Competition

Andrew Carnegie, American businessman and phil...

Andrew Carnegie, American businessman and philanthropist. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

We’re all too familiar with competition. Competition takes place just about everywhere, surrounding us every day. It takes place in school, at work, at home, when we’re playing recreational sports, and when we’re playing just about any other game. Most of all, it takes place when we’re competing for our survival.

“Darwin saw competition between individuals of a single species. He recognized that within a local population the individual with, for example, the sharper beak, the longer horn, or the brighter feather might have a better chance to survive and reproduce than other individuals.”

“And while the law of competition may be sometimes hard for the individual, it is best for the race, because it ensures the survival of the fittest in every department.”
Andrew Carnegie

In business, worrying about the competition can often do more harm than good. If you’re just focusing on how to outperform the competition, you’re actually giving yourself limitations while also giving the competition the lead. It is so much better to be aware of what the businesses around you are doing while also thinking of your own exceptional solutions for your customers.

Keeping your business at a micro business level can also be beneficial. As a micro business owner with 1 – 10 employees, you can have a wide variety of work you perform, making it extremely hard for big business to have much of an impact on you.

Competition can actually be fun. If you develop smart business strategies and only operate on a small scale, you will be able to adapt or change course much faster and easier than the bigger businesses around you. The key is to constantly improve yourself and your business. When you’re competing with yourself, you’re always improving. If you’re strictly competing with another business, you’ll be satisfied as soon as you’re outperforming them. This will hold you back from improvements as long as you’re in the lead. That can add up to a lot of missed opportunities you would have noticed had you been competing with yourself.

Above all, don’t let your competition bother you too much, and enjoy the day-to-day operations of your business.

Rework

Luckily, I read Rework this weekend. I think I’ll read it again and maybe another time. It’s that good. Rework is an excellent book for employees, students, teachers, and small business owners.

Jason Fried and David Heinemeier have a fresh, practical approach to the business world.

Abundance

Abundance by Peter Diamandis and Steven Kotler needs to be a must read in every school and workplace.

The Future Is Better Than You Think

To borrow the summary from the book, it is about how “progress in artificial intelligence, robotics, infinite computing, ubiquitous broadband networks, digital manufacturing, nanomaterials, synthetic biology, and many other exponentially growing technologies will enable us to make greater gains in the next two decades than we have in the previous 200 years.”

The progress taking place from 2032-2042 will outperform the gains we have achieved from 2012-2032. We’re already seeing a similar pattern. As Jeffrey Rayport points out, “The average smart phone is as powerful as a high-end Mac or PC of less than a decade ago.” Having a basic understanding of exponential growth also helps when analyzing these changes.

These technologies are going to grow at incredible speeds because they are subject to Moore’s law, and the community behind them simply makes things happen. As improvements are made with these technologies, the prices of them will drop significantly, making them accessible to the most impoverished parts of the world. Though many people refer to the most impoverished people in the world as the ‘Bottom Billion’, Diamandis and Kotler choose to refer to them as the ‘Rising Billion.’ With access to inexpensive, advanced technology, it’s far easier for the Rising Billion to make global changes. And it will only become easier in the future.

We are surrounded by bad news. Bad news sells, and as a result, some of us often believe there isn’t hope in the world. Diamandis and Kotler believe this is our greatest challenge to achieving abundance stating, “The inability of people to see the positive trends through the sea of bad news–that may be the biggest stumbling block on the road toward abundance.”

But more positive stories could be published than bad stories. It’s not breaking news when good things are happening in the world because they are ordinary. This is a good thing. If it was breaking news every time a plane landed safely, we would be in trouble. If you enjoy good news, though, visit Huffpost Good News.

With these exponential technologies, an abundant future for earth is very likely. Like Diamandis and Kotler state, “When seen through the lens of technology, few resources are truly scarce; they’re mainly inaccessible.” Soon we will have access to technology that provides everyone on this planet with abundant solutions.

Many people will be resistant to these changes, which isn’t unusual. “People will resist breakthrough ideas until the moment they’re accepted as the new norm.”

