Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Sometimes I Argue With My Calendar

My calendar asks me- "6 Most Important Things to do Today?"
SIX? Really, six? I mean, two or three- four at the most, but six?
Naw. Think of it this way- I suppose people on average, go to work, for what, 8 hours a day? Eight hours. If I did six things in eight hours, that's 1.3 important things to do each hour!
That's a job, if you ask me! (And if you've been reading me for anytime at all, you know how Entrepreneur Chick feels about a job. No, no, no thanks.)
Perhaps I could simply invest in a new calendar/planner; but I've grown accustomed to this one- even if I don't agree with it so much.
I adhere to the theory that it works far better to set your goals on something that is lofty- as an example, two and a half years ago I started working on a business I knew absolutely nothing about, and then break that goal down into small, NOT SIX Important-Things-To-Do-Today steps!
Something small over time, is more effective than something large one time.
This is a principle that advertisers will tell you- yet I find it to be true in just about anything else in life.
Another way to think of it- "It's not the five minutes, it's the every day."
I think a great many people today berate and beat themselves up because they do not feel as though they are Super Hero Overachievers. While it's true we can do better sometimes, it's also true that slow, sustained and steady progress will most definitely aid us in reaching our goals and what we truly desire.
A few weeks ago, my fortune cookie read- (love sushi!) "You will obtain your goals if you maintain your course." Wow. I know it!
Just a leetle bit each day. Keep at it. Don't knock yourself in the head and burn yourself out and drive everyone around you crazy with your singular irritating focus!
6 Important Things to Do Each day? Try one or two. Then look back after two or three years- maybe even five, and just see if you don't knock your own socks off!
As for that business I started over two years ago- here's a good one. I launched a luxury product and service in a faltering economy! Oh, soooooo smart. Ha.
But I didn't give up. I figured out how to re-tool it and pitch it to job seekers so that they can secure the jobs they are after. It's strictly an e-commerce, affordable business now, which, over time, will produce like gang busters.
Little by little, I've been working on changing it. I didn't do it all at once- but I kept at it. And am still at it. Eventually, it will produce.
Sometimes entrepreneurs can feel as if they are pushing a boulder up a hill- it's okay- keep pushing. The hill will be there tomorrow and so will the boulder. It's because of obstacles, that you are, after all, an entrepreneur. If it was easy, everyone would be an entrepreneur.

Monday, June 29, 2009

How Do I Get Paid? Be Crystal Clear

"I know, that's SO true!" Susan agreed. (Also a business owner.)
That entrepreneurs can easily spend 90% of their time on the 10% that pays!

It's as beguiling as the Emerald City- you know it's there, you can see it- but please don't forget about the Wicked Witch of the East and the poppies! Both will slow you down and eventually kill you.

You have a good plan- I understand. You see that over in this market- you netted a 10% cash flow return. Great. But here's the trap that's as bad as Britney Spear's hair extensions- IF YOU ONLY GO AFTER WHERE YOU GOT A

I don't mean to yell at you- but someone is going to have to if you do this!

"Yeah, but..." Tony argued. "But it's been a pretty good market and I believe that by advertising more stringently in this market, we can even do better. I mean, this market IS doing something after all."

Normally, Entrepreneur Chick is not that great of a math person. So I was a little shaky at the start- with my black sharpie and forlorn little piece of copier paper.

I began to draw. "Look, here's a pie- and of course, the pie represents our cash flow."


"Give me a percentage- how much business would you say comes from this market? How much have we gotten from it so far?"

"About 30%".

I take my sharpie and carve out 30% of my pie.

"Okay. Now- how much cash flow would you say we netted from this other market?"

"About 60%."

I take out 60%.

"Now, how about this market that you want to go after- that's the remaining ten percent, right?"

I take out the 10 percent.

Pointing with my sharpie at the biggest piece of the pie, I say, "If this huge piece is from the corporate market, why do you want to reach the private sector so bad? Do more of what's working and less of what didn't."

I have to tell you- it was profound moment. I could have easily stated in low and hushed tones, "And come back at yet another time, Grasshopper, and see if you can snatch the pebble from my hand."

Now, I knew pretty much were I was going with my drawing all the time- and what the answers were. But I purposely and strategically had Tony "tell" me what the answers were- so he's the one giving me the information to input. Therefore, if he's giving me the input data, he can thus obtain the output data. He's coming to his own conclusions.

It's the Socratic method of teaching. Back in those days, you couldn't just casually ask Socrates, "Hey, what's two plus two?"
He's not going to tell you it's four.

He's going to say something like, "Well, let's see. How about if you take those two chariot wheels- I know- they're heavy- find a few guys to help you- anyway, take those two wheels and then get two more and let's count them together."

All entrepreneurs at one time or another, have all been guilty of working on what really doesn't pay. If you feel this scenario could describe you- just get out your sharpie and make a pie, k?

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Just Get it Over With Already

I am ashamed to say that I put off filing important papers for um.... achooo! ::::cough::.......cough:::..... in the same amount of time I could have had a baby- 9 months.
Therefore, it's time for a celebration!
"Lose this day loitering; t'will be the same old story tomorrow, and the next day more dilatory รข€¦ Each indecision brings its own delays and days are lost lamenting o'er lost days." Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
Listen Wolffy, it was just a few papers. Calm down. The next quote I'm going to include is one about hypertensive disorder and an early death. Chill Dawgeth.

Oh. My. God. I Have Turned into My Father

"But where are we going?"

"Just get in the car, Lisa."

"But Dad", I baulked, " I want to know because I might need to change my outfit. What about my hair? What about my makeup?"

"Get in the car."

If I would have gone to all that trouble, that seemingly innocent spring day, I would have been gravely disappointed to learn that my potential "suitors" turned out to be, actually, two male goats that my father glibly set in the back of our car- the way he would toss a gallon of milk, or a five pound bucket of paint.

