The Impact Of The Apple Watch on Investors

This April, the Apple Watch will hit stores.  The impact of the newest product from the world’s most valuable company is expected to make waves in the watch industry.  But what will the impact be for investors?

Investing In Process Not Profits

Warren Buffett is notorious for buying a business, then leaving them alone for years.  This is not very typical in the investing world but it proves he is making sound investments.

I’ve seen many companies acquired in long drawn out legal jousting matches.  Pricing negotiations, conference calls, redlines, and hard nosed tactics are often the what goes into an acquisition.  But it shouldn’t be.

Easy Start-up Success

Today at lunch I had the privilege of hearing a remarkable success story of a guy who quit his job, started a business, and in only one year, is living his dream.  I wanted to share this story because it is the type of small business I love because it proves that anyone can quit their 9 to 5 and start something incredible.

A little over a year ago this guy was tired of his job as an investment banker.  Imagine hearing people share with you their brilliant ideas, then you find them funding so they can go live it.  All the while, you want to quit your own job.  That was this guy’s story.

Achieving More While Doing Less

This morning on my way to work I was listening to my Bible as I usually do.  I was listening to Luke 19, a verse I had heard many times.  This morning, however, the message came across differently.  It hit me like a freight train.

Jesus provides us some wisdom on how to be a more efficient and effective leader in his Parable of the Ten Servants.   I use the New Living Translation.  Here is the part of the verse that hit me. I had to bookmark it.  “And to those who use well what they are given, even more will be given.”

The Secret to Higher Google Rankings

A few weeks ago an overseas firm offered me the unthinkable.  They had found the shortcut to higher Google rankings!  They would share all this with me, of course, for a small fee.

Every blogger will receive an incredible offer to higher Google rankings sooner or later.  Every new blogger is eager to build their platform.  Post after post, week after week, month after month, they pour their heart and soul into blogging only to have 100 readers a day or less.

“Young People Are Lazy” Is A Lie

You’d probably be surprised to know how many times I’ve heard “young people are lazy” in meetings during my short career.  It always dumbfounds me when I hear such a lie.  Not because it’s a lie, but because I am a young person.

I always wonder to myself what the person must be thinking about me.  I often assume they’re not talking about me or they wouldn’t have said such a thing.  Twenty-nine after all still qualifies me as young.

People who say that young people are lazy must be fooled by my look, my position, or they just assume I’m some exception to the rule.  Like I’m supposed to know that I’m somehow not part of the young and lazy group they’re talking about.

I recently read a comment on Facebook about how young, lazy, entitled brats caused the recent “Great Recession.”  I nicely reminded the middle aged man that most of the lenders who were pushing the toxic loans were his age and that if he felt the younger generation had nothing to offer him, he should get off the social network created by that younger generation.

“Young people are lazy” is a big fat lie and here is why.

  1. I am only 29.  I am an executive, partner in several companies, on the board of directors, blogger, and I work very hard at all of them.
  2. I have many friends in their late 20s and early 30s who are also business leaders, innovators, and top ranked executives.
  3. Mark Zuckerberg.  Mark was born exactly 4 months before me.  He still counts a young and he has changed the world.
  4. Tracy Britt Cool. She is only 29 and likely will take over for Warren Buffet at Berkshire Hathaway when he retires.
  5. Steve Jobs and Bill Gates were both “Young” when they started their respective companies and changed the world forever.

If we’re going to have any hope of creating a better tomorrow, we’d better start investing in the only resource we have instead of berating them.  “Young people are lazy” is only something a scared person would say.  Young people are eager, ready to change the world, and too naive to think we can’t.

How To Set Up A Business You Can Run From Anywhere In The World

Allen Gillmer first gave me the idea of setting up a business that could be run from anywhere in the world.  Tim Ferriss took it to a whole new level with his New York Times Bestseller “The 4-Hour Work Week”.  There has never been a time when this idea is more feasible than now.

bigstock-Strategic-Journey-43526110

The tech sector is booming and internet based service companies are popping up every day.  Starting a business on a few thousand dollars is the norm.  Even if you don’t have that much cash, you can look to yet another internet based business such as kickstarter, for funding.

 You’ve never had a better opportunity to launch a successful start-up that you can run from anywhere in the world than you have at the present.  Start-ups that want to know how to set up an organizational structure can be run from anywhere in the world are entering the market at just the right time. 

This is part 1 of a 2 part series.  This is exactly how you can create a business that can be run from anywhere in the world.

Contract a virtual office.  Companies like Business Suites specialize in renting out office space on a daily basis.  What a start-up should note is that they have office phone and mail service even without the need for office space.  You can have a Fifth Avenue, New York City address on your business cards for less than $100 a month.  They’ll even answer the phone using your business name and forward your mail to your home.

Use Google Voice if you plan to have multiple employees and higher call volumes.  You can set Google Voice to redirect your calls based on the time of day.  Early calls go to the east coast employees.  Later calls go to west coast employees and really late calls can go overseas.

