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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