Five Errors to Avoid in Business According to the Apprentice



Business mistakes, The Apprentice
I am sort of aficionado when it comes to the show The Apprentice. I have watched the show from every English speaking Country, and have learned quite a bit from the show. Some of the errors of candidates, regardless of the Country, seem to be universal. Could it be that those same mistakes make it into real business, which is why so many fail? The mistakes are:

  •   Ignoring Market Research: Without a doubt this is the one that seems to be more about ego than the idea that the market is wrong. Let me give you two examples. One, there was a task to make a home exercise piece of equipment. The market research told the losing team that it had to be simple and easy to use. What did they make? A black box with exercise hands. It was ugly and complicated. One of the places they pitched said the best thing about the team’s pitch was that they took the box with them when they left. Ouch. The second was to build an item for the home. The losing team went against the research and built what they referred to as a splash wall to keep water from getting out of the tub when the child played. The better idea they had was for a pillow in the bathtub.

  • Not controlling the budget: Just because you have money does not mean you have to spend it all in one place. You have to know and justify what you are spending money on.  In the task the candidates were required to set up a cleaning service for the day. The caveat was that all the equipment they put in their van came out of their $300 budget. The losing team spent almost all of their money, and seemed to be happy by their decision. The other team spent only half, and actually undersold the losing the losing team, but because the losing team let their budget get away from them, they ended up in the boardroom for one of them to be fired.

  •    Being nasty is not a skill: Several candidates on season five of The Apprentice UK were nasty, mean spirited, and way too arrogant. They were nasty to each other, customers, places they were pitching, and one was even nasty to one of the people who follows the team. Let me tell you this was not the thing to be, they received a dressing down from Lord Sugar they won’t soon forget. The nastiness even caused some of them to purposely sabotage their team’s chances of winning just to try to get someone they didn’t like out of the competition. It didn’t work.

  •      Know your products: There are two tasks with two different skills needed. One, they send the candidates to buy products from a list at the cheapest price. The other was selling products they had for their proper value. In the first one, there are always items they have zero clue what they are, so they waste lots of time trying to find them, and tend to overspend. In the other task, they are supposed to find the value of the product and then sell it for that price or more. In both cases, teams waste lots of time on the things which don’t matter, ignore sound advice, and forget what they were told to do in the briefing. In the valuation tasks, both teams lost money just by not doing research.

  •       Practice your pitch: This show has lots of people with egos and they like to show off, so they will put the wrong person in to pitch. The main example I can think of involved a mobile app. The person who should have done the speech, does speeches to youth as her job. The one who did the pitch was a project manager who had zero clue of this market, and sounded like she was pitching to a corporate board. She even failed to tell them how to download the product.

Although these candidates just suffered being fired by one of The Apprentice hosts, business owners could suffer consequences which could lead to their business being unprofitable or closed, so take heed.

Google Plus is Not an Option

I have a friend who hates Google+. There's no real reason for this animosity, but she just hates it. My guess is because it takes time to develop relationships on it. It's not like Twitter where you can throw out some tweets on a popular Tweet and someone will possibly start a chat with you. Nope, Google+ takes work, but the spoils go to those who are willing to do the work. As you know, every platform has an audience and serves a particular purpose. Twitter used to be if you wanted to meet people, then you could send them a tweet, but with the rise of so called social media experts, the platform has changed to a one sided broadcast. The only way to have a conversation is to be on a hashtag chat or talk about a trending topic. Sorry, but that is the reality. Facebook is really for people you know, and it is moving towards a pay to have your post seen platform due to all the brands, marketers and moms. Again, just another reality. Google plus is sort of what you want it to be. If you want success, you will have to: *Have people in your circles that are active on the platform, and not just a bunch of people autoposting. *Find people around a hobby/idea (example, photography is a HUGE group) *Participate in some Hangouts *Comment on stuff that interest you. The comment system is sort of a chat the way many use it. *Jump In Using it for your business is a no brainer. You can use the Hangouts (video conference with up to 9 people) to share your expertise, interview people, cook, sing, whatever. If you want to have some ROI for your time on Google+ then consider becoming an instructor in the Helpout section. You set the price, the time limit, and the topic. Google gets 20 percent, but small price to pay since it is their audience that is coming to you. Get in there and really get involved. Don't listen to people (journalist) who don't even use the platform. That's like asking a life long vegan how a steak tastes. They have no idea.

