Has Your Own ‘American Dream’ Gone Awry?

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Before becoming an entrepreneur, I was living the American Dream my parents raised me to believe in – or was I? As a company man, I was respected most of the time. I was comfortable, but was I in control? Nope. Was I confident about retirement? Not really. The real question I was asking myself was, “Am I happy?” That was a no…

As it turned out, my path to personal and financial success was through entrepreneurship. While there are all sorts of entrepreneurs (I happen to be a serial entrepreneur), we all have one thing in common: We don’t want to work for a cold and uncaring organization; we want to work for someone who gives a damn. And for workers with the same mindset as me, they figure they’re the best boss they’ll ever have.

Retirement Isn’t What It Used to Be

Back when I Love Lucy and The Brady Bunch were airing, the American Dream was more black and white – you’d go to college, land a job at a corporation with a nice pension right after graduation, be a loyal employee for 40 years, retire and ride off into the sunset. Today’s Gen Xers and Millennials enter the workforce knowing they’ll have to jump from employer to employer and fight hard to keep their jobs. Often, they’re replacing middle-aged workers for half the pay. And unlike their grandparents, the responsibility to build retirement assets rests on their shoulders.

“Today, the average person changes jobs ten to fifteen times (with an average of 12 job changes) during his or her career,” Alison Doyle writes in The Balance. “Many workers spend five years or less in every job, so they devote more time and energy transitioning from one job to another. In January 2016, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported the average employee tenure was 4.2 years, down from 4.6 years in January 2014,” says Doyle.

Doyle’s not alone in her thoughts. “The new normal is for Millennials to jump jobs four times in their first decade out of college. That’s nearly double the bouncing around the generation before them did,” Heather Long writes in CNN Money.

What About Baby Boomers? 

What about the Baby Boomer generation? The ones who’ve been caught in the middle of this shift? Prior to the Great Recession, perhaps you were worry-free. Things were coasting along smoothly and a cushy retirement seemed within reach. Then, the Great Recession hit in December of 2007, the longest recession since World War II. Home prices plummeted, millions of jobs were lost, and the notion of job security was fleeting at best. There’s no doubt you’ve witnessed friends, family and colleagues being laid off – perhaps you’re one of the fallen. And if you’re not on the chopping block, can you feel the axe looming over your head?

Fear Should Not Be the New Normal! 

My book, Be Your Best Boss: Reinvent Yourself from Employee to Entrepreneur addresses the right here and right now, nailing down your fears and concerns and the “yeah buts” that are holding you back from pursuing your entrepreneurial dreams.

Here’s a sneak peak of the topics discussed in Chapter 1: 

  • Getting the Boot
  • It’s Not Personal
  • Retired but Inspired
  • If Not Now, When?
  • Life Changers
  • Velvet Shackles
  • What Are Your Options Really?
  • Are Your Golden Years Losing Their Luster? 

You may be selling yourself short when it comes to how prepared you are to become an entrepreneur and in my book, I explain why. Maybe now is the time to reinvent yourself from employee to entrepreneur and realize your version of the American Dream.

If you feel disposable, or if your retirement savings is not where it needs to be, I invite you to use my book to its fullest potential, so you can reach yours. Of course, if you don’t want to wait to get your business and funding questions answered, you can always reach me directly at CatchFire Funding.

A 9/11 Reflection

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Where were you the morning of September 11, 2001? Every red-blooded American has a vivid recollection of where they were and exactly what they were doing the moment they first heard about the planes loaded with thousands of pounds of jet fuel hitting the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center.

On that clear September day the United States was targeted, 19 militants hijacked four airplanes using them to carry out their suicide attacks against the United States. Two of the planes crashed into the World Trade Center’s Twin Towers in New York City, with the third hitting the Pentagon.

The fourth hijacked plane, United Flight 93 bound for California, landed in a field in rural Pennsylvania after a group of passengers and flight attendants fought against the terrorists. One of the passengers, Thomas Burnett Jr. called his wife before overtaking the hijackers and said, “I know we’re all going to die. There’s three of us who are going to do something about it. I love you, honey.” At 10:10 am, all 45 people aboard Flight 93 died when the plane traveling upwards of 500 miles per hour crashed into a field in Western Pennsylvania.

