It is Good to Dream

I met with a couple the other day that wanted to start a business. They had what they believed was a “great concept”.  Everyone they told it to, said that is was gold.  They were told that you have to do this.  The husband was the dreamer and explained this concept.  The wife came along, I thing because she would not let loose of the purse strings unless she was able to buy into the concept becoming a successful business.

s we sat discussing the concept, we agreed that the concept had merit.  The dreamer was so excited seeing how it could help almost every industry. He thought he solved the problem to the challenge that all business run into his high customer acquisition cost.  He was talking about how the concept could help those that were living pay check to pay check.

As I tried to focus the dreamer on how to start this out in a smaller scale and establish a proof of concept.  The next hour he was bouncing off every place this could work.  I asked for him to give me his best niche business to target first with this concept. Again, the dreamer’s thinking was to big.


The challenge was to sit him down to channel all of that positive energy into creating a business plan.  One that identifies the target and the value that would be derived.  The cost and how will he get paid.  What other benefits would happen for the end user and how to make that process and benefit simple to the end user.

That is when a dream hits reality.  That is when you realize that a granular plan, with healthy evaluation points that can help say no to a losing proposition early on before investing any more money.  You cannot surround yourself with just yes people. You need to hear the truth and approach the process with a healthy dose of skepticism.  If you think it is good then refine the value proposition in three to four sentences that can serve as an elevator pitch.  In this specific plan, we did not want to boil the ocean so the goal for the proof of concept is to create a positive cash flow. That way the next niche can be fueled by money already coming into the business.

The other part was how much did he need to make on a monthly basis to deem this a success.  This proof of concept is not something you quit your job over.  It just says to take step 2.  The challenge I proposed was to find that one idea and build out a granular plan, then we could step in and help him with marketing and having a digital footprint.

More than just the idea, it is important with whom we decide to partner with.  This dreamer could get distracted for the task at hand and never be able to make the next leap.  The other option is that in three weeks he has a fully vetted plan that makes sense and it can be executed against with a built in out clause, that would stop the bleeding on a loser.

My thoughts are that I love to interact with Dreamers.  However, I can only partner with dreamers that can map out a logical business plan and have embedded in it a healthy dose of “Murphy;s Law”.  I sure hope this dreamer rises to the occasion and presents something that we can invest in together.  Here is rooting for the dreamer.

Small Business

I have seen many new programs out there that are designed to get leads from the internet. The idea is to get in the top 6 spots on page one of Google.  There is a market for Google local that is creating new avenues for local small business to be seen and receive calls.  Many small businesses cannot survive the first year and generally fail because they do not get enough people that are interested visiting their business.

Where we used to consider running ads in the News paper or Penny Saver or run a commercial on television, now we are talking about lead traffic via the internet. If I can increase the number of times my phone rings based on strategic partnerships with proven lead generation companies, then I could look at several  business simultaneously without necessarily having to invest in brick and mortar businesses.

That would allow me to many different things.  I have a property with in or around a thousand trees.  I had a stump removal company come out and worked out a deal where he removed a ton of stumps.  i thought about what a cash cow that could be if I could create traffic.  Of course I would need to make an investment in the grinder, a pickup tuck and a trailer.  that is not a small investment.  But if I was getting 40 leads a month for a lead source and closed 25 of them.  Say the average ticket was $350, then I hired someone to do the work.  The revenue for the month would be $8,750. Lets say hardware expense is $1,000 per month.  Lets pay the labor $4,000.  That leaves $3,750 per month for six months of the year.

What could I do with the truck that I already have over the winter months.  What about snow removal?  The point is, that the game has changed and we have opportunities to increase sales like never before.  So the basics are still looking at ideas where you can farm out the work. It is your idea, your sales and administration, but the actual doing will be done by others.  I know I have many friends that work at the city mission.  I believe I could provide jobs for folks down on their luck as long as I had responsible supervisors.  That would make a tremendous impact in hiring those that need work and I could be a part of many businesses.  The key will be to see what work I can do and then where I can partner to have the greatest impact.

I even thought about selling solar panels.  that is a funny statement with all of the calls we get every day from someone wanting to sell us a solar solution.  I would imagine their is some success that has to be happening or we would not continue to get these call.  But what happens to the person that is interested, but not at the moment a cold caller places the call to your home.  The get on the internet and type in solar and the city you are in and get names to choose from. What if your name was one of the top three on Google local.  Well then you would get a ton of calls.

Their really is no limitation to what we can do in this country leveraging the internet.  We can buy and sell just about anything.  The key is to pick a path and then to just grind it out and refuse to fail.


