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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.

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

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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!

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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.

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

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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?

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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.

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

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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.

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

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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.

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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

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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.

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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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at_the_topToday, we welcomed Sean Aiken to The Bigg Success Show. Sean graduated from college a little over a year ago but didn’t know what he wanted to do. So he decided to work a different job one week, every week,  for one year. In the process, he raised over $20,000 for charity. His journey has been covered by the Canadian Broadcasting Corp, The New York Times, Good Morning America, Radio France, The Australian Radio Network, and too many more to mention.

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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 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!

Lessons Learned From A Bankrupt Business Owner

Last time, we talked about jump starting your passive income by investing in rental real estate. Today we’ll look at what we can learn from a bankrupt business owner.

We came across an interesting article a little bit ago in the New York Times. It was about a young real estate speculator named Todd.

Back in 1994, after attending a seminar on buying real estate, 20-year old Todd found a property which he bought, fixed up, and sold for a $4,000 profit.

By the year 2000, Todd, now 26, was holding as many as 25 houses at a time. He had perfected his system – making up to $15,000 on every house. Eight banks were in line to provide him money when he needed it. Todd decided to start building new homes because prices had gone up so much on the houses he was buying.

Fast forwarding to May of 2006, Todd was living the American dream at 33. He had a 5,000 square foot house that cost $1.2 million. He had a BMW and a Corvette. An inventory of 89 lots was waiting for buyers. He owned an office building. Life was good!

Now, his marriage has collapsed. Banks have taken back his lovely house; he now rents a small one. His beautiful cars are gone. He’s driving a pick up truck. He’s lost everything else. He sells beverages full-time, and brokers deals to other speculators part-time.

We applaud Todd for sharing his story. And a big salute to John Leland for this excellent article – A Real Estate Speculator Goes From Boom to Bust.

So what can we learn from Todd’s experience? Here are some lessons:

Just because a bank will give you $$$, that doesn’t mean you should take it!
Todd had a banker who did him a favor, if he would have only recognized it. She told him “no”. So Todd went to another banker who kept the funds coming. If Todd had only paused to consider why his first banker said no, he may be in less of a mess now.

When you’re living on borrowed money, you may be living on borrowed time.
Todd was highly leveraged, in business and at home. Being levered in business may be fine. Piling on to that with personal debt is a bad idea. Borrowing money is a two-edged sword – it will make you rich, or poor, more quickly.

When it comes to your standard of living, keep your standards low.
Todd had the best of everything – the house, the cars, and more. Which is fine, if you have assets that will produce the income to pay for everything. But when you’re borrowing to buy status symbols, you’re bound to wind up in trouble.

Know how you’re getting out before you get in.
If Todd had done this, he might have noticed that it was getting more expensive for his customers to buy houses. He could have shifted his business model once – find a customer, then build it. That would mean he was “out” without getting “in”.

Fully analyze your situation by considering a number of situations.
Todd did this once – he shifted from flipping houses to building new ones. He didn’t contemplate how rising prices were affecting his customer’s ability to buy his product. He failed to consider how long it would take him to sell his inventory of lots. Had he done so, he may have prevented the major disaster that happened.

Todd learned the hard way – by making the mistakes himself. Hopefully, you can learn from his mistakes so you don’t make the same ones.

Our quote today comes from Jonas Salk, the developer of the polio vaccine.

“I have had dreams and I have had nightmares,
but I have conquered my nightmares because of my dreams.”

So shake off the nightmare and rest assured, your sweet dreams will come true.

Next time, we’ll offer some tips for starting over, for turning misfortune into fortune. Until then, here’s to your bigg success!

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From Merchant to Mogul

By Bigg Success Staff
09-04-08

Success Stories

wine_library 

Gary Vaynerchuk is one of the best examples of personal branding we’ve ever witnessed. He “brings the thunder” to his online video show, Wine Library TV. He also hosts a show about personal development.

He took over the family business when he was 19 – a single liquor store – with annual sales around $5 million. He taught himself everything he could about wines and then turned the family business into a wine store. Then he gambled bigg with a full-page ad in The New York Times, bringing a flood of new customers to his store.

Now he’s doing over $45 million in business thanks in no small part to his show about wine. He’s become one of the world’s foremost authorities on wine, with a reported 60,000 people checking out his daily shows. He’s been given credit for helping the entire wine industry attract consumers that weren’t there before.

He’s also been featured in The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, GQ, and Time. He’s been on The Big Idea with Donny Deutsch, The Ellen DeGeneres Show, and Late Night with Conan O’Brien where he got the late-night comedian to taste grass, a cigar, and more to help him “develop his palette.”

Now, he’s the only wine merchant in the country with his own Hollywood agent! He’s garnering bigg speaking fees. He’s living his brand.

We were fortunate to see him speak recently. He emphasized how important it is to know your own DNA – what makes you … you. He said he has succeeded bigg (okay, he didn’t say it that way, but we had to put our “bigg” spin on it!) because he has remained true to himself.

He says we’re in the “gold rush of personal branding.” Gary Vaynerchuk has found his mine … and it’s a bigg one!

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

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(Image from tv.winelibrary.com)

25 Tips to Take Control of Your Life

By Bigg Success Staff
05-13-08

Work – Life Balance

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Most people find that achieving balance between their personal and professional lives is one of the biggest challenges they face. In this article, we summarize five articles that help you get in control. Each article includes five tips, which he have highlighted here, along with the link to each article so you can explore the topic more if you want.

5 Burnout-Busting Tips

#1 – Combat boredom.

#2 – Avoid focusing too much on your job.

#3 – Avoid office politics.

#4 – Avoid overworking.

#5 – Better manage your time.

Get the full details on these tips to bust job burnout from this great article by Dr. John M. Grohol at PsychCentral. And now for some more on office politics …

5 Pointers on Office Politics

#1 – Don’t try to change or resist company culture.

#2 – Practice self-awareness.

#3 – Manage your stress levels.

#4 – Be approachable all the time.

#5 – Network before you need to network.

This is a fantastic post by Penelope Trunk, The Brazen Careerist and author of the fantastic book, The Brazen Careerist: The New Rules for Success. Read the entire post for all the details of her five tips to survive politics at work.

5 Time Management Tricks

#1 – Tame the e-mail beast.

#2 – Eliminate unnecessary meetings.

#3 – Put up boundaries.

#4 – Find your rhythm and schedule around it.

#5 – Say no.

Marci Alboher did a great job with this article for the New York Times. Read her full description of each of these five tips and you’ll have time on your hands!

5 Tips to Set Boundaries Even if You’re a Workaholic

#1 – Choose flow-inducing hobbies that engage you and pull your mind away from work.

#2 – Set goals in your personal life just like you do in your professional life.

#3 – Schedule dates with people for non-work activities.

#4 – Use technology to separate your professional and personal lives.

#5 – Decide in advance when you want to say no.

These suggestions come from the blog of Tim Ferriss, author of the great book, The 4-Hour Workweek.  This was a guest post by Anne Zelenka, editor at large of Web Worker Daily. Check out her full article on five boundary-setting tips for people who are obsessed with work

5 Tips to Make Your Next Family Vacation a Bigg Success

#1 – Try something different.

#2 – Do your homework.

#3 – Leave work at home.

#4 – Plan for anxiety.

#5 – Make time to bond.

You can read all that Dr. Edythe Harvey has to say about making the most of your next family vacation in this great article from Newswise.

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

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(Image by Lincolnian,CC 2.0)