101: Thinking About Starting a Business? What You Need to Do Now. [Podcast]

Are you thinking about starting a business? Over 3000 new businesses are started each day in the United States alone. But, most new owners are not prepared for what they are getting into and have failed to prepare – which is the reason many will fail. I am not talking big issues or big strategies to get started – but some common sense things each person who is looking to start a business needs to do to improve their chances of success and increase their enjoyment when they become the boss.

Planning to start a business?

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What to Do Before Starting a Business

1. Know your goals

Why are you starting a business? Is it to control the money, more time with the family, to make your fortune, or just because it is a life long dream? Knowing your WHY will prevent you from starting a business you learn to hate. For instance, if you are wanting to be with the family more and love to cook for family, you might think owning a restaurant is in order. The result will have you working long hours to the point you forget you have a family. There are other options in food services – but keeping your why in check will prevent you from killing your why.

2. Kill the debt

Debt kills business ventures. Get out of debt before you start, and certainly NEVER go into debt to start a business. You could, however, start a side business to generate cash to help you get out of debt. Just remain hyper-focused on on goal of being debt free before you grow or quit the day job.

3. Gather cash

Starting a business, even on the side, will take some money as well as plenty of time. The average cost of a startup in the United States is $7000. But the bigger issue is you will not have a steady income for the first few months. So prepare by saving up 6 to 12 months of personal AND business expenses before you start. If you are starting a side business, you can use the income from the business to build up this cash fund. Being debt free and having cash on hand gives your new venture (or old venture) room to breathe.

4. Get your ego in check

Many who work the corporate world have nice and powerful sounding titles such as director or vice president. If you have an awesome title, you might feel important and powerful – like you really know what you are doing. But, in the corporate world, titles are easy reward. Very often, your title has little to do with ability, intelligence, or control. And more importantly, the skills of getting along in the corporate world are not all you need to make it in business alone.

But now you get to name your own title –  such as president or CEO. If you have an ego you will really feel important now. But, no one cares. You are chief grunt and everyone knows it. Stop trying to be Mr. Big Pants and get down to reality. Egos cause mistakes. Remember, pride goes before the fall.

Starting a Business – the Next Steps

Sure – there is more to do then the simple steps above. But, these steps can get you ready and put you mentally and strategically in a winning position. Check out some of these posts for more information:


100: Finding Your Why – Do You Have a LIFE? [Podcast]

A few years ago I was consulting with a telecom startup. One day the chairmen of the board (and primary investor) called me to ask a quick and simple question. “Dale will you take over as CEO?” I did not answer immediately – but somewhat out of obligation felt I needed to step up and take the reigns. I really enjoyed the people and the company. I became VERY busy. But one day I looked in the mirror found myself asking “Why am I doing this? I hate telecom?” Have you ever looked in the mirror and asked yourself a similar question?

Finding Your Why with LIFE

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Ask Why Often

Now I have learned to ask WHY often. The question brings clarity. But more importantly to you – I  find I am often asking my coaching clients WHY. Not only do I need to know they have clarity – but knowing their why helps me direct the conversation.

Recently a good friend of mine shared his WHY with me. He called it his LIFE model. Wow – it hit home with me – and apparently with many others.

The LIFE Model

I forget when Jonathan Milligan of Blogging Your Passion first shared his LIFE model – but it stuck with me. Jonathan helps people who want to become full time bloggers. His LIFE model was needed to help him help others – but it goes so much further than that. I think it describes almost everyone I have met – certainly everyone I have coached.

LIFE stands for Lifestyle, Influence, Financial, and Effort.

L – Lifestyle: Jonathan wanted to be able to work where he wanted, when he wanted, and doing the things he wanted to do. If he wanted to work at a coffee shop today – no one was stopping him. If he decided to take some time with the kids today – he did not want to have to ask for time off. Even better, if he decides to take a month in the mountains, he can work from there.

I – Influence: Jonathan wanted to impact the lives of others in a positive way.

F – Financial: He was tired of getting a paycheck where he did not control the flow. He could at best expect two small bonuses in the year – a tax refund and/or a bonus. Otherwise, he was tied to a number all year he could not change. While having a steady paycheck is nice, it offers you no flexibility or control.

