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Archive for April 2013

Baseball Versus Football

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The National Pastime

The National Pastime

I enjoy watching football but my enjoyment has been diminishing as the lack of defense has become ridiculous.  Much of this has been a result of rules by the league in an attempt to increase scoring and popularity of the game.  This may be working but I am losing interest and someday soon may not bother to tune in on Sunday afternoons.  The college game is also trending in the same direct as the pros.  I can’t tell you how many games there were that were higher scoring than most college basketball games.

Football has a better grasp on the business side of the game than baseball without a doubt.  As bad as the product is on the field in football, baseball is equally bad at handling the off field part of the game.  The economics of baseball threatens the continued existence of baseball as we now know it.  Now that the steroid era has hopefully come and gone we can begin to enjoy the game without the video game home run numbers. 

I created a short list of reasons why I like baseball more than football and have them presented below for your review:

Football decided it had a need for a taunting penalty. Think about that for a minute.  Millionaires who play a kids game need to have a deterrent so they will not taunt one another.

There is also an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty for excessive celebration.  Baseball has a tradition that if you have an excessive celebration after a home run the next batter will get a fastball in his ribs.  There are not too many excessive celebrations after home runs and I like it that way.

Since 1932 there have been 15 rule changes in baseball according to baseball almanac.  Football had 7 proposed rule changes of which 4 were passed LAST YEAR

Note: I have a very hard time forgiving baseball for having the Designated Hitter rule.  They compounded the problem by not having it in both leagues.

The best summary of the differences between baseball and football and highlighting why baseball is a more likeable game can be found in a classic stand-up comedy routine by George Carlin.  (It is also G-rated.)  Read the text here.

 Have a great week, baseball season is off and running!

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Written by pacelinebiz

April 29, 2013 at 8:05 am

Business Lessons From The Wizard Of Oz

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If It Is Not Kansas It Must Be Oz

If It Is Not Kansas It Must Be Oz

The original Wizard of Oz is one of my favorite movies and I am surprised that it took me this long to blog about the business lessons to be learned from the movie.  I have not seen the recently released Oz The Great And Powerful but plan on renting it someday.  From a quick scan of critic ratings it seems as though it has more disappointing ratings than positive ratings but making a prequel to a classic will add an extra level to expectations.  I will judge once I have seen it.  Enough about movies, let’s get to business.

The three main characters besides Dorothy each believe that they have a flaw and are trying to remedy it by visiting the wizard.  One lacks courage, one lacks intellect and one lacks a heart.  In the movie, it is clear that the characters possess these qualities and just need encouragement to use what they already have.  As a small business owner you may also have flaws and unfortunately there is no wizard available.  

If you have not read the book The E-Myth I suggest you do so to understand what you have gotten yourself into.  There are three key skills needed to operate a business and if you do not have all three you will struggle.  You must have technical skills, managerial skills and must have entrepreneurial skills.  Most people who start a business do so because they are a good technician.   They can provide “the deliverable” but that is only a small part of running a successful business, especially if you want to grow it beyond a single-person shop.   Having only two out of the three skills is as good as having a stool with 2 legs or having intellect and courage but no heart.

What do you do if you recognize you are lacking in one of the skills?  Depending on the situation, you can try to learn the skill but running a business and devoting time to learning a vital skill is not the best idea.  You may not have time learn the skill because you may be out of business before you are adept at it.  My advice is to do what you are best at and hire good employees or outsource your weak spots. After a while you may develop your missing skill(s) but hopefully by then you will be best at entrepreneurship and will have an empire to manage while you create the vision for your company.

