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The Dirty Truth About Being an Entrepreneur

tpentrepreneur We were joined today by Mike Michalowicz. Mike is a serial entrepreneur and author of the just released book, The Toilet Paper Entrepreneur. He has been featured in Inc. magazine, The New York Times, and is a frequent guest on one of our favorite television shows, The Big Idea with Donny Deutsch.




The first thing we have to ask is … what the heck is a “toilet paper entrepreneur”?



mikeA toilet paper entrepreneur sheds insight on what entrepreneurialism is all about. What a lot of us read in Inc., Fortune Small Business, and Fast Company is what Google, Facebook, and YouTube did. They’re overnight successes. The dirty truth is that “overnight success” is ten to fifteen years of hard work for most entrepreneurs. Just like with entrepreneurship, there’s the stuff that happens in the bathroom that no one talks about. So the title came from an experience we’ve all had. We’re in the restroom and we’ve done what we came to do. We look over and, sure enough, there’s only three sheets dangling there. It’s in that moment where true entrepreneurialism kicks in. We do the incredible – we grab the toilet seat like a pommel horse, stretch the foot out, hook the garbage can, root through it and find three sheets and the torn up cardboard roll. With that, we’re able to complete the job!



georgeMaybe Sheryl Crow is the quintessential Toilet Paper Entrepreneur because she can get by with one sheet! Seriously, that’s a great analogy – entrepreneurs find a way to get the job done, no matter what.



No matter what. A true entrepreneur will dig deep and use things no one would ever consider.



marylynnDon’t you think that the Facebook guys and the Google guys did that at some point? We often hear that some of these overnight successes are created in a garage. They do the same thing too, don’t they?



mikeThey do in the sense that that’s how they all started. The only difference is Google received funding within a year. That’s what I call the “full roll” of cash. Most entrepreneurs don’t ever receive funding. There’s a path when you don’t get that money; there’s other ways of doing it, sometimes just as quickly.



In your book, you say that sometimes money is actually a detriment to entrepreneurs.



mikeI totally believe that money is a detriment. Money amplifies the habits we have. In my own life experience, I was 25 the first time I received a good chunk of change – a $250,000 investment. I bought nice furniture. I hired employees. I got a good car to impress people on sales calls. I wasted the money. When I didn’t have the money, I learned how to leverage it appropriately. Then as the business grew, and more money came in, I was able to use it as a vehicle for growth.



Another thing that I found interesting is that you’re not a bigg believer in business plans.



mikeI’m the antithesis of it. I just received some hate mail from a university professor saying that he couldn’t believe I said that.



georgeHey, today was my business plan lecture by the way! I’m kidding – we actually don’t talk about business plans in my class.



mikeIn my experience, business plans are wonderful dust collectors. If someone can project their own financials four or five years out, they should invest in stocks because, if you could do that only ninety days out, you could become a millionaire overnight.



georgeI’m not an advocate of “ready, fire”; you do need to “ready, aim, fire”. But at the same time, it’s amazing how many times someone writes a full-fledged business plan and then, within a few months, they end up in a completely different business. And that business takes them to their success.



mikeYes. So I think, in the early stages of a business, you have to be very cognizant of everything that’s going on, watch the consumers’ behavior, and then flow with the river and adjust the business, sometimes 180 degrees, to match what they want to buy.



I thought you were going to say “flow with the toilet”!



marylynnSince we’re back to toilet humor, tell us about one of the crappiest resources you used when you had nothing.



mikeHere’s one little trick I’ve used – the most expensive cost, besides rent and your employees, is professional services … your attorneys, accountants and so forth. I go to the local colleges. They have CPAs and attorneys working there that are now professors. They are more than willing to give free advice and work up the documents with you. Sometimes the exchange is simply being a case study for their class. It saves me thousands and thousands of dollars. I still use it today.


You can get a free chapter of The Toilet Paper Entrepreneur on Mike’s site. It’s a great book that we highly recommend to you. You’ll find it to be great bathroom reading!

Thanks, Mike, for sharing your time and wisdom with us. We wish you bigg success with this wonderful book.

Next time, we’ll talk about lovin’, touchin, and squeezin’. Until then, here’s to your bigg success!


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Snowboarder Busts Into Business

By Bigg Success Staff

Success Stories


Jason Flynn is high on life. He is living his dream. He followed his love and the money followed. The 29-year old started High Society Freeride Company, with friends Reggie Charles, Jay Morin, and Jeremy Rungi about four years ago.

The journey to his start-up was a long ride.

Finding his love
Jason grew up in Michigan. As a kid, he loved sports – football, baseball, and especially hockey. He played them all!

