Partnerships are never 50:50

Perhaps you have, are, or will be in a partnership type business with a friend, family member, or someone else.  You may set the business up as a partnership where each you and your partner own 50% of the business.  Although the partnership is 50:50, it is highly unlikely that each partner will do 50% of the work.  You may actually see efforts closer to 60:40, 75:25, or maybe even 90:10.  There are several strategies you can work with to help balance the workload between each partner, but we must remember it will most likely never be 50:50.  We need to manage our expectations.

First of all, if you and your partner are taking on different roles, you may want to think about swapping roles now and then if possible.  This may help shift workloads between you and your partner.  This may not be possible if you and your partner have different expertise.  For example, if you are more technical and your partner is more business, you may not be able to jump into the business side as readily or your partner may not be able to jump into the technical side as readily.  This is very possible and why you chose to work with your partner.  Having different skillsets is a very nice thing to help diversify your business.

Secondly, take a look at how much time each of you are putting into the business.  Make sure you and your partner are putting in equivalent time and effort.  Effort may be a little more tricky to define, but time is very measurable.  If you are only putting in 8 hours per day while your partner is putting in 12 hours, there is a problem.  This should be discussed to understand why you are not putting in the same amount of time as your partner.

Although effort is not always measurable, we can measure results.  At the end of the day, what is getting done?  If you or your partner are not hitting your goals, then this should also be discussed.  At the end of the day your goals need to be agreed upon by all stakeholders.  If your goals are agreed upon and you are hitting your goals, then there should be no problem.

Previously, I have been in business partnerships where not all partners were providing equal efforts, time, and results.  It can be disappointing and make you want to give up.  The worst thing you can do is give up.  You also do not want to push too hard and burn yourself out.  You will want to communicate your thoughts and feelings to your partner(s).  Let them understand your concerns and gain alignment on your plan(s) moving forward.  Manage your expectations, their expectations, and drive your business to success!

Spend less

Nobody knows your situation better than you do or at least should.  If you struggle to understand your financial situation, then recognize there is a problem and of course, opportunity to improve your situation.  There are people that do not dig into the granular detail of their finances and believe they are getting by just fine.  This can truly lead to trouble down the road when they hit a point of no return.  All along they were not truly doing fine and were actually trending downward financially.  The reason they were not able to detect this was because they were heavy on credit cards and loans.  At some point, without an appropriate debt-income ratio you are certainly going to end up in an uncomfortable situation.

You need to make sure you are diving into your finances and keeping track of your expenditures and income.  Automated payments are acceptable in my book, but make sure you are aware of how much you are spending each month.  You should have a list of bills you are paying each month.  You should also have an estimated income you are earning each month.  Are you spending more than your income?  If so, you are going to need to cut back on your expenditures.  The less you spend and more you make, the better!

Discipline is super important when it comes to managing your financial situation.  It is too easy to spend more than you make.  Retailers intentionally make it this way because they want as much of your money as they can get.  Online shopping is super easy and convenient, which is what retailers want.  They want you to spend your money 24/7 on their business because they know if you are not spending it on them, you may be spending it on someone else.  Simply, do not spend it on anyone if you do not need to.  Additionally, understand what you are buying and why you are buying it.  If you absolutely do not need it, then maybe don’t buy it.  These are my thoughts for this rainy Tuesday afternoon.  Enjoy your day and let me know your thoughts.

Life is still going on

No matter what you are doing, life is still going on!  The world does not revolve around anyone of us, which should be very obvious to you.  Outside of what you are doing there are still aother events going on, which may be more or less important than what you are doing.  For example, if you are working 24/7, there are other people having fun going to baseball games and playing with their kids.  If someone is emotionally upset and staying inside 24/7, there are still people enjoying themselves outside with friends and family.  I guess my point is, we only get one life and we really need to start focusing on living the best lives we possibly can.  There will be times we need to sacrifice for the greater good, but we should never sacrifice 100% of our time to work because we can miss great times with our friends and family outside of work.

This weekend I am excited to be in Canada for my cousin’s wedding.  It is a really special weekend and I look forward to moments like this.  I could be back home working on my business, my career, and trying to get ahead, but this is much more important.  It gives me time to relax with family and recharge for this upcoming week.  This previous week that just flew by was extremely hard for many reasons.  Next week won’t be much easier, which is why I need to make sure I am taking care of myself first.  The Civil Accomplishment blog is not just about generating money, saving it, and retiring early.  It is also about taking care of yourself emotionally, physically, and spiritually.  Without these important factors, we will not be able to perform in the realm of success.

