Posts Tagged ‘Business’

The 5 Minute Business Plan

04/06/2011

If you’ve ever watched an episode of Shark Tank or witnessed a desperate business owner trying to pitch his product to a potential customer you may have observed something interesting: the guy or gal on the other side of the desk often knows within the first 15 seconds how the meeting’s going to end. It’s very much like a first date: It’s either an immediate  and absolute “No” or a gradual almost seductive narrative to a possible “Yes!”

The goal then is not to totally bore your audience in the first few minutes. Now although the dating example will have to wait for another time, in entrepreneurship its a dual-play between the entrepreneur and the actual business.

So let’s get started.

There are 10 things that every potential investor, buyer or associate wants to know. Everything else is commentary.

Follow the Rule of 10 / 20/ 30

  • 10 Slides – That’s all you need to get them hooked. All the rest is follow-up.
  • 20 Minutes – Ideally, the presentation should take 5-10 minutes, followed by Q&A.
  • 30 Point Font – If it doesn’t fit on the page, it doesn’t belong in your plan.

Forget special graphics (besides for a logo on your cover page), forget special background, and for heaven’s sake – leave out anything that moves.

The 5 Minute Business Plan

  1. The Team – Who are you (tell them) and why bother with it all? (Some VCs suggest putting this at the end. I say introduce yourself).
  2. The Story – How did you get to where you are and who did you drag with you? (Concise, to the point).
  3. The Problem – What’s so wrong with the market that you’re losing sleep over it?
  4. The Magic – Why you’re better than everything and everyone else out there?
  5. The Demand – How you can prove people actually want what your offering?
  6. The Money – How can you prove that people will actually pay for what you sell?
  7. The Attraction – How do you intend to let your ideal clients know you exist?
  8. The Exit – How long you plan on staying in before you get out?
  9. The Vision – What are the long-term growth options of your company?
  10. The Call to Action – What’s your next move and what do you need to make your millions?

Focus on each of these as if you had ONE chance to present them in front of the President of the United States, the Chairman of Microsoft, and the CEO of Goldman Sachs.

And remember, while great ideas come to us in our sleep, creating world-class businesses is something of another nature – focus, creativity and  persistence.

Advertisements

Ancient Lions and The Modern Man

11/28/2010

By Tzvi Greenberg

Roman and Germanic Armies Battle

Understanding the past is critical to understanding the present. Attention to history slows the racings of contemporary life. It lends context to confusion and provides the lens which sharpens our perspective.

So let us survey the plains of the past. Let us gather ourselves about the hearth of lore and legend and perhaps be enlightened.

There was a time when every sunrise was the dawning of a fresh terror. The crowing of the rooster was a lament for a day that had not yet begun. It was the age when violence was the language of nature. A time when nation confronted nation with the glint of the sword held high, as the hooves of their armored horses scarred the ground in the exaltation of war.

Despair consumed the hearts of those who surveyed the wealth of tradition as it lay trampled beneath the feet of advancing civilizations.

Yet throughout, men and children whispered beneath the floor boards, their eyes straining over forbidden text as small prayers issued from their trembling lips. And at night, hunched against the cold, ignoring the protest of their stomachs, some of them had the nerve to dream of freedom.

Today, we are the children of ancient endurance. We eat warm meals in brightly lit homes and are free to pursue a livelihood in an environment that poses no threat to our lives. We can enjoy our parks, museums, cafés, and all the allure of culture unhindered.

Basic comfort is not a pursuit; it is a given. Today, true horror is the stuff of film and the business of far away countries. And although misfortune visits everyone from time to time, it does not afflict our country on a large scale.

It appears that we are witnessing the triumph of civilization. Mans turbulent past has given birth to his relatively stable present. We live in a time when different beliefs and religions, once the instigators of conflict, coexist in relative peace and understanding. Leaders of various faiths meet at the lectern as opposed to the battlefield. People have graduated from the duel to the debate, and our liberty and ingenuity have allowed us to capitalize on the error and industry of millennia.

Yet, in the background of our culture some critical alarms are begging to be heard. There is something about our alleged progress that speaks of sinister regression. It warns that amidst the intricacy of our advancement, there might very well be the symptom of a subtle retardation of the psyche.

Let us return to the past and ask a question. What served as the fuel for the ancient extreme take on life and events that gave rise to those ensuing chaotic periods? What mentality supported the epic violence and massacres? Could such capacity for destruction and cruelty be conceived in a vacuum?

There is certainly an explanation and we shall endeavor to bring it forth with an analysis, however briefly, of the relationship of man and his ideas.

On the one hand, there is the “isolated idea” that is, the idea itself, the theory, formula, belief. It is impersonal, and its uses and responsibilities have no bearing on the individual. It exists in the mind as an apple might in the hand, and cannot nourish the person so long as he is holding it.

The second relationship between the individual and his idea is the “personalized idea.” It is the conscious joining of the man and his beliefs, the two separate entities becoming one. This is the consumption of the apple and its ingestion. Man and his thought merged into a single being and the intellectual wall and distance is removed. The idea is allowed access into his perspective, and given the discretion to influence his attitudes and decisions.

In ancient times, man and his ideas were indivisible and indistinguishable. Man did not “practice” religion, he was religious. He was his thoughts and his thoughts were one with him. He was the embodiment of the “personalized idea.”

There is a strong aesthetic appeal to this composite unity, this vibrant picture of the ancient personality.

