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The Only Way to Unite Us and Solve All the Problems of the World

entrepreurs-solving-problems-for-BIGG-SuccessWe face some huge problems in the world. Some of them are of our own making. Some are persistent issues that we haven’t yet conquered.

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The problems we face aren’t unprecedented. Our ancestors have taken on problems of similar scope. But we still shouldn’t underestimate the size of our current challenges.

As we look forward to the election here in the United States, we see only one solution to all of these problems. It can be described in one term.

That term doesn’t start with a D. Nor does it start with a R. The one word solution starts with an E:

Entrepreneurs are the key to solving the problems of the world.

We need entrepreneurs like never before:

We need entrepreneurs in the traditional sense of the word.

Entrepreneurs are the economic engine of any economy.

We see people living in poverty. More and more people are giving up. They have stopped looking for work.

The number of people in the labor market in the United States has hit a 30-year low. We’ve witnessed all-time highs in the number of people receiving government assistance, even affecting the most educated.

More and more good people are settling for a life of dependency.

Entrepreneurship is the answer. Yet startups are at
record lows.

And we are feeling the pain: two-thirds of all net new jobs
a
re created by small businesses. Most of those come from firms less than five years old.

And research shows that entrepreneurship begets entrepreneurs:

“…by far the most significant cause of entrepreneurial opportunities is prior entrepreneurial activity.”

Entrepreneurship creates opportunity for an expanding circle of people.

Yes, we need a growing, thriving entrepreneurial economy. We need to create an environment that nurtures it all over the world.

We need to unleash its power. It’s the prosperity solution. The only alternative is austerity.

So entrepreneurship is the single solution with the power to unite us.

We need more entrepreneurs now – to solve problems for customers, buy from suppliers, create jobs for the unemployed and underemployed, increase the tax base and build wealth for themselves and their investors.

These entrepreneurs will then fuel more entrepreneurship and wealth will continue to expand as one entrepreneurial firm spins off from another.

That’s an important note: The pie doesn’t get smaller for anyone. The pie doesn’t stay the same. The pie gets bigger.

But here’s another important note: Wealth is only created by entrepreneurs when they solve a problem or create an opportunity for their customers. Entrepreneurship makes people better off on all sides of the relationship!

We need more for-profit entrepreneurs AND non-profit entrepreneurs.

We need more entrepreneurial politicians.

Are you tired of the same old rhetoric election season after election season? We need politicians with fresh ideas, new alternatives and a BIGG vision.

We need entrepreneurial politicians who argue their own merits rather than just bashing their competition. Isn’t that one of first rules of sales?

Wouldn’t it be nice to see political contests conducted at a level of maturity at least equal to an election for Student Council President?

We need entrepreneurial politicians who under-promise and over-deliver – people who don’t make a promise in the first place if they don’t think they can make it so.

We need politicians who understand the order of value, as entrepreneurs do. First, you create value for others which then creates value for yourself.

Job security for a politician should come from serving constituents, not him- or herself. We know this goes against a politician’s nature, but it is the entrepreneur’s nature.

And what better way to serve your constituents than to create an environment for more entrepreneurship?

We need more entrepreneurial citizens.

The internet is connecting us like never before. It is flattening organizations and decentralizing operations.

As the pace of our lives increases, command-and-control is dying.

So why should we expect it to work with government?

As citizens, we need to understand that the major problems we face will only be solved through grassroots initiatives. We can’t just vote and be done. We must vote. But that’s not enough.

So the bottom line is: We need YOU!

We need you to participate. But more importantly, we need you to lead.

We need you to live up to your full potential. We need you to help others be a BIGG success. And in so doing, you too will reach BIGG success!

Do you think entrepreneurs are the key?

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Office Politics and How to Rock the Boat

rocked_boatWe recently met up with our friend, Andrew Timms. A great time was had by all as they say. He told us that he’s running for a local political office and related a conversation where it was stated that “politics is dirty business.”

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His response caught our attention. He said:

“Politics isn’t dirty business; partisanship is.”

We think he’s right and we’re not trying to be partisan!

But we’ve forgotten that politics is supposed to be a noble endeavor. The term “politics” has gotten a bad rap because we use it when we really mean partisan.

