Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Have You Ever Wondered What the Experts Have to Say About How to Be Successful in Starting a New Business? Well Here It Is:

clip_image002[1]This article was written by John Rau, SCORE Orange County Business Mentor

As you start down the path of entrepreneurship to start your new business, you should heed the advice of those that “have been there and done that” successfully. Good examples of such individuals are Richard Branson (founder of Virgin Group, which consists of more than 400 companies around the world, and author of six books) and Mark Cuban (co-founder of the Denver-based independent cable network HDNet , owner of the Dallas Mavericks basketball team and perhaps better known as a regular on ABC’s reality series “Shark Tank”).

Entrepreneur magazine through its web site ( conducted interviews with these individuals and here is what they had to say:

Richard Branson says in his interview “Five Secrets to Business Success” (see: )

  • If you don’t enjoy it, don’t do it. You need to enjoy what you are doing because starting a business is a huge amount of work, requiring a great deal of time.
  • You need to be innovative and create something different that will stand out. You’ve got to do something radically different to make a mark today.
  • Businesses generally consist of a group of people, your employees, and they are your biggest assets. Happy employees make for happy customers.
  • To be a good leader, you need to be a good listener. Get feedback from your staff and customers on a regular basis.
  • You need to be visible. Market the company and its offers by putting yourself or a senior person in front of the cameras.

Mark Cuban says in his interview “Mark Cuban’s 12 Rules for Startups” (see:

  • Don’t start a company unless it’s an obsession and something you love.
  • If you have an exit strategy, it should not be an obsession.
  • Hire people who you think will love working there.
  • Sales cure all. Know how your company will make money and how you will actually make sales.
  • Know your core competencies and focus on being great at them.
  • You don’t need an expresso machine and other in office employee perks.
  • Consider having no offices as open offices keep everyone in tune with what is going on and also keep the energy up. There is nothing private in a startup!
  • As far as technology, go with what you know as that is always the most inexpensive way.
  • Keep the organization flat. If you have managers reporting to managers, you will fail. Once you get beyond startup, if you have managers reporting to managers, you will create politics.
  • Never buy “swag”, that is, no logo-embroidered polo shirts or similar types of items for your customers when you are in the startup mode. Your money is better spent elsewhere.
  • Never hire a Public Relations (PR) firm as you don’t need someone to sell you. Sell yourself directly to your potential customers. You don’t need an intermediary to do that.
  • Make the job fun for your employees. Keep a pulse on the stress levels and accomplishments of your people and reward them.

Other good advice from Entrepreneur magazine as provided by billionaire investors (see: is as follows:

  • Persist—don’t take no for an answer. If you’re happy to sit at your desk and not take any risk, you’ll be sitting at your desk for the next 20 years.” (Source: David Rubenstein—Net worth $3.1B. Co-founder of the Carlyle Group and investor in Dunkin’ Donuts, Oriental Trading Company, and Beats by Dre.)
  • There must be high risk—in fact, very high risk. It’s the key to success. If there is no risk, you have already missed the boat. Your competitors will already be there.” (Source: Tom Perkins—Net worth $8B. Founder of Sequoia Capital and investor behind AOL,, Google, Verisign, WebMD and Zynga: )
  • Live the present intensely and fully. Do not let the past be a burden and let the future be an incentive. Each person forges his or her own destiny.” (Source: Carlos Slim—Net worth $81.6B. Serial entrepreneur and investor in TracFone, New York Times and Philip Morris.)
  • The older I get, the more I see a straight path where I want to go. If you’re going to hunt elephants, don’t get off the trail for a rabbit.” (Source: T. Boone Pickens—Net worth $1.4B. Founder of BP Capital Management and investor in Exxon, Halliburton and Valero.)
  • Without passion, you don’t have energy. Without energy, you have nothing.” (Source: Warren Buffet--Net worth $67B. Founder of Berkshire Hathaway and investor in American Express, Direct TV, Coca-Cola, IBM and Wells Fargo.)
  • Since one fails often, address markets that make it worthwhile when one does succeed.” (Source: Vinod Khosla—Net worth $1.5B. Co-founder of Sun Microsystems and investor in Quantus, iLike and eASIC.)
  • There’s nothing more invigorating than being deeply involved with a small company and a young team of founders out to do something incredibly special.” (Source: Michael Moritz—Net worth $3B. Chairman of Sequoia Capital and investor in Google, PayPal, Yahoo and LinkedIN)

