- Selling products without the fulfillment hassles
- Having marketing largely taken care of (by Amazon’s worldwide draw)
- Not having to set up a website to get started (they’ve got you covered).
- Speed of implementation. You can check a market out quickly and see if your concept has legs.
The 5-Part Millionaire Success Formula is a series of posts about my entrepreneurial journey and the lessons I’ve learned along the way. I hope you get some insights from these series of posts that will help you in your own journey.
Today we’ll focus on the power of your life story (through retelling a version of mine).
What got me thinking about this topic was this week’s recognition as a
And it got me thinking about this writing and entrepreneurial journey I’ve been on.
So today I thought I’d walk through some of the steps that have made this happen so you can see what happens behind the scenes.
Writing has never been something I’ve always wanted to do. There are plenty of writers out there who love to write. They are the ones who want to be published and are writing the next best fiction novel.
That’s not me.
Writing was more a way to express myself and the thoughts I want to share. Growing up (and still to this day) I’ve always enjoyed sharing my two cents about nearly any topic. A good discussion (or argument…depending on your perspective) was my go to method of communication. Sometimes it annoyed and frustrated people. But it was how I ended up constantly learning and growing. I needed to experience something and talk it through to really understand a concept. I had this physicality (had to move) to my thinking. I loved playing off other ideas. Whether from books or other people. Brainstorming (talking things through with myself or others) was my go to method of figuring things out.
My first real job was a paper route.
My first route was for the Tri Valley Herald. A daily newspaper that I delivered in my neighborhood. I had to get up at 5:30 every morning to deliver the paper. At that early age (I think I was in my early teens) that was just too early to wake up.
So I replaced that route with a new one – the Tri Valley News. This was the free-ish paper that was by the same company but delivered 3 days a week. And customers could pay for the paper, but it was optional.
In that job I learned to run a small business as a contractor.
I’d buy the papers, put in the inserts (ads) and deliver them. Then once a month I’d go collect. My sales pitch was weak. Basically stated, “I’m here to collect for the Tri Valley News”. Told them the price. Sometimes they’d pay straight away. Others would say no. And the third category asked, “Did I order that?” I would tell them, “No, it is a voluntary paper.” Some would pay me – some would not. The ones who paid me without asking if they subscribed would sometimes pay because they thought it was the “Herald” that they did pay for. At the time we’d deliver to people who got the Herald too. Later they excluded those people from my route.
That exposure was my first the writing business, subscriptions, and entrepreneurship.
I remember my favorite part was one of the year end events the newspaper company held for the “paperboys”. You got tickets for the number of papers you sold and could get prizes based on your performance. I think I got a Swiss Army Knife as one of my prizes. Which was pretty cool for a kid.
Intro to Writing.
My next experience with writing was 11th grade in school.
It was the first year computerized scheduling of classes was instituted.
I was a computer nerd, loved my computer classes. But this thing sucked.
I was trying to get into college. So classes that met my college requirements were important. But even though I gave my selections in advance, I did not get the courses I wanted or needed.
So instead of my college prep English courses, I got “Journalism” and “Mystery”.
It is funny though. Those two courses were very helpful later in life.
In Journalism I liked to do the editing. I was analytical so that was up my alley. I didn’t like the reporter piece since I was pretty introverted and not someone who like to ask people questions.
I did learn about the “Inverted Pyramid”. Putting the most important information first and being able to cut an article to make it whatever length you needed without losing the essence of the story.
In Mystery I was exposed to some great writers. I remember Edgar Allen Poe’s, “The Telltale Heart”. And the teacher made that story come alive with her reading of it.
After graduating from Dublin High School I went off to Cal State Hayward. It was a local college that allowed me to stay at home and also work in a restaurant to pay for my part of college.
In that first year I took the entry level writing course, a undergraduate requirement. That was a shock to my system.
Every single writing assignment I got between a C and an F on and had to rewrite.