On the negative side, this ancient beauty only worked for a single person or a single faith and left no room for any contrary opinion. The natural attitude that results from this mentality is, “if I am right then you are wrong, you must join me willingly, by force or be destroyed, for you cannot be saved if you do not believe as I do.” In addition, as a byproduct of this outlook; intellectualism and abstract thought were considered vanities or even heretical, and were often forbidden in any form. Ancient mans’ holistic beauty was also the most fertile environment for his dogmatism and intolerance. It resulted in the death of millions.

Extremism and tolerance cannot coexist, and therefore we must pronounce him a colossal failure.
Contrast this with today where the situation is quite different. We are tolerant and understanding. We can listen to discussions about the validity of faith with total calm. We debate religion and topics that once shook the very foundations of the world with objectivity and personal detachment. We have learned that violence is not the appropriate response to our differences.

Yet what effect has this tolerance exacted on our collective psyche?

It has come at the cost of the “isolated idea.”

Our “open mindedness” and “understanding” has left the inner pillar of human identity fractured. Our reaction to historical intolerance is indiscriminate acceptance. The cosmic embrace of modern man is his very loss of self. Our individual devotion and passion, the very essence of the individual, has been diluted by excessive acceptance of parallel devotions and foreign faiths. In our uniting with others we have divided ourselves.

Our very language betrays this internal division when terms like “family life,” “business life,” and “married life” become commonplace. Whatever happened to just, “life?” We adapt technology to provide endless forms of entertainment and distraction, and we become easy targets for the influence of advertizing which teaches us to want things that we don’t need. And when the tides of distraction dissipate and we reach a fickle moment above the fray, we remain dehydrated of meaning and thirst for answers to unarticulated questions.

Ancient man was at peace with himself and at war with his neighbor. Modern man is at peace with his neighbor and at war with himself.

The result is the stranger that stares back from the mirror.

The solution is balance. We must join the strengths of the past with the strengths of the present and fix them in their appropriate places.

When reflecting on oneself, one must take the “personalized idea” approach. We cannot afford to compromise on truth merely because someone else has a different definition of the term. We must pursue our individual purpose with discipline, focus, and yes, “narrow-mindedness.” It is our ultimate imperative to synchronize ourselves with our service to G-d, and the fulfillment of His commandments. We must strive to reflect our faith and conviction in our thought, speech, and action.

Extremism, that firebrand, does have a place where it does not destroy; in our hearts where it warms our lives and ignites that passion in our eyes. And when channeled only toward the self, endows man with the strength, energy, and beauty that reflect his Creator.

When viewing the world and the opinions of others, one must take the “isolated idea” perspective.

We must respect another’s right to search for truth, purpose, and meaning. It is not our task to respect a different faith, but it is our responsibility to respect another’s right to practice it. For G-d has many children, and who can fathom what he might desire from your neighbor?

It is only G-d who can make ultimate decisions and judgments. The individual can only make a judgment for himself alone. Tolerance and acceptance toward others are not pursuits in their own right, but are the natural byproducts of the understanding of the human condition.

The knowledge is there, the facts have been presented. And now action is the task at hand.

The True Worth of a College Education

06/14/2010

Before anything, I just want to make clear that I have nothing against academic knowledge. I think that Professors are great and they deal an enormous amount of good and positive inspiration for us all. What they teach however is something else altogether.

This past weekend, I found myself in conversation with a successful entrepreneur and business executive. She is the founder, owner and CEO of a highly successful T-shirt and apparel company. She designs, prints and embroiders hats and T-shirts for large world-class attractions such as Vegas, Universal Studios, Niagara Falls – that sort of thing.

The conversation was revolving around education, so I asked if she had a college degree. It turns out she majored in design, which pertains directly to her line of work, something very few graduates are able to boast.

However, she added that she did not gain her expertise in business from her college days, but from her first husband who was quite the entrepreneur and taught her everything about the T-shirt, apparel and screen business.

So I dug further and asked “And how did he get his start?”. She explained, how he had his MBA in business but most of his acumen he got from from his father who had a natural knack for money and business. He was an expert salesman and a master negotiator.

Hmm, I thought. She has a degree. He has a degree. But where did everyone really get their business sense? From the old-school learn-as-you-go real-deal world of entrepreneurial zeal and spirit.

So is college education all that it’s made out to be? Has it improved by moving further away from the academic literature and closer to the result-oriented – what works and what doesn’t? Is it worth the four long and boring years (much more for med school) and mortgaging the family farm? Maybe. But at the end of the day, you’re probably better off learning from someone who’s done it all before (except for Med school).

Your thoughts?

The Ultimate Investment – Yourself!

04/20/2010

How would you like to invest in yourself? How would you like to learn EVERYTHING about starting and succeeding in your own business? How would you like to skip the tenuous and length college MBA and focus instead on a 2 DAY intensive designed to teach you everything you NEED to know about entrepreneurship?

I will be attending this Dreaming Room, with E-Myth founder and author Michael E. Gerber and I’m inviting only 15 Dreamers to join me in this most amazing experience!

And best of all Michael is offering this unique and rare event on the East Coast (something he rarely does) and for only a fraction of its original price! This opportunity cannot be missed!

So What’s a Dreaming Room? The Dreaming Room is a 2-day “Entrepreneurial Incubator” with Michael E. Gerber himself, jam packed with the knowledge necessary for anyone who wishes to build the business they’ve always dreamed of or wish to dream of.

You will truly experience everything you’ve ever read about E-Myth and Entrepreneurship, and you will come to understand, in vivid, extreme and creative detail how to start the business you’ve always dreamed of.

You’ll get to know the 4 components of the Entrepreneur: 1) The Dreamer, who has a dream 2) The Thinker, who has a vision 3) The Storyteller, who has a purpose and 4) The Leader, who has a mission.

