Thursday, September 11, 2008

Why Network Marketing Makes Sense

Almost everyone when asked if they would prefer to be in business for themselves or continue to work a job will say they would prefer to be in business for themselves.

Many of those same people however don't have the time, capital, and more importantly the knowledge on how to effectively run a business of any sort let alone start their own. That's where network marketing comes into play

Becoming an Entrepreneur

When considering becoming an entrepreneur a few things have started to happen. First, you are probably realizing that you were not born with a W-2 form attached to your birth certificate.

Second, working a job is okay initially if all you want to do is make a living, but is not ideal if you're trying to make a life.

And lastly, you really are not control of your own income if you're working for someone else. You've heard the famous joke about the guy who said he was his boss's right-hand man and as such could not get fired. Well soon after that statement his boss got left-handed really quick.

So what business could you start? How do you know what type of business or industry you want to get into? Where do you learn what it takes to be an entrepreneur and business owner?

You might want to consider network marketing as this business model will answer all those questions and then some.

An Entrepreneurial Shortcut: Network Marketing

Robert Kiyosaki is an investor, businessman, self-help author and motivational speaker and is best known for his Rich Dad, Poor Dad series of motivational books and other material.

In his book, Business School, he affirms: "If I had to do it all over again, rather than build an old style type of business, I would have started building a network marketing business." Strong statement from one of the world's most sought after entrepreneurs and business minds.

But what is it about Network Marketing that makes it so attractive and why should it be the first choice for people looking to get into business?

Here are some key reasons why network marketing is very attractive to new entrepreneurs.


Most network marketing businesses are very easy to get involved in and typically have a very low start-up cost. So there is no real risk of losing any money at the forefront and if you find the business is not exactly what you were looking for there is usually a money-back guarantee on your registration. Investing millions of dollars in a franchise just to get it off the ground is much more daunting than a couple of hundred bucks to get started in your own business.

Training and Support System

Most people don't have any knowledge on how to build a business of their own because no one is taught how to do this in any formal form of education. The education system is set up to teach people how to get a job and is more focused on developing skills. Jobs require skills but business ownership takes mindset. Most network marketing businesses have very extensive personal growth programs and support materials to help you make that transition from a job mentality to a business-ownership mentality. I recommend not focusing on the products of the business but their education program. Even if you do not make much money with your involvement, the education you receive will be worth the time invested.

Low Risk

Network marketing businesses are designed to be built during the spare time of the person looking to become an entrepreneur. So it is not possible to participate in a lot of these businesses full time like a conventional business or job. Because of this, there is no risk to what you may be currently pursing as a profession. It takes much more risk to totally stop your current form of income to pursue something that you have no real knowledge about with no guarantee of income in the future. A network marketing business will give you that flexibility to keep your day job but create the lifestyle you really want during your spare time. The famous saying is "You make a living from 9 to 5, but a life is made from 5 to 9."

No Limit to Potential Earnings

Once you understand how the business is run there is no limit to how much income you can create in a network marketing business. Because most of these businesses are focused on direct sales of products and services, you can outperform any distributor based on your own work ethic and your own effort. It is strictly performance based.

This is usually tough for most people who are used to showing up to work, surfing the internet for 8 hours and then getting paid at the end of the week for doing an average job at work. Networking marketing will teach you the hard lesson about what real business is about: you want a raise, you give yourself a raise. If you're not making money it is no one else's fault but your own.

How to Choose a Network Marketing Business to Partner With

Robert Kiyosaki also encourages people not to focus so much on the products that a network marketing business offers but to focus on some of the more intangible characteristics. In his book Business School, he affirms once again that he endorses any network marketing organization that is "first committed to developing you as a human being, more than developing you into a salesperson."

He reiterates that people should seek organizations that:

  • Are proven organizations that have successful track records and a distribution system and a compensation plan that has been successful for years.
  • Have a business opportunity you can succeed with, believe in and share confidently with others.
  • Have ongoing, long-term educational programs to develop you as a human being. Self-confidence is vital on the right side of the Quadrant.
  • Have a strong mentor program. You want to learn from leaders, not advisers. People who are already leaders on the right side of the Quadrant and want you to succeed.
  • Have people you respect and enjoy being with.

According to Kiyosaki if the organization meets these five criteria, then and only then look at its product. Don't take my word for it, take his. Good luck!

Why Affiliate Marketing

Business are generally very difficult to get up and running.

Making a profit is not usually a short-term goal and in reality most conventional businesses are lucky if they can even get into the black the first two years.

Affiliate marketing represents a business opportunity that can be profitable in a very short timeframe.

Affiliate marketing is an Internet-based marketing practice in which a company rewards numerous other businesses for each referral business brought about by their marketing efforts.

It is a form of online marketing which is frequently overlooked by advertisers but more companies are starting to realize just how revolutionary this marketing strategy is. While search engines, e-mail, and website syndication captures much of the attention of online retailers, affiliate marketing carries a much lower profile.

For entrepreneurs however affiliate marketing is a very attractive industry to currently get informed and educated about. The social networking website buzz that hit the business world recently is a direct result of this.

Young kids in their early twenties are becoming multi-millionaires by simply tapping in to the concept of providing different revenue streams for different companies as long as the different affiliate companies use them for their advertising. It is ingenious and more importantly it works. is a great example of what an affiliate marketing business can accomplish in a short period of time. They have used their affiliate program to drive online sales, and in the process have made a ton of money for all of their affiliates.

The Amway-Quixtar Corporation is another one of the better affiliate marketing business models and taps into a huge alliance of companies which aid in the servicing of their customers. There are plenty of affiliate programs out there to chose from. Affiliate aggregators like Commission Junction allow you to tap into literally hundreds of affiliate programs for free.

So what makes this affiliate marketing business model so appealing to companies, customers, and budding entrepreneurs alike? Here are some key points about affiliate marketing.

