Entrepreneurial News®

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.

The Good, Bad and Ugly of Service

I haven’t written one of these posts for awhile, but some stellar service from Chewy prompted me.

Good service: Chewy, which has consistently gotten our Shi Tzu prescription pet food to us in a couple of days, tops. And the ordertakers speak excellent English, are cheerful and even ask how our two fur babies are doing. And their prices include shipping, and they’re consistently under retail pricing on this hard to find pet food.

Bad service: Sears (again). I think this is their second or third award. They couldn’t get us a washing machine repairman for two weeks (even though we bought the units from them), and the ordertaker didn’t speak very good English, and kept trying to upsell my wife on a warranty and wanted her credit card, even though she’d decline to use them.

We were fortunate to find a local firm that has worked on the washer before and could make a service call in two days. Their service has been good in the past, but they haven’t always fixed the whole problem. In the meantime, we look like the poor relations with towels and such drying out in the Arizona sun.

Ugly service: we hope it left town last Tuesday. Care Credit might get this award for the way they process credit card payments; we’ll see.

So, kudos to Chewy for following our end to end  service guidelines.

Stay on Course

The CEO of Hertz recently overcommitted his company to purchase EVs, well beyond what his company and market could absorb, and the company sold a bunch of them at a loss.

The CEO probably misread his market in that he does local rentals, and the Teslas are more suited to distances. Ford is doing a smaller EV that might be better suited to local rentals, but it won’t be here until 2026 or so.

These problems aren’t unique to Hertz: Bud Lite and Target made spectacular miscues in reading their core markets, with disastrous results. Both have fixed the offending ads, but at considerable cost in reestablishing their brands in customers’ minds.

Much of current advertising is more dedicated to being cute than reinforcing a company’s product or service message, and having been an account executive, there’s constant temptation to do what’s ‘current’ rather than what makes sense.

We are currently doing a project for my college, Antioch, designed to give entrepreneurs the tools to correctly define and read their market from a customer viewpoint. The customer viewpoint is important, because many entrepreneurs think that, just because they and their friends think an idea is cool, that the market will agree.

We have a similar business startup course in the Small Business Sucess School, www.bizsucess.school, which we’d commend to you. Better to spend $87 and avoid mistakes that could cost thousands.

AI for SMB?

The title might sound like too much jargon, but there’s a question in my mind as to whether artificial intelligence (AI) is going to be useful for a broad range of small to medium sized businesses (SMB).

AI is neither artificial or necessarily intelligent, because it’s based on data scans of large information databases, driven by the questions you ask, which you can submit via Chat/GPT. It’s a cool process. Keep in mind that the information given by Chat/GPT might be as much as 2 years old, having been updated through 2022. But the updating process is continual.

We have used Chat/GPT to benchmark our courses in our School, www.bizsuccess.school, because we want to make sure that we are out front on our course offerings to you.

We know of a couple of law offices and medical practices that are using Chat/GPT to provide information for patients and clients, which enhances their work.

But none of only one of our current clients has used it, and he runs a big digital marketing firm. He has enhanced his marketing using AI.

When we put the question about usage out on Twitter, and to a list of former clients, no one was using it. So, we wonder how broad usage is.

Go set up your Chat/GPT account, just for fun. Shouldn’t take more than 10 minutes. And it’s free, until you get into heavy usage, more than 20 questions per month.