When it gets Real

My son joined the United States Marine Corp about three and a half years ago.  It was a good place for him to find confidence and direction.  That has happened in spades. Like me, he gets the impulse bug and just wants to dive in and research later.  So coming out of the marines he wants to know how to invest.  He had to work through the low lying fruit like Navy Federal and USAA.  They do have vehicles, but they cannot compete with the big investment house.  He mentioned Vanguard as an option that he had and I encouraged him to jump on ot quick.  That is a well managed company with great fund managers.  That will be money in a Roth IRA that will be a diversified mutual fund more geared to securities versus bonds.  More time means more risk tolerant.

Then the next conversation was on day trading.  This is where as a kid, he is brilliant, but needs to put the research into it.  I asked him to tell me what he knew about day trading because two things happen.  One is you are married to the terminal so you can sell at the exact blip that you are looking for.  The other is to know that people get crushed in day trading and they look like guys trying to sell their watches in Atlantic City so that they could get back to gambling.  Day trading has to have a lot of people at the tail end of the rise.

The direction he wanted to follow was one who did pump and dump with penny stocks.  I told him that at its core it is fraud.  They get everyone to get in and when they make there money, they get out and everyone else fends for themselves as the stock normalizes on the way down.  The problem is that you bought to late into the pump and the drop down has made you upside down. This means you hold a loss on paper for a penny stock that is highly unlikely to go anywhere unless someone tries another pump and dump play.


I sent my son newsletter and tons of support for shorter term plays that all are based on phenomenal accounting and finance rating.  Place an order with a trailing 25% sell so if it tanks, your loss is minimized to twenty five percent of your investment.

This is where my son looks more like the young me.  He knows what companies are relevant today and he will tinker in and out. he will learn more about the companies overtime and probably get pretty good at reading the tea leaves.

The funny part is I know what I believe, but even after giving free education, it does not change what young blood will actually do.  I do feel great that he is in Vanguard, I will take that as a win.


In Control

Most people want to retire early so they can take control of their future and destiny.  The idea is to remove the stress that comes with not having enough money.  What is the best way to have a stress free life.  Money is only one variable that people trying to fix.  Money does not create happiness, it only removes an area of worry and concern.  It is also possible to not know what to do with money once you have it and you just watch it slip through your fingers.

It is important to understand the why.  Once you understand that, then you can motivate yourself on a daily basis.  That helps you stay in the grind and do the extra things that most people do not want to do.  At the same time, if you do not have balance in your life then you will just introduce another variable that is harder to control.

We all need healthy relationships.  We need a healthy family life.  If spouses opt to spend too much time at work and less with the family, their are intangible costs that for many are just too costly.

The secret to happiness comes from being thankful for everything that you have been given.  That thankfulness will keep your head locked in a healthy and positive focus.  It is possible to be a servant to others and still be successful yourself.  I had a mentor tell me once that when you help people get what they want, they will help you get what you want.  The application point is to be a giver and not a taker.

The more prudent we are with our spending habits, the more generous we can be with our abundance.  Again the why is a critical determining factor of success and taking the best path to getting there.

Find the Single Best Route for You

As I am throwing spaghetti against the wall to see what sticks, I do have a recommendation.  Do not try a lot of these ideas.  Lock into one that seems to make the most sense for you and go at it one hundred miles an hour.  I know I am not the greatest multi-tasker in the world and going one quarter speed in five different directions will not get you where you need to go.  Part of this process is to best understand your skill sets and see which best lends itself to you being able to make gobs of money with it.

It is really important that you are brutally honest with yourself.  It does no good to do a bunch of work to get to the point where your weakness or lack of confidence gets hit head on.  If these are known weaknesses then you have to have a plan to circumvent them.  The best way to do that if you absolutely cannot overcome a particular obstacle is to partner with somebody else.  The yen and yang principle could be a win/win for both parties.

The other thing to consider is to look at it as a game.  have fun with it.  If something does not work, then try a different approach.  Again, doing the research to see where your strengths are optimized and weaknesses are diminished is the best due diligence that you can do.  You have to be able to evaluate whether you possess the necessary skill sets in all aspects of the business in order to be successful.

I have posted earlier that I am not a detail person.  So the fact that my first business was a auto detailing company should be mocked and ridiculed.  Not only am I not one for details, I am not one for cars either.  This should have sent up so many red flags that I ran from this business.  So do not be lazy in doing the research on different business through a sober understanding of your own capabilities.

While I want you to believe that you are better than you think you are, that only happens by acquiring a mindset of overcoming obstacles as they come up.  These are the real life lessons.  My first real life lesson was making sure I had an exit strategy. Saying you are all in and there is no plan B is flat out irresponsible.  If you go down,  likely people around you will be negatively impacted as well.