I guess when you want goats- you go get goats. You don't talk about it or tell anyone- you just load your kid in the car and get er.. more kids. Ha.

One I named "Tanner" because, duh, he was tan. And the other I called "Mr. Wags" because every time he saw me, he never stopped wagging that cute little tail of his.

Not having a goat before, I didn't know exactly what to do- so I did what I knew best; I simply treated them like my poodles. I bought them collars and leashes. We took walks. Oh, how Tanner and Mr. Wags loved their walks!

When it was Halloween and my dad threw a big party, we invited them in the house to join in the festivities. As I've shown in the picture above, there's one thing in life George loved above all- and two he could not live without- BEER- and pickled pig feet. (I know, how gross.)

So, with everyone all hopped up on Brown Derby and Papst Blue Ribbon; hardly anyone really cared that Tanner and Mr. Wags were doing what goats are incredibly skilled at; pooping and merrily eating all the paper decorations.

First they ate all the napkins. Gone were the toothless Jack-O-Lanterns and Spiders. Next, they moved on to the tablecloth. Only when they began to be just too much of an irritant, and too large to negotiate one's way into the fridge- and you know, a few people were "slipping" at that point- did anyone bother to open the door and guide them back out into the yard.

Does everyone in Oklahoma live like certifiable hillbillies? Does this sort of upbringing ever vacate a person when they've learned and are learning, the intricacies of professionalism and the nuances of successful business?

Apparently, no.

'Well, do I need to get a U-HAUL or something like that to take the donkey back with me?" I was so excited I might have found "The Donkey" this afternoon that I could barely contain myself.

Lisa paused a moment. "Um, do you have a horse trailer?" she offered.

"Horse trailer? Uh, no."


And then it hit me- I have irretrievably turned into my father!

This whole "Donkey Timeshare" has been more about George's idiosyncrasies than mine!

All I have done, really, is learn them.

But, giving credit where credit is due- equine fondness not excluded- he was the one who first said to me:

"Learn the business and start your own!"

~Quote of the Week~

"Good things happen to those who hustle."
Anias Nin
To that I just have to add that there's some little boys in our family who I helped launch their very own business last week.
"Tito and Isaiah's Toy Factory- Professional Toy Investors- You Play With it,
We''ll Flip it!" Tito is 9 and Isaiah is 8.
They hit over 18 houses that I know of and made 20 bucks. That's 20 bucks they wouldn't have had otherwise- so I told 'em that they owe me $$ for their snazzy business cards I purchased for them. Listen, kids- it's not personal. It's just business. Now gimme the 20.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

When you Want Something Done- Call the Movers and Shakers

When you want something done- don't do it yourself. Call the Movers and Shakers!

You, gentle readers, of course remember our concept of "Timeshare a Donkey"?

There are three people in this town who, if you'd like to get something done- you call 'em.

They are: Bill Collins, Angie Cox and Wendy Trayler.
These three people are a powerhouse full of Make-It-Happen. I have to be honest though, I think Angie Cox is a humanoid drone from another planet because I've known her for 10 years and she looks the exact same- plus I don't think she sleeps. I ask you, does that sound human to you?

Last year, our Chamber of Commerce awarded her "Citizen of the Year" but apparently they aren't too concerned about DNA. Ha.

Furthermore, Bill Collins is a dynamo of business Slick-n- Savy and
when I sat down with him for the first time almost two years ago- I said to myself- man; I need to seriously step up my game! He always challenges me to be better.

And Wendy Trayler- this chick is OrganizationCity. She, like Angie and Bill, have served on all kinds of non-profit organizations and Board of Directors, but she uniquely understands the value of being on top of every event and every thing she does, way, way, WAY before she needs to have it completed. She was the one largely responsible for the last Rahpsody in Blue fundraiser for domestic abuse on our county. Entrepreneur Chick knows her events. It was flawless- thanks to her efforts.

I approached all three: "Hey, listen. I have to talk to you about something really exciting and important. How would you like to help with "Timeshare a Donkey"?

Bill said, "Let me think about it" two times, but after I came back with the rebuttal- "So, are you on board with the donkey?" I think just to shut me up, he probably said yes. But I know his integrity, his "yes" means "yes", even if I was exasperating him. But any good salesman will tell you you have to believe in your product. Wendy's eyes lit up right away and she snorted, "Heeee Hawww". Which is Wendy-Speak for "Of course, I'll help." Angie replied, after my stupidly enthusiastic Donkey intro, "Two of my favorite things- kids and animals!"

So, "The Donkey Timeshare" is, as my very first Donkey Committee Chairman, Susan Johnson- would say, "In da HOUZ!"

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

I Love a Risk!

