The Importance Of Focus

My son Jeff and my daughter Chelsey have big dreams.  Jeff is finishing up his last year as a drama student and wants to be a screen actor.  He has already been an extra in a handful of movies.  Chelsey wants to be a country music writer and artist.  The interesting thing with these two is that Jeff has a rich, deep voice and could have been a singer, and Chelsey was accepted as a drama student to a high school academy.  I taught each of them that they had to focus and concentrate on one dream for now, because they will have to put a ton of effort behind their dream to make them a success.  So they made their choices and are shooting for their big dreams.  And they are going to stick to their focus as long as it takes them to be successful in it.

Many business people tend to lose focus.  Not that they change their goals, but that they don’t stick to a particular plan.  For instance, a business person might set out to advertise in magazines but decide later to also advertise online.  Sometimes doing too many things at once is not a good idea, because it tends to create a lot of unproductive busyness.  For instance in our example, managing online advertisements is different than managing magazine advertisements so it might be difficult to keep a handle on both.

Good focus in business does make things kind of boring.  If you are finding yourself with less activitiy than you’d like, perhaps you can turn it up a notch, but following a specific business plan makes more sense than adding a bunch of different parts on.  So instead of trying to do 5 other things, do more of the things you are already doing.  If you’re the kind of person that gets bored easy this may seem like a drag, but keeping our focus is important and will help us achieve our dreams.

Sometimes you need to make adjustments.  Don’t think that having good focus means that you can’t make adjustments to your business plan.  When you notice something is not working as well as you like, it is ok to tinker with it to improve your results.  Just make sure to stick with the change long enough to verify that it works or that it doesn’t.  Sometimes the results of changes are a bit delayed.  And making all sorts of changes at once is not a good idea because if things get better you don’t know what worked, and if things get worse you don’t know what made it bad.

I have a friend who has a great core business but tends to like to create new businesses, like all the time.  Each new business has nothing to do with his core business and tends to distract him to such a degree that he really can’t put the time into his core business that it needs.  If you feel the need to create side businesses because your core business is so successful, create one new side business and make it successful or close it down.  Don’t leave a bunch of dangling businesses that will never be successful because you can’t give them enough time.  Just work on one and if it looks good, keep at it.  If it looks bad after some time, close it down and move on.

Focus is really important to success at anything.  Trying to do too many things leaves you scattered, sort of like “a jack of all trades and a master of none” as the saying goes.  Be the best at something.

Take Action

There is nothing wrong with a little analysis.  Until it becomes analysis paralysis.  Ultimately, in the end, you must take some sort of action.  A decision not made is a decision made for you.

This is especially important when you are trying to decide what direction your company should take.  If you have employees, they are looking to you for leadership.  You set the direction and communicate it to the troops.  They execute their job functions to push the company in that direction.  Lack of leadership usually means that nothing gets done.

If you are just starting your own business, you may have several different business options you are considering.  My advice?  Take action and set off in a direction.  If it is the wrong direction, you start over with a new opportunity.  Taking weeks, months, or years to make a decision means that you don’t start a business for that long and you could be spending the time learning.  Yes, there is some expense to making mistakes and setting off in the wrong direction, but indecision can be far more costly.

Spend some time doing research about what your choices are, which ones have merrit, and any other information you find pertinent, but give yourself a deadline for making a decision.  Then take action!  Do your dream!  Go for it!

How To Have Courage

Courage is being able to do something in the face of obvious danger.  I have been discussing some politics the last couple of weeks and the main thing I wish is that politicians would have the courage to do the right thing in the face of political pressure to do the wrong thing.  Sometimes people get it wrong.  Especially masses of people who develop a mob mentality about a particular subject.  Unfortunately, we the people elect politicians.  It is a blessing and a curse to live a democratic society.  On the plus side, we help decide public policy so there is no taxation without representation.  On the minus side, we live in our own little worlds and often do not see the bigger picture.  That’s why the President and members of congress need to have the political will to set a particular direction and communicate the need for the direction to the people.  President Kennedy said that we need to go to the moon, not because it is easy, but because it is hard.  Political courage and leadership does not exist like that today.

