Thursday, February 24, 2011

My Unfounded Economic Predictions

As I watch all the "experts" predict everything from the price of oil to the growth of the economy, I am reminded of how often they are wrong. In June, 2008, the experts predicted that oil was going to hit $200/barrel. Six months later it was around $35. In 2001, the experts predicted the Dow Jones Industrials to hit 20,000. It is still in the11k to 12k range today.

As it turns out, you don't have to be right to make predictions. In fact, you can just blurt out some outrageous statement in the hopes that it will turn out that way and you will be hailed at a seer. So in my hopes of meeting Oprah (and her subsequently buying me a car), I thought I would make some wild predictions as well. It is important to put these things down in writing so there is proof that I made the prediction beforehand. Then if it comes true, I can hit pay-dirt.

1. China will have a civil war and drop back behind Japan in terms of GDP.
2. Osama Bin Laden will be found hiding in a Super 8 in Ohio watching pay-per-view wrestling.
3. The price of gold will drop below $1,000/oz. as the economy recovers.
4. Upon the death of Fidel Castro, a huge influx of American investments will turn the country into a Caribbean Vegas.
5. The next bubble will be in apartment construction.
6. 3D Televisions will not sell well. In 2013, they will cease to make them.
7. Apple Computer will buy Microsoft.
8. Microsoft will accidentally buy a part of itself that it already owns.
9. Out of the Middle East turmoil, a true leader will emerge who focuses on ending hunger and suffering of his people.
10. We will find a path to cold fusion which will change the political dynamics of the world much the same way that finding oil in the Saudi Desert did 70 years ago.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

If I Were To Write A Book

First, I don't presume to be able to write a book. I don't have the dedication to finish a writing project of that size. Furthermore, I am not so full of myself that I would think that in writing a business book, anyone would want to read it. Of the thousands of business books written each year, only a few are worthwhile. There is a reason for that: business books are dull.

To do a good business book you almost have to make it a simple story such as Who Moved My Cheese or something like that. Most business books sit unsold in warehouses.

However, if I were to write a business book, I would say the following:

1. Entrepreneurship is not something you can just pickup when you are laid off. You need to prepare for years to get it right. Many think the road to riches lies with their first business. It doesn't with the exception of a just a few businesses, it isn't until the 2nd or 3rd do you actually make money. Just because you did well as a manager in a big company, doesn't mean you have the tools to start up a small business.

2. The ability to raise capital is huge. If you cannot raise debt or equity financing, you will starve for cash quickly.

3. If you cannot sell, you shouldn't try to be an entrepreneur. Selling helps with raising capital, getting customers, hiring good employees, and leading others. I would put selling at the top of the list for a startup business. Of all my businesses, the biggest issue has always been revenue growth. Handling costs, employees, government red tape or even product delivery is easy by comparison.

4. Whatever your business plan says, you are wrong. I have yet to see a business plan be right. Period. Costs are always higher and revenues are always lower. Never trust what your numbers are until they are real.

5. Listen to others, but believe in yourself. You will hear every expert in the world tell you that you can or cannot do something. Of course, they are nowhere  to be found when the chips are down. Listen to them and add it to your base of knowledge, but ultimately you need to depend on yourself and what you believe. Don't let them talk you into or out of doing something.

6. Nothing pays off like hard work. If you think that owning your own business involves a lot of free time and traveling, think again. You will need to do more work for less pay than any of your employees, at least at the beginning. After the business is successful, you will have plenty of time for relaxing. But don't go into this thing thinking you can have weekends and evenings off.

7. Once  you get the business running right, your next job will be to get yourself out of the day-to-day business. If you are stuck in the day to day running of the business one year after starting, then you aren't doing your job right. Ultimately, you should be replaced by employees.

8. Finally, once you are successful, you should stay paranoid. Success breeds complacency. Staying paranoid keeps you sharp and increases your energy.