Friday, January 22, 2010

Gurus and mentors aren't hiding under a bush!

Meeting someone who knows what steps to take in starting a business may be a bit tricky to navigate.  Fortunately, there is help! Meet Terrie Lloyd, creator of over 14 businesses, owner of Metropolis, Japan's No 1 English Magazine, and guru. Terrie's goal is to  change Japan from the outside in. He believes that the value of the foreign perspective can change Japan for the better.  This isn't a plan of world domination, Terrie's sees the possibilities of developing a successful business in Japan.  He understands that some Japanese companies can't accept change unless it comes from outside the box. By virtue of the fact that you are a foreigner you are outside that box.

In October 2009, a friend and I went to Terrie Lloyd's seminar, Building a Business in Japan.  I went to the meeting with a vague plan, some ideas, and a strong desire to make a change.  To be honest, when it comes right down to it, I was a blank slate. My friend on the other hand had already tasted success during the dotcom years and was looking for a way to get back into the game, this time in a different time zone.  He's already making moves at his own business! Check it out!  Anyway, back to Terrie!

Building a Business in Japan was for the beginner and the intermediate. This seminar was full of valuable tips on perspective, organization and motivation.  For the more advanced players in this field, Terrie could probably field questions on a variety of hurdles that may stand in your way. His talk was fueled with anecdotes from other entrepreneurs in Japan. He interlaced their tales of success and failures with his own making this more of a firsthand account of where to start in business.  Terrie was straightforward and direct about his views on working with Japanese companies, people, and media. 

If you have checked out the recent editions of Metropolis you may have noticed and ad for his upcoming seminar, Entrepreneur's Handbook SeminarTerrie isn't offering me any kickbacks in mentioning this, but I thought I'd do what I've been telling a few friends to do, GO! But first a disclaimer, Terrie may not be the person who is your mentor, but he's a good start. As someone who has sent him a few emails about my own beginnings, and they may be mundane, he has always responded respectfully.

The Proof is in the Pudding:
Terrie's longevity in Japan has been revealed to me in ways that I never expected. Remember my friend with the technology company?  Well, after going to the seminar he met a friend who contacted Terrie about a job. Terrie didn't know this guy, he was living in Yamaguchi and had never been to Tokyo, but was looking to make a change. Do you know Terrie helped him?  He didn't get him a job, but he gave him valuable information and steps to take.

Chance Encounter:
I know an Indian family who has been here for over 15 years.  They invited me to dinner over the holidays. While we were talking I mentioned Terrie's name, do you know the husband was interviewed by Terrie? He  said, Terrie helped him move to Japan when the internet was young, over 15 years ago. Now this man didn't know why I went to a Terrie Lloyd seminar, he had nothing to gain from making that connection, but he did have positive things to say.  Random conversations and the invaluable information that I learned at his seminar are keeping me stay on the grind. Success is possible, just take a step!

Register now for your ticket at Entrepreneur's Handbook Seminar!


Saturday, January 16, 2010

What's in your wallet?

First, do you have a wallet?  A friend told me that in Japan there's a tradition of buying a new wallet at the beginning of the year. At first I laughed at this notion and thought, "Marketing!"  After careful reflection I started to see how this makes sense. Many people are making promises to themselves to get out of debt for a variety of reasons. Some want to have a zero balance on their credit card, others want to go on vacation, some just want to be able to afford something nice without buyer's remorse.  Whatever the reason, starting with a brand new wallet can be the beginning of a wonderful relationship.  Yes, I'm encouraging financial planning with buying a new wallet.

So back to the beginning, do you have a wallet?  If so, open it. What do you see? Crumpled receipts? A folded bill? Dust mites?You may wonder what does your wallet have to do with your finances.  It's simple, if it's disorganized, then maybe your financial house might be disorganized as well. Your wallet may be your first indication that there is a problem.  Before you start a business, you have to get your financial house in order:

1. Look for a wallet that helps you hold all your business cards, credit cards and point cards (for my Japan people) in separate compartments.

Once you organize your cards you can start to decide what should you keep? You'll be able to see where you shop? And you'll know often you use certain cards. For instance, I went through my wallet and noticed I was a point card junkie. I had point cards for everywhere! The thing is, I actually don't shop that often at the same places.  The one store I love shopping at doesn't offer a point card and when I shop it's because everything is 3 for sen yen/ten dollars.  So, out with all the extra point cards. I only need the important ones Tower Records, because I like magazines and occasionally I'll buy one. Vie de France because I think that bakery has the best raspberry, cheese strudel. Blue Parrot and Book Off, two places where the points come in handy!  One thing about the Book Off card, it can cover more than one place. You can use it at coffee shops, convenience stores and other places. Consolidate!  Now my wallet is trimmed!

2. Take out your credit cards!
In step one I told you to look for a wallet that can hold your credit cards. That doesn't mean you have to carry them.  Take out your credit cards and leave them at home. You'll be thankful for it later. A lot of times if you are going out to dinner and you have a card, it could be used as a backup or a get out of jail free card. However, that $50 dinner will cost you so much more with 6-13% interest tagged on it six months later.  If you leave your card at home, the initial rush to purchase may fade. Now, if you are still pacing in your apartment 2 months later bemoaning the fact that you didn't buy that washing machine/dryer combo, then maybe you actually needed it

3. Look at your bills and change.
Are your bills crumpled and folded up? Are they all facing the same direction? Do you know which part of your wallet has the bills in it? In Young, Fabulous & Broke, Suze Orman talks about respecting money.  If you don't respect it, it won't respect you.

4. Keep your receipts!!!!
If you are trying to maintain an organized wallet, why would you keep your receipts?  Because when you go home you're going to write down what you did and what you spent. It may take a while, but you'll start to notice how much you spent on bills, entertainment, and extras.  Extras can be anything from a candy bar to a t-shirt that you really didn't need.

Organize your wallet so it matches your financial intelligence!


Sunday, January 10, 2010

Creating Company Culture First

I just completed The EMyth Revisited by Michael E. Gerber. He outlines the reasons why businesses don't succeed and tells you how to change that for your small business.  The main downfall of most small business is that the owner manages it alone.  The owner never learns how to create a system so they don't have to be at the business the entire time.  The section on creating a process is entitled, Prototyping the Position: Replacing Yourself with a System.(p.179)  This is the key to any successful business. Who wants to wake up one morning and realize that you can't take a vacation because if you do, the entire business will collapse?
I sure don't!

My whole goal in creating my business is to replace myself as soon as possible. This is a huge battle because it involves trust. We have to trust our system and relinquish our egos. I think many of us are tied to the idea of, "If I want it done right, I have to do it myself."  Well, that statement is laden with work, stress and no vacations!  In creating a business we have to latch on to humility and trust. Humility will allow us to listen to ourselves, clients and employees. Trust will allow you to build on those relationships and develop a system that will enable you to know that the work will be done with or without you.  Preferably without you!

In a recent interview Tony Hsieh of talked about creating a culture of trust at Zappos. How does he do this? Well, he wants to know, "How weird are you?"  This offbeat question actually gets to the heart of Zappos. They want innovative thinkers! They want risk takers! Read more at

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