I am excited to take a step back and clear my mind this weekend.  It really gives me time to remove the negativity and move forward with a better mindset.  There are always going to be uncertainties in the workplace, which causes us to be fearful.  We can fear loss of our jobs, failure, lack of funds, being judged, and so forth.  Put your worries aside and build plans to prepare in case any one of those fears becomes a reality.  By doing this, you are putting a solution in place to solve for potential issues. This should help ease your fears.  Keep living your life!

Layoff, me!

The corporate environment can be very rough at times.  In my experience, I have observed at least three size-able layoffs in just  6 years of working for my employer.  I understand the company is not doing well, so they need to trim some of the “fat”.  I understand they cannot give bonuses because the company is just not performing well.  I do not understand the constant shuffling and overturn caused by poor leadership.  I constantly read books on leadership styles and what are some of the better ways of leading.  In theory, many of these styles work great.  In reality, each company will require a slightly different style of leadership.  For example, it may be fine to have a hip-cool style of leadership in a tech company in silicon valley, but it may not be right for an older pharmaceutical company that has been around for quite some time.  Similarly, a lot of people love cheese where others simply do not.  I cannot understand the people who do not love cheese because I personally love it.

Layoffs can be extremely difficult not only for the impacted employees, but also for the employees left behind.  Most of the time, there is more work for the survivors and quite often the environment is not the greatest after the event.  It does not make me want to stay around at a company very long when I am seeing reorganizations every two years or so.  It also makes me worry about my future at the company.  It would be very nice to be at a company that is constantly winning.  These are just a few thoughts I felt inclined to write down today.

The best advice I can give anyone else in this situation is don’t wait to see what is going to happen.  Make sure you are preparing for anything like this.  This might mean applying to jobs, saving up enough money to get you through a jobless period, and keep networking with new people to expand your career opportunities.  I personally think it is great to move into new roles outside your area of expertise.  This will allow you to get a different perspective on your industry and stretch yourself.  Do not let fear get in the way of something great.  Push for success!

8 Scary Financial Statistics

In reference to 8 Scary Financial Statistics – and How to Avoid Becoming One by Susannah Snider [US News Money], this is further motivation to get your financials in order.  Here are the 8 scary financial statistics:

  • Two-thirds of Americans would struggle to scrounge up $1,000 in an emergency
  • Only 24% of millennials demonstrate basic financial literacy
  • Among adults who have combined finances in current or previous relationships, 2 out of 5 fess up to committing financial infidelity
  • About 77 million Americans, or 35% of adults with a credit file, have debt in collections reported in their credit files
  • Just 46% of Americans have a rainy day fund
  • The number of consumers age 60 and older with student loan debt has quadrupled over the last decade
  • Nearly one-third of Americans pay the minimum due on their credit card each month
  • Almost half of student loan holders express concern about their ability to pay off their student debt

When reading through these, I often think about why or how someone would end up in this situation.  For example, two-thirds of Americans would struggle to scrounge up $1,000 in an emergency.  A few questions come to mind including:

  • Are they earning enough?
  • Are they managing their spend?
  • Is there potential to reduce expenditures?
  • How can they fix their situation?

If you are on the wrong side of the fence regarding any of these 8 scary financial statistics, then you should really take a step back and understand why.  One of the very first steps is becoming educated to understand the financial landscape.  For the financially uneducated millennials out there, learning the basics of money will help you knock #2 off this list [Only 24% of millennials demonstrate basic financial literacy].  In actuality, becoming more educated in terms of managing money will help solve many of the 8 scary financial statistics.

In general, there is no overnight cure for debt.  There is the super small possibility of you winning the lottery and being able to live independence of financial worry, but if you are not educated on how to handle money, eventually you will end up in the same situation.  Learning the basics of money management is super important and very easy to do because there are so many free resources available.  It will take time to reduce your debts to a point you feel comfortable.  It may also take time to save up enough money to help you our on a rainy day.  The key is to bring in more money than you are spending.  It is very important to control your spend and make sure you are not using your money for meaningless stuff.  Just be patient and keep doing the right things.  This will bring you to success!

