Friday, December 30, 2011

Stop Working In Your Business And Start Working On Your Business

Even though Truett Cathy is the icon of the chicken sandwich industry, I doubt he spends much time serving up waffle fries at the local Chick-Fil-A. Likewise, Fred Smith (founder of FedEx) does not run around town delivering packages.

Image: arztsamui /
What these men, and others have been able to do is evolve from the point where they simply work "in" their business and can work "on" their business.

And it doesn't matter if you are a franchise owner, an accountant, or a contractor, you can do the same thing in your business as well.

Let's look at the contractor - regardless if their specialty is plumbing, roofing, electrical, flooring, or any of a dozen other niches, how many of them have ever gone out of business because they lacked the "technical knowledge" on how to perform their chosen craft? I would venture to say that would be close to zero.

Now how many of those same contractors have gone out of business because they didn't know how to run a business? I would venture to say that number would be fairly large even though they were highly skilled at performing the technical and mechanical aspects of their chosen profession.

Don't get me wrong, as a contractor or any other type of professional, you need to know your skills and you need to know them as good or better than your competition.

But to succeed as a business owner your mindset has to shift. You have to be able to step back and take a look at the bigger picture. You have to think and act like a business owner, not just someone who is self-employed... there IS a difference.

The self-employed contractor prices their services to cover their costs and to "get by" whereas the business owner prices their services to not only cover their costs but to generate a profit that can be reinvested in the growth of the business while offering a fair and reasonable rate to their customers.

The self-employed contractor wants to be able to respond efficiently and effectively to customer service issues but is pulled in so many directions and wears so many hats that it is sometimes not possible. The business owner implements processes and procedures and hires or outsources personnel to handle customer service issues as they come up.

The self-employed contractor often doesn't understand how to market their business, or uses the wrong channels to do so. Meanwhile the business owner capitalizes on the best opportunities to get their name out to potential customers.

The self-employed contractor feels like he has to do every job himself or it won't get done right. The business owner looks for qualified people to handle the "technical" aspects of the project so that he can focus on more important areas and should only be physically involved with the project on an "as needed" basis.

The self-employed contractor may get frustrated with demanding customers who constantly change their minds or look over their shoulders. The business owner knows how to delicately handle clients of this nature and to guide them through the process to make it as easy on everyone as possible.

The self-employed contractor will likely stay a one-man show and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. The business owner can appreciate the knowledge and expertise of these independent contractors and will oftentimes utilize them alongside their own employees to complete projects and grow their business even faster.

Regardless of the path you choose, I'll be pulling for you. In the end, we are all in this together. 

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Monday, December 26, 2011

Soar Into 2012

I often listen to music to find inspiration and motivation. While I was scanning through my playlist on Rhapsody, I came across what I think is a great song by Scott Stapp, former lead singer of the group Creed. And if you listen to the lyrics, I think it is a great message as we get ready to start a new year.

If I had just one thing to say...
Before my last breath fades away...
Keep your head way up in the clouds...
And never let them get you down...

As an entrepreneur and business owner, there will be those who try to tell you that something can't be done. They will accuse you of having your head in the clouds or call you "a dreamer" (as if that is a bad thing).

You have to be able to deal with people like that but you don't have to listen to them. They think that they are helping you by keeping you "grounded in reality." The problem is they are grounding you in their reality. Just because they never had the guts to try something or the fortitude to stick with it when the going got tough, they don't want you to stick your neck out and achieve something great because it will make them look bad.

If I had just two words to say...
To explain my life away...
I could say ups and downs...
Because I always kept me defense down...

Sometimes it will feel like you are on a roller coaster. You're doing great one week, and scraping the bottom the next week. You land a big client this month, next month you struggle to meet payroll. Welcome to the world of business ownership. Ask any business owner and if they are being honest they will tell you that they went through the same things when they were getting started and sometimes they still experience the ups and downs with an "established" business. It simply comes with the territory.

One way to survive the down times and not get overly attached to the good times is to maintain an emotional balance in all situations. Your team will appreciate your consistency in your attitude. But if you are bouncing off the walls with excitement one day and looking for a cat to kick because your frustrated with the results the next day, you are an emotional basketcase and your team (and your clients) can't look to you for leadership. You are too unstable.

Keep hoping and dreaming...
And you will soar...
With a little faith and luck...
You will soar...

What are you doing to spread your wings and soar in 2012?

I'll be pulling for you. In the end, we're all in this together.

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Tuesday, December 13, 2011

What Ever Happened To Personal Responsibility

The video here is an interview of Taylor Swift, by Leslie Stahl on 60 Minutes in November 2011.

It talks about Taylor's background, rise to fame, and her brand, but at the 12:10 mark she hits you with wisdom that is far beyond her youth, and it is something that everyone needs to be aware of, not just actors and singers, but parents, business owners, teachers, and even young adults who are not married and do not have children.
Leslie Stahl: You're a role model, and you know it.
Taylor Swift: I think it's my responsibility to know it, and to be conscious of it. It would be really easy to say, "I'm 21 now, I do what I want, YOU raise your kids." But it's not the truth of it. The truth of it is every singer out there with songs on the radio is raising the next generation. So make your words count.
I guess Nicki Minaj and Ellen Degeneres didn't get Taylor's memo. Otherwise, in my humble opinion, they would not have been parading those two little girls (both under 10) out just because they can sing "Super Bass." (I chose not to include a link to the video in question - you've either seen it or you've heard about it already).

Granted the girls are cute (and cute gets ratings). But I wouldn't want my teenage daughter to listen to "Super Bass." Have you actually heard the lyrics?
"He cold, he dope, he might sell coke...
He a mother###### trip, trip, sailor of the ship, ship...
He just gotta gimme that look, when he give me that look,
Then panties coming off, off, uh...."
Those of us that own businesses, and don't think for a minute that a musician like Taylor Swift or an actor like Alec Baldwin isn't a business owner, must realize that everything we do in the "public sector" leaves a permanent impression on every person that comes into contact with us and our "brand" even if it's only on a sub-conscious level.

Those of us that are parents, must realize, whether we like it or not, we are also parents to the other children in our neighborhood. Our example can be a shining light or a red flag to future generations.

Those of us who are not married and do not have children are still burdened with the responsibility of demonstrating to the youth around us how to act and interact with those around us.

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Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Product Review: HTC Thunderbolt

The original title and lead in to this post was going to be a spin off of the 4th James Bond movie... "Thunderball" and I was going to include some sort of witty reference to the lyrics of the theme song by Tom Jones

You know something along the lines of "He knows the meaning of success... So he strikes! (dah dah dah dah dah) like Thunder BOLT"

But I decided against that.

So as you know, I decide to "Bite The Bullet" and leave my long time wireless provider T-Mobile and transfer my business to Verizon Wireless.

I decided to go with the HTC Thunderbolt, a full touch screen smartphone.

Here are a few specs in case you are wondering...

It runs Android 2.2, it has a 4.3" touch screen, 8MP rear camera, 1.3MP front camera, record video in 720p, comes with a 32GB microSD card preinstalled. It is bluetooth and wi-fi capable and (for an additional fee) can be used as a mobile hotspot for up to 10 devices.

