Entrepreneurial News®

The McRaven Rules

ADM Bill McRaven was a former commander of the Navy Seal Teams. I worked with a couple of his teams and have always admired him. Below are 10 Life Lessons delivered to U of Texas graduates in 2014, which are pretty good rules for entrepreneurs:

  1. If you make your bed every morning, you will have accomplished the first task of the day. It will give you a small sense of pride, and it will encourage you do another task and another and another.
  2. For the boat to make it to its destination, everyone must paddle.
  3. Measure a person by the size of their heart, not the size of their flippers.
  4. Sometimes, no matter how well you prepare or how well you perform, you still end up as a sugar cookie. It’s just the way life is sometimes.
  5. Life is filled with circuses. You will fail. You will likely fail often. It will be painful. It will be discouraging. At times it will test you to your very core…. but if you want to change the world, don’t be afraid of the circuses.
  6. If you want to change the world, sometimes you have to slide down the obstacle headfirst.
  7. There are a lot of sharks in the world. If you hope to complete the swim, you will have to deal with them.
  8. Every SEAL knows that under the keel, at the darkest moment of the mission, is the timee when you must be calm, composed — when all your tactical skills, your physical power and all your inner strength must be brought to bear.
  9. If I have learned anything in my time travelling the world, it is the power of hope. The power of one person–Washington, Lincoln, King, Mandela, even a young girl from Pakistan, Malala –one person can change the world by giving people hope.
  10. In SEAL training, there is a bell. A brass bell that hangs in the center of the  compound for all the students to see. All you have to do to quit is ring the bell. If you want to change the world, don ever, ever, ring the bell.

‘Chevron’ Impact on Business

‘Chevron’ so named for the oil company that originally ran afoul of the EPA, will have a major impact on business/ administrative state regulations.

In our opinion, the two agencies that have committed the most infractions on the new Chevron doctrine, which says agencies can’t go beyond their enumerated powers, are the EPA and OHSA.

In our opinion, the EPA problems go back to the issuance of the Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards. The EPA has said that cars and light trucks must average X per miles per gallon, ignoring a particular manufacturer’s mix of cars and light trucks (heavy trucks are exempt). When I was at Ford, I went through the EPA law and found that the law said nothing about CAFE, only that certain tailpipe and crankcase emissions were going to be regulated, which was within the scope of the law. Ford elected to not challenge the EPA, but had difficulty complying because it sells a lot of light duty trucks (i.e., F150s) which don’t get as good mileage as their cars. And this problem continues to this day. Ford has survived the increases in CAFE with sort of a wink/wink, nod/nod approach…they’re doing the best they can.

One of my companies also ran afoul of the EPA over water quality, but we settled it in our best guerilla war fashion, by exposing what the EPA was doing to a prominent employer to a friendly local TV station, which didn’t like that a prominent Reno employer was being hassled. And then we moved most of the offending division to Mexico, which cost a few US jobs.

For small businesses, the OHSA (Occupational and Health Safety Act) has been a problem, because the OHSA has routinely overstepped its boundaries in regulating workplace safety conditions. Several of our Solutions Forum clients have collided with OHSA over the years, and lost cases.

Unfortunately, Chevron does not allow for recoupment of past damages suffered from adverse OHSA or EPA rulings.

There are probably thousands of past OHSA and EPA transgressions that could be litigated, and I’m sure that they tort lawyers will put a word in, especially under a Trump administration.

So, the business world won one for a change.

Techies, Stop Hiding

I’ve written about this before, but I still see techies who form companies make it rather difficult for outsiders to communicate with them.

First, they don’t list a phone number.

Second, they might not list even an email address.

Third, the owner or the CEO might not even be listed on the company voicemail register.

Fourth, they don’t list any of their key officers, so given items one and two, someone calling them isn’t even entirely sure you’ve got the right company.

And, given all of the above deficiencies, their websites don’t give one a really good idea of what they do, so again it’s hard to tell that you’ve got the right company. One of the companies with all these deficiencies was listed as having 155 employees.

Yeah, we know that companies don’t like to be contacted by telemarketers, even ones that can help make them a lot of money (us), so it would be nice if one could at least leave a voicemail for the owner or the CEO.