Control your spend

According to USA TODAY, the average U.S. household debt for specific categories is as follows:

  • Credit cards = $16,883
  • Auto loans = $29,539
  • Student loans = $50,626
  • Mortgages = $182,421

If we take the sum of all four, we are at $279,469.  According to BUSINESS INSIDER, the average household income in 2016 was $59,039.  So what do these two numbers mean?

Credit card debt

If your credit card APR is 15%, each year on $16k you are paying about $2,400 in interest.

Auto loans

If your auto loan APR is 5%, each year on $29k you are paying about $1,500 in interest.

Student loans

If your student loan APR is 7%, each year on $50k you are paying about $3,500 in interest.

Mortgages

If your mortgage loan APR is 5%, each year on $180k you are paying about $9,000 in interest.

Now, if you add up your credit card, auto loan, student loan, and mortgage interest, just in one year you are putting out $16k in interest, which is money you will never get back.  If we take the average household income of roughly $60k and remove 35% for withheld taxes, we are left with $39k.  Now, lets remove the interest of $16k, which now leaves us with $23k.  This is the amount of money you have for an entire year for food, transportation costs (gas, tolls, etc), entertainment, clothing, utilities, property tax, and anything else you need to pay.  If you have a family you need to support, this will most likely not be enough and you will most likely continue to increase your debt.  It is scary when you unveil the numbers, but it is the truth.

So what can we do about it?

Avoid debt at all costs

Before you start purchasing unnecessary things, understand the impacts of doing so.  Look at the discussion we just had and understand if you really want to go down that path.  If you are already in debt, then you do not have this option, but not all is lost.  If you are already in debt, your main focus will be to dig yourself out.  Realize when you are spending a few dollars here and there, those dollars do add up.  Realize when you are not paying attention to your financial numbers, it does not mean you are not going into debt.  This just means you are going into debt blindly.  Start paying attention to what you are spending money on.  You need to realize that the small losses really do impact your overall financial stability in the larger picture.

Control your spend

My best advice to help manage debt from an avoidance and improvement perspective is, control your spend.  Everyday you need to make sure you are tracking your money.  If you have a family, understand their financial needs and what they are spending money on, especially if it is coming from your wallet.  As an example, we do not need a Starbucks coffee for $5 every day.  At the end of the week, we put out $25 and at the end of the year, we put out $1,300 on coffee.  The same goes for buying lunch at work.  If you are spending $8 at your cafeteria or local restaurant for lunch each day, you are $2,080 each year.  For a full-time worker, this is equivalent to $1 per hour from your paycheck.  Start thinking a little differently about your day-to-day expenditures.  Overtime, you can really improve your financial situation.

Do you have thoughts on this?

Excited for a new milestone (tomorrow)

Many of the projects I have worked on typically have the same excitement patterns, which starts out in a elevated state of excitement that simmers out after two or three weeks.  Upon completion of a milestone the excitement rises again for a few moments, but will simmer back down again.  I would say a lot of the projects I have worked on increase and decrease in a cyclic pattern as the project advances.

TomorrowI close on a commercial property.  My father and I have been working together to purchase the property for several months.  We had to jump through many hoops to get everything in place, but the day of closing has finally arrived.  Similar to all the other projects I have worked on, this project started out with a lot of excitement.  Several weeks in passing and this excitement simmered out.  At each milestone that we hit, we quickly became enthusiastic about the project again.  Now we are at a huge milestone, our excitement is back up again.  Everyone is jumping aboard feeling engaged and more like a team than ever before.

I know we cannot always be super excited about the projects we work on and that there are highs and lows throughout the process.  I also know failures can bring deep disappointments that can be hard to break from.  At times these things are not avoidable and I accept this.  We need to enjoy the milestones when we can and really reflect on the hard work it took to get there.  Before you know it, you will be back in the trenches working hard again trying to reach the next milestone.  Reflection brings great satisfaction to me, which is why I often reflect whenever I get the chance.

What are your excitements in life?  What are your milestones you can celebrate?  If you are like me, you are too hard on yourself.  You may only focus on failures, but you need to also appreciate your successes.  As I have always mentioned before, small gains over a long period of time become large gains.  The hare can beat the tortoise in a short run, but not over a lengthier run.  We are living a life of up to 80 or 100 years.  We have time and need to make sure we are producing results every week consistently and those results don’t need to be life changing.  What are your thoughts?