The terrorist attacks on 9/11 resulted in over 3,000 fatalities, including over 400 firefighters and police officers. More than 10,000 others were injured, many of them sustaining severe injuries. So, while we remember the 9/11 tragedy and the great loss of life, it should remind us all that life is short and full of uncertainties.

Why not take a moment to reflect on the things that are truly important – to you and your family – and take a gut check to figure out if you’re living life to the fullest, or just trudging through without doing the things you’ve been yearning to do with the people who matter most? For instance, why not take that dream vacation with your spouse? Why not take that mixed martial arts or cooking class you’ve always wanted to? And, if you’re less than satisfied with your career…make a change!

My 9/11 Story

In 2001, I was still running my computer business and at the time, I had restructured my business so I was working from home. On the morning of September 11, I heard the news on the radio, then turned on the TV and sat – watching in horror – as the second plane hit the other tower. After what felt like 30 minutes (but was likely about 4) it dawned on me that I had client calls scheduled that day.  I remember saying, “I have to go. I have a client appointment; they’re expecting me.”

The appointment was probably a 30-minute drive from my house. On the drive over, I had the radio on. I remember being very riveted by every new detail revealed; when I got there I really didn’t want to go inside. To this day, I don’t remember what I did for that client – I had a complete lack of focus. I got it done then postponed the rest of my day.

My personal takeaway from 9/11 – it involved a bit of reflection, some soul searching. I asked myself, “Am I making the right contributions to the world?” Things along those lines. I don’t know about the event part of it, but the timing of 9/11 may have influenced my professional pivot. It was 2001-2002 when the economy started to dent sideways.

My wife and I were reflecting: “Are we where we want to be? How do we get more money out of our retirement? Get a better return?” Wall-Street isn’t the best place to do so. Then I found out that I could use my retirement to fund a business. When I heard that, I wished I knew that seven years earlier. We would have done that for our first business. I was thinking, “Maybe now it’s time to think of a new business.”

Are You Living Life to the Fullest?

As you remember 9/11 and commemorate the victims, see this as an opportunity to reflect on your own life and all the people in it. Are you living a life of purpose? Are you truly enjoying yourself? Are you living your version of the American Dream? Unfortunately, life is short and there’s no rewind button, so if you’re unsatisfied, remember – it’s never too late to create that bucket list and start checking it off!

If you’ve always dreamed of owning your own business, give me a call. I’d be happy to help you scratch that one off your list.

The One Entrepreneurial Skill You Must Master

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Nervous public speaker or politician wiping brow microphone in focus

Spoiler alert – it’s public speaking. I recently ran across an Inc. article entitled, The 1 Skill Warren Buffet Says You Must Learn, and I found it intriguing. The article is about Warren Buffett, business man, philanthropist, and one of the richest men in the world, and his views on public speaking. Many of us grew up knowing Buffet as an inspirational, powerful public speaker, but he wasn’t always comfortable in front of a microphone. It’s a talent that he, like all great public speakers, developed from scratch, and before he was good at it, he was terrified of public speaking. Who knew?

Long ago, before becoming the infamous public speaker he is today, a young Buffet enrolled in a Dale Carnegie public-speaking course when he was a stock advisor, but dropped out because he was terrified he’d be asked to speak. I think a lot of us can relate to what was going through Buffet’s mind at the time. Fortunately, he mustered up the courage to enroll in the course a second time and the rest is history. To this day, the Dale Carnegie certificate is proudly displayed in Buffet’s office.

When Buffet speaks before young business students, he stresses the importance of mastering public speaking; he tells them that it’s the single, most important skill they can cultivate that will boost their career. Though I definitely agree with Buffett’s point, it got me thinking… I would expand public speaking to general communication in various forms.

I can certainly relate to the concept that public speaking is frightening and I think it’s fear-inducing for most people. However, I look at public speaking as a form of communication; as an entrepreneur, you’ve got to be able to communicate. If not in a large group setting, at least in a small group or one-on-one situation. At some level, I’ve adapted both myself and my business so that can happen.