Here are my thoughts on it...
  • They say it's one of the fastest phones on the market. (As I am new to the "android platform, I do not have much experience in this are to compare it against. However as a test of my own, I started up YouTube on the phone and in my browser on the laptop. Both running in wi-fi mode. I found the same six minute video on both units and clicked play at the same time. The phone loaded and began playing 5 or 6 seconds before my laptop did.)
  • There is a stainless steel "kickstand" on the back that is pretty nice, despite the engraved "Google" logo. You can prop it up vertically or horizontally to view your calendar, contact list, or a YouTube video. Only drawback to the kickstand is the mini-USB port is under the side of the phone that is resting on the table in horizontal mode. So you can't watch a video "widescreen" and charge the phone at the same time.
  • It has a fairly loud speaker embedded in the back of the unit. Sounds great with the kickstand out and watching videos or listening to music. Sounds slightly muffled with kickstand closed and on a phone call using it for a speakerphone.
  • Speaking of music, I love to listen to MY music while I'm working, or walking around the mall, but unless you plug in a wired headset or buy a stereo bluetooth headset, you are out of luck. It will not transmit music to the standard "mono" bluetooth headsets.
  • You get 7 screens to swipe through for you applications and widgets. I've got a bunch of apps that I've added to the already decent collection pre-installed and I still have almost 2 full screens that are empty. I dislike that most (if not all) of the pre-installed apps are permanent. You can't delete them unless you "root" the phone and hack into the operating system to make changes.
  • The other big drawback is the battery life. I guess I am a moderate to heavy user. Not so much with downloads or being online, but I am always on a phone call or sending a text, or adding appointments to my calendar. The battery will not go a full 12 hour day. Cost of doing business I guess. No one complains that a Ferrari only gets 8 miles to the gallon, because a Ferrari is fast and sexy. This phone is fast and, well I'll say "very attractive."
I'm sure there are tons of apps that would benefit me, but I haven't found them yet. However here are just a few that I have found that are working out well for this professional multitasker.

  • Email: It has a native mail client, but it works like Microsoft Outlook Express or similar. You can import your Hotmail, Gmail, etc, but it does not delete those emails from you web-based email account. So you have to log into your web-based account to clean out any unwanted messages. So I installed both the Hotmail & Gmail apps (Hotmail for my personal email & GMail for my business account which GMail automatically imports). One nice feature about the native email client though is you can attach almost any sort of file or document that is on your phone. With the GMail app, you can only attach a photo or video.
  • Documents: It comes preloaded with QuickOffice. Very nice program. It allows you to view and edit Microsoft Word & Excel documents. I also installed the Google Docs app to allow access to some files I have stored "in the cloud." I also installed Evernote to allow me to jot down reminders, random thoughts and ideas for blog posts and record voice notes to myself.
  • QR Scanner: Norton (as in Norton Anti-Virus) has an app to scan and read QR codes and (supposedly) their app prevents you from accessing malicious sites from a scanned QR code.
  • Package Tracking: There is probably an app that combines everything into one (for a price) but I like "free" and I tend to trust apps created by companies I am familiar with so I installed the FedEx app, the UPS app, and the USPS (US Postal Service) apps to track packages.
  • Directories: I grabbed the app from as well as
  • Social Media: Since I am constantly monitoring and engaging in Social Media for my business (and myself), I have the Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, Tumblr, Foursquare, and 2 different Twitter apps (for my 2 different Twitter accts).
  • Virtual Assistant: Who needs Siri? I've got Princess Leiah. That's right. There is an app called "SpeakToIt" and you can change the appearance of the avatar and as I was scrolling through the options, you can give her the famous Princess Leiah "honeybun" hair-do and quasi-miliatry-looking shirt/jacket. By default the avatar's name is "Sam" but you can change that too.  If I can somehow record some video, I'll post it. But here is a picture.

So there you have it. I hope this helps someone. It looks like it is going to be a great tool for me to use to stay on top of my business and my daily life in general.

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Saturday, December 3, 2011

Bite The Bullet

What's the expression? "Sometimes you just have to bite the bullet."

Image: Idea go /
That's what I did this week.

For close to 8 years, I was with the same regional wireless carrier, SunCom. Then about 2 years ago they were bought up by T-Mobile in an effort to make T-Mobile a "national" carrier here in the US.

Over the last 6 months or so there have been rumors of a buyout of T-Mobile by AT&T wireless and also rumors of the FCC putting a stop to that. Even though the German company that owns T-Mobile really wants out of the US market.

I have stayed with them because they have great customer service and their plans and services are less expensive than Verizon Wireless or AT&T. However, I only have access to those services in about 60-70% of the areas I need them.

Long story short, I have come to the realization that T-Mobile is probably not going to improve their services or infrastructure. At least not until someone decides to buy them out or they are broken up into multiple regional providers again.

So with much grimacing and pain and suffering I paid the $200.00 to get out of my contract with T-Mobile and ported my number over to Verizon Wireless.

On the plus side however, I was able to purchase my snazzy new phone (HTC Thunderbolt) online from WirelessMarketPlus (affiliate link) and saved almost $200 compared the price the local Verizon brick-and-mortar store was asking.

Of course now I have to transfer over all of my contacts to my new phone manually unless I can find another way to do so.

But here's the thing, no network is perfect. I understand that. But if I can't rely on my suppliers (in this case T-Mobile) to supply me with what I need (basic wireless phone service) when I need it or in the areas that I need it (like my home office), that supplier needs to be replaced.

Let's face it. If a new prospect / potential client calls you to inquire about your services, and they can't reach you... they may leave a voice mail or they may just call the next company listed in the Google Search results.

But staying with T-Mobile in my mind now equates to staying on AOL dial-up internet service. It's just not smart business.

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Friday, November 18, 2011

Paralysis of Analysis

Image: Stuart Miles /
In business, you have to make numerous decisions day in and day out.

Some are big (like which accounting firms should you hire), some are small (like which office supply store should you set up a credit account with), some are inconsequential (like which font should you use on your letterhead),  and some could change the lives of every man, woman, and child in your city.

But, so many people (myself included from time to time) end up becoming locked in place because of the "paralysis of analysis."

We want to make a decision, but we want to make the right decision, because the fate of the universe rests upon our decision making ability (or so we think).

And so we create spreadsheets, and project boards and cover the wall with post-it notes that try to sniff out every possible outcome of our decisions.

If we were on a shooting range, we would be those people who get into position... ready... aim... aim... aim... aim... aim... aim... aim... aim... ready... aim... aim...

Unfortunately many times the opportunities that we are presented with evaporate while we are contemplating.

Oftentimes, opportunities go to the people who are at the shooting range of life that have gotten into position... ready... FIRE!... aim...

Don't get me wrong, I'm not advocating that you go off "half-cocked." But I have learned over the years that in most situations, if you simply go with your gut instincts you will do well. If your gut tells you it's not the right opportunity for you, turn it down. It may still be a great opportunity, but it may require time, money, travel, or a skill set that you do not possess at this time.

So let me ask you...

Have you ever been in the position where you had to make a REALLY important decision? Have you ever doubted yourself and questioned whether or not you were "qualified" to make that sort of decision? What did you do? How did you move on?

