Entrepreneur Archives - Page 7 of 9 - Dr. Ivan Misner®

Let’s Fix The Legal System; Does Anyone Have a Sledgehammer?

OK, let me start by saying that my real beef is with civil litigators, not all lawyers and though I may use the term “lawyer” in my blog, it is the litigators I am really upset with. I also understand that we need rules of law and people to help guide us through them, such as my colleague here on the Entrepreneur.com Blog Network, Nina Kaufman, who writes the Making it Legal blog (Nina, please don’t hate me . . . for what I’m about to say).

Not all lawyers are litigators. However, all litigators are lawyers and it is that particular group of people that I think have made a mess out of our legal system.

The most outrageous legal cases can make it to court and cost hundreds of thousands of dollars to defend. I recently saw a case where a man decided  NOT to renew his services with a business, then sued the business for the loss of income he incurred by not renewing the service! That’s right. He chose to not renew, then sued because he lost income after not renewing the service! Sounds unbelievable, doesn’t it? Well, to just about any sane person, it is. Unfortunately, litigators can make the most incredible “legal” arguments out of the most outrageous claims, and judges feel compelled to let them go through the system.   Welcome to America!

All of this means that the defendants have to pay thousands–sometimes hundreds of thousands–of dollars to defend these insane claims.

This particular case that I mentioned above dragged on for years in the legal system and cost the defending parties more than $100,000 to defend! The primary defendant refused to settle at any cost. She was not going to buckle to extortion from this guy. However, two of the secondary defendants finally paid a few thousand dollars to make this extortionist and his litigator go away because they couldn’t afford the hundreds of thousands of dollars it would take to have this go all the way through court. The ONLY winner was the litigator.

When I hear stories like this, I can’t help but wonder if Shakespeare got it right in Henry VI when he said the first thing we do is get rid of the lawyers! (OK, I know, that’s not the exact quote but, I don’t want to be sued by someone saying that I was threatening bodily harm to this esteemed group of professionals).

In preparation for writing this blog, I did some research on Shakespeare’s quote and I read one legal website that wrote that Shakespeare’s statement was actually a defense of lawyers because the comment was made by criminals. Therefore they (the criminals) just wanted the “good guys” (the lawyers) out of the way.  Wow, and we wonder why the legal system is a mess. Sorry, only lawyers could argue that the quote from Shakespeare was a compliment!

Well, I believe in solutions and not just describing problems. So here are some possible solutions. First, I believe that there should be mandatory mediation between parties before any lawsuit can ever be filed (the litigators will hate this one)! From personal experience (and contracts that I’ve done), this often works). The problem is, anyone can sue anyone for anything before there is any face-to-face time with a professional mediator. Second, I believe that 100 percent of the time, the losing party should pay the winning party’s legal fees. Furthermore, I think the losing litigator should share in paying this fee! This will make the extortionists and litigators very cautious about the ridiculous lawsuits that are filed.  Watch how many crazy lawsuits cease if the lawyers pushing the process have to pay something if they lose!

Hey, these are only ideas–there may be many better ones out there. I just know one thing. Our legal system is a mess, and it’s going to take a sledgehammer and a lot of work to fix it. What are your recommendations?

OK, I feel better now.  Oh, wait–I forgot something important:

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Networking Now One of the ‘100 Best’ Entrepreneurial Blogs

Today I am happy to announce that my “Networking Now” blog made it onto Accredited Online Degrees’ list of the “100 Best Blogs to Hone Your Entrepreneurial Instinct” in the category of blogs that aid in growing your business.

You can find this blog listed as No. 32 on the list, but more than that, I want you all to know about the list because it is a fantastic resource! In addition to learning about different blog sites in the “Growing Your Business” category, you can find several different educational and informational blogs in the areas of Starting Up, Money, Marketing, Success Stories, Small Business News, Internet Entrepreneurs, Women Entrepreneurs, Social Entrepreneurship and Web Tools & Resources.