Multiple Products

Probably the most important benefit about affiliate marketing is that it gives the parent corporation access to a variety of products and services. When asked usually about a website like Amazon for example and what products they sell the answer is usually this: everything.

The question really should be "what don't they sell"? Because they partner up with so many different companies and give them a platform that they can use to get the word out about their products. Amazon used to only sell books but now they sell almost anything you can find in a mall.

A Business That Is Not Expensive to Start

This is important to understand about affiliate marketing. This business model gives both large companies and individual entrepreneurs who are looking to dapple in small business the opportunity to do so. For big companies, forming or becoming part of an affiliate marketing program usually requires certain criteria be met but once this is taken care of the company now has access to a client base it otherwise wouldn't have.

With regards to small business owners, to participate in an affiliate marketing program is usually just s couple of hundred bucks. For companies like Amazon it is free, and all you have to worry about is the distribution end which isn't usually expensive.

Support Systems Are Available

Biggest fear about getting into business is the lack of knowledge or technical know-how involved in building and operating successful business. Affiliate marketing programs are usually privately owned and funded and have their own proven training and support system that you can plug into to learn everything you need to know about running and working that particular business.

The key term here is that they are "proven" systems, which means they work as long as you do the work to get the results.


The most exciting aspect of affiliate marketing programs is that you get paid strictly on your own performance and how much traffic you can drive through the portal. The greatest part about this is that the income potential is limitless.

You earn what you work for which is very appealing to most people looking to get into business but aren't ready to make the heavy investment that is required to get into conventional business.

What It Takes to Become an Entrepreneur

The best thing about being in business for yourself is this: your financial future is now in your hands.

The worst thing about being in business for yourself is this: your financial future is now in your hands.

Most people dream of being the boss with no worries, no stress, a balcony overlooking the beach, lemonade and sunglasses in the sun, trade winds coming from the east with sun tan lotion so you can bake as long as you want, etc.

But if this is the reality that awaits us, why are so few people not ready to take the big first step and go out on their own?

The reality is that becoming an entrepreneur is much tougher than working a job and people inherently know this. Most people are not ready to leave the security of a job and move into the more exciting adventure that is entrepreneurship. It offers no guarantees and as such the income potential is limitless. So it takes a totally different mindset to become an entrepeneur.

Let's take a look at some of the characteristics of successful people in business.


Most entrepreneurs are visionary thinkers; they have a dream that is going to require a number of years to achieve.

They are committed to seeing their dream come to reality and as such understand that showing up to work every day is not just for a paycheck but is bringing them one step closer to what they really want. If you're looking to become an entrepreneur you must begin with the end in mind or you shouldn't even bother getting started. If you start anything for the wrong reasons you will eventually quit for the wrong reasons.

Know what you want when you want it, and what you're willing to give up to get it. Knowing the sacrifice you're willing to make is more important.

Long-Term Thinkers

This goes hand in hand with the first characteristic. Entrepreneurs understand that they are in business for the long haul and whatever temporary setback they face is simply just that: a temporary setback.

Their focus is always on their long-term goals for financial independence or freedom or whatever they may be shooting for. If the dream is big enough, setbacks will be seen as little speed bumps along the way that you have to slow down for just so you don't ruin your vehicle but the second you get past them you can put your foot on the gas and keep on trucking.

Mentally Tough

Entrepreneurs understand that they are different from the masses and as such never seek approval from them but can still handle critics. When most people tell them that they're working too hard that means they're on the right track. And furthermore, when people criticize their product or idea they get even more excited because that means they're on fast-track. A famous quote states that "if people aren't criticizing you it probably means you're not about to do anything great."

Entrepreneurs understand that when you stick your head above the crowd and do something different you're liable to get tomatoes thrown at you. This is part of the job description and does not diminish the belief they have in what they are doing.

People-pleasers, people who worry what everyone else thinks about them, never become successfull entrepreneurs.


If you are going to be a successful entrepreneur you will eventually have to develop and possess leadership qualities.

People will only follow leaders stronger than themselves and so your business and the people working for you will be a reflection of your leadership. Successful entrepreneurs are obsessed with personal growth, which is why their organizations always seem to be growing rapidly.

If you can get on a personal development program of books and tapes, you will be well on your way.


Enthusiasm is a character trait that every successful business owner possesses.

To become a business owner you must develop a genuine enthusiasm for your product or service. Enthusiasm is contagious and produces excitement in those around you.

You cannot transfer enthusiasm because this comes from passion. You can however transfer excitement. If you promote your value to others with passion and enthusiasm you will soon have a following of many excited people who eventually become committed to the vision for your company. And if you're not an enthusiastic person, just act enthusiastic!

Eventually it'll become part of your personality.

Key Takeaways for Would-Be Entrepreneurs

The biggest takeaway is that becoming an entrepreneur takes less educational intelligence and more emotional intelligence. Emotional intelligence is the ability to control your emotions regardless of the outcome.

Business is not steady. It never grows as fast as you want it to and never will. While becoming an entrepreneur, you will experience more emotions than you probably ever have your entire life but that is what makes it so worth it.

Entrepreneurship is tough enough to keep the weak ones out, but simple enough that anyone can take a shot at it. If you think you have what it takes then I encourage you to go ahead and take the first big step.

An old Chinese proverb states that "the best time to plant a tree is 25 years ago. The second best time is now." Don't waste time, do it now, because your dreams and goals are yours to claim this lifetime. Good luck!

Wal-Mart and Distribution

Wal-Mart is more than just a success story.

It is the largest grocery retailer in the United States, making up about 20% of the grocery sales market last year. As a business, it is ranked number one in revenue when compared with other public corporations. There are so many more accolades to list but it is safe to stop here and just say that this company is not going anywhere in the near future.

The most intriguing aspect of Wal-Mart is that it specializes in non-glamorous products. The company is in the distribution business and is, if not the best, one of the best at it. You can find almost anything in Wal-Mart and at an affordable price. Their business model focuses on buying in bulk at a discount and selling products at a much cheaper price than its competitors.