Various Forms of Communication Build Confidence 

Public speaking in front of a large group – I’m certainly not the best at that, but I’ve improved significantly over the years and other forms of communication have helped me be a better public speaker. In the context of a pre-recorded interview, such as a podcast or radio show, recording is one way to alleviate the fear of public speaking. Then, there’s my book, Be Your Best Boss: Reinvent Yourself from Employee to Entrepreneur – it’s not me speaking off the cuff but it is a form of communication to my audience. By publishing a book, it helped put me out there in front of my audience.

While promoting my book, I was on numerous radio shows, so I got a lot of experience being interviewed – the more I was in the public eye, the easier it got. As I promoted my book on different channels, I developed more confidence and comfort in having those conversations. If I had to stand up before an audience today, I’d do a much better job than I would before the book was released; I’d only be about 25 percent as fearful as before because I’ve had the opportunity to be in that context.

Communication to your clientele or target demographic isn’t limited to public speaking. It comes in various forms: radio interviews, social media channels, authoring books, autoresponders…it’s all about communication – the more you share your expertise on different channels or outlets, the more comfortable you’ll be in front of an audience. By sharing what you know on the phone, in person, in articles and blogs, on social media, on podcasts, radio shows, and in public speeches, your confidence will grow and you’ll be better prepared to polish your public speaking skills.

You Have to Be the Face of Your Business 

For me, speaking before small groups is harder than speaking in front of large ones. When you’re speaking to a smaller group, they’re closer to you and they’re paying more attention. It can be a little nerve-wracking, can’t it? Regardless of the discomfort involved in public speaking, as a business owner, you have to be the face of your business. You need to be able to talk before groups large and small.

In my early days, before I spoke publicly, I would be the first to say, “I’m horrible at public speaking.” But fortunately, I received sage advice from a trusted colleague, Perry Marshall. He suggested I admit to the small group, “Hey, I’m fearful of this situation. I’m not great in the group deal, but I’m good one-on-one.”

Perry told me to pick someone out of the group and “ask permission” to talk directly to him or her. I’ve used that as a mental approach on a radio show – it’s a great tip that has worked well for me. The next time you have to be in front of a group and speak, you can take Perry’s advice and see if it helps you, too. If you’re going to scale your business, eventually you’ll be called upon to speak before your peers. My advice is to see public speaking as a great opportunity to be an influencer in your field; instead of turning down the chance to speak, embrace the challenge. If you can use a little help, you can also check out Toastmasters International and find a local chapter near you.

I can talk all day about mastering communication as small business owner, but my real passion is helping people find and fund the business or franchise of their dreams. If you need advice regarding either, don’t hesitate to contact me directly.

Unlocking Your Business Funding Possibilities

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Do you dream about owning your own business one day? Do you fantasize about doing things your way, calling the shots, and controlling your own destiny? Even if you’ve successfully climbed the ranks working for your current employer, the thought has likely crossed your mind once, twice…or even a hundred times.

If you are serious about becoming your own boss eventually, the time will come when you will implement your plans and ideas will be transformed into reality. And when that day arrives, you will:

  • Decide what type of business you want to buy or start.
  • Choose a partner – that is if you want one.
  • Put a well-thought-out plan into action.

The last point I mentioned about a “well thought out plan” should include how you’re going to fund your business. In fact, this is a critical step because the way you fund your business will have a direct impact on its viability, sustainability, and success.

As a midcareer entrepreneur, you have a leg up on your younger, less experienced counterparts in the funding realm because you have something they don’t…you have a multitude of options. With credit and years of personal assets built up, these various funding options can be broken into two categories: borrowing other people’s money and accessing your own money (options younger entrepreneurs don’t typically have).

