Thursday, October 14, 2010

What Does it Take to Be Successful in the U.S.?

To Become successful in the U.S. in many ways is paradoxical in many ways. First, one generally has to be patient, prepared for any opportunity as it arises, kind (because if you aren't kind to others some will not let you be successful). And last of all paradoxically one must be ruthless at times when appropriate. Now this form of ruthlessness doesn't knock other people down or out of the way. No. It is seizing an opportunity while not really speaking much about when, where or why to others. This allows one to complete their success without interference from others who have their own axes to grind.

So, for example, in my own life most of the time I wasn't wealthy but I was almost always happy. I arranged my happiness by who I lived around or with or near and where I lived. So if I was living in one beautiful place (like the mountains around Mt. Shasta or Hawaii or something like that) it didn't really matter much whether I was wealthy or not because it was just so wonderful to be there with the people I was there with. So most of the time I was happy because I chose somewhere people tend to be happy whether they are rich or not.

But the other component was always looking for good and useful opportunities. When opportunities arise one must be ready right then. Of course it is important to know that my way of functioning was almost always as an entrepreneur. Though I worked for other people a lot until I was 28 to 30 I mostly only worked for myself in my own businesses after that. So that no matter how many failures I suffered I kept my overhead in whatever business I was in  low enough so it didn't ever send me into a complete financial tailspin and I joined a group of honest business people out of UC Berkeley called at that time Briarpatch, an honest business group which recommended books at that time like "Guerrilla marketing" and others. (There are many newer books like this since then). But now I'm retired so if you are a natural entrepreneur like I have been then do some research and why not  start with "Guerrilla Marketing" for your present or future businesses?

Here is something I found while spell checking the word entrepreneur:

Sir Richard Branson has an article there that looked interesting. He is head of Virgin Atlantic and Virgin Galactic that is going to start sending tourists into space for short periods in the next few years.

So if you want copy and paste the site or however you want to get there.

Later, I found a site with some of the history of Briarpatch. I didn't know a lot of it so it was an interesting read for me too. I was interested in the 1980s in cottage low overhead business. I was intrigued with people like Stephen Jobs and Steve Wozniak who founded Apple Computers who started their business out of one of their garages. In other words, then like now the unemployment was at around 10% nationwide. So starting a business was one of the ways to survive there not being a job there for everyone. So, I would say out of this (recession?) or whatever you want to call what is happening now worldwide there will of necessity be many many very successful businesses just like during the 1980s and 1930s. Necessity is the mother of invention. Would you rather start a successful business or would you rather have your home foreclosed? Think about it.
Here is the site I found in regard to some of the history of Briarpatch.

If you are employed at least part time the way to start a business is low overhead where you work at your business 4 or more hours a day and then work at your day job 4 hours a day. If you are unemployed you are in luck because it means you have a lot of time to design a business. However, whatever you design has to be realistic for these times and not for another time. Whatever you do it has to be something people want. And then when it starts rolling you need to give your customers the best service and the best customer service possible. People will want to follow the road to your door.  If you give the best service and provide the best item that you sell with the best customer service you will gain customers. Another trick: If you create a niche it needs to be under a $250,000 gross per year niche. Because if you create a bigger niche than this bigger companies will compete with you and you won't be able to compete with them. So, finding a niche is important until you are ready to compete with the big boys. But if your business niche is under a $250,000 gross per year niche you will only have to compete with people with your level of expertise generally. So think about this as you design your business.

If you have never run a business before $250,000 gross a year is the  entire amount of money you take in.
Your net could be anywhere from $50,000 per year to $150,000 a year depending upon what you are doing or what you are selling with that maximum $250,000 a year gross. Don't be afraid to make mistakes. But try not to borrow very much money if it is your first business. It is very hard at first to be able to as they say wear enough hats. In other words, you are Owner, salesperson, bookeeper, manufacturer, delivery person etc, etc.  usually when you first start your own business. If you are going to have employees it is usually best to hire people temporary at first until you are sure what is going to work or not so they or you don't get your hopes up too far. The best attitude for you is that this is an experiment to see what you and they can do. Remember, you are usually out of your comfort zone at this point so try to make friends with people who already own successful businesses (in another line of business than yours). Otherwise, people that are in your own line of business will tend to steal your ideas or try to put you out of business. (Because they are trying to survive these times too. They have kids too.) So, it is very important to know who to trust and who not to trust if you want to be successful. Generally speaking unless you are learning something specific it is better to keep things to yourself. If you let one of your ideas slip soon it is all over the place and you might have 10 people trying to compete with you. It is not at all like the jobs you used to have working for a big company. This time it is your company. Would you let people look at your bank balances? If not, just remember your ideas are what will make your rich. Don't talk about them. Get rich off your ideas instead.

Also, remember many employees tend to take successful business ideas out and start their own business with their employers ideas. So be careful what you share even with your employees and be sure to view them as potential competitors, especially if they are smart like you. Be careful of working with relatives. Even though I ran several businesses with my ex-wife and children and even though it helped teach my children how businesses work and how the world works, I think it also might have helped end my marriage running businesses with my ex. Though I'm remarried now with another daughter think carefully about running a business with your significant other or children.

Also, Paul Hawken is an excellent businessman and his books have been widely read on running a good business.
Paul Hawken
Growing A Business
The Ecology of Commerce
Natural Capitalism

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