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THOUGHTS ON WEALTH, SUCCESS AND YOUR SMALL BUSINESS

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As an incorporator, we've seen many small businesses succeed and fail.  The following are the guidelines of success as we see them.  I only hope that these will help you in improving the likelihood of success in your life and in your business:

 

What do you want to do with your life?

Consider the answers to these questions:

  • If you had the knowledge, skills, background, confidence and credentials to do anything you wanted--What you would be doing?

  • If you had only 6 months to live and had to work, and could choose any profession, any project, any job, any industry... what would it be?

  • If the above two questions are in anyway similar in their answers, ask yourself why you're not doing "it" right now.
    Although certain goals may not be reachable at your age, i.e. a professional football player, you may still provide a support role.  Engage yourself in what you love to do.  Even if that means you go to the library and pick up a book on the subject, you can act right now to make things happen.

There's no one looking at your answers.  This is between you and yourself.  There's no right answer for everyone.  There's only the answer that's right for you.  If you're passionate about your answer, then you're not counting the hours in the investment toward your goals.  If you're excited about what you're doing, then others will follow you and your example.  No one is criticizing your answers to the above.  But there may be the voices of the others from the past, telling you what you can do, and why you can't do it, or why you shouldn't try.  If you admit to these ghosts, instead of running away from them in fear or regret, then perhaps more is possible.  We are only held back when we give consent to others in holding us captive.  Greater people are often held in bondage by the lesser person.  This is done through consent of the controlled.  Unless you realize where and when you gave consent, you'll always be in the same bondage you're in right now-- if that's where you are.  Below are principles of success discovered by those greater than myself.  Mentors, teachers and friends, who taught me through their example, shared experience and mistakes.  Humbly, I share these suggestions with you.

 

1.  Do the right thing.  It sets you apart, it's practical and it earns trust among those with whom you work.  People confide in others who do the right thing.  People seek to do business from those who do the right thing.  They prefer to send you customers.  Doing the right thing makes you rare.  Doing the right thing is not only your duty as a Christian, but it also leads to an increase in profits.  Since few people do the right thing, this will set you apart from the crowd.  Doing the right thing is rebellious in a world consumed with self-interest. 

     CAUTION:  In doing so, remember to be aware of those around you who mistake kindness as weakness.  Abusers, liars, deceivers and thieves always mistake kindness and morality as weakness.  Never forget this for they will try and try to take everything from you--as you do the right thing.  Recovering drug addicts are the best at talking you out of your business and your money. 

      There's a saying, "No good deed goes unpunished."  There's a degree of truth to this statement.  This is because we're in a world of people who assume that nice guys finish last.  Doing the right thing puts you in first class.  People will notice it and notice you.  If you are punished for doing right, it's because you're reminding someone else that they are doing wrong.  Expect retaliation when you blow the whistle-- and then do it anyway.  Sometimes, termination is your graduation.

2.  Master the need for immediate gratification.  A willingness to wait places you at an advantage against your competitors in all areas.  Delaying gratification fuels success.  Delaying purchasing that new car allows you flexibility in decisions because you're debt load is relieved.  Delaying a payoff by working, while your friends are partying, may pay off in more ways you may imagine.

 

This means you do first things first.  When the bills need to be paid, you're not checking unnecessary emails.  When a customer needs a follow up phone call, you're not chatting with a coworker.  When the product needs to be prepared and shipped, you're not reading the newspaper.  First things first.  Smart people fail miserably when they leave the most important tasks to last.  The best way to destroy your business, your prospects and your opportunities, is to neglect a first priority task.  It's the most common form of self-sabotage.  Brilliant people often fail because they refuse to take responsibility for their own success and failure.  The issue that sabotages them most is that they fail to place first things first, as their failure to control their need for immediate gratification.  These two issues are one in the same.  This alone is the seed of failure in most brilliant people.  Obtaining success is the process of doing the things you don't want to do in order to obtain the objectives you seek.

 

3.  Identify, restrict and control your need for certainty.  Identify who you are and how this fits into your life.  The industry you choose should fit inside this need for certainty and tolerance for ambiguity.  This means that if you have a high need for certainty, then preparing others' tax returns may be a better business than starting a construction business. 

 

A low need for certainty means you are able to tolerate high risk better than others.  What seems unpredictable and chaotic to others may be your area of strength, if you're able to tolerate that environment.  Those who have a high need for certainty (low tolerance for ambiguity) cannot function in an environment where there are many unknowns and high risk.  Pick you career, your industry and your role according to your need for certainty.  If you can't handle ambiguity, then pick an activity and a role that minimizes it.  This decision may minimize your risk and save your relationships.  It may prevent and alleviate health problems.

