can't afford to go whole hog. I'd have to raise my prices, and then what reason would my customers have to call me?

My odometer has made a bunch of cycles, and the rust is starting to eat through the floorboards, but I don't see how anyone can afford a new truck with what they cost nowadays. Maybe I'd be able to afford a down payment if I didn't lose all that business when this one broke down and I had to take it in for emergency repairs.

I'm proud of the fact that all my business comes word of mouth. That's because my customers appreciate the fact that I charge lower prices than anyone else around. Still, sometimes the phone doesn't ring for days. I've thought about spending some money on marketing, but I just can't afford it. One of these days when I get ahead of the game a bit ....

It takes money to make money, you know. That's why I can't seem to turn things around in my business.

It's almost as if I'm doing something wrong.