What great advice and words of wisdom from those that “have been there and done that”! Richard Branson in his article probably summarizes it best when he says: “When you’re building a business from scratch, the key word for many years is “survival”. It’s tough to survive. In the beginning you haven’t got the time or energy to worry about saving the world. You’ve just got to fight to make sure you can look after your bank manager and be able to pay the bills. Literally, your full concentration has to be on surviving.”

These 5 Things Are Ruining Your Life ... and you didn’t even know it. Here’s how to deal with some of life’s biggest troublemakers.

This article was written by Dann Albright, Success Magazine, August 14, 2015 Reprinted by Permission

You might think that you have your life pretty well figured out. You do the things that need to get done in a reasonable amount of time, you take care of your responsibilities, and you’re generally pretty happy. All’s good, right? Not so fast. There are a lot of things that have a big negative impact on your life—things you didn’t even realize were dragging you down. Here are five of those problems (and what you can do about them):

1. Excessive Email. A recent study found that just knowing you have an unread email in your inbox can make it more difficult to concentrate on the task at hand. So if you’re like most people, you have a constant stream of messages hitting your inbox—and that means you’re going to be distracted on a regular basis. The first step in keeping email from taking over your life is to stop checking it every 30 seconds. Close Gmail or Outlook while you’re working on other things, turn off email push notifications on your phone, declare an email curfew of 7 p.m. Literally turn off the distraction. Don’t let email steal your attention from what matters most.

2. The Productivity Culture. The Internet is chock full of helpful productivity sites, blogs and tips. But with our interest in maximizing efficiency, we’ve started to lose sight of an important fact: Not every moment of the day needs to be maximally productive. There is a time for productivity, but letting your brain rest is just as important. According to Skift, almost 42 percent of Americans didn’t take any vacation days in 2014, which clearly shows that people aren’t giving themselves enough time away from work. Not only do you need evenings and weekends to let your brain recharge, but you also need extra days throughout the year. Work burnout is real, and it’s unpleasant—so make time to recharge.

3. Too Much Focus on Focus. Similar to productivity, people now place a premium on staying focused. Fighting distractions is a good thing, but as with productivity, there’s a time and a place for singular focus. What many people don’t realize is that our brain does some of its best work when we allow our minds to wander. When you’re not focused on anything specific, your brain does a lot of unconscious processing, and that processing often connects different areas of the brain, helping you come up with creative ideas and innovative solutions to problems. This is one of the reasons people come up with great ideas while they’re in the shower or mowing the lawn. And it is especially true if you have multiple hobbies and encourage your brain to think in different ways on a regular basis. So it’s OK to let your thoughts drift, and you should try to get lost in something mindless—wandering can do wonders.

4. Lack of Purpose. Being productive or being focused for its own sake isn’t a useful activity. Not having a goal that to work toward makes it difficult to direct your efforts, measure progress and motivate yourself to keep going. Don’t know what your “purpose” is? Set short- and long-term professional and personal goals, like meeting a deadline, getting a promotion, paying off debt, improving your fitness or picking up a new hobby. Write your goals down—and be specific. Then review them regularly, and you’ll be more motivated on tough days.

5. Disorganization. How much time do you spend looking for things you’ve lost? Paperwork, receipts, emails, files, web addresses, clothes…. What if you could get all of that time back? Think of the things you could accomplish. Putting systems in place can make a huge difference in your daily life. Is messy your middle name? Try buying the necessary organizational tools, like a day planner, a filing cabinet and folders to fill it with, and a desk inbox/outbox. It may take a long time to get everything organized and under control, but it’ll save you a lot of mental energy in the future. So, now that you’re in the know, you can start making small changes to be more successful both at work and at home. All’s (almost) good. The direction of our lives is determined by the choices we make every day.

