Archive for June, 2006

The Finances of Starting a Business

Tuesday, June 20th, 2006

There was a post on Escaping from Cubicle Nation a couple of Fridays ago entitled, Is starting a business impossible when you are the sole income earner in your family?, that had to do with the finances of starting a business. The post includes a good section on positioning yourself financially prior to the purchase of a business. I have included an excerpt below.

Get your financial house in order. Get a crystal clear picture of where you stand financially so that you know exactly what you are working with. Evaluate things like:
  • Monthly budget – How much do you spend each month? Are there any areas of expense that you could trim to give you more working capital?
  • Total debt – What is your total outstanding debt? What interest rate are you paying on your credit cards? Is there a way to negotiate a lower rate?
  • Long-term financial needs – How much do you need for your kid’s college fund or parent’s medical or housing costs? What kind of retirement plan do you have in place to make sure you have a happy and healthy life after work? Are these costs currently part of your monthly expenses?
  • Savings – How much do you currently have in savings? How many months of living expenses do you need to have to feel safe? I know that many people recommend having 12-18 months of living expenses saved before starting a business, but in my experience that is extremely challenging for most people to accomplish. If you can do it, more power to you. But if not, know where your comfort zone is and work diligently to stash money in the bank.

I think that most of this is dead on with the exception of the advice regarding credit cards under Total Debt.

While Pam Slim does encourage you to negotiate a lower rate on your credit cards, I think that she fails to include a key step here. That being to pay off the credit card debt as soon as possible. And, ideally, prior to starting a new business. Negotiating a lower rate will help. And so will discontinuing their use and making it a priority to pay them off quickly.

Another interesting part of the post regards relocation.

Decide if you could move somewhere with a better cost of living. My good friend John has been contemplating entrepreneurship for a long time, but has been somewhat backed into a corner since he and his family live in Silicon Valley, one of the most expensive areas in the entire U.S. It has been important for him to live there during his tenure as an employee since he has worked for high-tech firms. But if he were to get serious about taking the leap, he could sell his house and move somewhere with a housing market that is not on crack. My smart reader Matthew did just that, moving his family from California to Oregon so that he could comfortably start his new business The Life’s Work Group.

What a great example of making a sacrifice (moving) to make a gain (obtain a business)!

How many of us would consider relocation to have our own business, much less do it?

Making Someone’s Day

Monday, June 19th, 2006

Combining a “Really Useful Attitude” + smiling = pleasant surprises!

There is an interesting post by Matthew Cornell on his blog, Matt’s Idea Blog, about how your attitudes towards others affect your outcomes. I suggest you give it a read. You can find it here.

As I read the post and the associated comments, what came to mind first was what my parents always told me. That is to just be nice to people.

It also reminded me of the story Stephen Covey tells on his 7 Habits CDs of a man riding on the subway with his children who are running around in a rather unruly manner. When Stephen finally has his fill, he asks the man in a rather harsh tone whether or not his kids know how to act. The man replies that their mother just died and he suspects they really don’t know how to act, given the circumstance. Stephen then relates how his own attitudes towards the man and his children changed due to this new information.

With that in mind, I generally try to assume that I don’t know what is going on in other people’s lives and just try to be nice in my interactions with them. In doing so, I have found that it seems to work out best for both parties. First, they act a little surprised that someone is actually being nice to them and treating them like a person. This leads to me having conversations with them that are usually tolerable, if not pleasant. In addition, those pleasant experiences don’t suck the energy away from me for the rest of the day or more. Unlike those times when I forget to be nice and try to butt heads as a show of strength and stew over the exchange for hours or days afterward (emotional baggage).

In case you want to practice being nice and exhibiting a good attitude towards people, I think I have one of the best places for you to do so in mind. Simply fly somewhere.

Going through a security checkpoint (which I am grateful we all have to do) really gives me the chance to practice on some people who I usually observe to be in fowl moods. Then I follow up with a stop at the gate and then sometimes get to practice further with the flight attendants.