"Who would like to be the first to have their picture taken with Whistler?" said the enthusiastic tour guide to our group of business professionals.
No one said anything for a few seconds- I didn't want to be rude and interrupt someone who was all excited to be first. But the ensuing silence let me know that everyone in our group was calculating the exact safety of such a move-
I mean, what do we know, if anything, about the 18,000 pound Whistler's sanity? He's awfully big. Those horns look pretty menacing... hmm.
"I will!" I said, breaking the awkward silence. But inwardly I was rather thinking if I might get hurt, or die, or at the very least, get hooked on one of his very long horns, cry desperately and ruin my makeup. Oh, well- I decided- so what?
After I had my picture made, and lived through the experience free of gross internal injuries; everyone else decided to do it too.
It occurred to me, that in business- I'm pretty much the same way. If I think it's a good shot- I'll take a risk. It's my very nature. I'd rather take a risk and lose, than to not take a risk and play it safe.
I suppose the reasons that make me more able to embrace a risk is because I know what it's like to play it safe and how high a cost that came with.
I also remember the exact moment in my life that I took my first risk. And it turned out quite badly.
George, my father, flatly said on a hot summer night in Oklahoma- "Lisa, don't touch that plant. That plant will sting you. Stay away from it."
Nonsense! I was about four years old. Up until that time in my life, in my vast experience, no plant had harmed me in any way. How could this plant be any different? He must be wrong. He must not understa.....
"Aaaaaaaaaah!" I screamed, after thrusting my whole hand smack down into bull nettle. Oh. He's right. What do you know about that? Hmmm.
But see, I had to find out myself if that was true or not.
Sometimes it's risky to be an entrepreneur. So what? It could never hurt as much as that bull nettle.
When I play poker with you- you're going to get extremely mad at me. Here's why.
I'll act like I really don't know much about what's going on. I'll act more preoccupied by sipping my drink and eating ChexMix, that you aren't any too threatened by me. I give you the illusion I'm easy prey.
"Gosh. Now tell me again what all those hearts mean?"
I let five to seven hands go like that. However, I'm watching you intently but you don't know it. I can tell the little mannerisms you throw off when you've got something, and that tell-tale squirm you have when you don't. I'm "learning" you.
When I see my opportunity, and I know for a fact I've got more than you do- (because of all the tips you just gave me) I'll go "all in" and buy the entire pot. All or none. I'm going to crush you. It's not personal. I just like to win.
In business, I'm the same way. I may look all nice- but I'm playing to win this thing. People who hire my companies are hiring because I'm going to deliver. If I can't deliver, why should they hire me? I make sure I can deliver. My clients aren't playing at owning a business either. There's a lot on the line. If you take a risk with me, I'll prove to you that's a great decision.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Making Sacrifices for the Greater Good

Yesterday I was talking to a close family member. She was saying that she wants a this, and a that, and a this- right now! Nothing at all wrong with her assertions. But where she is in life just now, she has but one more bite-the-bullet year to arrive at where she wants to go- but she must stay the current course until she gets there. As my very fun and youthful grandmother used to say, "I'm going to keep on keepin' on."

My encouraging my family member made me reflect on my own circumstances. I have sacrificed a lot- or rather, have delayed my gratification a lot- to both be where I am and get where I'm going.

I believe to be successful in business, one has to be comprised of oh so many things- excellent visionary, excellent marketer, excellent motivator, excellent people manager- and those things that are lacking; I either have through my business partner or I hire them done for me! (Nothing wrong in that.)

Yet, it's important when one begins on this profitable business quest- that you understand and be willing to delay your gratification for the purpose of the bigger picture.

How long will that take? Good question. It depends on where you are now and where you want to be in the future.

I can do what I want all day long. No one tells me anything about anything. To me, that's incredibly successful. I get up when I want, I eat when I want, I go where I want, I talk to who I want- anytime I want. However, with that privilege, and it is a privilege, comes responsibility.

If I abuse my responsibility and blow off too many key projects- I'll be in trouble. Right now, there are four major things I need to be working on this month. I will not see the fruit of my labor for several weeks- and I will not see the full impact of my actions today for perhaps a full two years.

What must I do in the meantime? Sacrifice. I can not have it all right now. Nor, would I want it because I am very, very keen on what puts money in my pocket and what takes it out! I don't enjoy making money just to turn around and blow it on liabilities. Nothing burns my biscuts more than that! I told someone last year in a business meeting- "You won't believe how much money I won't spend."

As I've shared before, I know I am painfully lacking in office and administration skills- (That's like:::::pops gum:::.....so like, :::::...flips blond hair to the other side.......:::: um, boring- ya know?) So I understand that I must sacrifice some of my pay to someone who's better, far better than myself. If I go out and blow that money that needs to be put towards a higher set of skills than I have- what is going to happen to my business? Uh, huh. Not good.

I understand that I must sow and sow and sow into my plan for several months or years, if need be- until I see my full result.

What's my result? I'm very clear. All said and done, I'm consistently grossing in the millions year after year.

What's even more clear is that I have to delay some of the things I'd maybe really enjoy having right now, to get there.

Not much is said today about the importance of sacrifice and self-discipline. These are just essential if one truly wants more- one must expect more from themselves. Nothing great comes without work and without some amount of discipline.

Forfeiture of something highly valued for the sake of one considered to have a greater value or claim.

That's what I'm talkin' about, Willis.

Friday, June 19, 2009

The Number One Skill of an Entrepreneur~ Keep Moving!

