Friday, September 28, 2007

Lessons in Entrepreneurial Success - Failure

In virtually every culture around the globe and at many socio-economic levels, owning a business remains a dream. And with that dream are hopes, fears, fantasies and illusions of what it is really like to start a business and run a company. Yet the promise of financial independence and the ability to be self-determining carries strong appeal. I know because Ive been an entrepreneur since I was 22 years old. I also had the opportunity of being a venture capitalist. It looks different on each side of that desk and here are some things I learned about failure that may help you succeed.

The process of beginning a business embodies the mysteries of birth and creation. How does it really begin? How do you make something happen? It requires a mind-set that simultaneously holds opposites of what isnt and what could be as possible realities. In the earliest stages, one has to believe fervently and work tirelessly toward something that does not yet exist.

A business is not just an activity. Golf is an activity. A business must produce something of value. It must create something that someone, somewhere, somehow will pay to have. This sounds obvious to state, but is often overlooked: business is about creating value. And the personal satisfaction or intangible value derived by the owner is in many ways incidental. The value must manifest in terms of products and services generating revenues and profits, as well as benefits to customers and stakeholders.

Why do some businesses succeed and other seemingly similar companies often fail? The recipe for success is unknown, but the secrets are in the details. And the attitude of the entrepreneur may be the most important ingredient.

Any business is truly a series of secrets. Those secrets are discovered through a series of experiments. Sometimes entrepreneurs complain that business is difficult. One can consider it to be hard or recognize that if it were that easy or obvious, everyone would be doing and there would be very little opportunity for you. Try to keep in mind that you want to create a mindset that empowers you. The extent to which you think it is difficult, will correspond to the amount of struggle and suffering you undergo. Instead try to create an attitude of Its just a game or Im curious how this can work. You will enjoy it more and probably get better results more quickly.

An experienced entrepreneur is like an experienced scientist who designs the experiments recognizing the probability of failure, and in fact, the necessity of it. The design of these experiments can have a rapid prototyping effect for failing fast and often. By performing experiments with clear measurements for monitoring empirical data can get the team closer to those secrets.

Most of us do not want to fail. Ever. From childhood, were taught that its bad, even shameful. This is a young conversation that needs to shift if you want to ultimately reach your vision. It doesnt empower anyone and its not helpful.

So, you have to be willing to fail. Entrepreneurs who expect not to fail are going to be in trouble. Those who dont have an emotional context for failure and those who feel very badly when early experiments dont work out, are going to suffer a lot. And it may even jeopardize their chances of ultimate success. Not only do you need to fail fast and fail often, you dont have time to feel bad about it. You have to reframe failure so that its not bad and it doesnt mean anything other than you are that much closer to the next secret.

How many times did Thomas Edison fail to create electric light bulb? At last, when those experiments start to succeed, its time to capture it. Be observant enough to recognize when its working. Then those successes must be developed into systems that produce predictable and profitable, scalable results. These results are the wins that entrepreneurs and investors alike are searching for in their ventures.

Always, the entrepreneurial team needs to be asking themselves whats the most important thing to do next? Where can we get the best results? What will move us closer to our next goals?

Planning is the lifeblood of young businesses. Companies must develop plans for each and every aspect of their business, while maintaining tremendous flexibility. These plans need to be tested and assessed. You even need to plan for failure. (Not plan to fail, but plan to know when you are failing, when to stop, and what to do to get back on track.) The strategies, failures, and successes need to be continually evaluated. Assumptions need to be identified and questioned. Results need to be analyzed. Thats how companies learn and grow. Thats how they uncover their business secrets.

In the process of uncovering these secrets, young companies and their leaders need to find or create a support structure. You may even fail in that. If you are failing to find support, you need to rethink your vision. Do you believe in what you are doing? Why or why not? Tell the truth. Entrepreneurs need to answer the question, Who is going to be passionate about your company and why? With so many innovative and high potential companies, entrepreneurs soon realize that their business vision has to be compelling in order to attract and keep customers. It has to be exciting enough to motivate investors. It has to be promising to attract good management. If you are not getting the support and involvement, consider restating your vision and mission. What part of you is not sure? Why are you really doing this? What difference does it make to whom? Why is it important that it succeed? Why does the world need this?

