Trial and Error

Trial and Error

 

When I had the opportunity to interview an entrepreneur this semester we had a lengthy conversation about how he started in the beginning, the mistakes that were made and how he learned from them. My entrepreneur Darren, is involved heavily in online business selling various products online ranging from weight loss supplements to now his own line of beauty creams and anti-aging products. He told me about the very first product he began selling online.

He had heard of a product called Meizitang which is an herbal weight loss supplement that also increases your energy while curbing your appetite. While Darren was attending school he knew of another student who was selling it online and making around $12k a month as a fulltime student. He thought “Why can’t I do that too?” and so he did. He created his online store, found out where to order it in bulk which was Allibaba online and began having it shipped directly from a supplier in China to his doorstep. Soon he sold out of it and ordered another shipment but larger this time, and then again, and again. Each time he ordered his order size increased substantially and he also received better pricing. He decided to make his biggest order yet and spent $5,000 on his product. While he was waiting for his shipment to arrive he began looking into other products to sell as well. He got those from a local supplier and began selling.

More than 3 weeks had passed and still no shipment. Finally his package arrived which was supposed to weigh around 50 lbs. There was the large box sitting on his porch. He picked it up…and it was completely empty. He opened it and there was a letter from U.S. Customs addressed to him. More or less the letter told him that they had seized his shipment and would be destroying his product because unbeknownst to him, the FDA had banned his product along with 72 other popular products. His options were to sign the paperwork and allow his product to be destroyed or he could meet them in court for charges of International Drug Smuggling. Just like that, his business was over and he was out over $5,000.00

Darren was devastated and had never lost that much money before, let alone spent that much money at one time on his business. Luckily, he had a strange feeling to try and diversify his business by selling other products. It saved him. He began picking other products and creating weight loss stacks which became his best sellers. He looked for every way to safeguard his business to avoid something like what had happened in the future. In the weight loss industry next to none of the products are FDA approved and they could ban anything at any time. He began selling a product called HGH and he had caught lightening in a bottle.

Though that seizure of his product cost him a lot of money and took him time to build on his other products, he said he learned so much from that experience. He learned to operate his business even leaner than before; he is always searching for the next big thing and making sure he can withstand any one of his products becoming unavailable at any time. He had not been saving as much as he should with his young company so he worked hard to set aside emergency funds for future circumstances. Now he has been on the quest of learning to run his company as an executive and working on his business and not as much in it. He has hired good people to take care of the tasks that occupied too much of his time and can now focus more of his efforts in building the company and others.

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Almost Done!

Things are winding down and getting crazy! In preparing for my book report, “A Field Guide to the Hero’s Journey”, I really feel I took away so much from the reading. I know this will be a book that I refer back to for inspiration and motivation.. I believe it’s one of the books that can affect you in a different way based on the circumstances you are personally going through when you read it.

The part of the book that struck me the most this time through was about slaying your own personal dragon. Now, it’s clear that life is a series of dragons to be confronted and defeated, but it’s important to understand that the dragons need to be defeated soundly and not just passed by on your journey. If you do not defeat your dragons, they will show up later, often at the worst possible time.

I’ve been resolved to confront and defeat my dragons as I recognize them this past week. This, like any other change in habit, has been a challenge and requires a lot of practice before I get fully comfortable doing it. The joy of overcoming these dragons will far exceed the discomfort and struggle of confronting them, or worse, leaving them behind again.

  • Based on what you read in the first two pages (pages 3 and 4), why are virtue and integrity so vital to an economy?

Virtue and integrity are important because the market is an exercise in trust and psychology, and reports of one or more businesses not being ethical, the market could dip and cause the economy to suffer at a certain level.

  • According to Charles Handy, what is the “real justification” for the existence of businesses?

The real justification is for businesses to make a profit so they can do something more or better.

  • What are two solutions proposed by Handy that you agree with? Why?
  1. Measuring success in terms of outcomes for others as well as ourselves. Measuring success in terms of outcomes for ourselves only seems Rand-ian and extreme, whereas measuring success in terms of outcomes for others fulfills the real justification for business.
  2. More sustainable practices in human resources. I work knowledge jobs, and the drive to burn yourself out is there, and found in some of the more short-term successful people there. However, in the long term, taking care of your best people — and hopefully all of your employees are your best people — is the way to go. Promote health and well-being and work-life balance with your employees, and they will value you as an employer more.

Money

  • What is your attitude toward money? I used to think the most important thing in the world was money but I realize now it a means to an end. Early in my married life and when my kids were younger I worked more hours than anyone I knew trying to provide the best I could for our family. I realized that though money is important, it is not more important than my family.

 

  • How can your view of money affect the way you live?  Our view on money can majorly affect the way we live. If that is all we focus on, that is all we will have because everything else will be less important and eventually die off. There needs to be a critical balance between money and a healthy lifestyle.

 

  • What rules are recommended for prospering? The rules for prospering are as follows:

Rule 1. Seek the Lord and have hope in him

Rule 2. Keep the commandments, that includes the temporal ones, tithing and fast offerings.

