Entrepreneurial News®

NIVIDIA Nosebleed

Years ago, one of my cooperative work jobs was researching and writing short pieces for Barron’s in New York, where my favorite uncle, Dave Loehwing, was the editor.

In addition to editing, he wrote the lead article for the paper occasionally, and he delighted in puncturing inflated stock prices.

He’s in heaven now, but he’s probably saying what’s all the fuss about NVIDIA? Yes, they’re cool, because they design the CPU and GPU chips that power AI platforms. In fact, their chips are produced here in Phoenix by Taiwan Semi.

A year or so ago, I decided to invest in AI in my self governing IRA retirement portfolio, which is sort of limited by my broker to ‘prudent man’ investments. We looked at NVIDIA, but it got ruled out as too speculative, so I bought C3AI instead. Didn’t do what I expected (go up), and I found that it had a rather squirrelly corporate organization as a non-profit which would have been ok if they’d distributed the profits on some basis, which they didn’t. Live and learn.

I bought QQQ  after C3AI, and it’s done well (up about 45%), and minimizes the headaches at night.

I still use and like C3AI, and we used it to generate several courses for our Small Business Success School  (www.bizsuccess.school) where we didn’t have anything unique to add to the subject, but at least our business customers can find lots of information they need to know in one place.

Now comes Google with their AI vehicle, called Gemini, which out of the box has laid an egg. But Google will get it right eventually; their first search engines were pretty primitive, too. They’ll get AI right eventually. We’re checking out Gemini.

At some point, Uncle Dave would say, the market has about as much as it can handle, and NVIDIA’s growth will slow down. The QQQ boys and girls will be on top of it. And one of my Wharton profs, Burton Malkiel, will be proved right on prices and multiples (again).

So, don’t pay nosebleed prices for NVIDIA.

 

 

The Service Conundrum

As the economy looks a little shaky this year, I got into a discussion with one of my clients about service levels.

We did a course at www.bizsuccess.school in how to think about your service levels, from zero to extreme, we’ll do anything the customer asks.

In his business, he provides a nice place to work, web support for his stylists, but he charges for it. He actually pays better than the competition, which is key, because his people are the key to his service success, not him.

There’s another little wrinkle that he threw at me this afternoon in a short meeting: the service level is also influenced by what his customers expect. His clientele is older, so they expect more.

In another industry, a client is adding services to his fast casual dining restaurants and tweaking his menu to add quality and price adjusting his price points to cover it. This is sort of unique, since the restaurant business in his segment isn’t known for great, if any, service. Will it work? That’s why he’s a member of our Solutions Forum.

The point of this is outdoing your competition in your segment. We call it zagging when they zig. Or vice versa. Just make sure your customers buy into what you do.

 

 

Solving the Migrant Challenge

We did a short version of this on our Twitter account, but the subject deserves more space than 250 characters., so we’re going to develop our thoughts more in this post.

There might be an entrepreneurial opportunity in solving this, which is why I’m writing about it here.

We have about 10 million illegal immigrants in this country, give or take. No one really knows, because there aren’t much in the way of border controls, but let’s run with 10 million.

I happened to notice a couple of days ago that there are about 9.6 million open jobs in this country listed in the JOLTS report. I believe employers actually submit these jobs to the Labor Department, who develops the total.

If this is so, our genius government could develop a national database of open jobs or have state labor departments contribute or develop the data on a state basis.

Illegal Immigrants could read this database and go where the jobs are, rather than being shotgunned around the country to sanctuary cities. However, we don’t know what, if any skills the illegals possess. They know what they can do, though.

Under Biden, I have zero faith that this database could be developed and used, because none of the Biden Bunch likes business, and they have no imagination about what could be done. Under Trump, it could be done.

However, a large national personnel agency like Kelly Services could do it. And might be looking for another business opportunity. This is what business development professionals do. I used to do it at Ford.

So, let’s say that 7 million of the jobs could be filled by the illegals. That reduces the welfare load on the Feds and the states by 2/3.