Be wide eyed, but have a plan and work it as hard as possible.  While your heads down making it happen, make sure you are accountable to several people who can look at the criteria that indicates success, just getting by or somebody pull me out of this train wreck.

There has to be a balance of working a single plan with a whole heart, but knowing when to call in a day, pull the plug and then look at something else.  For me, it was very necessary after my first business failure, that I work a job where I took a salary.  I owed that to my wife.  Sometimes you need time to lick the wounds and time to recover financially before trying the next big thing.  i am also a big fan of trying most of these options while you have a full-time job so that this just becomes incremental income to put towards your retirement goals.

If you can replace your income and take your part-time business to be your full-time business make sure that you are not taking a step back to achieving your retirement goals by taking a quality of life or engaging primarily in achieving short-term goals.

Multi-level Marketing

Multi-level marketing is a unique way to create wealth.  You can make money by selling a product or service, as well as make money from getting other to sign in in your down line.  Where this is different from a Pyramid Scheme or a Ponzi scheme is that it actually delivers a product or service.

So if you are influential in your sphere of influence, it is possible to get a lot of people to sign up in your down line.  The challenge is that maybe all of those people you have signed up are not influential and do not feel comfortable approaching their friends and family about a business venture.  This is sales 101, create your warm list.  After you have burned through your family and friends most people flame out.  Some stay in for decades, because they see others that have made it by just keeping after it. It is a numbers game.

The emotional toll of having your friends and family not want to pick up the phone when you call is quite high. I have been susceptible to the MLM multiple times.  Some will declare that this is cutting edge technology that they are promoting or a breakthrough cure for cancer and the distribution model just happens to be MLM.  Certain ones like Amway always have something new, but it is not quite fully baked in order for people to be able to replicate success.

A Ponzi scheme is an investment where an individual, pays a very high rate of return to investors, and that money is coming from new investors.  The tell-tale sign is an unusually high rate of return or where the return is so consistent that it raises red flags.

The business feels real, because investors are getting real returns. These investors tell friends and loved ones of these great returns and everyone wants in.  The influx of cash is what continues to pay the investors to sustain the scheme.  Then a tipping point is hit when the amount of new investors is not enough to pay to investors.  The dollars are held by one person that keeps those dollars as the Ponzi scheme breaks down.

The end game is when the holder of the Ponzi scheme disappears taking all of the money that has not yet been distributed.

A pyramid scheme also presents an unreal rate of return. Where it is different from a Ponzi scheme is that their is one central holder of funds.  In a pyramid scheme, those that recruit others derive money.  If one does not recruit, then they fail.  Ponzi relies on you think you are working with a Hedge Fund Genius like Bernie Madoff.  The Pyramid scheme is quite transparent as to all payouts come from people down the line coming on board.

So are there good MLM to jump in on.  Probably, but if the product does not stand out on its own, the MLM is utilized to try and get people to move an inferior product if they think they can make money doing it.  I go back to the 800 pound Gorilla in the room.  When I sat in on an Amway meeting and they showed all of the things that you can buy from Amway, you thought great.  They promote the soap, because that is the one product out of thousands that is cost effective.  All other products you pay a premium price for so that your up line can make money.  I was sitting in one of these meetings with my brother and sister and law and she knew what price she would pay for compared to what was in the catalogs and was able to discern that the you would have to falsely present the opportunity without stating the truth that everything someone buys from you will cost more.  They change the language, like that helps your business, because the additional cost goes into your business volume.  This is double talk and MLM’s are famous for it.

Other techniques are to alter the number of people that you need to get in your down line.  i went to one and instead of needing 5 or 6 in your core members, you may only need two.  they psychology of only having to get two is a whole lot easier to get five plus.

I tend to want to find a way to retire that does not have me exploit those closest to me. That does not mean that there is not a great product that could leverage this model.  I just may not be aware of it.




Everyone can be a Middleman

I have started to evaluate cheaper off-shore sources for all kinds of products that could be resold also for a very low price.  The nice thing is that it can be drop shipped as well.  At everyone’s fingertips is the ability to create your own supply chain with state of the art connectivity.  Meaning you can use affiliate marketing as the means to sell inexpensive products to domestic customers.  Their are really no shortages of places to source product.  names like AliExpress, AliBaba, New Frog, Light in the Box, Deals Machine, Mini In  The Box, and CN Direct to name a few.

The next step is to make sure the source you decide to be part of your supply chain can be reached and re-mediate any issues without hiding behind email. Many of the companies do not provide phone numbers for customer service and this could be largely due to scale.  On the other hand that could create great concern.  If the source company is growing to fast and not properly building out customer support then you may have an issue getting a response to a product being of inferior quality, wrong product, or the product never even shows up.


