Category Archives: business

Destination You

So if social networking leads people to you, what then?  In a sense, the destination is always you.  No matter whether you sell dog food or surgical instruments, you and your values are a part of the exchange.  The first step in creating a second income is to ask yourself what benefit you bring to others that they cannot easily get elsewhere.

A local business here where I live is a great example.  Some time ago, I talked about the lady who founded Specs Around Town.  Tired of being unable to find eyeglass frames she liked, she starting selling them by appointment, visiting customers in their homes.  Who’d have thought it?  After a while, she earned enough business to open a boutique, though she still makes “house calls.”

You just can’t find a better example of zeroing in on something unique and personal to build a business around.  Her frustration helped launch a thriving business.  That prompts the rest of us to ask ourselves, “What can I do to help other people?”  Wish there were more sugar-free recipes?  Start a web site/blog discussing that topic, then write a recipe book.  Think there are not enough clothes tailored for people with disabilities?  Make some and start going to people’s homes to sell them.

The world needs you–your solutions, your ideas, your contributions.  Figure out how to start pulling people in to your gravitational field and making their lives better.  You will add to your own wealth and make the world a better place just by being you.

__________

Terry thinks you can do it.  Prove him right.

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Specific Gravity

The purpose of a social network for business is to drive traffic to a particular place.  When we interact socially on Facebook or some other network, we send people all kinds of places–funny sites, music videos, and games.  Nothing wrong with that, of course.  The chaos and spontaneity are part of the fun.

A business is different.  Using social networks to promote a business means you have to know what you want.  Specifically, you want people to do something.  Let’s say you find homes for abandoned pets.  At this point, it does not matter whether it is a for-profit business or not.  What is your goal?  I like to explain this with a story–how I got Moose.  Not a moose–Moose, a dog.  The funny thing about this story is that not one bit of it involves the Internet.  It does show, however, that networks can lead to good things.

I took my Labrador Retriever in to the vet for a nail trim.  I know, I could have done it myself, but I hate doing it almost as much as Cody (the Lab) hates having it done.  The price was right and off we went.  While waiting in the lobby to pick him up, I saw pictures of dogs that needed a good home.  Cindy and I were not even looking for a dog, but a cute little Shetland Sheep Dog caught my eye.  When I told Cindy how cute this dog was, she wanted me to go check her out.

Bella, the Shetland, was already adopted when I got to the kennel, which also served as a shelter.  But they told me about a no-kill shelter outside of town.  Only an hour before I had not even a thought of adopting a dog, and here I was driving 14 miles just to see if there were any similar to Bella, whom I knew only through a picture.  No sheep dogs or similarly cute small dogs were there.

There was, however, a humongous shadow cast from the front of one pen.  In it was the largest dog I had ever seen.  The attendant said, “That’s Moose.”  Realizing she had probably heard the response, “No, that’s a dog” before, I refrained and took her up on her offer to take Moose for a short walk around the yard.  Well, one of us took the other for a walk.  In the end, I called it a draw.  Moose, an English Mastiff who may well top 200 lbs. when he is full-grown, is now part of the Noel household.

A network, whether based on the Internet or just word-of-mouth, is like gravity.  Objects enter the fringes of the force and are drawn to the center.  Moose, like all the other dogs needing adoption and all the people in the world and all the products and services that exist, are centers in their own right.  He just happened to ensnare me because I randomly looked at a picture.  From there to a kennel and from there to a shelter and from there to a fabulously happy outcome.

When you make yourself a specific center of gravity, you draw people in.  Had the shelter not put pictures in my vet’s office, I would never have even known about Moose.  They knew what they wanted– a good home for Moose (and all those other wonderful dogs).  And that’s exactly what they got.

As you start your business, think about all the people floating around in the world doing what humans do.  Figure out how you can make their lives better by providing something of value.  Then, get specific.  Become a center of gravity.

Next week: Destination Me

_______________________

Terry loves Moose.  His wife thinks they are soul-mates.  Terry is not quite sure what she means by that.

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Social Network Nation

OK, I admit it.  I am a tech hound.  I love what technology has made possible for carbon-based life forms.  Within the last six months, I have made contact with friends I had not seen in over thirty years.  I have enriched my ability to teach by increasing communication with my students.  I have seen tasks that formerly would have taken hours reduced to seconds.  All of this courtesy of technology.

Those of you who read my other blog regularly know that I talk a lot about our upcoming economic conflagration.  Economic upheaval is distressing.  But, like a forest fire, what appears to be a catastrophe is from another perspective a cleansing.  Old growth is incinerated in favor of tender and fragile new shoots of life.  Animals whose homes were burned to a crisp often return to find a bounty of new food and water sources.

What does this have to do with social networking?  Social networking is the new growth straining to get out from under the dead cover of the old economy.  If (in my opinion, it is when) the forest fire comes, will you be one of the mammals that learns to thrive or one of the dinosaurs lying on its side, breathing its last gasps?

