Young Men in Business Battling the Good Ole’ Boy Network

There are two ways to do business in a city or town in the United States. You can go with the flow and work with the establishment or your can take your entrepreneurial talents, hard headedness and will and ram it up their ass. What do you mean you ask?

Well lets take any city in the US for instance, there are folks in business, good ole’ boy networks established and they work hard to make sure they get the juice. It is the same way in Nationally run businesses with lobbyists, associations and political favors.

Adam Smith warned us of this, it is not a new thing. It is pretty disgusting if you ask me. You would think that companies with all the juice and power grew their businesses to that size by competing in hard fought markets and industries. But they grow old and tired and why work hard when you can pay your government to run interference or run block from your competition so you can continually score goals. Why bother working hard if you don’t have too? Indeed, isn’t that human nature?

This is the way it has always been done, it is the reality and the way things are. If you think it is anything else you are full of shit. It is what it is and you will have to deal with it or risk being pummeled from out of the blue. Before you start a business you should probably check who your competition is, which clubs they belong too and who their friends and relatives are in a community. If they are too politically connected you need to be extremely careful while risking your capital in a business.

Let me tell you a story; You see when first starting out in business I was into car washing. And I found just such a competitor well connected in the city. Well it was an Owner of a carwash in Thousand Oaks CA in 1990. I had taken clientele from him due to better quality, lower prices and quite frankly better service. Although I must admit, as good as we were, the car wash owner was really no competition, the service was mediocre at best.

When we did a car wash fundraiser across town he went to the city and complained about these kids polluting. He could not complain about us, we were helping for free. The wash water run-off never made it to a storm drain as it flowed into the grass. But that did not stop him from shutting down the operation and immediately the code enforcement the next day came to our business and started going through the book looking for something to get us on? As you know CA is always like WA, MA, MD and FL first to implement environmental legislation and CA is the worst state to do business in with all their over regulation on everything from ridiculous labor laws to fines for ascetics.

The well-connected car wash owner gentleman’s name was Jack Galley and he is now dead. He was getting older and probably our competition and refusal to submit to his attacks finally killed him. So what, he cheated, and used his connections and abuse of power to attack us, we were a great company back then, we deserved the customers, so screw him. As his health started to fail him he sold his car washes to Wash Depot, a car wash consolidator, because he could not maintain volumes during illness and competition increasing in the area, mostly from us.

During that time, I watched the local carwashes from fifty miles come together and form a small association and go after our company during a 2-year battle with City Hall, planning commission, council, city attorneys office, public works and court room. We finally won, in the media, courtroom, city hall and in the Market Place.

We refused to give up, never give up. So suffice it to say; “You can go with the flow and work with the establishment or your can take your entrepreneurial talents, hard headedness and will and ram it up their ass!” We choose the second option. Most who try this lose. Personally I am not into losing. But I advise small business owners starting out, to be a little less hard hitting and go a little more with the flow.

You see often “discretion is the better part of valor” but if you are forced to, sometimes you have to fight to be a man. Think on this in 2006.

Business Strategy For Facilitative Leaders

Business Strategy

Did you know that business strategy is the art of deception? The study and design of your business strategy will have far reaching effects on your business. Many business leaders overlook the importance of understanding business strategy. As a result, many businesses fail or operate at sub par levels. There are many areas of business strategy to study, but the key components are (1) gaining a competitive advantage, (2) being an effective leader, and (3) winning with ease. These are all essential principles found in the book by Sun Tzu, The Art of War.

Gaining a Competitive Advantage

Competitive advantage can be won through avoiding commodity business models, knowing when to compete, gaining higher ground first, and by being original.

Avoiding the Commodity Business

Jack Welch, former CEO of General Electric, once said, “We are all just one stroke away from commodity hell”. The commodity is something that any business should stay away from. A commodity is a good that a business is powerless to change the price. For example, farmers are price takers and can only sell their goods for the price the world is willing to put on them. No matter how well the farmers does in raising up goods, the price will be what the market gives. There are many service businesses that have very little ability to change raise prices. If they do, they will not get any business. The bad thing about a commodity business is that the only way to sell is on price and that makes the profits go way down for everyone. The only way to get out of the price war is to gain higher ground.

To avoid commodity hell, the business must find an advantage. Some of the ways to get out of commodity hell are through branding, developing superior technology, and having top notch employees. Some companies develop a superior system that is efficient and that can manage a vast network well. There is a lot that can be said about each of these items.

Know When to Compete

In trying to gain the higher ground, there are a some good things to know. You should only compete when you know that you can win. You should never compete on a level playing field unless forced to do so. And, you should never ever compete in a battle that you are at a disadvantage.