Umango the Personalized personal assistant

Opportunities Where You Are by Orison Swett Marden

No chance, no opportunities, in a land where many poor boys become rich men, where newsboys go to Congress, and where those born in the lowest stations attain the highest positions? The world is all gates, all opportunities to him who will use them. But, like Bunyan's Pilgrim in the dungeon of Giant Despair's castle, who had the key of deliverance all the time with him but had forgotten it, we fail to rely wholly upon the ability to advance all that is good for us which has been given to the weakest as well as the strongest. We depend too much upon outside assistance.
"We look too high For things close by."
A Baltimore lady lost a valuable diamond bracelet at a ball, and supposed that it was stolen from the pocket of her cloak. Years afterward she washed the steps of the Peabody Institute, pondering how to get money to buy food. She cut up an old, worn-out, ragged cloak to make a hood, when lo! in the lining of the cloak she discovered the diamond bracelet. During all her poverty she was worth $3500, but did not know it.

Many of us who think we are poor are rich in opportunities, if we could only see them, in possibilities all about us, in faculties worth more than diamond bracelets. In our large Eastern cities it has been found that at least ninety-four out of every hundred found their first fortune at home, or near at hand, and in meeting common every-day wants. It is a sorry day for a young man who cannot see any opportunities where he is, but thinks he can do better somewhere else. Some Brazilian shepherds organized a party to go to California to dig gold, and took along a handful of translucent pebbles to play checkers with on the voyage. After arriving in San Francisco, and after they had thrown most of the pebbles away, they discovered that they were diamonds. They hastened back to Brazil, only to find that the mines from which the pebbles had been gathered had been taken up by others and sold to the government.

The richest gold and silver mine in Nevada was sold for $42 by the owner to get money to pay his passage to other mines, where he thought he could get rich. Professor Agassiz told the Harvard students of a farmer who owned a farm of hundreds of acres of unprofitable woods and rocks, and concluded to sell out and get into a more profitable business. He decided to go into the coal-oil business; he studied coal measures and coal-oil deposits, and experimented for a long time. He sold his farm for $200, and engaged in his new business two hundred miles away. Only a short time after the man who bought his farm discovered upon it a great flood of coal-oil, which the farmer had previously ignorantly tried to drain off.

Hundreds of years ago there lived near the shore of the river Indus a Persian by the name of Ali Hafed. He lived in a cottage on the river bank, from which he could get a grand view of the beautiful country stretching away to the sea. He had a wife and children, an extensive farm, fields of grain, gardens of flowers, orchards of fruit, and miles of forest. He had a plenty of money and everything that heart could wish. He was contented and happy. One evening a priest of Buddha visited him, and, sitting before the fire, explained to him how the world was made, and how the first beams of sunlight condensed on the earth's surface into diamonds. The old priest told that a drop of sunlight the size of his thumb was worth more than large mines of copper, silver, or gold; that with one of them he could buy many farms like his; that with a handful he could buy a province, and with a mine of diamonds he could purchase a kingdom. Ali Hafed listened, and was no longer a rich man. He had been touched with discontent, and with that all wealth vanishes. Early the next morning he woke the priest who had been the cause of his unhappiness, and anxiously asked him where he could find a mine of diamonds. "What do you want of diamonds?" asked the astonished priest. "I want to be rich and place my children on thrones." "All you have to do is to go and search until you find them," said the priest. "But where shall I go?" asked the poor farmer. "Go anywhere, north, south, east, or west." "How shall I know when I have found the place?" "When you find a river running over white sands between high mountain ranges, in those white sands you will find diamonds," answered the priest.

