Les McKeown on The Synergist – Part 1

The Synergist | Les McKeown | The BIGG Success Show PodcastWe were thrilled to visit with a returning guest on The BIGG Success Show today. Les McKeown started over 40 companies before launching Predictable Success, a business education and consulting company that helps organizations of all sizes – from small businesses to Fortune 100 companies.

We talked with him about his latest book,
The Synergist

Click a player to hear Les talk with George & Mary-Lynn on The BIGG Success Show Podcast.

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Listen to the show to discover:

  • why Les wrote this sequel to his first book, Predictable Success
  • the four personalities present in every growing business
  • the strengths of each of those personalities
  • how they work together
  • which personality types work best with each other

Hear more in this series:
Les McKeown on The Synergist – Part 2
Les McKeown on The Synergist – Part 3

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Do Nothing to Be a Success Faster

nothing done on the to do list | BIGG SuccessYes, you’re reading it right. Sometimes it pays to do nothing.

Let’s look at two situations where this may be the case.


As Kenny Rogers sang in The Gambler, “you gotta know when to hold ’em.”

We’ve witnessed extreme volatility in the stock market. But in spite of that, we’ve held tight.

Research still shows that most people who pull their money out and then put it back in tend to buy high and sell low. It’s the exact opposite of what you want to do.

The same may be true for your business. Right now is probably not the best time to sell. The value of small businesses tend to follow the stock market.

So you might want to hold for now until market prices recover and credit is more generally available. In the meantime, keep making money and improving the business.

Of course, you should always consult with your professional advisors about the specifics of your situation.


In a go-go-go, gotta-have-it-now world, this may seem like strange advice. But sometimes it pays to wait.

For example, it may pay to wait to start a business. You may have a good idea but the market isn’t there right now.

Or you may want to wait until you gain some relevant experience. Or because you’re almost vested in your company’s retirement plan.

Most things in life aren’t now or never. Wait is a viable option.

Sometimes doing nothing helps you reach BIGG success faster!

Image in this post from Fanginhoon

Is Getting a Job Riskier Than Starting a Business?

Play at your own riskWe were recently walking through the retail business area of our campus – our campus “downtown” you might call it. In the middle of the main block, two storefronts in a row were boarded up.

It’s a reminder that small businesses fail. The dreams of two or more entrepreneurs were unrealized. Lives were disrupted. Money may have been lost.

The most cited number is misinterpreted

Like us, you’ve probably heard it over and over again. It usually goes something like this:

“Starting a business is risky. Ninety percent of all entrepreneurial ventures fail within the first year.”

Some people say two years or five years. It doesn’t matter; the number is daunting.

We think the origin of this number stems from The State of Small Business: A Report to the President for the year 1994. We got it via Entrepreneurial Finance by Janet Kilholm Smith and Richard Smith.

The 90% number so often quoted is a misinterpretation of the data. The research actually showed that nearly 91 businesses ceased operations for every 100 startups, on average for the five years from 1990 to 1994.

To understand the misunderstanding, let’s say 100 new jobs were created in the past year while 91 people got laid off. Would we say we had a 91% job loss rate? Or would we say the net gain is 9 jobs?

When it comes to jobs, net gains are reported. When the subject is startups, the failure rate is cited. Why the difference?

The actual failure rate of startups

Scott Shane takes a different approach in his excellent book, The Illusions of Entrepreneurship: The Costly Myths that Entrepreneurs, Investors, and Policy Makers Live By. His data shows that, if 100 entrepreneurial ventures were started today, the expected number of failures each year would be:

failure rate chart

While his numbers look a whole lot better, the odds are still stacked against startup entrepreneurs. But statistics are funny things.

The failure rate for employees

The Bureau of Labor Statistics recently released the results of a long-term study on labor market mobility. You can go to their news release if you want the details. In general, they showed that if 100 people started a new job today, only 67 would still hold that same job in a year. In five years, only 32 will hold the same position in five years.

So the survival rate for jobs is lower than the survival rate for startups!

We can hear the chorus of objections.

Some of these employees may have been promoted.

Others may have elected to take another job – maybe even a better one.

