Sunday, March 8, 2015

Shifting Gears Again... New Book Deal With Brian Tracy!

Well once again it is time to shift gears.  The economy is changing, the internet is changing and buyers are changing.

The adjustment was simple.  Instead of writing another book on my own, I joined Brian Tracy and a group of business and success experts on a collaboration.  It won't be out for a while, but keep on the look out.

You can read the whole story on Beach Street News

When the book comes out I'll get a link on Easy Guide Books for you.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Are You Doing It The Easy Way or The Hard Way?

Is there an "Easy Way" to everything?  Is there a "Hard Way" to everything?  The answer is "yes" but maybe not the way you think it is.

Everyday I see people who are working very hard.  Lets see if this sounds familiar.  You go to work everyday, you do a good job and you never quite get that promotion.  You've been there for years, and someone else who just started is now the boss.  Everyday you have been getting there early or staying late.  Your boss calls on Saturday and you take the call.  And you still haven't got the promotion.

Is this you?  Do you feel like you are on a hamster wheel, running as hard as you can or walking all day and still getting no where?  That's the "Hard Way".

The Hard Way is a rut of sorts where you show a certain value to the company and there you stay.  So how do you get out of it?  How do you get off the hamster wheel and actually make forward progress down the road of success?

The first step is to learn that society (including most of your friends) don't want you to learn the easy way.  They want company on that miserable hamster wheel.  The more people that join them the better they feel about themselves.  When you leave, they are afraid you might actually do something and achieve success.  If you do you make them look bad.

Think about this.  How many truly successful people do you know and admire?  How many do you know that you want to be like or that have a life that you would like to have.  Then think about how many people you know that don't live much differently than you do.

I bet the second group is huge compared to the first group.  The reality is, that if you want to hang out with the top 5% of the successful people in the world, you have to first learn to stop hanging out with and listening to the other 95%.

At first you will be lonely and challenged by your old friends to come back and give up your dreams. True friends support your dreams, most "friends" are dream killers.  Instead of helping you figure out the easy way, they just laugh and wait for you in the hamster wheel.

It takes time to make the transition, no matter what you decide to do when you turn right down the easy path.

What do you want to do?

The Easy Guide Books

The Bourquin Group

Saturday, May 3, 2014

The Easy Way To Start a Profitable Business

To paraphrase Chef Gusteau in Ratatouille, "Anyone can start a business, but only the fearless can be great."  Fear is the great debilitating voice in our heads.  There is no reason to have fear, yet we all do.

Starting a profitable business is very different than starting a business.  Starting a business is simply buying something to sell or getting paid for your services without being an employee.  Starting a profitable business means that you are able to earn your living from your business, and for most people it also means that your "living" from the business is better than it was with your "job".

So is there an easy way to know if your business will be profitable?   Many restaurants go through two or three different variations at a single location before they become profitable.  Most small businesses that offer professional services take years to really make money.  My CPA started a bookkeeping firm.  It isn't making the momentum he had hoped for.

Starting any business that is going to be successful and profitable, requires one simple thing.  Customers who are willing to pay enough that you make money.  While this sounds easy, it is amazing how many people start a business thinking that they had enough customers.

In the retail world, you might make a profit simply based on product and location.  A well placed mall shop or cart with a unique product at the right price might do well.  For a while that is.  Once the copycats show up, the business might be in trouble.

For every other business, the success out of the chute depends on one thing.  The people in your rolodex or contact list.  Keller-Williams has every new agent enrolled in Bold! training call every single person and announce that they are in real estate and ask if they know of anyone who might be in the market to buy, sell or invest in real estate.  My bet is 50% or less actually do it.  The question is why and the answer is a form of fear.

When I added my Real Estate license on Facebook, I got a few sneers about being a Real Estate Agent.  I didn't have any fear about it so I did it.  So what if they make fun of you for starting your new business.  If you can't tell all of your contacts about it, how are you going to sell complete strangers.

The truth is that I buy real estate as my retirement investment.  I like real estate income as much as the dividends from great stocks.  I have a license because agents were reluctant to make the offers I wanted to make.  Why?  Fear.  You might label it other things, like lack of self esteem, or self image or whatever.  It comes down to a fear of being accepted for trying to be different than who you are now.  Step one, get over it, fear is what keeps you down, not "the man".

An interesting conversation a couple of days ago got me thinking about this.  Two men told me they tried "flipping" houses and couldn't make any money.  There just wasn't enough margin to make a profit they said.  The way they buy houses, they were right.  Being an agent, I have better access to "wholesale" deals and occasionally help other people when they ask.  No matter what I said to these two guys, fear was telling them making money in Real Estate can't be done.   My deals are "anomalies" and I am "lucky" were the responses I get.