I find that if I can get through a flight without picking up any emotional baggage, I know I have done a good job with my attitudes.

Ok now, is there anybody out there with any examples or comments to share?

On Becoming An Expert (or The Challenge to Get Better)

Friday, June 16th, 2006
I came across a post by Kathy Sierra on Creating Passionate Users about How To Be An Expert and it made me think about how it applies to increasing your chances of becoming a successful entrepreneur.The author tells us as she quotes Richard Restak from his book, The Mind Game:
Most of us want to practice the things we’re already good at, and avoid the things we suck at. We stay average or intermediate amateurs forever. Yet the research says that if we were willing to put in more hours, and to use those hours to practice the things that aren’t so fun, we could become good. Great. Potentially brilliant. We need, as Restak refers to it, “a rage to master.” That dedication to mastery drives the potential expert to focus on the most subtle aspects of performance, and to never be satisfied. There is always more to improve on, and they’re willing to work on the less fun stuff. Restak quotes Sam Snead, considered one of the top five golfers of the twentieth century, as saying: “I know it’s a lot more fun to stand on the practice tee and rip your driver than it is to chip and pitch, or practice sand shots with sand flying back in your face, but it all comes back to the question of how much you’re willing to pay for success.”
The author goes onto say:
These are the folks who you overhear saying, “Yes, I know there’s a better way to do this thing, but I already know how to do it this [less efficient, less powerful] way and it’s easy for me to just keep doing it like that.”
Isn’t the latter excerpt a great example of insanity? Doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. I have recently come to realize how often this has occurred in my professional life, and my personal life as well.  And I have come to discover that if I am not happy with where I am, it’s up to me to change. Which brings me back to the first excerpt. Why was I not practicing the things in my business that would lead me to greatness?  I’ll give you a hint. It’s not my boss’s fault. It’s not because of my co-workers and their bad attitudes. It’s not even the systems (or lack thereof) that are in place where I work. It simply comes down to a lack of willingness on my part to take the initiative to put myself in a better position to achieve more.

Testimonial from Jim Keating

Friday, June 16th, 2006

I recently received a new testimonial from a client, Jim Keating, with whom I have had the privilege of working and I wanted to share it with you.

Testimonials are such powerful insight for me and help me to keep a pulse on my business. They are like a glimpse of the front side of the tapestry, of which we so rarely get a view. Mostly our view is of the messy threads on the backside and if we only knew the masterpiece we were weaving on the front side, our perspective might be different.

Jim and I are still actively working together in pursuit of discovering the right business for him and he was kind enough to put, in writing, his experience working with me thus far.

To read Jim’s testimonial, click here.

New WordPress Guide

Thursday, June 15th, 2006

WordPress 2: Visual Quickstart Guide (Paperback)

I found this upcoming book (the link is above) listed on Amazon.com and was intrigue, being a new blogger who is currently using WordPress 2. I was just wondering if anyone out there might have had the chance to review an advanced copy of the book and could share with us.

Since WordPress is open-source, I would guess that one could find all the info in the book in the online documentation somewhere. But perhaps that is not the case.

Anyone out there with any thoughts on this?

Testimonial from Ross Mason

Thursday, June 15th, 2006

I often will tell new clients that the journey upon which we are embarking is just as much about the coaching as it is about the options, but often that message will only resonate with them in hindsight.

I get the privilege of helping another person to discover their truth in a safe space. What I mean by “truth” is they get the opportunity to figure out if business ownership is right for them, and if it is, what business is the right business for them.

In Ross’s case, he was able to get clarity that he needed to stay right where he was and continue to develop Motion Media Solutions, his business that he had built from the ground up. Today, I still have the privilege of working with Ross in different capacities and watching him grow and flourish with a renewed spirit.

Click here to read about his experience working with me.

-Lisa

Previous Years Client Testimonials

Wednesday, June 14th, 2006

Click below to see other client testimonials:

Chris Clifton (Midland, TX)

Chris formerly ran his own computer repair/networking business. Now he runs and manages a decorative glass company and is in the process of launching a new security company.

