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7 Things Every Home Business Entreprenuer Needs To Know
Looking back on many unsuccessful attempts at home business, we wish we had received guidance from someone who had already been down the road we wanted to travel. We had so many failures that we were starting to doubt that success in a home business would ever happen for us.
Thankfully, we didn't give up and through perseverance we were able to achieve the success that had eluded us for years. Along the way we discovered many things that we wish we had known when we started this journey.
Our success has literally transformed our lives. We believe that to whom much has been given, much is required. Consider this information our gift to you. If we can be of assistance please, do not hesitate to fill out the contact form at TheHomeBusinessPodcast.
1. Success doesn't happen overnight.
For some reason people think that they should become rich in a few months with their new home business and some people believe success should happen within weeks or days! We introduced a man in his early 50's to our business and he was excited. When we first met he complained that he had been working hard for more than 30 years and he was broke.
He said he never had any time for himself or his family. We told him what it would take to become successful and he agreed to do it. Then, he disappeared. A few weeks later he called to tell me that he was quitting. He hadn't even started and here he was ready to give up.
We asked him if he would be better off quitting his full-time job and keeping his home business! Of course, we didn't really mean that he should quit his job, but he had been working full-time for more than 30 years and he was still broke. He started his home business just a few weeks earlier and he never gave it a chance.
Why is it that so many people think that they should become wealthy in a few weeks? The answer probably lies in all the get rich quick schemes that are so prevalent in our society today. You've seen the emails or read these lines in your junk mail. No Selling, We Do All The Work For You, Make $30,000 in 90 days and on and on.
Those get rich quick scams cause people to think that every home business is a scam and that's not true. We just got off the phone with Doug, a nice guy who is seriously considering our home business. During our conversation we made it clear that he wouldn't be rich in 60 or 90 days and his response was the kind of response we hear often, "Thanks for telling me the truth. I'm happy to know that I'm dealing with people of integrity."
We were frustrated so many times in the first year of our home business that quitting seemed like the sensible thing to do. After all, these things don't work. Who do you think you are? Why don't you just get a job like everybody else? These thoughts and many like them nearly kept us from success.
If you already have a home business, perhaps you are facing the same thoughts. Don't let the negative thoughts crowd out the life changing success that a home business offers. Sure, we struggled at first, but after 20 months we were making $100,000 a year in lifetime residual income! When you find yourself facing bankruptcy and foreclosure as we were and then apply for food stamps you have a firm grasp on the tough times life can bring.
Occasionally, we'll say "What If?" As in, what if we hadn't stuck it out through the hard times? What if we had taken the advice of supposedly well meaning people who said that we would never have success in a home business?
What if it took you two to four years to become successful in a home business? What if you could make $100,000 without a boss and a job to go to? What if you could actually be home for your children and know them as people instead of looking at them as the little people who live in your house?
Most people who start a home business quit in their first 90 days and go back to their dreadful lives of desperation. Most people aren't really living. They are only existing. They're going from one day to the next without any hope of a better life. Benjamin Franklin said "most people die at 18, we just don't bury them until they turn 65."
2. Success doesn't happen without work.
I talked to a woman who said she was interested in changing her life. When it was time for her to make a decision she asked me, "Do I have to do anything?" "No" I replied, "once a month we just back the money truck up to your house and unload!"
If you had a traditional business you'd have to open your business every day. If you have a job you've got to show up if you want to get paid. When you start a home business you can't simply sign up and expect the money to start being deposited in your bank account. There's work to be done.
Is it hard to become successful in a home business? Compared to giving all of the best years of your life to your employer and missing birthdays, anniversaries, your child's first words, your child's first steps and realizing that life is nearly over and in your golden years you don't have the money to do the things you want to do, no it really isn't that hard at all!
If you're in a business like ours when you employ leverage, getting paid for other people's efforts, you can enjoy the fruits of your labor so much more. Even if you have a home business where you do all the work it's better than working for an employer.
We are convinced that to live a great life your home business must employ the leverage concept. It's the only way you can have money and the time to enjoy it. The wealthiest people in America became wealthy by owning businesses. The businesses that created great wealth were out in front of a trend and the business owner got paid based on the efforts of thousands of people. We wouldn't be enjoying the life we live today if we were getting paid only on our own efforts.
We worked really hard with very little success in our first year. Our 2nd year was the breakthrough that we were looking for, success was on the way. What we failed to realize was that during our first 12 months we were improving our skills and our confidence and that's when success started to happen.