Okay so we know Wal-Mart is in distribution, we know they are absolutely dominating the market right now, and yet they do this by selling products at the lowest prices possible. What is about the distribution market that makes a company like Wal-Mart continue to improve its revenue every year since the 1960s?

Distribution is not limited to one market

This is probably the best part of being in the distribution business and Wal-Mart's discount business model only makes this better. Big warehouse grocery stores like Wal-Mart, Costco, Hannaford, etc, all have the ability to expand their product inventory because of this simple reason: they distribute everything.

You can find products ranging from perishable items like eggs, milk, meat and poultry, to bigger warranty items like tires, television sets, dishwashers and bed frames. Because Wal-Mart is not limited to one market they have the ability to sell whatever consumers want. Imagine being in the VHS cassette tape market just two decades ago.

You were making a lot of money in the early eighties to early nineties. But right now if you were still in the VHS business you would be bankrupt and out of business. Compact Discs and DVDs have revolutionized that industry and cassette tapes couldn't be any more obsolete. Wal-Mart's strength lies in its ability to sell whatever is hot on the market. If consumers like Mp3 players then Wal-Mart will start to distribute Mp3s.

Distribution helps you leverage what is hot in your favor because you are not in manufacturing so have the leeway to move in and out of the supply chain wherever it is convenient from a profit standpoint.

Disintermediation: Middle-men can be eliminated

In every supply chain there are multiple intermediaries that aid in getting the product or service from the manufacturer to the consumer. The only challenge here from a business standpoint is that as a result the amount of profit potential possible to the eventual retailer is small compared to what they otherwise would get to keep if they owned the whole distribution chain.

With the advent of the internet a lot more of the intermediaries that used to be deemed irreplaceable in the supply chain can now be replaced and their profit shifted elsewhere. Wal-Mart's business model eliminates the wholesalers and jobbers and lets them access the manufacturers more directly. This is why they are able to offer a wide range of products at very cheap prices.

If the products were allowed to pass through the hands of the other intermediaries then the price would have to go up because Wal-Mart would have to incur the cost of paying the jobbers and wholesalers. So distribution gives you the ability to access certain links in the supply chain based on your company's competitive advantage and eventually eliminate some of them so you can keep more of the profit.

Internet makes the world an even bigger oyster

The internet has without a doubt revolutionized the way we do business today. There is no question about that. The distribution industry is no different and Wal-Mart like other companies is leveraging the ability the internet has to reach a worldwide audience.

For a long time Wal-Mart was the middle-man for most large-scale manufacturers. But ever since the internet came along the internet essentially replaced big warehouse distributers like Wal-Mart and took the place of middle-man in the distribution world. More and more companies are not just lining up to get a website, but also are looking to develop a larger customer base online.

The three biggest expenses for almost every company are advertising, employees, and overhead. What the internet has enable distribution companies to do is cut down costs tremendously in all those three areas. Not good news for people looking to work for these companies, but very good news to the owners.

Most effective advertising online is through word of mouth and referrals. So making the transition from conventional stores to online shopping for Wal-Mart has been a piece of cake. More and more people are getting used to shopping online and it is fast-becoming the more prevalent way to shop now. There are projections that by the year 2010, 30% of all revenue generated through distribution will be captured via the internet.

You can expect that these distribution companies are enjoying the costs that the internet is helping reduce and the profit potential it brings.

Be rest assured that distribution is not going anywhere. There is a lot of profit to be made in any part of the supply chain but perhaps the most lucrative today would be in the actual contact with consumers.

The future belongs today to the company that can get products to consumers faster and without the help of additional intermediaries along the way. Wal-Mart is doing this and doesn't look like they are slowing down. They aren't concerned with innovation because they let the consumers dictate what their inventory looks like. They access manufacturers directly and as such keep more of the profit when the final sale is made.

For those of us thinking about getting into the distribution business, hopefully this stimulated some ideas. The further down you are in the supply chain the better. Manufacturing is probably not the smartest industry to get into, but the service industry is continuing to produce more opportunities for budding entrepreneurs.

Tips on Time Management

Time management is hard for many people.

No matter the industry time management is not easy in today's world simply because as a nation we are busier than we have ever been. So rest assured you are not alone in this dilemma. If you feel multi-tasked out and always seem to be juggling more balls than you can catch and toss up at once then perhaps it is time for a paradigm shift.

The most successful people are ruthless with what they spend their time doing. The greatest thing about success principles is that they are always the same no matter where they are applied.

The rest of the article will highlight some of the key aspects of effective time management that most successful people understand.

Important Versus Urgent

The biggest challenge in running and operating a business is that you still have a life! But life is not going to stop so you can effectively run your business with no headaches, no challenges, no setbacks and no stress.

You have twenty-four hours just like everyone else does. And here's a tip: even if you had twenty-five it would still seem like you don't have enough time. So the first step is to make sure to decipher when something is urgent and when something is important.

Sadly most urgent things take the place of important things, and important things end up being pushed back on the list. If something is urgent and requires your immediate attention then take care of it. But, take care of it only if by not taking care of it you will jeopardize taking care of the more important things to do.

Important things and urgent things vary from person to person so you can be the judge.

Managing Priorities

First rule about time management: you can't manage your time. Time is not going to wait for you and time cannot be compartmentalized. You can't manage your time but you can, however, manage your priorities.

Make a list of priorities on a first day-to-day and then week-to-week basis and put them in ascending order of importance. Knock off the most important once first and only then can you move on to the next items on the list.

It is easier to manage priorities than to manage your time because time is definite but priorities do not have a timeframe. Sometimes you may underestimate how much time something may take or even overestimate how much time something may take you to complete and so managing your priorities is the most effective way to get yourself being more efficient.