Of course, some were involuntarily let go.

Even then, many of them may have been eligible for unemployment.

In any case, they didn’t have money at risk like entrepreneurs do.

The number rarely discussed

Well said! However, it also highlights what we often ignore when we cite statistics about the failure rate of startups:

Some of the startup entrepreneurs may have ceased operations for a better opportunity – as an employee or an entrepreneur.

And then there’s the statistic we haven’t talked about yet. In fact, almost no one ever talks about it. Its source is the same as the 90% statistic mentioned earlier.

Only 9% of startups cease operations with unpaid obligations, on average.

Few entrepreneurs actually walk away owing money. They may have lost what they invested. However, no one else did. Suddenly, entrepreneuring doesn’t sound quite as risky as we are led to believe by popular lore

Freedom or security is the age old argument. It turns out there are risks in both employment and entrepreneuring. Successful entrepreneurs are masters at risk mitigation.

You can reduce the risk of leaving your job with a little advance preparation. Test yourself against these 10 signs you’re ready to quit your job and start a business. And check out The Entrepreneur Equation by the amazing Carol Roth.

Image in this post from nosheep

Phil Gerbyshak on Twitterworks – Part 2

twitterworks-book-coverWe continue our discussion with Phil Gerbyshak. He’s a speaker, coach and trainer to small-and-medium sized businesses who want to make it great in life and business. Phil’s also an author, recently publishing his second book, #Twitterworks.

In Part 1 of our interview Phil talks with us about the steps he took to leave the corporate world to live life on his own terms and start his own consulting business. Phil also shared some tips from his book #Twitterworks for small business on how to use Twitter to create brand awareness.

In Part 2 of our interview, Phil talks with us about:

  • How small businesses can use Twitter to help with customer retention.
  • We also ask Phil what he means when he says small businesses should focus on connections, not contacts.
  • Why earned attention from your customers is just as valuable, and in some cases more valuable,  as buying media time.

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The Coming Age of Small Business-Part 2

small-businessMalcolm Gladwell wrote a great article for The New Yorker a while ago. He talks about how David beats Goliath. It’s a great read full of stories about underdogs.

The main story is about a girl’s basketball team that made the national championships when they shouldn’t have won a game. The other stories – from David to Lawrence of Arabia – all support why these girls were able to achieve what they did.



He cites a study that showed that small armies beat superior opponents a little over one-fourth of the time (28.5%). However, when these underdogs ignored the conventions of war and fought on their own terms, they won nearly two-thirds of the time (63.6%)!

So you’re two times more likely to win if you set the rules of the game!

Set your terms to get your terms

Bigg success is life on your own terms. So it turns out that it’s a circle. You set the terms (your strategy) so you get the terms you desire (your mission).

You are the entrepreneur of your life. You’re in charge. Set the terms for the battles you engage in so you’re more likely to win those battles.

Small businesses, the Davids of the business world, can trump the Goliaths. Not by trying to compete head on. Not by following the conventions.

By crafting strategies that may fly in the face of wisdom and engaging the Goliaths in unfamiliar ways, Davids can be victorious.

The price for bigg success

If you plan to go head-to-head with the Goliaths, there’s a price you must be willing to pay.

It takes effort. You have to be willing to work longer. You have to work harder. As Gladwell says, effort trumps ability.

He cites the girls’ basketball team. Their secret? A full court press. Not just when the game was in its final minutes like a lot of teams do. These girls used a full court press for the entire game.

It rattled their opponents who hadn’t practiced for a full court press. Their standard plays started at half court. By engaging their opponents on the whole court, these girls put them on unfamiliar turf.

There are many ways today for small businesses – even solopreneurs – to trump large competitors. In many cases, they don’t involve money. They involve time. But that’s okay because you know that effort trumps ability if you focus that effort on unconventional tactics.

That’s how to make your small business a bigg success!


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Thank you so much for checking in with us today. Next time, we’ll chat about why women shouldn’t compete with men. Or is it the other way around? Please join us next time to find out. Until then, here’s to your bigg success!

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The Coming Age of Small Business – Part 1