So, how much did we work in our first two years? We worked as much as it took. How much should you work your home business? That depends on a variety of factors. How bad do you want it? How fast do you want to achieve success? We recommend that you work your home business a minimum of 7 to 10 hours a week, and do it consistently for at least two years.
Success doesn't happen without work and it isn't limited to working your business. Are you committed to improving your skills and working on you? Read at least 10 pages from a great book every day. Books like "Think and Grow Rich" will change the way you think and when you change the way you think you will change your life.
Expecting success without work from your home business is like expecting a paycheck from a job that you never started. It just doesn't make sense.
3. You must be disciplined to achieve success.
So, you're working your new home business and a friend calls offering to take you to lunch. Can you afford to go? Your favorite show is on TV, but you know you need to be working your home business, what will you do? Perhaps the biggest adjustment most of us need to make is to be disciplined in our home business.
Let's face it in a work environment there is usually supervision. Many people fail in a home business because there's nobody looking over their shoulder to see that they do what they need to do.
Since most people who start a home business have never owned a business, we must learn to be disciplined, if we're going to operate a successful home business. There were times when somebody told us no and that was devastating. We'd usually mope around and fail to do anything else the rest of the day. Had we maintained that attitude, we'd have a job right now instead of an successful home business!
Consider setting business hours. Of course, there are exceptions to every rule, but asking friends and family members to respect your business and your business hours is an important step to success. We've got a good friend who makes more than $100,000 a year and when you come over to his house during business hours you can visit with his wife, but he excuses himself and works his business. If you have a small child, work when he or she is napping and when they are in bed at night.
It's also a good idea to have a permanent work space, so you can shut the door, eliminate distractions and get your work done.
This is a difficult adjustment for some people to make, but your children can learn that when Mommy or Daddy is in this room with the door shut that they are working. You'd be amazed at how many children will respect your space and time if you ask them too. We've seen many successful stay at home moms and dads work with children nearby. Don't let screaming children or children that interrupt you on occasion become a big deal, the person on the other end of the phone may be convinced that your business is right for them BECAUSE they hear your children in the background.
When you promise to call somebody back at a certain time you've got to find the time. Children will appreciate knowing why Mommy or Daddy isn't available at certain times and you can explain to them that it will be worth all the sacrifices once you become successful.
Discipline can be difficult with all the distractions that can occur in your home, but it is one ingredient that you must have to become successful.
4. Who you're involved with is more important than the business you're in.
Let's face it, most people don't really have a clue how to operate a business, any kind of business not just a home business. When we're young we are told to go to school to get good grades so we can get a good... JOB! That's exactly the path most of us start on, get a job, work hard, work long hours and try to get a promotion so we can work more hours and hopefully make more money.
We do that for 10, 20 or 30 years and then realize that we are never going to get ahead. That's when the idea that a home business could change our life hits most of us. We've been told to be good employees and that's what most of us have done all of our lives.
There is no substitute for leadership. If you are blessed to find somebody who has been successful in a home business and you know that they can sincerely help you change your life forever, you should jump at the chance to work with them. Make sure you're comfortable with them before you get started. So, what should you look for? You should look for somebody that knows exactly what they are doing. When you ask questions are they comfortable or uncomfortable? Do they have a system that you can plug in to and have immediate success?
One of the reasons I failed in other home businesses is that I didn't understand the importance of finding the right person to work with. I am not blaming my failures on somebody else, but if I had been associated with people who really knew what they were doing they would have given me guidance that I did not get. Perhaps I would have failed anyway, but there is no doubt that working with successful people will cut your learning curve and save you a lot of time and money. Only you can assure your success, but finding the right person to work with and then listening to that person gives you a tremendous advantage over most people working business from their homes!
Let's say you have what you think is a great idea and you've got a little extra money stashed away for a rainy day. Your spouse isn't overly supportive, but he or she wants you to succeed. You decide to invest $1,000 or $2,000 in your new business by taking out an ad in a local magazine. You get no response at all. How do you think your spouse feels about your home business now? That kind of mistake destroys most people and they never recover.
Last week I received an email from a so called marketing guru offering his services. I could get his marketing expertise if I paid him almost $800. Almost everything he offered we give to our team members for FREE! We know that what we're doing works for our business because it has been tested and proven to be successful or we wouldn't do it. His material, although similar to ours, hasn't been tested in our business and could prove to be a waste of both time and money. What would happen if you sent that $800 and it didn't work? How supportive would your spouse be then?