E – Effort: Jonathan is a hard worker. He wants to enjoy working hard. And he wanted to have something that drove him to work hard.


What is Your Model for Why?

When I saw his model I just knew he had described almost everyone I know. Clearly I was right. Him sharing his model has had a huge impact on his audience on Blogging Your Passion.

If LIFE works for you, then you need to get clear on the details. What matters to me and Jonathan might not matter to you – but from my experience this is going to be very close.

What would you like to change? Your career? Your income? Those you serve? The beginning of making progress is a clear view of where you are now vs. where you want to be.


Questions To Clarify Your Why

What does your tomorrow look like? Take a moment (or more) and decide. Think about what you really want from your work, your money, and your time.

Take 5 minutes and answer these questions?

1. Who do you want to serve? (If you are a Christian or of other faith the correct answer here is not Christ or God – that is a given.)

2. What are the constraints in your life that are in your way as you try to accomplish #1 above?

3. What are the challenges where you work today?

  • Miserable
  • Bored
  • Physically exhausted
  • Poor morale
  • Hostile environment
  • Poor leadership
  • Not enough money
  • Others (list them)

4. Do you want to fix the feeling or the reality?

Get real here. Would you be OK if you could fix the work place with a new boss or some changes on the job? Would you feel like everything was perfect then? Or would that be a temporary solution only and later you will feel like you settled?

Make a Decision

DO NOT THINK ABOUT THIS LATER, do it now. Make a decision. You do not need more time to make this one. It might be one of these:

– I want to start my own company and get control of my life.

– I want to find a job where I can get control of my life.

– I am happy where I am and want to make it work even better.

Now you can answer yes to two of them, even three. But making this decision is a commitment. It is a start. From this decision, write it on a piece of paper and put in in front of your face daily. Time to quit thinking – time to act. The rest is details. I can help you there, but you have to decide to get off the fence and start moving in a direction.


099: Are You Limiting Your Options? [Podcast]

I hate A or B decisions. You know, those times when you have to decide to take a job or not, move or stay, and/or sell your business or keep it. Yet I have I counseled with multiple people recently caught in the “whether or not” trap. One person had a job offer which was going to pay him significantly more money – but in a job he would not like. He told me “I think I am going to literally throw up because I feel I have no choice but to take this job.” Another told me he was going to sell his business to another company because he did not know how to grow it and they did. Both needed to step back and look at more options. We do this WAY too often in our own lives. How can we learn to automatically broaden our options?

Are you limiting your options?

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In their book Decisive: How to Make Better Choices in Life and Work, Chip and Dan Heath call these A or B decisions narrow framed because we tend to narrow our view so we “see only a small sliver of the options available” to us. One area we tend to “narrow frame” is about starting companies.

1. Widen Your Options – Create Option C, D, and E.

When making decisions we tend to focus on the opportunities to analyze them. When picking between two cars to buy, we drill in and look at features vs cost, doing an in-depth analysis. In Decisive the authors remind us about sight when they point out the visual anomy “when we focus we sacrifice peripheral vision” So step back and think big picture. What are your real options? And what are the reasons for the decision?

2. Opportunity Cost – What are you giving up?

What are you giving up when you spend time or money on something. If you did NOT do this, what could you do with that time or money? This is the famous economic argument “guns or butter”. If a government uses money for defense it has less money to use for domestic issues. (This trick is often used by politicians – however they sometimes trap us in another A or B rut.)

3. Use the vanishing options test. Helps you to refocus your spotlight on what you are thinking.

What would you do if some of your options suddenly went away? For instance, if you are thinking about moving to Tennessee or Florida. What happens if you cannot move to either. What would you do then?

Anytime you find yourself  in a “whether or not” decision, send up the warning flares. Stop and think broader.

Just for Fun

When you find others making  “whether or not” decisions, frame the question into A and B and them ask them what option C is.


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If you have enjoyed this podcast, please subscribe to it on iTunes. To subscribe, go to iTunes and hit subscribe! You may have to click the button that says, “OPEN IN ITUNES.” You can also find Company of One on Stitcher.