Wake Up Early

Waking up early is the best habit you can pick up. Most successful people rise early and go to bed late. And trust me you will not die from lack of sleep.

Set a goal for yourself if you are not a morning person to rise at least an hour earlier than you have been and to go to sleep an hour later than you have been in the past. You'll find that that extra hour you wake up gives you ample time to really plan and schedule your day effectively and the extra hour at night gives you ample time to reflect on the day.

If you are spending most of your time sleeping then success is going to always be elusive for you. Success is not going to attack you in business, you must pursue it with all you've got and this means with every hour you can muster.

Sleep less!

Eliminate Distractions

Distractions usually come in all different shapes and sizes. Some are self-induced and some you just can't do anything about. The focus here will be on the self-induced distractions.

Some common ones are cell phones, internet browsing, television and exercise All four of them seem harmless but they take up more time than any other thing people do on a daily basis. The average American is said to watch an average of thirty-eight hours of television a week. That's like a part-time job with no pay!

The first step here will be to anytime you find yourself distracted from doing what you know you're supposed to be doing, write down immediately what the distraction is. You'll find that it is usually one of the four things listed previously. Once you can identify which distraction is usually the culprit it will be easier to stay away from them until the tasks are done.

Distractions are really things you should do after you do what you're supposed to, but choose to do earlier than you should. There's nothing wrong with watching television, but if it is getting in the way of you finishing up your proposal then it is a distraction.

Budget Relaxation Time

It is very important to fit in relaxation time into your schedule. Most people don't do this and find themselves feeling overworked. It resonates more when you can actually fit relaxation into your schedule versus trying to find time to squeeze it in.

Pre-planned relaxation always feels better and rejuvenates. Squeezed relaxation leaves you feeling guilty and exhausted thinking about the work you have to do tomorrow. It is okay to even allocate one day a week to just do something fun so you can decompress and be ready for the working days ahead.

Remember the saying: all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy -- they should add exhausted too.

Tips on Setting Appointments

There are only two real reasons for a general lack of appointments: the fear of the phone and not knowing what to say and how to say it.

Some people are just afraid to pick up the phone to make prospecting calls. These people either never get going at all or only make a few calls. They never generate enough positive activity to succeed.

There are also the fearless ones who can burn through a prospect list in no time. However, they lack basic skills. In the absence of these skills, they can turn a great prospect list into worthless pile of paper and end up discouraged and defeated.

The following appointment setting techniques and principles will give you some great tips for making successful sales calls and booking appointments.

Set the Prospect at Ease

For your prospects to be open to your message, it is essential that they first be set at ease. A statement of familiarity must be made early in the call to capture attention, create interest and raise the level of comfort your prospect has with the calls.

Make sure to state immediately the purpose for the call and the potential benefit of the both of you getting together. People always want to know what is in it for them, and if you can communicate this early on it will increase the length of the conversation by increasing their curiosity.

Take Control

The person asking the questions is always in control of the conversation. You must master the skill of asking questions that people are compelled to answer and get them talking about their needs.

When people hear themselves telling you their likes and dislikes they automatically start to become endeared to you and want to hear more about your product. Be sure to be bold when asking questions and try and show some empathy about what their plight might be. Do not be so quick to move on to the next person on the list because the prospect will feel that.

Enthusiastically Assume the Appointment

Do not ask for an appointment. Asking for it puts the ball in their court. You never want the ball in their court.

Force them to either go through the awkwardness of saying no to sitting down with you or acquiesce to your request because it is obvious to them that you expected them to. Your expectation is the most important thing you bring to the phone call and will set the tone for how the conversation will go.

Expect then Manage Appointment Pushback

You can almost always expect initial resistance to your request for an appointment from both qualified and unqualified prospects.

The key is to properly manage this initial pushback to determine if your prospect's resistance indicates they are really not qualified or if it is just an automatic response from an otherwise qualified prospect. This initial resistance to an appointment is normal, welcomed and easily managed.

Reaffirm After Confirming Date, Time and Location

Always make sure to repeat all the prospect's information back to them. It reminds them of the information themselves as well as emphasizes them that you are putting this information down in writing.

This places more importance on the meeting and helps them understand that this meeting is important to you and more importantly that you will be there. They will show up most times just for that reason.

The Root Cause of Failure in Entrepreneurship

Most businesses are guaranteed to fail within the first five years for a number of different reasons.

The sad reality, however, is that most of these businesses fail due to their having been founded by inexperienced overly-enthused entrepreneurs.

This is usually the single most important reason for business failure early in a business.

The first step to fixing a problem is identifying what it is. So let's take a look quickly at some of the reasons why most businesses fail. If you are looking to start a business or have already started a business of your own, you can use these tips to hopefully avoid some of these pitfalls in your own business career.

Wrong Motivation

As a business owner you are hopefully starting for the right reasons. I cannot tell you what your reason should be but I can recommend it be something that you think about often, something that perhaps gets your emotions going, something other than just money. For most people it usually is a shock that most successful people are more passionate about something else that is dear to them which is why they are successful at what they do which is also why they make a lot of money.

Here's the big takeaway: if you start something for the wrong reasons, you will stop for the wrong reasons. If your only intention for getting into business is to make lots of money then your resolve and mental toughness will be test greatly if after five years you haven't even turned a profit. Attach the monetary value that you are shooting for to something bigger. Maybe you want to build a school, or donate money to charity, or retire your mother, something that will keep you going when life hits you upside the head.

Poor Management

Many a report on business failures cites poor management as one of the biggest reasons for failure. New business owners frequently lack relevant business and management expertise in almost all business functions and do not have enough capital to hire the necessary people to take care of what they do not know. Unless they recognize what they don't do well, and more importantly seek help, business owners may soon face disaster.

A successful business owner is also a good leader who creates a work climate that encourages productivity as well as innovation. You must be skilled at hiring competent people, training them and able to empower people to go above and beyond the call of duty. A good leader is also skilled at strategic thinking, able to make a vision a reality, and able to confront change, make transitions, and envision new possibilities for the future.