I had been an “A” writer in high school. How could I suck so badly?
What I found out was I was writing the standard boring 5 paragraph essay version I’d learned in high school. And to be honest, in my school there were not a lot of “A” students. So my work probably looked like “A” work by comparison to others.
But looking back at my college papers a decade later. They really work bad.
That was an eye opening and humbling experience.
My next step in writing was the following summer.
I had decided I wanted to transfer to U. C. Davis as my way of moving out on my own and also to go to a school my parents had both attended.
The only problem was that I didn’t have my English and Foreign Language requirements met from high school.
Learning to Think and to Write.
So that summer I took Intensive Spanish and Comparative Literature.
Comparative Literature was a course I thrived on. I got an “A” in that course and loved it.
What it taught me is something I’ve used through life and in my blog writing.
Along with my courses in “Logic” and “Public Speaking”, they all laid my foundation for critical thinking and writing.
Comparative Literature had you read two stories – typically ancient literature – and then find a common theme to compare or contrast.
For me it was great as coming up with new content was hard for me but editing it down or finding the sections of text that made my point and then tying them together with a transitory sentence was a piece of cake for me.
So that helped me get into U. C. Davis.
Losing Myself…Writing as Therapy.
Moving to U. C. Davis was a rough time as it was my first time living on my own. Growing up my brother and I shared a room and a bunk bed. Going to college I lost the one person I would share my thoughts with every night.
In college I had a roommate and that helped somewhat. But when you’re dealing with a lot of life transitions and trying to figure out who you are and where you’re headed, it can be tough. And it was for me.
I struggled through my courses in math and computer science. And the writing was on the wall that I wasn’t going to be able to graduate with a Computer Science degree as originally planned.
During that time I I had a lot of dark thoughts, I wrote much of that down. Kind of as therapy. And as my own way of figuring me out. Yes, thoughts of suicide bounced back and forth through my brain as I thought of myself as a failure and a loser.
My dad helped pull me out of that funk when I came home that following summer and told him I couldn’t go on and wanted to change majors.
He was very understanding and together we discussed my options. I settled on Economics because it seemed like something that connected with me. And I could still complete it in four years (that was something that was important to me both financially and as a point of my personal pride in finishing something on time).
So that was it for writing and I went on and graduated from U. C. Davis with a Bachelors of Arts degree in Economics and a Statistics minor.
Learning about Business.
Entering the work world I started with a temp job I’d worked the summer before at AT&T in Pleasanton, California. There I spent time doing research and data entry. The Baby Bells had just been broken up and I was doing the work to detail what phone contracts needed to be assigned to which entity (or something like that).
It was the start of a future telecom career.
I then went into residential real estate sales. Working for Tri Valley Brokers, a local real estate company. I didn’t sell anything. Kind of sucked at sales. And after draining my minimal bank account, got a temp job elsewhere.
In the temp job interview they asked if I knew Lotus 1-2-3. At the temp agency I’d done a brief overview of the software and knew that pressing “/” would get me all the commands. And given my extensive computer programming experience I figured I could figure out the rest. So I said “Yes!” and was soon working for a small healthcare consulting company.
There I learned to prepare financial forecasts, set up partnerships, and learn about business.
Not much writing happened but I grew my knowledge of the business world.
Then moved into Commercial Property Management and then Cell Site Development in the Telecom Industry.
Where I came back to writing was about 10 years ago. I became interested in business improvement. As the Director of Operations of RealCom Associates I was responsible for making sure everything was in place and operational to grow the company. I ended up learning a lot about marketing during that time.
And so in my off hours, as LinkedIn came on the scene, I would write answers to questions posted on LinkedIn. I ended up being one of the “Top 100” people answering questions on LinkedIn. I reached #70 on the list before they eventually disbanded that “LinkedIn Questions” application.
Becoming a Blogger.
Having that go away, something I used as an outlet for my self expression, I discovered blogging.
