bookmark_borderAbout Fear of Failure

The thousands of missed baskets made by Magic Johnson were not failures. They were successful attempts to train his mind and muscles to get those magic game-winning 3 pointers. If he allowed the fear of failure to get in his way, he’d never even have attempted those throws from center court. Many other players, even great pros, may never make those spectacular winning shots. The spectators who watched Magic play will, of course, never make them.

According to the study by former Treasury official, Bruce Bartlett, some 80 percent of millionaires acquire their wealth in a single generation without the benefit of inheritance. They are self-made millionaires. Two thirds of these self-made millionaires got wealthy because they started their own businesses.

It is obvious that your best shot at becoming a millionaire is by starting your own business. The biggest reason that the majority of people do not go into business for themselves is the fear that they will fail, despite the fact that it is almost guaranteed that they will fail if they do not start their own business. Guaranteed? Yes. The historical statistics prove it.

85% of people who do NOT own their own businesses are not financially independent at retirement age. Only 15% of people who choose the security of employment, rather than the risk of self-employment, are able to retire with any degree of financial independence and less than 5% end up wealthy.

So, as odd as it is, most people are afraid of starting their own business for fear of losing their security. The fear of failure actually produces the loss of security. In other words, that which you fear shall be your reward, unless you find the courage to face your fear and do the thing anyway.

And like Magic Johnson, don’t let the fear of missing the shot prevent you from scoring the game winning basket. Or as Wayne Gretzky, who missed more than 90% of his shots on goal, once commented, “I miss 100% of the shots I don’t take.” In any game, if you do not take the shot, you cannot score the goal. Life is a game. Take a shot at winning.

bookmark_borderKeys to Entrepreneurial Success

  1. Focus, focus, focus, focus, focus. The word “focus” simply cannot be said enough. When launching and growing a venture, tons of opportunities and obstacles arise. Entrepreneurs that succeed are typically the ones that see the forest from the trees. They remain focused on the prize. They consider new opportunities, but also note that pursuing them often takes them away from accomplishing what they set out to do.
  2. Hire smart. Companies succeed based on the people that comprise them. Virtually all people in a small, growing entrepreneurial company make key decisions and take actions that can significantly impact the success of the venture. As such, the people that are hired must be hired with care. They must be intelligent, responsible, and equally importantly, have the enthusiasm to succeed and the ability to work in a fast-paced, rapidly changing entrepreneurial environment.
  3. Communicate. So, you’ve followed the first two lessons. You have set company goals and remain focused on achieving them. You have hired great people. Now, it is important to effectively communicate. The laser-sharp focus and goals must be communicated to the great team. Management must share information, instill company values and vision, discuss each employee’s performance with them, and make employees feel that they are the company and that the company is them.
  4. Win. Entrepreneurship, like basketball or football, is a game. There are winners and losers. There are narrow victories and landslides. There are Davids and Goliaths. Competition should be hard work, but it should also be fun. The company should be instilled with competitive spirit and be committed to winning. Winning may take many forms, such as hitting sales goals or turning a profit by a set date. Regardless of how winning is defined, it should be clearly articulated and everyone in the company should have a competitive, winner spirit instilled within them.

The above four lessons can help entrepreneurial ventures edge out their competition and enjoy the financial and emotional success that such ventures are capable of generating.

bookmark_borderEssential Elements of Operating a Successful Business

Find a need!

Is there a market niche for your particular product or service? Does the world, or even your community, need what you have to offer? Only by sampling and testing will you be able to determine this with any degree of certainty, but we will be covering this as we go along in greater detail. The most important aspect would be to determine a Unique Selling Proposition for your product or service. Too many business owners are just trying to be me-too companies. You cannot be just like the next guy and expect to prosper in this volatile economy.

One of the most important things I learned from my Dad was, there are really only two things to consider, and next to them everything else is minor. Those two things are: (1) What do you really want? And just as, and perhaps even more important, (2) Are you willing to do whatever it takes to achieve it?