The discontented man sold the farm for what he could get, left his family with a neighbor, took the money he had at interest, and went to search for the coveted treasure. Over the mountains of Arabia, through Palestine and Egypt, he wandered for years, but found no diamonds. When his money was all gone and starvation stared him in the face, ashamed of his folly and of his rags, poor Ali Hafed threw himself into the tide and was drowned. The man who bought his farm was a contented man, who made the most of his surroundings, and did not believe in going away from home to hunt for diamonds or success. While his camel was drinking in the garden one day, he noticed a flash of light from the white sands of the brook. He picked up a pebble, and pleased with its brilliant hues took it into the house, put it on the shelf near the fireplace, and forgot all about it. The old priest of Buddha who had filled Ali Hafed with the fatal discontent called one day upon the new owner of the farm. He had no sooner entered the room than his eye caught that flash of light from the stone. "Here's a diamond! here's a diamond!" the old priest shouted in great excitement. "Has Ali Hafed returned?" said the priest. "No," said the farmer, "nor is that a diamond. That is but a stone." They went into the garden and stirred up the white sand with their fingers, and behold, other diamonds more beautiful than the first gleamed out of it. So the famous diamond beds of Golconda were discovered. Had Ali Hafed been content to remain at home, had he dug in his own garden, instead of going abroad in search for wealth, and reaping poverty, hardships, starvation, and death, he would have been one of the richest men in the world, for the entire farm abounded in the richest of gems.

You have your own special place and work. Find it, fill it. Scarcely a boy or girl will read these lines but has much better opportunity to win success than Garfield, Wilson, Franklin, Lincoln, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Frances Willard, and thousands of others. But to succeed you must be prepared to seize and improve the opportunity when it comes. Remember that four things come not back: the spoken word, the sped arrow, the past life, and the neglected opportunity.

It is one of the paradoxes of civilization that the more opportunities are utilized, the more new ones are thereby created. New openings are as easy to fill as ever to those who do their best; although it is not so easy as formerly to obtain distinction in the old lines, because the standard has advanced so much and competition has so greatly increased. "The world is no longer clay," said Emerson, "but rather iron in the hands of its workers, and men have got to hammer out a place for themselves by steady and rugged blows."
Thousands of men have made fortunes out of trifles which others pass by. As the bee gets honey from the same flower from which the spider gets poison, so some men will get a fortune out of the commonest and meanest things, as scraps of leather, cotton waste, slag, iron filings, from which others get only poverty and failure. There is scarcely a thing which contributes to the welfare and comfort of humanity, not an article of household furniture, a kitchen utensil, an article of clothing or of food, that is not capable of an improvement in which there may be a fortune.

Opportunities? They are all around us. Edison found them in a baggage car. Forces of nature plead to be used in the service of man, as lightning for ages tried to attract his attention to the great force of electricity, which would do his drudgery and leave him to develop the God-given powers within him. There is power lying latent everywhere waiting for the observant eye to discover it.

First find out what the world needs and then supply that want. An invention to make smoke go the wrong way in a chimney might be a very ingenious thing, but it would be of no use to humanity. The patent office at Washington is full of wonderful devices of ingenious mechanism, but not one in hundreds is of use to the inventor or to the world. And yet how many families have been impoverished, and have struggled for years amid want and woe, while the father has been working on useless inventions. A. T. Stewart, as a boy, lost eighty-seven cents when his capital was one dollar and a half in buying buttons and thread which shoppers did not call for. After that he made it a rule never to buy anything which the public did not want, and so prospered.

It is estimated that five out of every seven of the millionaire manufacturers began by making with their own hands the articles which made their fortunes. One of the greatest hindrances to advancement in life is the lack of observation and of the inclination to take pains. An observing man, the eyelets of whose shoes pulled out, but who could not afford to get another pair, said to himself, "I will make a metallic lacing hook, which can be riveted into the leather;" he was so poor that he had to borrow a sickle to cut the grass in front of his hired tenement. Now he is a very rich man.

An observing barber in Newark, N. J., thought he could make an improvement in shears for cutting hair, invented clippers, and became rich. A Maine man was called in from the hayfield to wash clothes for his invalid wife. He had never realized what it was to wash before. Finding the method slow and laborious, he invented the washing-machine, and made a fortune. A man who was suffering terribly with toothache said to himself, there must be some way of filling teeth which will prevent their aching. So he invented the principle of gold filling for teeth.