What Will You Learn In The Dreaming Room?

Such a predictable question.

I receive it every time someone is wrestling with the decision about whether or not to enroll in The Dreaming Room…whether they ask it or not!

I’ll wager you’re wrestling with that decision right now.

But, here’s the thing.

If you were buying a computer seminar, that question would be relevant.

If you were buying a cell phone seminar, that question could be answered, and should be.

If you were buying a sales training seminar, of course you would want to know that the course will provide you with the information you need to become more effective at sales.

All such events, what we’ll call training events, are designed to teach you operating skills.

Operating skills are work skills.

Work skills are those you use inside of your business to produce work results.

And therein lies the difference between The Dreaming Room and all training events.

Training Events are Right-Brained Events.  The Dreaming Room is a Left- Brained Event.

Right-Brained events teach you Work Skills.

Left-Brained events teach you Life Skills.

Right-Brained events teach you how to DO something.

Left-Brained events teach you how to SEE something.

DOING is a Right-Brained activity.

SEEING is a Left-Brained activity.

SEEING is what happens in The Dreaming Room.

It is an activity of your intuition.

It is Soul activity, not Brain activity.

It is about heightening your state of attention. Of presence.  Of imagination.  Of congruence.

SEEING is what Entrepreneurs do.

It is a completely different kind of DOING.

It is not about the DOING that technicians do.

It’s about the DOING that inventors do.

It happens inside of you, not outside of you.

Inside of you is where all the life-sourcing occurs.

It’s where all the magic lives.

It’s where all the energy resides.

It’s where the ideas come from.

The great ideas.  The powerful ideas.

The ideas that make life happen outside you.

The ideas that give birth to great companies.

*  *  * *

Toward that end, The Dreaming Room is designed to awaken the entrepreneur within you.  Not to make you more effective at working IN your business, but to make you more effective at working ON your business.

The entrepreneur is the one who creates the opportunities that are waiting for you in the world around you.

To fill them with your vitality.  With your spirit. With your passion.  With your imagination. With your Soul.

But in order to create opportunities, the entrepreneur within you must first recognize what an opportunity is, and what purpose it serves.

That’s what happens in The Dreaming Room.

What happens in the Dreaming Room is that each and every participant is taken on a unique, one-of-a-kind journey.  Unique, because it is their journey and their journey only.

The journey one goes on in the Dreaming Room is therefore completely unpredictable because no two participants are the same.  No two journeys are the same.

In the Dreaming Room you are not the same as the fellow or women seated to your right or to your left.

Your creative surge is yours alone.

Your path to freedom is only yours, and no one else’s.

Your personality, your history, your obstacles toward inventing a new life through the creation of a new venture, are only applicable, and therefore important, to you.  To you alone.

That’s why we say that The Dreaming Room process is no more or less than an original experience.

A deeply personal, evolutionary experience that is impossible to describe.

Since only you can know it when it happens.

And only you can do it when you are so awakened.

A blank piece of paper and beginner’s mind.

That’s all you need to know when you come to The Dreaming Room.

Along with the desire to explore your own imagination.

Are you up to that?

Are you up to experiencing a miracle inside?

Well, that’s what I do in The Dreaming Room.

Don’t ask me how I do it.

I just do.

Ask anyone who’s been there.

They’ll tell you the very same thing.

It was miraculous.

That’s why I love to do it.

That’s why I know I will love doing it with you.

Come dream with me.

Stop thinking about it.

Come dream with me.

