Pursuing your passions

Archive for the ‘Starting a Business’ Category

Who is the Drives Doctor?


If you do not work in manufacturing, you may not know what a drive control system is, but Lyle Eveleigh knows. He is what is known in the field as a trouble shooter. Some even call him the “Drives Doctor,” because of his remarkable ability to solve the most intractable of problems in their drive control systems.

Pipe Laying Barge in the South China Sea

He got his foundation in the field beginning with his 8.5 years of service in the United States Army. He held various roles working with electronics, including training other servicemen, before he returned to civilian in 1967. Then he went to work for WER Industrial Corporation. He worked for them on and off during which time they were bought out by Emerson Electric Corporation. He left in 1980 to work for Crown Zellerbach as they were setting up a new plant and he settled in Orange, Texas.

He formed MNE Enterprises after his father passed away in 1984. The initials MNE stand for his father’s name, Malcolm Nathaniel Eveleigh. He started out developing custom small business accounting programs using personal computers, just as they were becoming affordable. Eventually, Emerson would have their customers send their repair work to him, so he set up a small shop and had one guy working for him full-time.

His business developed into a computer store, then two computer stores and a motor shop. He had 13 employees at one point in time. But he was spreading himself too thin, he still worked full-time for Crown Zellerbach, in addition to this burgeoning business.

Then prices for computers really began to drop, and large stores were able to get their computers on consignment and have them replaced by the manufacturer when newer models came out. It was a real challenge to keep pace with the changing market. He had to keep buying all the latest models to have on display, and then when the newer, better, cheaper models came out, it was impossible to get rid of the older models.

Around this time pre-packaged software programs started began to appear, so this ate into that part of his business, since his custom work was more costly than customers were willing to pay. On top of all that, the motor shop he had bought included several employees who needed supervision that he was unable to provide, along with all the other elements of his business that needed to be addressed.

He had to scale back, so he focused on what he knew best, the drives business. He still kept a few employees, for a while.

Extrusion Thermoforming Line

“The biggest problem is that it is a highly technical business. If you have contracts with the drives systems companies, they hire you because they know you, and they know your work,” Lyle says. “If the company begins to rely on your employees, they can easily go off on their own, once you have trained them.”

Because of the costs of training employees, and the time and energy involved, along with the risk of losing them after all that, he has scaled back to a one man operation.

“You have to be flexible and nimble,” he says, “and you can’t be dumb, dumb can lead to disaster.”

Lyle F Eveleigh on LinkedIn

He is a one man operation, but he is training a protege. My son, Xenos Montalalou is apprenticing with him. The Drives Doctor is my Dad.

A Fork in the Road


Mark and baby2

In 2005 Mark Pogodzinski had several published short stories under his belt, so he was able to land an agent who helped him find a book publisher. But when they sent the copy of his book back, he found they had changed the ending, and he did not like it. He chose not to sign the contract.

A few years later, after researching the technologies and other aspects of the publishing business, he opened his own company, No Frills Buffalo/Amelia Press. That was in 2011 and since then, he has published thirty books. They have moved well over 10,000 copies.

Not Just a Business, A Way of Life

For Mark, this business grew out of principles and beliefs in what matters. He believes in Community over Corporations. “Everyone should have a chance to be published,” he says, “we’re going to work with you to produce the best book possible.”

To that end, he works with independent contractors to develop the design, cover, publicity, book trailers and everything your book needs to find its market. If you have a book written, he will produce proofs for you to see how your book would look in print, and if you like it you can buy it, if not, it costs you nothing.

He brought his son, who is five months old, with him to our meeting.

Mark and baby

His wife is an amateur photographer who can produce photos if you need them for your book, but essentially, Mark runs the business himself. As far as the books’ production, they are an on-demand press, so everything is on a thumb drive and you produce only as many, and pay for only as many, books as you need. This is far different than the “vanity presses” of the old days, where you had to buy 3500 to 5000 books and then hope you could sell them.

They sell through local independent book stores, as well as larger chains and online retailers, such as Amazon. They work with authors from anywhere and sell all over the world.

If you were to write a book, what would it be about? Post your comments below!

 

Financial Healing Anyone?


Christine head shot 2012

While Christine Mathieu is known as a True Wealth Strategist for Divorced Women, she strikes me as being a Financial Healer. She spent over 20 years as a traditional Financial Advisor. Then, when the financial crisis hit in 2008, she witnessed a profound shift in the focus of her work. Clients, who had been asking her about specific investment options, began talking to her about their emotional response to the events that were unfolding at that time.