There are three kinds of people when it comes to courage.  Those who lack courage, those who act knowing the dangers, and those who act because they have no clue or choose to have no clue.  The first group we call workers who trade their time for money because it seems like the safest way to go.  The third group is probably the most likely group to contain entrepreneurs because they act with no sense of danger.  The second group probably contains business manager types because they feel the danger and seek to understand it before acting.

As an entrepreneur, you want to try stuff knowing that you’re going to fail 90% of the time because there’s really not that much to lose.  But knowing that you’re going to fail means that you must be working with a net.  You must have a fallback position to take when everything goes to hell in a hand basket.  Even after you start succeeding, there is a danger that things will fall apart, so your fallback must be there probably for the first 5 years of a successful business.  After that, you must become a business manager.

Making the transition from an entrepreneur to a business manager is a tough one.  Often entrepreneurs will build their business to a certain point then sell it to a business manager, or hire a business manager to run it for them.  Very few non-manager entrepreneurs succeed at being a business manager… but personally I would try.  Of course I have my MBA so I do know what it takes to run a business… I am an entrepreneur because I try and try and try again, regardless of how many times I fail.  Not too many MBA’s are truly entrepreneurs, but I was an entrepreneur before I was an MBA, so I haven’t been tainted by the education.

Normal people do have things that they don’t want to lose.  You have your home and your family.  You drive a nice car.  You take vacations every spring.  Being an entrepreneur will take some sacrifice.  No doubt about it.  But you want to do things so that you don’t end up falling to rock bottom and losing everything you have.  You can start your business while you are still working.  You can separate your business from your personal finances (recommended).  You can set up an emergency account.  Or you can think of some other way to create a safety net to catch you when you fall.  Remember, you are going to fail, so be ready.

If you work a normal job, I applaud you.  You have much more courage than I do my friend.  You depend on one employer, who on a whim could wipe out your whole division and put you into the unemployment line.  Just like mine did last spring.  I was lucky enough to have a consulting business that caught me and has been supporting my family the last two months.  I didn’t think it would but I found out how many friends I had, and how much business I could really generate.  I depend on myself now, with the help of a few friends, and I see business into the forseeable future.

Are you still worried about when the pink slip will come?  I’m not.

How To Be An Entrepreneur

If you want to be an Entrepreneur, you have to be ready to fail. Failure is part of what you go through a lot. It’s like when you’re dating. You date person after person looking for that perfect match, but you’re going to have failed relationships until you find it. And oh, by the way, even the perfect match may be destined for a failure… but we try not to think that way.

As an Entrepreneur we are looking for opportunities to make money. Can’t find any opportunities you say? Hundreds pass by you every day, you just have to be tuned in to be looking for them. So be on the lookout. You could read business magazines or books to help you get tuned in. Just make sure you make yourself aware.

The problem then becomes choosing the right opportunity, because once you choose you will find 10 more that may work even better. You could be methodical in choosing which one to pursue, by evaluating the market and surveying potential customers. It is probably a good idea to do this, but sometimes the best opportunities look a little weird in the beginning, then develop into great products or services.

Take the leap and select an opportunity, which I will assume is a product or service but it may also include methods of marketing or a new way of doing an old business. Ultimately though you are selling something, so spend a little time and or money to attempt to sell your product or service, and get feedback from potential customers. Make little changes based on the feedback you get and try again. Ultimately you will find out if your product is worth continuing with. Perhaps it’s not… then it’s time to move on to a different opportunity.

You may go through several different opportunities, or perhaps you will start and fail at several businesses, before you find the magical combination that creates winning growth. Keep at it because you will get there. Just remember that you only need one success and if you try and fail enough, you will try and succeed at least once.

One important thing to keep in mind: Because you will need to be able to fail, you don’t want to bet the farm on your opportunity.  You always want to have a fall back in case things get bad.  Then you will be able to build up some money and try again.  If your failure leaves you flat broke it will be very difficult to start again right away.