Here are some things to think about.  No matter what your line of work, whether you have a job or your own business, or whether you hug or curse your computer daily, think about how your network of friends and acquaintances works.  In other words, what makes your social network tick?  In my case, I was astonished that it was so easy to get, and stay, in touch with friends from long ago.  I learned things about them that had escaped me until now.  My life is richer because of it.  Moreover, they have introduced me to numerous other great people.

If you want to be prepared for the future, think about how all the things you do on Facebook and Twitter can serve as the foundation for generating more income.  Now, hold on.  Before you go spamming all your friends, think about why these networks work the way they do.  Why was it so easy to get in touch with so many people?  Why do people log on to Facebook regularly?  How many people are in your network?  If you worked at it, how many could be in it?

Next week, I will talk about your network “destination” and how to increase its value to others.  Until then, don’t get burnt!

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Terry is not a dinosaur, but his mother-in-law might be.  He thinks you ought to check out the Entrescape community.

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How Much Money Is Enough?

I used to think so. Personally, I do not crave a lot of conspicuous consumption. My pickup goes just as many places as a Silver Phantom Rolls Royce would, and my bird dogs won’t fit in a Lamborghini. I want for nothing extraordinary, having a comfortable home and everything that goes with that. My profession, being a college professor, is fabulous—perfect for me in every way. All in all, I am a lucky man.

Nonetheless, I find myself unable to do some things, at least for now, that I would like to do. Travel, getting my kids into the best college I can, and maybe purchasing some art seem like good things to want. I also dream of some philanthropy—more than my current income will allow.

In other words, I could always use more money for some noble purpose. How about you? Have you been convinced over the years that always wanting more is bad or that rich people are greedy? Examine that thought thoroughly. Money is not good or bad, any more than electricity is good or bad. An electric current can save a life or take it. Money can buy medicine or crack cocaine. The more you make, the more potential you have to do both good and bad. The choice is yours.

Most of the people who were influential in my life as a child were hopelessly bound up by two conflicting notions. On the one hand, they knew they needed money to live and that more money generally meant better living conditions for them and their families. On the other, they heard every Sunday about it being harder for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for the rich to enter heaven, which they apparently took to mean that poverty is a virtue. The result was paralysis on the subject of wealth.

I have come to the conclusion that, like health, there is no such thing as too much wealth. As I shift my mindset toward that way of thinking, I realize that our culture’s ambivalence toward money is counter-productive. Making money is good as long as it supports and sustains our other values. And what we don’t spend on ourselves, we can spend on others.

So how much is enough? Answer: There is never enough. Setting our minds to grow in our capacity to create wealth for ourselves and others is constructive and healthy. And don’t worry about your being corrupted by filthy lucre. I find that most people have precisely the amount of wealth that they have the wisdom to keep. They may temporarily get more, but soon they revert to bad habits and counter-productive thinking. Likewise, if you grow in wisdom, you will soon find that your wealth grows to match your character.

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Terry spends most of his time thinking about stuff.  He hopes some of his thoughts make sense to you and help you in some way.  If they don’t, he hopes it’s not his fault.

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Why Do We Procrastinate?

I have been meaning to write this blog entry for a while now, but kept putting it off.  Funny how that works, isn’t it?  We know we need to do something.  In fact, we often want to do it.  Yet, “things” just seem to get in the way.

My research in motivation over the years has taught me that the core principles are simple.  Here are some of them:

1) Develop a system of values that makes sense for you.  Yeah, I know–you already know what you stand for.  But do you really?  If I were to ask you to explain in thirty seconds your most fundamental value, could you do it?  I can.  I help others be all they can be.  More like three seconds, huh?

2) Examine and re-examine your values periodically.  There is nothing wrong with changing your value system when it makes sense.  Marriage, having a child, getting a divorce, becoming self-employed–all these kinds of life changes force us to re-evaluate ourselves.  Even outside of these changes, we all (hopefully) become wiser.  I used to have a dream of dating the Go-Gos and the Bangles–all at once.  A few days ago, I realized that maybe there are loftier goals for me to pursue.  Besides, they never returned my calls.

3) Choose your daily activities in accordance with your values.  If learning is high on your list, four hours of TV and playing Facebook games at night won’t cut it.  And don’t lie about it.  You know perfectly well that deep down you realize the incongruity.  Face up to it and make your choices necessary to bring your actions in line with your values.  You don’t have to give up Mafia Wars–just read for a while first.

4) For the most important things, set goals.  The right kind of goal increases performance, period.  If you are not making the progress you want, it is probably because you have not really decided what you want.

See?  Easy stuff.  So why do we tend to procrastinate?  It all comes down to one simple thing–the choice to be aware.  This one no one else can help you with.  It is the gradual, steady, disciplined process of opening your eyes.  It is the refusal to allow yourself to fall asleep at the wheel.  It is acknowledging that you are important enough to make each day an adventure instead of a drudge.

Now, go do something important.

–Terry is not all that spiritual, but he figures out something important now and then.  For a happy life, he recommends a high-fiber diet, regular consumption of his blog, and a visit to entrescape.com.