This was back in 2010. I got a “Blogspot” blog going (Nugget Insights) and had several posts on it – generally off-the-wall connections that brought typically unconnected concepts together in a new way. It also uncovered my quirky/different side and laid the foundation for what I’m doing today.
That then stopped in 2011 (other than one post) as I went through my divorce. Even though I thought I could compartmentalize emotions, I found I could not get the energy or emotional interest in writing upbeat, positive posts. So my blog and my writing went dormant.
I reemerged in 2014 with a single business post, How “Folding a Shirt” Applies to Your Business”.
Writing that post got me thinking again about starting a business and writing again.
That came together in 2015 when I decided to start a side hustle small business consulting business.
It was fun as it was an opportunity to personally explore marketing, sales, and business on a part time basis without the pressure of jumping into that as a full time job.
My initial foray with the “Profit Inspector” went nowhere as my $300 per month ad for 3 months in a coupon mailer went nowhere.
I then took a course with Troy White that gave me a few other options for marketing my business. But those didn’t pan out either. My marketing just didn’t connect with an audience in a way that was going to get them to buy from me right away. And my marketing didn’t have enough of a follow up sequence. Something you learn early on that it takes repetition, multiple touches, to convert a browser into a buyer.
I needed a website.
So I decided I needed to get a website put up and do some internet marketing as a way to move the business forward.
I then came across Kevin Hogan‘s Internet Marketing Course. It was really expensive (several thousand dollars) but very thorough.
And as a result I got a crash course in website design and marketing.
And this resulted in me setting my my site here and starting this blog.
Starting the blog and initially blogging a couple times a week, I never thought I’d be able to keep going this long.
I thought I’d run out of ideas.
And sometimes I’d hit a little writer’s block. But then something would get triggered in my head and the words would start flowing out.
It has now been over two years since I’ve started writing this blog. Nearly 200 posts.
Over that time I’ve honed my skills and fine tuned the direction of my business as I discovered resume writing and career coaching as a niche I’m good at.
This has now resulted in my recent recognition as a “Top 100 Career Blog”.
So what’s my point in all this?
- You never really know where you’re headed in life.
- Follow the breadcrumbs. Every experience and every skill you pick up has the potential to feed your future success.
- Enjoy the journey. It is a necessary part of getting to your destination.
- Life is short. Make the most of it.
- Find your niche. There is something you’re great at. You probably don’t recognize it – but those around you do. Ask them or find out by the feedback you get. By blogging I found what does and does not connect. It can be measured. So for an introvert, it is a great way to be supported in your craft.
- Live with Passion. Something Tony Robbins always said at the end of his “Personal Power” tapes I got back in the early 90’s. Words to live by.
- Contribute. Helping others, contributing to the world around you, gives your life purpose.
- Stay Connected. Whether with family, friends, or those yet to meet. Connection is critical to a life well lived. What is the point of doing fun and exciting things if you have no one to share them with. So pursue those connections. And nurture them.
- Humility. When you achieve success, don’t let it go to your head. Successful people are still just people. They’ve just chosen to put intense focus and effort into something and luck started to come their way. It can all be taken away in a heartbeat. And if you burn bridges or push people away they won’t be there when you need them.
- Market Yourself. My mentor Kevin Hogan called it marketing time. The most productive hours of your day as a business owner should be focused on marketing. Marketing builds businesses. My other mentors, Jay Abraham and Troy White also demonstrated the power of marketing and thinking outside the box. Whether you’re a business owner or employee, you can always, subtly or otherwise, market yourself. That gives you visibility to others and opens up future doors.
I hope you got something from the story I shared here about my writing, entrepreneurial journey, and personal growth that you can apply to your situation today. Would love to hear your feedback too.
Other posts in the series:
There. It’s out there now.
I feel better…
Oh, you want more?
Okay. Here’s the thing.
In our email, text, Facebook world, people don’t talk.