What do you really, really want from this endeavor? What is your ultimate goal? Are you willing to do whatever it takes to achieve this goal? Instead of looking for a business based on how much money you can earn up-front, select a business based on your love for that endeavor. The most successful and fulfilled people are individuals who are following a dream or vision of their own. They are not just out trying to make a buck.

What opportunities can you act upon? Woolworth saw a need for small inexpensive items and opened the chain of stores that grossed billions. Wrigley started giving gum away as a bonus, and seized the chance to expand worldwide.

You must create a uniqueness to your product or service. What can you offer that no one else can offer? Is it a better warranty, improved customer service, more technical support, faster shipping, or lower price? Think of something that will set you apart from your competitors and describe in detail exactly what it is.

Be good at what you do.

Are you as good as, or better than, the next guy when it comes to producing/marketing your product or service? This element requires an honest self-assessment. “What are my abilities?” To determine your abilities you must take an honest inventory of yourself. Examine every possibility and be sure to include strengths and weaknesses. Will your strong points be able to let you overcome your deficits?

Have true passion for the business.

If there is one element you absolutely cannot do without, it is passion. Passion is an irresistible attitudinal energy that generates power. Do you have a passion for working with your particular product or service? Notice, I didn’t say “do you like what you want to do?” There are too many competitors out there who are ready, willing and able to “eat your lunch” when it comes to competing with you. They may have found the same niche that you have found. They may like what they do as much as you do. But what separates the winners from the losers is passion.

What are you really passionate about? If your answer is, “I’m passionate about making a lot of money.” That is not the right answer. Making a lot of money is consequence of engaging in a successful activity where you remain motivated long enough to be successful. The key to creating passion is to find and do what it is that you truly love. Passion is the laser-like focusing of our creative life force. We do not create passion. (Don’t confuse passion with being a workaholic. Workaholism devours while passion amplifies.)

bookmark_borderMarketing Mix Can Help Small Businesses Grow

In simple words, marketing mix involves the techniques, tactics and strategies you implement to promote your product, service or brand. The marketing mix consists of four Ps: Promotion, Product, Place and Price. If you research the idea a bit more you will find that people are adding more Ps to the mix but their understanding is not as important as the understanding of these four factors. In the new definition of marketing mix, they have also included other Ps like: people, positioning, packaging and politics. Here is a basic understanding of the four essential Ps of the mix.

  1. Product: It could also be a service-anything that you are selling
  2. Price: The value that you want to obtain when you sell the item.
  3. Place: The exact location where you sell the product.
  4. Promotion: The mixture of activities and campaigns that you put in to spread awareness of your product and increase its sales.

To expand your business you have to achieve perfection in your marketing mix. You have to attain a balance in all the areas of the mix for a successful strategy. Working on attaining the right balance right from the beginning will help you lay the foundation of a business that faces least amount of struggle when it comes to expansion and growth.

To create the right marketing mix, you have to understand your product at its core. When it comes to the product, you have to have a full understanding of it. What is your product? What problem does it solve? Even if your product solves a problem, have you designed to in a way that a potential customer would look at it and know what it is supposed to do? Once you know your product well, you can get to the other Ps of the marketing mix. Here is a little understanding of how marketing mix works.

  • Tying Product with Price

It can be one of the toughest things for most business owners to do. While it is a job for the marketing department, you don’t always have a dedicated marketing department when you are still a startup. When you are about to price your product, you have to consider a lot of factors. First, what type of audience does your product appeal to? What materials have you created the product with? How much competition you have in the market? What is the buying power of the market for which you have designed the product? It is only after taking all of these factors into consideration can you price your product appropriately. Keep in mind that when you are a new business, you cannot charge your customers for your value because there is no value for customers in buying your product at this stage.