Depending On Nobody But You – Poetry Saturday

When you start believing
In a regular job, a permanent paycheck
The illusion will evaporate
You’ll be on the street, collecting unemployment

Because nobody cares
And nobody’s looking out for you
You’re just a means to an end
Only one place you can go to

You can do it, you can start your own business
You can end this 9 to 5 rat race with a simple decision
And it’s not always the most secure thing to do
But you’ll be depending on nobody but you

I’ve seen friends come and go
Your job is not forever, you really should know
That you could wake up tomorrow
And it could be the end, the closing of the show

And nobody cares
Nobody’s looking out for you
You’re just a means to an end
Only one place you can go to

You can do it, you can start your own business
You can end this 9 to 5 rat race with a simple decision
And it’s not always the most secure thing to do
But you’ll be depending on nobody but you

You can do it, start today

Creating A New Business Entity

In my business life, I have only created two types of business entities: A sole proprietorship and a corporation. In a sole proprietorship, you are not allowed to use the Inc. behind your name. It is also considered a “doing business as” name, i.e. Brian Satterlee doing business as Satterlee Marketing. This means that you personally are responsible for any liability resulting from the operation of your business. You typically register a sole proprietorship with your county agency, run a announcement in the newspaper, then get paperwork from the county so you can open a bank account. A sole proprietorship is reasonably inexpensive to start and you fill out a schedule C on your tax returns for profit and loss.

A corporation, on the other hand, allows you to put the Inc. behind your name, such as Satterlee Marketing, Inc., and is treated like a separate person. You register for an EIN with the IRS and file its taxes separately from yours. Since a corporation is separate from you, it also shelters you from liability provided you follow the rules for a corporation. I used MyCorporation to set up my corporate name and it was around $100. Corporations are usually set up with the state rather than a county. Follow the link below to learn more.

Because I have not dealt as much with LLC’s and other business entities I am not going to try to write about them. Check out this link from the IRS though: Business Structures

In starting a new business, I would be concerned with liability and professionalism. This is why I chose a corporation as my new business. Corporations look much more professional than sole proprietorships and, because they act as a separate entity, they force more responsible behavior with personal versus corporate assets. There might be other entities that are more fitting for your situation so you might want to chat with an attorney to come up with the right one.

Reasons To Do Multi-Level

I have probably spooked you into believing that it really isn’t worth it to do multi-level marketing. The main reasons to join a multi-level marketing company and work so hard is that you can make a lot of money and become financially independent. That is not to say that everyone who does multi-level marketing is wildly successful because they aren’t. You really have to know what you’re doing. But if you do know what to do you can make a ton of cash.

We had a total group of around 350 distributors and made between $14,000 and $20,000 in monthly commissions for two full years. That is what multi-level marketing can do for you. Unfortunately, we were working with a dietary supplement company that had the #1 product in the 1990’s, but in 1999 imploded because of issues with the health of its users, lying to the FDA, and getting a lot of bad press. I am not going to mention the company’s name but if you know the industry you can probably figure it out.

Our group was about 50% dropouts who never did anything, 45% small salespeople who sold a little product, and the rest hard-working sales people who could both sell and sponsor. We probably had three big fish who could really sponsor. We were part of the distributor advisory board for the multi-level marketing company and met people who did over $1 million per month in commissions, so we were not the largest by far. So the company had really, really big distributors and really, really little distributors (and dropouts), despite the major success of the product.

So how do you go from being the little guy to being the big fish? You find what works and you do it over and over, and bigger and bigger. Spending money is out of the question when you first start, but money can give you leverage to grow larger quickly once you have gotten to a certain level. You just don’t want to spend it foolishly, and spending it on big unproven advertising campaigns is always out of the question. I will post more about advertising in the future, but for now, spending money on advertising is out of the question when you are just starting. In fact, spending money on anything that you can do for free is out of the question.

Back to the multi-level marketing company for a minute. The company’s product was great, but the company’s business practices and attitudes caused them to run afoul of the media and the government, and ultimately their customers and distributors turned on them. This is sometimes what happens with a quickly growing company. They don’t know how to handle the growth and end up destroying themselves. This is not a good situation when you are depending on them for all of your income. Sometimes going with the tried and true is a better idea.