Category Archives: Entrepreneur

Learn To Audit Yourself, Just Do You

I’ve been following @GaryVee for awhile now. Great guy. Lot of energy. A great role model in some respects and not in others. A wonderful “virtual mentor”.

I just watched a video of him talking to a group of students at a USC entrepreneur class. He started of by saying that he believes 100%, with no hedge, that you can’t teach someone to be an entrepreneur.

His best piece of advice…

Audit Who You Are

Don’t fool yourself into thinking you can be something that you can’t. Be you. Just do you. Bet on your strengths. Don’t worry at all about your weaknesses.

He goes on to talk about how he had a huge advantage because he was born in Belarus and was poor growing up in the U.S. He had it rough and he honestly believes most people are just too soft to compete with him. This is an honest truth we all need to accept.

Nothing more important then starting right now. Yesterday is always the best day to start.

True entrepreneurs work 16 hour days. True entrepreneurs go and get it done. True entrepreneurs execute the idea. True entrepreneurs hire out their weaknesses.

At the end of the day you just need to do you. Know yourself. What are your strengths? Ask yourself that every day. Be brutally honest. What are your strengths? Don’t just think about what they are. Write them down. Then stare at the page and ask yourself again. Ask your friends, family, colleagues what your strengths are. Maybe you are missing some strength cause it is so easy for you to do it, but that same strength is hard and doesn’t come naturally to a lot of other people. Maybe you are blind to it. Maybe you wrote something down that you think is a strength but most people would see it as a weakness.

Keep doing that. Think, Write, Get Feedback, Meditate, Repeat.

Don’t underestimate speed. Speed is a huge competitive advantage. Speed goes along with the idea of starting yesterday. Stay ahead of the game.

All that matters is the attention graph. All platforms will be media companies. Be a thought leader. Not a thought follower. Be on top of everything. Out work everyone. Don’t call yourself an expert. Just be the expert.

Your grandmother is on facebook now. What is next. Look at what companies Facebook is buying… Instagram, Snapchat, stay ahead of the game…

Fastest growth on Instagram is 40-50 year old women taking #selfies. No joke.

Keep asking, what is next, and be there…

There is No Business Like Food Business

Right right I know there is no business like show business, but show business and food go hand in hand. Just look at all the reality shows based off of food and restaurants and now everyone is a celebrity chef.

It is a very interesting crossroads at my life right now. In the past month I have decided to help a friend open a restaurant and within a short time after that (in the spring when it is warm) send a food truck out into the big world. I am doing what I do best, and that is researching like crazy how to get both of them off the ground and flying efficiently as possible.

Think about all the rules and regulations you have to follow for starting a business. All the tax, banking, insurance, accounting and other business related things. Then add all the extra stuff the food industry requires such as food and drink licensing, food safety training, food storage, and other food related things. Now try to start a restaurant and a food truck almost simultaneously. Could I have picked a harder option?

It will certainly be one big learning experience no matter what happens, but with all the up front preparation and investment I think it will be hard for it to fail.

For one, vendors are very accommodating because their business is competitive too and they want your business no matter what it costs them. It is a good environment to make a win-win situation for both parties involved. Besides commercial kitchen equipment everything is readily available at a good price. You can always buy food for retail at a grocery store in a pinch. Even kitchen equipment is a one time buy in which you can spend time searching for the right piece at the right price.

The markup on food is huge and it has to be. Most of your costs revolve around employee wages and food costs. The combined total of these two things are called the Prime Cost and should not exceed 70% of total revenue. They should average between 62-68% of total revenue. Rent costs are the next biggest and should not cost more than 8% with an average of 6-7% considered normal. If you own the building then this includes the taxes, insurance, etc.

I stumbled across this article entitled 10 Restaurant Financial Red Flags that has some helpful information when it comes to analyzing a restaurant’s financials.

In spending time on research I keep coming across random but fun and interesting things about food. Here are a few…

How many times can I reuse fry oil? – I thought it had to be replaced every day, but evidently not. Lots of cool science here.

Induction Cooking: Induction Cookware – I kind of knew about this already but discovering the specifics was fun. I also learned about 18/10 stainless steel here.

Have you heard of the Quesarito??? Neither did I till I read this.

Apparently Lodge makes the best Cast iron Skillet and All Clad makes the best overall cookware for the price. All Clad also happens to be in my backyard of Canonsburg, PA.