7 Do’s and Don’ts for Entrepreneurial Success

This article was written by Doreen Hardy, From her Blog, June 25, 2015, reprinted by permission

1. DON’T want what you don’t want. It’s easy to fall under the spell of someone else’s dream or be seduced by the scorekeeping of other people’s goals. Don’t. Follow your own path—not the Joneses’. Don’t let fear, envy or social pressure cloud your vision.

2. DON’T miss the point. Bigger is only better if it makes the smile on your face wider and brighter, and fills the journey with joy. Live today as you want to be remembered in the end.

3. DO the right thing. When faced with the choices that are the hardest to make—when your dreams, ambition and drive are begging you to do one thing while your conscience is telling you to do another—remember that the only way you’ll have an enduring smile is if you uphold your values.

4. DO trust your gut. Don’t wait until you’re 80 and filled with regret. Be the person you “could have been” now.

5. DO keep your resolve. Many entrepreneurs fail not because of their idea, their skill or the market, but because they give up when the summit is within reach.

6. DON’T forget why. Business will change you. Don’t forget who you are right now. Don’t forget who you were the day you decided to ride the entrepreneur roller coaster.

7. DO seek your greatness. You have been given incredible gifts. You are capable of awe-inspiring achievement and significant contribution to the people and world around you. You have a responsibility to use the potential you’ve been given, to apply it and grow it.

The 4 Finance-Related Areas Where Businesses Need the Most Help

This article was written by Joe Worth, in Entrepreneur Magazine, August 2015, reprinted by permission

Q: What are the first repairs you make when hired as CFO?

A: Despite every business owner’s belief that no one can operate their company quite like they do, the issues I first tackle with each new job have been remarkably similar, no matter the company’s size or industry. When I break out my financial toolbox, it’s usually to address any or all of the following.

1. Financial statements

I start with a look at the company’s financial statements, checking for inconsistencies or variances that pop off the page, as well as what’s missing, such as a statement of cash flows. To back up this review, I employ a third-party analysis package to give me all of the statement’s financial ratios and provide me with a comparison of those ratios over time as well as to the ratios of other firms of the same industry, size and geographic region.

Once I’ve identified holes in the statements, I talk with the staff to get a feel for the financial reporting processes and learn who does what, when and how (e.g., who sees the statements and how errors are handled). From there I can figure out what the company needs to do in terms of staffing, training, processes and systems to make the statements more timely, accurate and, ultimately, more useful.

2. Accounts receivable

This area invariably needs attention and provides the quickest opportunity to improve a company’s cash position. First, I run reports of the company’s receivables grouped by customer (largest to smallest), date (oldest to newest) and amount (largest to smallest). The customers at the top of these reports are my priorities. Then I work to collect these high-priority items while weeding out and writing off the junk receivables that will never be reasonably collected.

Going through this process often highlights issues with a company’s AR system that I can quickly correct. More often than not, billing—not collections—is the major issue: Invoices aren’t sent immediately, are going to the wrong people or are filled with errors. At one $25 million company I joined as CFO, we made straightforward changes that led to collecting $750,000 in six months—extra cash that allowed us to completely pay down our bank line of credit.

3. Reporting

As CFO, I’m all about the numbers, so I work with the owner/CEO and C-level executives to find out what makes the company tick and how to measure it. Sometimes the answer is simple, such as billings. But other times it may be units produced or quality measures. In those cases we boil everything down to a few key performance indicators, build a system to collect that data and a dashboard on our accounting software to track it. This way, whenever I’m asked, “How are we doing?” I have a precise answer. 

4. Cash forecasting

Nothing harms a business and stresses owners more than cash-flow surprises. To avoid them, I quickly institute a formal cash-forecasting system. If cash flow is tight, I’ll build a rolling 13-week forecast that I update weekly. If the cash position is stronger, I might back off to monthly forecasting.

As time goes by, I’ll review the previous forecast with the next, determining why we were short or ahead on any given week. After a few weeks at this, the forecasts become remarkably accurate, which results in more confidence throughout the business.

Case in point: Early in my career, I joined a company that couldn’t forecast its cash position a week out within $1 million. Six months later, our forecasting system got that uncertainty down to less than $50,000.