Ray Kurzweil

Ray Kurzweil is one the most important visionaries to study. Though some of his predictions may seem outlandish, he has an established track record of success. Truth is, I could constantly go on about him.

It’s important to study futurists in business even if their predictions aren’t accurate. Consistently thinking about future inventions and possibilities trains you to anticipate and accept change, therefore making it easier to adapt in the business world when inevitable changes occur.

Do yourself a favor and visit some of Kurzweil’s sites to learn more.

Kurzweilai.net, Transcendant Man, Bigthink.com/raykurzweil, Singularity.com,

Spend Time With People Older Than Yourself

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Spending time with people older than yourself is vital if you are to succeed. If you are going to spend a significant amount of time with them, it’s important to be discerning, just like I hope you are with anyone else you choose to be around.

That’s why I choose to spend time with a dear 80 year old friend of mine (pictured above) multiple times a week. I have received a lifetime of important lessons from him. I apply many of these lessons on a weekly basis, and others as needed. Fortunately, he is patient. He has been a small business owner, and he understands what it takes to succeed. With his help, I have been able to help a significant amount of customers and stay profitable all year. I have been very lucky to meet and become friends with such a smart, kind man. He really puts things into perspective and is honest and helpful with his critiques. He also recognizes when I’m doing something well. Too many people focus on what’s wrong and forget to acknowledge progress.

Many times you can learn more from someone with experience than you can by sitting around reading books all day. Reading is extremely important, but don’t let it stop you from meeting and spending time with great, knowledgeable individuals.

So go out and spend time with your grandparents if they are still around. Listen to their crazy stories if they have any. Above all, listen closely to those who are older and wiser than yourself. It will change your life for the better.

Personal Life

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It’s okay to share your personal life in the business world. It gives people something to relate to. Picking the appropriate times for these discussions is the key.

I believe it’s appropriate for me to share my engagement. Choosing to get married is a risk, just like anything else. However, I know that spending time with Nichole has been the most uplifting experience in my life. She inspires me every day and encourages me to follow through with my business ideas. With her love and support, I have went from looking for a job to working full time on my business and even creating part time work for people in Bloomington, Indiana. As I have mentioned, it’s vital to surround yourself with people who truly want you to succeed. Nichole has always believed in me and knew I would start to see some success even when things were slow. I have been so fortunate to have her in my life.

Since Nichole has been an Indianapolis Colts fan her whole life, I thought it would be nice to take her on a private tour of Lucas Oil Stadium. In the middle of the tour, I asked her to marry me. Luckily, she said yes! I couldn’t have pulled it off without my sister Carrie and brother-in-law Vince. They went out of their way to help me arrange everything and to ensure Nichole was truly surprised…I will forever be grateful for that. Thank you to my wonderful family and friends for all of the love and support.

Your Team

TEAMWORK WINS - NARA - 515550

TEAMWORK WINS – NARA – 515550 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I define my team as anybody I spend time with or talk to on a weekly basis. These people include family, friends, customers, and the occasional people I hire to help me with business projects. Fortunately, I have a brilliant team here in Bloomington, Indiana. I am extremely lucky to have such a supportive girlfriend, and supportive, trustworthy customers and employees for the small business I’m launching. Minimizing time spent with unhelpful individuals certainly helped me find the people I love working with today. “Keep away from people who try to belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the really great make you feel that you, too, can become great.” -Mark Twain

The important question to consider is whether people are supporting you and if you are supportive of them. There is nothing like spending time with people you truly care about who also care about you. You will accomplish your goals much faster and be inspired by the people you care about. Think of the people you hang out with as a garden– you must get rid of the weeds. People who don’t support you or care about your well-being will derail you from your goals rather quickly. Like Eric Cartman said, “If you wanna find some quality friends, you gotta wait through all the dicks first.” Many times it will be well-meaning family and friends. Make it clear that you need their support.