If you want to start a profitable business, look at your contact list.  How many of those people will buy from you and why?  How many of them won't and why not?  Looking at these guys, they would buy a house, clean it up and try to sell it.  Did they even try to sell to friends as an investment or rental?  Nope.

This little review will be your first clue of how your business might do.

When I started business that became my biggest "lesson" (some would call it a failure), I didn't follow this simple review.  All of my friends bought stuff from the business, but only at a significant discount.  They wouldn't buy at retail, in fact many times I was lucky to cover shipping.  That was my first sign the business was off to a rocky start.  I was lucky to get away from that one.

If you want to start a profitable business make sure your contact list will buy from you, and buy at a big profit so you can pay your bills and grow the business.  If your list will buy from you, chances are your business is off to a good start and your list will start growing as they refer their friends.

Friday, March 14, 2014

What Is Your Proposal Writing Plan?

I am taking a break from writing a very long proposal that I really don’t want to write.  I don’t want to write it because 90% of it is fluff and nonsense.  Some time ago when building my business I went through the “Wants-Don’t Wants” process as it relates to my business.  This type of project was on my “Don’t Wants”.

While reading the biography of John Boyd, simply titled “Boyd”, he had a similar complaint about Pentagon work.  He called it “gold plating”.  He and his team would establish the criteria for a great fighter, and someone would add unnecessary equipment or requirements to curry favor somewhere.  “Gold Plating”.  

In the tech world, specifically the online world, these big long proposals are a form of gold plating.  For instance it, an big proposal justifies the legal department, IT and even public relations charging x hours to look over the Request for Proposal (RFP) along with a host of other jobs.

On the vendor side, it means I too must spend money with Lawyers, Accountants, and Project Managers to get every ones buy in.  On both sides a virtual committee is formed.

Committees are by nature – timid. Based on the premise of safety in numbers, content to survive rather than take risks and move independently ahead. - Ferry Porsche

When we are stripped down to our essentials we perform our best.  This is true of any endeavor in life whether it is man or machine.  The success of Apple has been based on this simple truth until recently.  Where they go from here is anyones guess.

Look at a race car.  Everything you don’t need is taken out to save weight allowing the car to perform better.  Why have insulation when earplugs will work for an hour?  

When you know your business, you can write a profitable quote on one page in a few hours.  When you get the job, then you create the plan.  Much less time consuming for both sides, and therefore less expensive for the client, and likely more profitable for you.

The email from my attorney just came in, so I’ll go back to my proposal writing.  I can’t help but here my own advice in my head: “Learn to say no more often.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

So You Want To Start A Business? Get Ready Then!

The spirit of freedom and responsibility that drives many people to start a business, is what drove the founding fathers to break away and start this country.  The battle cry of "Taxation without Representation" was a catch phrase that simply asked for freedom and responsibility.

Freedom and responsibility go hand in hand, you can't have one with out the other and have society progress.  These days too many people are willing to give up both for security.  Security is a myth that can never be achieved completely.  The most secure people in the world are locked up in solitary confinement somewhere.  I bet those guys would trade for freedom any day.  The question is, would that take the responsibility that goes with it?

Benjamin Franklin is attributed to saying that you can't have Liberty and Security at the same time.  He is right.  They are polar opposites.  With responsibility comes a little bit of risk.  The key to success for today is understanding that you must manage risk in order to succeed.

Most people live in fear of the risk and responsibility of owning a business and therefore never enjoy the freedoms you can earn as the reward for managing the risk and accepting the responsibility.

The barriers to entry form many businesses also keep people out.  Lawyers have to go to law school, pass the bar and still there are hundreds if not thousands of out of work lawyers or lawyers that have a different job.  Just because you make it over the barrier doesn't mean you will succeed.

In a previous blog I encouraged you to act like an independent contractor at your job.  Take more responsibility and manage more risk in exchange for a bit more freedom.  If you could look back through time and watch me when I had a job, I learned to do exactly that from my mentors.  I managed to work a 3/36 schedule so I could fly and play more while at one company.  The deal was I had to outperform the 40 hour scheduled workers by 10% as well.

The company got 44 hours worth of work and only paid 36.  It was a win-win. That mentality gave me the confidence to start my own business.

There are many businesses with very low barriers to entry, such as real estate. You can become a Realtor after a few classes and a test.  Your total investment might only be $300 or so.  The problem is that with such a low barrier to entry there are a lot of people doing it.  This means starting out you will need a lot of patience and persistence to succeed.  Or you need a much better way to get the job done by working smarter, not harder.

The best way to prepare yourself for starting a business is to look at all of the places in your life where you have traded liberty for security.  Do you use unemployment regularly because you can't manage money?  Do you "need" health insurance provided by your boss or the government?  Do you work for someone else for the "security" of a paycheck every two weeks?

