How do I make money and do what I want to do?

Have you ever asked yourself this question?

Then come to Tuesday’s Career Lunch & Learn featuring Doug Gray, author of Passionate Action: How You Can Turn Life’s Challenges Into Life’s Adventures and owner of Action Learning Associates, Inc., an executive coaching business.

That was the advertisement last week.  My daughter asked me to speak, so of course I said “Yes!”

Promptly at 11:20, 7 upper school-aged girls and 6 adults gathered in the library of an independent school.  13 women.  I do not know where the boys were.  We had a lively discussion and you may enjoy these stories.

These points are useful for any aspiring Small Business Owners (SBOs):

1. Over 67% of SBOs are women, according to the Small Business Association (  54% of college graduates are women.  Over 43% of SBA grants are for women and minorities.  So I repeated these facts, in several ways, to the women in the room:  These women are the future business leaders in America. They smirked and asked more questions…

2. 80% of this group was Caucasian.  However, the non-Caucasians in the room are statistically more likely to finish graduate school.  At a recent Yale MBA program, 7 of the 8 students were non-Caucasians.  And in this room full of kids with privileges, all of them will have more choices than their age cohorts.  In fact, their drive is a bigger predictor of their success in business than GPA, race, family assets, or any other trait. They smiled…

3. When I surveyed them, 4 of these 7 girls had a parent who was a business owner.  When pressed, only one girl could state her father’s core competency:  “He’s really good at building relationships and telling jokes, and making other people feel good.”  I assured her that we all work with people that we like and trust.  These are perfect attributes for any SBO. And I encouraged them to ask their parents what their core competency is at dinner that night!  (Now my daughter proudly states that my core competency is to help good people do great work!)

4. When I pressed them about cost of goods sold (COGS) and gross margins, they all had blank looks.  So I provided the following examples.  And they I encouraged them to ask their parents what their margins were at dinner that night.  I later heard that the gross margins ranged from 30-80%. That is why SBOs determine American business.

5. To explain COGS and distribution, I described the 10 year-old girl in our neighborhood.  She and her father fished golf balls out of the pond, and then she sold them on the 5th hole on Saturdays.  50 cents each or 3 for $1.   Last month she grossed over $45/day.  Her materials cost is time.  Her distribution cost is time spent fishing and cleaning.  Her sales cost is time spent selling, under the watchful eye of her parents on the balcony.  I have no doubt that this 10 year-old girl will continue to be entrepreneurial.  In fact, one of the biggest predictors of any entrepreneur’s success is how young people were when they started to sell. I was 11.  She has me beat.   How about you or your children?

6. To explain incentives and duplication, I shared this story with the women in the upper school library.  A former coaching client had a) semi-valuable items in the attic, ranging from printers to PCs to blackberrys, and b) a teenage son.  So, he created accounts on Craigslist and EBay.  His son took photos of the objects, did an online competitive analysis, described and sold the objects.  The father/owner gets 80% of the sales price.  The son/seller gets 20%.  The buyer gets a great product and service from a well incented teenage seller. Business textbooks call this a triple win:  the buyer, seller and owner are each well compensated for the exchange of goods and services.  How can you create a similar business community?

7. All of us- these young students and the adults in the library and myself- all of us have reservations about “What do I do next?”   So we talked about career choices.  Futurists state that the average white collar professional currently has 5 careers in their lifetime. It may become 7 careers in the next few decades, as we specialize core competencies into business needs.  When I polled the adults in the room, they each had 2-4 different careers already.  Perhaps they are due for a few more!  How about you?

8. The 2 KEY Drivers for success for any SBO are:

a. What do I love to do?

b. What will someone pay me to do?

Imagine a see saw.  If I love to do it but no one will pay me, then I have a hobby.  If I love to do it and someone pays me less than I need, then my business is dying.  If I love to do it and someone pays me well, then I have a thriving business.  Where are you on this see saw?

9. We talked more about specialization and core competencies.  Futurists state that at least 50% of the jobs that these 14-18 year olds will have in their white collar lifetimes, HAVE NOT YET BEEN DEVELOPED!  Think about the possibilities for you. Your specialized skills, plus your ability to sell, will define your new markets and new careers.

a. One student has 4 interests and thought she was confused about her future.  Her interests are in photography, computers, writing and psychology.  She thought she needed to narrow her focus.  I encouraged her to develop each skill, and combine them into marketable skills.  Examples abound at and

b. One teacher with a PhD wanted to start a yoga business.  I encouraged her to read Gerber’s The E-Myth, because she likes to read, and she can learn a lot from his model.  And to explore franchises or licenses that enable her to copy expert models from others so that she can duplicate her selling and delivery time.

c. One teacher was concerned that her husband, an artist, was not making enough money.  I encouraged her to adopt a shared accountability system and post data on the wall.  For instance, a 12-month whiteboard calendar with key metrics such as daily revenue, # prospect calls made, # hours selling.

d. One teacher who formerly sold products wanted to make more money for her growing family.  I encouraged her to research and interview as many virtual or direct salespeople as she can.  Her passions will lead her to any number of products and services.

These upper school-aged students and adults were delightfully candid with each other.  They stated fears and possibilities and dreams.  Small Business Owners need strong teams.  Perhaps that is the primary reason why people hire me to help them grow their businesses.

Now you get some of my passion.  I want you to succeed.  So, give me a call NOW. 704.895.6479    I would love to hear your story.