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Thursday, November 10, 2011


So there you are... living your life... minding your own business... keeping your proverbial nose clean... and doing everything you are "supposed" to do when...

Image: samurai /

Life throws you a curve ball. Sometimes it seems like all you get are curve balls and fast balls high and inside, right on your knuckles.

The question, however, is this:

Are you going to use those struggles to define who you are or are you going to let those challenges derail you and prevent you from becoming who you could be?
Believe it or not, it is totally within your power to choose how you handle the situation. You can be the victim or the victor. You can be conquered or the conqueror. You can be overwhelmed or you can be an overcomer. But you have to choose. I can't choose for you. Your parents can't choose for you. Your spouse can't choose for you.

You. Have to. Choose.

 I know what your thinking right now... I've heard them all before... I've even had some of the same thoughts before... Heck, I've even said them before... They usually go something like this:
  • "But you don't understand MY situation."
  •  "Nobody has ever had to go through something like THIS before."
  • "I wish there was something I could do about all this, but there is not ANYTHING that can be done."
  • "It's hopeless to try to fix this. EVERYTHING I do blows up in my face."
  • "But...but...but...I....I...I..."
  • "It's my party and I'll cry if I want to." (had to throw that one in there just for fun).

Did I miss any?

Look. Life is hard. My life has been hard. I've had to fight and claw for everything I've ever achieved. And I'm still not finished fighting. I'll be honest, I don't have everything figured out. But it's an absolute miracle that I'm still standing.

If you want to keep reading, I'll tell you a little bit of my story, if you've had enough for one day, you can always bookmark this page and come back to it later or you can jump to the comments section and let me know your thoughts.

My parents got divorced when I was fairly young and my mom never dated or remarried until I was out of the house with a wife and a child of my own, so I never really had that "perfect male role model."

My dad was chain smoker and an alcoholic. He never smoke or drank at home, he always tried to hide it and he was never abusive toward us, but it was enough that at an early age I vowed to never touch the either one and I can proudly say that I never have.

I dropped out of college because I couldn't afford the tuition and had no desire to take out a student loan. As a result the early stages of my "professional career" were littered with dead end jobs in retail, restaurants and customer service gigs. Not that there is anything wrong with any of those, they just weren't for me.

Eighteen months after the birth of our first child the pediatrician discovered that our precious little angel had a tumor in her kidney. It was like our world got turned upside down. How are you supposed to cope with a baby that has to have MAJOR surgery to remove a kidney followed by six to twelve months of chemotherapy?

In December of 2007, I was in what should have been (based on the condition of the van) a deadly wreck. Long story short, I was cruising up the highway in a work van (a Dodge Sprinter) when I got cut off by a guy on the freeway. I swerved to avoid a collision and this whale on wheels started "fish-tailing." The back tire caught the rumblestrip on the side of the road and the van did a barrel roll about 4 times. No, I was not wearing a seat belt. I probably would have been decapitated if I had been. A shelf came loose from the cargo area and punched through the partition and was sitting on top of my headrest. I had ended up wedged between the two captains chairs and basically walked away with just a minor gash on the side of my head. The van however was shredded.

The following month our now 4 year old daughter was found to have a new tumor in her remaining kidney. Just when we thought we were out of the woods. So now it's surgery to cut out the tumor, followed by radiation therapy, and another 6 to 12 months of chemo.

Shortly after the birth of our second daughter, I'm put on 2 week layoff due to the epic slow down in the economy after the "housing bubble pops" and then eventually in June 2009, it becomes a permanent layoff from a company I had invested nearly 10 years with.

So I spent 2 or 3 weeks kind of dazed and confused. I wasn't sure what I was going to do. I had spent the last 8 or 9 years developing a skill set that was almost exclusive to the niche industry that I had devoted so much time and energy to. My options were few.

I could go back to school and in 2 to 4 years have a degree in something that may or may not be usable. Meanwhile I had a house to pay for and a family to feed.

I could take a job in a call center somewhere or try my hand at insurance sales or something along those lines. Nothing against those, but not in my genetic pattern.

I had to decide. I had to decide fast. Was I going to let all of the crap I had gone through derail me from providing the type of life I want for my family or was I going to choose to do something about it?

I chose to start my own business.

Not only that, but my business is in the same niche industry and the same geographic market as the company that let me go. And I chose to start blogging about what I've learned as a result of being in business. Being an entrepreneur is Not For The Meek Or The Weak. It is one of the hardest things I've ever done. But I keep doing it because I believe it was what I was meant to do with my life.

Have I "arrived" at my Utopian dream life? Not hardly. But I get up every day and continue to fight for what I want. And I'll compare my work ethic to anybody out there any day of the week (except the day after Thanksgiving - I'm hiding from all the crazy people trying to get to WalMart).

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Tuesday, November 1, 2011

What Do You Do When There's Nothing To Do?

Many business owners, especially in the current economic environment, are faced with some tough questions.

They struggle with the hard decisions and trying to weigh the tasks that are thrust upon them on a daily basis.
  • Will business pick up next week, or will it be another month or so before things turn around?
  • Do I layoff half of my staff or do I eliminate some of the employee benefits to cover my payroll for another month or two?
  • My phone has not rang all week, I don't have any work for my employees, what do I do now?
  • What can I do to find more business?
  • How do I cut production costs without sacrificing quality?
  • What off-the-wall government regulation am I now going to have to comply with in order to stay in business another six months?

First off, take a deep breath, hold it, now exhale slowly. Give yourself permission to relax just a little bit.

Take some time to analyze exactly where your business is at now. Then think back to when you were just getting started in business...
  • What did you do to make it grow?
  • What was the foundation that you put in place to make it work?
  • Who did you surround yourself with for support?
  • Who was an integral part of your team? Are they still part of your team? If not, can you bring them back on board? Should you bring them back on board?
  • What philosophies, thought processes, values, and techniques did you have in the beginning that you've let go by the wayside? Do you need to revisit or revive any of those or do you now have better ones in place?

Now, write down exactly what it will take to get your business where you want it to be.

  • How many new clients? How many closed sales? How many referrals?
  • How much revenue do you need? How much profit?
  • How soon do you need it to be there? Don't just say "as soon as possible..." Write down a deadline.

Honestly assess whether or not you can do what is necessary to get your business to the place you want/need it to be by the deadline you've set.

If you can - then do it. Start right now and attack the gameplan you've just laid out.

If you can't - then you've got to do some further analysis.
  • Can you realistically move out your deadline to accomplish your goals and still operate your business at full or, at least current, capacity? 
  • Can you expand into other markets or related industries to create new opportunities for revenue? 
  • Can you expand into other cities and connect with potential clients there?

It may be a bit of a cliche, but there is a lot of truth in the statement "Where there's a will, there's a way." Just because things look bad right now, does not mean that there is not a solution. If you really think about what needs to be done, without letting the stress and anxiety of the situation take control, you can find the answer you are looking for. You may even find more than one solution to your problem.

Good Luck. We're all in this together. I'll be pulling for you.

How have you made it through times that were a little too lean for your liking?

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Tuesday, October 25, 2011

S.T.A.T.U.S. Check.

