Not Just for the Money but Also What we Become in its Making

April 1, 2010 at 11:43 AM 11 comments

I was asked a few weeks ago to give a talk to some bright students who were graduating from the MBA program at Thompson Rivers University (TRU). I thought I’d also include my thoughts here on my blog.

I started with saying that I believe I’ve learned six key principles for achieving entrepreneurial success.  I also said I’m confident that when you choose to follow and implement these fundamental tenets you will not only achieve success in business but also in life.  To quote my friend and business mentor, Tom Matzen, you will “Earn Twice As Much With Half the Stress!

So, now I’ll ask you, do you think it would be worth your time to read about what I’ve learned?

If so, here are the six “principles” that I’d like us to consider:

  1. Step-By-Step Processes
  2. Team
  3. Refocus
  4. Entrust
  5. Share
  6. ?   … (Can you guess my last point? I’ll tell you at the end. Don’t skip ahead! It’s worth the wait)

Before I begin I’d like to ask you another question.  “What would be your definition of an entrepreneur?” As an ‘Internet guy’ I looked the word ‘entrepreneur’ up at dictionary.com. Here is what it says… “a person who organizes and manages any enterprise, esp. a business, usually with considerable initiative and risk.”  http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/entrepreneur

When I think of an entrepreneur I seem to think of romantic notions of a person achieving overwhelming success in the face of adversity.  I often think of an entrepreneur as an individual, someone who is self-made, and perhaps considered a lone-wolf.

Here’s the problem.  This romantic notion of success is just that, romantic and nothing more.  There’s very little truth to it.  Yes, achieving success as an entrepreneur requires a lot of effort but I’ve never met someone who did it on their own (myself included).

Here is another point that I find very interesting.  I’ve borrowed this idea from both Michael Gerber and Tom Matzen many years ago and made it my own.

Most people don’t go to school to study business and entrepreneurship.  Instead MOST people suffer from an undiagnosed illness called an “Entrepreneurial Seizure”. In many cases this illness is fatal resulting in the long and painful death of the newborn business. Sound humorous? Well, it’s NOT! It is gut wrenching, heartbreaking and worse yet it is completely avoidable.

So what is an “Entrepreneurial Seizure”?  It’s that moment in time when the ‘cook’ becomes a ‘restaurateur’… when the ‘carpenter’ becomes a ‘contractor’… or when the ‘programmer’ starts a software company.  They think that because they know their occupations they should be able to run their own companies.  Whoa! That’s why we call it an “Entrepreneurial Seizure”. Not all of the synapses are firing correctly upstairs.

Sure, they get into business for all of the right reasons. They want to make more money. They want to have more time for what they see as important in their lives. They want to have fun… Money, Time and Fun! Sounds good doesn’t it?

But almost immediately their ego gets in the way. They build their businesses around themselves because they need to be needed and pretty soon the wrenching, heartbreaking, and completely avoidable terror begins to happen. They’re working deep inside their businesses instead of on them. They’re making less money than they ever did working for someone else once they calculate all of their overhead and cost of goods.  They have less time than ever before for personal interests because their businesses become all consuming. And the thought of having “FUN” has now become a distant memory.  They convince themselves that adults don’t have fun. They’ve grown up now and they have responsibilities. People are relying on them. They are desperately needed. And, this is the long, hard, painful path to the death of their businesses.

So, how can this all be avoided? Let’s consider my first point…

Step-By-Step Processes

In order to have more fun, more money, and more time you need to remove yourself from the equation.  You can not work on your business if you are too busy working in it.  In order to remove yourself from the business you need to have step-by-step processes for everything.  In other words you need to turn-key your business… your administration, your marketing, your sales, your operations, your production… you need to create a McBusiness!

There is a reason that the McDonald’s franchise is so successful. They have documented and created a manual for absolutely every aspect of the business from cooking the burgers, to putting the fries in the sleeves, to cleaning the washrooms.  Nothing is unaccounted for.  Everything is consistent, measurable and can be duplicated to produce the exact same results each and every time.

A good starting point for turn-keying your business is Tom Matzen’s book “Earn Twice as Much with Half the Stress” and another would be Michael Gerber’s book, “The E-Myth Revisited”.

So create step-by-step processes for each and every aspect of your business.  When you do you will have more fun, more time, more profit, and MORE LIFE!

Team

The second tenet I’d like to share with you for creating a successful business is about your “team”.