The great things of the world have not been done by men of large means. Ericsson began the construction of the screw propellers in a bathroom. The cotton-gin was first manufactured in a log cabin. John Harrison, the great inventor of the marine chronometer, began his career in the loft of an old barn. Parts of the first steamboat ever run in America were set up in the vestry of a church in Philadelphia by Fitch. McCormick began to make his famous reaper in a gristmill. The first model dry dock was made in an attic. Clark, the founder of Clark University of Worcester, Mass., began his great fortune by making toy wagons in a horse shed. Farquhar made umbrellas in his sitting-room, with his daughter's help, until he sold enough to hire a loft. Edison began his experiments in a baggage car on the Grand Trunk Railroad when a newsboy.

As soon as the weather would permit, the Jamestown colonists began to stroll about the country digging for gold. In a bank of sand some glittering particles were found, and the whole settlement was in a state of excitement. Fourteen weeks of the precious springtime, which ought to have been given to plowing and planting, were consumed in this stupid nonsense. Even the Indians ridiculed the madness of the men who, for imaginary grains of gold, were wasting their chances for a crop of corn.

Michael Angelo found a piece of discarded Carrara marble among waste rubbish beside a street in Florence, which some unskillful workman had cut, hacked, spoiled, and thrown away. No doubt many artists had noticed the fine quality of the marble, and regretted that it should have been spoiled. But Michael Angelo still saw an angel in the ruin, and with his chisel and mallet he called out from it one of the finest pieces of statuary in Italy, the young David.

The lonely island of Nantucket would not be considered a very favorable place to win success and fame. But Maria Mitchell, on seventy-five dollars a year, as librarian of the Nantucket Athenaeum, found time and opportunity to become a celebrated astronomer. Lucretia Mott, one of America's foremost philanthropists and reformers, who made herself felt over a whole continent, gained much of her reputation as a preacher on Nantucket Island.

"Why does not America have fine sculptors?" asked a romping girl, of Watertown, Mass., in 1842. Her father, a physician, answered that he supposed "an American could be a stone-cutter, but that is a very different thing from being a sculptor." "I think," said the plucky maiden, "that if no other American tries it I will." She began her studies in Boston, and walked seven miles to and fro daily between her home and the city. The medical schools in Boston would not admit her to study anatomy, so she had to go to St. Louis. Subsequently she went to Rome, and there, during a long residence, and afterward, modeled and carved very beautiful statuary which made the name of Harriet G. Hosmer famous. Begin where you are; work where you are; the hour which you are now wasting, dreaming of some far-off success, may be crowded with grand possibilities.

Patrick Henry was called a lazy boy, a good-for-nothing farmer, and he failed as a merchant. He was always dreaming of some far-off greatness, and never thought he could be a hero among the corn and tobacco and saddlebags of Virginia. He studied law six weeks, when he put out his shingle. People thought he would fail, but in his first case he showed that he had a wonderful power of oratory. It then first dawned upon him that he could be a hero in Virginia. From the time the Stamp Act was passed and Henry was elected to the Virginia House of Burgesses, and he had introduced his famous resolution against the unjust taxation of the American colonies, he rose steadily until he became one of the brilliant orators of America. In one of his first speeches upon this resolution he uttered these words, which were prophetic of his power and courage: "Caesar had his Brutus, Charles the First his Cromwell, and George the Third—may profit by their example. If this be treason, make the most of it."

The great natural philosopher, Faraday, who was the son of a blacksmith, wrote, when a young man, to Humphry Davy, asking for employment at the Royal Institution. Davy consulted a friend on the matter. "Here is a letter from a young man named Faraday, he has been attending my lectures, and wants me to give him employment at the Royal Institution—what can I do?" "Do? put him to washing bottles; if he is good for anything he will do it directly; if he refuses he is good for nothing." But the boy who could experiment in the attic of an apothecary shop with an old pan and glass vials during every moment he could snatch from his work saw an opportunity in washing bottles, which led to a professorship at the Royal Academy at Woolwich. Tyndall said of this boy with no chance, "He is the greatest experimental philosopher the world has ever seen." He became the wonder of his age in science.