Finally I leave you with this inspiring video from the National Restaurant Association…

Best Back Office Software for Small Businesses (Accounting, Payroll, Benefits, Email Marketing and More)

Ever since Square came onto the playing field a few years ago everyone has been developing great apps to help small businesses get up and running. Many new business owners have no idea where to start and often feel like they need to spend money on expensive advisers such as accountants and lawyers to get anything going. As time goes on SaaS (Software as a Service) just keeps getting better and better.

Credit Card Processing

Square started in 2009 and pretty much led the pack as far as a startup company that was helping small businesses. It was an easy way for cash only businesses to be able to allow customers to use credit cards without going through the hassle and complexity of typical merchant processing solutions. I was really amazed the first time I saw a food trucker swipe my card through their phone. Pure Crazy. Pure Awesomeness. Growth Hackers has a great write up about the value proposition of the company and why Square grew so fast.

Online Accounting

The advantages to online accounting are many, but perhaps the most important reason to have online accounting is backup and disaster recovery. If all your books are on a desktop computer and you don’t back them up anywhere you could be in a world of hurt after something happens. If everything is online you just log on to a new computer and get going again.

Quickbooks is of course the golden standard for small business accounting, but many new players are coming into the field including Xero, their closest competitor as far as market share goes.

Expense Reports

I think Expensify is the best thing out there since sliced bread. It was just a matter of time before someone said, “Hey, we can take pictures of our receipts with our phones, and use technology to scan them into a database and forget about all that dumb manual entry stuff.” In my previous business I spent a lot of time sending my accountant pictures of my receipts, and I am not actually completely sure whether he used this or manually entered it. I imagine he did it manually. For $5 a month this is a complete no brainer must have.

Payroll

I am currently helping someone start up a restaurant and one of things she was most worried about was doing payroll. She found service to do it for $65/month which involved sending paperwork and other essentials to this company. I advised her by saying that payroll is fairly easy and we should do it ourselves because it is a very critical aspect of the business to keep an eye on.

Well here I go surfing the internet and find a great little company called ZenPayroll that would require about the same amount of work or less to outsource it and it only costs $25/month. Plus the cool thing is that employees can “onboard” themselves. This means instead of having them fill out paperwork and then reentering all their info they just go online in the first place to enter their information. Genius! Let’s go paperless baby!

Benefits

With the new Affordable Health Care Act everyone is scrambling to get in line with the new laws and regulations. Many companies are deciding not to hire simply to stay below the threshold that requires you to pay health insurance for your employees. Along comes a company called Zenefits that makes the whole benefits sign up pain and hassle free and does it completely free because their benefit providers pay them commissions to keep the lights on. I think it is a win, win, win situation for everyone and worth checking out.

CRM (Customer Relation Management)

If you have clients, you need a good CRM system. End of story. I used to have a manila folder system that worked well for me, but I had a limited number of potential clients (schools), and I used calendar reminders to follow up. I guarantee you my lack of a decent CRM program caused many opportunities to fall through the cracks. I read on Forbes that having a CRM increases sales by 29%. This probably is completely random statistic but I am sure the better organized you are the better.

Surprisngly there are about a billion CRM solutions out because presumbly everyone thinks they can build and awesome database. Well most people are completely wrong. I searched around and can’t really recommend any particular one, but Capterra came up with 9 cheap and easy to use CRM solutions that can work for you.

Social Media Analytics

The only reason I found out about SumAll is because they have Square integration. That is pretty important if you are running Square. If not, the service is still free to connect social media analyatics with your sales number.

Like CRM, there are a ton of options when it comes to managing your social media. Hootsuite is free and is probably the best one to use if you are just getting started. You can see all of your feeds and post to all of your social networks at once. But the real magic happens when you setup your software to automate you posts.

Email Marketing

I save this one for last because it might be the most important thing you can do for your business. If you aren’t capturing emails of customers these days then you simply aren’t doing the business the way you should. All I hear from the marketing gurus online is that email marketing is where the money is it. And you know what? It is very true.

At the end of the day a customer might need contacted or touched in some way a total of 7 times on average before they buy from you. This is new customer acquisition but the same goes for encouraging repeat sales. Good copy makes people buy, and you can never get that copy in front of people without an email list. Speaking of copywriting, if you have no clue what it is, then stop everything you are doing right now and google it! It is that important!

Again, there are many programs out there to setup email campaigns but Aweber seems to be the best overall pick of the bunch. It helps that they are one of the oldest of the bunch as well.