Politics is supposed to be about give and take. It’s the business of compromise. According to Merriam-Webster, politics is about guiding or influencing governmental policy.

Those are pretty soft words, aren’t they? Guiding. Influencing.

Doesn’t sound dirty, does it?

On the other hand, Merriam-Webster says that partisanship is “a firm adherent to a party, faction, cause or person” but they don’t stop there. They add “especially: one exhibiting blind, prejudiced and unreasoning allegiance.”

Now that’s a pretty strong indictment. Partisanship is dirty at best and downright stupid at worst.

Because everybody is wrong sometimes. And every group misses the mark at least occasionally. 

Bigg success is life on your own terms. It means you think for yourself. You don’t blindly follow anyone or any group. 

Politics and partisanship doesn’t just apply to government. We have them at the office as well. It’s particularly important that leaders aren’t partisan.

So let’s go back to the 60’s to discuss 3 bitchin’ tips to rock the partisan boat as a leader. C’mon. Get your mojo going! Are you ready to rock?

You say yes. I say no.

You say stop. And I say go, go, go.
Oh no. You say goodbye. And I say hello.
Hello. Hello.

Now that we’re through with our tribute to the Beatles, our first tip is to be careful of “yes” people.

We all like confirmation of our ideas. It’s a boost to our ego. But a lot of times, it’s the counterpoint that keeps you out of trouble.

As a leader, you need to go out of your way to seek out opinions that differ from yours. Encourage your people – heck reward them – for speaking out with a different point-of-view.

Wild Thing, you make my heart sing.

Thanks to The Troggs, our second tip is to be a political animal. Great politicians are great compromisers.

As a bigg goal-getter, you can do even better. Bring factions together to find a better alternative. Don’t compromise. Synergize!

When you get people working together for a common solution instead of defending their side, you’ll find a bigger win in most cases than what either side could come up with on their own.

Let’s get past the British invasion and …

Break on Through to the Other Side!
Straight from The Doors, our third tip for rocking the partisan boat is to open the door to other parties.

If you’re a suit, get with the geeks.
If you’re a bean counter, hang out with the pitchmen or women.
If you’re white collar, spend some time with blue collar workers.
If you’re C-level, get out on the front line.
If you’re an insider, solicit the input of outsiders.

Take these groovy tips and rock the boat on partisanship. You’ll soon be bookin’ on the road to bigg success.

How do you rock the partisan boat?
Share that with us by leaving a comment, e-mailing us at bigginfo@biggsuccess.com or leaving a voice message at 888.455.BIGG (2444).

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Thanks for hanging out at our pad today. Please join us next time when we get out blender to create a better life. Until then, here’s to your bigg success.

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(Image in today's post from Manthy)

Live Like a King on Less

ocean-viewMost people’s portfolios have been hit hard. They’ve come back some but we’re still down. People who are close to retiring are the most worried. However, we all have to think about having enough money for retirement.

We have three options – invest more, risk more, or plan to live on less when we do retire. None of those sound particularly attractive, do they?

Unless you can live like a king or queen on less!

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That’s why a recent article in Business Week caught our attention. It says that Panama is becoming a popular destination for retirees. It’s been going on for a few years now but really seems to be gaining momentum.

We hasten to say that, even if you’re not thinking about retiring soon or you wouldn’t even consider retiring outside your country, you still might consider putting Panama on your list of vacation destinations.

In addition to the Business Week article, we referred to PanamaInfo.com as a source for the information we’ll discuss today.

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georgeFrom everything I saw as we prepared for this show, I’d say a trip to Panama is in our future! I want to check it out.

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marylynnI’m on board, George. When are we leaving? Actually, let me rephrase that … I’m good with our weather this time of the year. I want to go there in the winter when it’s freezing cold here and 80 degrees there!

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Climate

It’s tropical and humid during the day most of the year in the highlands, which includes the capital of the country, Panama City. Temperatures range between eighty and ninety degrees Fahrenheit during the day.

The main tourist season corresponds with their dry season which runs from mid-December through May. In the rainy season, though, it rains for an hour or two about every day. That’s also when the hotels offer special rates.

Topography

Panama is an isthmus that connects Central America with South America. Hence the Panama Canal!

