Getting busy….

Well it had to happen eventually.  We are getting busy, so busy I forgot to write this blog.  To talk a little business, we have secured our first contracts and are working on developing them.  It is an exciting time and time is short.  I have Friday’s off as you know, but it is getting to the point where I need to work some hours so I can finish.  Decisions, decisions, decision….

If you think about it, I have said that the four-day work week is what I want for me and whoever works with us. Our goal is that in five years we work 180 days and rest 180 days.  When things get busy, you start trying to figure out how the heck do I do this without failing our Principals and actually working on Fridays?

Well, very honestly I think I  will tell you.  For one, my week has to be more productive.  Less time has to be spent in things that are not productive or in things that someone else could do.  Second, I need to make sure things continue to be well-organized and defined as they have been in the last 7 weeks since I started the company. It has been very well-disciplined but now it needs to be extremely well-disciplined, that way time is sufficient.  My afternoons have been a bit long. I was usually out by 4:30pm, now I am out at 6:30pm.  Not really a big deal, as I am still able to walk my little one to school and have a good breakfast at home with my family.  I do not go out to lunch, as I pack one and eat in a rest area in my office building.  And, third and last, I have to make sure that my day is fun. If it is fun 8-10 hours goes by quickly, if it is not, then it is 8-10 hours.

So far it has been a blast and I am happy to tell you that I am making progress. No life lesson today, just a simple business update for those who know me. I will probably get you another one like this in about 7 weeks, and then we will see if we really are getting busy….

Stay calm and keep humble!

The 7-minute abs workout?

So, picture your business and your tools and assets. You have knowledge and a whole bunch of contacts. This is what years of experience give you. The way to do it is to use your contact network in order for you to provide the services or goods that your clients require.  Your customer needs X product; you have a couple of sources of where to get it.  You contact the source, you work out an arrangement good for all and you make fees.  Your customer needs advice on Y issue; you provide them services based on your experience and vendor contacts and you get another fee.  The secret I guess is to keep renewing your contact base and make sure it is well guarded.  Your clients and your vendors meet; you are out of a job.

Well, I kind of hate that model.  Although it is a logical and used everyday by mostly everyone doing this type of work. I don’t get why I have to hide one from the other.  The intelligent and practical, as well as experienced business persons will tell you:  because those are your contact and they have value, because if your customer talks to them directly then you have no value, because if I know them, why would I need you.

Well, I think that is precisely why I don’t like it, even if everyone does it. I feel that my value should not be defined by what companies I know or what people I have in my little black book (for those millennials who do not understand this term, refer to Contacts in your iPhone, and then think of it as a printed version with a black cover on both sides).  If the only thing that I have is a list of contacts and people who I know, and that is feeding me and my family, then I better start planning something else.  These models are outdated, and so are the professionals who use it.  Technology has made it possible for you to connect or search anyone on your own practically.  All you need is a Linkedin account and a good Google session.

It’s like in “Something about Mary”, when the hitchhiker gets in the car with Ted and tells him about the 8-minute abs workout and how he will revolutionize the industry by introducing the, wait for it, 7-minute abs workout!  And if you are not satisfied we will send you the extra minute for free!!! Then Ted tells him, right but what if someone comes out with a 6-minute abs workout? The guy could not see it…. no man it’s the 7-minute ab not 6, who works out in 6 minutes, 7 is the number man!  Someone will always beat you on price or someone will find a way to undercut you.  Unless your offering is not based on something as simple as contacts or prices.

I think that we should have companies meet our clients everyday, I think that if you are so worried about them sidestepping you, it is because you are not confident in any extra value you bring to the operation, and if that is the case, well my friend, you deserve to be jumped.  If you provide your manufacturers a strategic approach, professional behavior and solid customers, fight for them and for their pricing, you might become an important ally for them, and more business will come your way.  If you are the guy that is clinging on to contacts, dude, you are or will be done in the short-term, I am sorry to say.

So be transparent and let everyone know who is involved.  I particularly want to know who is going to sidestep me as quickly as possible,  People who do this, will usually do it ASAP.  For me it is the best thing in the world.  It releases you from any moral obligations and it basically helps you by removing these people from your business and your life, and you can’t be luckier than that. I  invite all the ones who believe they can take advantage of me to do so, because at the end, they will do me a great favor.  And I choose to let you take your business somewhere else, that is why I provide an easy out for you….

No man, it’s the 7 minutes, not 6!!!!