 

The role of breadwinner within the family may temper your choices.  Your spouse may not share your penchant for risk.  Unless husband and wife are on the same page and are able to focus on the prize, risk will produce conflict.  In such circumstances, the family will need to work as a team and make sacrifices to do what is possible and minimize risk.  Foreigners do better at this then happy Americans.  This is why you'll see an Indian family operate a Dunkin' Donuts and work as a team.  Prior to that family project, they each took two or three jobs, scraping by, to save the money and start that business.  Many families don't have that commitment level.  Most broke families can't think past the weekend.  It all depends on your perspective, teamwork and what you're willing to risk.  If your family members are moving in opposite directions, then perhaps gambling your life savings is not the right time to start a business.  Start a home first.  Get home life on track first.  What's the point in building a successful business if you're going to turn it over to the divorce lawyers?  Why burn through your health to obtain wealth?  And then burn through wealth to recover health?  There's no point in that.

 

This certainty-ambiguity issue has the ability to polarize relationships, cause arguments and test your conflict resolution skills.  Who you marry will play a larger role in your success than you think.  The spouse's need for certainty, and tolerance for ambiguity, may dictate how far you can go, and how fast.  It may also determine whether you'll be building your wealth or sharing it with scum divorce lawyers.

At least you can avoid problems with the IRS by filing your paperwork properly and on time--and paying up.  Dealing with a scum lawyer and an unreasonable estranged mate is enough to drive your key employees out the door, and close your business for good.  Managing uncertainty is managing your business.  Running a business is really "IF Management."  You are managing the IF's of your personal relationships, business relationships, the market, your suppliers, costs, etc.  The whole game is one big IF.  Again, choose a mate and a business that makes the "IF Factor" manageable.

 

4.  Make complex issues simple.  Customers will love you, employees will appreciate you, and your competitors will hate you.  Genius is making complex matters appear simple.  People seek to understand.  They buy from those who take the time to explain, to teach and to share.  It shows commitment and understanding of your client.

5.  No matter how far you go, remember that you're one step away from losing your touch.  If success makes you lazy and inattentive, this will be your downfall.

6.  Build skills when times are easy.  If you don't believe this one, consider the employees at GM.  When times were good, they went fishing.  Many didn't reinvest in their business model, their products, their relationships, and their own careers.  Whether you're self-employed or you're an employee-- you are your business.  You are responsible for what you do, and what you fail to do.

7.  Collaboration and team building is an advantage when the landscape is marked with conflict.

8.  Do what others are not willing to do.  Do well what others hate to do.  Then do it at a rate that others will consider outsourcing to you.  This is often a hidden opportunity in any industry.  The dirty and uncomfortable work affords the most opportunity.  Ever notice how most gas stations have dirty bathrooms?  Most women would pay more for gasoline if they were guaranteed a clean bathroom.  That's one example.  Look around for those opportunities.  Taking this rule to an extreme will lead to disaster.

9.  Start with what you have right here--right now.  Do it right now.  This may mean that you're not able to start doing exactly what you want to do.  You may need to start somewhere related to your goal and work your way in.  This means that a support role may be enough for now, master it, then work towards what you want.

10.  Success is defined by measuring the distance from where you are to where you started.  Stop comparing yourself to others.  If you were born on third base, it means something to reach home plate.  It means more if you started at home plate.

11.  Smaller means flexibility.  Test your ideas.  Big companies are inflexible.  This is your opportunity.

12.  One inconsiderate person can ruin your day, or your business in a day.  Stay away from people who exercise bad judgment.  Stay away from people who create drama in your life.  Stay away from people who put you down.  If you can't stay away, then do this:

  • Limit their exposure to your business decisions and your business.

  • Limit your conversations and disclosures to these individuals.

  • Limit your emotional investment to their antics and drama.  Their actions will exhaust you when permitted.

13.  After you make money, protect it.  Keep it away from your business.  Start a fund to "start over" if you needed to.

14.  Pay your taxes, pay all of them on time, and seek counsel to make sure it's done right.

15.  The business environment is split into two areas:

  • Those areas where winning means making the least mistakes (tax and legal)

  • Those areas where winning means taking calculated risks (research and development, training, market share, marketing)

  • Know and appreciate the difference.  Some of you will shine in one area and lack in the other. 

  • Hire someone to help you in the areas in which you lack. 

  • Seek wise counsel and think for yourself. 

  • Keep control of your business, when others will seek to take the control from you.  This area is sensitive to your need for certainty and tolerance for ambiguity. 

  • Know when you're hiring someone because you're too lazy to do it yourself.  This is an indication of a character problem.

