Category Archives: Business Advice

More Businesses Should Innovate Like China

This may offend some people, but I don’t know how important intellectual property is these days. Or even if it ever was that important…

You invent a product, design, process, etc. and spend a lot of time and money getting it patented. Then you make a few bucks on it, and if it is even remotely successful, you have to spend a whole lot more time and money to protect your patent.

Meanwhile, people who make and market a slightly different product are making a killing without all the extra costs. They are producing it faster and cheaper then you ever could. It’s the continuing story of business everywhere… “Inventors make the product, Distributors make the the profit.” Just think of Amazon or Ebay…

This story is really playing out in China…

I just read an article over @ Sovereign Man entitled “Can Your IPhone Do This?“. It talks about how China continues to take technology and make it better….

Direct Quote: “This is a central theme among Asia’s technology developers. They start with a basic idea (like supercomputers, military aircraft, or mobile phones), analyze what the foreign companies are doing well, figure out how to make it better, and eliminate any dependency on western suppliers.”

Some of the best products are made from people who don’t care about gaining a patent and maximizing the profit they can ring out of it. Think Open Office, the free option that replaces Microsoft Office…

If you have a business that innovates you should definitely be watching the news on China and take some pointers from them. Whether you like it or not, the profits will flow to those who keep producing. Not those who rest on their laurels…

Self Knowledge Enables Financial Wealth

What do most successful business owners have in common?

Or just successful people in general for that matter?

They have in common an understanding of what it is that they want, and the ability to get it.

This idea actually comes from the Financial Philosopher in his post entitled Accidental Influence.

If you want a blog that always keeps you thinking about financial philosophies then that is the blog to read.

Back to self-knowledge…

This is something that takes a long time to establish. You have to become as objective of your life as possible and look at the whole picture.

Often we are caught up in the mundane and common tasks of our daily lives. We have no ability to be objective. We have no time to look at the big picture.

Ability comes from practicing over time, and time comes from making a pursuit of self-knowledge a priority.

If getting to know yourself is not a priority. If all you are after is financial gain. Then you might make it. You might pull off a quick buck here or there.

However, you will just as quickly lose it. It takes a lot of integrity to run a business. And integrity comes from self-knowledge.

Who are you? What are you doing? Where are you going? What are your plans, dreams, goals, etc.? What are your priorities?

Self knowledge springs from these questions like a seed planted in the ground. If it is watered and well maintained it will produce fruit. That fruit being true wealth in the form of good relationships, good habits, and wisdom gained through experience. Financial wealth will come out of the true wealth you are producing as a result.

If you get your foundation right, a foundation built on self knowledge, all other things will follow…

Warren Buffett – Speech at University of Florida

Three most important things needed for success…

1. Integrity
2. Intelligence
3. Energy

Of the three, the most important is Integrity, because you really don’t want to do business with someone who is intelligent, energetic, but lacking integrity.

87 minute video: Warren Buffett

Warren really just spews wisdom… (Hope you don’t mind the word picture) 😉

Some good points…

1. More money doesn’t do much. Warren lives much like we live even though he is much richer.
2. Take a job that you would take even if you were independently wealthy.
3. Warren likes businesses he can understand… which narrows it down about 90%
4. If you are right about WHAT, then you don’t have to focus too much on the WHEN.

Information Overload Will Kill Your Business

I have to admit I am an information junkie. I love to read anything and everything. A lot of it ends up being entertainment, a lot of it is worthless, and perhaps less than 1% is useful.

I just read an article called “Why I Threw Away Thousands of Dollars of Information Products

Bud’s main point in the article is that information overload breeds inaction.

He couldn’t be more right…

You see I’ve spent a lot of time reading anything I could get my hands on about business… and economics… and psychology… and investing… and this… and that… and …. It gets tiresome after awhile. And after a bit it becomes a pointless waste of time when you think about how much of that information I am actually making use of.

“Reading, after a certain age, diverts the mind too much from its creative pursuits. Any man who reads too much and uses his own brain too little falls into lazy habits of thinking.” – Albert Einstein

I think I may be reaching that certain age… Some of what I read sounds exactly like what I have already read in the past… This is why I believe reading the classics will always be best…

The best thing for any business or person to do is to find what works and stick with it. Pursue it relentlessly. When it stops working find what else will work in it’s place. This is where you will search for new information, but once you find it, you just continue to execute and create until the cows come home.

“Everybody gets so much information all day long that they lose their common sense. ” – Gertrude Stein

How The Stock Market And The Economy Really Work

I found an interesting article on the mises.org website today. It is a really long read, but an interesting insight into libertarian economic theory.

Mainly Kel Kelly talks about how money supply really affects the stock market and the economy. With an increase in money supply comes inflation. And he argues that this isn’t normal consumer products inflation because the money never really makes it to the consumer.

Instead the new money added by the government tends to flow into the financial markets.

This increases prices for things such as houses and other asset classes, but it doesn’t seem to affect normal consumer items such as food or gas. I would argue that it would if people could continually take out home equity loans. We should almost be thankful that home prices stopped their insane climb.

How The Stock Market and the Economy Really Work

If you want to educate yourself more on this topic take the time to read the full article. It is worth it!