It is sad that the economy is currently is such poor shape. People are hurting. Families are hurting. Businesses are hurting. Entrepreneurs are hurting. And yet some people still think that they are guaranteed happiness - as if it were some sort of Constitutional Law.

These of course are the same people who put their careers above their families. They put their pleasure above their responsibilities. They put their luxury above their livelihood.

You've seen them. You've lived near them. You've possibly been related to them. You might be them.

"They" are the ones who are working so hard to keep up with "The Joneses."

They buy stuff that they don't need... with money that they don't actually have (i.e. credit)... to fill up a house that they can't afford... to impress the neighbors that they don't even like.

Now, it is true that money will not make you happy. But let's be realistic, neither will poverty.

And as an entrepreneur myself, I'm all for creating as much wealth as you possibly can. But wait, didn't I just say that money won't make you happy? Yep.

Money is a tool. Nothing more. Nothing less.

Money can feed the hungry. Money can clothe the naked. Money can educate the uneducated. Money can pay for the medicine to cure the sick.

Where we get into trouble is where we focus only on the accumulation of money for our own selfish desires. Where we get into trouble is when we allow money to create a sense of "arrival" in our minds. Where we get into trouble is when we give money the permission to provide us with S.T.A.T.U.S.

If you have money and you have S.T.A.T.U.S. then you feel you "deserve" the BMW. If you have money and you have S.T.A.T.U.S. then you feel you "deserve" the promotion and the corner office. If you have money and you have S.T.A.T.U.S. then you feel you "deserve" the 5 bedroom, 3-1/2 bath, 6000 square foot home on 2 acres in a gated community.

The problem is if you go to the grocery store, you can't buy anything with your "status." The cashier doesn't care that you are Vice President of the bank and rolled up in a Cadillac Escalade. She wants the $23.57 you owe the store for the diapers, bread, milk, peanut butter, and jelly you just bought. Oh you can jump up and down and scream "DON'T YOU KNOW WHO I AM?" all you want. She doesn't care who you are (or who you "think" you are). She just wants the $23.57 and wants to know if you want "paper or plastic."

Some people live their whole lives under the influence of S.T.A.T.U.S.

If they only knew that it meant they were (S)till (T)oo (A)rrogant (T)o (U)nderstand real (S)uccess, they might redefine their definition of success.

So let me ask you... What is your S.T.A.T.U.S. symbol? How are you using money?
Image: Jeroen van Oostrom /

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Friday, October 21, 2011

If It's Good For Your Ego It's Probably Bad For Your Business

Image Source: graur codrin /
They say that you only get one chance to make a first impression, and in today's business world that one chance usually last about 3 seconds.

After that you might as well pack up and go home.

As a business owner you need to be able to instill confidence in your clients, employees, vendors, and colleagues.

You will not win clients if you are unsure of yourself or appear unfamiliar with the features and benefits of your company or its products.

You will not retain quality employees if you come across as a leader who cannot "steer the ship."

Your vendors will be hesitant to extend credit or expedite your rush requests if you are unable to show yourself and your company to be worthy of their time and efforts.

But lets not go to the other end of the spectrum either. Most clients or potential clients are turned off by the overly aggressive salesman.

Most employees will eventually flee from the harsh taskmaster. And vendors (or at least their reps) are less likely to provide "perks" to those who are rude and overbearing.

It may make you feel good if you are the type of person who can berate someone on the phone and get them to cave in and give you what you want, but if it's good for your ego... it's probably bad for your business.

Nobody is perfect. We all make mistakes sometimes. Have you ever let your ego get in your way? How did you fix it? How did you overcome that and prevent it from happening again?

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Monday, October 17, 2011

The Ultimate Question

Image: Idea go /
Yes business is about making money, but it can also be about making a difference.

Is your client better off now that they've met you?

That is the ultimate question.

Too many times those of us who own a business get caught up looking at the so-called "bottom line."

The problem is we hear and use the term "bottom line" to refer to the balance in our bank accounts. How much money are we making? How much are we losing? We have a bad habit of thinking only about ourselves and our business.

What we forget is that our business IS our clients. And not just the revenue we receive from our clients but the individuals, families, and other businesses that rely on our goods and services.

In the beginning, when we are just starting out, nearly all business owners nurture those client relationships - because we know that we have to fight to keep every client we land when we are trying to get our business off the ground.

But as the years progress and as the business establishes itself and starts to have some success, for some reason, the client relationship tends to get pushed to the background and the focus shifts to the Profit & Loss Statement or the Quarterly Earnings Report.

Some people may say that some companies are just too big to create a "relationship" with thier clients. Maybe, maybe not.

Here's a what if situation for you... Let's use Macy's for example, they are a pretty big company, right?

What if, Macy's implemented a new policy to reach out to their customers? What if their associates were to mail out a hand written thank you note to every customer they served in the course of a week? How much repeat business would they get as a result of simply being appreciative of their customers? How fast would they become one of the most popular retail clothing stores in America simply because they slowed down long enough to change the way they look at their clients?

Right now, they may send out special coupons or passes for secret sales to their best customers (i.e. those who spend the most on their Macy's credit card), but what if they thanked EVERY. SINGLE. CUSTOMER.

Unfortunately Macy's will probably never do anything like this, citing reasons (i.e. excuses) like "there's no money in the budget for something like that" or "we could never get our employees to actually do something like that" or "do you know how much that would cost in postage alone?"

But any small to medium sized business can do this sort of thing and SO much more to attract and retain customers.

It's not a difficult concept. Basically its doing the types of things your grandparents did. Be good for your word. Don't promise something you can't deliver. Admit when your wrong. Treat people with respect and dignity. Be grateful and show your appreciation.

So what are YOU doing in your business to make a difference in the lives of your clients? And no, I don't mean how does your product or service make their lives easier, better, etc. It's not about you or your product.

If you enjoyed this post, please share it with your friends and followers and let us know your thoughts in the comments below...

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Not For The Meek or Weak

Image: renjith krishnan /
Owning a business is NOT for the meek or the weak. But if more people in this country owned a business or at least understood what it took to own one, this country would be in MUCH better shape.

I am self-employed... an entrepreneur... a business owner. What ever you want to call it.

As such, If my business fails and I become "unemployed" I do not qualify to receive Unemployment Benefits like other out of work individuals.

If my business does good, I pay way more in taxes than the average "employee."

If I want my business to do REALLY good, I will have to hire employees, which will provide me with the opportunity to pay even more taxes, do even more paperwork, keep up with even more compliance regulations, and fork out money for Workman's Comp.

I pay into the failed Social Security system, even though I know I will never see a dime of that money return to me once I reach "retirement age."

I do not qualify for a traditional healthcare plan. If I want one, I have to convince my wife to take a job for a company that offers a group plan or I have to pay through the nose for a policy that offers only minimal coverage.

To protect myself and my business from unethical customers and bogus damage claims, I have to purchase Commercial Liability Insurance.

I spend 60-80 hours per week working "in" my business and 10-20 hours per week working "on" my business. I spend time going over "the numbers" and tracking expenses. I spend time comparing this month's revenue to last month revenue and this year's profit to last year's profit.

I might get 3 - 4 hours of sleep per night.

Some might ask with all these things that are such obvious drawbacks and barriers to security why I keep doing it...