Ultimately, its not about your secret sauce. Its about leadership. Its about you. And you are the only element in this equation that is truly within your control. While a proprietary technology or methodology is exciting, it takes more than this to make a companys vision compelling. Remember, it has to really matter to someone. And you have to be able to speak this vision as the leader. Then it takes well-defined strategies that can be executed by mature leadership to build a solid company and generate shareholder value.

Remember to look at Reality. The Real Reality, not the one you want to happen, thats called denial. You have to know that you dont know. Hypothesize and test results. Constantly create your Plan. Test the Plan. What happened? Okay, now modify the Plan. Test the Plan. Adjust and improve. Build your strategies and tactics. This is the process of developing a business and its thrilling to see the results. Be courageous.

So what if its never really easy. It can be the most exciting journey of your life.

Rebel Holiday has 25 years experience establishing and developing companies. At age 22 she started her first company on the proverbial shoestring and built it into a successful business in just a couple years. She originally began speaking to share her business ideas. Now a professional speaker, Ms. Holiday has presented to hundreds of diverse audiences in corporations and associations internationally, traveling to 43 countries. She assisted over 200 entrepreneurial companies launch with early-stage venture funds in the Washington D.C. Metro area. Ms. Holiday has taught classes on topics related to entrepreneurship and business to graduate students in MBA programs at American University, Georgetown University, Massachusetts Institute for Technology (MIT) and University of Maryland.

She now works with companies through Emergence Growth Consulting, Inc. and

She passionately maintains that conscious entrepreneurship, intentionality and collaboration can shift the quality of life on our planet.

US Stock Market - Investment Opportunities

The US stock market has a long history dotted with a lot of ups and downs. The stock market is made up of two exchanges - the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) and the National Association of Securities Dealers Automated Quotations system (NASDAQ).

More then a century and a half have passed since New York Stock Exchange was established which has the highest volume of stocks traded in the world in terms of dollar.It comes second if we compare it based on volume,NASDAQ being the first which is another exchange in US stock market.NYSE has got the highest market capitalization in the world running into trillions of dollars.

A common stock holder can easily trade his or her stocks by buying and selling them at the United States Stock Market. They can trade them electronically at both exchanges or on the trading floor at the New York Stock Exchanges. However, direct trading on the floor is only available for members or "seat owners". These seats are highly prized as there is a limited number. To own a seat, you must pay a fee, currently valued at 4 million dollars.

An index of stocks reflects the general trend in the prices of stocks. Each major stock exchange has an index constructed from the prices of significant stocks that are quoted and traded in the exchange. The NASDAQ index, the Dow Jones index and the S&P index are the three most important indices in the US. These indices are further enlarged to include stocks of all major sectors in order to indicate sector wise trends.

Stock exchanges use stock symbols for denoting the stocks. These are essentially short forms of the company names. You can easily look up the history, current quotes and trends of any company from the stock exchange websites if you know the symbol.

The stock market history of US is interesting as well as informative. Year 1929 has significant marking in the long history. The year witnessed worst crash. Black Tuesday a day when largest amount of stock sale was settled in a day; is noted as worst day in the history of US stock market. The magnitude of the crash was such that it caused a loss of more than $100 million of investors' assets. This amount is equivalent of several hundred times more in today's value of currency.

Now a days people, who do not have the expertise to manage their own investments, have several avenues available to invest their spare money. Such avenues are invest stocks and mutual fund organizations. Even though these companies manage their investments professionally, one should be aware that all of them are not equally good. One should make their own research before investing through any of these avenues. Hence if you have some money to spare, it would be a wise idea to invest stocks.

There are several avenues available for people who may not have the expertise to manage their own investments. These include invest stocks and mutual fund companies. The us stock market offers a convenient means by which a common stock holder can trade in stocks, by easily buying and selling them. Such trading is done electronically in both exchanges, and also on the trading floor in the case of the NYSE. Stock exchange has an index in order to know the general trend of the individual stock price movement. In order to denote the stocks, stock exchanges use stock symbols.

Eat Your Carbs, They're Good for You!

You may think after all of the talk lately about carb reduction that you need to avoid eating carbohydrates. But the exact opposite is the case. The kinds of carbohydrates you get from fruits and vegetables are a necessary basis of your daily diet. Instead of helping you pack on the pounds, they actually help you to burn fat. They are also a major source of fuel for your body, especially your muscles, brain and nervous system.