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098: Forget Networking. What to do instead! | Interview with John Corcoran [Podcast]

Do you just hate networking? Does the word feel slimy. Yeah – me too. So don’t network. Instead, do something that matters more. Listen in today to my interview with John Corcoran as we discuss why networking does not work and what you should think about instead.

forget networking - interview with John Corcoran

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In this episode John and and I talk about networking in a way that just makes more sense to me. Forget shaking of many hands and showing up at events trying to meet the right people. Here are a few points from the interview.

  • Good networkers can be introverts. See the 2011 best networker in Fortune Magazine where Adam Rifkin is profiled. He is also mentioned in Give and Take: Why Helping Others Drives Our Success.
  • Why you need to network even if you are in the corporate cubicle and want to stay there.
  • You should be intentional. You would never show up on a college campus and randomly walk into courses. Instead, we are intentional in what we do and where we go. In networking we should also be intentional.
  • Challenges for new startups
    • Trying a hard pivot. If you are working in flower shops and wanting to start a yoga studio, you are having to learn everything from scratch.
    • Fear. This is mostly a lie since you are not nearly as secure as you feel.
  • Challenges John is having in his business (as you might know – this is one of the favorite questions I like to ask)
    • Growing the business. Hiring help.
    • Developing systems and processes.
    • Keeping the growth up. Most of this is through connections in webinars. (You will  find many people doing webinars with John as a guest.)

Steps to take to grow your connections

Observations Made

About John Corcoran



Looking forward to being with BBVA team!

Date: May 21, 2015
Time: 09:00am
Event: Compass BBVA Leadership Forum
Topic: Leadership from the Cubicle
Sponsor: Compass BBVA
Location: Birmingham, AL
Public: Private

Looking forward to presenting for the Information Engineering Management program at in Hoover.

Date: May 20, 2015
Time: 11:30am
Event: IEM Lunch and Learn
Topic: Social Media for Technology Professionals
Sponsor: Information Engineering Management
Venue: Hoover Library
Location: Hoover, AL 35244
Public: Public

097: Engineering Your Career – Turning Your Technology Skills into Bigger Cash [Podcast]

Do you have the technology skills, but feel left out of the leadership and decisions? Do you feel under appreciated? Is it as if all the important decisions go on with limited input from you – even when they are stupid decisions? How can you become part of the bigger conversation and get the bigger salaries to go with it? Do you need to do some engineering for your career?

Engineering Your Career - Turning Your Technology Skills into Bigger Cash

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Todays podcast is brought to you by Contactually. A great tool for managing all those social media and email contacts!


Have questions you want answered? I plan to start a Questions and Answers segment of this podcast soon. So here is how to ask YOUR questions!


Shoot me a Twitter or Facebook message with hashtag #COOQA.


Key Principles for Engineering Your Career

  • It isn’t about technology stupid
    • No one talks about a hammer. The hammer is the technology.
    • People care about the result of using the hammer.
  • Only those who get noticed get rewarded – The Janitorial Principle
    • You never notice a janitor unless they have done something wrong.
    • Key is to add value in natural ways.
  • Question the power – The power is not the answers you give – it is in the questions you ask.
    • What are we trying to accomplish here?
    • Why?
    • What does success look like?
    • What happens once we have success? What does that mean?
  • It is always about the people
    • team members
    • customers
    • leaders

What Can You Do Now to Engineer Your Career

1. Ask Better Questions – Who are the leaders and thought leaders. Seek out chances to ask them questions.
– What challenges are they facing?

The goal is to learn how your technical skills can solve their problems. But, you have to know about and really understand the underlying problem.

Often the problem being worked on is not the real problem. Recently I was working with a company who had a lot of effort in developing prototypes. But they needed to ask what the purpose of the prototype was. They needed to win over investors. Once a few questions were asked – they realized they needed less work to get in front of investors – at a savings of $200k.

2. Ask for Counsel  – Everyone likes to be asked for advice. Seek out thought leaders to get feedback on your issues. The result will be that you get into a discussion and will learn of bigger things going on around the company.