I spent some time clicking on the links to several different blogs I’d never heard of before, and I think the entire list of links is extremely useful. I encourage all of my blog readers to click here and check out the list because there are some truly great blogs listed that you’ll want to be sure to check out!

Like the intro to the list says, “Whether you’re already running a business, or just thinking of starting one . . . it is necessary to look at several areas of the entrepreneurial process and develop expertise to excel in each and every business venture.” This list provides you with links to information on all aspects of business and entrepreneurship–and it’s FREE. So what are you waiting for?  Start clicking! 🙂

Networking From Tokyo

I am in Japan doing presentations on business networking this week and it has made me think about how word-of-mouth marketing is a concept that crosses cultural, ethnic and political boundaries. It resonates within entrepreneurs all over the world. It resonates in Europe, Africa, Asia and the Americas–because we all speak the language of referrals.

As I put together business development networks or referral groups in many countries around the world over the past two decades, I was frequently told that this type of networking won’t work in other countries. It was ironic to hear “this won’t work here, we’re different” the first time because it was said by someone in one part of Southern California talking about people who were 25 miles away in another part of Southern California!

Although I didn’t realize it at the time, I later came to understand that this person just didn’t want to do the hard work necessary to slowly build his referral business. Rather than say, “I don’t want to do that,” it was easier to say, “we’re different here” (even though “here was only a few miles away from “there”).

Over the years I was amazed to come across some people who absolutely refused to follow the tried-and-true fundamentals that proved to work in generating referrals as I developed networking programs through BNI across the  United States and later the world. In many cases they used the “we’re different” argument or said things like “that won’t work here.” When talking about self-development, I have a friend who often says, “When it comes to ourselves, we’re always the exception.” Everybody else should do what’s been proved to work. It seems that the “we’re different here” mantra that some people spout actually prevents them from following proven methods of self-development. Only truly successful people understand that everyone who has achieved success has succumbed to the basics.

Years ago, I began to dissect what we were doing to determine just what it is about referral marketing that makes it cross national and cultural boundaries so well. I determined that the lowest common denominator is that people want referrals! The public wants referrals, the business community wants referrals, everyone seems to want referrals. In order to generate referrals, people must build trust. Building trust takes time. Structured networking programs speed up the process in a safe environment, but they still take time.

Apparently, this concept does transcend cultural differences. One of the reasons this happens is that networking programs operate within the cultural context, not outside it. That is to say, the cultural differences can easily integrate within a structured program that takes time and is based on building trust among other business people. Structured networking programs may then embrace cultural differences while following an overlay or system that emphasizes relationship building and referral generation.

Now of course it’s true that people are different around the world, but normally all businesspeople want to conduct business more effectively. When harnessing the power of relationship marketing is the goal, driving businesses further and faster through business-to-business networking can be an effective result. Codifying the process of networking into a networking system helps businesses learn how to do that, thereby transcending our cultural differences.

My experience has shown that people in any entrepreneurial economy can use a networking system to improve their business. If this system is done within the cultural context and not outside it, I have found that the same networking concepts and techniques are almost completely transferable from one country to another. It is basically due to the truth that business is business when it comes to relationship marketing, no matter the culture, ethnicity or political persuasion.

This doesn’t change the challenges that occur when someone from one country networks or does business with someone from another country; however, networking techniques are simply business techniques. They work around the world–especially when they are applied within the specific cultural context.

 

 

America, Canada, the United Kingdom, Malaysia, South Africa or Germany, different races and religions, different colors and cultures: We are all different–but we all speak the language of referrals. We are all different–but we all believe that relationships are the key to building a business. We are all different–but we all believe we can do better by helping connect people.

Networking is a great way to “get” business… but it’s an even better way to “do” business. While there may be many other things to divide and separate us–different countries and cultures, different languages and religions, different people and places, different races and accents–we are all united by one thing: We all speak the language of referrals. And that my friends, transcends our cultural differences.

