15 Minutes

Financial, Relationship and Spiritual Growth. Personal Development. Leadership.


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Ready For a New Season?

horizonI’ve been quiet the last few months and I thought I should probably explain why. My last post, right before I dropped off the blogging and Facebook grid, was an update on my fasting progress – and I’m sure a few people may have assumed I just wasted away. Not the case.

Like I explained previously, I was fasting not to lose weight, but because I wanted some spiritual enlightenment regarding my future path. So I fasted for three days. I spent most of the first couple days just being really woozy, then on the third actually felt mostly fine. I also set aside a half hour or so each day for meditation and prayer.

For myself, one of the principle purposes of prayer is to thank God for my blessings, which I did (and still do). But for these three days I spent most of my prayer time asking questions.

  • Who should I spend my life with?
  • What cause should I champion?
  • Where is the best place for me to apply my treasure and talent?
  • Am I living my life for Your glory or for my glory?
  • Am I wasting my life here, here, and here? And a little there

I don’t think I was expecting the audible voice of God to issue me an edict (although I wasn’t ruling it out), but at the end of my fast I didn’t have any particular insight on my future path. I did have a new appreciation for food though.

It was a couple weeks later that I would receive my answer. I was having a one on one counsel session with one of my business mentors; discussing my financial goals and where I wanted to be in the upcoming year. He laid out a goal for me, and then added on this recommendation: “If I were you, I wouldn’t publish another book until you hit that goal.”

Which was probably the last thing I was expecting to hear. My first instinct was to justify that writing doesn’t consume much of my time. After all I wrote my first book in 15 minutes. Maybe other people have a problem with being double minded but surely that doesn’t apply to me.

But about 5 seconds into that train of thought, I derailed it without raising a single verbal objection. Why?

Because I asked God for direction, and after a period of fasting and prayer I received an answer from a Godly mentor. Someone who is a friend. Someone that I trust. Someone who has a financial interest in my success. Someone (along with his wife) that I dedicated my first book to. So, it’s not exactly like I could just ignore his suggestion.

And the last reason, because I once wrote “If you only do what your mentor says when you agree with him, then you don’t have a mentor. You have a buddy.” Although, for the life of me I can’t find where I wrote that. It might have been a tweet.

So it really wasn’t a huge sacrifice on my part to give up writing books – temporarily. I’ll put my future books on hold for now, concentrate on developing my business. I think one of the things about writing books that appealed to me was that I could reach a greater number of people than I can training individuals in business development. It’s something that’s easier for me as an introvert. But easy, is not a virtue. And working with people individually I can impact their lives much more than I can through writing. Besides, there’s plenty of time to write books after I retire. Especially if I retire this September.

For those of you that continue to tune in here, I’ll be reducing my blogging frequency to once a month.

And lastly…

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

fireworks

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Top Lame Excuses For Not Being An Entrepreneur

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As promised last week, I’d like to address the main objections that people hide behind for not going into business for themselves.

It’s Too Risky
Perhaps you weren’t paying attention to my previous post (found here), but employment is far more risky. According to the U.S. Social Security Administration, of all adults reaching the age of 65:

  • 45% are dependent on relatives
  • 30% are dependent on charity
  • 23% are still working

98% of Americans reaching retirement age are unable to retire with any sort of financial independence. (Coincidentally, 100% of those people did not think that this would happen to them).

When harping about the risk of starting a small business, many people like to cite the statistic that 80% of small businesses fail within five years (and 50% of those fail in the first year). Frankly, I’d rather take the “risk” of business ownership. Worst case scenario is you lose all your starting capital and declare bankruptcy in one year. You have plenty of time to start over, rebuild, armed with some wisdom and experience this time. My other option is to work for 40 or 50 years and then go bankrupt as a tired old man.

I Don’t Know How

You know, most doctors didn’t know how to practice medicine when they were toddlers. If you lack knowledge: Learn. I spend a lot of time ragging on the public school system in this country. As far as I’m concerned, public school should last two years and have only one purpose: to teach our citizenry how to read. And statistically, they are abysmal failures at even this in the inner cities.