It may be easy for me to say (and self-serving) that you should hire or outsource areas that you cannot do well but I do have a good basis for my reasoning.  That basis is Economist David Ricardo’s Law of Comparative Advantage from his book published in 1817; On the Principles of Political Economy and Taxation.  This law can be explained by using a simple example we can all understand.  For our example let’s say you are a maker of highly fashionable and sought after widgets.  These awesome, industry-leading widgets sell for $100 and you can make your widgets in one hour and cannot keep up with the demand. If all of this is true, why would you waste time cutting your grass when you can pay the polite neighbor boy $20 to do that task which also takes an hour to do?  By cutting your own grass you are losing $80!  This might seem like a no-brainer to you but that is what you doing by handling all of your administrative tasks, social media marketing/website maintenance, Human Resources and, dare I say, your own accounting with QuickBooks?  In a small business it does make sense to wear several hats but choose those hats wisely.  For example, I enjoy writing and I believe and have been told that I have a skill for it so that is why I write my own blog.  If I was terrible at writing and hated doing it, it would make no sense for me to write my own blog. 

Have a great week travelling wisely down the Yellow Brick Road to success.

Written by pacelinebiz

April 22, 2013 at 8:01 am

The Lighter Side Of The April 15th Tax Deadline

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Where They Keep The IOU's

Where They Keep The IOU’s

You may find it interesting to note that the average tax refund from the IRS is about $3,000.   The total amount of individual income tax refunds over the past several years has averaged around $300 billion.  That is a lot of money flooding the market and most of it is returned in February since the electronic filing rate has gone over 80% of all returns filed.  This year due to the fiscal cliff drama at the end of last year, tax filing has been running behind since returns were not even accepted until January 30th.

I thought that since today’s blog is released on April 15th I would make a list of things I could do with the average $3,000 refund:

  • On Amazon.com I could buy 216 copies of the Compact Disc, Revolver by The Beatles and still have$1.92 leftover for the Taxman which is the title of the first track.
  • I could buy 600, Five dollar foot long subs at Subway provided I was in Oregon since they do not have a sales tax.
  • I could go to a pizza shop and order a large Pizza since it is much more economical than a medium and then leave a really nice tip.
  • Take my wife on a well deserved all-inclusive vacation to a Caribbean island.
  • Buy 1.88 ounces of gold at $1,600 per ounce.  The all-inclusive Caribbean vacation sounds like a lot more fun.
  • Pay the toll on the Golden Gate Bridge into San Francisco for me and the next 499 commuters with 2 axles.  That is a $6 toll and adds up to about $1,500 if you do not get the easy pass and use it every day except vacations and holidays.  Tolls are paid electronically so there is no need to stop.
  • Assuming I cut the grass weekly for 8 months out of the year I could give the neighbor kid $20 per cut and take almost four and a half years off.  Now that sounds like a good use of 3 grand!
  • Get Lasik eye surgery and save on eyeglasses and still have lots of money left over for buying gum and candy cigarettes.
  • Drop It all on lottery tickets – you know make a GOOD investment.
  • Use it to make a time machine and go back to January 11th 1969 and bet big on the Jets to win the Super bowl against the Colts.

Have a great week and I hope you are able to spend a little of your refund money in your own special way.

Written by pacelinebiz

April 15, 2013 at 8:01 am

Selling: Helping Someone Get What They Want

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Got Shoes, Need Socks

Got Shoes, Need Socks

I am listening to Harvey Mackay’s book; The Mackay MBA of Selling in the Real World on my iPad and one thing that has stuck with me so far is the sentence he uses to describe selling.  He says; “Selling is helping someone get what they want.”  That really stood out to me.  I never thought about selling in that way.  I suppose that is why he is so successful.  In case you do not know; Harvey Mackay wrote the blockbuster book from the late 1980’s; Swim with the Sharks without Being Eaten Alive.

If you are in the business of selling solutions like I am this means you have to develop some skills in determining what your potential customers wants before you can help them get it.  To add to the difficulty sometimes the customer doesn’t even know what they want!  This is where your skill has to kick in and peel away at the layers of the onion and get to the root of the problem.  Hopefully you are the solution to the problem. 

I might not be a highly skilled sales person but I thought I would share this nugget of wisdom in the hope that it will target your approach to selling towards finding what the customer needs and trying your level best to get it for him.  By taking this approach, I believe it will alleviate the adversarial role you will have in your customer’s eyes.  From my struggles with “selling” I would ask you to keep these 3 suggestions in mind when in front of a potential customer:

1)      Avoid the urge to recite an advertisement about your goods or services in hopes that they will be unable to resist your great commercial.  Remember to determine the need first.   If you are selling what he doesn’t want to buy you are wasting your time and his time.  He may know, trust and like you but if he’s buying shoes and your selling socks you are missing an opportunity.