Michael E. Gerber
Chief Dreamer
In the Dreaming Room
Carlsbad, California

~~~

For more information about this exclusive event please email me at personalfulfillment@gmail.com

You can also find more information at the Michael E Gerber website

What Is Leadership?

04/08/2010

This morning I wrote a comment on my Twitter and Facebook (as I normally do so many times a week when I have a thought I deem worth sharing):

“If you’re not listening and attending to each and every voice, your leadership is compromised”.

I should have been more specific as I was soon bombarded by dozens of comments begging me to defend my statement. (I paraphrase).

“One who looks to attend to all attends to none. A leader is defined by how they lead – not how they react”

“The leader not only has to listen, but must also consider external and internal factors that are not being voiced!”

“The leader, not the people, will often make the right choice. A leader leads by example”

Various Other Leaders vs The Ultimate Leader

There are various types of leaders, as my friend Yermi points out in in “Leadership – The Good, The Bad and The Ugly“. And in addition to adjustment of character, there are various functions in the organization that each require leadership: The Financial Leader, The Management Leader, The Marketing Leader, etc.

The individual I refer to however is none other than the Enterprise Leader. This is the Big Kahuna, The Head Honcho, The CEO – whatever. He or she is the person who takes full responsibility for the organization, company, or nation they lead.

Peter Drucker once said “Leadership is lifting a person’s vision to higher sights, the raising of a person’s performance to a higher standard, the building of a personality beyond its normal limitations”

The Job vs Enterprise Leadership

Leadership is more than just a job, or “function”. It does not follow the same job description as “COO” or “VP of Sales”. The leader is one who a) takes full responsibility for the organization and b) drives it and its people forward to greatness and improvement.

Many people confuse CEO (chief executive officer – or enterprise leader) with COO (chief operations officer – or management leader). The COO’s job is to make sure everyone does their job. To ensure that operations run smoothly and effectively. To create systems and procedural duties that allow the organization to endure as it did yesterday.

The Enterprise Leader has a different focus entirely. The Vision. Whereas most others in the organization focus on yesterday, today or tomorrow, the Leader must focus on all of these simultaneously. Whereas a hierarchy of lead and be led is often present, the ultimate decision maker must actually fill both roles.

The Leader and The Vision Are One

The Vision is the leader’s leader; the white paper, the commitment and the dream, self-imposed or otherwise, that the organization and the leader must follow. It is the “bible” which all answer to and none refute. It is the essential constitution that reinforces the core competency and compels the audacious dream forward. The choices made are only a means to achieve the result required.

There is little room for personal thoughts or discrepancies as to what the organization should or should not do. If the dream is realized, the organization and the leader are a success. If not, then all the billions in the world cannot validate its worthless existence.

The Problem Today

In the early part of the last century, businesses and organizations struggled. Either they battled to gain dominance in a small but meaningful niche, or they assumed greatness quickly but just as soon realized they could not carry their own weight.

So we became obsessed with results and productivity. Organizations became organized. The assembly line became the norm. And Six Sigma became an ingrained part of every management system.

But Where Are The People?

And herein lies the essential and impudent task of the enterprise leader. We’ve forgotten all about the people who MAKE the results, and who ARE effective. We’ve put so much focus on the work and the assembly line and the success of our machines that we have completely disregarded the hard working men and women who make it all possible.

Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos.com, says that the leader should be properly dubbed “The Chief Happiness Officer” (Check out the book). That is his or her true function. In addition to making sure that all the other leaders are doing their jobs helping people do their jobs, they must be an example of what it means to be a good person. Someone who cares about the process just as much as they care for results. Someone who is just as into the People Strategy as they are into their Product Strategy.

Are your people happy? Do they have what they need – attention, love, appreciation, worthiness, value? Do they follow you because of your love and dedication to them and the company? Or do they obey you because they fear heads will roll if they don’t?

What happened to morning psyche-ups with your sales teams? Whatever happened to the CEO walking through the production floors on a periodic basis? What in the world happened to the leader that cares more for his own people than the market cap of his whole company?

Forget all about what textbook leaders look like and act like, and open your eyes to reality. People need people, and YOUR people need YOU.

If you’re not listening and attending to each and every voice, your leadership is compromised.

Living Life on Purpose

01/19/2010

The following is the re-edited pre-2 AM version

I wonder if people feel their lives as a pursuit of but a necessary happiness. A race back to the original finish line. A never-ending loop that seems to go on ad infinitum. Or a maze that seems to have neither a finish or an exit.

What is Purpose other than a pre-determined ideal set by oneself to validate his or her sense of being and doing?

What Drives Us

Viktor Frankl, noted psycho-analyst and Holocaust survivor, used to say that any purpose is a good purpose. Since it at least drives one forward in a direction of anticipation, propelling and strengthening the ability to get to tomorrow.

But many times a personal purpose isn’t enough. Dreams are easily destroyed, like a father returning from the concentration camps hoping to find his family and home, only to find his entire town ransacked and word that his family has passed on. Or an ambitious professional unable to find a proper job after spending many years and much financial debt on gaining their skill set.

Changing Focus

Yet not all set-backs are viewed as such. Many motivational mentors speak of “impersonal” dreams, an idea or aspiration that far surpasses ones personal interest for comfortability or prestige, but rather a vision to make many millions of lives better and to change the world in some way or form.

With this perspective, something phenomenal occurs. The abilities lose their status as being personal and they enter a new social dynamic that, if for the right reasons, is no force to be reckoned with. No financial stress, lost deal, family crisis, or natural disaster can stand in the way of that. The world has now become your alibi, not your contender.

This is the basis all spiritual, entrepreneurial and religious pursuits. A calling to a higher purpose far greater than finding personal wealth, prestige, satisfaction or fulfillment. Happiness becomes what is done for another, what is done for the endurance of an enterprise, what is done for the patriotism of a country, what is done for a better world.