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Diversify Your Knowledge, Not Just Your Stocks

Unemployment is its highest in 25 years.  Some say the picture is much worse and is being masked by changes in the way unemployment is measured.  No matter where each of us is on the political spectrum, or whom we blame, we have to agree that times are tough and getting tougher.

Financial advisors almost universally recommend a “diversified” portfolio of paper investments: stocks, bonds, and mutual funds.  Before I go on, let me remind the reader that I am neither a certified financial advisor nor do I play one on TV.  I encourage people to learn more so they can make up their own minds.  This traditional advice may have had some merits at one time.  A few people probably made it just fine with such a plan.  Times are different now, and there are a number of reason to expand your thinking.

First, paper assets such as stocks can bonk.  “Bonk” is a technical term for what happened last fall.  Stocks fell as much as 40%  People who thought they were diversified got clobbered as their entire portfolios dwindled to a fraction of their former worth.

Second, the “value” of the stock market and other similar investments is partly an illusion.  When we put our money into such instruments, we are usually planning to use the money later.  If that money only buys a fraction of what it did before, the fact that the market is “up” is true, but useless.

Third, and this may be the clinker, the market depends on levels of buying and selling.  Since people who are retiring usually get their spending money out of the market by selling their stocks, the value of those stocks can be depressed when the number of sellers increases.  We are about to face a massive amount of selling for that very reason.  Baby Boomers will soon be retiring in droves.

This leaves us with a problem.  How can each of us build a more stable kind of wealth–the kind that at least buffers the vagaries of the stock market?

Knowledge.

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Learn all you can now about building supplementary income.  You will find that true diversification involves non-paper assets like real estate and precious metals.  You will learn why having a side business can help you build real, lasting value.  And, you will see that with some discipline and desire, you can survive the coming storm.

— Terry writes this blog because he loves you.  Well, maybe “love” is too strong a word, but he’s pretty sure he likes you.  At least he likes you well enough to encourage you to learn more about your finances.  Terry has not been on Oprah yet, but if he were, he would tell you to visit entrescape.com to learn out how to start your own business.

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What Are You Worth?

Are you paid what you are worth?  Most of us think not.  We also tend to look at other people who make more money than us and wonder if they are “worth” it.  Who hasn’t seen the news of a sports celebrity signing a multi-million dollar contract and thought, even if only for a moment, “that’s not fair?”

The rock-bottom truth is that when other people pay voluntarily for our services, we are paid exactly what we are worth.  Yes, the government does distort the market, subsidizing some who probably could not earn as much in the private sector.  It also imposes additional costs on some people/businesses, causing them to earn less than they would in a truly free market.  On the whole, though, our pay reflects our true worth.

This is a disturbing thought.  Once we accept the premise that we mostly get what we deserve, getting less than we think we should is an indictment of our own will and ability.  “Why doesn’t my boss pay me more?” becomes our mantra and a question without a good answer.  Yeah, why doesn’t he/she?

Know why?  Because you will work for that much.  Why should you be paid more?  Because you need it?  That is charity–certainly a nice thing to benefit from when you need it, but not the basis for an employment contract.  It is also not very convincing.  Here is another approach.

Ask for more.  I learned the power of this simple strategy years ago.  One time, I was recruited by a university.  They made an offer that I was ready to accept.  As a professional courtesy, I showed the offer to my present employer, never dreaming in a million years that they would match it.  Match it, they did, though, and I received a substantial raise.  Never again was I bashful about asking for what I was worth.  I knew I was worth it because someone else was willing to pay it.

Alas, though, even a substantial raise has its limits.  There is an upper bound to what I can ask for in my job.  Imagine me marching into the University President’s office and suggesting I should get what Eli Manning gets.  If I ever try that, it will be on April Fool’s Day.  That way, I can tell him it was all a big joke just before he has security remove me.

One’s own business has no such limits.  You decide how much to grow.  You decide how much is enough.  You decide how much to pay yourself.  Of course, you have to become worth whatever it is you want to earn.  The big difference is that you don’t have to share it with anyone.  If you work for someone else, you essentially pay for the privilege of earning a paycheck.  Part of the value you create is skimmed off the top.

There is nothing wrong with this, morally or practically.  It would be kind of hard for an automobile assembly line worker to do what he/she does solo.  No one wants to pay for someone to screw on a lug nut–they want a car.  But for all its advantages, working for someone else limits our income.

Another disadvantage of working for someone else is the amount of taxes one pays.  Because it is easier for the government to collect from employees, those with jobs find a substantial portion of their income diverted to the government.  In fact, you never see that money–it is taken out of your paycheck.  The government knows that most people will not notice tax rates as much if they don’t have to write a check every month or every quarter.

Having one’s own business allows a significant proportion of expenses to be deducted.  The result is simple–you get to keep more of what you earn.  In a perverse way, government encourages us to have our own businesses, at least for now.

Growing a business can mean that you are no longer a prisoner of your “worth” as determined by your boss. Your worth is exactly what others are willing to pay for the value you provide.  It is something created by you and for you.  Enjoy making yourself worth your every dream.

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