Bigger is Better

big banks

Small banks suck (to put it plainly). I don’t care what you’ve heard or what you think; using a small bank for your business needs is risky and can be detrimental to your success. This is one case where BIGGER is better.

I use Bank of America. And I always will. I’ve gone the small bank route and was burnt multiple times. I heard it all before:

  • “Small banks care more about their customers and provide better service”  – FALSE
  • “It’s easier to get a loan or line of credit” – Ehhh! Try again…
  • “Small banks make less risky investments and are more safe and secure for my money” – Are you kidding me?

The larger banks have so many more tools that can make life easier for an entrepreneur. But most of all, they provide better security for your money. In a time when identity theft is rampant and fraudulent online transactions are growing exponentially, the larger banks are taking huge strides to combat this.

Most large banks are also publicly traded, meaning their books are open to the public. There are many savvy businessmen that won’t use a certain bank until they’ve combed through their balance sheets and investment practices. Good luck trying to get that kind of information from a “Mom and Pop” bank. Considering the recent economic collapse and torrent of bank failures, this type of caution should always be exercised.

Trust me…stick with the big guys on this on…

diplomacy

This may be a cheesy bumper sticker quote, but in the realms of business, it echos truth.

For example, a good boss or business owner can fire a staff member and actually make the (ex)employee feel good about it. They actually walk out the door with a smile on their face and their head held high. Now that’s a special artform that takes time to learn.

Duck on Water

duck on water

When a mentor told me I was a true “Duck on Water” I had no idea what he meant. He said I was so calm and tranquil on the surface, but truly he knew I was paddling like a mad man to stay above water. I almost fell down laughing. But when I thought about it, he was absolutely right.  And now I see the metaphor is true for every entrepreneur at some point in his path to success.

Controlling the way others perceive you takes a lot of practice, but is one of your most powerful tools as an entrepreneur.  Sometimes I feel like ripping my hair out, but I keep my emotions contained. As an entrepreneur, you are constantly being watched, tested and judged. So keeping your cool and staying on point, even if you feel like you’re completely out of control, is crucial.

Perception is reality. I can’t stress how important that statement truly is.

As I Write This…I Cry Yet Smile

Evolution Fitness

I may have gone to USC business school, but my real schooling came from what you see above. This was the first major business I began. This is where a boy became a man, where the young Michael Mulhall was replaced with the harder, wiser and stronger Mike Mulhall. I may not have fought in any wars, but I waged a great many battles while running this establishment.

I exited the business about 5 years ago, but the mark it left on me will last forever. I experienced more owning and operating this business than most would experience in two life times. The business itself was based on a faulty plan which I relied on my ex-partner in the venture to develop. Unfortunately, I was very young and very naive. I wish I knew then what I know now.

While I had many positive experiences, it’s the negative ones that I learned the most from. I lost some money, but more importantly, I lost family and a piece of myself. It’s those losses that put tears in my eyes. Fear, confusion and guilt are an entrepreneur’s worst enemies, and they must be conquered and controlled to attain success. Here is what I learned from these experiences:

  • Hope and excitement can seriously cloud your decision making ability. Learn to recognize that.
  • NEVER have family involved in your business. But always heed their advice, especially your father. He knows a thing or two about life. Trust me.
  • Perception is reality. But as an entrepreneur, it’s unhealthy to hold everything inside.
  • Always trust your gut…no matter what.
  • Always let life and love come before business. We’re not here that long, so enjoy it.
  • Don’t waste time hoping for the best. Just plan for the worst. And if the best occurs…celebrate.
  • Bad things happen, whether it’s your fault or not. Don’t dwell on it. Just keep moving forward and I promise things will get better.
  • If you don’t have a real, no bullshit business plan, you don’t have a business. You have simply placed a bet.
  • Lastly, it’s ok to fail. Anyone who has succeeded or done anything great has also tasted the bitter flavor of failure. That is normal and should be expected.

Evolution Fitness DemolitionHere is my old business as I walked by it today. This is what inspired me to write this post. After I stepped away from the business some years ago, it declined rapidly and closed soon thereafter. Now they’re ripping it down to build a WalGreens. Standing in the parking lot, watching the bulldozer rip apart everything I built, I felt numb. I felt strong. But I also felt sad. A piece of me was being buried in that rubble.

As the dozer’s arm turned, I saw the main wall and caught a glance of the last remnants of the business I built. I had scrolled our motto, “A New Beginning,” across the walls in large letters to remind my members that we can always start over. As I saw that phrase for the last time, I smiled as I whispered it to myself. I had forgotten the importance those three words hold.