True purpose then is a self-imposed yet spiritually-validated conviction that you do all that you do, for all the right reasons. Reasons of goodness, of benefit and of making this world the great place that many before us believed it could be.

Why 2010 May Be Quite Similar to 2009

01/08/2010

If you did well this past year, I guess that’s a good thing!

Friday is my market day and it seems that with the new year some realignment of the big picture is in order. Note of optimism: When you know what’s going on you can properly position yourself to benefit from its leverage. No condition is ever entirely good or entirely bad. So here’s what’s going on…

“Sentiment Oscillation” or “Paradigm Shift”.
That’s the reason for all this mayhem. As general conditions continue to change (as they have since 2007), so will the general mindset. From growing to sustaining. From net profit to net loss. From Investment to saving. From short-term gains to long-term advantage.

Let’s focus solely on economic facts:

The How:

  1. Internationally Governments have already allocated rescue money that will be spent over the next few years
  2. They have also lowered Interest Rates which spurs a higher inflation of credit
  3. When Rates rise savings gains precedence and production falls decreasing the supply of goods and labor
  4. Less supply causes over-demand and higher prices for real goods and commodities
  5. When commodities prices rise, they tend to cut into expenses thus lowering profits
  6. Lower profits and demand for cash decrease momentum of corporate investment and the stock markets decline
  7. Lower Markets lower the sentiment of the consumer and spending decreases
  8. Less sales means less revenue and retail venues under pressure go under causing a Commercial Real Estate bust
  9. With Investing and Equity down and out people turn to Savings and Cash
  10. With Bond markets already pressured by higher Interest Rates and a debt laden currency people begin to turn to Precious Metals and Tangible Goods

Why:

  1. Someone say Bailout? Trillions have been spent and Trillions more will
  2. With the lowest Interest Rates in decades credit is merely being deferred
  3. Businesses decide to save rather than reinvest profits
  4. This one’s tricky but the former ALWAYS leads to latter
  5. Even if businesses raise prices, profits will fall
  6. Bond yields begin to resemble stock dividends only with less apparent risk
  7. Higher stock prices are always met with consumer exuberance
  8. This has already begun but has been prevented by soon ending rescue funds
  9. With higher Interest rates CD’s and Money Market funds begin to make sense again
  10. This is what happened during the 70’s as Real Interest Rates remained negative

Investing Advice: If you are going to “invest”, you must understand that the next 10 years will be similar to the last. Much higher prices for real goods, much lower valuations for equity and paper. This is because we’re doing the same things over (lower rates, more issuance of credit, more debt to pay off). These are times to seek under-valued out-of-favor securities.

Business Advice: If you are going to do business, I believe you will be better off than many people trying to make ends meet on unemployment checks and the reason for that is the ability to be proactive. Your success is what you make of it, and if you’re determination is deep then no recession or even depression could abstain it. Focus on providing customers with durable and consistent value.

Fundraising Advice: If you are in the legions of the eager financiers trying to keep the lights on in your non-profit, raising for a local charity or even seeking capital for your small business, remember that people are always searching for the best place to put their money. Your job is to provide them with the sense of value that its going to the right place for the right reasons.

Have an awesome weekend!

Getting Things Done vs Planning

01/03/2010

One things that has constantly been pervasive in my life on my road to success (and it is a road), is that I have so many people suddenly telling me that “talk is cheap” and that action is the only thing that counts. Now I don’t disagree. Yet I don’t agree either. And here’s why.

Action is the main thing. And if all your thoughts, dreams, ambitions, desires, speeches and motivational seminars don’t lead to something real and concrete, then they’re nothing more than just that dreams and mere thoughts.

My problem though is when people tell me that plans are useless. For instance, if you wanted to go on a road trip, there are two ways to go. The first, is to sit at home for weeks on end, making plan after painstaking plan of what you’ll do, who you’ll see, how you’ll pack and so on. OR you could just get in the car and drive. No plans. No destination. No worries. Just drive!

Obviously the above are styles. Some people need the sense of security knowing who, what when, where, how. Others just need a why and let everything else fall into its place.

But these are all plans. What about rules? Rules don’t change much. There are rules of the road, how to pack, what to bring where, vechulu (as we say in Aramaic). Now I’m not saying you have to follow those rules to the T… but you better not veer to far away.

Planning on a road trip with someone else’s car, with no cash and no drivers license just isn’t going to end that well.

So now say you have a dream. You can spend all the time you want planning how to get there, but chances are that life will require you to take an alternative route, with maybe an extra detour.

But then there are rules. The rules don’t change often and when they do make sure you pay attention. There are principles in how we deal with people, how we should do business, how to do almost anything.

So when someone tells me “Stop planning and just get out there and do something!” I have two reposnses:

#1) I want to make sure I know all the rules. It’s true that trial and error is the best teacher but its not the fastest and its definitely not the cheapest. I’ve seen too many of my friends fail at enough businesses that I spent the last 2 years learning what those make-it-or-break-it essentials.

#2) There is a difference between Plans and Rules. Plans change, all the time! But rules, or laws as they are sometimes called, are tried and tested. They may be broken but at your own discretion.

People must always be treated a certain way. Money must always be treated a certain way. And if you want to succeed at anything, it is imperative that you study the edge by which those fail or succeed by. Action is the main thing but it must be powered in the right direction.

On The MBA

10/22/2009

From Doug Casey: “It’s amazing, when you stop and think about it. The professors who teach MBA courses are not successful business people out making millions in the economy – they’re academics! Successful business people with proven track records wouldn’t work for their wages. These academics have no hands-on experience and are teaching theories, most of which are based on completely phony and fallacious economics.

“An MBA is worse than useless. Only a fool would rather have one than the $100,000, the lost income, and the two years of lost time and experience it costs.”

The Best Business Advice

10/12/2009

Just finished a phenomenal article “101 Small Business Mistakes and what you can learn from them“. It’s got to be one of the best article I’ve read in months. The following are some of my notes and personal insights.