Wally Whitney (Midland, TX)

Wally worked for the electric company as a diagnostic technician. Today he owns a window fashions company.

Craig Grissom (Midland, TX)

Craig worked as an analytical technician in a lab. Today he buys small businesses invoices that want the cash now instead of later.

Joe Terracina (Austin, TX)

Joe came from the world of priviate equity funding. Today he also buys small businesses invoices that want the cash now instead of later.

Sandee Glassett (Forth Worth, TX)

Sandee actually decided to stay with her job, but found great value in the exploration.

Bill Simmons (Lexa, AR)

Bill came from a banking background and today he brokers equipment leases all around the country.

Grand Opening…in more ways than one!

Monday, June 12th, 2006

This is my first post aside from posting articles that I have published and I am really excited to tell you that I just got back from Dallas for a client’s Grand Opening. For me, as an Entrepreneur Coach, I work with people all over the country helping them to explore options and get started in business. So it is truly a luxury when I get to meet a client face to face! I went to meet one client and, as it turned out, I got to meet five! So before I get too far ahead of myself, let me tell you about the client that had the Grand Opening, the one I went there for in the first place.

His name is Jon Mark Harmon and he opened a Go Fish Retail Clothing & Jewelry store. Before you dismiss this as just another store, let me tell you their story. The founder of the company actually started the company because every time he would take a mission trip and bring back gifts, people would always want more. So over the years, he has grown into to having retail stores in partnership with people like my client, Jon Mark. In a nutshell, they sell almost exclusively items that are made by families in third-world countries. In their stores, they even have displays that tell the story of the family who makes the particular item. It is a fabulous value proposition for everybody, not to mention they have “way-cool” stuff. If you want to check out their website, you can link directly into Jon Mark’s site at dallas.gofishretail.com. You can also shop online and see for yourself the “way-cool” stuff they have.

I won’t even go into the business model of Go Fish, which are all the things that attracted Jon Mark to this particular business in the first place. But if this sounds interesting to you and you want to know more about it, email me at lisa@pigletpaper.com.

I was also able to meet with four other clients. One of my current clients, who also rides a motorcycle (Did I mention I rode Pulchritude to Dallas for this trip?) let me ride with some of his riding buddies for their regular Thursday night ride. WOW, that was a trip! That was the first time I had ever ridden in a group and those guys ride FAST! I got initiated, to say the least. It was a good thing I didn’t have to pay attention to where we going and I just had to follow the leader! Did I mention we were riding at night? They took me to Wilhoite’s in Grapevine, which is a pretty famous place in old historic Grapevine. It used to be a service station. It was cool biker bar that I am sure I will revisit again. From Wilhoite’s, they took me to Stroker’s Dallas. This is the part of the trip that really stretched my riding comfort zone because we were riding fast thru construction and traffic. If you don’t know Stroker’s, check our their website www.strokersdallas.com. They are apparently well known for their women, namely on lingerie and bikini night. The night we were there, it was pretty dead, but it is definitely a cool place that I will go back on a weekend night when they have a band. You even get to park your bike in the back. Oh, and the guy who owns it, Rick Fairless, has or has had a TV show about the place. I guess because he builds choppers. I have never seen it, that is only hearsay, but it seems to be accurate hearsay. So, thanks Jim (my client), Rick, Steve & Greg for a wild ride! And no, not Rick Fairless. Rick I don’t know his last name, but the Rick that hung back in case I wanted to go slower than Jim, Steve & Greg.

I also got a chance to meet with a client that I was not able to help get into business. Sometimes that happens, and in Ross’s case, it happened because what he learned thru the process of working with me was that his heart is really with the business he already had. You see, when he first engaged me to help him explore other opportunities, it was because he thought he wanted to quit the business he had built from the ground up. But with a little coaching, a big success and a renewed inspiration, he set about turning his business around rather than getting into another one. (View his Letter of Recommendation below) Today, he has a thriving business called Motion Media Solutions where he digitizes media in the “most coolest” forms. He has pioneered a product called the Story Box DVD that will make family archivists, genealogists, photography enthusiasts, home movie amateurs and scrapbookers go wild! I won’t spoil it for you. Check it out for yourself!