  • Tying Price with Place

You cannot be thinking of one individual component of the marketing mix at one time. You might have created the right product but the question is “are you selling it to the right people?” What if your product is more appealing for teenagers but you are targeting people over the age of 35? What if you know your target audience but are placing the product in the wrong places? Maybe your item is more sellable online but you are putting it on retail store shelves. Now that you know the “place” where you need to sell the product, you have price the item aptly too. For example, a product that you have designed for teenagers should be affordable within their pocket money.

Moreover, your product might be appealing for a niche market but you might have priced it too low. As a result, too few people would buy it and your revenue will not cover your expenses. You have to be sure that you cover your costs within the limited number of purchases that occur.

  • Tying Place with Promotion

When looking at place and promotion as a combination, you have to be sure that you are promoting your product in the right place. Is your product more appealing for women than it is for men? If yes then you should consider promoting it on social networking platforms where women are more active e.g. Pinterest. Moreover, your promotional activities should match the place. For example, if you are promoting in an area where there are Oakland Athletics fans, you don’t want to be wearing San Francisco Giants’ t-shirts and gear.

  • Combining All the Ps

Once you have created the right product, priced it perfectly and strategized your promotional campaigns, you have to bring the product in the right place so all the Ps work successfully. Creating the right product, pricing it right and promoting it with passion but in the wrong place will result in disappointing response. Just because you are good with one of the Ps does not mean you will be successful in others as well.

Now that you have a good idea of tying the Ps together, you should have a complete road plan of how you are going to sell your product. It will require a lot of working at initial stages. You cannot know your market unless you do some surveys and spend time collecting data about the market. At the same time, you have to perform a thorough research of the market to know how you will price your product. When it comes to promotion, you will have to come out of the conventional methods and think more digital. You might as well set up a dedicated team for social media marketing and website analytics.

bookmark_borderFactors to Consider When Sourcing Products Globally

Financial Risks

Sourcing products from overseas cuts down on the costs of labour and raw materials but brings along with it a monetary risk which includes paying additional costs like:

  • Shipping and hidden costs
  • Cost of delay
  • Costs incurred due to loss of goods
  • Other costs like documentation fees, supplier fees, cost of transactions, etc.

Product Quality

Quality decides the level of acceptance of goods and so it should not be compromised at all. But when sourcing globally, you might face issues with product quality. So, it is important for both the buyer and supplier to understand the value of delivering quality products and focus on excellence. In case you have received a defective shipment or the quality is not up to the mark, it becomes difficult to coordinate with the supplier due to a difference in the time zone and location.

Transportation Facility

Before you decide to procure goods from a different country, you need to know some important things related to logistics:

  • Whether domestic and international transportation is available
  • Whether the country’s transportation infrastructure is dependable
  • How strong it is in case there is a seasonal fluctuation or a natural calamity
  • How flexible service providers are in implementing alternate plans to support on-time and safe delivery

Location

The closer the country, the better it is for you as a buyer. You can do the business in the same or close time zones, language won’t be much of a problem, and there will be fewer restrictions on trading. So when you plan to go ahead with global product sourcing, keep in mind what the repercussions of sourcing from a different location will be and how they will affect your business.

Responsiveness of Global Sourcing Companies

Sourcing products from a different market or location is all about taking the right decision. These means choosing the best global sourcing companies that are open to accommodate changes as and when required and ensure on-time delivery. What if your competitor introduces new season’s collection before you? You might lose a market and face financial losses too. To avoid such scenarios, it is important to consider the factor of having a receptive and trustworthy supplier.

bookmark_borderSet-Up Your Own Company As a Foreigner

  • Review Online Listings of the Lawyers: There are websites that give free reviews of the businesses.
  • Ask for Recommendations and Referrals: Speak to your friends and family members who have had recently worked with lawyers. Ask them who they hired, what kind of service they have opted for and where they happy with the services. It is equally important to ask whether they would recommend.
  • Make a List of Potential Attorneys: While doing so, jot down the attorney’s name, contact number, address and website address. This way you can organize your search.
  • Review Attorney’s Website: Every website usually provides information about each attorney who is working for the firm. It is suggested to check the attorneys’ educational background as well as the work history. Typically, you should seek a lawyer with at least 3 to 5 years of experience in practicing the kind of law you need help with.
  • Write out Questions about the Lawyer’s Practice: Generally, you will find the basic information about the lawyers online, say such as; how long she/he has worked and/or where and when she/he went to the law school. But there are certain areas that you will need asking questions; like not every firm states their pricing online as that may vary from one lawyer to another.

