Monday, October 29, 2012

15 Minutes Won't Cut It

Hurricane Sandy is pounding the East coast and forecasters are expecting that part of the country to be without power for several days after the storm passes. This is a great time to discuss disaster preparedness. Not a sexy topic, I know. But an important topic if you own a business.
How would a loss of power affect your businesses financial performance? I suspect it would be difficult. During the April 2011 storms and subsequent power outage, many businesses failed, or failed shortly after. We're in the middle of one of the most severe recessions in modern history. Many businesses are in a frail financial position, losing a weeks worth of revenue just might be the straw that broke the camel's back. 

I talk about disaster planning every year about this time. Let's concentrate on physical damage this time. What would you do if the building that houses your corporate offices were destroyed? How would you rebuild your computer systems? What about your employee files? Do you even know the phone number of your insurance agent? Do you have the proper coverage? Now's the time to find out. 

This year, why not review your insurance coverage and confirm that you are properly covered in case of a physical loss. If you have 15 minutes worth of coverage on your business property, you're probably not going to be happy when it's claim time. There's a difference between business coverage and personal coverage. If you have business property, get your coverage from a business insurance provider. You're local personal insurance brand can probably provide some coverage, but it's unlikely to be what you really need.

Sit down with a business lines insurance broker and discuss your needs. Make sure to review your auto coverage for proper limits. A standard auto policy is not going to work if you're using your vehicle for business. You'll discover this when you have an accident and your business laptop is destroyed and your insurance doesn't cover the loss. Don't find this out the hard way. Discuss your business and personal risks with a commercial lines broker and get the proper limits on your personal policies and secure the proper policies for your business needs or get the additional coverage added on to your personal policies.

The point is, you don't really understand your risks if you don't have the conversation with a professional. There are several commercial line insurance brokers in town. I do business with a couple and would be happy to give you a referral if you need one.

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Monday, October 22, 2012

The Joy of Cancer

I had sort of a big anniversary this past week. October 16, 2012 marks the 1-year anniversary since my prostate cancer surgery. As I look back over the past 18 months, that period of time that I've known that I had cancer, I can't help but feel exceedingly blessed. At church yesterday we were talking about the Gifts of God, joy in particular. The whole experience ran through my mind and the feeling of joy that I felt throughout the pre-surgery event played out in my mind. I knew I wouldn't be able to get it out of my mind unless I shared it here. 

I didn't talk about the anniversary to anyone, almost letting it pass without me realizing it. Tuesday was just another day. I've never really focused on the cancer. Even when I first 'knew' I had a problem, I only focused on using the situation to be a better disciple. Not because I'm an awesome person, but because that's what God instructed me to do. 

One day in early 2011, God told me I had cancer, but that I would be okay. It was really that simple. I was working in my home office and I had a voice in my head, plain as day. The part that I found remarkable, was the feeling of peace that overcame me. No fear, no flashes of life passing before you eyes, just peace. It was weird and awesome at the same time. I immediately prayed for courage. In my own selfish way, I didn't want to walk around in fear every day. As I prayed about my situation, it became clear to me that God would use this experience to help me spread His Good News. I've never hidden the fact that I'm a Christian, but I've never worn it on my sleeve either. I've never been very comfortable talking about my faith. I'm not much of a Bible reader, I can't quote scriptures. I've never spent any time in Bible study as an adult and frankly I'm not very knowledgeable of the actual scriptures. What I do know is that God is very much alive, and I see his Hand in my life frequently. 

But back to the joy. 

I didn't talk about my cancer to anyone until it was confirmed with tests and pricks and more tests. I knew my wife would be afraid. She didn't have the underlying peace that I had. The spouse is always in the worst position. You can't do anything about but fret.

As I started to tell my friends and ask for their prayers, a funny thing happened. People I barely knew and some I didn't know at all, started sending me well wishes and telling me that their family or Sunday school class or bible study group was praying for me. My mom and dad would relay greetings from people they knew telling of prayers of support. One of my dear friends hooked me up with one of her friends who was in pharma sales for cancer products so we could talk about treatments and so forth. It turns out that we had a bible study instead and he quoted me all the right scriptures and he prayed over me in a way nobody ever had. We never discussed drugs or treatments. It never came up. He 'knew' that's not what I needed. Another friend and mentor sat down with me on the steps of the choir room at church and just talked to me in way that I knew was coming straight from God. Another friend even bought me soothing and comforting music on iTunes to listen to while I recovered. Of course, all my friends were very supportive, but in particular, it was the well withes from people I didn't know that really struck me.

How do you know God is working in your life? One way is when people you don't know tell you that they love you and are praying for you. Wow! The joy that brings could never come from man. For the past year or so, I've been walking around in peace with a joyful spirit. And, I think as a consequence of my joyful spirit, I've been blessed with several new opportunities that have been extremely fruitful. My business is strong, I have an awesome wife, and I've never had a better relationship with God. My life is good. I've been blessed.