A tall order for someone who just gets into business, which is exactly why most people are not able to defeat the battle of attrition that comes with new business.

No Mentorship and Lack of Experience

A lot of the setbacks and hiccups, failures and hurdles that are encountered along the way can either be avoided or alleviated with the help of a business mentor. If you are starting out a business entirely on your own you might as well have started the journey five years ago blind-folded.

A mentor can help you identify potential pitfalls as well as confirm certain setbacks you will face if you continue what you are doing. They are an invaluable asset that you must seek to have in your corner if you want to be successful in business and at least get your business off the ground.

Failure to Change with the Times

The only constant in business is change. The ability to recognize opportunities and be flexible enough to adapt to changing times is a key ingredient to surviving and even prospering in the toughest business climate.

The challenge is that most new entrepreneurs are so excited about their idea that they fail to see some of the cons of pursuing it. They choose to ignore their competition that most times are more familiar with the industry and are leveraging the changes in the marketplace. Be sure that as you pursue your business venture you pay respect to the economy before you and the competitors you currently have. They have been running the marathon longer than you have and are still running.

That is a good enough reason to pay attention to what they are doing as well as how they are reacting to the economy.

Inadequate Goal-Setting

Business owners often fail to establish clear goals and create plans to achieve those goals, especially before starting out, when they fail to develop a complete business plan before launching their company. You can't achieve your goal if you do not have one. Having a goal gives you purpose and direction.

Goals act as your life map. They are like the dashboard on your car and chart your course and tell you when you have arrived at your destination. Most young entrepreneurs focus too much on the details versus just mapping out the end of the journey. You needn't worry about how you will achieve your goals. Simply concern yourself with the process of setting short term, medium term, and long term goals.

A written goal is infinitely more likely to be achieved that one that is merely kept in your thoughts or spoken aloud. Write your goals down and review them consistently.

The Importance of Reading

To become a successful leader in business it is imperative that you get on a personal growth program.

No leader in history ever became one simply because he was a born leader. Leadership is not a talent, but a discipline that is forged through years of consistent work on weaknesses and development of strengths. Leadership is influence and you cannot learn to lead anyone until you learn to lead yourself. So, the challenge here is simple: how to learn to lead you.

One of the best ways to do this is by reading. Throughout the rest of this article, we will point out some of the most important things you may not know about reading and what it can do for you in your business and personal life.

For starters, we are not just talking about reading any books, but, rather, we are specifically discussing books on personal growth and development.

Most people stay away from self-help books because it makes them feel inadequate and no one wants to feel like they are not perfect yet. Here's a news flash: you will never be perfect. But reading books will help you to self-evaluate, self-motivate and self-critique yourself better than any other external party can.

Here are some of the important reasons why reading is a necessity to develop leadership.

Reading builds your self-image

Your self-image refers to not how you feel about yourself but really how you feel other people feel about you. It predetermines a lot of your confidence in different aspects of your life in including your business. Everything you have accomplished in life thus far can be directly correlated with your self-image.

It is the most important thing you must continue to protect and continue to work on developing. You must continually evaluate your self-image for this important reason: you will never outgrow your self-image. A person with a strong self-image will have high expectations for himself and his future but someone with a low self-image will not expect much good to happen to him and will subconsciously sabotage anything good that may happen.

The scariest part about not having a healthy self-image is that most people who don't have a good self-image have no idea they don't. So make sure you're reading books that build you up and remind that you can do anything if you work hard enough and consistently enough for it. Remember no one was born with success written on their forehead. On the contrary we were all born with two things in common: we were ugly and were crying.

Reading maintains your attitude

Your attitude is probably the second most important thing you must check, correct and monitor on a daily basis. The first is your self-image. But your attitude is vital to your success because it determines how you will respond to the negative things that may happen to you during the course of your business.

It is important to note that life by nature is filled with ups and downs and so it is a natural deterrent to success. The question is not IF something negative is going to happen to you sometime in your life but WHEN. Reading of positive-mental-attitude books by Napoleon hill and Norman Vincent-Peale will help to strengthen your resolve and will give you more mental toughness.

Building business requires two things: courage and mental toughness. You need courage in the beginning to get yourself started, but you need mental toughness to stay the course when things are rough. Your self-image will give you courage, but your attitude is controlled predominantly by the amount of mental toughness you possess. If you are expecting to be successful in business plan to run into some challenges and temporary setbacks.

Most businesses fail within the first five years of inception. This is a fact. However, I believe they don't fail, the people just quit because they don't have the mental fortitude to hang in there when the going gets tough. If that's not the story you want I implore you to pick up a book and watch your attitude go through the roof!

Reading strengthens your ability to communicate

There is no successful person on this earth that is not a good communicator. The ability to connect with people is of paramount importance if you are looking to be a successful business owner. It is important to note here that people misconstrue having good communication skills to translate into being a good talker and having all the right answers. A good communicator is actually the total reverse. A person with great people skills is actually very skilled at listening.

A lot of effective communication is active listening and the ability to help people express themselves and their ideas. Reading will greatly help you to improve your ability to communicate as well as improve your diction and word choice when talking.

There are a plethora of books on people skills by Les Giblin, Dale Carnegie and a host of other authors in any major bookstore in the United States. The information is out there so you have to go out there and find it.

Reading offers exposure to self counsel

The ability to self-correct is a skill that must be developed over time. This initially will only happen by first talking counsel from someone else like a mentor or close friend who knows more than you do. If you, however, do not have access to a mentor then reading is the next best thing you can do to mentor yourself.

The best thing about reading books is that all the advice is there for you to take or leave at your own discretion. You may have an ego, but you know that the book doesn't. This makes it easier for you to take action on what you are learning from the books because it is not someone personally telling you that you need to sharpen your listening skills and stop snapping at your employees. The reason for this is when you read you actually hear yourself through your inner ear and as a result you hear yourself giving advice to yourself and it makes it easier to take action on the advice given.