Carbs occur in two types: simple and complex. They are broken down into glucose, or blood sugar, which is metabolized by your body for energy. Glucose not immediately used by you is stored in your muscles as glycogen, but if your body has an excess of glycogen, it is converted into fat. However, because carbs prime your metabolism, you need them in order to burn fat. This is one of the major reasons you must not starve yourself and eat too few carbs. You must eat a good intake of complex carbs, such as those found in fruits and veggies.

Simple carbs, such as those found in candies and sweets, and also fruit, are turned into glucose quickly. These are the kind which can add to your weight problem. Complex carbs, such as those found in brown rice, veggies, legumes (peas, beans and lentils), and whole grains breads and cereals are digested and thus used at a much slower rate, giving your body time to prime its metabolism.

There are four calories in each and every gram of carbohydrate. Nutritionists say that 50% of your diet should consist of complex carbs. Simple carbs are high in calories but low in vitamins and minerals. These are the so-called empty calories that you find in sodas, deserts and other such sweets, and to some extent in fruits -- especially fruit juices and fruit juice drinks. You should be getting your major carb intake from whole fruits, whole grains and vegetables.

Good high carb veggies are peas, peppers, pumpkin, radishes, spinach, squash, succotash, sweet potatoes, tomatoes and turnips. Succotash, sweet potatoes and green cooked peas are the highest in carbs. You need several servings per day of complex carb foods such as these to maintain your energy levels and keep you from getting those sluggish feelings that make you feel sick and tired.

By eating five or more servings of fruits and vegetables every day, you will be boosting your health through better carb consumption. The National Cancer Institute recommends that you have fruit juice -- or better yet fresh fruit every day for breakfast. You should have a fresh fruit or vegetable snack every day. You need to stock up on dried, frozen and canned fruits and veggies. You must make these foods visible and easy to access throughout your daily routine. And you have to sample the delicious spectrum when it comes to the many different colors and varieties of fruits and vegetables.

You will get your five a day if you eat one cup of dark, leafy greens, one half cup of red tomatoes, one half cup of yellow peppers, six ounces of orange juice and one half cup of blueberries. This is only one example of how you can consume five a day of fruits and vegetables to keep your complex carb ratio up. Please notice this includes only one serving of fruit juice. Various nutrition experts state that you should eat whole, fresh fruits more often than drinking fruit juice, which keeps those simple sugars from adding to your weight problem.

This is because simple sugars are more concentrated in fruit juices than in whole fruits. You should eat at least two cups of fruit a day, in a variety of fresh choices, such as one small banana, one large orange and one quarter cup of fresh or canned apricots or peaches. Also, eating fresh fruit adds more fiber to your diet and helps flush toxins from your system better than only drinking fruit juice does.

You should also eat plenty of dark, leafy green veggies, which are among the best foods for you. Eat broccoli and kale, as well as mustard greens and spinach. Also, you should eat orange veggies such as carrots, sweet potatoes, pumpkin and winter squash. For peas and beans, among the best are pinto beans, kidney beans, black beans, garbanzo beans, split peas and lentils. Foods such as these are extremely healthy, low in fat, and terrific for raising your energy levels.

Eating fruits and veggies will also greater lower your risk for cancer. Researchers at the Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University have made top ten lists of the best antioxidant (anti-cancer) fruits and vegetables. Here are some of the most antioxidant members of the fruit and vegetable families of foods:

1)Fruits: prunes, raisins, blueberries, blackberries, strawberries, raspberries, plums, oranges, red grapes and cherries

2)Veggies: kale, spinach, Brussels sprouts, alfalfa sprouts, broccoli, beets, red bell peppers, onions, corn and eggplant

While the average American seldom gets as much as two servings of these good foods per day, nutrition experts say that five to seven servings a day need to become a staple of the ordinary American diet. You can easily sneak these into your familys eating patterns. Try serving raw veggies at every meal, and take advantage of packaged, prepared veggies. Put veggies into your breakfast and lunch, and start each family dinner with a mixed green salad. Serve a salad entre dish once per week, fill your spaghetti sauce with vegetables, and begin ordering a weekly pizza with an extra serving of healthy vegetables.