Plus you will need to know about the time frame, right? You should ask them a tentative time period for the delivery of work. Similarly, you need to ask about their availability. Ask how quickly the attorney can start working on your assignment and then decide so.

  • Bring Documents to the Meeting: If you have fixed a meeting with the lawyer, he/she may ask you to bring the documents. Make sure you have them with you. Show it to the lawyer so that he can have a better understanding of your situation.

bookmark_borderHistory of Enterprise Car Rentals

Jack Taylor was the of Executive leasing, which turned into Enterprise Rent-A-Car. Before starting Enterprise Rent-A-Car with the help and additional money of his friends dad, Jack was a Navy fighter Pilot flying in WWII a Hellcat. Enterprise is known for its great young and aggressive workforce, mostly recruited from College. It is an MBA grinder job where you must prove yourself to be promoted and the History of Enterprise Rent-A-Car, proves they promote from within, as a matter of fact its current CEO and CFO both started out washing cars. Many great people as history will reveal started out washing cars. I can name quite a few on our own team. Jack started out in St Louis and then moved on to other major cities to develop a great Nationwide company now worth over 5 billion in assets and guess what? It is a private company not public. Here is a previous post of a few days ago as part of this post; Enterprise Rent-A-Car

I believe this to be a great company, not only because it is one of our customers, but because they do try hardest. I am a little offended by the article in Nov. 2001 of Forbes, which had a little fault with Enterprise Rent-A-Car. One needs to learn reality of highly motivated companies and not condemn or even hint at possible condemnation of what they do not understand before putting finger to keyboard. Enterprise Rent-A-Car is great and they deserve their success. GE would have done the same thing, so would Microsoft, the US Marines and anyone of our franchisees or anyone on our team including me. (I own the company; http://www.CarWashGuys.com ). You do not get to be one to the top 10 Private companies in the World by being a pansy ass. Their current CEO and CFO both started at the bottom of the company and worked up to those positions. And guess what they started out by; washing cars. I tell you there is no better company in the auto business to be associated with. Trying harder may sound good, but winning because you try hardest is the best. Vince Lombarde says;

“Winning is not a sometime thing; it’s an all the time thing. You don’t win once in a while; you don’t do things right once in a while; you do them right all the time. Winning is a habit. Unfortunately, so is losing. There is no room for second place. There is only one place in my game, and that’s first place. It is and always has been an American zeal to be first in everything we do, and to win, and to win, and to win. It is a reality of life that men are competitive and the most competitive games draw the most competitive men. That’s why they are there – – to compete. To know the rules and objectives when they get in the game. The objective is to win fairly, squarely, by the rules – – but to win. I believe in God, and I believe in human decency. But I firmly believe that any man’s finest hour – – his greatest fulfillment to all he holds dear – – is that moment when he has to work his heart out in a good cause and he’s exhausted on the field of battle – – victorious.”

The people who make up Enterprise are great from the car washers to the President of the company who at one time or another were the same. I truly believe in the power of the team at Enterprise Rent A Car. One of Jack Taylor’s great quotes to his team was;

“YOUR BEST CUSTOMERS, ARE YOUR COMPETITION’S BEST PROSPECTS.”