The new workforce – take advantage

The workforce is very different today than it was ever before from start to finish.  The way people are recruited, hired, interact, and so on has all changed with new advances in technology allowing for us to be faster, smarter, and more efficient.  For some larger slower moving companies, they have not fully taken advantage of these advancements and could partially explain why some of the smaller companies are growing faster than larger companies.  It is much more difficult to push changes in an organization of 5,000+ employees than push changes in a small organization of less than 500.  At the same time, there is no excuses for slowness in the business world, and your numbers will reflect your lack of agility if you are large and slow.

Additionally, the landscape for working today has changed dramatically because of the advancements in technology.  There is a lot more instant messaging, e-mailing, and text messaging than there ever was before.  Fewer people are willing to make a quick phone call to resolve an issue and will rather send a message via e-mail or instant message instead.  I still believe it is very important to have face-to-face relationships with your co-workers and business partners.  I still believe it is important to be able to communicate using your voice and make sure your voice is heard.  Writing an e-mail does not help you build your brand as fast as letting your business partners getting to know you face-to-face.  It is not always possible to call or talk face-to-face with your business partners, so e-mails will have to be acceptable.  Try and reaching out via phone or face-to-face a little bit more and see if this helps improve your relationships.

The last piece I would like to touch on is the new mindset of workers today.  It almost feels as if nobody wants to get their hands dirty and a lot of people are just punting to someone else.  “This is not my role”- they may say or “this belongs with XYZ team.”  What ever happened to wearing multiple hats? I guess that does not pay in today’s landscape or with today’s workforce.  It is a snowballing effect where people are less and less likely to handle work outside of their focus objectives.  I think we can improve a little bit here.  This is especially evident with larger companies where there are tons of people to do specific functions.  At smaller companies such as my first job at a startup, I quickly found myself doing multiple tasks even if it was not really my primary job.  I think it is nice to get your hands dirty now and then to get something done.  It really shows that you can work hard and work as a team to achieve something.  What are your thoughts?

Everyones accountable

Many years ago, I had a different mindset on accountability.  In fact, I did not think much about accountability often, especially when something did not go my way.  For example, if I did poorly on an exam, I might have blamed the teacher’s ineffective teaching methods.  If I ended up showing up late to work, I may have blamed the person driving ahead of me being too slow.  If I did not completely my homework assignment, I may have said the teacher’s directions were not super clear.  Excuses can make us feel better about our failures, but are a horrible thing in terms of producing results.

Later on in life, I realized I needed to start being more responsible and taking accountability for my own actions.  If I did poorly on an exam, I could not blame the teacher because it was my own poor studying habits or lack of ability to capture the materials in my brain.  If I showed up late to work and someone really was driving slow, it was still up to me to take into account the possibility of this happening.  If I did not completely my homework due to lack of clarity from the teacher, it was up to me to gain more clarity from the teacher.  Everyones accountable no matter if we like it or not.  The sooner we all realize it, the better!

There are certain ways to hold ourselves accountable, which should be reviewed.  Often, if we set a goal, we may end up forgetting what the goal was in 1 year or so.  Writing down your goal and reviewing it every quarter or so will help us stay focused and hold ourselves accountable to that goal.  If the goal is not reached in the timeframe you set for yourselves, you will need to take corrective actions.  This does not mean punish yourself, but spend time understanding why you did not hit your goal.  Extend the timeframe to a point where you believe you can reach the goal.  It is important you do not just keep extending timing on goals you are not reaching and not do anything to reach the goal.  This will only hurt you in the long run.

As mentioned above, you are going to want to write your goals down somewhere and review them.  The reviewing part is very important because you are checking in on where you are and if you are on track to meet your goal.  If you are not on track, then you are going to have to course correct.  The reviewing process is very important because it will keep you focused on your goals.  You can also include others in your review, which may also help you feel more accountable to reach your goals because now you have more eyes focused on the review.  You will most likely not want to look dumb by not hitting your goals from a lack of effort.  Truly be honest with yourself and do not just say you are trying.  Too many do this and at the end of the day, they are not really trying.  This actually makes me angry because I feel these people are just lazy.  Get out there and do something about it.  Be accountable and hold yourself responsible for your actions or lack of actions.