He was never particularly good at skiing, so a friend suggested he try snowboarding. His first time out was rough, but he absolutely fell in love with it. He soon gave up all his other extracurricular activities so he could snowboard more.

He got a job at a local resort in the equipment rental department. As an employee, he got a pass so he could snowboard even more. You get the idea? He loved it!

After he graduated from high school, he went to college. He continued working at the resort. He also got a part-time job selling jam and fudge, of all things.

That job required some travel. One of his trips took him to Denver. After he finished his work for the day, he decided to drive to Aspen. He immediately knew that he had found his place in the world.

When he got home, he quit both of his jobs. Six weeks later, with all of his worldly possessions, he headed for Aspen to begin his new life.

Discovering the idea
He quickly got a job at a ski shop. After some time, he and his future partners were sitting in the backroom looking at a pile of snowboards that had been returned. They just weren’t built to withstand the rigors that good snowboarders put them through.

That’s when they had their epiphany – they would build a snowboard that would last!

They did some research over the next week. They realized that, between the four of them, they had the right connections to make it work.

They designed a product and cajoled a friend in New Zealand to manufacture them in his garage factory. They tested and tested their snowboards. They asked their friends to test them.

They tweaked their design until they had it just right. Now they just needed the money to launch their venture.

Finding the money
Once again, the four young men pulled together. They all worked multiple jobs over the next two years to scrape together enough money to get started.

The High Society Freeride Company officially launched in 2003. It is unique because it is owned and operated entirely by riders. They embrace skiing and snowboarding!

They focus on making the highest-quality products for the best skiers and snowboarders. They limit the production of their product to insure that quality remains high.

Their strategy is working. They now sell through over 25 dealers in nine countries. The High Society Freeride Company is riding high!

Owning a business means wearing many ski hoods …
Because they’re still a relatively small company, Jason and his partners do it all. They design the product, oversee the production process, make the sales, insure delivery, and more. They’re even the janitors!

They are committed to giving back to their community. They donate a portion of all their sales to local charities. Many of these donations are made to organizations suggested by their customers.

Oh, and in case you’re wondering – Jason still takes time out of his busy schedule to snowboard four times a week! You have to have your priorities!

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Hear today's lesson and laugh on The Bigg Success Show. 


Snowboarder carves out a career,, Janis Campbell

High Society Freeride web site

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Turn Misfortune Into Fortune: Tips for Starting Over

Last time, we talked about Todd, a young real estate entrepreneur, whose triumph turned to tragedy. Todd’s story comes from an article, in the New York Times, by John Leland, entitled A Real Estate Speculator Goes From Boom To Bust. We discussed some lessons you can learn from Todd’s misfortune.

Today, we want to go beyond the lessons and offer some advice on how to recover from a devastating turn of events.

Keep your dream alive.
Stay positive. Reach out to people close to you. People love helping people. Let them.

You should also be thankful for your misfortune. Yes, we do mean that. It means you’re one step closer to success! History is ripe with examples of people who failed before they succeeded bigg. Plan on your name being added to that list!

Here’s the first step to starting over:
Assess your strengths and weaknesses. If you’re not going to repeat the past, you have to learn from it. That’s how you 13 fail forward]. Learn from it and then forget about it – move on.

In Todd’s case, it’s obvious he is a dynamic young man. His banker said he performs. That’s a striking compliment coming from a banker who has foreclosed on him. It appears that Todd is good with Operations and Sales. Management, particularly financial management, is his weakness. This is common among entrepreneurs.

You want to build on your strengths and get around your weaknesses. For example, Todd may take in a partner with strong financial skills to complement his abilities.

What if you’ve declared bankruptcy (or are deep in debt)?
We’re not attorneys, or financial planners, or anything else worthy of giving you information for your specific situation. Keep that in mind.

A successful business person referred a friend, who had just declared bankruptcy, to a banker. The bank turned him down. The business person called the banker and explained that his friend was a better risk than he was.

“How can that be?” the banker asked. “You have stellar credit.”

The business person replied, “Because if you lend me the money, I can declare bankruptcy tomorrow. My friend can’t do that for seven years.”

We’re not sure if that’s still the case, but the point is to find ways of turning your liabilities into assets. Todd has changed from a merchant-model (i.e. he buys it, then sells it), to a broker-model. Now he makes money without having to invest any capital. Brilliant!

Our quote today comes from the great Dig Hammarskjöld.

“Never measure the height of a mountain until you have reached the top.
Then you will see how low it was.”

Keep climbing. You’ll find that many of your mountains were really just mole hills.

Tune in next time to see what people regret the most, according to a recent study. Until then, here’s to your big success!