Marcus Lemonis Speech at Inc 5000

I have spent a lot of time trying to find out more about Marcus Lemonis’ personal story. Finally I found a speech he gave to an Inc 5000 conference. They titled it…

Meet the Business Turnaround King Marcus Lemonis

The key question I wanted answered was how did he even start Camping World. The usual snippet story is that he was an orphan from Lebanon who became the son of someone who was in the car business. His extended family owned a rather big car business, and that Lee Iaccoca was a family friend. Presumably this story makes it sound like his family helped him out a ton.

Listening to him tell his story you quickly realize that his family only indirectly was responsible for his success. The real story is that he ran for a Democratic office when he came back from college and his grandfather was a Republican so for embarrassing the family he fired him and wished him luck.

He eventually did lose the election but someone told him that if he ever wanted a job he should give him a call. That person I believe was Wayne Huizenga, owner of AutoNation. If it wasn’t Wayne himself, he eventually connected with Wayne.

They eventually asked him if he wanted a promotion and he said yes, of course. They requested that he help them buy his grandfather’s car business. He eventually pulled it off, and was additionally told to fire all the slackers. He pulled that off too and eventually let slip in his story that he made it to a point where he was pulling in $900k a year in the car business!

Wikipedia puts it this way…

“Starting in 1997, Lemonis held several sales and managerial roles for AutoNation.[1] From June 2001 to February 2003 he served as CEO of Holiday RV Superstores Inc. Following that, he co-founded a company called FreedomRoads and began acquiring RV dealerships.[2] In 2006, the company merged with Camping World with Lemonis as CEO, then in 2011, merged with Good Sam Enterprises, Lemonis again at the helm.[3] Lemonis attributes Camping World and Good Sam’s success to the three P’s: people, process and product.[4]” Source: Wikipedia)

2003 to 2005 was a very intense period for Marcus. He pooled his own money with some other investors to start the company Freedom Roads, Inc., then used $400 million in bank loans to speed up acquisition and consolidation…

“So, in 2003, Mr. Lemonis pooled his money with funds from several investors and started buying up dealerships, consolidating them under one banner — a practice he says helped “legitimize” the industry.

The idea was to make RV lots look more like car dealerships, such as Florida-based AutoNation, where he worked from 1997 to 2001, rising to regional manager in charge of 65 stores in 11 states by age 27.

Using multiple bank loans, Freedom Roads spent $400 million in June to expand inventory at all its dealerships and push the company to the $2-billion mark in annual sales. It’s now at $1.4 billion.” (Source)

Pretty much the main conclusion I can come to is that the old sayings go with business. “It’s not what you know, its who you know.” “It takes money to make money”. My own saying is,… “If you wanna play with the big boys, you gotta join the big boys club.”

Marcus certainly learned many lessons on the road to success. His success at AutoNation bred more success and each experience helped feed the next. The key in his life was getting noticed by the right people. Some would call him lucky, but he himself says that he is simply blessed.

Marcus Lemonis The Profit and My Desire to be an Entrepreneur

If you haven’t seen the CNBC show “The Profit” then you absolutely must. Marcus Lemonis is a business genius and he is learning and becoming smarter every single day with every single new deal he makes. The show’s basic premise is that Marcus comes and visits a potential business and determines if he can make a deal with the owners to become and active investor in the company and teach them how to become very profitable.

Since discovering this show I have absolutely fallen in love with it. This guy actually has my dream job. Part of the reason I chose the jobs that I did over the years was to expose myself to multiple different industries. To learn how they work, and to satisfy my deep curiosity for how a variety of businesses operate and become successful.

My dad is a sales guy through and through. He left the coal mines to strike out on his own because he just couldn’t take being in the mines anymore. He wanted to determine his destiny and knew the sales path was it. As long as he believed in the product he knew he could sale it. Recently one of my dad’s friends mentioned that my dad could sell ice to an eskimo. It is kind of a compliment to someone’s sales ability to say that, but I know my dad could never really sell anything he didn’t believe in and people respect him for it and trust him deeply.

Since I was a teenager I have been influenced by my dad immensely and have sought out other experienced business men and women that I could learn from. If I wasn’t making connections with business owners I was reading about them. I’ve read business classics such as Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill and The Richest Man in Babylon by George Clason to more modern books such as The Millionaire Next Door, and hundreds if not thousands of others. For all intensive purposes I am one of the world’s experts on business without having ever actually started my own business. I say that not to puff myself up with pride, but to actually berate myself for waiting forever to start my own business to put all I know to the test.

The truth of the matter is that some people are just born to lead. They have to do their own thing. They must be in charge and they must determine their destiny. And most importantly, they must be in control.