Perhaps you've heard it said that the "number one skill of an entrepreneur is- raising capital"? Okay. That's true to a certain extent. But here's what I think that number one skill of an entrepreneur is:
I'm working with a couple of people on new start up companies right now- helping them in launch phase. I very much enjoy this phase because to me, the idea and launch phase are right up my alley as it involves a high degree of creativity- because you absolutely must be creative if you are going to have any degree of success in the market place.
Consumers have so many choices open to them now- so it is imperative that any business, and especially any new business, distinguish themselves early on and have something more to offer than just the standard fair.
Business who struggle to stay average will not stay average- they ultimately will fail.
Nonetheless, back to these two different deals I'm talking to you about.
Both men are very talented at what they do- and both are in entirely different fields. But it doesn't matter to me, being an entrepreneur; as the same general rules of business still apply, no matter what kind of deal you are putting together.
One guy says to me, "Yeah, but I don't have this and this and this yet." Don't worry about that! If you want to succeed, you can not afford to start getting bogged down with what you don't have. Or what you don't think you have. You keep putting the deal together- keep moving- and what you don't have will fall into place.
And sure enough, the first guy is raising the cash flow to start pulling the materials he needs in order to do even bigger, more lucrative deals. But if in his mind he kept focusing on what he didn't have- where would that have gotten him? He would have stopped dead in his tracks and gotten a job working for someone else, never realizing his goals and potential.
A real entrepreneur just doesn't let that happen. It's reprehensible, heresy, anathema, disgusting- to have a great business concept and know for sure you've got an edge, and yet, not to follow through with it!
You just don't drop a good deal.
Let's talk about the second guy- crazy talented. I was going to hook him up with a friend of mine also in his field and very successful. The purpose of the meeting will be (is going to be) to flesh out the legitimacy of his concept and talk about success in today's terms. Talk about investors because no bank is going to loan you squat right now.
At first, I get excited about his concept but quickly cooled to the idea because of two reasons-
(1) I know next to nothing about this genre of business but I do know enough to know that the profits can be razor thin and it's a highly competitive and easy-to-fail at venture; to the tune of "out of every 10 possible, 9 fail."
(2) How serious is he? He mentioned this idea to me but his persistence let me know he's serious. Persistence- KEEP MOVING. He kept calling me about his deal and wouldn't let me off the hook. I respect that. If you mention something to me and then drop it- okay. You certainly have that right, but I'm not going to help you because I can see you don't want it very much.
While I won't be the investor in his enterprise, I do know key people that can help him. The friend I'm hooking him up with next week was in his exact field some years back. I mean this man is one smart cookie. By the time he was in his mid twenties, he was a multimillionaire times over.
He's not in this exact same business venture anymore- but he certainly knows enough to help advise my other friend, who is. Who is aspiring to be and go where he has been and gone.
In my experience- sure- I'm not saying capital isn't important. I'm not saying you don't need it. I'm not saying you don't need to raise it. But look- you just keep moving with that good deal you have going on. Keep making those phone calls. Keep setting up those business meetings. Keep putting your business plan together. It will fall into place if you just keep at it. I know this is absolutely true because it's happened to me too many times for it not to be true!
I've heard it said that he hardest part of building any business is at the beginning. You don't have any momentum. No one's listening. For me, that's never been a problem. I can build the momentum and I can get people to listen. It's the day to day administration that can eat my lunch.
Administration bores me to tears. However without these three strong suits-
(1) Marketing
(2) Sales
(3) Administration
any business, irrespective relative to how niche, and how cool, and how wonderful it might be- will surely fail.
Keep moving on your idea. If you hit a legitimate wall- assess it then. If the wall is really enough to break your deal, okay, let it go. But a very good idea in a niche market with a good return on investment, always finds a way around the wall, always finds a way to keep moving towards success.
Keep moving!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Write it Down~ But Don't Over Analyze

We left off in the last post with these main thoughts-

(1) Awareness

(2) Accountability

(3) Action

Which if I were to describe exactly what happened after I wrote down what I really wanted, happened.

First, one must be aware of a few things. Anger. Which I've read somewhere, "Is a road map." Anger and things going wrong all the time are actually turning points into better things~ if you are aware that you ain't too happy with the status quo.

One then writes down an antithesis to that anger. The anger trigger could be- "I don't like what's going on around here."

Writing down what you want would look something like this~

"I want out of here."

You are aware, you don't like it.

And you have written down what you want- out!
At this point you are accountable to yourself for the fact that you are not happy and you want to do something about it. To continue to do nothing about it- is not the answer. You've already done that. You can't go back to that same starting point again. You are forever accountable to the fact that you'd like to make a change. And so you will.

Which brings us to our third and final step in this analysis-


This is where you give "legs" to what you want. Put some feet to it. Let the rubber hit the road. Start putting into action those things that will accomplish your goals.

You want out- so what are some ideas that you are going to put in action to get you to that end?

Or, let's say you don't like your job and have always toyed with the idea of a business. What do you want? Even if it sounds crazy- unobtainable- write it down anyway.

You will find yourself, after you write it down, saying "no" to things that would lure you further away from your goal, and "yes" to things that will draw you closer and ever closer- to what you really want- to obtain your goal!

Just see if it isn't so. Get those pens out. Ready? Make your list. I dare you.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Really Want it? Write it Down

I'm not exactly sure when I discovered the amazingly ridiculous power of writing something down.
Perhaps it was a little over 10 years ago when my life was in an absolute mess and I read a book called, "The Artist's Way".
Interestingly enough, this book was mentioned this week by someone in my local Chamber of Commerce doing their spotlight talk about their business.
In any case, in the book, "The Artist's Way", the reader is encouraged to write what's called, "Morning Pages." The purpose of these morning pages is so that one can clear their mind, or as they are writing, get into what's really bothering them. Hence freeing you up to create without distraction.
Over and over again, I'd see a common theme. When I'd write about this one particular person in my life- most everything I wrote was, as a very good friend characterized our relationship- "problematic"- and that was putting it mildly.
I remember writing and have saved this- "I can either take a risk and do nothing or take a risk and do something. If I do nothing, I'm still going to be in this same boat."
Granted, that was not a "specific and measurable goal". Nor did this goal have a time value on it- "I'll take a risk in one month." However, this general idea that I gave myself of changing a very bad situation, seemed to give me three powerful things:
(1) Awareness
(2) Accountability
(3) Action
Hmmm. There's the Triple "A"s. Not to be confused with roadside assistance, but ironically enough- it's pretty much roadside life assistance, is it not?
Once I wrote down a few things that were extremely relevant and important to me- sure enough- I began to see my life changing.
No. Not all at once. Small things at first. A little bit at a time. But great changes start with just a few small things that will snowball into very large, good things!
We have a saying around our house, "How do you eat an elephant?"
"One bite at a time!"
I read a book once, when I was very down and despondent and so tired of being tired- and going through the Oh-Here-We-G0-Around-the-Same-Mountain scene. It practically fell off the shelf in the bookstore!
"I've Been Poor. I've Been Rich. Rich is Better- How every woman can find economic security and personal freedom" by Judy Resnick
"Ha!" I said out loud. And then silently thought to myself that you'd have to look very long and very hard to find someone, as the country song says, "jacked up" more than myself.
So between my morning pages pointing out to me that things were very bad and I better do something about it- and the VERY idea that maybe I can get some economic normalcy in my life- (Thank you, Judy Resnick) I began writing down and posting somewhere- maybe just a private drawer at first, but writing down and posting what I expected and what I wanted and what I was going to do.
This is exactly when my life turned around for the better. I am not exaggerating- my life has not been in the toilet since that time.
Sure, I've dealt with some issues- but what I'm talking about is how I have a control and a plan and healthy, happy situations to live in as comparative to how it was before.
More tomorrow on the process I used and how you can use it too!