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One Man Band

By Bigg Success Staff
December 06, 2007

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Home Office

Every year, Inc. magazine publishes the Inc. 500, the 500 fastest-growing private companies in the U.S. A recent article, written by Terri Lonier, about one of those companies caught our attention.

Lessons From a Soloist Who Reached the Inc. 500 List is about a one-man company that made their list. Now that’s an unusual feat! You may be shocked to learn that Jim Fairchild, who bought out his partner several years ago to become the sole employee of Coggin & Fairchild Environmental Consultants, Inc., finished 2006 with $3.4 million in sales. That’s right – a single person operating alone!

The article is chock-full of good advice spread among 9 tips for becoming a “solopreneur”. It’s definitely worth the read. Here are some tips for getting started as a soloepreneur:

  • Stick with what you know.
  • Don’t stray too far. Focus on what you already do. Study it even more so you become an expert in a micro-segment of your industry. As a solopreneur, your market doesn’t have to be that big.

  • Find a void.
  • What’s a problem you see that you can solve better than anyone else? Think the “d-test”. Do something that’s dirty, difficult, dangerous, or designed. By designed, we mean customized (but we had to have a “d”). Find something that either your customer doesn’t want to do or doesn’t know how to do.

  • Make your size your advantage.
  • There are advantages to being big. There are benefits to small. And there are pluses to just being you. You can move faster and provide a higher quality service by going it alone. Make this your advantage as you design your service.

  • Find a customer.
  • A wise businessman once asked, “How do you start a business?” Then, he answered his own question, “Find a customer.” That’s what it really takes. That customer may even be your current employer. There may be advantages to hiring you as a consultant, rather than as an employee.

  • Ask for referrals.
  • Thrill your first customer. Then ask for referrals. Get another customer. Ask for more referrals. Leverage your way into a diversified income. Then, when one of your customers decides to start using someone else (and they will), only part of your income will be affected.

  • Leverage your time.
  • Find ways to bill your customers for the value of the service you deliver. It’s hard to get wealthy billing by the hour. If what you’re doing meets one of the “d” tests above, you’ll find it easier to charge a premium for your services.

    Another way to do this is to sell the services of people or companies with whom you’ve strategically aligned yourself. You can diversify your service mix without increasing your overhead. Make sure you screen these providers, though. You don’t want your reputation to be harmed by someone else’s imcompetence.

  • Keep costs low.
  • Start out at home, if you can. Outsource, so you don’t waste precious time and money. Focus on your core competencies. You may find other home-based solopreneurs whose core competencies meld perfectly with yours.

  • Analyze each project from multiple viewpoints.
  • Is the customer happy?
    Are your strategic partners happy?
    Are you happy?

    If your answers aren’t all affirmative, what should you do differently the next time a project like this comes your way?

Being a solopreneur can be both lucrative and fulfilling. Hopefully, our article and the article we’re referring you to will provide some inspiration for you to get started. Maybe you’ll be the next solopreneur on the Inc. 500!

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The Young And The Restless Seniors

By Bigg Success Staff
December 07, 2007

Success Stories


What’s the best age to own your own business? That’s a tough question to answer judging by two recent profiles.

33 Success Stories
You’ll see that age is not an issue because Inc. focuses on octogenarians (and then some) in business with their profile of 8 business owners over 80. These entrepreneurs are about 87 years old, on average, although Jack Weil is the sage of the group at 106. He runs Rockmount Ranch Wear, which sells western apparel.

Business Week looked at the other end of the age spectrum in their third annual profile of 25 entrepreneurs under 25. On average, they’re just over 22 years old, with the youngest entrepreneur profiled being 16-year old Jasmine Lawrence. She is the founder and CEO of Eden Body Works, which sells all-natural personal care products.

So what can you learn from these 33 success stories?

  • You’re never too young to start your own business. You’re never too old, either!
  • If you’re too young to be trusted with major responsibilities, start your own business. Now that’s responsibility! If you’ve reached that age where no one will hire you, start your own business and hire yourself!
  • You have to take risk, but make it manageable. If you read between the lines, you’ll see most of the entrepreneurs in these two profiles started small, often from their home or apartment.
  • On a related note, you don’t need a lot of money to start a business. Let’s not kid ourselves – money may help. However, many of these entrepreneurs started businesses that required relatively little money or were in industries desirable to capital providers.
  • More people, of all ages, are launching their own business. Why not you?

Bonus: 30 more success stories
If you’d like to see more profiles of young people starting their own business, check
out 30 under 30: America’s Coolest Young Entrepreneurs from Inc. While not as timely as the other two (it was released in July of this year), you’ll get even more ideas and inspiration from this slide show.