3. Make Meetings Count 
– Listen for the purpose of the meeting. The REAL purpose.
– Ask the “elephant in the room” question. You are not the only one who wants to know the answer.
– Ask the question behind the question – in other words – keep asking why.
– Example: A friend started paying attention to the purpose of the meetings that droned on all day. He started asking the obvious question. Before the meetings he would ask the purpose. Often with one phone call before the meeting, he solved the problem. The result was no meeting and a savings of wasted time. When he does find himself in a meeting, he asks about the desired outcome.  his simple questions of meeting purposes has him labeled as the get it done guy.

4. Bring People Together. Be the one who knows of the other technology people who should be at the table. They may be in the same company. I was working as a consultant for a large organization. A few rows over from where I was meeting was another team working on a significantly different problem. But – one of them knew me and knew I had expertise in their area. Soon I was brought in to help solve their problems. The real winner (for me and them) was the person who introduced me.

To do this – grow your network intentionally. How? Check out Networking for Introverts!

096: Doubt, Fear, and Indecision [Podcast]

Are you suffering from doubt, fear, and indecision? I am. In fact, I have been for some time. It is a dark and deep hole. I have been wondering where to go next. It is not a matter of work alone – it is much deeper. For the past few years I have even turned into a sorta hermit. I quit meeting and networking. I was just sick of it all. Everything seemed empty and hollow. Some of the steps I took I think actually prolonged the misery. I was burned out and bored with the entire game, so I just checked out. While we all struggle with these very feelings from time to time, staying here for a long period of time can result in depression, anxiety, and physical pain.

doubt, fear, and indecision

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5 Steps to Conquer Doubt, Fear, and Indecision

The kicker came when I tried to leave my mastermind group. They pursued me and would not leave me alone. I was irritated at first, but that lifeline has jerked my chain. I had to make some changes. So this post is about what I am doing now. I run into so many people who are struggling from the same issues where doubt, fear, and indecision are ruling their lives. I can sense it. Often it shows up first as boredom. Boredom is a dangerous place to be (more on that later).  So I wanted to share some steps I am taking now to get moving. They are helping – but it is very slow indeed.

  1. Break up the routine. Doing different things in different ways. You are in a rut, so break out of it in simple ways. Go to work a different route. Eat lunch at new places. Take up a new hobby.
  2. Take action. Even if you do not know exactly what you need to do next, you probably have some ideas. Take small actions. Make a weekly plan to do SOMETHING toward your likely new goal.
  3. Journal. Think. Meditate. Whatever you do to clear your mind, do more of it now. And if you do not journal – perhaps now is a good time to start. It helps you get thoughts onto paper and get clarity.
  4. Connect. Reach out and meet more people and ask for feedback and learn about their path. This goes with #1 above, you need to get new people in your life, at least for now.
  5. Get active. Dan Miller, author of 48 Days to the Work You Love, says when you lose your job, you need to double your time in the gym. Whatever you do, get moving and get active. If already active, get more active. It helps clear the head and helps you think.


 A note on Planning:
Planning is an awesome thing, but planning when you do not know where you are going is not productive. Imagine if you were going on vacation, and did not know where. Before you would start planning for the trip, you would decide the destination.  Plans depend on the desired destination. Do not stop and get caught up in planning when you have not decided where you are going.

Some other ideas:

  • Pray. I did not say this on the podcast – perhaps I just assume it. But wow, I should never assume. Pray. Ask for guidance.
  • Start a vision board. Find pictures that show the life you want to be living, and capture them and put them on a board. They can be places you want to live or travel or things you would like to own or do. Just a picture for what you would like life to become like. Your brain really connects to images – so give it some positive images.

Be at Hoover library for Information Engineering Managements first lunch and learn of the season! See you there.

Date: April 30, 2015
Time: 12:00 pm
Event: Engineering Your Career - Turning Your Technology Skills into Bigger Cash
Topic: Engineering Your Career - Turning Your Technology Skills into Bigger Cash
Venue: The Hoover Public Library
Location: 200 Municipal Lane
Hoover, AL 35216

095: Who You Spend Time With Is Who You Become [Podcast]

Do you like who you are when you are with your friends? Jim Rohn, business philosopher, says that we are the average of the five people we spend the most time with. I totally agree with this, and I have seen it modeled in my own life. If you look around, I am sure you see it in yours. But, who SHOULD you be spending your time with and who should you be avoiding? And how do you get around those people you want to be around?