Chapter 12 of my book, Be Your Best Boss: Reinvent Yourself from Employee to Entrepreneur, Fueling Up: Finding the Funds, goes over your various funding options and the pros and cons of each. Here’s a glimpse into what Chapter 12 addresses:

Your Own Money: 

  • Personal Savings
  • Tapping into Your IRA
  • Taking a Loan from Retirement Funds
  • Direct Withdrawal from Retirement Funds
  • Self-Directed 401k

Other People’s Money 

  • SBA Loans
  • Conventional Loans
  • Unsecured Lines of Credit
  • Home Equity Loans
  • Loans from Friends or Family
  • Grants 

Evaluating All of Your Options

As an aspiring entrepreneur, it’s important to realize “you don’t know what you don’t know.” When it comes to funding your business or franchise – there are a lot of options – probably more than you know. Understandably, the only way to make an educated funding decision is to arm yourself with all of the information available.

For instance, one of the less-known funding sources is the self-directed 401k. I liken it to the entrepreneur’s secret weapon, and for good reason. Not only do I fully explain how this funding option works in my book, but CatchFire Funding specializes in it.

Without going into too much detail, here are some of the pros of using a self-directed 401k to fund a business, whether it’s a startup, or you’re buying an existing business or franchise:

  • You approve yourself; no groveling for a loan from a banker.
  • No debt, taxes, or penalties. Doesn’t that have a nice ring to it?
  • It involves minimal paperwork.
  • You get your funding fast; on average in three weeks.
  • A self-directed 401k can help you qualify for a loan – if you want one.

I am on a personal mission to help entrepreneurs realize their dreams of business ownership, which is one of the reasons I wrote Be Your Best Boss. If you are eager to explore your business and funding options, my book and my team of knowledgeable professionals at CatchFire Funding are valuable resources at your disposal. You can also gain access to more information at yourbestboss.com.

I am confident that with the right information and guidance, you’ll find the funding for the business of your dreams. So, if you’re ready to unlock your funding possibilities, don’t hesitate to contact me directly – I am here to assist in every way possible.

Bill Seagraves Live On Business Confidential Now!

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Check out Bill’s latest radio interview on Business Confidential Now with Hanna Hasl-Kelchner, Esq.!

Tune in as Hanna digs deep with Bill about his book Be Your Best Boss: Reinvent Yourself from Employee to Entrepreneur and “How to be a Successful Mid-Life Entrepreneur.” For those wondering if it’s too late to be your own boss and run your own business… it’s not!

What will you discover about becoming a mid-life entrepreneur?

  • How to know if you’re ready to make the leap to and become a mid-life entrepreneur.
  • The key to success for a mid-life entrepreneur.
  • Why age and experience gives you an advantage.
  • How to decide between buying an existing business, a franchise, and starting from scratch.
  • How to use your corporate retirement accounts to fund your business without triggering a distribution.
  • The #1 fear holding employees back from becoming a mid-life entrepreneur and what to do about it.
  • And MUCH more.

LISTEN LIVE NOW!

5 Things I Learned from the Small Giants Community

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I’ve been in business for years and I recently joined a community of business owners that made me feel like I had “found my family” in the business world – the Small Giants Community.

The Community has made such an impact on me that I wanted to share some of what I learned with you, but before I begin, I’ll give you a little background on what led up to me attending the Small Giants Community Summit 2016 in Denver…

Almost a year ago, my wife and I took a week off to spend time with friends in Michigan. Always on the lookout for fun new places to eat, I asked our friends if they would recommend Zingerman’s Deli–a place in Ann Arbor I’d heard about–and they said, “Yes, absolutely.”

I had gotten wind of the deli via an article by Bo Burlingham, and had more recently learned that “Zingerman’s Community of Businesses” was profiled in Bo Burlingham’s book, Small Giants. After experiencing the deli in person I was curious so while still in Ann Arbor, I went to Barnes & Noble and picked up a copy of Small Giants.

In early 2016, I was working with a PR company to launch my book, Be Your Best Boss. The owner of the PR Company is a friend of Bo’s and mentioned that this year’s Small Giants Summit was going to be in Denver, which is near where I live.

The owner of the PR company said that I was already attached to Bo’s book, so I might want to attend the Summit and introduce myself, and he was right.

Attending the Small Giants Community Summit 2016 was an eye-opening experience. It was chock-full of great conversation, ideas and feedback from fellow Small Giants. I particularly enjoyed listening as Small Giants took the stage in the “My Company Story” series.