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

If You Mess With Me, You Mess With the Whole Trailer Park

If you took the time to research, craft, write, and rehearse a speech that no one listened to- how would it make you feel?

I couldn't believe the flagrant disregard I witnessed last night at a high school graduation! I finally turned around and told those ghetto-fied hillbillies, "This isn't a ball game!"

Nonetheless, amongst loud and continual ramblings, "What- I -did -on- that damned- golf course- and- where's- cousin- Alma- at?' I did manage to hear a few words of the valedictorian's speech, which was riveting- albeit not so much appreciated by the Pickled Pig Feet consuming crowd. Sorry, Dad. Eww.

She had described a man who had climbed Everest and thus found himself, nature against him, and in very dire straights. He would die if he didn't get down, he would probably most certainly divorce and destroy his family if he did- as his goals and the relentless pursuit of them made him realize that, moments from death on the unforgiving mountain- the only thing of true value was, in fact, his family.

The valedictorian's whole point, I think, was pursue your goals but not to the exclusion of what's truly important- the ones you love and the ones who love you back.

As for me- I am relentless. I always do have a plan. But I take naps. I slow down when I need to. I pace myself. I spend time with my family and also keep a blog about all the fun things we do together- but true to my style- we have 52 things in common and 52 projects yet to enjoy.

Business can be a great beguiler. I mean, we do need to make some money, right?

Interesting perspective coming from someone so young. I'd tell you more of what she said but, gosh darn it, I lives in Texas and there's no gettin' around that thar fact sometimes.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

I am Not Surpised- No, not one Bit

Apparently, though I wrote just days ago, "They send up so many red flags (referring to toxic people) you wouldn't even consider hiring them."
But we are slammed right now, and will continue to be slammed like this through the rest of the summer. Which is a very good problem to have. I'm grateful for that.
One person on our staff didn't show up to work today. I am not the least bit surprised, upset, shocked- and I am NOT going to launch into a frenzy or tantrum of any sort. We handled it by calmly calling a faithful person who's in reserve today and asked if he could do the work. He could.
Here's why I'm not freaked out that this guy flaked.
About 4 months ago was my last dealing with him. Our general manager was training him on a job; both he and I were seeing if we had a match. So far, so good. I asked him to show up the following week to do a project and never heard back. I knew then to cut him loose!
But his name and services were called into play again this week because we need the help. Let me ask you, fellow business owners- what good is this kind of help?
What good does it do to employ people who you- as I always say- have to babysit?!
In short- goodbye, Mr. Flake-azoid!

Friday, June 5, 2009

Timeshare A Donkey? The Saga Continues...

So I called up the newspaper yesterday and I said, "Hey Bob. How are ya? It's Marilisa."
"Marilisa, great to hear from you- how are you?"
"I'm just great -because boy- do I ever have a fabulous story idea for you!"
"Oh, wonderful- what is it?"

"It's 'Timeshare a Donkey'!

"Excuse me?"

"Well, you see when I was a little girl I had a donkey named Wilbur and a horse named Suzy. But the problem was that Suzy dug holes in the yard and she taught Wilbur to dig holes in the yard- and so my dad got tired of always falling off in holes everywhere he went- and so they were both sold, but I loved Wilbur the best."

"Uh, okay."

"Well, see, I still miss Wilbur."

"But I got this idea! (Lucy) Timeshare a Donkey! I'm going to get a donkey and I have five interested families already who will split the purchase cost and the cost for his care- see? A donkey timeshare!"

"Oh. Okay, I understand better now- but Marilisa, with all respect- it's just- a donkey. I mean are you going to add more exotic animals later on like maybe say, an Em mu or an Alpaca or something like that?"

"Of course we are!" Entrepreneur Chick is a salesman to the core. All salesman get out in the field and over-promise the client and then leave the home office the arduous task in figuring out how to deliver. In this case- *I am* the home office. I start to feel a little sweaty now...

"But still, you just have the- donkey."

Now I can tell when I'm losing a prospect. So he's forcing me to pull out the big guns and pull them out fast.

"I-Don't-Think-You-Understand-All-The-Really-Cool-Features-A-Donkey-Comes-With" And with that statement- I was instantaneously transformed into The Donkey Seller Extraordinaire- that any KirbyMan worth his salts would certainly applaud.

"I didn't know this but I have learned that a DONKEY is very valuable. Oh yeah. See, when a predator like a coyote or something, comes over and tries to attack and eat the horses, why, the horses will run and that's all the defense they have. But no. Not a donkey. A donkey will stand and fight and kick those coyotes to death. See? Isn't that great? The horses live and the coyotes die- all because of the DONKEY."

"I didn't know that."

"Yep. It's absolutely true."

First battleship- FIRED!
Second battleship- deploy!

"And also, here's another reason, Bob. You know, it's for the children. Think of the children."

"What about the children?"

"Well, poor things. All they get in the city is just your catslash, dogslash, goldfishslash and the occasional hamster, but everybody knows those don't live very long. I mean, they've never experienced nature like this and animals outside their Leave It To Beaver paradigms. How about those parents who would like to give their child such an enriching experience?"

Bob is listening intently now. The deer is in the headlights- but I'm not satisfied just yet. He's been a harder nut to crack than I thought. I must go in for the kill.

"And honestly this is terrible. But Tony told me a few days ago how, because of the economy, people have just had to abandon their animals. I said to him, Tony, stop right there- don't tell me anymore because I just can't stand to hear it. It cuts me to the quick." I am 100% on point with this and am not playing around in any way.