Once a person has the ability to read, they have the ability to learn anything they want to learn. Period. If kids are forced by law to sit in desks for thirteen years and learn something they have no interest in, then it is no longer “school.” It is daycare for good kids and kiddie jail for bad kids.

If you are interested in becoming an entrepreneur, perhaps in some field that I asked you to brainstorm about last week, begin researching. The internet has googles of free information. Books and magazines are easy to find and cheap. When you have begun arming yourself with some knowledge, enough to discern valid information from snake oil hucksters, you can actually enroll in classes, hire specialists, get yourself some quality specialized knowledge.

Anything that you want to learn, you can learn in this day and age.

I Don’t Have The Money

It takes less money to launch and operate a business today than at any other time in history. With the internet you have greater access to research and more marketing power than IBM ever had when they hit their first billion dollars in sales. A viral Tweet or Facebook post is worth more in advertising dollars than virtually any amount of print ads. With parcel delivery services you can distribute products to a near-global market without having to buy a fleet of planes, trains and automobiles.

Remember John Sestina’s advice from my column last week?

  • If you make less than $75,000 a year you should start a business because you need the income. If you make more than $75,000 a year you should start a business because you could use the tax benefits.

If you start a business out of your home, then a portion of your rent or mortgage becomes tax-deductible. The cost of travel and entertainment while traveling can be deducted from your taxes if you travel for business (and let’s face it, if you’re traveling somewhere, you can figure out some business to do while you’re there). So does your car, your cell phone, your internet service. The income tax laws are designed to provide incentives for people to start businesses. Your best way to pay less in taxes with a job is to earn less money.

I Don’t Have The Time

We will make the time for what is important to us. Most people could have had their business plan completely developed and ready to launch if they had spent one less hour watching television every night of the past year and invested that time into their future. I don’t want to spend a lot of time expounding on this point, because I may have written a book on this subject already called It Takes 15 Minutes to Change Your Life.

In Summary

Employment is a far more risky scheme than entrepreneurship. (Click to tweet)

You may have never thought about going into business for yourself; being an entrepreneur. You may have thought of all sorts of good reasons why you can’t do it. That’s why I wanted to dissect and decimate all these reasons and expose them as excuses.

The best definition I’ve heard of for an excuse is: an excuse is the skin of a reason stuffed with a lie.

Ultimately even if I can prove to you logically that it is better for you, your family, and your future family to be an entrepreneur rather than an employee, it doesn’t matter what your excuse is. “Any excuse will work. An excuse can be illogical, irrational, inane, insane, insipid, indistinct or even indigo; but it will still work if you let it.”

Stop looking for reasons why it can’t be done, start looking for reasons why it can.
Stop listening to the 98% that say it can’t be done, start listening to the 2% that have done it.
Stop coming up with excuses, start analyzing the lie that is stuffed into it.

 


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If You Want Some Respect, Read Paragraph 9

ImageYou can tell a lot about a person by where they choose to spend their time and treasure. That’s why it’s hard for me to get a handle on people with jobs. The majority of their time is spent in a place not of their choosing: at work. And most people in this country are living paycheck to paycheck so they don’t have enough spare cash to put their money where their heart is.

My last few posts I’ve been railing against jobs. It’s not that I think jobs are completely bad (full disclosure: I still have a job), but a job is an antequated system of earning that is not good for employers, employees or the economy in general. (see my last post).

The reason this is fresh on my mind and the subject of so many posts is because I’m refocusing my efforts on my entrepreneurial roots: teaching and training small business owners.

A gentleman by the name of John Sestina, who years ago was voted the #1 Financial Planner in America made this statement back in the 1980’s:

  • If you earn less than $75,000 a year at your job, you should own a second business because you need the extra income. (adjusted for inflation, that would probably be closer to $150,000). And, if you earn more than $75,000 a year at your job, you should own a second business because you could use the tax breaks.

