My 10 Commandments for (Business) Success in 2015

My 10 Commandments for (Business)-2

The reality of it is we do quit. And we don’t completely quit, we just settle for less. And, we settle for less because we aren’t committed. So, I thought this year, I would do something a little different. I would create a list of things that are SET IN STONE. These are things I have to do, in order to reach my goals. These are not resolutions; these are my marching orders for 2015. These are the things I am committed to because I know that if I do these things, I’ll reach my goals for 2015. After I finished my list, I thought it might be a good idea to share the idea with you, and also share my list. Below you’ll find what I’m calling my 10 Commandments for Business Success in 2015. If you like the idea, and draw up your own list, I’d love to see it.

1. I will create a plan and a budget for 2015, then review, adjust and correct on a weekly, monthly and quarterly schedule.

2. I will apply the 80/20 rule to all activities, to OPTIMIZE my results.

3. I will create more PROFIT for my shareholders.

4. I will create more PROFIT for my clients, vendors, partners and other key relationships.

5. I will further develop and encourage my key team members.

6. I will allow my key team members to take more and more “low payoff” activities away from me, so I can focus on more “high-payoff” activities.

7. I will take more time to rest and recharge.

8. I will better schedule my time, so I’m not as stressed, so I get to spend more quality time with those I love.

9. I will spend more time nurturing and further developing my relationship with my key clients.

10. I will continue to hone my knowledge and my skills through learning and education.

Pilgrims: 9 Lessons from the First Entrepreneurs

Pilgrims5

Here are 9 lessons that we as modern day entrepreneurs can learn from the pilgrims:

Take risks: The Pilgrims took a huge risk – they left their homes, got on a ship with few belongings, and set sail for the New World with little idea as to what would happen to them when they got there – if they got there at all.

While we might never take a chance as big as that one, every new business comes with significant risk. Did you quit a full-time job? Risk. Finance your business with credit cards maxed to the limit? Risk. Hire family members to cut costs? Huge risk. Bet the bank on a previous successful entrepreneur with potential in hopes of leveraging his/her expertise, no matter the costs? More risk. But for your business to succeed, you’ve got to take some risk.

Lesson #1: Entrepreneurs have to be willing to learn in many different ways. Whether it’s finding a mentor or just reading, knowledge is vital for success. You have to be open to learn from anyone and anything as much as you can.

Sacrifice: Starting a business requires sacrifice and that is a key characteristic 
of successful entrepreneurs. It was also a key characteristic of the early Pilgrims. They sacrificed their homes, relationships with extended family members, money they would have earned in their jobs back home, or in worst cases, their own lives or those of their children. They believed in what they were doing and prayed that they’d be successful.

Starting any new venture requires sacrifice. At the beginning, we sacrifice full-time wages, time with our families and very often a good night’s sleep. But as William Bradford, the second governor of Plymouth Colony, once said: “All great and honorable actions are accompanied with great difficulties, and both must be enterprised and overcome with answerable courage.”

Lesson#2: If the Pilgrims could survive one of the harshest winters in history by not giving up, we as entrepreneurs can achieve anything. The key is persistence and finding a way to make things work no matter how hard times may get.

Set goals: No matter their reason for traveling to the New World, someone had to make plans and set goals for success. Writing down the goals – and referring to them often – is critical to reaching them. The same goes for starting any business.

Lesson#3: If you really want to make a success of your business, it’s important to define your business goals, especially before you get started. Setting goals is an integral part of choosing the business that’s right for you. After all, if your business doesn’t meet your personal goals, you probably won’t be happy waking up each morning and trying to make the business a success. Sooner or later, you’ll stop putting forth the effort needed to make the concept work.

Be flexible: As the Pilgrims quickly learned, though, they had to be flexible. Their intended destination was near Virginia’s Hudson River. As we all know, rough seas and storms moved them far off course near the shores of Cape Cod. Your company might face some storms of its own, but if you’re steadfast in your goals (yet flexible in how you reach them), you can overcome most any challenge.

Lesson#4: Flexibility is one of the key aspects of an entrepreneurial personality type. As an entrepreneur you should always have in the back of your mind that “most things will not work according to the plan”. Many have failed simply because they do not have backup plans when something negative or unexpected happens.

Be persistent: Those Pilgrims who made it through the first winter were diligent, strong and persistent. They couldn’t be any other way if they wanted to survive and thrive. You might feel like your struggling business can’t survive another day, but unless there’s really no hope, come back tomorrow and try again.

Lesson#5: The greatest opportunities require us to become early adopters. Sometimes the first one through the door is the last one out. As entrepreneurs, we must take chance on products,ideas, and innovations that are new to us and then be persistent with them.

Work hard: Surviving in a new land took hard work. Unfortunately, after the leaders organized a collective farm, without free enterprise, many of the men were unmotivated to work. The crops suffered, as did the Pilgrims. Fortunately, the leaders decided that the land could be divided and each family would grow its own corn. The ambitious would eat while the lazy would go hungry because they wouldn’t work for it.

The hard workers prospered, as did corn production. Within two years they had a surplus and began trading it with Native Americans and other small settlements for furs to export to England in exchange for supplies. Corn became currency as entire families worked on their own patch of soil. Now those were entrepreneurs!

Lesson#6: You have to work hard to succeed as an entrepreneur. Talent and luck can only take you so far. At some point, you have to work hard to implement luck or talent to be successful like the Pilgrims were.

Form partnerships: The Pilgrims learned to partner with each other and with the Native Americans to survive. They couldn’t do it alone. If you’re struggling with a certain aspect of your business, partner up with an expert.

