Lessons I Learned Today 6/11/09 – Leverage; Ben Franklin to Breast Milk

This is a digest and recap of highlights, quotes, and comments from articles and discussions posted on this date on the Applied Entrepreneurship, LinkedIn group site.


*Why Benjamin Franklin Was a Better Entrepreneur Than You by Matt D Walker

“As Benjamin Franklin said: Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.”

This quote could probably be interpreted in many different ways, but the one way that I see most fit for this article is going to be with entrepreneurship versus being an employee.”

“The difference between employees and entrepreneurs is staggering. Everything from money management, shopping trends, to problem resolution and beyond. What really makes the difference between an employee and an entrepreneur is simple. It simply boils down to time management, and entrepreneurs know that in order to get something better than what they have, something else must be given. For some, it’s money, for others, it’s time. This is definitely the determining factor.”

“Many entrepreneurs start a traditional business and end up creating a job for themselves.”

“Leverage is essential to any business, and with leverage, you can gain time freedom and still earn income needed to support time freedom and retirement. One of the best business models for leverage is network marketing.”


*It Takes a Village to Run a Successful Business – Don’t Go it Alone by Lisa Montanaro

“Imagine a group of people that are available to bounce business ideas off of, to help you make pivotal business decisions, and to serve as a sounding board. Major corporations have a Board of Directors. Non-profits have a Board of Trustees. Why can’t the solopreneur or small business owner too? You can! How? By developing a Board of Advisors for your business.”

“Be careful not to include anyone on your Board of Advisors that pushes your buttons, saps your energy, or is competitive. In addition, try not to surround yourself only with “yes” men and women who nod approvingly at everything you do, and never challenge you or hold you accountable. You want members that challenge you to stretch your entrepreneurial muscles.”

“Do not confuse your Board of Advisors with your official team of advisors. Your team of advisors is usually made up of people that you retain to assist you with certain aspects of your business operations, such as a lawyer, accountant, graphic designer, webmaster, etc. These are paid professionals that you hire to provide services to your company, as opposed to an individual that is voluntarily providing assistance to you and your business.”

“A Board of Advisors can push you when you need a nudge, lift you up when you lose focus or faith, and help to keep you on track.”


*Overcoming the Fundamental Obstacle to Entrepreneurship by John Vespasian

“Starting anything new entails risks and demands dedication. Irrespective of the technical difficulties of your chosen endeavour, nothing can be compared to the level of commitment required to get a new business off the ground. The sheer number of different tasks that entrepreneurs must perform, from product development to marketing, is overwhelming.”

“On the other hand, entrepreneurship possesses three characteristics that render it uniquely inviting and reassuring. No other human activity offers these advantages to its practitioners. It is regrettable that many men and women graduate from their studies without knowledge of these facts:”




“The fear of being unable to achieve enough sales is what blocks 99% of those who entertain the idea of becoming entrepreneurs. Other obstacles pale in comparison to this one. If you succeed in getting over this initial hurdle, chances are that your business will be able to face whatever problems might come your way.”

“Start small, try different things, see what works and what doesn’t. Learn from mistakes, don’t be discouraged, and ignore malevolent criticism. Take limited risks, follow market signals, be persistent, and you will eventually get it right.”


*Why 99% of Entrepreneurs Fail: Because they don’t do anything by Jessica Mah

“Many of you have had the pride and joy of thinking that you know the next billion dollar idea. For scholars, a similar feeling is found when you come to a philosophical epiphany. The high is so great, that it’s difficult to get your mind onto anything else.”

“There are three types of amateur entrepreneurs out there, and in my young life, I’ve been every single one of them. By coming to terms with my failures, I’m more prepared to classify which type of amateur entrepreneur I am, and thus preventing myself from failing in the same way again.”

Type 1 Amateur Entrepreneur: All ideas, no implementation.

  • Type 2 Amateur Entrepreneur: Lots of ideas and half assed implementations.
  • Type 3 Amateur Entrepreneur: Lots of ideas, lots of implementations, and absolutely no focus.

“Everyone is “working” on a project, but 99% of self-proclaimed entrepreneurs fit into one of the three profiles above. If you’ve thought of the next billion dollar idea, please refrain yourself from being an amateur entrepreneur. If you find yourself as being an amateur entrepreneur, it’s not too late to change. Pick one idea that you’re passionate about, and whole-heartedley follow through with your implementation.”


*Fair Trade importer Alter Eco cultivates growth by Lindsay Riddell

“Alter Eco Americas is bringing Fair Trade and organic goods from across the world to U.S. grocery stores while trying to make a dent in global poverty. The startup has more than quadrupled its revenue over three years to $1.5 million in 2008 by landing distribution for products such as quinoa and jasmine rice in major grocery chains. One grocer that carries its products is Whole Foods, which has increased its Fair Trade offerings to more than 1,000 products in the last two years, including Alter Eco’s organic extra virgin olive oil from Palestine.”

“Alter Eco imports 150 products, including coffee from Peru, Ethiopia and Mexico, cocoa from Ghana and Bolivia, unrefined sugar from the Philippines, rice from Thailand and other foods under its brand. Alter Eco Americas has introduced 26 of those to the United States. Most products carry the Fair Trade label, which certifies that companies pay their workers fair wages and provide decent working conditions, among other things.”

“Alter Eco Americas also offsets the carbon emissions for the life cycle of the products. Paying fair wages, offsetting the carbon emissions and requiring products to meet organic standards squeezes margins.”

“In the U.S., we’re competing against brands that don’t have the same standards,” said Senard. “We have to be competitively priced even though we pay our farmers more.”