To quote Jim Rohn, another mentor of mine, “you are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.”  For this very reason you need to surround yourself with people that are better than you.  Choose people that you aspire to be like.  Don’t get caught up in the trap of hiring people that serve your ego and who don’t intimidate you.  Get out of your comfort zone and make a team of people who can teach you something instead of the other way around. When you do they’ll make both you and your business look great.

In 1990, when I was 20 I started my first “major” business which was called Acclaim Auto Glass and Trim.  I’d like to share an excerpt out of a letter I received from a customer, Nigel F. Brachi, on September 10, 1991. I’ve kept it to this day because it reminds me of my first positive lesson about what the right team can do.

“Dear Mr. Cameron-Inglis

I am writing to comment on the service I received when getting my windshield replaced. Let me tell you how it went:

  1. I came out from the office at the end of the day and found one of your company’s business cards in the door window, and a flyer on the windshield. Laughing – because I have been meaning to get the windshield fixed – I was about to drive off when on of your employees, Wayne Harris, came up and introduced himself. Apparently he had checked the parking lot and was waiting for me to turn up.

    Wayne was professional and enthusiastic and he had my business as soon as I realized what he was doing. He told me how the system worked, took a few details and told me someone would call me today.

  2. And someone did call me and she said someone would be out to fix my car, and then he turned up on time, did what looks like a great job and then told me what to watch out for… and even managed to retrieve my parking sticker from the old windshield, and put it on the new one, in the right place. Wow!

So now I have a new windshield, payment was worked out with my insurer without involving me, it was done in the parking lot… and the whole thing completed in under 24 hours.

Amazing stuff! Maybe this is how all windshield replacement services work – I’ve never had it done before – but if ever I need another, or a friend does, you’ll get the business.

You got my business in the first place because one of your employees was enterprising enough to look for business around the parking lot, and the patience to wait for me till 5:4, or whenever… and you’ll get any business I have in the future because your service – from all of the peoplein your organization that I came in contact with – was friendly, efficient, reliable and generally excellent.

Like I said, amazing stuff. Thank you very much.”

When I started Acclaim I was VERY LUCKY to hire some people who were far better than me at doing their jobs.  It was a lesson that I learned in a positive way when I received this letter. It was an AH HA moment or as my friend Dean Pierson says… it was a BFO (blinding flash of the obvious).  This team drove Acclaim Auto Glass and Trim from a mobile service with one truck to a chain of three stores and twenty two employees.  At the age of 23 I had made my first million of profit and I had all of the toys a successful young entrepreneur could want like nice vehicles and a beautiful sail boat.

So believe me when I say, surround yourself with a team of people who are better than you. When you do you will become the average of them and rise to a level of success better than you could have ever done on your own.

Oh, and by the way… did you notice any processes being reflected in the letter?  Read it again! The turnkey processes were there… every step of the way.

Refocus

My third fundamental principle is ‘refocus’.  As an entrepreneur you need to learn how to avoid quitting by changing your focus.  Do not give up! If you’re ship is heading into the wind you need to set your sails and change direction.  It may mean changing the way you’re doing something or changing your business altogether.

I’ve already told you how successful Acclaim Auto Glass and Trim was but what I haven’t yet told you is about my first “major” failure in business!  Same company by the way.

At 23 years old I married a beautiful, supportive and intelligent woman. Her name is Tania. We went away on our honeymoon and left an employee in charge that had been approved by his bank to purchase one of my stores.  I thought it would be a great learning experience for Brad to run the stores while I was gone and figured I’d conclude the sale of one of the stores to him when I returned.

While I was gone Brad had other ideas.  He told the employees that I had instructed him to send them home on paid vacation to celebrate my new marriage.  With the employees out of the way he used the opportunity to sell off tools, inventory and clean out the bank accounts.  Yes, I can’t believe I gave him signing authority either. Dumb move on my part. Long story made short… when Tania and I returned we had to file for shelter from my creditors which inevitably turned into bankruptcy.

Rich at 23 and dead broke at 24. We lost everything. I remember a time before I was discharged from the bankruptcy that was particularly humiliating. I couldn’t even get a job working a cash register at a McDonald’s restaurant because that involved handling cash, which is something that an undischarged bankrupt person is not permitted to do.

I found myself one day in a parking lot of a Loblaws grocery store.  It was in a blizzard and it was bitterly cold and windy.  People were leaving their grocery carts with quarters in them by their vehicles because the weather was too bad to return them.  I remember running them back cart after cart so I could get enough quarters to buy some food for my new family.  Tania had now given birth to my first daughter Heather.  This was a turning point for me.  I became determined to not give up!  I had to find something else… another opportunity… business opportunities are like buses in rush hour. There is one every five minutes.  I experienced success once and I felt I could do it again!