Startup Tips:

  1. Become a leader as soon as possible.
  2. Focus entirely on the business, no 2nd jobs.
  3. Just do it and don’t look back.
  4. Spend nothing, let people know you’re only making “investments”.
  5. Bootstrapping goes beyond just startup. Ensure that all expenses are conscious.
  6. Entrepreneurs are unemployed until there are profits.
  7. Talk more about what you’re doing, not what you will be doing.
  8. Nothing will ever be perfect! Work around that.
  9. Always apply the 80/20 Rule and set short deadlines.
  10. Don’t have a master plan, have a vision.
  11. Prepare an exit strategy.
  12. Keep development short and generate a prototype quickly.
  13. Focus on Web development and e-mail marketing sooner rather than later.
  14. Hire talent not family. It’s hard to fire family.
  15. Don’t raise too much money. You’ll start looking for ways to spend
  16. Better to own a small piece of a large pie than a big piece of nothing.
  17. Never give up ultimate authority of your business.
  18. Debt is not cash.
  19. Pick the right type of incorporation. Speak to an Attorney.
  20. Know industry regulations and legal codes.
  21. Figure the most opportune time to launch, then accept capital only on the best terms.
  22. Investors will throw money at any great idea, allocate it right.

Product Tips:

  1. Research your market!
  2. Build your infrastructure before major client pulls.
  3. Keep your personality and be playful. Make your workplace fun.
  4. Never lose sight of how you differentiate from the competition.
  5. Don’t base prices on how much you think you’re worth but how much it would be worth to the customers you service.
  6. Price higher than the industry norm and do just enough ads to get noticed by the competition.
  7. Never undersell, even to lock someone in.
  8. No one ever said “We priced too high”. There are always unknown expenses and you can always make a sale.
  9. Negotiate everything. Don’t just pay based on what you value.
  10. When client applications and customer service are on the line, outsourcing isn’t an option.
  11. The costs of building a data center are quickly recouped through more efficient customer service and recurring revenue.
  12. Don’t trying to be all things to all people.
  13. Have a list of competitors that offer what you don’t. This builds your rapport.
  14. Always require an upfront percentage fee for services.
  15. Always sign a contract/terms for major deals/purchases.
  16. Don’t let referrals lead you way from your target market.

Sales and Marketing Tips:

  1. You must sell! Build your own skills, or find someone else.
  2. Your marketing ‘hook’ is critical, to grab the client’s attention long enough for the sales process to begin.
  3. Have multiple hooks for different psycho-graphics.
  4. Market locally. It’s easier and cheaper.
  5. Never underestimate the power of promotion. Plan for best/worst case scenarios.
  6. Use share-shift marketing, converting a client-base from your competition.
  7. You can’t buy instant recognition, but you can find key influences.
  8. Cross reference your events with various calendars.
  9. Inform! (clients, employees, partners).
  10. Always get testimonials when they say how happy they are. Even better, get them to recommend you.
  11. Have 4-5 on-going contracts, plus breathing room, so that the loss of one deal doesn’t set you back too far.
  12. Develop relationships with the most influential people possible in a company. (Founders preferably).
  13. Just because a contract is signed doesn’t mean the deal’s going to go through.

Operations and Big Picture Tips:

  1. If you do one thing right, hire the right people!
  2. Hire assistance ASAP for all work that doesn’t have to be done by you.
  3. Explain to people the job of leader – to build consensus and organization.
  4. Define functions and results, not personalities and process.
  5. Hire talented people who fit your culture!
  6. Recognize bad decisions and deal with them quickly.
  7. Sometimes it’s the little errors in judgment, compounded every day, that kill you.
  8. Learn when to say NO! and when to say YES!
  9. Inspect what you expect people to respect.
  10. You can’t manage what you don’t measure.
  11. Pay as you go. Partners should earn trust and their equity.
  12. Lead with authority and passion. Consensus leads to mediocrity.
  13. Listen to opinions and be open-minded but then make a decision.
  14. Employees have an expectation and a desire for leadership. Without it, everything falls apart.
  15. If there’s a will there’s a way. Go and find it!
  16. No one who provides capital lets your keep full control. So keep the cash!
  17. Always consult a cultural expert about small details before traveling to other countries.
  18. Get used to saying the words “Look. I saw things differently, but I could be wrong and I often am. I’d like for things to be right. Let’s examine the facts.”

Seth Godin’s on his biggest mistakes: “Not believing, not risking, not deciding. Holding back feels safe. When someone asks you your big mistakes, it’s tempting to talk about the stuff you did that didn’t work out. But what about the stuff you DIDN’T do? Those are the really big mistakes. Not starting Yahoo! or Google, those were big mistakes.”

Now get out there and make things happen!

Blog Mention

09/29/2009

“Sentiment of Success” was mentioned in an article written by Jaclyn Wells, for Small-Opportunities.biz. Their article “8 Pillars of Business Endurance” can be found here. You can also visit the site through our “Blogroll”.

Thanks for the mention Jaclyn! Keep up the great work!

20 Business Ideas for Recession

09/28/2009

There are plenty of opportunities for starting a new business in a recession or sluggish economy. Call them: Built for “Recessionary Success”.

While many businesses in the retail sector are posting record losses, other businesses are turning a profit, especially service-oriented businesses offering non-discretionary goods. During economic recessions, people are reluctant to part with their hard earned money, so businesses that help people keep money in their pockets are winners in tough economic times.

1. Debt Collection
It goes without saying that in tough economic times bills start to pile up and often go unpaid. While debt collection is not an especially pleasant business, it’s one that generally does well during economic downturns. As an added bonus, you have the option of working out of your home as an independent contractor or working for a debt collection agency.

2. Healthcare Products
An aging population whose health is declining is going to purchase healthcare products and services—recession or not. And, with more health related products and services available than ever before, this is a business that is sure to thrive.

3. Job Search Agency

When people lose their jobs, they often turn to employment agencies or job search firms. If you are a people person with a lot of industry contacts and a knack for matching out-of-work employees with potential employers, then this type of business might be a good choice for you.

4. Mediator
In tough economic times, many people turn to mediators rather than attorneys to settle disputes simply because they are less expensive. If you’re skilled at negotiating, this may be the business opportunity you are looking for.

5. Security Firm