It has about 1,000 miles of coastline and 1,500 islands nearby. A mountain slices through the middle of the country. Panama also has five million acres of parks and more species of birds than the U.S. and Canada combined.

Cost of living

The main reason retirees are flocking to Panama is its low cost of living. The government encourages retirees to spend their golden years there. Seniors get discounts on just about everything.

For example, they save 50% on tickets to concerts, the theater and movies. A movie ticket normally costs $4 (dollars are the currency in Panama). Seniors pay $2.

They also get 25% off at restaurants, a 30% discount on most travel, except flights on which they save 25%. You name it and seniors likely get a discount, even on things like dentist and doctor visits.

Not that the price is high, relatively speaking, in the first place. The Business Week article points out that Panama has first-class health care at Third World prices.

Seniors even get a 50% discount on home closing costs. Once you buy your property, you have all the ownership rights any Panamanian would have.

And you don’t have to pay any property taxes for 20 years or pay any tax on your foreign income.

To give you some perspective on how inexpensive homes are there, the Business Week article mentions a couple who bought a 3,000 square foot oceanfront penthouse in 2007 for $250,000. At that time, it would have cost $3,000,000 to buy that same property in Miami.

Of course, it’s a lot cheaper in Miami now, but it’s still not close to $250,000. Speaking of Miami, Panama is only about a 2½ hour flight from Miami.

There’s a local joke that Panama is just like Miami. Except that it is safer. More people speak English. There are no hurricanes. And Americans are more popular!

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Thanks for reading our post today. Please join us next time when we ask, “Can you have too much money?” Until then, here’s to your bigg success!

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My Employer is Eliminating 401(k) Matches

retirement Companies are responding aggressively to the bad economic news. Layoffs, hiring freezes, and salary freezes have been some of the most common actions so far.

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Now, more and more employers are looking at eliminating the matching of 401(k) contributions. According to a survey by Watson Wyatt, the global human resources and financial services firm, things are changing quickly. In October, 2% of firms said they had already cut back on these matches and 4% said they planned to. Two months later, in December, 3% had already made the cut and 7% said they intended to.

And these are large companies. Established brands that we all know. Motorola, FedEx, Kodak, and Starbucks just to name a few.

They’re usually using the word “suspend” rather than “eliminate” when they announce these cuts. But it raises a question:

If my employer stops matching my contribution to my
401(k), should I still keep making contributions myself?

It forces us to save

This is perhaps the biggest reason to keep making contributions. Financial planners have said for years that we should pay ourselves first. Investing it before we get it, as we do with our 401(k), is the best way to make sure that happens.

Most people report that they don’t really miss the money. It’s like the taxes that are deducted from our paychecks – the government knows most of us won’t miss the money if we don’t see it.

Of course, there are ways to set up an automatic deduction from our checking or savings account for investments outside of a 401(k). That’s really close to having it deducted from our paycheck, but it’s not quite the same. That little variation can make a bigg difference for some people. You have to judge that for yourself.

Higher limits

The next best option to a 401(k) for most people would be an IRA because contributions may also be deductible. You should check with your financial advisor about the specifics of your situation.

Because you invest before paying taxes, it’s as if the government is making part of the contribution for you. For example, if you made a $1,000 contribution to one of these retirement plans and you’re in the 25% tax bracket, you would pay $250 less in taxes. So, in essence, you’re only out of pocket $750.

With either plan, you don’t pay taxes on the money you earn on your investments until you pull it out. Deductible and deferred – that’s a pretty powerful combination.

Where the 401(k) gains favor is that it has higher maximum limits – your contributions to your 401(k) can total up to $16,500 in 2009 ($22,000 if you’re over 50). You can’t contribute more than $5,000 to an IRA in most cases.

If my employer cuts or eliminates my 401(k) match, are there
reasons to fund my retirement through another vehicle?

A lot of 401(k) plans offer fairly limited investment options and you may pay lower fees in a plan that’s not a 401(k). 

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The bigger issue

It’s not like we don’t already have a sense of it. But recent months have reinforced this paradigm. We can’t count on anyone or anything for any part of our financial future. We must take full control of our own finances. We have to build our own safety nets to make sure we are financially secure.