Ross Mason’s Letter of Recommendation [PDF, 151KB]

So those are the happenings on my trip; many openings, firsts, starters; any of those words will work. But there were also many lessons and revelations along the way that I am still downloading. So until the download finishes… -Lisa

Me, Myself and My Name

Monday, June 12th, 2006

Let me introduce myself. I am Pulchritude the Piglet and I am a motorcycle. I have the privilege of being one of the authors on this site, and by golly, I deserve it since I tote these other two goofballs around!

Really, in truth, Ronn and Lisa are pretty good to me. They make sure I am always clean and if I get dirty from a road trip they are quick to clean me up. They always make sure I get my regularly scheduled service; well really, Ronn does that and the cleaning, too. Lisa just mainly rides. When they go somewhere together, Lisa rides on the back because Ronn just can’t quite bring himself to ride in back of her. He told me the other day that it’s not really that he is embarrassed, as it is that he’s not real sure if Lisa can handle the extra weight. Because, you know, it really is pretty different riding with someone on back of you than by yourself. I know when they are both riding, I just can’t go as fast. Geez, I was only built with a little 883 engine, which is how I came about being named Piglet. I am not quite big enough to be a Hog, so they call me Piglet.

And the Pulchritude part, well, that means A-mazing beauty. And, let me tell you, I AM a beauty, too! I am solid black, although when Lisa buys me, she promises to paint me a most gorgeous shade of pink. Right now, Ronn owns me, but Lisa says she is going to buy me. Personally, I really don’t care who owns me; I just want to be pink! I love pink!

I have a cool little silver wing thing on both sides of my gas tank that signify I am an Anniversary model–a 100th year Anniversary model to be exact. So, if you know anything about Harley, you know that makes me a 2003 model. Yep, I am three years old! In motorcycle years, though, I am really still brand new. I mean, you should see me! I may be little, but I am pretty!

Well, that about does it for today! Really, I just wanted to introduce myself and let you know that I will keep you updated on happenings with Ronn and Lisa and all the cool places they are going to take me. Lisa just got back from taking me to Dallas. It was great trip for me, but I think it stressed her a little. She got a little nerve-wrecked driving in the metroplex. She even got lost a few times, but surprisingly, she kept her cool. She can be a little quick to fire sometimes, but I can tell she is making progress. I am sure she will post about her trip and tell you about it from her perspective, but for now, my pistons are tired. They are not really made for typing, ya know!

-P

Traveling Light

Monday, June 12th, 2006

I read with interest this morning, Merlin Mann’s post about traveling light, The Art of Packing Light. It was especially intriguing to me since I am traveling today to Dallas for a quick business trip (I’ll be gone just a little over 24 hours) and also because I expect to be traveling often in the future on my motorcycle which will necessitate me traveling light. I had already intended to pack light, so the timing of the post was great.

What I was reminded of in Merlin’s post was to not take all the things that I ‘thought’ I might need. Instead, I should make certain that I need the item or not take it at all. This was especially appropriate for me because of my propensity to plan for all expected situations. In doing so, I usually pack what seems like half my closet for every kind of weather, social or other situation possible and end up bringing back more than half the clothes I packed unworn, but now wrinkled.

I even visited one of the sites listed by his readers in the comments section, One Bag. The site is loaded with info on packing light and I fully intend to utilize some of the techniques mentioned there on my next multi-day trip.

If you travel frequently, take a look at Merlin’s article here. You can even find a link there to the article that prompted his writing. And take a look at the suggestions on One Bag.

And by the way, I am traveling with my Timberland laptop backpack and a small, Travelpro carryon. We’ll see how it turns out.

Happy travels to you!