We know many migrants get employment as soon as they get here, but many don’t. And many might want a better job than they had and could be apprenticed to learn new trades.   But the illegals can be told to search the databases at any Labor Dept. office, I would think.

So, here’s an entrepreneurial opportunity for someone or some company to develop this database and sell usage. Does it make money? Probably.

Entrepreneurs can figure it out.

Tricare For Life

OK, I’ve had my second complaint from a medical professional about reaching these guys on the phone.

They don’t have email that I’m aware of listed on their site.

I’m stuck with them for medical and dental coverage, as a retired Navy officer. I’m used to running stuff professionally, and I can see serious problems with the Life side.

It has few signs of LIfe.

One reason they’re so cheap is that they don’t pay claims. And it takes even a medical profession multiple calls on the phone to get a decision on refilling a prescription early.

And the medical professionals can’t send them an email.

Let’s tri and do better, guys and gals. We’re stuck with you.

When they were located on the West Coast, service was pretty good. But it’s gone to hell now that you’re on the East Coast.

Pun intended.

Could also be that David McIntyre isn’t running Tricare for Life, any longer, too.

Change in leadership changes the organization.  Go find a new one, guys.

The DEI Con

I’ve written in this blog what a con job the whole Diversity, Equity and Inclusion industry is, and now Bill Cunningham on his Sunday radio show, had a guest who said exactly that.

In fact, I borrowed the title from the guest, whose name I didn’t get, just because it does represent to me, and my small business clients, the con job that this DEI industry is trying to perpetuate.

My average consulting client has about 20 employees. The biggest one has 500 or so. Normally they hire for competency, not according to any arbitrary mix of ethnicity, equity or inclusiveness. Here in Arizona, we have a higher-than-normal concentration of Hispanics, so they tend to be a higher-than-normal percentage of the workforce. Elsewhere in the US, other ethnicities are higher in representation.

A client just hired a new Director of Service, a guy who had worked for him before. Did he consider gender or DEI in the decision? Nope. Just competency.  He knew the guy’s work was excellent, so he hired him on the spot. He did consult me, which is always flattering, and I greenlighted the hire.

The point of it all is that small and medium sized business, who employs the majority of Americans,  doesn’t really consider DEI in it’s hiring decisions. Mostly just competency. DEI is probably considered to some extent, but it’s far from being the only factor.

The federal policy makers should consider that when setting workforce policy. Or just ignore national policy and let the states do it.

The T-Mobile Shuck and Jive

I recently bought a new I-Phone at T-Mobile and it wasn’t a pleasant experience.

It wasn’t pleasant because what I thought I agreed to didn’t get reflected in the first bill. The future charges weren’t reflected in the agreement, either.

T-Mobile should have explained that the first direct deposit deduction would be higher because of a conversion charge, and the bill in second and succeeding months would be what I agreed to.

BTW, the sales rep didn’t have me sign that I agreed to anything spelled out in the contract, which is in my mind a major problem, because I could legally void the whole deal.

When I ran national telemarketing for MCI, we prided ourselves in transparency, and it paid dividends in customers actually calling our lines wanting to switch.

I could probably take this contract and agreement problem to the Arizona Consumer Complaints Division, and get the whole deal thrown out, but a nice young lady named Savanah at my local T-Mobile store did a good job of explaining what the contract said.

And I like my new iPhone.

BTW, Apple, it’s my fourth I-Phone.

So, T-Mobile needs to do some training of salespeople in their stores, to get more transparency in their transactions. And rewrite some of their language to indicate what the succeeding months will be after the first month, so there are no surprises.

They might lose some transactions, but they’ll gain customer loyalty. And they’ll save customer sales reps time, because they won’t have to explain what’s going on after customers are surprised.

 

Ferrari, Entrepreneur

The whole family went to see the move ‘Ferrari’ on opening day, and it was quite good.

I lived in Italy around the time the movie covers and worked at Ford during the negotiations between Ford and Ferrari, so I have an interest in the subject.