5. Technology has changed everything.
Many years ago you had to get out and meet people and most business was done face to face. You could call people around the country, but if they had any interest in your business you had to send a package overnight. That proved to be very expensive.
When we were broke, I thought everybody that sounded serious, was serious. I was sending out packages several times a week only to find that these people weren't serious at all.
Then, the internet changed everything. You don't have to meet people face to face anymore, although I must admit it's still my favorite way of doing business. Today, you can upload a video in seconds, so people can see you. You can send an email with links to websites, videos and your contact information. Auto responders make you look like a Fortune 500 company, and nobody knows how big your business really is because anybody anywhere can have a great looking website.
When I started my business more than 10 years ago my long distance phone bill was nearly $1,000 a month, today we can call as much as we want for $20! You can use conference calling and web casts to present your business to hundreds of people at a time.
People can automatically receive your latest Pod cast and watch it in the subway or at lunch. This is the information age and you should capitalize on the shift in technology in your home business. Don't worry about all the latest gadgets when you start your business because the personal touch will always be important. Even if you don't have a lot of money technology allows your home business to operate and look like a very big business.
Don't get too preoccupied with technology. You can, however, use it to enhance your image and your productivity if you know what you are doing. Today, we don't mail anybody any information regarding our home business. With internet access almost everywhere, we realize that if somebody needs us to mail them something, they probably aren't the person we were looking for.
6. It's a home business, but that doesn't mean it can't be a big business.
Most people that start a home business are looking for an extra $300 to $500 a month. What would an extra $50,000 or $100,000 a year do for you and your family, seriously! Maybe it's because so many of us have failed so many times that we just don't believe in ourselves anymore.
Once you understand the basic fundamentals of your new home business and once you've achieved some success, you'll understand that the sky is the limit. We make much more money than we ever thought possible and we have friends that are making more than $1,000,000 a year! Hard to believe? Of course it is! Just because it's hard to believe doesn't mean that it isn't happening.
After we struggled at so many other businesses I wanted to believe that we could become incredibly successful, but my past was holding me back. Today, we operate a home business that generates almost $10,000,000 in annual sales! Years ago I never knew anybody that made $1,000,000 a year, so it was hard for me to "see" myself ever reaching that milestone. When a good friend of mine did it, I could then start to see that I could have that kind of success.
So, do you really want to struggle all your life? Then why do we settle for mediocrity? Here's why, we're unsure of ourselves, stuck in a rut, scared, we lack confidence, we tried and failed and tried and failed, what will my spouse, mother, brother, best friend think? We care too much about what other people say, think and do!
7. As a Man Thinketh...
As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he. Joyce Meyer is fond of saying that where the mind goes, the man follows. Of course, it makes no difference whether you are a man or a woman, you are what you think you are. As we struggled in our home business it was easy to become discouraged. We had always failed. Those constant thoughts of failure surrounded us.
Then, we realized that others had succeeded. Why did they succeed where so many others had failed? Could it really be that the only reason they achieved success was that they thought differently? We were so broke and so desperate for a breakthrough in our lives that we realized that we could not afford the luxury of having negative thoughts. There were plenty of other negative people that we could have listened to, but what was that going to get us?
What if we listened to the people that were positive, which by the way were the same people who were achieving success? When we started our home business we felt like the biggest loser on the planet. If something positive didn't happen soon we were going to have to move out of state to live with Judith's mother. How were we going to explain to our children that we had lost our home? If our home business was going to change, we would have to change first.
We couldn't afford the luxury of one negative thought. We started making good choices. We would distance ourselves from anybody that had anything negative to say about anything! We would surround ourselves with positive, uplifting people who would speak life into our lives.
We didn't listen to people who laughed at us and yes, there really were people who laughed at us. We believed that we would have life changing success even before there were any real signs of success. Some people call that the "fake it till you make it" concept. While we wholeheartedly endorse that concept we do not recommend that you mislead people.
There is nothing wrong with having a positive attitude. It is wrong to misrepresent your current financial situation. One of the most disappointing things we encounter in home business is the tendency that people have to inflate their incomes. There must be some school of thought that this is appealing or O.K. and it is not.
Once you lose your integrity, you can never get it back. We have done everything we can to make it clear that a home business will not typically solve your financial pressures overnight. We know many people that have made $500 to $2,000 in their first month in a home business. Very few make more than that in their first 30 days. If you think you have to lie to become successful you are wrong. We made just over $300 our first month in the home business that has paid us more money than we ever thought possible.