Listening to all the great conversations, I was inspired to create an internal set of values for CatchFire Funding, such as putting my employees first. Here’s a sampling of what I learned so far from the Small Giants Community.

1. Engaging Employees

Nowadays, I’m engaging my employees more and finding paths for them to get involved, and helping them learn more than just their job responsibilities, teaching them a bit about how the business works. I found that giving them the opportunities to provide input and make suggestions has been an invaluable piece of the engagement process.

The opposite of that is where you have a hierarchy and you assign specific limits for each job role. In that structure, there’s no communication up and down the chain. If an employee has a suggestion, management may or may not pass it on. Ultimately, communication begins to break down.

As a business owner, how do you get around that? By not allowing the erection of these barriers within your organization. At CatchFire Funding, I try to keep us all working as a team.

At some level, you want to enable people to make decisions. Not everything has to come to you; you want to encourage that. Things just happen, and it’s beautiful when it all works out. Still, there has to be balance, so there are some aspects where you need to be involved.

Since the Summit, I’ve been having vision talks with my employees. By learning their goals, they see that I care and it helps me focus on what I can do to help them achieve their long-term goals with the company.

2. Customer Funneling

Another aspect of the Community is business operations: Providing the best experience to a limited number of folks is the Small Giants way of doing business. Executing that plan in great detail and being successful vs. trying to scale and meet everybody’s needs, but with a watered-down experience.

“Customer funneling” means to provide a great experience to a limited number of people vs. delivering a watered-down experience to the masses.

3. Employing the Triangle Cornerstone

The triangle cornerstone refers to: 1) employees, 2) clients and, 3) the community – all in tandem.  Of course, economics is always there, but it’s not the primary focus. It’s got to be right for the employees, right from the economic perspective, and right for the market. And there’s a focus on the community.

4. Growing Your Business Responsibly

Growth is part of the plan of the Community, but outside of the traditional process of duplicating. A non-growing business will die, but Small Giants are doing it in a responsible way. Even though we call ourselves Small Giants, it doesn’t mean we’re running small businesses.

As people try to grow their business, they ask, “How do we grow the fastest?” Do we acquire the most subscribers, or maximum market share? They’re looking for investors for the next shot of capital to go to the next level.

In contrast, the Small Giants’ approach is to grow a business and do it in a meaningful and sustainable way. It’s got to be right for employees, right from an economic perspective, and right for the market. 

5. Focusing on the Community

Small Giants strive to be good corporate citizens. We believe it’s our responsibility to help strengthen the educational, economic, cultural, and social fabric of the communities where our businesses are rooted.

Small Giants recognize that there are many good causes worthy of our support, and by being community-centered, we’re able to run businesses with a greater sense of purpose.

If you’re building a great business, there’s no reason for you to have to do it alone. The Small Giants Community allows you to be surrounded by like-minded leaders who will challenge and support you along your journey. If you think you might be a good fit, check out their website for yourself!

If you’d like to learn more about my company, CatchFire Funding and how we help people fund their business or franchise with our self-directed 401k program, please give me a call!

It’s Labor Day – Kick That Summer Rut to the Curb!

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I don’t know about you, but it’s been a bit of a trying summer for me and my company. New business has fluctuated a bit more than it did this time the past couple of years. A long-time valued employee moved on to another opportunity, and I’ve been traveling a LOT – from business and marketing seminars to industry gatherings, and even a personal trip or two.

I feel like it’s all taken a toll on me and my family. We need a vacation from our vacation!

Such is the life of an entrepreneur! And besides, who am I to complain when there are so many “real” problems in the world? This Labor Day, I’m going to take some time to reflect, and I encourage you to do the same, whether you’re already an entrepreneur, or aspiring to be one.

3 things to reflect upon, deal with, and move on from!

1. Market Unpredictability

The market is unpredictable and uncontrollable, and sometimes, almost inevitably, it affects business. But it’s a matter of adapting to change and finding new opportunities where others fall flat.

If you’re a new entrepreneur and you find that business isn’t where you want it to be, what do you do? You take a step back, reevaluate the situation, and evaluate the alternative channels.

Technology is always changing, as well as where people spend their time – just look at smartphone technology and how it transformed American culture. When market fluctuations impact your business, take a step back and reevaluate.