So, you techies who run companies, time to make sure you look good to the external world.

The Restriction of the Internet

This post is based on an article that appeared in the Epoch Times on 6/8/24 as the lead article in the Opinion Section.

The central thesis of the article is that Google is restricting searches for political reasons, but the author offers no real proof.

There are many ulterior motives for Google doing this, to influence politics in the US, to promote paid searches, and probably others.

The article does mention the impact on small business, in that they might have to spend more money to get better search results, rather than relying on organic search to be found.

We have not found restrictions on our searches, but we’re not techies. We seem to get the search results we’re looking for, and go on about our business.

Our School, www.bizsuccess.school, is too new, and is just beginning to be found on the internet, so we can’t tell. We are planning on paid search at some point, as soon as we develop all the organic search terms we can think of.

We don’t know if other small businesses have been affected, particularly those who make their living off their web presence.

But, we’re alerting you to the problem, so you can deal with it. We’ll keep you advised of what we think we see.

Cox Clutch

Well, the poor dears at Cox are probably clutching their pearls.

We had several outages on Cox over the Memorial Day weekend, and Cox fixed all of them, eventually (one took five hours).

So I called them Tuesday to complain generically, because the service people were somewhat less than friendly, and didn’t want to authorize me on the account (even though I’d reported the outages without incident.

After much discussion, it’s pretty clear that the Cox culture isn’t too customer friendly, despite what they say in their ads. And there are a lot of ads, leading us to think that they’ve exceeded their capacity, at least in our area, which is Northeast Scottsdale.

I also had problems accessing a part of the Cox website for an area that was supposed to be there.

I was sufficiently annoyed with their lack of caring that I filed a complaint with the AZ Department of Consumer affairs alleging that Cox wasn’t doing a good job.

That kicked over the hive.

I got a call from Tracie, assistant to the President of the Cox Arizona/California Division. She was very earnest about how Cox was trying harder, but she really didn’t get the idea that the Cox culture had to become more customer facing (along with the website). I have one of my Solutions Forum members, who heads a website design firm investigating. We don’t hold out hope.

What this tale means for you small biz owners is don’t let your culture freeze up and become static. Keep it customer facing. Empower your people to delight the customer in deeds, not just words.

And keep your website customer friendly. Test it.

I’m not optimistic that Cox still won’t clutch its pearls when someone like me complains.

Entrepreneuring is Manifest

Last night Coast to Coast AM had on a medical doctor talking about manifesting, or how to become what you’re intended to do.

The doctor, for what it’s worth, is James Roy, of Stanford.

We are similarly inclined. And we’ve started a school www.bizsuccess.school, to help entrepreneurs manifest their destiny.

People decide to become entrepreneurs, not always for the best of reasons, which is one reason we started the school, so entrepreneurs could realize their manifest.

After I got my MBA, I went to work on the Ford Finance Staff, one of the plum jobs in American finance. Cool. Paid well, promoted rapidly.

But, even at Ford, it was like I had a big ‘E’ (entrepreneur) tattooed on my forehead. My boss, the President of Ford Credit, put me and my staff in charge of minding the financial affairs of six little divisions, and helping the divisions grow.

And, after about seven years, my Dad approached me about joining the family company, because he wanted to retire. My boss at Ford Credit wasn’t happy about me leaving, but, since he’d come from an entrepreneurial background, he understood.

I wanted to do it, because I felt that I’d trained for it, and it was manifest that I do it.

And there was tremendous growth potential in the family company. So my Dad and I worked out an employment agreement and off we went as a family (wife and two kids) to Reno. And took two Fords with us.

I’d not thought about it until Dr. Roy’s program on Coast, but it was manifest that I ultimately became an entrepreneur.

Many of you out there may be feeling the same, which is why I’m writing this.

It’s ok, just research the market well and how you’re going to do what you were manifest to do.

Colleges and Universities, Heal Thyselves

The colleges and universities in the US are in trouble.

They don’t for the most part, offer a relevant education, meaning something that students need to know.

I have one grandchild who’s in the Naval Academy Prep pipeline, and I hope she gets a good education. Naval Academy is about as good as it gets, and she’s got all the right background. We’ll see.