Who you spend time with is who you become

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If Who You Spend Time With Is Who You Become  then …. Who Do You Want to Be Around

  • Child Test – Next time you are hanging with friends, ask yourself “would I want my kids (even if you do not have any) to be with these people?” If yes, you may have a winner. If no, then you need to ask yourself why you are not comfortable.
  • Encouragement Test – You want to be around people who encourage and motivate you. Not that they need to complement you constantly, but they somehow inspire you to be a better you. These people are often willing to call you out when you need it.
  • Model Test – Are they living the life you would like to be living. Something about them is admirable. Could be they are successful in your business field, or could be they are stronger Christian’s. Whatever it is, they model something you admire and want to be more like.
  • Reciprocity Test – This is not a one way relationship, you can add value to their lives. You do not want to be a user or a predator (see below) so you want to make sure you add something into their lives also. Even if these people are mentors, you need to have something to offer in return. It may be just friendship or allowing them to guide you and help you – but they need something from you just as you need from them.

Who Should You Avoid

It is nice to talk about who we want to spend time with  but who we should avoid is a tougher call – often because we are already heavily embedded with them. There have been times in my life when I looked up and realized I spent almost all of my time with the wrong people. One common way to realize this is that you find yourself doing things they do, and you do not like yourself for doing it.

This is a tough situation. So start with looking for why these people are the wrong people.

Note: Getting away from these people takes a lot of strength and courage, but the first step is identifying the problem.

Bad Influencers – This group can be full of fun and adventure – but in the end they are destructive.

  • The Drama Queen – This person is always in a drama. They often need you, and often at bad times, such as late at night.
  • The Deceiver – Mixed in with the drama king or queen is the deceiver. I do not mean people who tell you lies, that is likely all of us. I mean those who habitual twist the truth and deceive you. People who lie so often they begin to believe their own lies.

Predators – These kind of people drain you and your energy and motivation. Problem is, they are often people very close to us. I see many people who are dating in these destructive relationships.

Predators are often insecure and need you (or someone else) in order for them to feel important and needed. They can be hard to spot, and it is even worse if you are one.

  • The Controller – They often will manipulate you into spending time with them through guilt. They may want to even dominate you and your time when you are at a party or around others. Signs of this is they answer questions for you, or when someone else is talking to you, they come up and get in the conversation and turn it back to themselves.
  • Uses you – These people are all about them. They act like friends as long as they need something, but then they disappear until they need something again.
Negative Souls – Some people are not really bad but they are negative. They talk bad about people, often in a nice way making it hard to spot. They may assume the rich are evil, the poor deserve to be poor, or that people of other races are trouble and cannot be trusted.
More commonly, they are the ones who will complain about work, the boss, the company, and co-workers. Very likely, they are who you are having lunch with today.

How to Change Your Bad Influencer Network

1. Admit you cannot change them

Our first mistake is to think we can change someone. We see this most often when someone realizes they are dating the wrong person. They think “he or she is wonderful if they would only start….” and then they begin to justify it with all kinds of words.

– He/she is really a good person, just a little confused.

– He/she just needs to get away from their parents/friends/hometown and then they will be OK.

– He/she is really trying to change, it just takes time.

If you find yourself saying ANY of these things – look in the mirror and tell yourself you are now the deceiver. You are deceiving yourself and your friend. In fact, you might be part of the problem. They might change only when you get out of their life. They may need the wakeup call. You might be the bad influence. You might be their crutch. Either way, you have to take action to change you, not them.  


2. Add in the right people

The best way to get away from the wrong people is to replace them with the right people. Get involved in something else. Go where the people who you want to be go. The classic is men and women who hang out in bars hoping to meet Mr or Miss Right.

When you do add in the good, expect turmoil. You have gotten comfortable with the drama. And your destructive friends will often make it difficult.



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