If we were to eat more veggies and fewer processed foods, we as a country would lose weight, clean out our clogged arteries, balance our blood sugar and shut down a large number of hospitals in the process. This would roughly solve Americas growing health and obesity problems in a nutshell.

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Real Estate Investing - Time Is Money

Which sounds better to you? An investment in the stock of a company upon whose management you will have to depend not to cheat, lie, steal, or simply be ineffective in marketing their product or service, in a stock market which is hysterically sensitive to the fluctuations of world events over which you have no control?

Or an investment in a piece of real estate in which you may be able to live, or rent to someone else for income, or simply go an walk around on, knowing that you have purchased something over which you are in control about which you can make all the decisions?

Land ownership had, until the twentieth century, been the measure of a mans character. As archaic and unfair as that practice may now seem, land is a limited commodity without which no other business can function, and which has inevitably increased in value for those who remain patient. While millions of people have turned to the stock market as a way of growing their assets, real estate investing, for a longer period of time, has proven itself the much safer way to accumulate wealth.

The New Era Of Real Estate Investing
Up until the 1960s, in fact, real estate investing was the exclusive domain of the very wealthy and international conglomerates that had the financial substance to purchase and develop land for commercial uses like industrial parks and shopping centers. But today, with the arrival of the Real Estate Investment Trust, or REIT, the small investor can join with many other small investors and experience the benefits of real estate investing without ever having title to a single piece of property.

The secret to succeeding in real estate investing is to do it with OPM, or Other Peoples Money. You leverage a little of your own money with a lot more of someone elses. And you can buy more property than you would ever be able to afford on your own. Your risk is much lower, and your chances of profiting are much higher.

Leverage Vs. Margin
Leverage is to real estate investing what margin is to the stock market, but without the volatility. Stock market trading has violent swings on a daily or even hourly basis, but the pace of change in real estate prices is seldom above a crawl.

For those in real estate investing to see their portfolio values rise ten percent in a year is an almost unheard of event; but on the other hand, while the gains from real estate investing be small, they almost never become losses. Those who can get into real estate investing when everyone else is getting out, as is happening now in the housing market, and who can stay invested over time, are looking at the chance of an investing lifetime.

You can also find more info on Real Estate For Sale and Real Estate Investing. is a comprehensive resource to get information about Real Estate.

Have a Blast Visiting Central Park, New York

When going on a tourist trip to New York, the sheer amount of things to tick off the list seems staggering, especially in terms of places to go. The Empire State Building, the Statue of Liberty, perhaps taking a visit to watch stockbrokers yelling at each other on the trading floors of the New York Stock Exchange - it all adds up. So why not take a break by visiting Central Park to recharge your batteries?

The mere concept of Central Park is quite amazing - a landscaped park area, measuring 843 acres (twice as large as Monaco and eight times as big as Vatican city), the park lies slap-bang in the centre of the borough of Manhattan - one of the most expensive property areas in the world, second only to central Tokyo. The value of the land Central Park occupies is estimated at nearly $529 billion, making it by far the most expensive area of parkland in the world.

Whilst much of the area looks like natural wooded grassland, the entire park is in fact painstakingly and exquisitely landscaped. The park contains many attractions, including several natural lakes with fondly-given nicknames, many walking trails, a wildlife sanctuary, a large open area devoted to sporting pursuits, two ice-skating rinks and many playgrounds for children. Additionally, the area is hugely popular with native New York joggers, being the only open area for miles across the Manhattan borough.

Many professional races are run in and through the park, including sections of the New York Marathon. This finishes inside Central Park next to Tavern on the Green, an extremely famous restaurant that's featured in such films as Wall Street and Ghostbusters.

But sport is not the only activity for which Central Park is most cherished - entertainment is also very high up the list, with many famous music acts having performed concerts there throughout the years, including legendary performances from Simon and Garfunkel and Dave Matthews Band.

Central Park has it's own fair share of talent and celebrity too - local folk singer/songwriter David Ippolito, more often known by his usual moniker of "That Guitar Guy From Central Park", has been regularly performing every summer weekend in the park since 1992 and regularly draws crowds of up to 500 people, locals and tourists alike. In fact, such is his love for Central Park, it is the only place he ever performs.