Frankly, I do it because I am good at it and I get paid pretty well for doing it. Yes it's about the money. Money is not evil, nor is it the often misquoted "root of all evil" (that would be the "Love of Money").

Profit is not a bad word.

I do not apologize for being in business. I do not apologize for wanting to make more money instead of less money. I do not apologize for sticking my head above the crowd and refusing to participate in a culture of complacency. And as far as "security" - there's no such thing as "security" when you are relying on someone else for your livelihood.

The following is my (partial) adaptation of a reading I heard years ago in a church service.

I am part of the fellowship of the entrepreneur. The die has been cast. I've stepped out of my comfort zone. The decision has been made.

I won't look back, let up, slow down or back away.

My past cannot hurt me. My present cannot define me. My future cannot contain me.

I'm finished and done with low living, sight walking, small planning, faithless dreams, mundane talking, cheap excuses, and dwarfed goals.

My face is set, my pace is fast. My road is narrow, my way is tough. My friends are few, my mentors are many. My purpose is pure and my mission is clear.

I cannot be bought, compromised, detoured, lured away, turned back, deluded, delayed or denied.

I'll not flinch in the face of sacrifice, ponder at the pool of popularity, or meander in the maze of mediocrity.

I won't give up, shut up, let up until I've stayed up, stored up, prayed up, paid up, and stood up for the right to determine my own destiny.

I will fight when others faint, go when others won't, give 'til I drop, and work 'til the task is finished.

So why are you in business or why have you chosen to stay on the sidelines and not go into business? 

If you enjoyed this post, please share it with your friends and followers and let us know your thoughts in the comments below...

Sunday, October 2, 2011

To Thine Own Self Be True

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Do you ever feel like you are in a competition to see how many plates you can keep spinning?

Why do we do that? Why have we never learned how to say NO? Why do we commit to so many different things in life?

I feel like I have reached a point that I have to consciously decide where and how I am going to spend my time. To myself (and my dreams and goals) I must be true.

For the last 18 - 24 months I have been dividing my time between being a father, being a husband, dabbling with social media, and starting / building a business.

For the last 18 - 24 months the majority of my time had gone into social media and my business. I was by and large neglecting the relationships with the people in life that meant the most to me (my wife and daughters). Obviously I have to keep my business up and running because that is what "puts bread on the table."

However, social media is not my industry, I will never be confused with one of the so-called social media gurus. It is unlikely I will have the number of blog subscribers that someone like Seth Godin has.  I use social media outlets to occasionally promote my business or to connect with friends and family. But with all the changes and new platforms that are coming at us with breakneck speed it seems like to stay of top of it and maintain it and create quality content is becoming a full-time JOB.

Besides, I started my own business because I was tired of having a job. And I have come to the realization that working 50-60-70 hours per week building my business and then putting in 10 or more hours per week playing with Facebook, Twitter, Google+ or whatever hot, new, platform is out there is not sustainable and quite honestly is no longer desirable.

I've only got so many hours each day that I can invest, spend, or waste. I can only apply those hours to a finite number of categories. Once time has been allocated, it can never be reclaimed or reallocated.

So I guess, I said all of that to say this:

In the days and weeks to come, I will be carefully analyzing a number of things and deciding which ones are important, which ones are necessary, and which ones need to be extracted from my life.

I will likely be un-subscribing from several blogs, un-following certain users on Twitter, un-Like-ing some pages and groups on Facebook and maybe even un-friending some people who are not actually friends as well as deleting an assortment of profiles and pages on other sites (my digital footprint is about the size of Texas right now I think).

This decision was not made in haste. I am not trying to be mean or rude. I just simply can't continue down the path I am on and accomplish what I have set out to accomplish.

If I have cut you out of my "sphere of influence" you have my permission to reciprocate and remove me from your list of contacts, followers, etc. You can even unsubscribe from this blog if you want to. I only want you to "follow" me or receive my content if you really WANT TO.

If I have chosen to keep you in my loop, know two things, first off, I am appreciative of our connection and I value our relationship. Secondly, I will make a concerted effort to strengthen our connection and go beyond just the superficial.

If you enjoyed this post, please share it with your friends and followers and let us know your thoughts in the comments below...

Wednesday, September 28, 2011


I normally don't write about social media. Although there are a few people who might think it, I could never really be considered a Social Media Specialist / Guru / Ninja / _____ (insert buzzword).

And this is really less about social media and more about the people who do or do not use it.

I really don't know if anyone else can relate to this but I sometimes catch myself thinking about the various groups of people that are in my life. And even though the sum total of these people is quite large, there is very little overlap between groups, but within each group everyone seems to be connected with everyone else.

For example the bloggers that I follow and communicate with during the online Twitter chat session known as #blogchat all seem to "know" each other (even though very few of us have met face to face). And although I recognize most of them during the flurry of tweets that go out during that time frame, I can only think of just a few bloggers that I could tell you what their "Twitter Handle" was or any specific detail about them. @MackCollier is from Alabama and created #blogchat, @patricksplace is from Charleston SC (so we are both from the Palmetto State), @mqtodd lives in Japan and his profile picture has green hair (sad that's my impression of him, I'm sure he is exceptional at what he does, but I can't get past the wig), and @dashingly is an "unprofessional mommy blogger" (her description, not mine). No, I didn't go back and look before writing this (I did however go back and verify after writing it).

Similarly, my "day job" is working with local interior designers, but I have connected with several designers from around the country through Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter but very few of my "real world" designers are active in these social media channels (there are a couple on Facebook) and with the exception of one or two, none of these "online" connections are involved in blogging so those spheres do not overlap for the most part.

I guess that all of this is somewhat normal when you live in a moderately sized city and have access to an unlimited number of friends, fans, followers, and online connections thanks to sites like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Google+.

My Strands
But I almost feel like I'm in the middle of a massive spider web where I merely touch on these spheres of influence and I'm not really fully engaged or accepted by any one of them. Maybe that's just one of my inner demons trying to make me feel like I'm unworthy of these connections. But that's a topic for a separate post.

I know that the pundits and talking heads out there try to blame vehicles like social media for creating a "disconnect" in society.

If anything, I would say it is just the opposite.

Of the people I am connected to in real life and online, I think we have a stronger friendship because social media makes it easier to "be sociable."

Of the people I am connected to strictly online having never met face to face or spoken to voice to voice... I can only hope that I have been a blessing to them (or at the very least I hope that I have not become "that guy that is always looking for advice").

I know that by and large I have benefited greatly from some of these connections. I have learned things about Search Engine Optimization, Blogging Best Practices, and Marketing just to name a few. All of these were areas I was previously ignorant in.

And of these strictly online connections, I would enjoy the opportunity to meet some of these people, whether at a coffee shop, or a weekend conference. Especially people like @melissagalt (an interior designer & business/marketing coach), @RichardBranson (the multigazillionaire and really cool dude), as well as Aaron Biebert aka @8pmWarrior (although I have no desire to travel to Milwaukee, Wisconsin - sorry Aaron, come down south were it's warmer).

Social media may or may not be a passing fad, but if you use it properly it can expand your knowledge of topics by being able to connect to experts in those fields that only a few short years ago would have been inaccessible. It can also create or strengthen offline relationships as well.