Mitigating risk

Everyday we go out there trying to generate more value for ourselves than we expend, we are taking risks.  Risk is defined as a situation involving exposure to danger [reference google.com].  Furthermore, we can calculate the risk by assessing two factors:

  • Likeliness event will occur, 1-3 risk rating
  • Severity of event if it does occur, 1-3 risk rating

By rating each of these 1-3 and multiplying the two factors together, you are able to come up with a risk factor between 1-9.  The closer to 9, the more likely the event will happen and the more severe the event will be.  It might help if I provide a few examples:

  • Losing your job as high performer – (1) likeliness x (3) severity = 3 risk factor
    This means the event will most likely not happen, but if it does happen the result will severely impact you.
  • Being late to a show – (2) likeliness x (1) severity = 2 risk factor
    This means the event might happen and if it does happen the result will most likely not severely impact you.
  • Business failing in unfavorable conditions – (3) likeliness x (3) severity = 9 risk factor

These are general examples, so in real life things would not be this simple.  Using this risk factor tool can be helpful in helping you better understand risk.  It is important to identify the risk(s) first and then rate them using this method.  If you do not identify all risks, then you may not fully understand the entire situation.

Life is super risky and not always fair, so I try to understand the risks before I start a new project, embark on a new adventure, or just step outside to get my mail.  We need to keep thinking about risks, but not let them make us so fearful we do not allow ourselves to accept new opportunities.  I believe there is a fine line between understanding risks and just being afraid to do stuff.  What are your thoughts?

Real version versus presented version

I do not believe anyone sane and self-aware truly provides a real version of themselves everywhere we go because we are aware it may not be acceptable in every situation.  This does not mean your real version of yourself is bad, but may not be appropriate everywhere you go.  You may have a presented version that is much more polished and appropriate for select situations.  The reason I speak on this topic is because I feel it is very common for people today to present different versions of themselves, especially on social media.  Everyone wants to present their best version to the world without flaws, but in reality this simply cannot be true.  We all have flaws and at times, I believe we should be proud of that because it makes us unique.

So how does this relate to civil accomplishment topics?

We are presenting a different version of ourselves to the business world, much more different than what we present to our family and friends for the most part.  There is nothing wrong with this, but it makes me think we have to put out extra effort to make sure we keep the two worlds separate.  It can also become much more complicated when you are changing or have variations of your self within the two worlds.  It can all be so polarizing at times.

With all this being said, I too am an offender of changing myself in speaking to different people.  Even in this blog, I also monitor some things whereas in my personal journal I monitor nothing.  Everything I feel will be written without restriction or limits, which is great because I can vent.  I believe I am most true when writing in my journals, which is why I am a very big believer in everyone keeping a journal.  Of course, you may not want to lose custody of that journal because people can feel some of your writings are distasteful.  My journal is for my eyes only.  These are just my thoughts on self-awareness and different versions of people.

Controlling our lives… independency

Working in a corporate office among corporate people can be interesting.  I am not sure if there is a better word than interesting that describes the corporate environment.  There can be a lot of red tape, politics, push back, cloudy decisions, and so on.  In larger corporations, you will find much diversity in levels of talent where some workers are great and others are not.  In large organizations, it may be easier for poor performers to slip through the cracks and get by doing the bare minimum.  I have always put my best efforts into my work to contribute as much as I can to the employer who is paying me.  I am loyal to my employer and would expect them to be loyal to me, which is not always the case.  Through lack of transparency and questionable personnel decisions, I realize it is not always a two-way streak.  So what can we do about it?

I do not wish to always be in the corporate world working for a large company.  I feel I am somewhat powerless and do not have full control over my life.  So much of our day-to-day decision making is dependent on our jobs.  For example, the most obvious dependency we have is on our salary.  There is also dependency on our medical and financial benefits provided to us by our employers.  We also depend on our careers to provide good experiences, so we do not go home upset and bent out of shape.  All of this goes back to our job, which is why I am pushing to run my own business full-time.

Running a full-time business is not an easy task and I understand that.  I have been running a business with my father part-time for over 10-years.  We have had many struggles and had many tough calls to make.  Fortunately, we both have had careers during this time, so we were not fully dependent on our business.  If anything does happen to my job, I will need to make some difficult decisions.  For starters, I will need to determine if I should devote all my time to working on our business and help it grow.  There could be opportunity to do so in the near future, which I am not hoping for.

In the next couple of weeks, I will find out some news from my employer.  It could be good.  It could be bad.  Either way, it has awaken me and made me further realize I want control of my life.  I do not want to depend on a large corporation to pay me every week. I am confident I can run my own business full-time and grow it to a place where I can solely depend on it for salary.  More to come on this down the road.