So the bottom line is leaders are readers. Not all readers are leaders, but all leaders are readers. If you are looking to become an impact player in your industry then I suggest you start to form a healthy habit of reading daily. Start with fifteen minutes and work your way up to at least an hour a day if you're really serious. As much as the television is an awesome form of relaxation if that is what you're into, it really adds no value to your personal growth no matter what you're watching.

Take some of that relaxation time and relax by filling yourself with more wisdom that you can apply immediately and better your business.

Signs of Disunity in an Organization

Unity is easy to create and maintain in a small organization.

As a business or company grows, however, it become increasingly difficult to maintain organizational unity and great care must be taken to keep the organization motivated and loyal to the mission statement of the company.

Why Unity Matters In Small Business

Everyone knows what it's like to be a part of a great team.

And more often than not, it is the unity and camaraderie that you experienced and witnessed that is remembered more than anything else. The reality is, however, most people identify the whole concept of team with sports. Most people have been part of a sports team growing up or maybe even in college if they played it as a varsity sport.

The uniqueness of being part of a sports team, however, is that the roster changes every year and at most you are together with a few of the same people for four years. In business this is not the case as you will find yourself working with the same people for years at a time and the roster does not change as much.

This is not to say that unity is harder to preserve in business, but it is different from keeping a sports team together. There are a lot of different dynamics involved and so it requires more attention and care from the leaders in the organization.

Disunity in a business team or organization is not uncommon because businesses are made up of human beings with varied interests and frailties.

When you put them together and leave them to their own devices, even the most well-intentioned people will usually deviate toward detrimental and unproductive behavior. And because most leaders and managers are not schooled in the art of building and maintaining teams, small problems are left untreated and spiral further and further into ugliness and eventually corporate politics.

Signs that Unity Is Lacking Within an Organization

Here are some of the key things to watch for in an organization and they may happen most likely in this order as they build on top of one another. These are signs that a company could be headed for disaster if care is not taken and these issues are addressed.

1. Lack of trust

This is probably the first thing that will happen before anything else. The people in the organization will begin to lose trust for one another on a variety of levels.

Team members are uncomfortable being vulnerable with one another, unwilling to admit their weaknesses, mistakes or needs for help. It goes without saying that if people cannot be vulnerable with one another they will not be able to trust one another. It is important for people to feel comfortable expressing their ideas without fear of being reprimanded or alienation.

They must also feel that no matter the circumstances that their ego or self-worth will not be challenged. To prevent this lack of trust from developing leaders must make a conscious effort to build relationships with as many key people in the organization as they can so they are always aware of ruffled feathers and tension build-ups in the company that they can aid in decompressing.

There is no substitute for trust. It begins with the willingness of team members to open themselves up to one another and admit their weaknesses and mistakes. When all else fails, win back trust of your employees to start over. As the leader be the first one vulnerable at all times and risk losing face in front of the team. This will create an environment that does not punish vulnerability.

2. Fear of confrontation or conflict

This is the natural next level of disunity. Teams that lack trust are incapable of engaging in unfiltered and passionate debate about ideas. Instead, they resort to veiled discussions and guarded comments.

Gossip ensues simply because people do not feel they have a common space in which to share ideas or dialogue. It is important to note that dialogue does not have to necessarily be positive but it must be open to everyone. If dialogue isn't positive then that is a clear indicator that something is wrong. Covering up negative dialogue between people, however, is only a temporary solution to a permanent problem.

As long as fear is part of any equation involving people there will be absolutely no progress. All great relationships require productive conflict to grow. Healthy conflict is limited to concepts and ideas and avoids personality-focused, mean spirited attacks. The conflict ought to have passion, emotion and frustration so that everyone is heard, knowing that the purpose is to produce the best solutions in the shortest period of time.

Teams that engage each other in healthy conflict waste far less time than teams which avoid it. So avoiding conflict is not the answer. That is similar to putting a band aid on a wound that requires stitches. Abstain from premature resolutions to conflicts to protect people from embarrassment and encourage everyone to face conflict head-on.

3. Lack of commitment

The two greatest causes of lack of commitment are the desire for consensus and the need for certainty. Seeking consensus is dangerous and unnecessary if everyone is heard, at which point team members will rally around the decision. If there is an impasse, the leader of the team is allowed to make the call.

Great teams can commit and unite around decisions even when there is little assurance about whether the decision is correct. They understand a decision is better than no decision. Compare this to dysfunctional teams that hedge bets and delay decisions creating paralysis and lack of confidence. It is conflict that underlies the willingness to commit without perfect information.

When all the cards are on the table the team can confidently commit. It is important to understand that one of the greatest consequences for an executive team that does not commit to clear decisions is irresolvable discord deeper in the organization, and this leads to true indecision, unhealthy morale and poor performance.

More than anyone else, the leader must be comfortable with the prospect of making a decision that ultimately turns out to be wrong. The leader must continue to press for meeting deadlines, but not place too high a premium on certainty or consensus.

4. Unwillingness to hold one another accountable

Accountability refers to the willingness of team members to call their peers on performance or behaviors that might hurt the team. Members of great teams overcome the fear of confrontation and "enter the danger" with one another. But this is difficult because no one wants to jeopardize a valuable personal relationship. Yet, without such conflict, relationships deteriorate and results deteriorate with them.

It turns out that peer pressure motivates respected teammates to not let each other down and motivates people to the highest standards. Team members fail to confront one another around behaviors and deliverables that do not conform to agreed decisions. As the leader allow and encourage the team and not individuals to serve as the primary accountability mechanism. Otherwise team members won't take active responsibility.

The leader must in the end serve as the arbiter of discipline when the team fails and the first person to give praise and edification when the team succeeds.

5. Inattention to results

The ultimate dysfunction of a team is the tendency of members to care about something other than collective goals and results.