Security firms are doing a booming business, but the security business is not just about security guards. It’s also about performing security and background checks for employers.

6. Computer Repair
Computers are a fact of life and so is computer repair. The good news is that a computer repair business doesn’t depend on whether the economy is good or bad. If you are the go-to person when a friend’s computer goes bust, then the computer repair business might be a good fit. It’s also possible to join a franchise operation like Geeks on Call.

7. Internet Marketer

Many people jump on the website bandwagon without really understanding internet marketing. After all, what good is a website if no one sees it? Internet marketing is becoming more and more important as people comparison shop and purchase items online. That’s just one of the reasons why it’s a good business when the economy goes south.

8. Web Entrepreneur
You don’t have to be a computer geek to become a web entrepreneur; all you need is a good idea or product. You can create a website yourself or hire a web designer to do it for you.

9. Pawn Broker
Ok, not everyone is cut out to be a pawnbroker, but pawnshops are typically businesses that do well during recessions. A pawnbroker takes merchandise as collateral on a loan, albeit a loan with exorbitant interest rates.

10. Cosmetics Sales
This may seem like an odd business to start in a sluggish economy, but the truth is that cosmetics are an inexpensive way to let us feel good when times are not so good. After all, who doesn’t want to look terrific?

11. Financial Advisor
This might seem like a strange choice given typical market activity during a recession. But when turmoil is afoot, people are looking for solid advice on how to manage their money. Americans, especially those close to retirement, are worried about their financial futures.

12. Business Coach

As businesses try to improve morale, increase bottom lines, and improve efficiency, more and more of them turn to business coaches. Business coaches offer advice on everything from reading financial statements to helping companies with time management and personnel problems.

13. Beer Distributor
Beer consumption doesn’t go down in a recession. In fact, it usually goes up as people switch from more expensive wine and cocktails. And with the wealth of microbrews available now, there’s a beer to suit even the most discriminating palate.

14. Reusable Water Bottle Sales
Another profitable business that’s taking off is selling reusable water bottles. With all the health scares about Bisphenol A (BPA) and other harmful chemicals leaching into water from traditional reusable plastic bottles, stainless steel and BPA-free water bottles are a must-have item even in the tough economy.

15. Green Café
The green café is a variation of the neighborhood café. The advantage of a neighborhood café is that it can start off small and expand as your income grows. The advantage of a green café is that it can have lower operating expenses because it focuses on recycling and reusing as much as possible, thus creating very little waste. And being green offers a unique marketing aspect.

16. Consignment Shop
Even socialites are doing it—shopping at thrift stores, that is. And if that isn’t an indication of a trend, then what is? That’s just one of the reasons running a consignment or resale shop during a recession is a sound business proposition. Consignment shops sell clothes, furniture, decorative items, and home furnishings; business owners can specialize in one of these resale niches or offer all of these items in their stores. One of the advantages of starting a consignment shop business is that it doesn’t require a lot of capital to get started.

17. Automotive and Appliance Repair
The automotive repair business is always brisk during economic downswings because people opt to repair their cars rather than buying new ones. The same can be said about large appliances like washers, dryers, and refrigerators. For many big-ticket items, repair is far more cost-effective than buying new.

18. Auto Salvage Yard
Think of it as architectural salvage for cars instead of houses. Sometimes called auto parts recycling centers, auto salvage yards often experience booms during recessions. More people repairing their cars leads to increased demand for recycled car parts.

19. Residential Real Estate Appraiser
Because recessions usually see waves of foreclosures in the housing market, residential real estate appraisal is a profession that’s going to remain in demand, despite an economic and real estate slump.

20. Home Healthcare Services

Home health aides, personal aides, and visiting nurses all fall under the umbrella of home healthcare service providers, one of the top growth industries today. Recession or not, Baby Boomers are going to need these services as they age. If you have experience in the healthcare industry, especially in management or nursing, then operating a home healthcare services business is definitely an option.

Whatever you do, remember the key to any great business: Keep The Customer Happy!

The 8 Pillars of Business Endurance

09/18/2009

In our previous post, The 3 Keys To Start-Up Survival, we presented the opening mind-set of the entrepreneur: Set Trends, not follow them. Nothing is perfect, do what you can. Every problem has a potential solution.

In this post we present the 8 most important factors you must always bear in mind to start and maintain any business.

Find strong demand. Supply a solid product/service. Write a Vision. Listen to the Customer. Manage your Finances. Hire the best people. Solve problems. Systemize the best solutions.

Note that it doesn’t matter which stage of business development you’re in. The 8 Pillars to Business Endurance will work wonders whether you’re in start-up, a small business or a growing multi-national, for-profit or non-profit.

  1. Find Strong Demand. Better to find a product that meets an existing need than trying find the demand to fit a specific product. Sounds simple but so many “entrepreneurs” ignore it.
  2. Supply a Solid Product/Service. Test, Fix, Test, Fix. Be on-time. Deliver the same great service, on-time, every time. It’s the only way to build great clientele.
  3. Write your Vision. Instead of being guided by fate, let your initial ideas and inspirations lead you. This creates internal focus and centralizes your strengths.
  4. Listen to the Customer. They are your market, so it pays big-time to hear what they have to say. Most companies forget this the minute they start making money.
  5. Manage your Finances. Daily! Cash Flow (Income minus Expenses) is the story of your business. If you’re not making a profit, either you or your investors aren’t going to be around for too long.
  6. Hire the Best People. There’s a saying, “When you have the right ideas but the wrong people, your ideas won’t work. If you have bad ideas but great people, your people will fix your ideas”. Seek integrity, intelligence and energy.
  7. Solve Problems. Every organization has issues. They key is to identify them and solve them as soon as possible. Ask: “How can we improve our business?”.
  8. Systemize the Best Solutions. Once you’ve chosen the BEST solutions, create a system that solves them forever, so they don’t come up again or that anyone is able to fix them. Create so many systems that it makes people cringe. That’s organization.

Our next post will focus on the 8 key elements to growing any business.

Related Articles: The 3 Keys To Start-Up Survival

The 3 Keys to Start-Up Survival