So, by my reasoning, you are only exempt from starting a business of your own if you make exactly $150,000 a year at your job.

If you’ve never thought about owning your own business, then for crying out loud: Think. Think now. Think hard. Think about the possibilities. First of all, you could have a cool boss for the first time in your life. You can be a producer for the economy rather than a cog in someone else’s well-oiled machine. You can be paid for your productivity rather than your presence. You can spend your hours generating an income-producing asset rather than just trading hours of your life for dollars. You can earn income based on how much service you provide to the world rather than how long you ride a desk. And if you decide you’ve had enough and no longer want to run a business you can either hire someone to manage it or just sell it.

The income tax system in our country is designed to help and promote business owners not employees. Our country’s economic system is based on the idea of business ownership not benefits. Yet, most of our children are never taught anything about entrepreneurship and most teachers only talk about the free-enterprise system as something that is evil.

According to a focus group by Frank Luntz, a “small business owner” is the second-highest-respected vocation in this country, after a “member of the armed forces.”

Rather than getting another job, why don’t you start giving some people jobs?

Prior to the industrial revolution circa 1900, 90% of Americans were either self-employed or in an apprentice position being trained to become self-employed. Today that number has been flipped upside down with less than 10% of Americans owning a business.

I expect that pendulum to swing back in the other direction drastically over the next few decades. We are entering a new age of entrepreneurship. Generation Y is looking for options. They see that the existing job system may have worked for their great-grandparents that they never met, but none of their living ancestors seem able to make it the same way. Want to have fun? Ask any generation X person (of which I am a member) whether they think that life will be better for their children than it was for them. Almost universally, their answer is “NO.” And we were the first generation in this country where the majority of us felt that way.

So rather than just plodding along doing the same thing day after day, do what I implored you to do back in paragraph 7. THINK! Every day for the next week, spend 15 minutes with a paper and pencil, and brainstorm what sort of business you would like to own. Don’t filter your ideas with such nonsense as whether or not you are qualified or capitalized. Just brainstorm. Every day. 15 minutes. Go!

Why should you invest the time into this tiny thought exercise? I’ll ask you directly: Do you think that life will be better for your children than it was for you if they follow in your footsteps?

Next week I’ll address the main reasons why people do not go into business for themselves.


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Your Problem Is You Have a Job

ImageI cringe whenever I hear someone say “You’re lucky you have a job.”

I am not against jobs. I think they are a temporary, necessary evil that you should be involved in for a limited amount of time for you to finance your own business. With very few exceptions, your job is probably responsible for 95% of your problems in life.

Not enough money? Job.
Not enough time? Job.

What other problems do you have?

If you take an inventory of every problem in your life, I would wager that nearly all of them are due to a lack of money or lack of time. If your problem is that you have a shaky relationship with your spouse or kids, I’m guessing you spend more time with your boss than with your family. In other words, your problem is you have a job.

Most jobs work on the basis of exchanging your hours for dollars in reimbursement. This entire model of employment is a losing proposition for everyone involved.

Paying for hours is a bad deal for the boss, because it wastes dollars by paying for non-productive time. If you have been at your job for any length of time, you could probably finish all of your work in two hours. But, since you are required to stay there for eight hours, you slow your pace to fill up your shift or you waste time sending tweets from your office computer. The traditional job model encourages waste

Exchanging hours for dollars is a bad deal for employees, because it consumes your life. Time is an irreplaceable commodity, yet we trade it for money which is always temporary. In fact, most people have already spent their next paycheck and the bank is just waiting for you to pay off your indentured servitude. The traditional job model costs you your life. If someone complains that their job is sucking the life out of them, tell them “Well, yeah, that’s what you signed up for.”

Management and labor have diametrically opposed goals. The goal of employees is to earn the most dollars for the least amount of time. The goal of management, or more accurately, the owner, is to get the most work out of the employees for the least amount of money. The traditional job model has strife built right into the system.