My favorite feature is that as an executive, you can set your availability and limit when calls can come to you without worrying about missing something important.  Your calls can be directed straight to another employee or your virtual assistant.

Hire a virtual assistant.  If your work load is too much for you to handle, but not enough for another full time employee, hire a virtual assistant.  They can be purchased on an hourly basis as needed.  EA Help is my favorite service.  They can customize a package to fit your needs.  You can hire a Virtual Assistant who works only 5 hours a week checking your emails, organizing your to do items and scheduling your appointments.

Hire freelancers for everything.  I just recently launched yet another design contest on 99Designs for my latest book cover.  I wrote the book, hired a freelance editor, crowd-sourced the design and hired a freelancer to put it into an e-book format.  Inserting it into my site will be done by yet another freelancer.  My favorite service provider is Elance.

Use a payment process service that also fulfills orders.  E-Junkie is one of the easiest to install and operate.  This is essential to making money from your lawn chair on the beach.  Services like E-Junkie allow you to create a product and forget about it.  E-Junkie will process the payment and deliver the product without you having to lift a finger.

Whether you plan to visit the beach or just spend more time working in an environment you like, setting up a business you can run from anywhere in the world just makes sense.  Today’s mobile environment has transformed the work environment from stuffy cubicles to free and open space.

Part 2 will run next week and will feature how I use Dropbox, Evernote, Nozbe, Skype and TopSpot IMS to run my business from anywhere in the world.

 

Enter you email address in the form on the top right of this scene to receive Part 2 directly to you inbox so you won’t miss it.

Proven Methods to Quickly Gain Market Share in Any Industry

When I first began running Allied Equipment’s CNG Storage Sphere line I knew instantly that my first goal would be to quickly gain market share.  It turns out that it’s not as hard as you’d think.  It’s quite easy in fact.

quickly gain market share

Headlines like “Natural Gas: a 50 Trillion Dollar Industry” will quickly make any entrepreneur start thinking how successful they’d be if they could just carve out 2% of that market.  And they’re right!  They don’t have to become the next big company to make good money.

If most start-ups can just gain a small fraction of the market share, they’ll be off to a great start.  But how does a start-up quickly gain market share once they’ve gotten their product to market?

More often than not, quickly gaining market share is not as difficult as you’d assume.  Just a small piece of the pie is often all it takes for a start-up to become legit and begin gaining momentum.

When I started running the CNG Storage Sphere product line at Allied Equipment back in 2007, I found a sure fire way to quickly gain market share in an industry that was dominated by a few BIG players.  The strategy paid off big time as we grew to become the nation’s largest manufacturer of CNG Storage Spheres.

Aim for the low hanging fruit.  In every industry, there are always a few opportunities that a start-up can quickly snag.  These are usually smaller customers whom the major suppliers do not have time for.  Customer service will help you quickly gain market share among this group.

Find the gatekeeper. In my industry, the gatekeeper ended up being engineers.  If I could get them to spec my product into a station design, the winner bidder would be forced to buy from me.  Gatekeepers are in every industry and a smart salesman will find them.  In fashion, these are celebrities.  In writing, these are followers.  Followers will force a publisher to sign you book simply because they know there are sales amongst your tribe.

Inform the industry.  Quickly gain market share by getting the word out about your product.  Attending conference, expos, writing on blogs, in magazines, anywhere you can, is the only way to inform the industry.  CNG Spheres were a new product when I started and most people didn’t even know what they were.  That played well at trade shows.  People stop and ask “what is that thing?”

Go around your customer.  This tactic works well in all industries.  For me, I would convince the school district who was buying a CNG station that spheres were the way to go.  They in turn, would demand that their supplier buy my spheres.  The same goes for children’s toys.  Your customer is really the parents, but the kids will force the parents to buy your product.

These proven methods to quickly gain market share will help your start-up find its legs and begin generating positive cash flow.  I used these exact methods to take my product from start-up to seven figures in less than a year.

 

What industry would you most like to quickly gain market share in?

My Secret Formula For Pricing A Product

One thing every start-up struggles with is finding the right method for pricing a product they’ve just come out with.  I’ve used this method to price all my products for the last decade and double my earnings.

pricing a product

My first venture into business I learned a hard lesson about pricing a product.  I was 12 years old and mowing lawns.  I agreed to mowing any lawn for $20.

I showed up to my first job only to find out the back yard was a half an acre and overgrown!  That summer I had 5 regular customers.  Each one had a yard the size of a football field.

The reality of pricing a product is that most people just take a shot in the dark and hope for the best.  Setting your price too low can mean you’re mowing huge lawns for little pay.  Price your product too high and you won’t be able to land any customers.  I remembered this lesson when I went into business again.

In 2007 the economy energy industry was booming.  Many companies were pricing a product too high for consumers.  We followed my secret formula for pricing a product and doubled our earning. This is my approach.