What’s the current conversation in the client’s head? What’s keeping them up at night? Has that conversation changed? What challenges can my business solve? Often, the smallest changes can make a world of difference with your future clientele.

It comes down to controlling the controllable. An unpredictable market, changing customer opinions – you can’t control those, but you can control how you pivot, how you change and adapt to circumstances and your clients’ needs.

2. Employee Turnover

Employee turnover is inevitable, but if you’re acting in the best interests of your employees, you’re doing the best that you can. There will always be family or life considerations; your superstar employee may decide to pursue a different career path. You can be the best boss, but you can’t fulfill everybody’s needs for progression.

If you lose a valuable employee, reflect on what made your opportunity less attractive. It may be something obvious, such as pay, or something not so obvious, such as a flaw in operations. Before you replace the employee, figure out what you should change. Like anything else in business, consider it a learning opportunity.

At my company, I offer a unique experience. I sincerely care about my employees and their futures and the fatherly aspect of me understands their need to “leave the nest” on occasion.

Employee turnover gives you the opportunity to revisit what your other employees want out of their careers. Maybe the exit of one worker means you have another employer move up and fill that position.

You give someone else at your company the opportunity to fill the departed employee’s shoes, an opportunity for advancement. You take a temporary disappointment and turn it into a positive all the way around. Best of all, your newly promoted employee is all smiles.

3. Burnout

It happens, especially when you have too many obligations in a short time; some things you simply can’t prevent.  You may have to attend industry and networking events, national conventions, and professional seminars. You may even have the honor of being a guest speaker. Those dates are set, and if you’re an entrepreneur who’s passionate about growth, it’s going to happen.

If you’re like me, your personal and professional life are blurred – and that’s not necessarily a bad thing, especially if you’ve created a company culture that you love being a part of, like I have.

Even if you’d rather not be anywhere else but in the office, it’s important to take time away from the active execution of your business. This allows you to clear your head, to disconnect so you can reflect on what you’re going to do.

Entrepreneurs have a habit of burning the candle at both ends, I know I sure have, but it’s important to recharge your batteries. Whether it’s hiking you enjoy, surfing, travelling, horseback riding, or spending time with family, you need step away from your business occasionally so you can get a fresh perspective on things. Your body, mind, soul, and business will be thankful you did.

If you’re an aspiring entrepreneur who needs business and funding advice, please don’t hesitate to contact me directly!

 

4 Ways to Keep Customers Happy – For Life

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Happy Customers, Happy Life? That’s not quite how the saying goes, but if you’re a business owner, this may as well be your mantra! Without happy, loyal customers, it’s more than challenging to maintain a healthy business.

In this highly-competitive age where technology (a.k.a. the Internet) has put virtually every business on the map, businesses have to work harder to keep their valuable customers from leaving for competitors, which could be just “one click away.”

Getting your customers to stick around is not as hard as you might think; it all boils down to good old-fashioned “care.” Seems logical, but if you’ve ever made a call where you could barely understand the customer service rep because they’re located overseas, you may feel like companies don’t care about customers like they used to.

Automation made our lives easier, but it doesn’t mean that customer service is dead! Whether you need this info now or in the future, bookmark it!

1. Be responsive.

The critical (or emergency factor) depends on the type of business you’re in but no matter what your customer is after, chances are they want it sooner than later – and they’ll find someone who will deliver, whether it’s you or not.

Answer phone calls, emails and online inquiries right away, and do it all with a smile. These are the keys to nurturing your customer base and watching the seeds of loyalty grow.

2. Don’t treat everyone the same.

Customers aren’t robots and should never be treated as such. Ditch the phone scripts and canned email responses. A script won’t help an angry or frustrated customer anyway. Train your customer service reps to treat your customers like human beings, and to connect with customers on an emotional level.

Ever called a company only to be pleasantly surprised when you got a “live” person on the other end? Sure beats listening to an automated recording that keeps looping you around, telling you to “press 1” for this and “press 2” for that, and you never get to speak to a real person.