So, if I’ve summarized this accurately, by it’s very nature the standard model of employment is a lose-lose situation that promotes an antagonistic relationship between management and labor.

And yet, that’s the primary method of earning for the masses in this country.

Let’s look at a different model for generating revenue.

Imagine that you hire a contractor to renovate your kitchen. You offer him 50k to complete a home remodel in seven days. If he finishes it in three days, who wins? The customer is happy, because the job is finished sooner than expected. The contractor is happy because he lost less of his life. It is a win-win situation.

Employer-Employee relationship. Lose-Lose.
Owner-Customer. Win-win.

If you want to at least have a chance at being in a win-win situation; if you want to have an opportunity to be paid based on your value not on your seniority; if your job is causing a multitude of your life’s problems; you should go into business for yourself.

The only reason most young people started working at a job in the first place is because no one ever presented them with an option. Entrepreneurship, business ownership, is the foundation of the U.S. economy. I posted last week that 98% of people that reach the age of 65 are unable to support themselves financially. What all those people had in common is that they had a good job that their friends and family members told them they were lucky to have.

It’s way past time that you start looking at a “Plan B.”

There is only room in any one business for one dream. If you are not the owner of that business, then you are working to fulfill someone else’s dream. And you are probably a headache for your boss.

What is holding you back from going into business for yourself?


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The Bamboo Story

Anyone who has been forced to spend any serious amount of time with me knows that I only have a few stories. There’s the Duck Story (for my high school friends reading this). The Spider Story (which became the Spider Trilogy) which I will retell on this blog at some later time (when I am sure my psyche can handle it). The exploding beer keg story and the Christmas parade story (both involved my time at Chuck E. Cheese’s). And that’s about it. I have not had that eventful of a life.

The Bamboo Story begins about 12 years ago during my time working as a graphic designer for a T-shirt company (as an aside, that was the only job I was ever fired from). One day, the manager of the shop asked me as a favor to create some simple Hawaiian-esque designs for her son’s glass-etching company to make some designer drinking glasses. Which I did. I made three landscape designs of Bamboo, Bird of Paradise (a tropical flower) and Torch Ginger (also, flower).

Years pass. 10 or so jobs later, I happen to walk by a medical clinic that was just built next to my coffee shop. I stopped in mid-stride and did my impersonation of a cow looking at a new gate for a minute. That was my first confrontation with my bamboo design.

A few people asked me, “Are you sure that’s your work?” Which is a reasonable question since my original design was sized for drinking glasses and this was blown up ten feet tall (I made it in Corell Draw, a vector-based illustration program so it can be scaled to any size without losing resolution). Ask any artist to identify their own work. Yes, I’m sure.

The second encounter would be sometime that year. One of my coffee shop customers asked me to house-sit for them and take care of their Bichon Frise. That’s when I noticed this on their front door.

Which opened up the flood gate of sightings. I started seeing my designs show up everywhere.

Here’s my bird of paradise next to the elevator and escalator at Kahala Mall shopping center.

A timeshare condo on Maui that has my designs next to the front door of every unit (alternating between my bamboo and my torch ginger design).

Most of an entire street of new housing in my neighborhood.

And the grand finale, this two-story glass elevator shaft at McCully shopping center (full disclosure: my bamboo is superimposed over someone else’s work on the bottom portion, I think the same design that I’ve seen on the glass doors at Honolulu International Airport).

So apparently some of my designs that I created during my downtime in my brief tenure working as a graphic designer are making a local glass tinting company thousands of dollars. What is the moral of this story?

If you want to be successful in life, you need to own your own business. Am I bitter? No, not really. I got paid my $10 an hour for the work I did. And if an entrepreneur didn’t take the time, effort and risk to market and sell that product, my designs would still be sitting on a hard drive in a computer somewhere.

If anyone had a right to be upset, it’s the gentleman who owns the T-shirt company since I was working on his computer and on his time when I made the designs.