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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