"And a few months ago the news stations did a story about a couple who owns a ranch in McKinney. This couple is known for taking in animals of all kinds- horses, livestock, everything you can imagine- but because times have gotten so tough, they have been overwhelmed with the number of animals they are receiving and so called the new stations for the word to get out that they absolutely can not take anymore. They just can't do it. They are strapped to the very gills."

"So, you'd not only preserve the animal's life, but perhaps you are using this as an adjunct to an existing humane society or something like that?"

Bob goes on to fully paint the whole picture back to me, as only an experienced and well versed reporter can do.

I close by saying, "You understand perfectly and have just written over 1/3 of the article."

"That's fine, Marilisa. Just call me when you have your particulars nailed down and we'll do the story."

The only thing left to do is explain this to my bookkeeper who's already busy enough and perhaps won't appreciate Donkey Invoicing. And my accountant who'll have to look up tax laws for me personally and see if I can "write off any of a donkey's care as a business expense?" And my attorney, who'll laugh right out loud when I explain that I just need some Donkey Liability Terms and Agreements drawn up. But it's okay- for I will begin- Drop the lights. Cue somber music. "Think of the children...."

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Well, Thank You- Blogged!

Blogged's tag line is: "Find better blogs".

"Entrepreneur Chick is a unique voice in the primarily male dominated field of entrepreneurship. With her pithy anecdotes and interesting, timely and relevant content, Marilisa encourages and brings out your inner "Entrepreneur".
Listed in: Business, MarketingRelated Topics: business, entrepreneur, management, money, start your own company, success, entrepreneur chick "

Entrepreneur Chick was accepted- and not everyone gets accepted.

:::dancing around::::......

I feel good----

dooo doo daaa doo dah doooo

Like I knew I would now------

dooo dooo daaa dooo dah doooo----

See? Blogged knows a good Chick when they see one.

Or was it my cute miniskirt, stiletto heals and my bustier?

Again, thanks. Really.

Not Everyone is Going to Behave and Play Nice

This is a real minefield that can screw up personal lives and businesses in particular if you let these kind of people gain a foothold into your life.

I call them, "The Terrible T.P's."- Toxic People.

According to Jack Canfield, "You're better off spending time alone than spending time with people who will hold you back with their victim mentality and their mediocre standards. Make a conscious effort to surround yourself with positive, nourishing, and uplifting people- people who believe in you, encourage you to go after your dreams, and applaud your victories. Surround yourself with possibility thinkers, idealists and visionaries."

There is so much wisdom in that paragraph it is downright astonishing.

Not only can a T.P. wreck havoc with your soul and emotions, keeping you constantly on edge and worrying what's going to happen next, a T.P. can ruin, I said, RUIN your business.

Get rid of them.

That's right. Just ax 'em at all costs. They are absolutely insidious as cancer and can bring down the whole house of cards just by their constant negativity and dissatisfaction.

Here are the hallmarks of a T.P.:

(1) Dismissive- they're not interested in you or what you have to say- how your day went- what's going on with you, or basically anything else that might take the focus off the very most important thing- THEM.

(2) Will Attack You Personally- not usually to your face, for a T.P. is a great coward.

(3) Are Really Highly Insecure- which, without help, spins them ever deeper into the whole T.P. cycle. They tend to criticise others unmercifully, just so they can feel better about themselves. A true T.P. usually has nothing but negatives to say- gloom and doom is a constant.

(4) Are Ego Maniacs- and can only stay focused on any given conversation if they are somehow involved.

(5.) Is Stuffed Full of "Craptastic" News- "Craptastic" is a termed coined by my friend Robin Black. The whole focus of the relationship is centered around them and their problems, needs, etc. Now, don't get me wrong. I understand that there's problems in life. That's not what I'm talking about. These people only care about themselves and the horrible set of circumstances, marriages, business problems- they are experiencing, and they are always and forever, experiencing them. There is no light at the end of the tunnel for a true T.P.

(6) Are Liars and Betrayers- If you want to see me go positively ghetto- lie to me. I can't stand someone who'll lie me. It sends me into absolute orbit.
Two years ago I had someone on my staff, who is also a very good friend and has my back at all times- call me up and say, "Marilisa, I'm calling you because if I owned a business, I'd want to know about this- so I'm calling you."
"What IS it, Crystal?"
"You've got a girl out here who doesn't care about anything you've tried to do for her or have done for her, and she's out here badmouthing you and the company."
"What'd she say?"

Foolishly, "Boo Boo" dumped all her "craptasticness" on Crystal- uh... one of my best friends.

Two years ago is the very last time I have had an employee issue as bad as this one. Know why? I don't hire a T.P. anymore.

If you look close enough, they will send up enough red flags that you won't even consider hiring them.

Walking two more additional years down the entrepreneurial trail- I'm somewhat wiser now about what to watch out for, than I was in the past.

And really, I have to be- because nothing sets me off like these kind of people. I actually insisted that I be driven over to her location (as she was on location for us) for the express reason that I might, "Kick her aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaasss!" Seemed completely reasonable at the time.

My husband knows another business owner that he once scolded, "Bobby! You can't put your employees in a headlock."
"I know, Tony. But they just made me so mad!"
"It's illegal, Bobby."
"Oh, right."

I used to think I had a problem with anger. I don't have a problem with anger.
I have a problem with Toxic People.

Another thing that makes me positively see red is a betrayal.
Or a betrayer.

Last year I hired a guy to come and do some contracting work for one of my businesses. I was hiring him under the umbrella of my business and he stated that he understood that, even signed legal documents to that effect beforehand. Yet, he showed up in his company shirt, which should have been a clue. I was slightly miffed, but stupidly decided to keep mum.

Later, he went back to my client and tried to solicit their business.
I'm like, "Awwwwwww, hell no!"

I'm not going to have a nice, cozy little pow wow with him and "explain" what he did wrong. He's a grown man. He should know better. I'm not going to hold any body's hand- no one pays my bills but me. I'm not "playing" at having a business. If you aren't a pro- I'm done. Plain and simple.