This lead me start and run several more businesses over the years.  Some were successful and some not so much, but I definitely learned to not give up and to just refocus when things became their worst.

Recently a good friend of mine, Krishna Lakkineni, asked me how I could keep going in the face of so much adversity and failure.  In response I gave him the analogy I had adopted for my life on that cold day pushing carts back for quarters.  “There is a guy with a gun and he’s pointing it at your family.  You can’t stop him. He’s going to shoot them if you don’t go and get him a million dollars within 1 week.  It’s life or death.  What are you going to do?” So Krishna says, “I would kill him!”  After I explained that this was not an option Krishna came to the realization… “I would just go and get him the million dollars. I’d do whatever it took. I’D FIND A WAY!”

You’ve got two choices in life… get up when you get knocked down or just quit.  I choose to get up!  So, when you’re faced with adversity and things become impossible… don’t give up!… and don’t just keep doing what you’ve always been doing… change directions… refocus… when you do YOU WILL FIND A WAY!

Entrust

Some of my close friends know that when I was young I wanted to be a priest.  There was a long a rich heritage in my family starting with my great grandfather, and then my grandfather, and even my father for a while felt the calling to pursue a life as a clergyman in the Anglican Church (Church of England). And so I spent a few months after graduating high school at Wycliff in Toronto discovering that I was not in fact called to be a priest.

During this time, however, I learned much.  I remember a story that made a deep impact on me. It was actually an analogy that used a little bit of drama to make a profound point in demonstrating the difference between “belief” and “faith”.  Or for the purpose of my dialogue, the difference between “trust” and “entrust”.  Imagine a chair… I can believe, or trust, that the chair is going to hold me up. But, it’s not until I actually sit in it that I am demonstrating my faith, or entrusting my weight (and pride), in the chair.  So too it is with the people you work with day in and day out.  Do you just believe that they can do their jobs well or do you get out of the way and entrust them with your business?

If I had let my experience at Acclaim Auto Glass and Trim with Brad (or with other people in other businesses) make me bitter and distrustful then I would have not met some of the best friends I have had in my entire life.  If I had lost the ability to trust people I would definitely not have trusted my good friend Vic Kovacs when he wanted to start ASL Internet with me.  I mean come on… A car guy? Who trusts car guys … wink, wink, nudge, nudge… but I did trust him and formed a meaningful friendship in the process… and as a result we started ASL Internet in 2001 and sold it in 2008.

Now I’m not saying that people won’t let you down… on the contrary, expect that they will.  Get used to expecting the worse but not losing hope for the best. Your hopes will not be in vain.

But remember, don’t just trust them with your business, entrust them with your business. When you do you’ll create synergies, friendships and partnerships that will rival your biggest competitors while ensuring loyalty that money just can’t buy.

Share

How many times did your mother tell you “don’t be greedy”?

All too often, as entrepreneurs, we feel that we only have one shot, one opportunity, to make it big.  But the reality is that successful entrepreneurs learn a formula which they can duplicate again and again.  To use another quote from Jim Rohn, “It’s not how much you make. It’s what you become.”

Prior to February 2008 I did not want to sell ASL Internet. But, in the end we did sell the company to Canada’s largest media group, Quebecor Media Inc..  At the time our growth was going faster than our cash flow allowed and we could not have kept up with the demand on our own. If I had dug in my heals, allowed greed to prevail and refused to cooperate it could have been a nightmare.

After the sale it wasn’t long before we slid into a recession.  This downturn in the economy had a dramatic affect on the bottom line with losses in revenue from auto dealers temporarily reducing their spend on marketing in addition to manufacturers making moves to actually close a significant number of dealership franchises in Canada.

So, lesson learned! By sharing and not acting solely on greed my friendship with my business partner Vic was not jeopardized, the company didn’t suffer, and everyone from the employees to Quebecor was part of a win-win solution.

In these days and times you will experience many opportunities to build wealth so maintain your bridges, don’t burn them down. Share your successes with your business partners, employees, and even your customers. When you do even more success will follow.

? – My last and MOST important tenet

Can you guess what it is?

It is the single most important thing in being a success as an entrepreneur.

  1. S tep-By-Step Processes
  2. T eam
  3. R efocus
  4. E ntrust
  5. S hare
  6. S TRESS – Learn how to manager it and balance your life

Let me tell you what learning this lesson too late in life has cost me.