How Do You Know When To Cut Your Losses?

How do you know when to cut your losses?

When your exit strategy says so…

Oh, you didn’t make an exit strategy when you got into it?

Better start making an exit strategy for all plans and projects in the future…

How do you make an exit strategy?

Decide what you are willing to lose ahead of time and put it in writing…

Is a 10% loss worth getting out, how about a 20% loss?

Learn how to count your intangibles too such as lost sleep, stress, and anything else that damages your health or well-being, or even intangibles such as your reputation.

It is wise to make the decision ahead of time, of when you will cut your losses. Because if you try to decide in the moment, your emotions will often get the best of you.

Don’t let a 100% loss fill you with regret…

Decide beforehand when you will cut your losses, make an exit strategy, and start getting some nice relaxing sleep at night.

Then execute your exit strategy with the confidence that you are making the right decision.

Simon Black – International Investor

I just wanted to take the time to mention a very intriguing new website I found.

It is called Sovereign Man and it is written by a guy named Simon Black who does a daily report from the field (currently Nigeria) about economics, investing, and international business.

I love the site, and I have subscribed to it.

It is a whole let better than reading the normal international business news sites like CNN.

It is a much more intimate look into what’s happening in the local economies of a bunch of different countries and it is well worth the read if you are doing any kind of international investing at all.

Check it out, it’s well worth the visit…

Sovereignman.com

How To Promote Teamwork

This subject is something that I have dedicated a lot of my life to learning. How to function better in a team environment. How to make the acronym T.E.A.M. (Together Everyone Achieves More) true.

I had a long discussion with the owner of our company today about why people can’t seem to work well in a team, and why everyone in our company can’t see our teammates as part of the team.

We had a discussion this morning and had to go on to do other things, but it left me thinking long and hard about it.

After an hour or two I texted him a 3 step process that I have found to work for me. There is obviously more to effective teamwork then just this, but I think it’s a great starting point for anyone…

Steps to Promote Teamwork

  1. Kill Them With Kindness – This phrase may be a bit overused (mostly because we don’t know how to do this), but it is true. Most of what keeps people from working together are poor attitudes and personality problems. If you can learn to be kind to people, in other words, professional with people, then you will go a long way in promoting good teamwork with that person.
  2. Never Compromise Your Integrity – Part of being a teammate is having a healthy respect for both your integrity and your co-workers. If you compromise your integrity, what you believe is right, then you will start to resent other people for what they believe. The key here is to get it all out on the table so you can work with it. Don’t ignore the problem. Let your co-worker know that you need to figure out a solution to the problem. And one of the hardest parts with this is to get anyone to recognize that their is a problem in the first place. Word of advice… If anyone has a problem, it’s everyone’s problem. Help them solve it by working together on it.
  3. Keep reminding people of why we are here – No matter how good you are or how good you think you are, you still need to be reminded about the important things. And probably the most important thing you need to remember is why you are working as a team in the first place. The owner of my company made a good point today. You can either choose to work with people or leave the company. We are all in it together. I tried to compromise by saying that we could split people up who don’t get along with each other. My owner’s response was that we want to treat people like adults, and help them learn and grow. It does no good for them or the company to simply separate them. And my response to him, after the light bulb on my head turned on, was that growth does happen in adversity. We have to face our problems head on, and strive to solve them. In the process we really will learn and go, and be able to handle similar situations much better in the future.

Think hard about these three things the next time you want to promote more teamwork in your organization. These ideas, if implemented correctly, will go a long way toward making your team into the well-oiled machine they deserve to be.

Great Product is the New Marketing

I’ve been trying to keep up to date about what everyone in the publishing industry is talking about…

So… here is a quick link to a good little article about how you need to let the product market itself and let your readers be your sales team.

I’ve seen this strategy work great in a lot of companies, including my current one, and I highly recommend it.

Great Product is the New Marketing

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Success in Business Just Might Require Giving Gifts

Seth Godin’s latest post is a great one.

The title is Generous Gifts vs. Free Samples

It gives a lot of food for thought…

A lot of learning that occurs in business and life occurs when you turn up the contrast and look at the differences in things.

Seth makes the point that giving away free samples is a great business marketing strategy and you often see a lot of sales occur from this strategy.

It is a give and take approach to life.

Yet Seth makes the argument well that giving a gift is something totally different.

A gift is something you give without receiving anything in return. And he argues that if you think this way about things it will change your whole approach to business and life.

…and it will change you.

Giving a gift is something that is very special, and it is to be much appreciated. If it is in your power to do so then maybe you should think about doing it.

Even if you don’t receive something in return (i.e. a sale or returning customer), receiving good will is not to be underestimated.

I’ll leave you will a quote I am very fond of….

“What Constitutes Success” by Bessie Stanley

“He has achieved success who has lived well, laughed often and loved much; who has gained the respect of intelligent men and the love of little children; who has filled his niche and accomplished his task; who has left the world better than he found it, whether by an improved poppy, a perfect poem, or a rescued soul; who has never lacked appreciation of earth’s beauty or failed to express it; who has always looked for the best in others and given them the best he had; whose life was an inspiration; whose memory a benediction.”