Rule 3. Think about money and plan how you can become self-reliant.

Rule 4. Take advantage of chances for learning so you will not be ignorant of these matters. Education, as President Hinckley has taught us, is the Key to Opportunity.

Rule 5. Learn the laws upon which the blessings of wealth are predicated.

Rule 6. Do not send away the naked, the hungry, the thirsty or the sick or those who are held captive.

This was a great week of learning from two wonderful entrepreneurs. Corey Bell and Catherine Rohr are great examples of working hard, not being intimidated by change or difficulties, and helping others succeed.

I really enjoyed what Corey Bell had to say. I think the thing he said that struck me the most was to eliminate the word “can’t” from my vocabulary. I really want to eliminate that word from my mindset and focus on the positive. He also said that he tries to draw something from every person that he meets and is always looking for inspiration.

Learning from Jet Blue

 

Learning from the “Jet Blue Experience”

 

This week we as I thought a lot about our Entrepreneur interviews and what it takes to be successful it reminded me about an article I had recently read about the “Jet Blue Experience. What is it that can make us successful in our endeavors and what set Jet Blue apart from the other airlines? This is customer service. I learned so many great insights about what it takes to provide excellent customer service, keep our customers, and find new customers. To start off, I really enjoyed some of the things that David Neeleman had to say about Jet Blue and what his customers call the Jet Blue experience. He said it is very important to put your money in the right places to increase the customer’s experience. Before they were spending 15 million dollars on meals for customers which everyone complained about. They decided to scrap the expensive meals, provided snacks, and encouraged customers to bring their own food. They then used that money to provide televisions for every seat to provide the ultimate customer experience while flying which was having some sort of control. This has been one of the trademarks for jet blue and they are working on providing more channels of live television and movies. This was provided at a fraction of the cost of the un appreciated food. The next problem they faced were what David referred to as spinners. People that stood in the middle of the isle upon boarding and turning in circles trying to decide where to place their carryon item. They usually had no idea they were holding up the rest of the 150 passengers waiting to board the aircraft. With only 35 minutes to turn the plane around this was a problem. His solution was better customer service. By having the attendants place the luggage for the customer it kept them on time, effective, and with customers leaving impressed that Jet Blue took care of their luggage for them.

I really liked this because it showed me that you can find ways to increase the quality of customer service and make the company more profitable at the same time by saving money or putting that money in better places where it is appreciated. It was definitely something good to keep in mind for the future. When I have something that I do for a customer that does not seem to be appreciated or even noticed and it costs money, I will look for other areas that I can use that money to increase the customers experience with my company.

I have been making good progress with my $100 challenge startup. I am in the process of building samples of my product I am selling and have contacted the Rexburg and Idaho Falls animal shelter to help promote my product. I should be receiving my business cards this week and will also be placing my ad on craigslist. I am confident that installing coyote rollers for homeowners who want to keep their pets safe will be successful. I will also be doing an interview with the animal shelter to show that if more people knew about this product only a fraction of those pets would be in the shelter of dead on the road. I look forward to continue marketing this company and hope it will be a success.

Disciple Preparation and Leadership

Disciple Preparation and Leadership

This week’s readings were awesome. There were two readings or activities that really stood out to me. The first was Elder Bednar’s talk “Disciple Preparation Center”. Elder Bednar pointed out so many things about Brigham Young University Idaho that caused me to have an even greater appreciation of attending this wonderful university. He compared BYU–I to the Missionary Training Center in Provo Utah. They share an astounding number of similarities between the two.

MTC

The missionary training centers are rather isolated geographically and are few in number.

Missionaries reside and study in the MTC for relatively short periods of time.

The nature of the instruction in the MTCs is focused and intense.

There are in the MTCs distinctive requirements for demeanor and dress.

Most missionary training centers are located near a temple

BYI–I

BYU–Idaho is located in a rather isolated geographic area.

By and large, students are enrolled at BYU–Idaho for a relatively short period of time.

The learning and teaching processes at BYU–Idaho are focused and intense.

There is at BYU–Idaho a distinguishing standard of deportment and dress.

BYU–I is adjacent to the Rexburg Temple

My favorite quality that attending BYU–I possesses is the involvement of the spirit in the learning environment. Starting each class with a prayer and involving the gospel in learning helps me to learn so much quicker and provides an incredible environment to be taught. The BYU learning model is so unique in that the students are allowed to teach one another. I know this facilitates growth and confidence as we learn the subjects well enough to teach others.

Another lesson we covered this week was determining our dominant leadership style. I found this survey very interesting and it brought back to my recollection many of the jobs I have had in my life and what I liked or did not like about them. I was actually not very surprised by the results of this survey. I had a score of 49 for Participative Style (Democratic) Leadership. My second highest score was Delegative and last was Authoritarian. I feel that my leadership style does match some of the articles that we have covered. I really liked the mark Nygren case study and seeing how he jumped in with both feet and made things happen. My Brother and I are meeting Mark for lunch next week and are excited to pick his brain on business and see how we can make our company more successful. He following experiences are those that I feel shaped my opinion on which leadership style I prefer.