  • Colon Cancer (I’m now in remission)
  • My mitral valve (heart)
  • All of my teeth (I wear dentures now)
  • ¾ of my lower intestine have been removed
  • ½ of my bladder has been removed
  • Constant and reoccurring pain and the need to always be close to washrooms from aggravated Crohn’s Disease
  • And the need to alter my lifestyle with less energy and a requirement to alter my diet

I’ve been in the hospital, literally on my death bed three times. The first was a result of colon cancer.  I was only given a few months to put my affairs in order. That was several years ago. I am in remission now.  Then I was admitted to the hospital twice more having driven my body to desperation on two more separate occasions.  One time I collapsed and went into a coma from driving myself to absolute fatigue resulting in sepsis and a year later my third extended stay was a result of a massive infection in my blood stream resulting in the removal of some of my anatomy.  All of this was directly caused by a refusal to balance my life and manage stress.

Stress is the number one contributor of heart disease, cancer, clinical depression, and most of the things that ail us today.  I also believe it is also one of the most significant contributors to both divorce and bankruptcy.

I wish I had read the book by Dale Carnegie, “How to Stop Worrying and Start Living” (or taken a Dale Carnegie course) years ago, instead of just doing both at the beginning of this year.

Another friend, Gerry Shea, recently told me to read “Deep Survival – Who Lives, Who Dies and Why” by Laurence Gonzales. Here is something I found quite meaningful from his book. “D.H. Lawrence wrote that every year you pass an anniversary unaware: the anniversary of your own death.”  Don’t forget why we are entrepreneurs in the first place… it’s not just the money but also what we become… it’s also about having more time and having more fun.

Please, if you get nothing else from what I have said, then at the very least… learn to manage your stress and enjoy a balanced life.  When you do you’ll realize you can have it all!

Cheers

P.S. If you have any feedback for me about what I’ve written here or something completely different I’d love to hear it. I’d also welcome you to connect with me on Linkedin.

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Entry filed under: Entrepreneur / Business Ideas, internet marketing.

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11 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Rod Mclachlan  |  April 1, 2010 at 12:33 PM

    Awesome read Pete lets do coffee I miss you guys.

    Reply
    • 2. cameroninglis  |  April 1, 2010 at 4:39 PM

      Sounds great Rod. We’ve missed you too.

      Reply
  • 3. Zhaokun Zhang  |  April 1, 2010 at 1:22 PM

    Inspired by your articles all the time. Great and educative stories. Thanks!

    Reply
  • 5. Brian Dunphy  |  April 1, 2010 at 4:28 PM

    Inspiring!
    Thank you Peter.

    Reply
    • 6. cameroninglis  |  April 1, 2010 at 4:42 PM

      You’re most welcome Brian. Although I thought it was pretty long for a blog post I’m glad it was worth the read for you.

      Reply
  • 7. Dean Pierson  |  April 1, 2010 at 4:52 PM

    Peter,

    I was fortunate enough to hear you give this presentation live. Sitting here and re-reading the points that you made (and shared) only serves to reinforce the magnitude of your message. I know that the students at your presentation were very fortunate to have you speak to them and share a lifetime of experience……and whether you realize it now or not…..you have made and will continue to make a profound impact on your audiences with such artful and poignant presentations.

    Thank you for your willingness to share and congratulations on a job well done!

    Reply
    • 8. cameroninglis  |  April 1, 2010 at 5:06 PM

      Coming from you Dean I will take that as high praise indeed. Thank you. I also consider myself fortunate to have learned so much from you and others I have mentioned… and many whom I have not yet honored but who have each contributed greatly to who I am today. Thank you to all of you. Cheers.

      Reply
  • […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Krishna and Earn Money Today, Peter Cameron-Inglis. Peter Cameron-Inglis said: Latest post to my blog – Not Just for the Money but Also What we Become in its Making – http://bit.ly/dyUKAo […]

    Reply
  • 10. Darryl  |  April 11, 2010 at 12:28 PM

    Nice read Peter, thanks for sharing.

    Reply
  • 11. Kellie Auld  |  April 6, 2011 at 10:50 AM

    As usual Peter, you give your heart into what it is you do and that too is part of why you are successful! Sincerety goes a long way as does the passion you bring to what it is you do and say. You have been a great inspiration – I’m sure the students will have learned a great deal from what you shared with them.
    Thanks very much.

    Reply

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