Because the Box is to Damn Crowded

Out of the Box

I designed this logo a while back and I feel it portrays everything I’m about. I also think it portrays exactly how every entrepreneur should think. I printed this out and taped it on my wall a long time ago. Whenever I’m brainstorming or working on ideas, I like to look at this picture and let my mind drift out of the box.

Most who know me know that I usually think waaayyy out of the box. Is it a gift or is it an ability developed through years of practice? I believe it is the latter. ANYONE can develop this skill! When I look at anything, whether it is an object or business, my mind is constantly deriving ways of how to improve that concept. And this is something I’ve practiced since I could use a pencil and paper.

Funny example of this is when I go out to a bar or club. Many misconstrue my quiet demeanor as not having a good time, when in fact my brain is actually working overtime…analyzing the flow of the business, the behavior of the cocktail servers, the POS systems, how they handle the cash, the layout of the club and how it could be improved, the music selection, the demographic stats of their customers…and so on. It can be quite enlightening when one stops, watches and learns from their surroundings. Of course, it’s nothing a few shots of tequila can’t remedy.

My point of the story is this…don’t go with the crowd…go away from it, go against it, go in circles around it…just don’t go with it! If you’d like to start a new venture similar to an already successful business model, don’t copy it, improve it! EVERYTHING can either be improved or broken down and simplified.

Case in point: Ebay is a monster in its industry. In fact, any auction site that tries to compete directly with Ebay loses. A few entrepreneurs recognized this and started analyzing Ebay. They realized that Ebay did not allow the sale of guns on their site. This spawned the creation of www.gunbroker.com. Within their first year of business, they were already doing $1 million per month in sales.  And the site is not even designed that well.

These entrepreneurs recognized a niche that Ebay was ignoring, and they seized it. Find a niche and embrace it! This is the age of niches…the age of personal preferences and individual tastes. (That’s so going on my quote page!)

That is the kind of thinking that you must do if you want to succeed big! It may take a little while to hone your skills, but practice it everyday. Everything you look at, you should analyze and try to improve. Whether it is a business, a gadget or just an ordinary object. If some person out there could look at a fork and spoon and realize that putting them together would make him a millionaire (yes…I’m talking about the spork), just imagine what else could be done!

What's next to your bed?

Why Read One?? ;)

So I woke up this morning and kind of laughed when I jumped out of bed into a pile of books and magazines. At any given time, this is what the floor next to my bed looks like. It seems like the only time I have to read is around 3 am when I hop in bed. But I’ve set a goal to read at least 10 pages from 3 books or magazines per night, and it’s working!

I think it’s incredibly important to read…a lot! And don’t limit yourself to a single subject or genre. Read everything! Even if it’s something you’re not really interested in.

Now I’m not saying you have to read 5 books at a time. But due to my nature, I have to be doing 20 things at once or I just wouldn’t be satisfied. I feel like Johnny 5 sometimes…input, input, I need more input! (If you know what movie that’s from, then I embrace you as a fellow geek!) But that’s how you should approach life. Constantly exploring and learning. Especially if you own a business!

The livelihood of your business rests entirely on your ability to learn, adapt and move! Keep your head on a swivel and never stop moving!

My current reading list / pile next to my bed:

Super Freakonomics – Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner
On War – Carl von Clausewitz
Blink – Malcolm Gladwell
Death by Black Hole: And Other Cosmic Quandaries – Neil Degrasse Tyson
Built for GrowthArthur Rubinfeld and Collins Hemingway
Fortune Small Business
Popular Mechanics
Popular Science
Make Magazine – Awesome!
Wired – Essential!

Try this…pick a book and tell yourself you’re going to read 10 pages a night no matter what! You can read more, but the bare minimum should be 10 pages. That will get you through a book every month which is a great start.


Passion..

please install flash

I wanted to share one of my favorite composers / pianists with you today. When I was a very young child, there was a certain piece of music that I loved listening too called the Scarborough Fair. The composer from above actually improvised his own piece from that original work, and I must say it is very powerful. I cried the first time I heard it…still do in fact…I’m man enough to admit that. Yes, I’m a hopeless, passionate romantic, and I love it! I recently started playing the piano again, and I hope that one day I can play a tenth as good as this guy. I feel the piano is a musical device that was built for one thing…exuding passion and joy.