Get Competitive Advantage First

In other words, take the higher ground before you compete. In that way, you will have a good chance to win. In business, battles are won before the competition ever begins. The best companies develop technology or intellectual capital first and then choose to compete when they think they can win.

Be Original

It is unlikely that any firm can gain the competitive advantage by trying to copy another. The reason is that the competitor will always be one step ahead of you and a smart competitor will even mislead you purposefully. Any business that wants a real market advantage will most likely need to develop their own ideas, keep them secret, and follow through.

Being an Effective Leader

A great leader must be strict, reward bravery, and avoid personal character downfalls.

Strictness as a Leader
Discipline must be swiftly carried out against the disobedient. There must be an effective system of rewards and punishments in place. The effective leader will be able to persuade others to the importance of the mission and commit them to work hard for the goal. Any leader that can’t manage their people must be removed.

Leader Character Downfalls

Some of the traits that can cause a leader harm are cowardice, recklessness, worry, hasty temper, and honor sensitivities. According to Sun Tzu, these are the five sins of a leader that lead you to get captured, bring destruction, trouble, shame, and poor decisions.

Rewarding Bravery

A great leader should reward people that are brave. People that step up and get things done that are risky or not popular should be rewarded for their efforts. The act of rewarding bravery has a great deal with keeping a company in competitive advantage. When employees are willing to take risks and give it their all, the intellectual contributions will give the company great advantage.

Winning With Ease

One of the greatest things that Sun Tzu said was, “What the ancients called a clever fighter is one who not only wins, but excels in winning with ease”. The greatest leaders know when to fight and when not to fight. They know how to compete in areas that are not well defended. They know how to use their people to win. When leaders win with ease, they are rarely given credit because it looks so easy. What many people don’t realize is that the battle was won before the fight began due to careful planning and strategy.

Final Thoughts

Business strategy is complicated. The businesses that do the best often the best at deceiving their opponents, balking their competitors plans, or, even better, have the best employees and constantly break new and higher ground before anyone else gets there.

8 Business Pitfalls to Avoid

How can you increase your chances of achieving business success? By winning the lottery or inheriting oodles of money? Whether you are an established entrepreneur or you are just starting out in business you need to realise and accept that there is no quick fire road to success.

However when you take steps to avoid the cracks (pitfalls) in the footpath you stand a better chance of paving your way to business success.

Here are the 8 Pitfalls to Avoid:

  1. Success Breeds Success. Do you think you know everything about business? Have you realised yet that you don’t have all the answers? Become an effective and profitable business by seeking advice from people who have already achieved great success. Let’s face it they have done the legwork. Connect with highly successful achievers and absorb all the experience and knowledge you can.
  2. How Big is your Vision?Did your business start out as a small idea? Has your small idea grown, changed or evolved? How much impact is your small idea making toward to future? Think big from the start. See your business at varied intervals – five, ten, twenty years. Ask yourself – What do I want to achieve and How will I be remembered? Believe in your vision and make it happen.
  3. Who is your Market?Before you rush headlong into your business you must research your market. Never assume that you know who your target audience is or what they want. Assume and you may miss the biggest opportunity of your life. Understand what your market needs and adapt as your business grows.
  4. Don’t Ignore Social Media. Not entered into business battle with social media yet? Admittedly social media is the talk of the town – it’s in the moment, right now. But is it necessary for my business you ask? Quite simply yes. Social media used in a targeted way can be a very effective marketing tool. Learn how to use it and choose what suits you best.
  5. How Do People Get to Know You?Your brand is your reputation. Your brand is your personality. Your brand is what others think of you. What does your brand say? Make sure your brand meets with your standard, your expectation and delivers the identical message and service to each and every client you do business with.
  6. Look after Loyalty.Heard of the 80:20 rule? That 80% of your work comes from 20% of your customers. And who are these customers? Existing, loyal people who have established a long-term, ongoing relationship with your business. Don’t overlook these people and only focus on attracting new customers. Stay in touch with them and show your care and appreciation for their loyalty.
  7. Improve your Business.Ask for feedback. How else can you manage any issues that arise? How can you change if you don’t even know there is a problem? Or do you think that you are doing everything right?Request honest feedback at random intervals or as standard with all new customers. Learn, improve and achieve better results.
  8. Plan your Finances.What is the main reason why most businesses fail? Poor financial planning and negative cash flow. Start your business with a plan, follow your plan, adapt your plan, and watch your business thrive. Manage your money well; over-estimate your expenses and under-estimate your income. Surely you’d rather have more money than not enough?