Know your competition.  You have to benchmark off your competition.  This doesn’t mean you have to beat their price, you just have to establish a starting point.

Identify your brand.  What are you setting out to represent?  When Apple starts pricing a product, they have to set their price higher than most.  Apple is seen by its customers as a higher end, higher quality, product.  If they set their price on par with the competition, it damages the brand and they actually sell fewer units.

Given a blind taste test where one wine was very cheap and the other was very expensive, taste testers rated the expensive wine much higher than the cheap wine.  Only after the test, did they find out the wine was from the exact same bottle.  Higher pricing brings higher perceived value.  Don’t be afraid to be higher priced.

Know your customer .  Consumers buy based on perceived value.  Businesses buy based on their return.  Knowing what your customer is buying is critical.  For consumers, focus on building your perceived value.  When selling to a business, you must consider that they are using your product to make themselves more money.  Business needs and consumer needs are very different.

Set an earnings goal ahead of time.  Most start-ups make the mistake of setting their goals after establishing a price.  These two go hand in hand and should be set together.  The more you can make on your product, the few products you have to sell.  This means the lower your costs will be.

When pricing a product, you must consider how many units will need to be sold to achieve your goals. Then consider if you’re willing to build that many?  If not, you need to raise your price.  If you can’t compete with this structure, your business model is broke.

Test your pricing.  You can find many services online for split A/B testing, I use CrazyEgg.  The most simplistic method of pricing a product I’ve found is Google Adwords.  I’ll create two ads, each with the same wording, and point them to different pages on my site.  Each page has a different price.  Pit different prices agains one another until you figure out which one converts.

Create a discount structure.  Once you’re finished pricing a product for full retail, you’ll have to set a discount structure for distributors.  The easiest method for a start-up to set a discount structure is to set one price discount that applies across the board for distributors.  This is a small discount on your retail price.  I lean toward 2-5% here.  Then establish a significant discount (10% or more) for anyone buying a certain volume.  This volume should be high and only attainable for 20% of your customers.  These 20% will create 80% of your revenue.  This discount needs to be significant enough to keep them as a customer for years to come.

Pricing a product as a start-up is going to determine if your business model will work or not.  This can be one of the most important things a start-up can do.  I’ve used this method to price products that earn millions every year.  This article is meant to make pricing a product a systematic formula that you can apply time and time again.

What products are you pricing?

How To Exceed Expectations And Earn A Promotion

The better we do at our jobs, the more we’ll succeed at life.  The secret sauce to advancing in your career is exceeding expectations.  I recently lost 20 pounds of fat.  Nobody noticed.  My fat friend lost 10 pounds.  Everyone was elated.

Exceed expectations

To gain attention, you must shock people.  Just doing the right thing all the time is not good enough anymore.  You must exceed expectations to stand out among the crowd.  Nobody cared that I lost 20 pounds because it was just normal for me to take care of my body.  When my fat friend lost 10 pounds, it was a shock that he was being proactive about his weight.

So how does this apply to the workplace?  If you’re going to be promoted or given a bonus, someone is going to decide that you deserve it.  When they make the decision to hire you or cut you that big check, they’ll first spend a minute thinking about their general opinions of your performance.  The only way to win at this game is to exceed expectations.

If you are a hard worker and always do your job well, you’re probably doomed because high performance is just normal.  Here are a few ways you can easily exceed expectations and earn the reward you deserve.

Be crazy organized – My best advice is to follow David Allen’s Getting Things Done program.  My favorite feature of the GTD program is that by processing in, you’re keeping information at your fingertips. Everything is neatly filed and easily accessible.  This has helped me exceed expectations many times.

Delegate – Keep yourself free to focus on what will get you noticed.  You’re not going to get that promotion because you are excellent at filing financial statements or addressing letters.  Delegate as much as you can and give your employees a chance to exceed expectations you’ve set for them.  You should be focused on the big win.

Be Prepared – Always try to have the answer. If you don’t, find it quickly.  The key to exceed expectations here is to take time to prepare before attending meetings.  Also, take time at the end of every day to review.

AnticipateDennis Rodman used to watch the ball out of the shooter’s hand.  Based on where they shot from and the angle of their shot, Rodman knew where the ball would be when it ricocheted off the glass.  Learn to anticipate your bosses next move and be there before the ball.  You’ll exceed expectations every time he goes to look through the new contract and you’ve already reviewed it, marked important information and made notes.

Prioritize – Jack Welch once said that the quickest way to advance your career is to “find out what your boss wants, then over-deliver”. If you’re going to exceed expectations in your boss’s eyes you’ll need to over-deliver on what he wants.  Use Nozbe to prioritize your projects based on what your boss wants the most.

In order to exceed expectations and advance your career, you’ll need to break away from the comfort of doing what you’ve always done and shift to doing what is uncommon for you.  You are in charge of getting yourself noticed.  Earn that promotion or bonus by exceeding everyone’s expectations and surprising them.

Any other ideas about how to exceed expectations?  Please leave them in the comments below.