There is a legend of an artist who long sought for a piece of sandal-wood, out of which to carve a Madonna. He was about to give up in despair, leaving the vision of his life unrealized, when in a dream he was bidden to carve his Madonna from a block of oak wood which was destined for the fire. He obeyed, and produced a masterpiece from a log of common firewood. Many of us lose great opportunities in life by waiting to find sandal-wood for our carvings, when they really lie hidden in the common logs that we burn. One man goes through life without seeing chances for doing anything great, while another close beside him snatches from the same circumstances and privileges opportunities for achieving grand results.

Anna Dickinson began life as a school-teacher. Adelaide Neilson was a child's nurse. Charlotte Cushman's parents were poor. The renowned Jeanne d'Arc fed swine. Christine Nilsson was a poor Swedish peasant, and ran barefoot in childhood. Edmonia Lewis, the colored sculptor, overcame the prejudice against her sex and color, and pursued her profession in Italy. Maria Mitchell, the astronomer, was the daughter of a poor man who taught school at two dollars per week. These are but a few of the many who have struggled with fate and risen to distinction through their own personal efforts.

Opportunities? They are everywhere. "America is another name for opportunities. Our whole history appears like a last effort of divine Providence in behalf of the human race." Never before were there such grand openings, such chances, such opportunities. Especially is this true for girls and young women. A new era is dawning for them. Hundreds of occupations and professions, which were closed to them only a few years ago, are now inviting them to enter.

When I hear of a young woman entering the medical profession, or beginning the study of law, or entering school with a view to teaching, I feel like congratulating her for thus asserting her individuality.

We cannot all of us perhaps make great discoveries like Newton, Faraday, Edison, and Thompson. We cannot all of us paint immortal pictures like an Angelo or a Raphael. But we can all of us make our lives sublime, by seizing common occasions and making them great. What chance had the young girl, Grace Darling, to distinguish herself, living on those barren lighthouse rocks alone with her aged parents? But while her brothers and sisters, who moved to the cities to win wealth and fame, are not known to the world, she became more famous than a princess. This poor girl did not need to go to London to see the nobility; they came to the lighthouse to see her. Right at home this young girl had won fame which the regal heirs might envy, and a name which will never perish from the earth. She did not wander away into dreamy distance for fame and fortune, but did her best where duty had placed her.

If you want to get rich, study yourself and your own wants. You will find that millions have the same wants. The safest business is always connected with man's prime necessities. He must have clothing and a dwelling; he must eat. He wants comforts, facilities of all kinds for pleasure, luxuries, education, and culture. Any man who can supply a great want of humanity, improve any methods which men use, supply any demand of comfort, or contribute in any way to their well-being, can make a fortune.

"We cannot doubt," said Edward Everett, "that truths now unknown are in reserve to reward the patience and the labors of future lovers of truth, which will go as far beyond the brilliant discoveries of the last generation as these do beyond all that was known to the ancient world."

The One Nelson Mandela Quote That Businesses Should Apply


Nelson Mandela said many things, which one would consider wise, but there was one quote I heard that I had not, before, and it applies to life and business.

The story goes that when he was young, he and the neighborhood boys used to enjoy stick fights. He said that he was learned to "(defeat) win, but do not dishonor your opponent." A strategy he used throughout his life.
So how does this apply to business? In the rush for market share, higher market earnings, and sales, some businesses have gone the route of dishonor.

  • They go on review sites and bash their competition.
  • They belittle (humiliate) the founders/CEOs of the competition.
  • They lie to customers about the quality of the product (service).
Here's the thing, if you have to grow your business through lies and deceit, then perhaps business is not where you belong. If you want to defeat your competition:
  •  Have a product or service that is better. 
  • Go the extra mile, which few are willing to do. 
  • Act with integrity (again, in short supply).