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Monday, September 26, 2011

'Alas poor Horatio, I knew him not nearly as well as I should."

William Shakespeare... Playwright. Author. Poet. But above all, a Storyteller. He was 52 years old when he died.

Today I learned of another Storyteller who died before his time. Trey Pennington, who took his own life on Sept. 4, 2011.

We met only once in person, but we shared many conversations via email, Facebook, and Twitter. By all accounts (and from my personal experience) he was one of the most giving people you would want to meet. Always wearing a smile and ready with a word of inspiration for you.

Some would call him a "social media guru" and I would call those people "ignorant."

He was a businessman. He was a father, a grandfather, and a husband. And he also happened to know a bit about social media. At least it appeared that way based on the number of Facebook friends and Twitter followers he had.

Perhaps that was part of the problem. Perhaps we (the fans) did this. Perhaps we poked, and tweeted, and name-dropped, and tagged him so much that the pressure to perform took it's toll. When someone is a "giver" like Trey was, they give of themselves until it hurts and then they give some more.

But were we giving back to him? Was anyone refilling his tank so to speak?

Did we improve the quality of his life while we expected him to improve the quality of ours?

Did we even say "Thank You" when he responded to our solicitations for "free advice" or did we just move on to the next social media rockstar we could find to pick their brain?

Did we offer to buy him a cup of coffee and try to get to know him as a person? His message when he spoke was always about "Connections" and "Conversation."

Nobody will ever know what demons he battled. Most people aren't even willing to admit that they have demons of their own. Several of the pundits and talking heads have said he was fighting with depression. Maybe so. I don't know. If that was the case, I am pretty sure that it was not the only fight he was in - depression usually brings a couple of "friends" with him when he shows up.

Please do not misunderstand, depression is serious and needs to be treated by a professional. I simply want to point out that too many people gloss over the term without fully understanding the width and depth of the situation that you have to deal with if you are facing depression.

You may say that I am unqualified to write this about him. Well, maybe you are right. I did not know him nearly as well as I should have. I am guilty of not taking the time to get to know him. If I had done so, perhaps I would have had more insight into what he was facing... perhaps not.

Perhaps I should take the time to better know the people in my life that are here now so that I can be a resource for them in their time of need or perhaps they can be a lifeline for me in my time of need. Perhaps you should do the same.

Maybe that will be Trey's legacy. Maybe he will accomplish in death what he tried to accomplish in life... teaching people that it wasn't about the quantity of people you connect to, but the quality of the relationship... it's not about how much you can "get" from someone but how much can you "give" to someone.

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Sunday, September 25, 2011

Business Thought Process: The 4Q1E Way (Part 5)

Technologies and methodologies evolve and change, but solid foundations and principles tend to remain constant in business.

So with that in mind over the next few weeks, I'm gonna ask you 4 Questions. And give you 1 Exclamation that will hopefully get you thinking about the foundations and principles needed to create a business, solidify your current business, or enhance the speed of your growing business.

Question 1: Where are you now?
Question 2: What is next?
Question 3: What are your assets and resources?


That's really what it boils down to.

You know where you are.

You've identified what's next.

You know what you've got to work with.

And you know what to do to get where you want to go.

So go there!

Set some goals and work on them until you A) get where you are going or B) get to a dead-end - in which case you need to reset, and adjust your goals. Failure is not final unless you choose to stop moving forward.

More than just setting goals... Set "refuse to lose" goals on a daily basis.

A "refuse to lose goal" is something that you are going to make sure happens no matter what happens during the day. It's the kind of goal that you have to accomplish before you end your day (whether that day ends when you go home or when you go to bed is up to you).

Sometimes those goals are as simple as "forcing" yourself to call on 3 prospects every day before 5pm. Sometimes those goals are more complex like writing a proposal for a project even if it takes you until 3 in the morning to finish it.

You don't HAVE TO do anything that has been suggested. But if the things you WANT TO HAVE, are important enough, you will WANT TO DO whatever is necessary to make it happen.

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Sunday, September 18, 2011

Business Thought Process: The 4Q1E Way (Part 4)

Technologies and methodologies evolve and change, but solid foundations and principles tend to remain constant in business.

So with that in mind over the next few weeks, I'm gonna ask you 4 Questions. And give you 1 Exclamation that will hopefully get you thinking about the foundations and principles needed to create a business, solidify your current business, or enhance the speed of your growing business.

Question 1: Where are you now?
Question 2: What is next?
Question 3: What are your assets and resources?
Question 4: What do you do to get there?

Another way to put that is: "Whats your gameplan?"

Let's break it down. Wherever you are... you are. You've identified what's next for your business. And you have determined what your assets and resources are.

If the assets and resources you currently have will be sufficient to get you to "What's next" then you need a plan to get you there.

If you are lacking in resources, you should have identified what you need by now and your plan should first include a way to acquire those resources, whatever they may be.

I'm not going to give you a "sample gameplan" because that probably wouldn't work for you anyway. YOU need to come up with YOUR plan and it needs to be based on YOUR business and YOUR goals.

What I will do is remind you what Steven Covey said: "Begin with the end in mind."

Whatever your "end target" happens to be (whether it's a number of new customers or an amount of revenue being generated each month) is where you need to start.

Once you've identified your end target, put a deadline on it. When to you want to have that end result? Two years, 5 years, 10 months, next week? When? Now you need to be honest with yourself... is it going to be humanly possible to reach that target in that timeframe?

If your goal is $1 Million in sales by the end of the year and your are currently at $50K in sales it may or may not be possible to reach that target in that timeframe. I don't know. I don't know what your work ethic is and I don't know how much business there is available in your industry. Maybe it is possible, if it is that's awesome.

So you've identified a target, and you've set a deadline. Regardless of how far out that deadline is, you need to break it into measurable portions so you can see how well you are progressing toward that goal. Maybe you need a weekly status check, maybe you need a monthly progress report to yourself, maybe its a 10 year plan and a quarterly check up will be sufficient. You will have to decide what works best for you and your plan.

How ever you break it up and segment it out, make sure you write down your plan in your handwriting (not on your iPad or laptop). Put it on the dry erase board in your office or if you work from home get a couple pieces of poster board and write out your plan then tack it to the wall somewhere that you will see it every single day. Look at it. Read over it. Keep an eye on your progress. Make adjustments when necessary.

Never give up. Become like the single drop of water that eventually with continuous effort and unrelenting persistence carves a canyon in landscape of the earth.

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Monday, September 12, 2011

Business Thought Process: The 4Q1E Way (Part 3)

Technologies and methodologies evolve and change, but solid foundations and principles tend to remain constant in business.

So with that in mind over the next few weeks, I'm gonna ask you 4 Questions. And give you 1 Exclamation that will hopefully get you thinking about the foundations and principles needed to create a business, solidify your current business, or enhance the speed of your growing business.

Question 1: Where are you now?
Question 2: What is next?
Question 3: What are your assets and resources?

Once you know "where you are" and "where you are going" you have to know what you have that you can use to get you there.

Assets and resources come in many shapes and sizes.

People... (such as a mentor, a family member, a close friend, and sometimes even co-workers or employees) can become an asset to your endeavor.