Can you manage your life if you didn't have any of these things?  Stepping out on your own can be a scary thing, and at the same time getting over that fear is one of the greatest accelerators on the road to success.  Many of the most successful business owners I know have done the "credit card shuffle" trying to pay bills they didn't have money to cover.

The pain and embarrassment of not making your bills is a defining moment for every entrepreneur.  It is at that moment, you push a little harder and make it, or you give up and "go back to work".  Like many successful people, I have done both at least once.  The difference is that the minute I went back to work, the embarrassment didn't go away.  There was no joy or happiness when that first check came in.

The last time I was shuffling money and missing payments, I dug in, and when that next client signed on, and that next check came in, it was a rotating beacon of emotions.  First it was relief that turned to joy that turned to ecstasy, and within weeks, more clients, more books started selling, and more work came in.

If I didn't have to scrape to find quarters for the dollar menu, would I be where I am now?  I can't say for sure.  The biggest mistake you can make is getting locked into a failing method.  I will admit when I dug in, I also changed my approach.

Don't get locked in on one idea, try to listen to the clients and figure out why they aren't buying and adjust accordingly.  More importantly, in the infamous words of Winston Churchill, "Never, Never, Never, Give Up."

Monday, March 3, 2014

Want a Raise - Think Supply and Demand!

The laws of supply and demand can be applied to just about any situation that involves the exchange of money.  Right now the pilot shortage is in the news and the GAO says the cause is simple.  Pilots aren't paid enough to make it worth taking the job.  On that point they are right.

A decade ago it was radiologists and anesthesiologists.  Insurance companies agreed to pay more, hospitals started paying more and in a few years the problem was solved.

So how does this apply to you?

In simple terms you have two choices, you can either find a very high demand job that has low supply and go do it.  Unfortunately it isn't that easy.  Becoming a pilot for instance can cost upwards of $100,000 if you aren't lucky enough to get a military position first, and starting pay is just $20,000 per year.

Any questions why there is a pilot shortage?  At some point the pay will increase or the pilots will be replaced by computers.  Are you willing to make a $100,000 bet on the outcome?  Most aren't, and a few believe the pilotless plane is coming.  Winning as a pilot might be a short term bet.

The second choice is to make yourself so valuable at the job you have now that they can't afford for you not to be there.  This is the easy way to get ahead without having to pay for it.   I know people who never graduated high school and are millionaires from owning McDonalds.  The supply of those people is very very scarce, but they exist.

So how do you do that?  Think like a subcontractor.  Instead of asking for more benefits and pay, start by asking for more responsibility and better work.  Think of what your boss wants now and what he might want tomorrow and deliver it before he asks.

If you aren't ready to break out yet and start your own business or become an independent contractor, you can still use the laws of supply and demand to make sure your skills and work ethic are so far above the crown that you are a scarce commodity in your office.  Soon enough the pay, work schedule and benefits will come your way.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Why? Improve Your Position

Improve your position.  This mantra for success is something people forget every day.  When you get up in the morning and keep doing the same thing, you end up in the same position at the end of every day.

Fear.  When you think about it, the real root cause of doing the same thing every day is the fear of the unknown.  Fear of leaving your comfort zone.  Fear of not making that next car payment.  Fear of missing time with your friends, fear of losing time with your co-workers.

There is always that one person though.  That one person that takes a little time away from the group.  There is always that one person that moves out and up.  That person that you watch and wonder why it wasn't you.

The secret?  Improve your position.

There is more to it though.  In order to improve your position, you need to define "improve".  How do you know what improvement is if you don't have a destination?  The key is to create a vision or destination that is a very clear vision of where you are going.  When you have that vision you can improve your position.

In simple terms, if you want to go to the park at the end of the block, and your neighbor asks you to watch the game, are you getting closer to the park?  If you want that new car, and your friend calls with tickets to the concert that cost $100, does the concert get you closer to the new car.

These are obvious examples.  The most difficult involve an overload of information.  The secret to speed in improving your position is filtering out the chaff or useless information.

Simple decisions can hold you back if you don't pay attention, or pay too much attention to the chaff instead of the important points.

Living life with a purpose means having a "mission" in everything you do.  Even on vacation you can have a "mission" or "purpose".  It might only be to "relax".   Everyone needs to recharge from time to time, and that means different things to different people.  For me it means turning off the office and work in the front of the brain and letting the back 90% do it's job.   For other people it is just to get the family "off their back".

How can you improve your position while on vacation?  The reality is that you can always practice cutting through the chaff, even while traveling.  Always listening will bombard you with a lot of useless information, and it might just get you that great idea or solve the problem you have been having at the office.

Every time you get a call, ask yourself, "Does this improve my position or put me into a position where I can improve my position?"  If it doesn't, learn to say "no" if you want to move ahead.