Negative people tried to convince us that we would never have success. We didn't listen to them then, and we don't listen to negative people now. We know that you can have success in a home business. We know that it won't be easy. We know that if you get guidance along the way from successful people that you will live an extraordinary life.
Scott Miller and his wife Judith are blessed to have been married for almost 26 years. They have two children, 22 year old Brittany Rickaway (married to Nathan Rickaway in January 2006) and 18 year old Cody who will attend Dallas Baptist University in the fall of 2007. Scott, Judith, Brittany and Cody all work together in their home business. To download 5 FREE CD's that will change your life no matter what you choose to do go to http://www.getoutnow.com
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Doing Deals With the "Big Boys" - Ten Tips For Entrepreneurs
Entrepreneurs often find themselves in high-stakes negotiations with big, savvy players, with significant negotiating power (referred to herein as "Big Boys") -- whether it be a venture capital firm in connection with a financing or a private equity firm in connection with the sale of the entrepreneur's business; the situation can indeed be daunting. Below are ten tips for entrepreneurs to help them through this process.
1. Retain a Strong Team. In dealmaking as in business, you are only as good as your team. Accordingly, the first step for the entrepreneur is to retain a strong transaction team -- and the quarterback of the team should be an experienced corporate lawyer. Indeed, an experienced corporate lawyer will not only add value to the transaction, but also can help the entrepreneur build-out the team and tailor it to the particular deal (e.g., in an acquisition, a strong tax lawyer is imperative to help structure the deal or in a licensing transaction, a strong IP lawyer is often necessary, etc.). The Big Boys are generally represented by large, aggressive law firms, and the entrepreneur must ensure that his/her team is up to the task.
2. Do Your Diligence. Due diligence is often a critical component to any deal. One form of diligence that is often overlooked, however, is an investigation of the guys on the other side of the table. What's the reputation of the Big Boy -- e.g., is this a venture capital or private equity firm that treats its portfolio companies well or is this a firm that squeezes the little guy? What about the particular individuals with whom you are dealing? What are their reputations? Are they good guys with whom to partner or are they jerks? Indeed, the web is a good starting point for the entrepreneur who needs background information on a particular firm/individual. At a minimum, the entrepreneur should track down other entrepreneurs or CEO's who have done deals with the guys on the other side of the table and make an informed judgment as to whether they are guys with whom the entrepreneur wants to do business.
3. Create a Competitive Environment. There is nothing that will give the entrepreneur more leverage in connection with any negotiation with a Big Boy than a competitive environment (or the perception of same). Indeed, every investment banker worth his salt understands this simple proposition. Accordingly, a start-up seeking a Series A round financing from a venture capital firm, for example, will clearly be more appealing if such firm learns that other venture capital firms are interested in the start-up. Not only does competition validate a firm's thinking, but also it appeals to the human nature of the individuals involved. Indeed, everyone wants what he doesn't have and/or what someone else wants. The entrepreneur will have strong leverage with respect to price and other material terms as competitors are played off of each other and will thus strike the best possible deal. One caveat: as discussed below, it is probably best left to a strong corporate lawyer to play this game on behalf of the entrepreneur; indeed, this strategy must be played carefully and is better-handled by someone with experience.
4. Run the Negotiations Through the Lawyers. The entrepreneur should do what he does best -- i.e., build companies -- and leave the negotiating to a strong corporate lawyer. Entrepreneurs are generally no match for sophisticated venture capitalists or private equity or corporate development guys who do deals for a living. Accordingly, a smart entrepreneur will stay above the fray and let his corporate lawyer run the deal. The Big Boys may try to do an end-run around the entrepreneur's lawyer (and may even criticize the lawyer and try to turn the entrepreneur against him), but the entrepreneur should remain disciplined and avoid "side-bar" negotiations with the principal(s) on the other side. This approach is particularly important where the entrepreneur will have an ongoing relationship with the other side post-closing; the goal is thus not to poison that relationship with testy, acrimonious negotiations (i.e., let the lawyers fight it out).
5. Develop a Game Plan. Every deal is different -- different players, different negotiating leverage, different risks, different timing -- and it is thus critical that the entrepreneur sit down with his transaction team and strategize; in short, he must develop a game plan and then attempt to execute the plan. Indeed, doing deals is no different than any other project: the entrepreneur must think through the issues with a smart, experienced team, set reasonable milestones and then monitor the progress. Rigorous analysis throughout this process is paramount.