But when it comes to people, yes they can be a resource, but don't "exploit" them. Make sure you let them know you appreciate their contribution and if possible reward them or show your gratitude to them in a special way.

Money... is probably one of the first resources that most people think of, but it is not the first requirement to getting your efforts underway. If you are just starting out there are a number of services that you can access for little or no money and upgrade as you grow. If you are already established, use some of that "street cred" you've built up to negotiate for a good deal. I also know several business owners in my area that are part of a barter network.

Knowledge... is power. Everyone knows that right? WRONG! Applied knowledge is power. It doesn't matter how much you know unless you are doing something with it. Merely having a collection of trivia and information floating around your brain doesn't do you any good. Besides that's what encyclopedias are for (ooo... wow... guess I'm showing my age there)... um... besides that's what Wikipedia is there for (there that's more up to date).

Statistical data... can be very beneficial to you as you move from one area to another in business. But do yourself a favor and take it for what it is, review it, incorporate if you can, discard it if you can't and move on with your plan. Don't get stuck in what some have called "the paralysis of analysis."

Websites... can be fantastic tools (but they can also be fantastic ways to spend a lot of time with no results). Use them, learn from them, just don't plagiarize them. But if you are in business, you need to know what is going on with your industry. You also need to know what your competition is doing - and not just in your local area, but also in other parts of the country.  

Why? you may ask. Well first off, let's face it you and your local competition probably don't know everything. Secondly, it's not uncommon for an out-of-area company to come in and grab up a project you wanted simply because they had to foresight to keep tabs on what was going on in other areas (why shouldn't that out-of-area company be YOU going into THEIR area). And lastly, maybe their website designer is using a technique that would make your website and your company more appealing to your potential customers.

Blogs... offer extremely valuable insight into various fields and industries. And companies use blogs not only to present information as a form of quasi-marketing, but ask almost any SEO guru and he will tell you that blogs are usually great ways to drive traffic to the company or blogger that is publishing the content. Of course in producing such content, many times they are providing you with knowledge that you can use to grow your business. (They probably won't be giving away any inside information or trade secrets, but take what you can get).

Seminars and webinars... provide you with an opportunity to learn from an expert in the field who is willing to share some of their knowledge with you. These events can range in price from just a few dollars to several thousand dollars and can last anywhere from an hour to 2 or 3 days in some cases.

As with any sort of outlay of money, make sure you know exactly what you are getting and determine if the reward is equal to or greater than the investment you made because in most cases there is not any sort of refund or satisfaction guarantee associated with events of this nature. And remember cost does not always equate to quality. I've personally been to paid events that lasted all day that did not benefit me as much as a free one-hour "lunch and learn" session.

What other assets or resources can you think of that you may have at your disposal?

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Sunday, September 4, 2011

Business Thought Process: The 4Q1E Way (Part 2)

Technologies and methodologies evolve and change, but solid foundations and principles tend to remain constant in business.

So with that in mind over the next few weeks, I'm gonna ask you 4 Questions. And give you 1 Exclamation that will hopefully get you thinking about the foundations and principles needed to create a business, solidify your current business, or enhance the speed of your growing business.

Question 1: Where are you now?
Question 2: What is next?

Hopefully you now know where you are. Now you need to figure out where you are going. And I can't tell you where that should be. You will have to decide that for yourself. It will be different for everyone because everyone is at a different place in business and in life.

"What's next" could be a dollar amount (i.e. $1Million in gross revenues). "What's next" could be a physical location (i.e. opening a new store across town). "What's next" could be a tangible product (i.e. building the better mousetrap). "What's next" could be something as simple as attending a seminar or reading a book that can help you learn how to be a better business owner.

"What's next" is whatever goal you set for yourself and your business.

If you enjoyed this post, please share it with your friends and followers...

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Business Thought Process: The 4Q1E Way (Part 1)

Technologies and methodologies evolve and change, but solid foundations and principles tend to remain constant in business.

So with that in mind over the next few weeks, I'm gonna ask you 4 Questions. And give you 1 Exclamation that will hopefully get you thinking about the foundations and principles needed to create a business, solidify your current business, or enhance the speed of your growing business.

Question 1: Where are you now?

You have to know this before you can even think about going anywhere else. In your car your GPS has to pick up the signal before it can properly guide you to your destination. So do you know where you are?

If you already have a business, what kind of numbers are you producing every month and how much is going out the door in terms of expenses and investments in the company? If you are looking to start a business, why do you want to do so? Is it a last resort because you can't find a traditional job in the field you want or is it something you've always wanted to do? What is your attitude toward business?

It doesn't really matter what your answer is... you just have to know what your answer is because it will be different for each person. Wherever you are, is where you are. So where are you?

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Wednesday, August 24, 2011

I. Don't. Know.

I'm not the kind of person who steals someone else's ideas and present them as my own. And I've never really done the whole "reblog" thing where I use someone else's post as a crutch to try to generate traffic for my blog.

I write because I want to and because I enjoy it (most of the time). I don't get caught up in how many people read what I write or share it with anyone else. I'm not Seth Godin and I don't have to rely on my writing / blogging to pay my bills and keep food on the table.

That being said, I recently came across a link in my Twitter feed from @DanWaldo an edgy "out of the box" kinda guy. He linked an article from @iannarino entitled "It's Professional Not To Know The Answer."

Anyway, I thought it was a great article. I won't include the entire text of the post but I just wanted to share a snippet in case you missed it:

When You Don’t Know, Say “I Don’t Know”

The inability to say the three little words “I don’t know” doesn’t afflict only salespeople. It’s an epidemic with management, leadership, and all sorts of professionals. But true professionals have no trouble admitting that that they don’t know something when asked.
Even if you are a subject matter expert with years in your field, with all you know there will still be more that you don’t know. When your client asks you a question to which you don’t know the answer, the legitimate, professional response is: “I don’t know, but I’ll find out the answer for you.”
So quit trying to "fake it until you make it."  People can tell when you are faking it. And I personally don't like to do business with people who deceive me and I'm sure there are others that feel the same way. So if you are going to rely on me and people like me for your income, just be honest with us. Because if you aren't and you "fake it" you will never "make it."

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Sunday, August 21, 2011

Cutting Edge? Bleeding Edge? or Out On A Ledge?

Being on the ''cutting edge'' is defined as Being in the position of the greatest advancement or importance; the forefront.

Being on the ''bleeding edge'' is defined as Having the most advanced state of technology, art, etc. usually experimental and risky; extremely advanced technology with no current practical applications; beyond the cutting edge of technology. (definitions as described on

And although the expression ''out on a ledge'' is not found in any dictionary, it obviously means being in a precarious position or dangerous situation.

As the business owner (and sole employee) it falls to me to make the decisions as to what direction I take in every area of my business.

Do I hire an accountant or do I hope and pray that the software I bought at the office supply store will keep me from being audited if I missed something? (I hired an accountant.)

Do I try to design all of my marketing materials myself or do I contract that out to someone else? And if I design them, do I try to print them out on my inkjet printer, do I take the file to a local printshop, do I use an online service to get my print work done? (I designed everything myself, but I used the resources of one of the popular online services and received a high quality product at a significant cost savings.)