It’s the same in business: nobody wants an impersonal experience. Customers want to talk to employees who are warm, friendly, and knowledgeable. Someone who is interested in the customer’s opinions, how their day is going, and how their recent trip to Italy was.

Small talk, chitchat, whatever you call it, don’t underestimate it. Truly caring about your customers will take your business a long way. It’s utterly simple, yet the core of customer loyalty.

3. Always over-deliver.

If this causes you to first under promise, so be it. Nothing is worse than not doing what you say you’re going to do. Find ways to do everything better and faster than you have to, and your customers will take notice.

4. Connect and truly care.

One of the critical aspects of business is connecting with your customer. At CatchFire Funding, we do it with the context of helping them “unpack their boxes,” meaning, we give potential clients the opportunity to get all the extra stuff off their chest so we can have an honest conversation.

We truly care about our clients and their situation; they’re much more than a sale to us. People can tell when you don’t care about them. There should be no blur in personal relationships and professional ones – the best ones are always worth caring about, mutually.

If you aren’t in an industry where you care about how your product or service treats the end user… then find a new one.

Customer service is not dead. Whether you own a landscape route, a restaurant, a real estate company, or a web design company, realize the importance of caring about your customer and giving them the best experience possible.

Today’s customers have a bigger voice than ever on the Internet. Wouldn’t you rather them be raving about you on Facebook, Yelp, or Twitter rather than complaining?

Get back to the basics and show your customers that you care. It’s one of the simplest and most effective marketing strategies, and best of all, good word- of-mouth is free.

If you’re looking for more business or funding advice, contact me, I’m just a phone call away. I’d love to prove how much I care about your success.

My Book Got a Bad Review, So What?

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In all of my years as a son, husband, father, business owner, coach and now author – I’ve learned an extremely valuable lesson: no matter what you do, it’s virtually impossible to please everybody.

I vividly remember the days when my children were young; my wife, kids and I would try to pick a restaurant for dinner. We’d narrow it down to a couple of options and it seems like each time we’d go out to eat, at least one family member would be unhappy about the choice.

We’d have similar challenges with family movie night, but who doesn’t? The struggle is real, especially when a family has children from different age groups, for example, a five-year-old who wants to watch the latest Disney movie (I can still play back the songs from the Lion King and the Little Mermaid in my head) and an 8th grader trying to convince Mom and Dad that they’re “old enough” to watch an R-Rated film.

It’s unrealistic to keep everyone happy all of the time and I eventually realized the same is true in business. I’m in a good place in my career now, but it wasn’t all roses in the beginning. I think most entrepreneurs would agree that no matter how hard you try to be on the same page as others, not everyone will be on board with you.

I, like most business owners before me, had my fair share of roadblocks along my entrepreneurial journey. For instance, before my startup, CatchFire Funding, I co-founded another company with a business partner, and long story short, we couldn’t make each other happy and it ended in a partnership divorce. But, it was a good learning experience.

And now, as an author…my book can (and has) hit home for many people. For others, it’s not their cup of tea, and that’s to be expected. I got a bad review, so what?

I didn’t write the book to please everybody. If certain folks bought the book and didn’t think it was the right fit, that’s going to happen. I wrote the book for a target audience, specifically those who:

  • Are unsatisfied with their current career,
  • Have uncertainty about their job situation in the next 1, 5 or 10 years,
  • Have reached the point in their career where it’s no longer fulfilling, and there’s something beyond their current employment that they want to achieve from a perspective of service or giving back to the community, or
  • Have successfully completed their career and are retired, but are inspired to become a business owner.

I have a goal for the book, it’s to inspire as many people as possible to go into business for themselves. As a matter of fact, I started a movement called the midcareer entrepreneur movement where my goal is to inspire at least 10,000 people to go into business ownership over the next decade. And if you’re on the same page, I invite you to join me!

Control the Controllable in Life and Business

Over the years, I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s impossible to please everyone…at home, in one’s family, in life, and most certainly in business.

If you’re an aspiring entrepreneur, not everyone will be a fan of your plans for business ownership. There will be Aunt Pam’s disapproving tone, your overly-skeptical co-workers, and a few close friends who think you should lay low and play it “safe” in a desk job…just like them.