2)      To determine the need you have to ask the right questions.  How do you know he is buying shoes?  The best way is to ask questions that will get the person to talk – the more the better.  Rather than ask him if he would you like to buy some of your nice socks. (This is an especially bad question because it results in a yes or no answer and if no you really didn’t learn much.)   You might want to ask the person; a general question about clothing and see if mentions and need that you are able to fulfill.  Remember, if you can’t help but you have determined a need for shoes; if possible offer a suggestion to put him touch with someone who has great shoes.  It will certainly help you with them and the shoe salesman will certainly appreciate the referral and will reciprocate when he can.

3)      Another thing to keep in mind is to keep an open mind.  Don’t think you know what they need before you begin your conversation.  If you do have your mind-set on what they need, you will probably not ask the right questions and you will lead them down your preconceived path.  Even if you see they have holes in their socks they still might want shoes who are you to judge?  It is not what you think they need is what they think they need.

To summarize, the next time you are meeting with a potential customer remember to determine the need by asking the right questions without assuming you know what they need.  Have a great week selling socks to people who want to buy socks.

Written by pacelinebiz

April 8, 2013 at 8:07 am

Thirty Things To Like About April

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Cherry Blossom

Cherry Blossom

This blog is the first one of April and I thought a good way to start off the month was to extol the virtues of the month of April.  There are many positives about the month.  It is the first full month of spring and trees are in bloom in most of the United States.  It is a month of renewal and optimism as the harsh winter weather is in the rear view mirror and longer days and warmer temperatures are soon to be upon us.  I have compiled a list of things that April has going for it.

1)      The month begins with April fool’s day and signals a sense of frivolity that is about to begin.

2)      Opening day of Baseball season rolls out throughout the United States.  Welcome back old friend.  

3)      The NCAA basketball tournament crowns it champion after the madness of March.

4)      Spring practice for some college football programs

5)      The NFL draft.

6)      In many areas of the country Prom season begins.

7)      Older brothers are born.

8)      Drive- in movies are a viable option on the weekends in the northern USA. Yes, some still exist.

9)      The first two weeks of April, Six Flags Over Georgia theme park opens 7 days a week for spring break.

10)   The Masters Golf tournament it is scheduled to end on the second Sunday in April every year

11)   Planting a vegetable garden in the south if not done in March.

12)   Confidently putting away the snow shovel in the Snow Belt (on the last day of the month).

13)   Maple syrup festivals.

14)   Cherry Blossoms that bloom – one thing we can all like about our Nation’s capital.

15)   Tax filings are done for most of us.

16)   We don’t need much heat or air conditioning which means you can buy your sweetie a special gift.

17)   Having a special dinner with family on Easter Sunday which usually falls in April.

18)   Candy from Easter baskets, especially enjoyable is devouring the Chocolate rabbit –ears first.

19)   Walks in the afternoon sun so enjoyable after winter.

20)   Playing the first round of golf after work and finishing all 9 holes before dark.

21)   The lush green grass from the warmer temperatures and ample rainfall.

22)   Cleaning out the garage and washing the cars all the while getting the first tan or sunburn of the year.

23)   Scraping ice off of your car window is finally over.

24)   Redesigning your landscaping around the house with a few new plants or shrubs.

25)   Younger sisters are born.

26)   In Georgia, sipping sweet tea on the deck while watching the sunset.

27)   Crocus, Daffodils, Hyacinths, Tulips and other spring flowers that bloom throughout the USA in April.

28)   Fly a kite – I know March is traditionally the month for kite flying but it is much warmer in April.

29)   Fire up the grill while enjoying a beverage especially up north it is nice to grill after a long winter.

30)   It hath thirty days which is a nice round number and a perfect place to end.

 Have a great week and month things are looking up – it’s April!

Written by pacelinebiz

April 1, 2013 at 8:05 am