They are so caught up in themselves and their problems, they forget about you…the customer.
I’d heard that often the first vendor to answer the phone or call a prospect back gets the business.
Is it really that bad?
Yes, it is.
Here’s some of my new mantras for success. Forget about perfection.
- Show up.
- Show up close to on time.
- Answer the phone. Or call someone back quickly.
- Do the expected (it is the new version of unexpected).
Now I really never thought it would be this bad. But I see it day in and day out. Employees who demonstrate through their actions that they don’t think that working is a requirement but something that should fit around their schedule. No, it isn’t everyone. But it sure makes what used to be the average worker start to look like a superstar.
But what really shocked me was business people whose livelihood depends on giving decent customer service. Not awesome, just okay.
But when you’re dealing with a very important transaction. A life altering one. And you get half-baked emails and texts…only after you pester them for an update…rather than a phone call. Really?
And when you do talk to them on the phone or though the electronic phone thingy’s messaging center, they act like you they are doing you a favor by even talking to you. And when negotiating a deal on your behalf, the other party seems to get more representation than you.
But then you see their communications with the other party’s representative and it is equally pathetic. Quick snippets without any true communication or insight.
And it really made me see the value of a decent salesperson. Someone to guide you and help you make a decision in an area you aren’t already an expert.
So what is this rant really about?
It is about how just being mediocre is the new normal. But by being excellent, there truly is no competition. And you can corner the market.
Just something to consider as you’re mapping out your career or business future.
Have you experienced something similar? Comment below and share this with your social followers. Or do it the old fashioned way and call me. I promise if it goes to voicemail (yes, I’ll send you to voicemail if I haven’t preprogrammed your number into my phone…this is 2017!) I will call you back. 🙂
I was listening to a podcast the other day and the interviewee was talking about consulting and an interesting conceptual framework that just made sense to me.
The story went like this.
Imagine you have a baby. And I’m your babysitter.
Is the baby my baby? Or your baby?
Of course it’s yours.
Now imagine I’m babysitting your baby and your baby gets sick. And I have to take it to the doctor.
Is it my baby or your baby?
It’s still your baby.
Just because I’m taking care of your baby doesn’t mean the baby is mine. It is still yours.
The same concept applies to a consultant.
If you’re helping a sick business turn itself around. The CEO and management team are still in charge of the results of that company.
It is theirs.
Just because the consultant is helping with advice, direction, and maybe helping out in specific areas, that doesn’t make it the consultant’s company.
The consultant is still just the consultant.
The key point the consultant on the podcast was making is he gets the CEO involved and makes sure the buck stops with the CEO.
Any issues that need to be resolved, the CEO owns. Not the consultant. The consultant is just an adviser to help the CEO.
The issue was when CEO’s wash their hands of things and don’t support the consultant. Then blame the consultant when the results don’t come.
They’ve basically thrown the baby out with the bathwater. They’ve assumed they can hand off responsibility for their business to the consultant.
It just doesn’t work that way.
And so it is whether you’re a CEO or an employee at a lower level on the food chain.
You need to own your shit. But they need own theirs too.
Don’t let them dump their responsibilities on you and then blame you for not delivering.
This is often easier said than done with managers and coworkers often dropping their issues on your plate.
You can’t always avoid taking on their troubles. But often you can help without just adding it to your workload.
Here’s some questions to ask.
“How would you approach it?”
Rather than solving their problem for them, get them into the habit of solving their own problem first. Or at least pre-thinking several solutions and then getting your opinion on the final direction or option they are thinking is right.
By helping them think better, they’ll grow their skills and not need you to make as many decisions for them. This is especially important for new managers as they often are great doers but struggle with getting things done through others.
“What do you need from me and when do you need it?”
Being specific on the ask when someone needs your help is important too. How many times have you had something dropped in your lap only to deliver what you thought was needed or was working on it when the originator of the task shoots you a nastygram email about you dropping the ball.