Keep calm and stay humble

And then there was progress…

It eventually has to happen. That call or email you get that lets you know the deal has been closed. So I got that call this week, actually two. And three more pending as I see it. It is very rewarding to have this happen to you.

I believe that the natural progression of things will bring excitement and then some disappointment. Some deals won’t go as planned and some will surprise us. But no matter what happens, we can’t lose sight of staying grounded and humble.

I also made the very worthy decision, along with my wife and business partner, to give 33% of our shares to two new partners. They need it more than we do, if not economically, more emotionally. These are hard workers who deserve better, and if you remember what I have said these last few weeks, you can’t preach if you don’t teach. So I am acting out and throwing a bold challenge to all the complainers out there, you don’t like where you are at, put your money where your mouth is and go make a difference in someone else’s life, not yours. That will display your true intentions when you complain. You are either a hypocrite, because when you have the chance you don’t act or you are a person of principle, because you act when you don’t have to. Which one are you? I am a man of principle and I am proud to say I now have honest and hardworking partners who will share with me whatever we make of this business, and I did not charge them 1 cent for their share……

I say this humbly again not to brag but to encourage you to do the same and help those that deserve your help and I promise you, things will then really make progress.

Keep calm and stay humble

The Deal

I am not embarrassed to say that my new venture has produced exactly $0 to date, and I am actually pretty proud of that!  I do not need to check myself into a mental institution, but you have to think it twice though….

As an executive working for other companies, I was always patient when making a deal.  Deals take time and usually change from beginning to end. Not by design, but because a lot of things change that you can’t control.  Competition, weather, a bad business relationship, whatever.  As I stated a few weeks ago, when you are working for a company, your responsibility is to get the company the best deal possible always.  This is where the executive makes a difference, either you fight for everything and leave nothing on the table, or you give away everything and get a lousy deal, or somewhere in the middle.  The usual technique is the first one and that is how you get the reputation of being a jerk.  I had that for many years.

It was until I realized that many vendors can actually help you more if you are not such a jerk, and you do not have to leave much on the table as well, this way your commitment to you employer is untouched.  It is about working together and for a cliched win-win.  The results are better relationships, more help when actually is needed and certainly more respect when it comes to coming to the table again.

So the deal making process does not change in effect when you are an entrepreneur. The slight and minimal exception is that when you wait for a deal, and take your time and play the mind games (which we all think we are very smart at playing) you are still getting a paycheck.  Not bad, huh.  When you are an entrepreneur, you are not, so what do you do, you hurry up the deal and settle for everything they offer (and you are glad they did)  That is the worst thing you can do for your company and for yourself.  Strategically speaking, it means you did not plan and foresee rejection as well as you thought, and that probably you are not financially ready to start your own business.  If you settle for anything that comes along, your business changes and so will your enjoyment of it.

I will not settle for anything, I will negotiate what I need, and if do not like it, I will not make a deal. I would rather leave a bad deal on the table than lose respect for myself or get myself into an unwanted situation.  I might run out of money and savings, but you can’t compromise your value and your future because you did not plan well or can’t take a strong and definitive NO. It’s on you if you do! So think about it well, before you decide and take the jump into the business owner abyss, and mostly remember that it takes discipline and confidence to close the deal.

Keep calm and stay humble, talk to you next week.

Life goes on

As I talk to many friends and business associates whom I have worked with over the years I find one thing in common: they all are glad to hear from me. I find that great, it means a lot of people appreciate me. But, and very respectfully to all my colleagues and not complaining, but with purpose of being a realist, we hang up and life goes on. We reply an email, and life goes on. Its natural, its correct and its business. I do the same thing probably.

I say this not because I am implying that friends do not help, but i say this because friends can’t help. They have problems and activities of their own. You do not want to overburden friends because you made a tough decision, that is all on you! Some people do not help because they can’t and the person either gets offended or doubts friendship. Do not confuse friendship and loyalty with the power or willingness to get you out of a jam you created. I certainly don’t and do not expect, in a good way for people to do so.

As a friend, YOUR obligation is to understand them, you are the one calling or emailing them! You are the entrepreneur, you are the one who is broke, or soon to be, not them. So friends, when I call you and tell you about my new venture, don’t worry or feel pressured to say yes, true friends should understand that you can’t help and I do, and that is just fine, because next time I see you I will say thanks for listening and catch up as friends should. And so, life goes on…….