Social Media is Time Consuming But Worth It

Photo by Dennis Shaio
You ever see those books promising you will that you will have Warren Buffet's riches through social medial on just 15 minutes a day? Yeah, just an FYI, they lied. If you actually were involved on all the social networks and blogging, don't count on less than 3 hours per DAY, and that might be the minimum.

How did I come up with this horrid number? By experience. Let's look at just some typical stuff.

1. Read tech or industry news- Long form articles get saved. (15 minutes)

2. Twitter has multiple parts: A)Look over Twitter Trending topics to find out if there was a disaster, big announcement, or whatever that I might want to tweet about or blog about. B)Look at tweets from list C)RT ones you think followers will enjoy. D) Quick glance at regular stream to see if I can answer a question, thank someone for a RT, or whatever. (15-25 minutes)

3. Facebook- Look over topics being discussed in groups I belong to. Make comments, if appropriate. Look over your personal stream to catch up on babies, marriages, divorces, and food porn. Add a video or blog post to your business page, if necessary. (15 minutes).

4. Pinterest/Instagram- Pinning, liking, commenting, and adding your own pins. (20 minutes)

5. Google+- peruse the areas of interest, post your content, +1, reshare and comment (15 minutes)
6. LinkedIn/Quora- Look at notices, skim read the new stuff, congratulate, invite some for connections (20 minutes)

7. Blog Post- I had not forgotten the post. Actually, you could do this second, but for our purposes we will put it last. Write your content, make or find an accompanying picture, and then distribute if not done automatically. Respond to comments throughout the day. (30 minutes)

8. Youtube- You could forgo the Blog post and use video instead. Either way, you need to also view your subscriptions, comment, respond, and share. (15 minutes)

These are just the top ones. If you belong to special ones, then you have to add those on your schedule. Of course, these times will vary, and if you want to stay sane, I don't recommend doing them all everyday. There are some shortcuts like using Buffer to schedule your posts. The only thing here is that if there has been a major tragedy and you send out an auto tweet, you will get hounded.So, plan your tweets, but also be quick to adjust the posting time or content if something major happens during the day. And please, don't use tragedy to try to sell. That doesn't go over well at all.

Other things that could add to your social media time is doing Google Hangouts or Twitter chats. They generally last an hour. If you want to run your own (hint. hint) set up one on a weekly basis.

A sample Twitter chat #smallbizchat
A sample Google+ Hangout  Hump Day with John Lawson of Colder Ice

So, as you can see, it takes time to be social online, just as it does offline.

Are You Defeating the Purpose of Mystery Shoppers?

Don't Defeat
Hundreds of businesses use mystery shoppers to help get a gauge on what is happening in their business. Mystery shoppers are individuals who generally go into a store, bank, restaurant, or hotel and evaluate a specific behavior, such as, the information they are given on mortgage loan, or how an employee treats them.

Generally the shops, as they are called, are done during a specific date range, and in some cases, a time range. For example, a company may hire a mystery shopping company to perform 10 mystery shops during the first week of October between the hours of nine to five.

One of the odd things which has been occurring is some businesses are actually training their employees in what to look for in a mystery shopper such as the type of questions they have. Some blatantly get the questionnaire the mystery shopper is going to fill out and train from that.

So I go back to my question, are you defeating the purpose of the mystery shopper? My answer is yes. I think of it as cheating, here's why. If the employee only does what is required to do because you have trained him for the mystery shop, then the treatment the shopper may receive may be scewed.

If the purpose of the mystery shopper is to evaluate behavior, then it defeats the purpose if a business trains for the shop instead of training the employee(s) on what is required service for all customers. Further, by telling employees the time frame the shops may occur is again problematic.

And, a final thought, if an employee IDs a mystery shopper, that means that shopper gets fired from ever doing that shop again, regardless of the State. The weird thing about this is that shoppers who have been identified, was generally due to negative feedback, which is also telling.

The job of the mystery shopper is just to evaluate how things are at the time they go into an establishment. They are not the enemy. Companies spend millions a year on this service, but it could all be money down the drain since some prefer to cheat by warning employees and/or outing mystery shoppers.