My very first job was working at a shell gas station in a ghetto part of town. My managers were 2 guys from Pakistan and treated us employees like the infidels they thought Americans were. I only say that because Mahmood (Manager) said that to me once. Though it was not a very glamorous job, it did require a lot of work. They took pride in bossing me around, micro managing me to the point of not doing their jobs well and would NEVER show appreciation for going the extra mile or doing something well. They would yell, curse in Pakistani and when the owner came in, and take the praise for something I had done. I began to have great disdain for this type of authority. Needless to say…I quit and felt sorry for the next poor high school sap I saw doing my job a week later. I did not enjoy the authoritarian style, though this is probably a bad example of it.

When I began working for my Father as a superintendent for his Construction Company, It was a breath of fresh air. He took the time to train me, teach me tricks of the trade and once he felt confident in my abilities, let go of the reigns. He always gave credit where credit was due and if a mistake was made he would offer constructive criticism only to make me better. Everyone loved working with my Dad. He would hold company meetings to discuss projects and ask for input from everyone on how to improve the company and make it better and how to make us better. At 16 years old I had built my first commercial retail store in a high end Irvine Ca. shopping center. At first it was a little awkward having to instruct men my Dads age on what to do. I was never bossy to them but I had to learn real quick how to handle myself. I always left their decisions to them. I was not a babysitter but if they could not comply with my schedule or respect me, they were free to pack their tools up and get the heck off my jobsite. I tried to lead the way my father had taught me. I was always approachable, enjoyed working as a team to solve problems, often asked for suggestions and advice from those around me and always gave credit where credit was due. I really learned to lead, but make sure everyone knew their rolls and gave them enough freedom to make their choices and not feel micro managed. I HATE micromanagement and see is as extremely less effective. Learning to manage in a democratic way not only helped me gain the respect of my contractors but also allowed me to make lifelong friendships.

For six years I worked for the Fire Department while working as a project manager for my father’s construction company. The dream career I thought I was pursuing actually began to show signs of things I did not enjoy. It was very difficult to work during the week and hold a great deal of responsibility and freedom and then work my 48 hour shift on the weekend and be micromanaged and always having someone looking over my shoulder. I did really enjoy the job as a whole but going from managing during the week to feeling like I was only to do what I had been given orders to do make me feel like a child again in some respects. It started to drive me crazy. I injured my back and luckily decided to return to school to become an entrepreneur. I have never been happier.

I think there are pros and cons to all leadership styles. I think if we pick and choose the best attributes of all and blend them together we can become extraordinary leaders.

Entrepreneur Interview

For my entrepreneur interview I will be interviewing a man named Darren Helmsworth. We will be conducting the interview this coming Tuesday evening at 8 p.m. I have chosen to interview Darren because he is basically living my dream. He is a young guy, running multiple online businesses that he started from scratch, owns a large indoor RV and boat storage facility that he purchased from the previous owner who had almost run it into the ground, and also has an impressive portfolio of residential rental properties in Southern California. At 35 years old, Darren is a multimillionaire living in a 6.5 million dollar home literally on the beach in San Diego. His success is just unbelievable to be.

Darren is an amazing entrepreneur because he is always brainstorming for the next biggest thing. He owns a variety of different online businesses he started from scratch, he bought out a business that was failing and turned it into a gold mine with his marketing skills and adding services they offer. He has also developed an app for the iPhone and iPad. In addition to that he has purchased, remodeled, and rents out 10 or more homes in southern California.

I want to learn to think the way Darren does. He told me to read the 4 hour workweek because it helped him change his ways of thinking. He has offered to be a mentor to me and I would love more than anything to follow his same career path.

What I Learned This Week

What I Learned This Week

This week was a great reminder of the “7 Habits of Highly Effective People”. I had read this book years ago and though I did learn quite a lot from it, I also forgot many of the very important principles that were taught. If I had to pick only two of my favorite habits I would first pick the grand daddy of them all which is “BE PROACTIVE”. I also really believe in this habit because it is the framework for all of the others to follow. Someone that is an early riser and plans out there day is able to be so much more effective than those who do not. Being able to visualize what needs to happen and making it happen is essential. I find myself really drawn to those who are go getters and actively engaged because it is nice to be constantly motivated and energized by them. Since starting my own business I have not had the luxury of showing up to work and just working, If I don’t make things happen nothing will happen at all. This is still an area that I can use much improvement, especially when feeling loaded down and stressed with school work.

The second principle that is important to me is putting first things first. It is so easy to bog ourselves down with less important tasks which prohibit us from getting done the really important things. I receive lots of emails daily and I used to try and respond to all of them. After a few years of this I can sense which emails are urgent and which can be put off or responded to quickly with not as much detail. From this book I am trying to institute the habit of planning out my week ahead of time and listing all of the important items first each day. I think about it like “if I only got a few things done today, which would make it a productive and successful day?” I still am working on improving but I really do see great value in these habits.

This is my personal blog to reflect on life, business, school and also interesting things I read. Nothing fancy.