16.  Be a student of your business.  Be a student of your industry.  Be a student of your customers.  You're always a student, everyday and in every moment.  Realizing this keeps you humble, and so you're not an enemy to your own interests. 

17.  Keep expenses low and don't commit to expensive situations (big house, expensive car, high maintenance people).  This affords you the freedom to try new things in your business, to test your ideas and to see if there's a demand you can fill.   If you're an employee, choose the smaller apartment, the cheaper car, and the lower cost when able.  This provides opportunity to choose when the time is right. Review point number 2 above.  Risk-taking is less nerve racking, and less abrasive on relationships, when you're not gambling the milk money or the mortgage payment.

18.  Even if you're an employee, you are a business.  This means you have one client.  You are completely responsible for your skills, your commitment to learning, your relationships and your results. 

19.  When in doubt, invest in yourself and in others.

20.  Innovation is the mixture of two or more ideas that are fundamental.  For example, the fax machine is the mixture of a phone and a printer.  Many times, the answers are next to you.  Tension and fear blinds us to the answers that stare at you in the face.

21.  Find out what others hate to do and do it well.  What your competitors avoid doing is your opportunity.  It's your opening in a crowded marketplace.

22.  Sharing your knowledge with others breeds trust, goodwill and understanding.

23.  Promise a little and deliver more.

24.  In a world focused on quantity, quality is a breath of fresh air.  Most of the business world is split into either "cheaper" or "different."  Choose which one you want to be and be that.

25.  THINK FOR YOURSELF.  If you're going to test someone's ideas, they should be your own.  There's nothing more aggravating than failing using someone else's idea because you were too afraid to test your own.

26.  Make yourself into a small target in terms of what you own in your name.  It discourages thieves, those who confiscate, slanderers, trouble-makers and the greedy.  They are always looking for a target.  Painting a bulls-eye on your forehead doesn't help you.  Looking like a big-shot makes you into a fat target.

27.  When everyone is tense and agitated, the person who is relaxed is in control.

28.  Avoid making financial commitments that keep you stressed and pressured.  This gives you the flexibility to say no to business when the client is unethical, risky or potentially problematic.  If your gut tells you that it's a bad idea, then say NO.  Review Rule #2.

29.  Debt limits your options, inhibits experimentation, and restricts your progress.  Debt makes you heavier and slower in terms of the decisions you can make and what you can walk away from.  If you bough an expensive car, and you are burdened by a high monthly payment, high insurance payments and costly maintenance, you restricted opportunities.  There's an opportunity cost by incurring unnecessary debt.  The argument of faking it until you make it doesn't work.  The debt is supposed to leverage your capital to acquire assets that appreciate in value or produce income.  Debt that does neither will just encumber your capital and slow you down.  When in debt burden, you can't take as much risk, learn your business and experiment as needed.  You need to find out how your special skill set can be maximized in the marketplace.  Understand how debt is a tool to move forward and not as a means for immediate gratification.  A loan is not capital.  Capital is what you have minus debt and after taxes.  If you're confusing assets and capital, then rethink where you are and where you want to go.

30.  Turn off the television.

31.  Take less drugs than what "professionals" prescribe for you and your children.  Most vaccines are unnecessary.

32.  Filter your water.  Flouride is added to the water to make you stupid.  Stalin and Hitler added Sodium Flouride to water to pacify the masses. 

33.  Eat organic food.  Let your drug be your food. 

34.  If the media tells you to buy, then you sell.  If the media tells you to sell, then buy.  The mainstream media works for the government.   Seek out independent sources of news.

35.  You can't buy into the destruction of others, other countries, and other societies as you build your own.  Don't participate in this madness. 

36.  As you pay fees to a lawyer, the lawyer will give you more reasons to pay fees to the lawyer.  Not obtaining a lawyer at the right time will create more problems than you can imagine.  Knowing how to set those limits will determine whether the lawyer works for you, or you work for the lawyer.

37.  First responders such as Police Officers, Fire Fighters and Ambulatory Personnel are there to help you in times of trouble.  Other public servants are out to consume your time, money and your life.  With few exceptions, most public servants are not your friend.  All of them have numbers to keep up at the expense of the working public.  When in doubt, shut up.    Administrative agencies in particular are out to cost you money, and prefer to leave you with nothing.  Administrative public servants are consumers of wealth and produce nothing of value to anyone. 

