Saturday, November 26, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone! In light of the holiday, I recommend you spend time with family and count the things your thankful for. I am surrounded by great people and am blessed daily.

Hope no one got hurt shopping yesterday!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

LASIK...

Last week I made a great decision. I got LASIK. It's incredible. To anyone that has been on the fence about getting it: you definitely should. Not only for the lifestyle benefits, but also the financial benefits.

You go into the office on surgery day and get checked out to make sure the overall health of the eye is still what it was in your pre-op visits. And then you go into the laser room. They put some numbing drops in your eye over and over again so you won't feel anything, along with some other drops. Then they prop your eye ball open so you can't blink. They use a laser to cut a flap of your cornea open (some offices still use a blade). Then I believe they use a separate laser to reshape the cornea. They can fix nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatisms. The weirdest part of the whole thing is that you can see them working on your eye and bend back the flap of your cornea and you can also smell you cornea being burnt off. It smells kind of like hair burning. It's completely painless though. The craziest thing is that I had both eyes done and I was in the doctors office a total of 30 minutes on surgery day and in the laser room for maybe 8 minutes. The next day you have a few eye drops that you put in hourly. Keeping your eye moist and able to heal.

I keep waking up expecting to not be able to see again, but alas, still have great vision. On the day after my surgery I was already seeing with 20/15 vision according to my next day doctor visit. It's incredible.

You see a lot of haloing around lights at night and star bursting too, but it's been getting better and better.

As far as the financial benefits... The average contacts wearer is going to pay about $250 a year between eye doctor, contacts, and supplies. And then an additional $200 every two years for new glasses. I would even argue the cost can be much greater too. LASIK costs about $4600 or $4000 in some places if you pay cash.  That means that with these numbers pulled from my own experience, over 15 years having bad vision costs about $5000.

In summation, I encourage you to live a better life and save some money over the next decade and a half and get some LASIK done. I've been impressed, if you have any questions about it, I'm not a doctor but I can tell you about my own experience!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

EntreLeadership Part 2...


Last week I started writing about Dave Ramsey's book EntreLeadership and this week I'll dish out some more Ramsey wisdom. The second half of the book was just as good or better than the first half. It's few and far between to find a leadership book with 300+ pages that can keep it's momentum and not get repetitive.

This week had some great content, but it true Ramsey style, I'll talk about money this week. Ramsey talks about start-up finances and compensation for employees. 

As far as starting a business, Ramsey contends that there is no reason to take out debt to get it off the ground. According to the Bureau of Census's data, 60% of businesses opened within a given year require less than $5000 to get started. You don't need brand new equipment or a fancy new building. There are two aspects to profit, revenue and expenses, so why shouldn't you attempt to decrease expenses in the start-up of your new venture? How often do you hear about businesses that are now trading of the stock exchange that started in someone's garage? Starting slow and minimizing your scale early makes the mistakes you make early on small enough you can recover easily. If you are up to your neck in debt with a new mortgage and loaned out equipment, the first botched order or clerical mistake might cost you the whole business. It's important to have controlled scaling when starting a brand new business. And the easiest way to control scale is to start small.

Even large items don't have to require you to assume debt. Ramsey has a philosophy to rent until you can afford to pay with cash. If you are renting a large piece of equipment, it doesn't control your business. However, if you buy a $50,000 piece of machinery but the orders for that specific product dry up, you incur the costs of you debt with no revenue to show profit. If your orders are dried up long enough, depending on how small you business is, that piece of equipment's payments will soon break you. Or if you sell the piece of equipment, and you are likely not able to get out of it what you paid for it and end up taking a huge loss. I think it's a lot less risky to avoid taking out loans, especially large loans. Don't start a business and let your debt situation control your business decisions. It kind of defeats the goals of being an entrepreneur. 

Dave also talks about compensation and I like his approach. He wants everyone in the company to have a entrepreneurial spirit that works for him. And to make that happen, each person has to have something to gain from the success of the company. That is why everyone in his company works off commission or gets some form of profit sharing. Even if there is salary tied in with the commission or profit-sharing, the person is still inclined to perform better. This also weeds out ineffective people very well too. If they can't perform then they don't make very much money and leave. Ramsey said he would make his receptionists commission based if he could figure out a way. The thing you want to avoid is having an entitlement mentality within an organization and if someone is solely salary based then they start to expect their pay. Not their fault, they are a product of their organization. If someone gets a bonus or compensation or profit share, they are involved and their performance can directly affect the pay they get, so they are more inclined to work harder if they want more money. 

I think if you are starting up a new venture, having someone commission based it huge. It limits costs and generally people that are willing to come to a start-up and accept a commission based salary have an entrepreneurial spirit which is exactly what you need. 

EntreLeadership is a fantastic book and I think if you are a Dave Ramsey type of person it could easily be your handbook to starting a new company. I encourage you to pick up this book, it's a winner.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

EntreLeadership Part 1...