Do I accept cash or check only as payment for my services or do I set up a merchant services account so that I can accept credit cards as payment? (At this time I have elected to only accept cash and checks.)

Do I consider hiring employees as my business grows or do I bring on independent contractors on a project by project basis to assist me? (On the occasion that I have needed assistance on a project, I have used independent contractors to help me out.)

Do I use my laptop and my phone to keep up with my files, contacts, and schedule or do I dive into the world of smartphones and buy a Blackberry or iPhone or other such device? (I struggled with this decision for a while but eventually got a very good price on a plan that would allow me to have a smartphone with the advanced contact management features as well as email on my phone that I use daily.)

And do I get entangled with the buzz words of the day: Web2.0... Social Media... Search Engine Optimization... Blogger... is it Your Tube or is it My Space... are you LinkedIn... can you Hulu... did your Facebook just Flickr... will you Google when I dive into all this and scream Yahoo!

Do I need any of this or is it just a way to stay busy but fool myself into thinking that I'm being productive?

Well I decided to use a handful of these outlets as a means of reaching potential clients. I have a Twitter page, a Facebook Fan Page, a personal blog on Blogspot, and a company blog that is hosted on the company website which I design, maintain, and update. Plus there are my listings on Google Maps, Merchant Circle, and Yahoo! Local.

Of course at times, I feel a little overwhelmed by it all. Who knew being an entrepreneur was this involved? At least I have been able to incorporate some processes that allow me to maintain all of these accounts without having to log in to each one of them on a daily basis. That... and I don't sleep much. (It's currently 1:55am in case you were wondering, although I'll probably set this to auto-post around 7am once I'm finished.)

But I look at what I'm doing and trying to accomplish with all of these outlets and then I look at what the competition is doing in comparison. There is no comparison.

As far as I can tell, very few of my competitors (both locally and in other parts of the country) are using any of the outlets that I have listed above. Well, I take that back. A few have traditional websites, but that's about it.

So either they know something that I don't know. Or I am so far ahead of the curve that I'm on the ''bleeding edge'' of social media and technology utilization. And either way, I think I'm okay with that.

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Sunday, August 14, 2011

Eggs, Carrots, or Coffee Beans

I heard this a couple years ago at a seminar I attended and I've had a couple conversations with people recently that brought it back to memory, so I thought others might benefit from it. If you know who the original author was, please leave a comment or send me a message and I will give credit where credit is due.

There are three types of people in this world, some are like eggs, some are like carrots, and some are like coffee beans.

What do I mean?

It's like this. Everybody is going to have adversity and challenges in their life. But how they react to those challenges determines the quality of their life.

Adversity is like a pot of boiling water. People who are like eggs, become hardened and put up thick walls and shrink into themselves and can't deal.

When placed in a pot of boiling water, carrots become soft and mushy and fall apart. People that are like carrots also fall apart. When adversity comes they don't know how to handle it and become an "emotional basketcase."

But when dropped into a pot of boiling water, the coffee bean turns the water into coffee. It becomes more valuable than it's original form. Some people when faced with adversity create a new environment and grow from the challenge and become more valuable as a result.

So the question becomes, when adversity comes your way, will you choose to be an egg, a carrot, or a coffee bean?

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Sunday, August 7, 2011

Give Me Your Definitions

Don't just give me your words... Give me your definitions.

Everybody wants to be successful. Go up to any random stranger on the street and ask them. "If you could pick success or failure, which would you pick?" After asking you if it was a trick question, it would be the rare oddity for anyone to choose failure. But if you were to ask them what "success" meant... they would have a much harder time giving you a complete answer.

Here in the U.S., most people equate success with income and while that may be true to some degree it is incomplete. As the owner of (for all intents and purposes) a new business startup, I had to define success for myself.

You see, I currently own a business in the same industry and the same market as the company that I previously worked for. Don't you know that ruffled some feathers. But it simplified a few things for me, outside of the effort to get a new client base, there really was no learning curve or proving ground that I had to go through. I had already established myself as somewhat of an expert in the field and had nearly 10 years of experience to draw from.

However, going into this endeavor I knew that I was taking a big risk. I had never owned or operated a full-time business before. I've had some sideline projects that have generated some extra money from time to time, but nothing that required 40, 50, 60 hours a week to make it succeed.

And that was key to me. I wanted this to be a success. I wanted to be a success.

Years ago I too would have said that success was something along the lines of how much money you had, how many and what kind of cars you had, how big your house was, etc.

In recent years, I've come to believe that the financial picture is only a portion of the bigger picture when it comes to defining what personal success is.

To use the cliche, "success is a journey not a destination," in my mind cheapens the success itself. I have come to believe that TRUE personal success is a series of these so-called destinations or (more accurately) waypoints with the final endpoint being the legacy we leave behind. An endpoint that may or may not yet be reached when we die. There are numerous stories of people who were never given the spotlight for their deeds until after their deaths because their efforts did not come to fruition until after they passed away.

I guess that's what it boils down to - legacy. Regardless of the financial outcome of any business I start or any project I work on or any task that I put my hand to, I want (at the very least) my family to know that I totally devoted myself to the task. Win or lose, tears of joy or tears of pain, financial reward or (heaven forbid) financial ruin... when the dust settles, I want it known beyond a shadow of a doubt that I left it all on the "field of battle."

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Monday, August 1, 2011

Get Over It, Get Up Off It. Get On With It.

DISCLAIMER: This post may be too rough for some people. (Also please read my comment at the end of the post). If you are easily offended when someone speaks the truth, you may want to skip this one and wait for a "kinder, gentler" post next time. That being said...


Everyone is struggling with something these days. Maybe it's your health. Maybe it's the health of one of your children. Maybe you are unemployed. Maybe you're ugly and your mama dresses you funny.

Whatever it is, it is. Deal with it. If you can fix it. Fix it. If you can't fix it, quit worrying about it.

Go pick up the book The Magic of Thinking Big by Dr. David Schwartz. You don't even have to read the whole book right now, just chapter 2.


One of my pet peeves is hearing people complain about their situation, but they aren't willing to do anything about it. Anybody who has ever accomplished anything in life has had to get up off their "rusty-dusty" and go after it.

Even the caveman had to leave the cave every once in a while to go kill something and drag it home to eat.

Quit procrastinating. Get the job done NOW! Don't be the guy who says "I'll do it tomorrow" but dies in his sleep.

Find some music to get you pumped up if you have to. Or go get that copy of The Magic of Thinking Big and read chapter 9.


The hard part is over. Once you get started, stay at it.

If you remember your high school science class discussion of potential energy versus kinetic energy... even a rock at the top of a hill has "potential" energy but force has to be applied in order to convert it to "kinetic" energy and get the rock rolling down the hill.

If you're just sitting there waiting for your life to change you have "potential" for something better. But you have to apply force to yourself to stand up, dust yourself off and begin.

The good news is it takes less energy to keep going than it did to start moving.

So set some daily and weekly goals that will help guide you to what you ultimately want to accomplish. If you need help, go back to The Magic of Thinking Big and read chapter 12.

By the time you finish chapter 12, you will probably want to go back and start at the beginning and read the entire thing. It's worth it.

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