That is one of the constant themes in the show. These business owners are full of pride, both to their benefit and to their detriment, the classic double edged sword. Marcus himself is a so called “Type A” personality. Someone who needs to be in charge, and wants it done his way. As I watch the show I see it over and over again. Will the prideful business owner let their pride fall down and allow Marcus to call the shots, or will they let their pride keep them from turning their business into something really great?

Which brings up one of the greatest lessons I have ever learned in the business world. It is repeated in all the business literature over and over and yet I really don’t believe people really get it. The ability to lead is also the ability to follow. To learn to lead one must first learn how to follow. Over and over again it is repeated and falls on mostly deaf ears.

Marcus focuses on three things: people, process, and product. Out of the three, people is far and above the most important thing. Yet you can have great people and still get the product and process wrong. That is the opportunity Marcus looks for. The chance to work with great people and improve their product and process by investing his money into the business to change it for the better.

I think we can all recognize that people is the most important thing. Think about your years as an employee or even a business owner. Some of us have left great jobs that had horrible bosses. And some of us have stayed in horrible jobs because we worked for great people. Business owners number one complaint is that they can never find good people to work for them. And as my dad always said, “All business is people business”.

So where do we go from here? I am still thinking about why I haven’t started my own business. My excuse is that I haven’t found a good idea, but I have tons of ideas. Perhaps my excuse is that no idea is good enough. Or that I might be happier just being an employee. It has worked this long. Why not just keep progressing in my career, and keep jumping to different industries when I get bored?

Maybe my biggest fear is that I would get stuck in something I would come to hate. However, I do think that is just another excuse. I am trying to cross a bridge I haven’t even come to yet.

At the end of the day, I pretty much have no choice but to do it. I have spent the better part of my life, starting as a teenager, studying what it takes to be a successful entrepreneur. I am more prepared than practically any other business owner that starts a business. Another lesson is that a leader has a strong proclivity for action even without a lot of information to go on. I suffer from the classic “analysis paralysis” disease.

The time has never been more ripe then now. I just need to take the leap. Starting a business will certainly be the biggest personal development course I could ever take in my life. It will certainly be eye opening and help show me what I am really made of. It is my greatest challenge yet, and there really is nothing to it but to do it.

Back in Da Burgh!!!

Hi all! Its been awhile since Ive posted. This past year has been amazing! I sold my house in Colorado. Traveled all over the U.S. and finally moved back to Pittsburgh! I’m happy to be back around my family again. Now it’s just a matter of settling in and figuring out exactly what I’m going to do, and where I am going to live.

Currently I am working on getting my real estate license. I have always wanted to do this since I was a teenager and there is no time like the present. From my understanding the road to becoming a successful real estate agent takes a lot of time and a lot of money. Once you develop a sales pipeline and keep it filled it is a pretty nice gig. However, it does take a lot of energy to build the momentum to get there.

I ordered my books and signed up for an online class through Real Estate Express. A few people suggested getting my license in an actual class so I could network with people and keep it interesting, but I am pretty confident that I can just do it online.

In fact, with so much of the real estate sales process happening online, it probably does me good to study and research as I go rather then be stuck in a class listening to a lecture.

Besides that I have a bunch of weddings to go to or be in then the next couple of months. Tom, Mandy, Courtney, and Chelsea are all getting married soon. It’s crazy!

Lastly, I do want to mention I bought another new lens. A Nikon 10-24mm wide angle for real estate photography and also for landscape photography. Here is to taking it to the next level!!!

I’m Starting a New Business – Want to Follow Along?

I’ve decided to start a new online business. One that will hopefully provide me with a lot of case studies and other experience that I can write about here @ jeremymday.com

The business is called Lokolee and it will serve two purposes…

“We are crazy for local business. We give business listing and email marketing support to your local mom & pop businesses.”

This is the primary function of the website Lokolee.com

All local businesses will be able to enjoy the benefits of free business listings. And they will be able to include any coupons or deals they are currently running too. Essentially Lokolee.com will help market a company’s local coupons and/or local deals in a much more cost effective manner than any current competitor out there.

On the back end I will be partnering with a select few companies to help improve their web presence, and to give them excellent email marketing support. Online marketing campaigns can be both cost effective and achieve big results if they are done right. Unfortunately, many companies are doing it wrong, or not even attempting to do it at all.

Lokolee will provide a ton of free information about how a business can increase their online presence through our blogand newsletter. However, Lokolee members will receive one on one support and training to achieve even greater results.