6. Be Careful with LOI's. A letter of intent (an "LOI") -- sometimes referred to as a term sheet or memorandum of understanding -- is often executed in connection with all types of deals. The entrepreneur must understand that, depending on the deal and the context, there are different LOI strategies and considerations that must be addressed. For example, in the acquisition context, a selling entrepreneur should try to negotiate all of the material terms of the deal in the LOI when the entrepreneur's leverage is the strongest; on the other hand, a buying entrepreneur's main goal with respect to the LOI is merely to lock-up the seller and prohibit it from shopping the deal for a reasonable period of time. Another major concern with respect to LOI's is that they may be deemed enforceable by a court of law (i.e., be deemed a binding agreement) -- despite express language in the LOI to the contrary. The lesson here is simple: an LOI should not be executed without the advice of competent counsel.
7. Check Your Emotions at the Door. Big Boys are masters at taking their emotions out of transactions and being extremely disciplined. Indeed, Big Boys will generally walk from a deal if they get out of their comfort zone (e.g., with respect to the risk profile, price, etc.) -- regardless of how much time and money they have expended. Entrepreneurs, on the other hand (particularly those who haven't had much deal experience), often become emotionally wedded to a particular transaction and are unable to maintain their objectivity the further along they get in the process. Too often, an entrepreneur will fall in love with a particular deal -- like the first-time home buyer -- which will lead to poor decision-making and risky positions. ("I don't care if it has termites or there is a cesspool problem, I love this house" becomes "I don't care if I must personally guarantee all of the reps and warranties without a cap on liability, I love this deal.") It is critical that the entrepreneur understand this dynamic and address it accordingly.
8. Don't Blink First. There comes a point in time in just about every deal where both sides have dug into certain positions and the question becomes which side will blink first; e.g., in a venture capital financing, perhaps the issue is control of the board or, in an acquisition, perhaps the issue is carve-outs to the cap on liability. Whatever the issue, the lesson for the entrepreneur is clear (albeit difficult to execute): in order to maintain negotiating leverage and credibility, the entrepreneur should try not to blink first. Indeed, if the entrepreneur has flatly stated that "this issue is a dealbreaker", but then blinks and nevertheless agrees to go forward with the transaction despite not getting what he asked for, he will have completely undermined his credibility and will have his clock cleaned with respect to any other significant issues. Like poker, if your bluff gets called, it will be difficult to bluff again. Which brings us back to the important tip in #4 above: run the negotiations through an experienced corporate lawyer who does this stuff for a living.
9. Watch-out for the "Good-Cop, Bad-Cop" Routine. Big Boys employ all kinds of negotiating games, and one of their favorites is the "good-cop, bad-cop" routine. The Big Boy, of course, plays the good cop and is smooth, friendly and agreeable and makes the entrepreneur feel like all of his important issues are being taken care of. But then the documents arrive -- chock full of bells and whistles and boilerplate provisions designed to protect the Big Boy and often with significant gaps on the deal points. When the Big Boy is questioned as to what's going on here, the answer, of course, is "it's my lawyer's fault" (i.e., the "bad cop"). This game will continue throughout the negotiating process as the Big Boy charms the entrepreneur while his lawyers pound away on every significant issue.
10. Hire an Aggressive Corporate Lawyer to Watch Your Back. As a corporate lawyer at two major New York law firms, I have learned first-hand the importance of watching my clients' back. Indeed, I have worked on billion-dollar deals where, prior to signing, emotions run high (as discussed above), and a few of the significant risks are minimized or pushed-aside by investment bankers and/or business guys in order to get the deals done. My job, probably more important than anything, is to sober the entrepreneur and lay-out all of the significant legal risks -- and then push hard to negotiate appropriate protections. If the deal sours and lawsuits are filed, well-drafted documents become like an insurance policy to the entrepreneur -- and what entrepreneur doesn't have insurance?
Scott E. Walker is the founder and CEO of Walker Corporate Law Group, LLC, a boutique corporate law firm specializing in the representation of entrepreneurs and their companies. Mr. Walker has 15+ years of broad corporate-law experience, including nearly eight years at two prominent New York law firms, where he represented a number of major multinational corporations (e.g., Sony and Daimler), financial institutions (e.g., J.P. Morgan) and private equity firms (e.g., Apollo) in transactions valued in the billions of dollars.
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