Today Enterprise Rent A Car has 300,000 cars, it was taken from $100,000 in start-up dollars to that 5 Billion in assets. 3,000 locations, Now in UK, Canada and many other countries, but did you also know that Enterprise rent-a-car also ownes many other operations non-auto? They had Mexican Restaurant Chain, Coffee Shops, Peanut Butter product line, Fruit Drink Mix line, Macadamia Nuts, Micro-brewery in Hawaii. This is a great company with great people and it has proven that great customer service and fair pricing and pure hustle is a winning combo. Talk about basics, The History of Enterprise Rent-A-Car proves it works, no one can deny it now, there were competitors who tried harder, but who is winning today? Next time you think about Entrepreneurial greats be sure to add Enterprise Rent-A-Cars, Jack Taylor to your list. Think on it.

bookmark_borderDefining Your Market

There was a time when business owners would say things like “I’m marketing our products/services to people between the ages of 21 and 59.” That’s great if you think every 21 – 59 year old out there will buy from you, but that’s just not reality. These days, age doesn’t mean what it used to. I’m sure you’ve heard the saying “60 is the new 40” (or some variation of that). That’s very true today. Generational marketing, defines consumers not just by their ages, but also uses social, economic, demographic and psychological factors, that give marketers a more accurate picture of that target consumer. Generational marketing is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to defining your target market.

Other Ways To Define Your Target Market

  1. Look At Your Current Customers: Which one(s) bring in the most business? Why do they buy from you? It’s highly likely that others like them would also benefit from your product/service.
  2. Choose specific demographics: Who has a need for your product/service and who would most likely purchase it. Consider; age, gender, occupation, location, income/educational level, or marital status just to name a few.
  3. Check out your competitors: Who are they marketing to? See if there’s a niche they’ve missed, and target that group.
  4. Check out characteristics: This is also known as “psychographics” in the marketing world. This covers things like; personality, attitudes, interests/hobbies, lifestyles, etc. How will your product/service fit in?
  5. Analyze your product/service: Make a list of every feature of your product/service. Next to each feature, write down the benefit(s) each feature will provide. Once you’ve completed that, make a list of the people/businesses that need what your benefit will fulfill.
  6. Assess your decision: When you’ve defined your target market, ask yourself these questions; Is there a large enough market for my product/service? Will they benefit from and/or see a need for my product/service? Can they afford it? Are they easily accessible? Will I be able to reach them with my message?

Defining your target market is the hard part, but you don’t need to go crazy doing it. Once you have your target market defined, it will be easy to determine what marketing message will resonate with them and what media to use to reach them. Defining your target market will also save you big on marketing dollars while giving you a much better return on those marketing dollars at the same time.

bookmark_borderOver Disclosure Hurts Businesses

In my company we have done extremely well on the Internet in attracting people who want their car washed, we are well spidered on the search engines for key words, partly because our websites have been up prior to 1995. We therefore get a high number of website visits or hits; we have exceeding 1 million visits per month on many occasions. Many times people in the market sector of car washing will come to our site after searching the words that categorize their industry. They look through our site and then they find the opportunities page, and think to themselves, hmmm? These competitors then fill out the online form without revealing they are already in the business and actually competitors.

The FTC’s online complaint form also draws many such people to file complaints; few of these folks represent legitimate grievances. In the case of our company, The Car Wash Guys, like Ray Kroc who never sold franchises to those previously in the restaurant business, we will not sell to those in the car wash business. We believe that they have ingrained in themselves their way of doing things, which is incompatible with our system and methods and of course we feel are quite inferior to our business plan developed over 27 years. Had such competitors been as well developed they would be franchising as well. These competitors ask us questions thinking the can copy some of our idea, so they call up, email, and start asking questions. Sometimes about five minutes into such a conversation we often know they are not real, but not always. They are too knowledgeable about the industry and they usually slip up in one of their questions or just have to tell us how great they are and how many cars they are watching, thus giving themselves away.