Sometimes a few more sales every month is what will make or break a business. And one of the best ways to increase sales is to strengthen your marketing efforts. Online marketing is a big piece of that, and getting bigger every day. It is wise to do what you can to help make your business a great one!

The World Doesn’t Need More Entrepreneurs?

I just read this article on Slate by Esther Dyson called Not Everyone Can Be Bill Gates

It is sub-titled “The world doesn’t need more entrepreneurs. It needs more people for entrepreneurs to hire.”

This didn’t sit well with me. Kind of like how a 3 day old bean burrito doesn’t sit well with me.

After I read the article I realized where she was trying to go with this, but I think she is completely oblivious to anything that could be called a “start-up” outside the tech industry.

Her argument is that why start a new business when you will have trouble getting qualified people to help you run it? Good point Esther… In fact, why should we start a business at all?

Maybe to add some value back to society?

Maybe to hire people who wouldn’t otherwise get hired elsewhere?

Maybe because we have a product or service that doesn’t require a “high tech” education or experience?

Maybe because the business model makes sense, and won’t require a lot of start up capital to get cash flow positive?

Or maybe people are simply tired of working for big corporations who count them as a number and lay them off at will?

Maybe because they want to work for a smaller yet more sustainable business that is going to see them as a valuable person where they won’t get laid off?

Come on Esther, I think I could do this all day!

Now I will be the first one to tell you that small businesses have a lot of problems that larger businesses or even start-ups don’t have. In a word, capital. But I have news for you, not every entrepreneur wants to start a “high tech” company.

A recent NY Times article reported that “Once a Dynamo, The Tech Sector Is Slow to Hire”

If you want employees then check out where people are most hired…

Here is the BLS listing of the jobs that employ the most people… Occupational Employment Statistics

Now if I wanted to start a business where I was guaranteed to find the labor I needed it would potentially be in one of these categories…

1. A retail store
2. A restaurant
3. A clinic
4. A janitorial service
5. A bookkeeping or accounting service
6. A tutoring service
7. A truck driving company

Now of course all these businesses will have problems of their own, but please don’t say the world doesn’t need more entrepreneurs. Don’t assume a smaller local or regional company can’t service my needs better then a worldwide conglomerate. And please don’t assume your one little sector of the economy, no matter how hot it is, is the only place that start-ups are happening.

So yes, if you are an entrepreneur please go start your business! The world does need you!

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…

How To Retire Early

A lot of people are curious about this topic. A lot of people wish they could do it. Only a few are.

Retiring Early is deceptively easy, but it takes a lot of what I would call personal development. You have to have the self-discipline necessary. You have to do the emotional work that goes along with it….

How to Retire Early

  1. Work to Make Your Money – This is the only way to do it unless you end up inheriting or winning a ton of money. You have to work to make money. And it actually doesn’t matter how much you make. People have retired early with high and low incomes. It just takes a good strategy to help you retire early.
  2. Be Efficient with Your Money – And by efficient I mean you need to live, or learn to live, frugally. This means that you live below your means. You must make the most of what you have so you won’t need any more than is necessary and you won’t waste your time or money.
  3. Save Your Money – If you spend everything you earn you won’t ever be able to retire. It seems like most people are able to eventually save 10% of there money if they work at it. Many are able to save more. Some are able to save substantially more. Upwards of 70-80%. The more you save the earlier you can retire.
  4. Spend Your Money – Get yourself to the point where you buy only necessary things with the most value. With value equaling a good return for your hard earned money. Buy the least expensive housing, transportation, and food that will meet your needs. Spend your money on educating yourself about how to retire early and live the lifestyle you desire. Refuse to spend money on things that will not improve your life.
  5. Invest Your Money – Money that isn’t doing anything is just paper. Once you have saved and invested enough money (capital) to have the earnings (returns) support your lifestyle, you have successfully retired. This is the concept of a 401k, pension, etc. You no longer work for money, you have Your Money work for you!

Noticed how I capitalized “Your Money”? I do this to emphasize the fact that you are the only one who will get yourself to early retirement. You have the ability to do it. The more you learn, the more able you will be to retire early.

Good luck! Please comment with your success stories below!

Resources: Stories & Learning Opportunities

  1. Joe Dominguez retires at 31
  2. Paul & Vicki Terhorst retire at 35 to become Perpetual Travelers
  3. Billy & Akaisha Kaderli Retire at 38 to also become Perpetual World Travelers
  4. Jacob Fisker Retires at 32 and starts his new work educating people how to retire early themselves.