How much will you have at retirement?

It really boils down to three factors:

  • how much we invest
  • how much we earn on our investment (after all fees and taxes)
  • how long it is invested

From these three factors, we see that we have three options if we don’t want to retire on less money:

1st – We can try to earn more on the money we invest.
That involves taking more risk and we don’t have much appetite for that right now. So this probably isn’t going to fly with most of us.

2nd – We can postpone our retirement.
This buys us more time. People who are really close to retirement right now may not have much of a choice. They may have to do this. But if you still have some time on your side, there may be a better way.

3rd – We can increase our contributions.
Look at your budget and see if there is any way you can make up for the investment your company was making.

If your employer reinstates matching contributions, you can stop contributing at the increased rate and enjoy the extra money in your budget … or …

… you can keep making your higher contributions to give your retirement a kick!

To all our readers in Australia, happy Australia Day! And we hope our friends in India enjoy Republic Day!

And thank you so much for spending time with us today. Join us next time when we discuss extreme multi-tasking. Until then, here’s to your bigg success!

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Direct link to The Bigg Success Show audio file:
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(Image in today's post by woodsy)

The Constitution: A Model for Your Organization

constitution Today in the United States, we’re inaugurating Barack Obama as our 44th President today. It’s both a celebration and an orderly transfer of power.

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marylynn
I can hear “Hail to the Chief” being played. I just love that song!

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georgeI got inaugurated once. I was on the speech team in Junior High School. I’m dating myself here, but I played Gerald Ford taking the oath. So I tripped … I mean stepped … up to the microphone, held up my right hand, and said, “I, Gerald R. Ford, do solemnly swear that I will faithfully execute the Office of President and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.

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Yes, all Presidents solemnly swear to uphold the Constitution. We hadn’t thought about this for some time, but we started discussing the purpose of a Constitution.

The United States Constitution itself tells us. It begins with the famous line “We the People of the United States” and then goes into the reasons for the document:

“in Order to form a more perfect Union”
At least we know that the Founding Fathers were realists – they didn’t expect a “perfect” union! They just felt the Constitution would help make things better.

“establish Justice”
It was important to establish laws so that every man and woman was treated the same. 

“ensure domestic Tranquility”
The Constitution allows for peaceful disagreement and debate.

“provide for the common defence”
It was important to determine how the safety of the citizenry would be insured.

“promote the general Welfare”
But it goes beyond safety. The Constitution also maps out how to make things better for the people of the country.

“secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity”
This document should insure the freedom of its citizens now and in the future.

Now think about that list. These are the reasons why the Founding Fathers felt it was important to have a Constitution.

But this isn’t a civics lesson. Which is good because we sure wouldn’t be qualified to talk about it! But it made us think …

Aren’t those good reasons for us to have a Constitution in our organizations?

A framework for growth

As small business owners, we often run from structure. We are rebels at heart. We like to break the rules. These characteristics are part of what lead to the success of many small business owners. However, this lack of structure is also what keeps many of their businesses really small.

So does your organization need a Constitution? If you want to establish a framework to grow your business and insure that all people in your organization get treated fairly, then YES!

The Constitution as a model

To find out how to establish a framework for your organization, look at the Constitution.

Set down governing principles.
This list of principles expresses the Core Values of the organization. All decisions should be congruent with these principles.

Establish a structure. How is it organized? This helps us see the bigg picture. Think about your Mission.

Define procedures. How is it run? How do we do things around here? It doesn’t set the ceiling for idealistic behavior, but it does establish a floor. What is the minimum acceptable behavior? Think of this as your Operations Manual.

Describe duties. What are the obligations of the people involved? Think Job Descriptions.

Delineates powers.  What are the boundaries within which the people involved must operate? What resources are available to help them do their jobs? Does this sound like an Employee Handbook?

Can you imagine what our lives would be like without our Constitution? While none of us would say everything runs perfectly, they certainly run more smoothly because of our system of government. Using the Constitution as a model for your organization is a great way to form a more perfect union …

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Thanks so much for stopping by today. Join us next as we begin a three-part series on heroes. Until then, here’s to your bigg success!

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Direct link to The Bigg Success Show audio file:
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