The Car Wash Guys like many franchising companies are in a really ugly and highly competitive industry, almost as bad as the garbage business before the massive consolidation by Wayne Hiezenga or trucking prior to the days of de-regulation. Luckily that comes with intense egos from independents and not a whole lot of smarts. Why should The Car Wash Guys send out a UFOC to a possible competitor when the UFOC they receive could be copied and a few changes made and potentially save them $35,000 in legal fees and take away from a practicing attorney (who pretend to works their butt off, when paralegals do all the work and they use CD ROMs and Boiler plate clauses). These attorneys often claim to be decent and hard-working professionals on the ABA Franchising Forum as they try to put a lock on their industry from those who might advise in a similar capacity?

The UFOCs cost to send it out is just about $8.00 (including postage) and if those competitors realized I had to send them out they would have every one of the industry’s 19,000 tunnel car wash owners across the country email us. So what is $8.00 times 19,000. Oh and there are about 35,000 estimated coin-op car washes too all of which are direct or indirect competitors of the Car Wash Guys (the only mobile car wash franchisor in the country). The UFOC contains estimated number of projected units and all kinds of information we do not want out. We are not a public company and until we know who is asking we prefer to keep our information close to the vest, as the competitive markets are not the level playing field we are led to believe as we study business in our educational institutions. Too bad the Federal Trade Commission cannot see this obvious fact. By keeping information secret we protect our current franchisee team members (consumers) from lose lips sink ships syndrome. Why add competitive disadvantage in the market place to our team against competitors we should not have to disclose information since they are independent businesses.

The Federal Trade Commission fails to understand the extreme competitiveness of the marketplace, they fail to see how this hurts individual franchised units, who are small business people and the Federal Trade Commission fails to see how these independent franchised outlets of the franchisor are actually the same consumer they purport to protect. Therefore the logic that the incessant and unnecessary and totally over regulated and required disclosure is a bogus notion indeed. The Car Wash Guys do a disservice and can cause hurtful competition to our franchisees if we divulge information that easily. There is more information about our company in those 190-230 pages of the UFOC and attachments than on my personal computer or in my wallet. A person could go through my trash, car jack me and steal my wallet, with one of our company laptops inside and still have less information than is now required by the current UFOC.

bookmark_borderStart A Low Cost Business

You will need to spend some money purchasing a website domain name and hosting for your website. You can build your own website (it’s not as complicated as you might think) or you can employ a freelancer to build it for you. But these are minimal costs as compared to the substantial costs of renting a physical building to operate from, buying stock or employing staff.

So what options do you have to start a low cost business online?

  1. Sell Other People’s Products. This online business model, known as affiliate marketing, is like being a commission paid sales person. You don’t have to buy any stock, deal with any payment programs or arrange any deliveries. The product owner takes care of that. Your job is to find the customers and get them to visit the product sales page. You can sell tangible products that get shipped to the customer’s front door or you can sell digital products which the customer downloads to their computer.
  2. Freelance Your Services Online. If you have a specific level of knowledge or expertise there will be people looking online for them. Freelance websites like UpWork have countless numbers of customers looking for copy writers, creative designers, linguists, website developers, marketing and advertising staff, legal and financial specialists and more.
  3. Create A Digital Product. The greatest advantage when you a create digital product is that once you have produced it, you can sell it online again and again. And you don’t need to be an expert in a particular subject to create a digital product like an eBook, video tutorial, white paper, or report. You just need to know more than the average person on your chosen subject.
  4. Build A Membership Website. A membership site is like being like a consultant in the traditional offline world. You help and advise clients with your knowledge about your specialist subject. Every month you provide new content for your paying subscribers. You can produce content in advance that drip feeds to your clients when they sign up.
  5. Become An Online Teacher. If you have particular know-how about a certain subject, you can pass on your knowledge to students from all over the world. People may not have a teacher near to where they live and don’t want to travel for long distances for their learning. But, the internet makes it easy for you and your students to use online video and audio connections. You can set up one-to-one classes or group classes.