So, one year after my surgery, I'm still fighting off some straggler cells trying to take root in me. I've been on medicine that is supposed to keep the prostate cells from absorbing testosterone, on which the cancer feeds. I feel no less certain today than I was 18 months ago that God was using this experience to train me to be a better disciple. And with that I'll share what, through this experience, has become my personal motto:

Hebrews 12:1  Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings to closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.

Thanks to everyone who has lifted me up and prayed for me this past year or so. The power of your prayer and love is strong. I am forever grateful.

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Thursday, October 18, 2012

E-Center Incubates 153 New Jobs in Decatur

In my circles, we're big supporters of business incubators and technical assistance providers. Here in my home market of Huntsville, Alabama, we have several organizations that provide start-up support for commercial and defense related businesses. The Women's Business Center of North Alabama and the Small Business Development Centers at the University of Alabama in Huntsville and Alabama A & M University all provide coaching and training to hopeful entrepreneurs. We don't have a true incubator in Huntsville that brings in start-ups, provides mentoring and coaching and other start-up assistance and then sends them off into the world to succeed. In Decatur, my good friend Larry Waye is the Executive Director of the Decatur-Morgan County entrepreneurial Center which is trying to do just that. 

The E-Center has just celebrated it's 2nd anniversary and published a press release to celebrate their impressive early success. Among their bragging points are the creation of 153 new jobs and payroll revenue of $4.7 million. I've included their entire press release below. If you have an opportunity, stop by the E-Center in Decatur and introduce yourself to Larry and see the good work that the folks in Decatur are doing. 

Decatur’s E-Center Celebrates 2nd Anniversary
With Impressive Jobs & Revenue Report

The Decatur-Morgan County Entrepreneurial Center is celebrating a milestone this month: its 2nd Anniversary.  According to Larry Waye, Executive Director, “We are excited to be celebrating our 2nd anniversary and proud of all the E-Center has accomplished in such a short time.”
The E-Center has much to celebrate and some pretty impressive numbers to brag about.  Waye said, “As of the close of September the E-Center has helped create 153 new jobs in Decatur/Morgan County through our incubation process, which reflects new payroll revenue of $4,775,000.00.”  
According to the E-Center’s annual report, the 153 new jobs are located in 22 new start-up businesses and 11 growing and relocating companies.  “49% of the jobs are held by people living outside the City of Decatur,” Waye said, “but located within Morgan County. Our one-on-one counseling/coaching sessions have exceeded the 200 mark.”
The E-Center’s building, which consists of 40,000 square feet of office and warehouse space is at 65% capacity and houses a variety of businesses. Waye added “We have added two new tenants in the last month and a third one moving in on November, 1. This will continuation of our growth process.”

About The Decatur-Morgan County Entrepreneurial Center
The primary purpose of the E-Center is to encourage, enthuse and empower new and small businesses as tenants and non-tenants of the E-Center facility and to ensure successful start-up and continued growth.  The E-Center is located in close proximity to the Tennessee River, Rail service and the Interstate system.  The E-Center has a first-class Training Room available and its communications solutions enable quick adaptation to market changes and increase productivity through speed and innovation.

If you'd like more information abour the Decatur-Morgan County Entrepreneurial Center, please contact:

Larry Waye, Executive Director  
Decatur-Morgan County Entrepreneurial Center                                                                                                                        
1629 Fourth Avenue SE
Decatur, AL 35601

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Be Unreasonable in Your Expectations

What are your long-term goals for yourself or your company? Are they going to be easy to achieve or so big that you don't currently see a way to accomplish them? Why not go big?

Let's face it, you're unlikely to be more successful than your wildest dreams. So why not have great big dreams? What's the worst thing that can happen? You fall short, you don't make it all the way to the top? I suspect for many people, it's the fear of actually achieving those dreams that keeps them from dreaming big. Fear is an insidious foe. It sneaks up on your dream and squeezes the life out of it. Don't let that happen to you. 

Dream huge audacious dreams filled with success and providence. Draw a picture of your dreams and think about how success will feel, and smell, and taste. Write down these feelings and refer to them frequently. If your success takes place in a company of your creation, what does that company look like? Draw an organization chart of that successful company and use it as a road map to success. As you start growing your company, erase your name from some of the blocks and insert your partners and employees into the squares. 

I believe the act of writing down a goal is a transformative act. The mere act of writing it down has a tendency of setting the goal in motion. You've written down goals before. And I'm guessing you've had good success with this simple act. So why not do it again, but in a bigger and more definitive way? 

Create some big, unreasonable expectations, form the dream around them and turn the dream into a goal. You've just taken the first step to success!

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