So it is imperative that you vet the source and make sure you read all of the reviews.  Once you find one that you want to roll the dice with, then start with a small order.  My feeling is they are either going to be competent or not.  I do not think that a small order is ignored in favor of a big order.  if they are messing up on the high ticket items, then they will be messing up on the low ticket items.

All of these sourcing sites require you to pay upfront, so do not be surprised to find reviews where people feel as though they have connect and money taken with the product never showing up.

Th more successful a company like AliExpress, their name has credibility, so they need to perform as optimal as possible.

Once you have an anchor source, then you can play around a bit on smaller orders looking to source cheaper.  One site is not cheaper across the board, so real bargains can be found by shopping similar items across different companies.

The next step is creating an audience for your products.  Will look at creative ways to do that in future posts.


Baby Steps

This will not allow you to retire-at-40, but it will give you some breathing room.  This is about taking the pennies and making it up in volume. We have looked at different ways to make money on the internet and I going to provide a technique that is becoming quite popular.

The concept is to buy something abroad a cheap price, resell it on your website and make about $5 per transaction.  The idea is to first find a product that is somewhere between $1 and $4.  Then sell it on your own site.  Place ads with Facebook Advertising.  Then take the sale from your website from your site and then place the order on the source site.

So we recommend using Ali Express to source the product.  This is where you can look through niches and decide what product to sell.  then create an account on Shopify.  When you advertise on Facebook, you will need to create a Facebook Pixel for conversions.  The satisfy the order by placing it on Ali Express and drop ship to the customer.

If you sell the product for $10 and you bought it for $3 and spent $2 on Facebook conversion, then you make a $10 profit.  The idea is to do this 10 -20 times per day.

When you take advertisements on Facebook, you run several. One with a broad appeal , then another with more of a focus and then another with even more of a focus.  After a couple days continue with ads that are working and stop the ones that are not.

This is simply a technique that is a rinse and repeat over and over again.  The more comfortable you get with this process the more you can evolve to make even more money.  It is important to understand the basics before getting more advanced.  Good luck making money and pushing towards that goal of retiring-at-40.


I know I want to own a business, but what is the right path for me.  Do I look at the hot trends? Do I go with a business that is timeless, like the local corner general store? Do you pursue your passion and try and monetize it.

It usually starts with the Epiphany.  You take the lifetime of experience with intellectual curiosity and are able to connect the dots like they have never been connected before.  What had been unclear has now become extremely tangible.

The next step is to validate the idea. You research online to make sure the idea is not already spreading virally.  If so, can you do it cheaper, faster, better or just the fact that you are local?  Is the product or service needed and is the market big enough?

It is good do try and communicate the idea to see what friends and family think.  Just about the idea itself, not about you wanting to start a business.  That could lead to other agendas invading the conversation.

Perhaps this is an idea based on unique expertise that you have in your domain.  This maybe an idea that is not being heard at your job. Perhaps more viable to a competitor or perhaps you start a business around filling this gap that exists in the industry.

A more thorough way to brainstorm could be to create a grid that outlines the business. The audience you are selling to. The Business Model, the unique buying proposition. The goal of the business. Once you narrow down the search based on industry knowledge, determining that there is a sizable market and it aligns with your goals you should be well on your way to starting your own business.  Once you have the one business that stands above the rest, do a comprehensive business plan and take worst case scenarios to see if this will yield the results you are looking for.

Create the right mindset for to Retire Early

I was looking at a TEDxUF with Kristeen Hadeed titled How to Retire by 20. It was interesting to listen to becuase it explained how she was brought up.  Kristeen asserts that the more curious you are then the more creative you will be.  Creativity is merely taking what you have learned about different things and putting them together.  Being able to connect some unusual dots.  So being curious is the foundation step to creative thought.

Like a child absorbs data from new people, new experience, new places so can we.  The collective of what we know is the tool box if you will.  What you read or maybe someone you have a conversation with will spark the connection of a couple of unconnected recalls that seem to fit together in a very interesting way.  Seeing that possibility and seeing the big picture can provide the passion to see it through to fruition.

Kristeen owned a cleaning service and her passion was helping people.  Anybody fighting cancer got their house cleaned for free.  That stemmed from the first time that she was emotionally moved by something she had done as a fifteen year old.  That is when she had a teacher battling cancer and they stated a pink shirt initiative at the school to rally support for their teacher.  Soon that spread to the community at large.  the teacher beat cancer and credited that support for her recovery. The emotional passion that is what drives her today.

So the take away is be curious. Read more, speak with more people, go more places and just explore and the connections will come to you.  Be inspired by things that make a difference and make it part of your very fabric and go change the world.