I say, control the controllable in life and business. You can’t control outside influences or the opinions of others, but you can control your own actions and reactions, and you can decide to pursue what makes you happy. The rest – is beyond your control.

Instead of letting other people’s fears prevent you from following your dreams of entrepreneurship, keep your eye on the prize and ignore the naysayers along the way.

If you’re chomping at the bit to become an entrepreneur but have questions about how to get started, about your business and funding options, developing a business plan, and how to build a successful business, please, don’t hesitate to reach out to me. I’d be glad to offer my assistance.

 

3 Terrible Reasons NOT to Pursue Entrepreneurship

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Do you have dreams of becoming successful (your definition of successful), and living life on your own terms, but every time there’s a sparkle of hope something seems to come up and your dreams get pushed aside for another day?

Everyone has an “ideal scenario” in mind, a picture of what their dream life would be like, but what sets the successful entrepreneurs apart from the rest is they stopped allowing their dreams to be pushed aside, and blazed their own trail of success.

We all make excuses to one extent or another. As far as aspiring entrepreneurs are concerned, I’ve observed these three excuses frequently, and if you can relate, you should not let them keep you from realizing your dreams of entrepreneurship.

1. You’re too old.

Age is NOT a prerequisite for entrepreneurship. In fact, age is an advantage because you can start your entrepreneurial venture with an end in mind. You know what your goals are at this stage, and you have laser focus on achieving them. If you go into business later in life, you’ll have the advantage of knowing the direction you’re headed.

For example, you may already know what you want out of retirement and when, therefore you can plan your entrepreneurial venture accordingly, putting precise goals and milestones in place at beginning. The midcareer entrepreneur has a better context of what they want to get out of the entrepreneurial experience.

Some of the most renowned entrepreneurs took the plunge later in life. Just look at the great Colonel Harland David Sanders of KFC. After enduring more than his share of career setbacks, at the age of 62 he franchised his “Kentucky Fried Chicken.”

Leo Goodwin was an accountant in San Antonio, Texas before founding GEICO at the age of 50 during the Great Depression.

At the age of 63, Henry Kaiser and a physician named Sidney Garfield established Kaiser Permanente because they wanted to provide quality, affordable healthcare.

Ray Kroc’s early career was spent driving across the country to sell milkshake machines. But, with a keen eye for business, Kroc eventually purchased McDonald’s at the ripe age of 52 in 1954 and the rest is history.

Vera Wang didn’t enter the fashion industry until she was 40-years-old. Today, she is one of the world’s premier fashion designers for women. Before trying her hand at fashion, she was a journalist. Who knew?

The media may sensationalize young entrepreneurs whose successful companies are born out of dorm rooms and garages, but the truth is you’re never too old to go after your dreams.

2. You’re inexperienced.

Because you’re “old” you have experience. Sure, you may be lacking knowledge of running a business, but relax – you can get up-to-speed quickly. It’s not rocket science.  You’ve made big decisions for years, you’ve developed good people skills, and a network of contacts – all advantages that will serve you well in entrepreneurship.

3. You might fail.

You may have read or heard before that 50 percent of businesses are out of business in five years. Let me tell you why this should not scare you. Just because a business is no longer operating after five years does not mean it crashed and burned – it may mean the owner moved on (or, graduated) to another business venture, or sold the business to someone else. For added context, the average career tenure is 4.6 years at any given job. So, essentially 50 percent of folks are going to have a career-changing event – and not necessarily a negative one – before the five-year mark.

What about you, should you take the leap to entrepreneurship? If it’s your dream, why not? The ONLY obstacle that’s keeping you from realizing your true potential is you, it’s just a matter of shifting your mindset, doing your research and springing into action.

Each year, thousands of aspiring entrepreneurs take the leap from employee to entrepreneur, while thousands more wish they could, but they let fear of failure and the unknown hold them back.

My book, Be Your Best Boss: Reinvent Yourself from Employee to Entrepreneur rationalizes these fears, empowering readers to escape the corporate world and take control of their financial destinies.

If you’re ready to begin your entrepreneurial journey, don’t hesitate to give me a call! That is what I am here for.