09/17/2009

“There were 3 reasons why we survived: We had no money, we had no technology, we had no plan. Every dollar we used very carefully” Jack Ma, Founder of Alibaba.com (read that again)

It forces you to be clever, to dissect problems instead of throwing cash at them, to innovate instead of imitating better-funded competitors. Embrace your lack of resources, your weaknesses! Every problem has a potential solution.

There is an inverse relationship between the amount of funding and the ultimate success of companies.

1) Write down the positives of whatever you’ve been viewing as a negative. No funding? Budget wisely. Set trends, not follow them.

2) Consider the negatives of the positives. Too much funding gives a false sense of security. Nothing is perfect so do whatever you can.

3) Look for dark horse models. Has anyone overcome worse circumstances to do what I want to do? Yes, of course. Every problem has a potential solution. Go find it!

The above is an executive summary of an article written by Tim Ferriss. As a first-time entrepreneur, I understand the facts above to be “self-evident”. Think if it this way. If big companies have the best people, and the most money, how is it that entrepreneurship and small business even have a chance in Corporate America?

The answer, of course, is that funding doesn’t always lock in your success. Yet I would clarify that money is the life-source of any organization; profit or non. You need capital, and lack thereof can send your company to bankruptcy faster than you can sign your supplier’s check.

Find a way to grow using only profits from existing sales without any outside funding and you’ve got it made!

Related articles: The 8 Pillars of Business Endurance

9 Qualities That Will Rock Your Career

08/21/2009

From www.dumblittleman.com

Success in life is always relative. Some people are happy with small achievements while there are others who won’t be satisfied until mountains are moved.

Regardless of our ambitions, our career spans through a series of jobs and experiences that truly polish our personality and will. While we all have defining moments that will determine our core beliefs around hard work, persistence, determination, etc., these are all simply components of a greater foundation that defines ‘you’. A rocking rise through corporate ranks involves a radical understanding and possible change in your attitude and behaviors.

There are millions of brilliant people who pursue aggressive career paths and have their sights set on great achievement. While their ability is nothing short of genius, many lack the soft skills that could put them over the top. These are the traits, qualities and understandings are what make good people great. Practical and time tested, mastering and practicing the following qualities will make if difficult for success to elude you.

  1. Out of Box Thinking Many dislike this term but the concept is for real. All it requires is thinking of problems though a different set of eyes, or different dimension. This is why many brainstorming sessions fail; most people sit and think of work problems in the context of what it means to the company, not the user, not the environment, etc. Sit back and try to solve the problem from the eyes of a 6 year old, turn things upside down, and absolutely challenge the norm. Go outside and sit in a subway station (or somewhere you generally don’t sit to work) and think about why other solutions not worked? What has worked?Remember the best ideas come from people who are hands-on with their work. When everyone thinks and recommends a lackluster way, lackluster results will follow. Change your surroundings, change your views, change your thought process and come up with a killer idea!
  2. Taking Ownership When no one is willing to own it, be the first to grab the opportunity. A process involving various stakeholders normally loses vision and momentum. A process with a good leader, input from others, and true direction, has a much better chance of success. Be the person that jumps in and takes on a new project (just don’t over-commit). An ability to own and work towards success is a skill which gives long lasting returns.
  3. Eagerness to Learn After a certain period, a job becomes monotonous and people become bored and eventually even lazy. They lose all the zeal to learn new things and although they won’t admit this, their actions would make you believe they have thrown in the towel and are satisfied with a status quo life and career. If you really want to move ahead, don’t get into this rut. Don’t tune out.Always remain eager to learn; you never know what knowledge or capability will push you up in your career. Remember, you need an open mindset and positive attitude to approach work. If you are constantly learning, it will be tough to be or appear to be interested in mediocrity.
  4. An Eye for Detail If you are hands on with your work there is no reason why you won’t know the intricacies involved. Therefore, have the confidence needed to make difficult choices. When you master something and know the minute details, your logic and ideas will be highly regarded. While people love to argue, they get easily impressed by intelligent reasoning too.
  5. Willingness to Help Much of life is give and take. Work is no exception. If you are the person that is constantly stepping out of your comfort zone in order to help others, people (most) will return the favor when you ask. That’s the key though, you have to be willing to help someone and not too proud to ask them for help when you need it.
  6. Networking Your network should never be restricted to people in your domain but it should span other departments too. Again, break away from comfort and get engaged with someone from a different department. When you sell yourself in the market, you need people who can vouch for you and the broader the network, the better. A strong network always gives you an upper hand, not only to receive but also influence the information flow.
  7. Solution Seeking Mindset People love to mention and talk about problems. However, when you ask for their solutions to those problems, they aren’t willing to go on record with sweeping changes. The majority of employees lack an attitude to solve issues and love to keep them burning for long time, almost to encourage sympathy. It is these times that a positive mindset can send the right vibes across and can really give you a lot of attention. Don’t avoid complainers, listen to them just long enough to hear the problem, then try to come up with a solution.
  8. Humility Arrogance has its own advantages but it never attracts more people than the magic done by humility. When you know your work and are humble about it than there is no reason that you would not get the desired appreciation. Humility needs to be pitched with much care lest it lets people take undue advantage of you. Strike the right balance and you would see its real magic.
  9. Being Practical Human beings are emotional and many fall for popular decisions. A practical decision made at right time with right attitude has the ability to shower you with long lasting fame. Remember, the people who are at the top are nothing but practical.

It is a jungle out there where you not only need to survive but flourish too. Develop the killer attitude for success and no one would ever dare to stop you.

Always:

  1. Work Hard
  2. Make sure the world knows about it
  3. Make sure to sell it in right manner to right people

Go, Get Success!