In poorly performing teams, members derive status from being part of the team, or they focus on enhancing their own positions or career prospects at the expense of their team. A functional team must make the group results the most important goals, and they must be results oriented, living and breathing results. Team members put their individual needs for career development and recognition before the collective goals of the team.

The leader must set the tone for a focus on results. Team members must sense that the leader values these results more than anything. Otherwise they will take this as permission not to themselves. Team leaders must be selfless and objective and reserve rewards and recognition for those who make real contributions to the achievement of group goals.

Retirement Myths

In today's economy the biggest challenge for most people is not so much getting a job but keeping it until they are eligible for retirement age.

This is not to say that getting a job is easy because that is not the case. But for a lot of people who worked hard to get where that are currently in their occupation, the future is a little shaky if they cared to take a look at what the economy is currently experiencing.

According to an article released by CNN early in August of 2008, "Employers cut jobs in July for the seventh straight month, while the unemployment rate hit a four-year high". The labor department reported a net loss of 51,000 jobs in the month of July and the latest report brought the total job losses this year to 463,000! Now if that is not getting people to stop and think then we have a big problem.

So with all this recession talk, people losing jobs, companies cutting costs, restricting and everything else, why is retirement something most people still feel they are guaranteed by age 65?! Robert Kiyosaki, an investor, businessman, self-help author and motivational speaker, is quoted as stating that "if you still believe in retirement, you probably believe in Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny".

Quite the comparison, but I believe he may be on to something here. Let's take a look at some similarities between them and why such a comparison makes sense in light of what we're seeing today in the economy.

Everyone believes they exist, till they get older

Everyone remembers waking up as a little toddler Christmas morning with the anticipation of seeing gifts under the Christmas tree that good ol' Santa Claus had just dropped off through the chimney earlier. And most of you also remember that fateful Christmas morning when you woke up a little earlier than usual and to your surprise found not Santa but your father putting down the last of the Christmas gifts before sneaking back to bed. Oh how betrayed we all felt when we realized our parents had been lying to us the whole time.

Well fortunately for us we don't have to wait until we're 65 to figure out Santa Claus isn't real (and if you still never figured it out I apologize for spoiling it for you).

The reality is that more people are getting the pink slips these days than bonuses or raises at their job and the only reason they hang around long enough to get the boot is because of their belief in retirement. The days of starting with one company and finishing with one company are long gone.

Ask the senior citizens you see at Wal-mart stores at the entrance whether or not they're working because they're bored or broke. They'll probably tell you they're bored but we know the truth. They found out that retirement isn't feasible for many Americans. According to the social security administration, 98 percent of Americans today cannot retire at age 65. So you've got a 2 percent chance if you keep doing what you're doing. Exciting isn't it? Remember the quote, "growing old is automatic but growing up is optional". The wise ones among us stopped believing in Santa a long time ago. If you're still not sure you might want to check out the facts.

Give you something to look forward to

The seductiveness of Santa and the Easter Bunny is they are nice, fluffy characters and are associated with a lot of fun and enjoyment.

This is not a good proxy for how life as an adult will be which is exactly why kids are the primary target for those holidays. Christmas is celebrated by all, but the young ones are usually the most excited and for good reason.

Christmas happens once a year and as such always has such a build up to it. It is the one time when everyone is supposed to be happy and cheerful and thankful for the start of a new year. You get to receive gifts from your family and friends which in a way is the affirmation that in spite of all you went through together that year you are still a good person.

Once again we see the similarity with the concept of retirement. Most people are educated for about 16 years through school with all the pressures and stress that comes with it. Then they eventually get a job which they hope will take them through the next forty years but we know that is not realistic anymore. And the dream for every working person is to at some point never have to work ever again. They paid the price, they did everything they were supposed to and the reward should be an easy retirement.

The dream of being free is one of the biggest motivations for people going to work for forty years only to find once again that there is life at the end of the tunnel; it's a freight train coming right at you.

So the bottom line is get over the fact that what you thought was true actually isn't. Retirement is definitely realistic; just without money. I hate to be the bearer of bad news but all you have to do is take a look at those before you and ask yourself what you are doing differently from them that will put you in a position better than they are currently right now when you get to their age.

If you're like most people, you really can't say you're doing anything different. That's okay, but just remember that Santa Claus was as real as your parents were real, until you found out that he was your parents!

Start planning now for your retirement. Don't rely on your company's 401K plan and pension plan. Most companies don't even have a pension for employees just getting into the work force today. They can't afford it. Start looking for other ways you can diversify your income, and I'm not just talking about portfolios. Get a business of your own. Take the entrepreneurial plunge; you just might like it. It beats finding Santa is your mom or getting a pink slip at age 45. The choice is yours.

Referral Marketing

Business only works if marketing is involved because it is the marketing strategy that ultimately determines how much potential profit can be captured.

The challenge in marketing is usually how much of the limited budget most startup companies have should be used in advertising.Conventional advertising is expensive and is not a guarantee that an audience will purchase your product. It does, however, give you a chance to get your product or business or service out to the public and create a pull towards your business.

Referral marketing or word of mouth advertising is a new trend that is taking the business world by storm. It is simply a process by which consumers share their knowledge about a particular product or business with other fellow consumers and this continues to grow and eventually expand the market coverage for that product.

The movie industry is notorious for using this method of advertising as most movies tend to release previews a month in advance to the movie opening and then the preview showings are completely stopped. They then rely on the movie viewers to continue spreading the word about the movie and so their advertising budget does not need to be over-extended.

As an entrepreneur and business owner, referral marketing is a good method of advertising to adopt as even your primary method of expanding your market coverage for a number of reasons.


The best part about referral marketing is that it is inexpensive. This is simply because the people who are advertising for you are doing it voluntarily. A lot of the social networking websites like,, and the like are all booming as a result of referral marketing.