I have another who’s training people in AutoZone branches, and he has no use for college. It’s not relevant to him. He gets more relevance to talking to me about his employees and taking courses at our Small Business Success School.

A third grandchild is a pastry chef, and college has no relevance to her, either. She’s not really into supervising anybody.

The other two grandchildren don’t have to make advanced schooling decisions yet. Maybe by the time they have to, colleges and universities will make themselves relevant again.

The point here is that college isn’t really relevant to any of them, where it could be and should be.

Even my undergraduate college, Antioch, with its work/study program, isn’t making itself relevant. And Wharton has been silent, when the Penn leader has been in the dock.

The campi aren’t secure, either; the schools need to do a better job at figuring out who can and can’t be on campus, without violating free speech and assembly.

So, here we are, an advanced society, with an unadvanced education system. It’s gotta hold us back at some point.

Elon’s Oops

Elon Musk reportedly cut 10% of his workforce this week, presumably at Tesla.

He gets an oops because he probably could have avoided the layoffs.

It’s good that he’s opened Tesla plants around the world, but the openings probably consumed some funds that could have been used for new model development.

The purchase of Twitter probably didn’t help the cash flow situation, either, and certainly consumed a lot of management time to make it profitable.

And there’s SpaceEx; mostly government capital, but certainly lots of management time.

So, we have a financial drain that could have been avoided, and a management drain.

How does he fix it: 1. Don’t further develop the cybertruck, because Ford’s already ahead of you; 2. Get the baby Tesla to market ASAP, because Ford might beat you at that, too. 3. On the span of control issue, stay off of Twitter at least, and don’t give so many interviews.

All of these things are fixable, and we wish Elon well. He’s one of the world’s all time great entrepreneurs.

An Interesting Pricing Approach

My wife went a couple of weeks ago to Spencers, which is a ten-store chain of appliance dealers scattered over Maricopa County, to shop for a new washer and dryer, since our 13-year-old Kenmore washer gave up the ghost.

Normal purchase, would have been about $1600 or so for the washer and dryer.

But Spencers threw an interesting curve into to the equation: my wife wandered over to mattresses, because we had been thinking about buying one of those, too.

The Spencers salesman said, if you buy the Beautyrest mattress you’re looking at for the $4200 list price, we’ll throw in the washer and dryer.

Say what? This is about 25% off on the whole package.

Done deal. She didn’t even text me (I was at an appointment) to tell me what she’d done. No matter; she’s got excellent financial judgement.

For you entrepreneurs, this might apply to those of you who sell durable goods; is there a way you can create bundles of goods, and improve your profits? (Even though Spencers margins went down, the profit per customer went up) And help secure lifetime customers?

If you’re Whirlpool, the appliance maker, do you spiff your dealers for doing this?

Same question to Beautyrest on the mattress.

Think about it.

The Universal Sales Tax

This is a novel concept I found hiding in the back of a book entitled “Winning America’s Second Civil War”. It’s more important, potentially, than the rest of the book.

Basically, our tax rate is levied on all transactions upon sale, at the level of 1.13%. All corporate and Indvidual taxes are eliminated.

The rate was developed by taking government expenses in total and dividing it by gross transactional volume, including all financial and home sale transactions.

All the tax infrastructure (IRS, CPAs, tax planners) is eliminated. No savings are mentioned, but they would probably be huge. Presumably, the other government agencies will take a share of the total, and they’d have to submit their budgets to a central authority, like the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). No congressional fights. No side deals, unless approved by congress. If the executive wants to spend $400 billion on school debt relief, submit it to Congress, approve it and out it goes. Or not, since the Supreme Court ruled that the request had to go through Congress.

State and local taxes would remain unchanged, so states still compete for businesses to locate.

The authors, DeBacker and Jensen, think that the tax might be a real draw for industries to locate somewhere in the US. By extension, world tax rates could also lower to this level.

Another big question is implementation; the authors recognize this, but don’t really have steps in their short article to address this question.

Tantalizing, eh? I plan to let Trump know, as well as some economists outside the two authors. And, I plan to talk to Encounter Books, their publisher to see if the weak areas can be expanded into an entire standalone book.