Her own work with a Life Coach helped her make the shift necessary to be of service to her clients in their time of need. She became trained and licensed inFinancial Life Planning® to help transition her skills as she plugged in her own personal experiences to develop her signature program, “Financial First Aid for Divorced for Women.”

Thatmoneygirl image

Christine went to work setting up her blog www.thatmoneygirl.com, writing her book, “From Wisdom to Wealth” and positioning herself to launch her own business, which she did in 2011. The Mathieu Center for Financial Wholeness in East Aurora NY also has a web site, www.mathieucenter.com

From_Wisdom_to_Wealt_Cover_for_Kindle

If you would like to find out what she does and how she does it, she offers free of charge, True Wealth Consultations and talks to groups and organizations! The talk can be adapted to a 30 to 45 minute schedule, depending on the group, and promises to deliver transformational value to everyone who attends.

And who doesn’t need financial healing?

Do you know other business owners who have made similarly powerful shifts? Do you have a story of personal transformation that you would like to share? Are you looking to make a similar shift in your own life? Contact me!

Link

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Starting a Business: Free and Low Cost Resources


If you are considering starting a business two of the best free resources in the United States are the US Small Business Administration and the Senior Corps of Retired Executives.

The US Small Business Administration has loads of free content on their web site. In addition, they have Small Business Development Centers located in many colleges and universities throughout the country and they have many Women’s Business Centers, which focus specifically on helping women start and succeed in business. You can find information on government contracting, writing a business plan and many more topics through them.

The Senior Corps of Retired Executives are individuals who have owned a business and are willing to mentor business owners. You will have to have a fairly clear idea what you want to do, so they can match you with someone who has business experience that is relevant to helping you achieve your goals. You are getting the benefit of one-on-one guidance, which could make a huge difference in getting you over some of the early obstacles and pitfalls of establishing your business.

An often overlooked resource is your local library. You are more likely to find a small business database in a central regional library, but you should ask your librarian. It is truly amazing how helpful librarians can be, and how much information is readily available if you just take the time to ask them.

A Small Price

For a reasonable membership fee you can find a local business association in your area, or perhaps in your field of interest, or even your local Chamber of Commerce. These groups may have networking events you can attend prior to joining, to get a feel for whether it would make a good fit for your needs as you establish your business. In this case you will want to be prepared for how you wish to present yourself. Are you a community member who is considering starting a business in a particular field, or have you launched and now you are looking for clients?

Guinea Pig, Anyone?

Still another avenue for obtaining assistance with starting or growing your business is to approach a local Business School, College or University. Perhaps the marketing class needs a project to work on, why not your business’s marketing plan? You can always take or leave their input, but chances are you will learn something you would not have otherwise, and you are helping the students get a handle on real world challenges. This could be a win-win situation with long term advantages. You may even find some future employees or business partners.

Why Entrepreneurship? Why Now?


In a shifting and changing economic landscape employment is not such a secure strategy. Risk is a relative term that is often applied to entrepreneurship or self-employment. But that grew out of a context where labor unions were strong and growing. The idea of job security was more than a bad joke. Many large employers offered substantial benefits.

Those days are gone.

The Real Economic Risk

The economic reality we face is that the trend in large corporations has been toward off-shoring and outsourcing labor. The drive for quarterly returns makes their decision-making short-sighted. Long-term visions are only an illusion in that context.

Most of us cannot afford to hang our dreams on such illusions. The truth is there are very few corporate jobs and they are much more INSECURE than we used to believe them to be. We have to create our own stability and security.

It takes more work, some confidence, and solid information to create your own stability. But pursuing your own vision is well worth the challenge.

Welcome to the world of entrepreneurs!

Being an entrepreneur does not require that you invent anything wildly unique, necessarily. You do not have to be an engineering genius, or a master chef, or even do everything on your own! You can ask others for and get help from others. You could even form a cooperative business model.

The only limitations on going into business are the limits of your imagination, and, perhaps, the laws of your locality.

What is required is a lot of reflection, self-assessment and analysis. You have to look within as much as you look at the data in your market; maybe even more than you look at outside information.

Entrepreneurism requires the courage of your convictions. You have to  be strong enough to keep going when you hit the inevitable bumps in the road.

Why Not Start Small?

On the other hand, you do not have to go all in right away. It is not necessary to quit your job to get started. It may be wiser not to, until you reach the point of consistently replacing that income.

However, if you have a lump sum that you can fund your lifestyle and your startup with, it may build momentum faster because you can focus more time and energy into getting it going. Building slowly has the advantage of not straining your capacity to fulfill your obligations to your customers, one reason some businesses fail.

My next post is going to discuss some resources you can use to help you pursue your passions.

Questions? Thoughts? Suggestions? Feedback? Please comment below!

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