I see him from time to time. He's smart enough to stay clear of me- and it's wise to keep up the good work.

I am not being arrogant. I'm fair. I believe in fairness- I seem like a very nice person, and I am. People tell me all the time how "gracious" I am and how I say "hello" to everyone- which I do. I don't hang in my own little group- I reach out. I like that.

It's very sweet and endearing to me how there's very many people that I know that will come over and make inroads to me from across crowded rooms, anxious and excited to talk to me. And I know why. They know without a shadow of a doubt, that I'm going to treat them well. That I'm interested in them. That I sincerely care.

But cross me. Really cross me.
I had a great friend once, T.J. I just loved T.J. He was a no- nonsense hulking black guy- a policeman. He had a saying, "There's going to be a misunderstanding up in here." T.J. wasn't playing with you. Don't cross him either. Tony and I had more fun with T.J. who was just a great guy.

(7) Think You are as Stupid as They Are- A Toxic Person doesn't understand how their T.P. reputation will get around. Confidentially, two different people came to me about one particular person that we both know.

Interestingly enough, both of them brought the subject up to me first. (I'm not going to ever tell you about how I don't like, don't trust, don't care for- anyone. But if you mention it first, yeah- I'll speak up.)

The first guy, who's an ex military Sergeant and a genuinely sweet sort of rough- and tumble- kinda guy said, and I do quote, "I wouldn't piss on her if she were on fire. I mean, she's just a b*$#& for no reason." Ouch.

The second woman said to me, reservedly, "Uh... do you know what's up with her? Because this is really weird. I thought it was just me. Oh, it's not just me? Well, good. Because I thought maybe it was just me."

No, it's not just you.

So kids, when you meet a Toxic Person in your personal life or your professional one, you tell them that Entrepreneur Chick says you can't play with them anymore.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

How I Only Have 1/3 of the Triple Threat but Still Manage to Be Successful- Conclusion Part 3

Time for today's conclusion of "Are You a Triple Threat?"

Am I, Entrepreneur Chick, a triple threat? Nope.

Let's review our list again.

(1) Intelligence

(2) Talent

(3) Cunning

I am reasonably intelligent but no one's beating down my door with a Nobel Prize- that I've noticed. I'm no Stephen Hawking over here. So that fact that I'm not all that smart- and I've done plenty stupid things that I can prove to you I'm not that smart- would certainly shore up my assertion.

How about the time I got stuck in the window in my underwear (I didn't want to rip my purdy dress) because my car wouldn't start and my key broke off in the lock and I burst an internal organ and had to have two blood transfusions?

Or the time I ate the entire bar of Exlax because I thought that's what you
were supposed to do- and then read the directions?

Here's a good one- when I was fishing out in the woods and had to go to the bathroom. I improvised and wiped with a leaf. Poison oak.

As far as me being just so intelligent; we can take that off the board.

Am I talented? Yes. If you were to seek one of my services out- something that I am talented at doing- it would cost you $100.00 an hour. I could simply stand in a room with you and you'd have to pay me $100.00 an hour. And it's perfectly legal. However, where my talent lies in this particular vein- is not a good model for business success. Why?

Because all I can make is what I can teach.

So I have zero leverage. Everything rests on me and me alone. That is a very, very, poor formula for the success that I want to achieve. Yet I will say it's how I parlayed that talent into greater opportunities. And I have certainly raised capital for my other ventures because I can command a fairly high pay scale, but it's wholly undesirable in the long run.

I have another talent that I can command $200.00 an hour. But that requires certain materials I'd need to execute the job. I'm very, very good at this one, by the way. But, in my mind, the same dilemma exists. All I can earn is what I can do myself. Ewww. Not good. Yet, I have trained other people to do what I once did, and I can send them out- two, three, four, five, six even 20 at a time! Now how much am I making? See the difference?

So, my own personal talent only goes so far. Not far enough by a long shot.

Here's the deal. I'm not very smart and my talent is only worth so much- that's two out of the three I don't got. Yeah? (That's slang on purpose.)

What's left?
Let's work with a few definitives now so we can nail down what cunning is and what's it's not.
As I have said in a earlier post, cunning is NOT the illicit exploitation of others. If you're going to operate a business by exploiting others, well, guess what? Someone way bigger than you is going to exploit you. It's a Biblical principle.

As a noun, we can say "cunning" is a skill employed in a shrewd or sly manner.
As an adjective, we can say "cunning" is showing or made with ingenuity.

I'm ingenious. I'm creative. I can take an idea and pitch it different than what's been going on thus far. I can "see' how to market circles around the competition.

This is a funny example. When I used to teach ballroom and hip-hop (adults only) 7 years ago, I was an independent instructor in an amazing studio located in Dallas. The people that owned this studio also owned Michael's and other really big entities. The deal was, the wife, who I heard is no longer married to the same man now that she was then- she sunk well over a million dollars into this studio. I mean it was sharp.

At the studio, another couple there, from Russia, very well known, took all kinds of trophies and awards, you name it- taught along side of me. They would say-

"I don understand eeeet. Shee can not even do exact proper da cha-cha-cha and yet, shee have-a da more student dan vee do."

Oh, they hated me! You better believe they could dance circles around me- Russian people are not playing with their ballroom now.

BUT, I knew how to market myself like gangbusters.
And my prices were even higher than theirs!

Cunning. Intuitive.
Intuitive- "knowing or perceiving, by intuition capable of knowing without deduction or reasoning."

I have a good friend, Cindy. Bill and Cindy. We get together a lot and have a lovely dinner, as Bill is an extraordinary chef, and after we eat, we often play games.

Bill can become so dumbfounded. "How could you possibly guess that answer right when all Cindy drew was a line and a dot?!"

It's completely obvious to me.

You can call me up and say, "Hey, I just got a new car."
"Is it white with blue interior?"
"How'd you know that?"
"I dunno."