Listening to this work of art made me want to talk a little about passion…I should say it like I really mean it…PASSION…I think music, passion and entrepreneurial pursuits go very much hand in hand. I know that if I didn’t have music, I wouldn’t be where I am today. Some of my best ideas and breakthrough moments have occurred while listening to some of my favorite tunes.

Just listen to this piece…the beauty of it…if man can create this with his hands and heart, what can we not do? The dedication and zeal he has given to his chosen profession is nothing short of amazing. And that is what you must do if you wish to truly be great at something! Approach life with the same passion and splendor this song contains. Those who have accomplished great things didn’t do it for money or for fame, they did it for love…they did it for the betterment of themselves and those around them. I promise that if you attack life with passion, you will find immortality.

(Read around 5:10 during the video..ha ha) I close my eyes and picture myself as a young child, listening to this song, staring into the deep blue sky from my bedroom window, dreaming of dreams to big for such a little youngster…enthusiastic, eager, ready to take on the world. This song portrays my views of the world, how I see it and how I am able to deal with it.

So close your eyes, listen and see the world how I see it…close your eyes and dream. Because that’s what life is all about. Follow your heart…and dream…

Beginnings and Baby Steps

babysteps

Being the first post ever on my new blog (Woo Hoo!), I thought perhaps it would be appropriate to discuss beginnings. Entrepreneurial beginnings that is, and the courage it sometimes takes to even get to the beginning of a business venture. Whether it be launching that initial demo before renovations on an old brick and mortar site, or finally moving your invention from those messy sketches on yellow notepad paper into the prototyping phase. It takes an ENORMOUS push to go from the conceptual or day dream phase, to actually doing it in the world of the real.

Everything is so perfect when visualizing and dreaming of an idea. And yes, your mind is the most business friendly testing ground, and I’ve seen a lot of potential entrepreneurs (myself included!) get stuck in this phase of cultivating their ideas. We get stuck in dreaming of only the good, and we begin to develop what I’d call “the fear.” Speaking from personal experience, I can only describe it as a fear of failure that leads to endless procrastination. Perhaps I’m alone on this one, but after enough rides in my imaginary Bentley or 150 foot yacht, bought by money from my successful idea of course, I fall into a kind of lull. I fear that all these things I’ve dreamt so happily about may not actually happen, and that I will not be able to carry out this idea to my expectations (and those I’ve told around me). I call this the “Build Up Syndrome,” in which the build up of hope and excitement can actually throw an entrepreneur into this crazy loop of planning and put offs, in which their idea is never truly acted upon.

What advice can I offer in avoiding this? Well, for me, when I get stuck on an idea or fear my successful carrying out of it, I’ve always tried to simplify things. Break tasks in sub-tasks and so on. Try to make progress anywhere possible. Remember two things, K-I-S-S (Keep it simple stupid) and baby steps! I kid you not, those are two of the most valuable pieces of advice I can ever give out. It could be as little as making contact with a web developer about your new website, or contacting a realtor to begin initial searches for an appropriate commercial space. Just get the ball rolling. No matter how slow the roll, at least your moving forward, and you will begin to build momentum. People think the scariest moment of any business is its initial / grand opening. The scariest moment is actually when an entrepreneur crosses the conceptual river into the real world where they have to put forth real, not imaginary, resources that include their money, time, hope and heart. That’s not to say the initial opening or unveiling of your business isn’t scary as hell either! I’ve cried during grand openings! Overwhelmed by the excitement, fear of acceptance, confusion and lack of sleep. BUT it’s taking those initial steps to fulfilling your dreams that can be the scariest.
So…beginnings and baby steps…they go hand in hand…and I don’t care what anyone says! Any idea can be done and done successfully by anyone who shows initiative, acts with resolve, and sometimes just gives up control and acts slightly insane…