You need people who will exercise constructive criticism to build you up. Look for supportive qualities in family, friends, co-workers, employees, customers for your business, and anyone else you will see on a weekly basis. Cutting yourself loose from the people who don’t support you may be painful in the moment, but you won’t regret it. When you cut yourself off from these people, you make yourself available for better opportunities and much healthier relationships. Unfortunately, you can’t always cut yourself off from cynics and people who aren’t supportive if you sell a product. In this case, simply listen to unsatisfied customers. Many of them might be complaining for no good reason. However, some customers may teach you something valuable about how you can improve your product. Hiring a great manager with excellent rapport skills always helps too.

Change The World For The Better

Earth

Earth (Photo credit: tonynetone)

Don’t feel pressured to continue to do business the same way the majority of people in your line of work are doing business. As an entrepreneur or employee, it is your job to make constructive improvements upon your chosen field or fields. You may be an outcast when you are the first one to do something drastically different, but if you’re making changes that cut costs in half or dramatically increase profits while helping more people, your ideas will quickly catch on. You could even change the world with your ideas and improvements.

A Passage From Mark Cuban

“It doesn’t matter where you live. It doesn’t matter how you live. It doesn’t matter what kind of car you drive. It doesn’t matter what kind of clothes you wear. It doesn’t matter. Your biggest enemies are your bills. The more you owe, the more you stress. The more you stress over bills, the more difficult it is to focus on your goals.”

“The cheaper you can live, the greater your options.”

-Mark Cuban

Overextending Yourself Part 2

A business ideally is continually seeking feed...

A business ideally is continually seeking feedback from customers: are the products helpful? are their needs being met? Constructive criticism helps marketers adjust offerings to meet customer needs. Source of diagram: here (see public domain declaration at top). Questions: write me at my Wikipedia talk page (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The financial aspects of overextension can be very sad. Taking out a loan for a product or service that has not been tested is unnecessary and it can easily lead to bankruptcy. Read 7 famous people who survived bankruptcy.

The key is to make sure your business has steady customers before you expand. Even Facebook had plenty of users before they took out large loans. You can also expand slowly instead of taking out a loan for $1 million. A business adviser encouraged me to take out a loan for $50,000 for my business since it is challenging to get a smaller loan. I obviously didn’t take on that debt, because I believe it is smarter to start extremely small and experience first hand what the demand is for my idea. I have been busy and plan to expand slowly over the next five years. If the demand for my idea dramatically increases, I may take on some debt. I would take on a small amount of debt at this point because my idea will be tested and I will know the demand for my business.

This also holds true for marketing your product or service. If you have to turn many people down because of your great marketing, scale back on your advertisements. It will harm you more in the long run if you can’t keep up with the demands of your customers. Increase your advertising as you increase the number of products and employees you have. Unsatisfied customers can be the worst form of marketing. “If someone has a lousy experience at your hands, they will warn people.” (-Richard Branson) Keep your customers satisfied and they will say good things about you, which will allow you to grow slowly, but surely.

Read Seth Godin’s blog post about overextending yourself, titled ‘Underextended.’ I agree with his point about pushing yourself to the limit during your work day and to avoid doing too little in response to the fear of overextending yourself, but I still believe that it’s unnecessary to get involved with four completely different projects aside from your business if you are unable to delegate. Not pushing yourself to improve your business because of the fear of overextending yourself definitely can be more damaging than doing too much. You will miss out on opportunities that could have led to an amazing future and terrific financial gains. But if you do miss out on these opportunities, you still will not have debt because you didn’t take them on. You will simply have a missed opportunity. If you overextend yourself, you may have debt in the hope of customers. When you really analyze it, overextending yourself is still more lethal than underextending yourself. Just be careful not to underextend yourself so much that you never take on ANY opportunities!

Give 100% at your job or with 1-2 of your projects each day. For example, focusing your energy on school and work during the day can be balanced while maintaining great performances. When you’re focusing on school, a job, sports, music, a part time business idea, and another part time job, you will be overwhelmed and you obviously won’t be able to give each endeavor the attention is deserves.