Very few books have have been good enough and contained enough content to require two posts. However, Dave Ramsey's new EntreLeadership fits the bill. The book walks the reader through Ramsey's idea of an EntreLeader. It's a mix of an entrepreneur and a leader. I think it has kind of a nice ring to it.

Ramsey is mainly known for his work with starting Financial Peace University and his radio show about personal finance. But, Dave is clearly an expert in another field too, starting and running a successful business. Ramsey's story is that he made his first fortune with real estate and quickly borrowed his way to having a net worth of millions of dollars, but when bad went to worse, the debt worked against him with a vengeance and he found himself bankrupt and at rock bottom. He went on to pick himself back up and build his second million dollar business, but this time without using debt. His advice about starting and running a business comes from years and years of experience.

I wish I could cover everything from the first half of this book because it is just filled with excellent content. However, I will encourage you to pick up this book for yourself. What I will discuss is goals and decision making. I talk a lot about goals on this blog, but that's only because I think they are incredibly important to being a successful business person and human being.

Goals are broken into 7 main areas:

1.Career
2.Financial
3.Spiritual
4.Physical
5.Intellectual
6.Family
7.Social

Ramsey writes about the importance of having very specific goals with a time frame. If you don't have both, you don't know what you are going for or what time frame to which you are confined. Let me use the example from the book that illustrates excellent goal setting in all it's glory.

A young salesman that worked for Ramsey set his goal as making a $100,000 a year (Very specific and has a great time frame). The salesman worked on commission of 10% so he needed to bring in $1 million in revenue in a year to hit the goal... meaning $83,000 a month, or about $21,000 a week. The math was really easy for him to figure out because everyone knew what the average ticket sale contract went for so he could easily figure how many contracts he needed to sell a week to hit his goal (He could even break it down by the day if he needed). He needed 64 quality contracts a week to hit his goal. Since the salesman knew exactly what he needed to do to hit his goal, it made the choice clear when he needed to stay late and when he needed to come in early. "Winning is hard work -- there are no substitutes."

Within the same story it mentioned that after several weeks of over-64-quality-contract weeks, the salesman's numbers started to drop. So then it became Ramsey's job to follow up with that salesman and give some teachable wisdom. And then his numbers shot back up. It's a leader's job to be aware of a team's goals and supervise, encourage, and coach.

Another thing Ramsey says about goals is that they need to be your goals. If you don't own your goals then you won't be passionate enough about them to make it through the obstacles. And most goals worth having will have obstacles, the bigger the goals the bigger the obstacles. If you care deeply enough about what you are doing than you will work your way anything that comes your way. It's also important to be a leader that leads with goals in mind. If you don't have goals then you can't expect your team to have goals. It's extremely important to have specific goals for your organization and then to believe in those goals enough to take action.

"I think there is something more important than believing: Action! The world is full of dreamers, there aren't enough who will move ahead and begin to take concrete steps to actualize their vision." - W. Clement Stone

Decisions is the other topic I want to talk about this week. The book makes an excellent observation, that a decision becomes more obvious, the more information you have. Think about a time when you have two things you are deciding on, like, you are looking at two houses for purchase. The more information and investigating you do the more obvious the right choice becomes. Additionally, the bigger the decision, the more information is needed to make the right decision. Picking out what flavor of gum at checkout in a grocery store = small decision (although sometimes you'll be driven crazy by the people that hold up the line because they can't decide on this) and on the other end making a $20,000 advertising decision = big decision. (However, it is the hope that one day you will get to the point that deciding on a $20k anything is no bigger a decision that choosing a pack of gum today).

Ramsey also makes the observation that there is nothing that freezes progress within an organization like indecisiveness. After working in the 'real world' for some time now, I have concluded that there is no more valuable trait within a person than the ability to make a decision. It's shocking how difficult it is for some people to make a simple decision. Indecision is a killer of organizations. It drives the best people in the organization crazy, and away from the organization. And it destroys relationships. Indecision happens to all of us to some degree, but that's why it is important to lead a culture of decision making. Identify what causes the indecision and cast it out. Fear and criticism are the main proponents of indecision. When you identify which of these it is and work through it, you break down your barriers. Identification of the causes of indecision is part of the information process, and now we know that the more information you have the easier the decision. I like the worst-case scenario the most. When you are having a tough time making a decision think about the worst-case scenario if you make the wrong choice. A lot of the time the worst-case scenario does not end with a life or death situation. Making the wrong decision happens to everyone, the important part is that you acted. And when a decision goes bad, remember that bad decisions are something to learn from. The greatest Greats had the most experience and you don't get lots of experience without learning from bad decisions.

Alright, Prepare yourself for some more information next week from this same book. We will be talking about Ramsey's philosophies of funding a business. Get excited!