38.  If you really want to feel alive, take on a bully.  Then show others how to do the same.  Taking on a bully doesn't always mean victory.  In fact, most times you will lose.  One thing is for sure, it feels great to give him a black eye.  It doesn't need to get physical.  There are many ways to engage a bully without violence.  There's nothing more exciting, more thrilling, and more satisfying than to fight the stronger and bigger bully-who abuses others.  It's a great builder of character, determination and it defines you in time.  Give it a try.  You'll be surprised at the new found solutions when you must respond.  Necessity is the mother of invention as they say.  Opportunity exists in learning how to cope with that bully, when others are facing similar problems.  If you can find a solution that doesn't produce legal problems, then you have a marketable solution for others to use.  Sell it!  The world is full of arrogant abusers in the realm of banking, government and many other areas that you can rattle off by personal experience.  Many of these solutions require specialized knowledge on how to deal with these complicated issues.  Much of that know-how is learned by doing and research.  People will pay to obtain advice on how to solve difficult problems.  You will receive a sense of satisfaction when overcoming these obstacles.  But it requires courage, tenacity and a veracious appetite for learning.  You may not get it right the first time.  And why wait for the bully to pick on you?  Go out and find a bully!  Someone has to teach him or her a lesson.  Why does must it be someone else?  Why not you?  Today, it's marketable and profitable to take on monopolies, liars, cheaters, politicos, and abusers.  The common person needs more pioneers to champion for truth and the American way.  And who else better to do that than you? 

39.  Your life and hard work can be trashed and thrashed by people who don't care.  Although you did a great job, your exposure to people on your side, your team or your department (who cares less about their work than you do) will produce more

drama than you can imagine.  By limiting your exposure to people who are careless, you reduce the chances of failure considerably.  Avoid people who are reckless and irresponsible.  A person who is irresponsible in personal matters will be irresponsible in working for your business.  Clients who are careless and irresponsible are just as dangerous than an irresponsible and careless employee.

40.  Advance on your competitors when the times are tough.  When times are good, it's hard to catch a competitor in terms of market share.  Overtaking a competitor happens when times are difficult. 

41.  Pull when your enemy pushes.  Push when your enemy pulls.  Make your opponent over-react.  Then use that over-reaction against him.  Anger, frustration, and irritation creates over-reaction.  Attack your opponent's center and at his base.  Everything else will follow.  Do not attack head-on.  Always attack from the blindside, particularly when the opponent can overpower you with superior strength and power.  Use the opponent's arrogance as your source of surprise.  If you're able to put aside your pride, let your opponent think he has you beat.  This is the moment that the opponent will either put down his guard or over extend himself.  This is the moment you seek.

43.  When confused or overwhelmed, spend time with a child.  Think simple and relax.  Clarity is found in the eyes and face of a child.

44.  In risk, you can only ask questions from an awareness of what you don't know.  The biggest risk is that which is unknown, and you don't know enough to ask the question in the first place. 

From what you know...

a.  What you know

b.  What you don't know (You realize that you don't know the answer)

 

From what you don't know...

c. You realize that you don't know it and seek the answer. 

d. You don't know enough to even consider the question (You don't know that you don't know).  This is the biggest risk.  It is the unknown unknown.  In other words, you don't realize that you don't know.

 

Choose your business and your partners according to your tolerance for ambiguity.

45.  True rebellion is to be kind, to the tell the truth, and to do good in an evil world.  If you're mean, violent and evil, then you're the ultimate conformist.  

46.  When you seriously consider quitting, just slow down and take a breath.  Don't stop.
47.  When all else fails, they cannot take your skills away from you. 
Your skills and how you cope with fear will determine your ability to respond to the challenge at hand.

48.  Stay away from people who constantly mention their elevated level of honesty, or how good they are.

49.  Every movement of your opponent results in a shift of strength, weakness, focus and timing.

50.  If you're working full time and thinking about jumping into a business, what questions should you ask of yourself?

  • Is the part-time business growing?

  • How's the market?

  • Is the business ready for full time attention?

  • What's the opportunity cost of leaving your job to handle the business full time? 

  • What's the opportunity cost of going full time with the business?

  • What business are you losing while not engaged in the business full time?

  • Are you and the family willing to contract your standard of living to grow the business?

  • Who in the family thinks long term and short term?

  • How does the family schedule and activities take a hit?

51.  If you don't like the opportunities in front of you, make your own path. 

52.  If you're looking to break into an industry, find out what most companies hate doing.  Do it for less and at non-traditional hours.

53.  The new money is made after 5:00 pm, and on Saturday and Sunday.  The competitors who are fat and comfortable are having a good time-- and won't see you coming.

54.  Winners know how to take discomfort and turn it into background noise. 

55.  There's a difference between discomfort and pain.  It's important to know the difference.

56.  Doing business online has the repeated pothole called the "terms of use."  Read it before you sign up or buy.

 

 

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