Networking Lessons From Nature

Recently, when visiting our favorite Napa Valley winery, Chateau Montelena, my wife and I decided to take a tour of the agricultural side of the operation.  The vintner shared with us the technique the winery uses to ensure the quality of the juice from the grapes year after year after year regardless of the climate–a technique known as “dry farming.”

As he explained the benefits of dry farming, I began to see a business metaphor emerging for how referral marketing works for those businesses that understand doing business by referral.

When vineyards are dry farmed, they are not irrigated, dry season or rainy.  As a result, the roots of the vines must grow deep to get to the year-round underground supply of water, no matter the climate.  This reminds me of how we teach business owners to develop deep-water relationships between themselves so that they can support growth no matter the climate–the economic climate.

Doing business by referral truly is not about getting rich quick.  We want to be able to produce a bumper crop of referrals year after year after year regardless of the climate.

That is the gift of dry farming:  the stability of the juice’s quality.  Just like the dependability of Chateau Montelena’s wine, we feel that deep-water relationships ensure a dependability in our own business stability unavailable to the average business owner.

There is another metaphor from nature that helps to illustrate the strength of doing business by referral–that is the story of the giant redwood trees in Northern California.

The giant redwoods average a height of 85 meters or 250 feet!  You’d think that with such an amazing height they would also have a deep, deep root system.  But they don’t.  They actually have a fairly shallow root system, much like our California eucalyptus trees.  The California eucalyptus trees tend to blow over easily in heavy winds, but not the giant redwoods.

You see, the giant redwoods also use an amazing technique to remain upright when those around them fall.  They intertwine  their roots with the roots of their neighbor, thereby supporting one another when the winds come.  When one is under the direct pressure of the wind, the others help to hold it in place, not allowing it to succumb to the destructive forces of that wind.

Relationship marketing puts you in a similar position as those giant redwoods.  When you learn the intricacies of doing business by referral, you begin to metaphorically intertwine your roots with the roots of those with whom you are networking.  When the economy pressures one member, the others help hold him in place!

This is why networking and relationship marketing are so important–especially in a tough economy.

Entrepreneurial Excellence Dream Team

Frank DeRaffele Jr., host of the Entrepreneurial Excellence radio show, has been a good friend of mine for years and his show is a great tool for entrepreneurs everywhere.  He recently brought on a “dream team” of CEOs, authors, coaches and consultants to join his show to help the small business entrepreneur, and I am privileged to have been asked to be a part of the team.

frankderaffelelogo.gif

I’ve spent the past 25 years of my life helping small-business entrepreneurs grow their businesses through the referral process, and I think Frank’s show and the dream team are incredible resources for the business owner.  I am honored to be on the team with Ken Blanchard, Michael E. Gerber, Larry Winget, Marci Shimoff and Jay Conrad Levinson.

The purpose of the Entrepreneurial Excellence show is to provide a free resource of information and education for the small-business entrepreneur who is always looking for ways to improve.  You can listen to the show live or listen to its archived episodes by visiting EERadioShow.com.

Let me know what you think of the show.  Frank is a regular reader of this column.

I’ll Have an ‘Entrepreneur on Ice,’ Please

dsc04691.JPGI just spent time in Kiruna, Sweden–home of the legendary ICEHOTEL and Ice Bar.  It was an amazing experience that I recommend to everyone. A large portion of the hotel facility is completely made of ice. Although there are normal hotel rooms at this location for the faint of heart, the truly brave live big and stay in the amazing “ice accommodations.” This portion of the hotel is a completely different set of buildings and has about 90 rooms along with a truly unique Ice Bar (seen here to the right). The ICEHOTEL and Ice Bar are both completely made of ice (including the tables, chairs and,  yes, even the drinking glasses).

