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10 Rules of STICK
from "Steel Wool on a Stick" my hobby on steroids
By Jeff Block

Do you want to create your own business, doing what you love?
So, you wanna be an entrepreneur? Are you nuts? It helps if you are!

To succeed you need to get on the STICK!

1. STICK to what you know. Most entrepreneurial successes grow from what the person is already doing, possibly by someone who is already an expert in their field. If you want to turn your hobby into a business, the first thing to do is…practice…practice, practice, practice. Become the best at what you do, #1 in your field! Become the big STICK of your niche market!

2. STICK your neck out. Any definition of Entrepreneur includes "a person who takes personal financial risk." Whether it is in time, energy, and/or money, your own business can eat you alive or feed your belly depending on how well you play the game. But money startup costs can be minimal, under $10,000 for most hobby type businesses, or even zero. We all wish we had more time and energy. Yes, "time is money". But at least with money we know when we have none left!

3. Throw it against the wall and see what STICKS. Marketing isn't rocket science. Nobody has the secret success system and even Oprah doesn't know how to get on The Oprah Show. But here's some great news! The internet has the law of numbers working for the little business as never before in history. My own business couldn't exist as a bricks-n-mortar store in our local town. We get orders from all 50 States, 20 foreign countries, and we even have our bouquets and toilet paper (yes, toilet paper) in Iraq! It's so easy to put your stuff out there, visible for the world to see and hopefully buy. With an online business you get instant feedback for what sells and what doesn't sell. There's no need for marketing tests or focus groups.

4. STICKS and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me. When it comes to getting your name out there, the old adage of "I don't care what you say about me, just get my name correct" really does apply. Editors will change your articles and reporters will write their own incorrect stories. One reporter even referred to our products as "plastic roses", but at least he got correct! Your customers will give you feedback and testimonials, hopefully most of it positive but pay attention to the negative and don't take it personally. Any negative feedback from customers is a bright light shining on something you might consider improving or changing. But also remember "you can't please all of the people all of the time". Not everybody is going to like you, or what you do. Get over it.

5. STICK it out, do whatever it takes. What are you willing to give up for your own entrepreneurial success? "Nothing" is not a valid answer. You will give up something, guaranteed. Good things to give up, for example, are 10 hours or more of TV time each week. My own persistence and doing whatever it takes involved driving for a limo company for five years. I had to do something to support my two other hobbies – I like to sleep with a roof over my head and I like to eat at least twice per day. I wouldn't want to have to be a driver again, but it really wasn't that difficult, surely better than a poke in the eye with a sharp STICK!

6. STICK em up? I've been robbed! Try this exercise: go to the bank and get a $100 bill. Come home, walk into your bathroom, take out the $100 bill, crumple it up, and flush it down the toilet! How does that feel? It feels about the same as you'll feel every time a business expenditure doesn't work out the way you thought it would. The biggest area where you'll flush your money is in marketing, advertising, and public relations. Your money is spent before the outcome is known, and in these areas professionals in the industry tend to over-promise and under-deliver. I once spent $7,000 to get one $19.95 order. My wife and I could have taken a month vacation instead! STICK your finger in the dike when you find small leaks. Sometimes the best way to make money is to stop losing money!

7. Take a bite of the carrot at the end of your STICK. You have a vision of how you want your business and personal life to be in the future. You have some carrots out there in front of you to keep you motivated. House? Travel? Car? New Spouse? Well, when you get just barely close enough to take a bite, do so! STICK your neck out and treat yourself to a little reward slightly ahead of schedule. I've done this with cars, most recently a 2009 Corvette. First it was a picture on my desk. Then it became real in my garage, probably two years premature – Obama made me do it! If you wait until you get to the end of the rainbow to reward yourself you're probably going to be too old to remember why you wanted to reward yourself!

8. Why drive a STICK shift when you can have an automatic? The technology available to the very small business of today could not have been imagined 20 years ago. Home office businesses aren't even news anymore, like they were in the 90s. Home based businesses are commonplace because they are profitable! Computers, printers and light industrial equipment are cheaper, better and smaller than ever. The "garage" business startup model has NEVER been easier! Websites and website platforms are now easily integrated with inventory management, fulfillment and shipping functions as well as customer resource management tools. 95% of our customers order online at our website, which to us is like an automatic order. They've entered all their own order information. We do welcome the remaining 5% who call with questions before placing a telephone order, and we're happy it's not 10% or more.

9. "A crooked STICK will have a crooked shadow"-ancient proverb. My success is because I adhere to one Universal Principal – put good stuff out there and good stuff will be returned. More commonly stated it is "what goes around, comes around". Don't be crooked. Deliver what you promise or deliver more than you promise, every time. When you glitch and need to satisfy an unsatisfied customer respond quickly (immediately), take ownership of the problem, and propose a remedy that makes the customer whole (refund, replace, give them your first born, etc.).

10. STICK it where the sun don't shine! STICK it in your ear! STICK it to the man! IF you are not happy with your job or career, there is no better "revenge" than succeeding with your own business. BUT do not STICK it until you are self-sufficient and do not STICK it to anyone you might need in your future. Near the end of your life you might smile and say "I did it my way", but nobody does it alone. There is no such thing as a "self made" fortune. You can't do it without employees, business associates, vendors, and customers.

Yes, you can have more money than you can shake a STICK at. For most of us with moderate lifestyles it really doesn't take much to have "extra" money from your own successful business. Remember what FDR said "walk softly and carry a big STICK". Remember too that when you work for yourself your boss might be a real STICK in the mud!

May the STICK be with you!

About the Author:
Jeff Block, 170 Arbor Way, Milledgeville, Ga. 31061, (478-451-0373)
With a B.S. Mechanical Engineering Cornell University '76 and an M.B.A. University of Chicago ‘78, Block failed at everything he tried before he figured out at age 45 what he wanted to be when he grew up! He is the creator and owner of and author of "Steel Wool on a Stick, my hobby on steroids."
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