Lesson#7: Entrepreneurs often worry too much about their competition. They look for ways to annihilate their competitors rather than finding a way to co-exist. Some of the biggest competitors have formed the most formidable partnerships, which brought huge amounts of success. Entrepreneurs should look to work with the competition to service their customers better.

Be teachable: If the Pilgrims hadn’t been willing and humble enough to accept help from the natives, they would never have learned to live off the new land. As entrepreneurs, we need to be willing to ask for help and be teachable enough to learn and apply the new direction. As educated as we might feel, there’s always something we don’t know.

Lesson#8: Entrepreneurs have to be willing to learn in many different ways. Whether it’s finding a mentor or just reading, knowledge is vital for success. You have to be open to learn from anyone and anything as much as you can.

Be thankful: After arriving at Plymouth Rock, Governor Bradford wrote in his journal: “Being thus arrived at a good harbor, and brought safely to land, they fell on their knees and blessed the God of heaven who had brought them over the vast and furious ocean and delivered them from all the perils and miseries thereof.”

Whether or not you are religious, expressing gratitude (even to your employees, partners, customers, etc.) will give you the humility needed to continue on.

Lesson#9: Entrepreneurs are some of the busiest people around. They work around the clock and thus their relationships with friends and family often get affected negatively. This Thanksgiving, take some time out to thank the people who mean something to you.

So, as you pause to give thanks during this holiday season, remember these characteristics that helped the Pilgrims lay the foundation for the country we love – one that allows the right to own property, to engage in free enterprise and to live in a society governed by justice and the rule of law. The lessons we can take away from their experiences can be invaluable.

It’s (no) SECRET!

A Few Thoughts and Observations About Success and Wealth – October 3, 2014.

by Brian Kaskavalciyan

About 10 years ago a movie called the “Secret” was released, it introduced the Law of Attraction to the world.  The marketing of the movie was amazing and made most of the people involved a boatload of money. However, the basic idea of the “secret” was not new, nor was it really a secret.

In fact, in marketing the movie, they billed it as: hey Joe and Jane Schmo watch this movie and you will learn the “secret” to fortune and success. This secret is thousands of years old and until now,  “they” (the richest and most successful people through the ages) didn’t want you to know. But because we are so great we will reveal this secret to you, just give me a credit card number and we’ll send you the DVD. Now, I’ll admit, I bought the movie, and it’s actually very good. But, the “secret” they reveal is not new nor is it a secret. The message can be found in countless books written over the last 2,000 years including the bestselling book of all time, the Bible.

In fact, I first learned this secret in a little book called Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill, then learned more about it from Earl Nightingale. In the end, it comes down to what we think about. Earl Nightingale said: we become what we think about most of the time (by the way he recorded an audio program called The Strangest Secret in 1956, which is great, you can find it on YouTube).

So I thought in this months issue I would give you some of the ways I’ve noticed that successful entrepreneurs think… this is by no means a complete list but these are fresh in my mind from the people I interacted with over the last few days.

1. A successful entrepreneur concentrates on what they do best, and delegates the rest. Successful entrepreneurs know what they can do and what their highest payoff activities are and just focus on those. Everything else is delegated to their team.

This one is probably one of the fastest and surest ways to wealth and it is a common theme among every wealthy contractor I know. Hire smart people, provide them with an exciting vision, provide them an environment where they can succeed and trust your team to deliver, and they will get the job done without your direct involvement.

2. A successful entrepreneur sees every problem as an opportunity. Most people see problems as distractions that delay their work schedule, but great entrepreneurs find solutions to obstacles. Successful entrepreneurs always think outside the box and figure out how to recover from failure, move on and try again without giving up.

3. A successful entrepreneur steps out of their comfort zones on a regular basis. Successful entrepreneurs always seek new challenges. Without it, they easily get bored and sometimes feel stagnant. They also look to find solutions – and quickly. Your comfort zone may feel safe, but you need to push yourself out of it. Stretch your personal boundaries; connect with people who inspire you and take a different approach to how you work to achieve more.

4. A successful entrepreneur is open to learning more. The most successful entrepreneurs have an internal urge to continually invest in their personal development, without hesitation. They have an innate desire to keep getting better at what they do. If they don’t have the answer, they want to learn everything there is to know about an area that is unfamiliar to them.

Over the last 3 days I met wealthy contractor after wealthy contractor. I met a guy that started his business 7 years ago from scratch and this year is on pace to do over $18 million dollars(!) with a very healthy net. You would think, this guy could sit at home, he’s super successful… or maybe he’s super successful because he’s constantly wanting to learn more??

The next time you talk to successful or great entrepreneurs, ask them what they are currently reading or doing to improve themselves, and I’ll bet you the list will be long.

6. A successful entrepreneur keeps track of short-term and long-term goals. The importance of measurable milestones cannot be overemphasized. And knowing the difference between short-term milestones and long-term goals is critical. They measure progress weekly or monthly to make sure the team is on track to achieving the long-term goal of their businesses.

7. A successful entrepreneur focuses on delivering great value every day. Entrepreneurs solve problems. Those who concentrate on offering the best value for money always win. Successful entrepreneurs maintain laser focus on the end goal. They seek to serve customers better than the competition and strive to do just that. Through innovation, great entrepreneurs deliver new, better and improved products to stay ahead of the competition.

8. A successful entrepreneur is obsessed with getting work done smarter and faster not harder. You should strive to work smarter, not harder. Smart entrepreneurs create realistic schedules they can actually achieve within a given period. They maximize their productivity by leveraging tools that can make them achieve more without necessarily working harder.

Anyway, a few thoughts for you this month. I hope you find value in them. Have a great 4th quarter, and I’ll talk to you next month!