According to consumer reports, 57.7% of all products purchased online in the year 2007 were because of word of mouth. That's more than half of the revenue generated online in a whole year. This goes to show you that if people like a product not only will they buy it but they will talk about it and encourage other people to do the same.


The nature of referral marketing is that it continues to expand by itself without any external force applied. The law of inertia states that an object in motion stays in motion. Well in this case, once you get this started it will continue as long as people are enjoying your product or service.

The famous e-mail account was started in a similar fashion. One person created the concept of free e-mail but required that if you signed up for it that you had to refer at least ten of your friends.

After a year he had over one million people in his network and then Bill Gates came along and purchased the rights to his already built network. Now I don't think Bill Gates would have needed help building his own network so why did he pay this kid over $400 million for it? Because it was a "self-perpetuating" subscriber base. It was growing regardless of what was going on because it was free and people liked the service.

That is the power of referral marketing.

People Carry More Credibility

Here is the big takeaway for why referral marketing works: people do the advertising. People will naturally have more influence than any other conventional form of media advertising like billboards, television ads, newspaper ads, etc.

If you think about the products you are currently using now, you probably did not get convinced to use the brand of toothpaste you use because of a commercial on television. It was probably your mother that told you it was the best one and you took her word for it.

That's the key: you took her word for it. People carry more credibility because they are actual users of whatever it is they are promoting. The same goes for the movie industry example. If you saw a movie you really enjoyed you would have no problems referring to someone else with enthusiasm. Same goes for a movie you really didn't enjoy.

But here's the reason why this is so effective: if you saw a fantastic preview to a movie and decided to go see it and a good friend of yours told you it wasn't worth your time, you probably wouldn't go see if even though the preview was good.

The credibility from your friend outweighed the credibility of the conventional form of advertising.

Referral marketing works if you know how to access it and use it for your own personal business. Sure you might have to initially spend a little money and dapple in conventional advertising as your primary source for getting market coverage, but in the end happy consumers will always bring you happy consumers. Good luck!

Overcoming Rejection in Sales

One of the biggest reasons most people are scared of sales or selling is the fear of being rejected.

It is mentally draining even for very experienced sales professionals and entrepreneurs. The most successful people in sales learn and master how to not let a rejection affect their next sales appointment. How does one become more mentally tough about taking a no?

Learning to Love NO

It is important to note that this is not a fear that is specific to sales. People in general do not like being rejected as we all have an inherent need to feel accepted by the people around us.

However, the first step in becoming proficient at sales is to understand that when people say no to the purchasing of a product or service you are trying to sell, they are not rejecting you as a person.

A no simply means no. It doesn't mean you are a bad person, it doesn't mean they don't like you and it certainly doesn't mean they will not buy your product at another time.

Their answer quite frankly has absolutely nothing to do with you and everything to do with what they are in need for at that point in time! It is time to move and get over yourself.

But how does one get comfortable in an environment where high volume numbers are the only way to succeed and so the ability to take rejection is part of the job description? If you are struggling with this or even if you are a veteran, here are some tips you can use to strengthen your ability to overcome rejection from a potential client.

Quantity over Quality

People new in sales always make the mistake of trying to be perfect before attempting to make a sale. Focus initially instead on going through more potential clients. Trust me, it is okay. This will get you used to accepting rejection and understanding that whether they say yes or no really is not under your control.

You can't control what their answer is, but you can control how many prospective clients you sit down with that week. Put the numbers in your favor and just ask enough people until someone gives you the answer you want.

Ask More Questions

Learn to ask more questions. There is always a reason why a person doesn't want to buy your product. Ask them to explain why they don't see the value in it. Enough answers to this question will give you some insight into what you can do to promote the product better. You will also uncover some misconceptions they might have had about the product and clarify for them the benefit they did not pick up on.

Asking them why they do not want what you are selling will also affirm for you that they really have nothing against you and just don't need your product. This should boost your confidence and put you in the right state of mind.

Emotionally Disconnect from the Outcome

Remember that rejection may not be written into your job description as an entrepreneur, but it is a big part of it. To be emotional about a job function is suicide and your attitude will be like a roller coaster with dips and valleys at unexpected times. Your attitude is all you have so protect it by reading positive mental attitude books and listening to motivational tapes or CDs.

This is very important as your attitude will go down if you do not maintain a steady flow of positive reinforcement. It is like a gas tank that needs to be refilled every time it is half full. You cannot afford to let it get close to being empty because it needs to be overflowing with enthusiasm for the tougher prospects who will want to be convinced rather than sold.

Think of positive as being a noun and not a verb. The more positive you have, the more positive you will give out and the more you will get back.

Embrace Failure

Understand that success and failure are Siamese twins. You must go through failure in order to be successful as the road to success is paved with failure.

Every person in history who has ever become great had to go through numerous rejections before being given a chance. Luckily for you, you will be no different.

If you can persist and get to the other side of failure, success is waiting for you.

Embrace every no as bringing you one stop closer to a yes. Focus on getting your failure rate higher and by default your success rate will increase based on the law of averages.

Remember to stay consistent. Dick Devos, CEO of Amway Global, stated that "One must develop relentless perseverance to be successful as a business owner. Relentless perseverance is consistency, but consistency under pressure."

It's a Numbers Game

So the bottom line is sales is a numbers game.

But here's a question for you: what isn't a numbers game?

People in the medical profession have to overbook their calendar to make sure they are guaranteed a certain number of patients. Colleges and Universities accept more students every year because they know a lesser number will graduate. Sports teams at any level, whether from high school to professional sports, always have a tryout session with a lot of players initially and then gradually make cuts to get the best of the best from the group.

You get the point?

Michael Jordan when asked what he thinks contributed the most to his NBA career stated that he has missed more shots than he has made, that is why he has made more memorable shots and no one bothers to highlight how many he's missed.

Increase your failure rate, get more people to say no to you and you will be amazed at the success waiting at the other side.