The beds at the ICEHOTEL are made of ice with a small foam mattress and reindeer hides covering them (see below).  They are actually fairly comfortable and, with the high-quality sleeping bags, the room is fairly warm despite the fact that it is minus 5 degrees Celsius (23 degrees Fahrenheit) inside the hotel and 22 Celsius (minus 8 degrees Fahrenheit) outside.

dsc04678.JPGI had the opportunity to meet one of the co-founders of the Hotel and Bar, Kerstin Nilsson. Kerstin and husband Yngve Bergvist started the hotel in 1990 when they did a small exhibition of art in a custom-made igloo on the frozen Torne River, which is adjacent to the hotel.  It turns out that one night a group of foreign guests, equipped with reindeer hides and sleeping bags, thought it would be a good idea to use the cylindrical-shaped igloo as accommodations.  The next morning the group raved about the unique experience of sleeping in an igloo, and the ICEHOTEL was born.

The hotel and bar have since become famous for their unique concept and famous works of ice art.  Even the chandeliers are made of ice, as seen in the last photo below.  The entire hotel, bar and art all melt away each spring and are re-created with a new design each November.

The conversation I had with Kerstin was interesting. They have partnered with Absolut Vodka and have now franchised the idea of the Ice Bar with locations in Stockholm, London, Tokyo and Copenhagen, in addition to the original. They are planning on many more locations but have not released them as of yet. I told her that if they open one in Los Angeles, I am soooo there!dsc04700.JPG

The ICEHOTEL and Ice Bar are a classic case of how creative entrepreneurship works.  A small hotel in a VERY far-away portion of a country comes up with a little idea (an exhibition hall made of ice) to help build its business. This idea (with a lot of hard work) turns into a hotel and bar. The bar spins off into a worldwide franchise co-developed by a major Vodka company–and a small business becomes an international one. I love the creativity of entrepreneurship.

You can see more photos of my visit to the ICEHOTEL and Ice Bar by going to my FaceBook page.  You can also see more about the hotel and bar by going directly to the website at ICEHOTEL.com.

 

‘Legends in Excellence–The Series’

legendsadmisner2_300×250.jpgMy long-time friend Annie Armen, better known as “The Hurricane” on Annie Armen LIVE Talk Radio, has just come out with a great new CD called “Legends in Excellence–The Series,” which features 20 of the world’s top authorities on success.

Annie took hundreds of hours of recorded interviews she’s done over the past decade with people such as Zig Ziglar, Stephen M.R. Covey, Denis Waitley, John Demartini of The Secret and yours truly (just to name a few), and she edited all that content down into 15 hours of powerful advice on how to create real wealth, achieve greater success and find opportunity no matter what the economy is doing.

CLICK HERE to get more information and to purchase the CD.

When you visit the web page above, if you scroll down you can also listen to a five-minute sampler track by clicking on the blue-and-white play button above the words “Listen While You Read.”

If you listen to the sampler track, feel free to come back and leave a comment about what you thought of it.

Make a Referral Week (March 9-13, 2009)

johnjantschlogo.gifAs I’ve said time and time again, I firmly believe that the way to survive and thrive in an economic downturn is to ignore the doom-and-gloom headlines and focus instead on what you can do to grow your business despite fluctuations in the economy.

That’s why I’m hoping all of you will join me in participating in Make a Referral Week, which is a campaign inviting everyone around the globe to make 1,000 referrals during the week of March 9-13.  It’s an entrepreneurial approach to stimulating the small-business economy–one referred business at a time.

The goal of generating 1,000 referrals to 1,000 deserving small businesses highlights the idea that by taking one simple action and generating one referral to a small business, you really can make a difference and help jumpstart the economy.  Small business is the lifeblood and job-creating engine of the economy, and if we all pledge to make one referral, we could possibly generate millions of dollars in new business.

The weeklong, virtual event also features daily education programs focused on teaching small-business owners and other marketers how to tap the power of referral marketing. I’ll be featured, along with my friends Bob Burg and Bill Cates, on Tuesday, March 10.

Click here to learn more and join the campaign.

If you do join me in participating next week, I’d love to hear back from you about the referral(s) you generated.

Social Capital Taught in College?