So when you're on holiday, take a little time off from the clamour of Fifth Avenue and Times Square. You'll be able to find a range of hotels near Central Park from which you'll be able to access the area's tranquillity with ease and spend some quiet time revelling in the more laidback side of the hectic Big Apple lifestyle.

Adam Singleton is an online, freelance journalist and keen amateur photographer. His portfolio, called Capquest Photography is available to view online.

Enhance Gains With Timing Diversification

As we have written so many times, "market timing is the following of a long term strategy to profit from the financial markets, that also protects us from the inevitable down trends that occur along the way."

Many investors, who understand the potential of market timing, pay little attention to the potential of diversification. Many novice market timers jump right into an aggressive timing strategy with little thought about how they will handle a period of losing buy and sell signals.

But there is a way to jump right in, and also realize the long-term potential of even the most aggressive strategies. It does require a bit more work, but not all that much. Just a few minutes a day to check for changes and make adjustments.

Aggressive Market Timers Can Benefit

Many market timers already follow well-defined investment plans that include diversification. But as we just discussed above, some do not.

If you are one of those who do not... consider changing. Diversification is not only for those who are afraid of volatility. It has an important place in even the most aggressive of portfolios.

We have been market timing since the early 1980s and although we are quite aggressive, we diversify our timing funds, not just for safety, but also to "enhance" our profit potential.

Those who follow our Bull & Bear Pro Timer strategy will make a great deal of profit over long time frames. Because the markets tend to trend most of the time and the aggressive strategies will catch all trends in "both" directions.

But non-trending markets can be quite frustrating, and aggressive market timers in our experience, become frustrated more quickly than most.

Aggressive timers.... try this strategy: Use the Bull & Bear Pro Timer strategy for 20% and no more than 30% of your timing portfolio. Use the Sector Fund Strategy for the other 70% to 80%.

Although the sector funds go to cash on sell signals, these industry specific funds are big winners when they trend. Often they will trend much further, by 100% to 200%, than the rest of the market.

When the bear growls, you will have 20-30% of your portfolio profiting on the short side, plus those sector funds that are hot even during a bear market (there are always some).

You will make money, but have only a small percentage of your timing portfolio at risk.

During a bull market, you will be fully invested most of the time, except in those few industry sectors that are not doing well.

Diversified portfolios have a dramatic effect in controlling volatility and drawdowns. Yet they can be extremely profitable over time. The best of all worlds.

Even Conservative Investors / Market Timers Can Benefit

Those conservative market timers who are willing to devote at least a little extra time, can enhance their profits by adding the Sector Timer strategy as a percentage of their timing portfolio.

Being conservative does not mean you cannot be active. Using the Conservative Timer strategy will always do well over the years because it is designed for long trending markets, and makes changes infrequently.

But if you used it as a base for your timing portfolio, say for 50% to 60% of it, you can easily be more active with the other 40% to 50%, and still be well within the guidelines of "conservative" investing.

Again we suggest using the Sector timer. In this case "because" it goes to cash during sell signals, and because it follows a diversified strategy of its own (multiple positions are always used), it can add considerably to your profit potential (sectors tend to trend longer and higher during bull markets). Another possibility is using the Sector Timer for 33% of your timing portfolio, Small Cap Timer for 33% and Bond Timer for 33%. This will create an excellent diversified portfolio for solid gains over the years.

An even more conservative yet simple portfolio might be a your core timing account stays in the Conservative Timer strategy with 70% allocated, plus 10% for the Bull & Bear Pro Timer (or Bull Pro Timer) strategy, 10% for the Bond Timer strategy and 10% for the Small Cap Timer strategy. This will cover most bases, and yet still offer an additional level of safety.

There are many variations that you can come up with using the various strategies and this is something we recommend. Any work that adds diversification will add stability to your investment portfolio.


Consider at least some diversification for your market timing funds.

We mention the Sector Timer in several the diversification scenarios above. This is because it is "already" well diversified (at least eight sectors, if not all, should be used), yet has the tremendous profit potential inherent in industry specific funds (sector funds usually trend farther, percentage wise, than the general market).

Diversification can dramatically help control volatility and drawdowns.

Diversification, when properly applied to your portfolio, will actually enhance your profit potential over time.