What happened is you thought they wanted something else or that it wasn’t as urgent as they thought it was.
A communication disconnect.
Don’t let that happen. Ask a few follow up questions. And also that way you’ll know in advance what you’re getting yourself into and if it isn’t an appropriate use of your time you can address it then.
“Do I need to get these emails?”
Email is a Hell people often get mired in. Asking yourself if you need to be included on an email is often critical to cutting down incoming email messages and reclaiming your time to focus on more important tasks.
Emails tend to be something that ever expands. The only way to reduce it is to take an active role. Yes, you can create autoforward rules to move them to a folder you won’t see. But that doesn’t really address the problem.
Go through your inbox and note down which email subjects don’t really need your involvement or awareness. Then email the originator and tell them you don’t need to be included on future emails of that specific type.
Doing this once a quarter is like spring cleaning for your office life. It is amazing how good it feels to chop 100 messages a day down to 50.
So who’s baby is it? Make sure you know.
Looking for other ways to get more done in a day? Check out these 74 productivity tips to get more from your day.
Tax Season is in full swing.
Are you prepared?
Or are you pulling out your hair trying to find where you left that shoebox of receipts?
Want to make sure you’re not missing anything? Start with the source. The IRS has a one-stop shop for managing your business taxes. Check out this guide.
Okay, so you’ve taken all the usual deductions. But maybe there are others you’re missing. Here’s some sources to pick up some unusual deductions that you might not have thought of.
Now this time of year may not be the time to start your tax planning. Decisions you make throughout the year often have much more impact than end of year, last-minute actions. But as you prepare for next year there might be a few ideas that uncover actions you did take that you might have forgotten. Here’s some tips to deliver a better tax plan for next year and possibly capture more tax savings now as well.
If you didn’t track it or save records, you may be leaving a lot of money on the table. That is where credit cards (or debit cards with similar features) can help you out. Throughout the year capturing those expenses and categorizing them, so you can find them at year end, will ensure you don’t miss anything.
It doesn’t matter as much which system you use. Just use something that you’ll follow through with to ensure the data is at your fingertips when tax time rolls around.
For those of you who are just starting out with a side hustle, you can use personal finance sites like Mint to track and categorize your transactions and easily sync with your credit card and bank accounts. So you get all your expenses in one place. Making both budgeting and tax season a little simpler. And when tax time rolls around just export those transactions. Each year I export my transactions as a .csv file and then group and filter those transactions by category…making capturing all those tax deductions a simple process.
Have a more established business? Using QuickBooks to track your business financials? Like Mint, you can similarly get to the key tax transactions that helps you avoid missing any key expenses you could be deducting.
Get A Second Set Of Eyes On It
People who are starting a new business and have recently come from an employee environment often don’t think like seasoned entrepreneurs do about taxes. Many times something you enjoy that you might have just spent money on as a hobby or for fun might have a business use. Whether that is attending business related seminars, or business travel, or everyday items that are used in your business.
People get so used to not having things deductible, they often unknowingly leave quite a bit of money on the table.
Not aware of what some of those items are? Check with an accountant or use some of the resources in tax software. I’ve used TurboTax for years and find that its prompts often make it easier to avoid missing something. However, if you have really complicated taxes then it might make sense to have a tax professional review them.
So you identified all your deductions. But after doing your taxes you find you are still going to owe some money to the IRS. What to do?
You are in an age where a virtual cornucopia of opportunity surrounds you. This is the era of the side hustle. So short a few dollars Or a lot?
Take the bull by the horns and go after some last minute income so you’re not left short.
Drive for Uber or Lyft. Do some part time consulting in an area you have expertise. Tutor someone. Help a friend out who owns a business and needs extra weekend help to knock out some extra jobs that they can’t accomplish on their own. Buy and resell products on eBay or Amazon.
Opportunities abound. So don’t let tax time get you down.