UniversityOfLaVerne

About a year ago, I posted a blog called:  “Networking, a Soft Science? Only to College Professors!”  OK, I’ll admit it–I was on a rant about how we don’t teach networking in colleges or universities.  But in my defense, there were many, many, people who identified with this frustration according to the numerous comments posted on that blog.

Today, I’m here to tell you that there may actually be a change on the horizon.  Yes, a university dean who believes that social capital is a relevant topic in business.  “Not possible,” you say?  Well, that’s what I thought, too, until I met Ibrahim Helou, the new dean of the School of Business & Public Management at the University of LaVerne.

Ibrahim "Abe" Helou

Ibrahim “Abe” Helou

As crazy as this may sound, he actually believes that emotional intelligence and social capital are relevant topics to cover in business school.  To make this even more amazing, Helou’s background is in accounting and finance. Wow, I don’t know what to say. This just shakes up my whole world view about academia.

According to Helou, business should focus on issues relating to long-term organizational sustainability.  He says that the “three pillars” of organizational sustainability are: people, planet and prosperity.

The “people” part includes long-term employment, social capital and empowerment.  The planet involves social and ethical responsibility and prosperity is about the long-term financial success of the organization.

Did you notice that “long-term” is a recurring theme here?  I did.  He believes that there has been an overemphasis on short-term profits to address monthly or quarterly revenue reporting in corporations.  This short-term view has helped lead us into some of the current financial issues we are experiencing today.

Well, Dr. Helou, I’m impressed, especially with your interest in social capital and emotional intelligence.  Now all you need to do is convince the faculty.  Let me know how that works out for you.  🙂

The Culture of Entrepreneurism

I just attended the BNI International Conference in Southern California.  There were almost 1,000 people from 40 countries around the world at the event.  It looked like a meeting at the United Nations with people from different countries and different accents all meeting for several days.  It was amazing to watch business people from various cultures working together to network and build each other’s businesses despite their differences.

It was appropriate that Brian Tracy was a keynote speaker at this event because he and I spoke about the subject of cultural differences and doing business a few years ago.  We had lunch in San Diego and I asked him if he changed his material when he did seminars in other countries.  He said that he didn’t.  He said that entrepreneurs want to do things more efficiently or more effectively.  If you can show them how to achieve either of those, the cultural issues are not as big a factor as many might believe.

This made me start to think about why structured networking programs work so well and in so many countries.  It occurred to me that there is a “culture of entrepreneurism” that in many ways transcends other cultural issues.  The core of this process is the importance of trust.  When people get to know and trust each other, that factor supersedes many cultural factors. 

Different people, different places; different countries, different cultures; different races, different religions, we all want to do business with people we trust.  While there may be many other things to divide us and separate us, we all speak the language of referrals.

Capture Your Success Stories

Many of us are taught as children that we should refrain from bragging about our successes. But there’s a caveat to those rules that our parents usually didn’t teach us: The rules apply to our individual, personal lives–not our businesses.

Success stories about businesses and entrepreneurs are vital for those of us dedicated to learning all we can in order to make our own enterprises as successful as possible.  What’s more, having your own success stories heard could bring you opportunities to network your business far beyond the playing field of the typical networking arena.

Here are four approaches to capturing your success stories:

1.  Ask for written testimonials: Get satisfied customers or colleagues to write letters on their own letterhead to spotlight their positive experience with you and your business.

2.  Write down two success stories: Highlight your successes to help your network understand who best represents your preferred client.  These stories should clearly emphasize what you do better than anyone else.

3.  Write a personal introduction: Provide your network with material they can use when talking about you and your business with people who fit your preferred client profile.  You don’t want your sales force making stuff up about you, right?  This simplifies their task and ensures accuracy.

4.  Toot your own horn: Tell people about the good things your business does.  This isn’t about crowing over your amazing golf handicap or complimenting your own fine taste in silk ties.  It’s about spotlighting your business’s strengths, as well as its legitimate good works in the community.

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