I think Ferrari was accurately portrayed, with all of his flaws, but all Italian married men used to have mistresses; it’s part of the national psyche.

What wasn’t brought out much was that after Ferrari retired from racing himself, in the late 1920’s he opened a machine shop, specializing in racing parts. And it was apparently successful. During the Facist years in Italy, running a business wasn’t the easiest thing to do.

And, once Ferrari’s business was successful, he organized Scuderia Ferrari, which is the Ferrari race them which continues to this day. And he was a successful team owner, even breaking even, apparently.

And his long-suffering wife, who managed his occasionally chaotic finances, backed him with her personal guarantee when he decided (based on market demand) to expand from producing 100 cars a year to 400 a year. He got a bank loan of $500,000 (at least as portrayed in the film) to do it.

Ferrari car roduction these days is many times the 400 they had in the movie, and the company now employs 4500 people and is again independent of any car companies.

So, like most entrepreneurs, Ferrari was in hock up to his eyeballs, but he found the money to have a nice villa for his mistress, as well as his Modena home. A bit unusual, but not by Italian standards.

But he was an entrepreneurial success, no?

Customer Service Follies

Customer service seems to be taking a turn for the worse, except in small businesses.

Worse yet, initial contact would make you think it’s not bad. Lots of numerical options, friendly voices.

But there’s a bad side: you can’t in some cases get out of the loop.

ATT sounds good, but the last number you hit to change carriers doesn’t work. When they get the switch notice from Cox, they call again, sweetness and light. Why not do it right the first time?

Century Link, of course, is bad to the bone. Our landline is up maybe 80 % of the time, and they can’t or won’t fix it. So, we’re moving our entire account to Cox.

Cox isn’t entirely clean, either. After accepting the account, worth about $225 a month, they want a deposit from a person with an 840 credit score. Go figure.

And Equifax won’t release the credit report without four factor authentication which doesn’t work for some reason.

The good news is that small business isn’t falling for these trends.

So, What’s AI Good For?

Artificial intelligence (AI) has been around since about 2020, but has really hit prominence only in the last six months or so, with the introduction and use of Chat/GPT.

And, Elon Musk is introducting his version, called x.ai.

You may be wondering how you can use this new tool. Courtesy of our colleague Kelli Waxman, who pulled these ideas from Chat/GPT, here are some possible uses:

  1. Data Analysis. Lots of information is stored, and can be analyzed, to develop marketing programs, for example.
  2. Customer personalization. You can tailor website experiences to persons. such as recommending personalized products or services.
  3. Customer support personalization. You can see this now, in chatbots, but frankly they’re not very good. Big area for improvement.
  4. Pricing optimization. Prices can be adjusted locally, based on data you glean from local databases, but you have to be careful in asking Chat/GPT a question that will give you what you want.
  5. AI can automate a lot of repetitive tasks, such as customer lookups.
  6. Use of AI can, at least for a while provide a competitive advantage, by making your company quicker to respond to customer wishes.
  7. Automation of sales and marketing lead generation; we have used this for Solutions Forum and, so far, it hasn’t been cost effective. But we may not be crafting optimal marketing pieces or lists.

And, there’s more out there, I’m sure.

Doctors, Heal Thyselves

Most medical practices need to do a better job of patient care.

I recently had a situation where my GP made a diagnosis but wanted a confirming diagnosis from a gastroenterologist.

So, my GP sent a request to my gastroenterologist, Arizona Digestive Services. They originally said they’d set up a telemedicine appointment, but after two days, failed to do so.

Arizona Digestive Services then referred me to another gastroenterology practice, who did call, but said they couldn’t treat me until January, since I was a patient of Az Digestive Services until then.

So, I remain with my original problem, with no solution. My dear wife came up with a solution, which we’ve adopted for the time being.

I’ve never heard of such an arrangement, and I hope that the State of Arizona regulatory authorities will look into it.

Or, someone at the two gastro practices should display a bit of entrepreneurial initiative and reach out to solve the problem.

I’m not holding my breath.