*CD buys aimed at helping businesses by Renee McGaw

“I was thinking, well, people aren’t really thinking about Arapahoe County,” said Milliken, the county’s treasurer. “Crisis is always an opportunity and I thought this is a good time to bring something home to the county.”

“So he came up with his own local stimulus program. Arapahoe County has bought $5 million in one-year certificates of deposit (CDs) from three locally owned banks — Colorado Business Bank, Citywide Banks, and Guaranty Bank and Trust Co. The banks have agreed to use the cash to make loans to Arapahoe County businesses.”


*Branding is just not for Coca-Cola or McDonald’s anymore by Steve Beseke

“Personal branding is your 21st century key to promoting yourself in the workplace. Today, branding isn’t just for companies, Hollywood celebrities, or highly-paid athletes. People in all walks of life are starting to use personal or self branding to get ahead in the game of life.”

“The single factor that often explains the difference between a professional who is competent and doing okay and one who earns a significant income and generates lots of business is self branding.”

“Self branding is a strong personal identity based on a clear perception about what you stand for, what sets you apart from others, and the added value you bring to a job or situation.”

“Your self brand is the sum total of other people’s feelings about your attributes and capabilities, how you perform, even their perceptions about what you are worth.”

“It is important to set personal brand goals with a specific time frame and plan of action for achieving the goals. So just like a marketer would, you write down personal marketing activities to achieve your goals. And, of course, you execute the marketing plan. You can’t get to where you want to go unless you plan it and then do it.”


*Winds of change for baby business by Jane Meyer Brahm

“A childbirth educator, certified labor doula, mother of five and new grandmother, Wallace started Gracewinds in 2002 when she saw that expectant couples and new parents had to look all over town for services.”

“It was crazy,” she said. “I thought, why not put them all together?”

“She started with five contract practitioners operating out of a former tavern. She and her husband, Jeff Carson, self-financed the business with a few thousand dollars. Jeff did carpentry and remodeling in exchange for a few months’ rent on the building. Christine made use of her art background by painting murals.”

“A childbirth educator, certified labor doula, mother of five and new grandmother, Wallace started Gracewinds in 2002 when she saw that expectant couples and new parents had to look all over town for services.”

“It was crazy,” she said. “I thought, why not put them all together?”

“She started with five contract practitioners operating out of a former tavern. She and her husband, Jeff Carson, self-financed the business with a few thousand dollars. Jeff did carpentry and remodeling in exchange for a few months’ rent on the building. Christine made use of her art background by painting murals.”

“Her big dreams are still evolving. She’s working on a new-fathers program that will become the first of its type certified by the national Childbirth and Postpartum Professionals Association. She started her own publishing company, Braxton-Hicks, to publish her labor guide for doulas, which now has international distribution. She set up Gracewinds Global Breast Milk Initiative, a nonprofit focused on promoting and supporting breastfeeding in third-world countries. She holds monthly meetings for women business owners, focusing on entrepreneurship.”

“What we’re providing here is age-old and timeless – a community of support under one roof.”


What I Think

I think some may feel the title of this post is a stretch, but if you look at the articles posted on this date, many of them deal with leverage in one form or another. Matt D Walker’s article, Why Benjamin Franklin Was a Better Entrepreneur Than You, makes the point that entrepreneurs are different from those willing to simply be someone else’s employee all their lives. Entrepreneurs understand they must make a sacrifice to accomplish a quantum leap, but also understand that the rewards are worth that sacrifice. Entrepreneurs make their own “lever,” managing their time more efficiently than others, and failing to be deterred from reaching their vision.

Ben Franklin understood that the American enterprise desperately needed partners if it was to survive a hostile takeover on the heels of the initial launch of the new brand. The American start-up lacked sufficient credit, like many new organizations, and initially was rebuffed by the more established European power brokers. Franklin realized he had to turn his enterprise’s apparent weakness into strength. His innovative approach to European politics made his “wilderness” non-conformity a novelty with which to open doors and purses.

Franklin was a master of the personal branding techniques advocated by Steve Beseke’s article. He made himself so unique he became a celebrity. The barriers to entry facing our Founding Fathers would have seemed insurmountable to another team, but they divided and delegated the various tasks involved in building the foundation of the new enterprise and the bridges necessary to allow it to open trade relations with much more mature and sophisticated competitors in the world economy.

Franklin and the others on the start-up team certainly didn’t accomplish all this by themselves. They could easily have fallen prey to any of the three cardinal sins of entrepreneurs suggested by Jessica Mah’s article, but they were passionate about getting the new enterprise launched, and whole-heartedly followed through with implementation.

 They enlisted the help of an extensive advisory group, just as Lisa Montanaro’s article suggests. They put the talents of their start-up team together and the resulting foundation they gave the new American enterprise was so skillfully crafted that it has withstood the winds of change for over two hundred years. It has certainly changed and grown during that time, but it is obviously now much more diverse and powerful than perhaps anyone other than the Founders could have imagined.


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If you enjoyed my impression of these articles, why don’t you read them for yourself and see what you and I missed or hit? Join the Applied Entrepreneurship group on LinkedIn. Membership is free and I try to post about ten articles a day there. We have some great discussions going and if you are an entrepreneur, we hope you will join us.

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Posted in Applied Entrepreneurship, entrepreneur, Financial security, Growing a business, Innovation, Perseverance, Starting a business
One comment on “Lessons I Learned Today 6/11/09 – Leverage; Ben Franklin to Breast Milk
  1. Mr. Adams – Thanks so much for the mention of my article. I am glad you found it insightful. I find it so interesting how you used it (along with other articles mentioned) to comment on historical issues. Very creative!

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