At a cocktail party three weeks ago, I shared with a man that I already knew the scoop about him because I was speaking to his wife earlier.
"I know you live in Corinth. I know you have three children. I know you work with Mike..."
"Did she tell you what side of the bed I sleep on too?"
"The left."
"How'd you know that?!"

Listen, okay- I had a 50% chance of getting it right. But I said it with such conviction and authority; which is what sold it.

Therefore, don't worry if you are not all things to all people. You don't need to be.
You don't have to be a "triple threat" to get where you want to go.
Build a great business model, one that you can replicate over and over and over. Utilize what you've got- and what don't have- find the people who do.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Are You a Triple Threat? Part 2

Yesterday we discussed this idea of three elements that give one an edge.

They are:
(1) Intelligence
(2) Talent
(3) Cunning
-According to my friend from New York- yet I agree to a certain extent and will elaborate more later about how far I'm willing to go with those three things.
I'm saving the best example for my last example- drum roll please!
Sam Walton
"With the possible exception of Henry Ford, Sam Walton is the entrepreneur of the century."
~~~Tom Peters
co-author of In Search of Excellence
Tom, I have to tell ya- baby, you said it!
Personal feelings, good or bad, about Wal-Mart aside- Sam Walton built the most exquisite business model the world has ever seen. I'm telling you- it's a work of art.
Sam Walton was a natural triple threat in that he was: intelligent, talented and cunning.
Yet he was very intentional about what gave him his edge. That competitive advantage. Know what it was? The real edge? Da big whopper of a principle?
Controlling expenses!
"We had to keep expenses to a minimum. That is where it started years ago. Our money was made by controlling expenses." Sam Walton
What has Entrepreneur Chick been telling you? Keep expenses low.
By keeping expenses low, the natural result of that is two fold. First, by having lower expenses, your profit margins, conversely, will be higher.
Secondly, when times aren't good- and I can promise you, some times are not going to be good, by wisely keeping your expenses low- i.e. operational costs, doing more with less, etc. you can wait out the storm while your more extravagant competitors have taken on debts they really couldn't service, effectively knocking them out of the running.
Sam strongly admonishes: " Control your expenses better than your competition. This is where you can always find the competitive advantage. For twenty-five years running- long before Wal Mart was known as the nation's largest retailer- we ranked number one in our industry for the lowest ratio of expenses to sales. You can make a lot of different mistakes and still recover if you run an efficient operation. Or you can be brilliant and still go out of business if you're too inefficient."
Convergence of Two Important Factors
Another thing Sam did- he could fly an airplane and loved to fly. Why would you say that would matter? You see, back in those days, there were no real replicable systems on a large scale. If you had one discount store, because of technology being what it was- you pretty much had the one store. It was too hard to keep track of all that inventory, all those employees.
So he flew. He flew from remote store to remote store. He had his finger effectively on the pulse of what was really going on.
Now add in the advent of the computer! The guy flew from store to store, making him as fluid as all get out- now you've got computers keeping up with his ever growing, ever expanding, ever improving system- which by this time is an extremely dynamic, living, breathing organism. Who's the Mack Daddy now? Uh huh. That's what I thought.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Are You a Triple Threat?

Some years ago, while walking contentedly down the streets of Manhattan on a warm and peaceful summer afternoon, someone (known only to Entrepreneur Chick) in great thought about what makes a person *tick* or the lack of ticking thereof, said the following to me:

"Big Girl", this person began- "I think that there's essentially three elements to a person that makes them succeed."
"What do you think they are?" I wanted to know.

"I think they are":

(1.) Intelligence

(2) Talent

(3) Cunning

"For instance, take Babe Ruth." they elaborated, "Very talented guy. Hit a ball out of the park all the time. No one could touch him. But not very smart. Not very intelligent. Not very cunning. Proved to be his undoing."

"I see what you mean." I reflected.

I have often thought of these three points to this very day- as a matter of fact, I think of them all the time.

Here's a few of some of my own examples.

How about Nikola Tesla? 1856-1943. Have you heard of him? He was a fascinating, brilliant man. He makes the rest of us look like doodling children with play doh and coloring books- and that's being overly generous! He is best known for his scientific achievements- which are just too numerous to list. Nonetheless- he was off the charts intelligent- off the charts talented.
Tesla made the statement,

"Ere many generations pass, our machinery will be driven by a power obtainable at any point of the universe."

-Experiments With Alternate Currents Of High Potential And High Frequency" (February 1892)

BUT, Telsa was also the most horrible money manager you ever saw in your life. Died totally impoverished in a hotel room at 86.

How about Edgar Allen Poe? Amazingly gifted writer. Amazing talent. Highly intelligent. This is one of my particularly favorite lines from "The Raven" which I have committed to memory because I think it's so spectacular. Just listen as he all but paints this scene right in front of you-

"Ah, distinctly I remember it was in the bleak December, And each separate dying ember wrought its ghost upon the floor. Eagerly I wished the morrow; - vainly I had sought to borrow From my books surcease of sorrow - sorrow for the lost Lenore -For the rare and radiant maiden whom the angels named Lenore -Nameless here for evermore. And the silken sad uncertain rustling of each purple curtain Thrilled me - filled me with fantastic terrors never felt before; So that now, to still the beating of my heart, I stood repeating`'Tis some visitor entreating entrance at my chamber door -Some late visitor entreating entrance at my chamber door; -This it is, and nothing more,'

Is that not spectacular? Who can write like that? You can just see that fireplace, see those embers come to life and die, see that curtain, causeless, move! Scary!

BUT Poe, with all his intelligence and talent, had no cunning- was stupidly horrid at marketing himself. Tragically, he dies penniless in a gutter.

A definition of cunning, if you please.
Not the illicit exploitation of others, but rather a sense of how to play the cards you've been dealt at just the right time. Intuitive, you could say- as an alternate word.

More on this idea of being a triple threat continued tomorrow.