This year, one of my goals is to start a new business venture of some kind. I have a few ideas. I started a successful one last year, but it isn’t scale-able to be able to just do that for a living. So as I search for new businesses to start/or partner with I hope to also inspire you to start something new. What will it be? It might not be a business.

  • Maybe it is a new fitness plan.
  • Maybe to give dating another try.
  • Going to church again.
  • Starting college.
  • Starting college again.
  • Climbing a mountain.
  • Reading a great book.
  • Making a new friend.
  • Calling people you care about.
  • ??

There are so many things you could start this year. Pick one that will fulfill you and get started!

 

Back in the 1980’s one of the best hackers in the world was a young man named Kevin Mitnick. He was finally tracked down and caught by the FBI in 1992. I remember the “Free Kevin” bumper stickers and the posts on www.2600.com during his prosecution…I mean fair trial. Earlier this year, I read a book he wrote in 2011 called Ghosts in the Wires. It was a pretty good read. The memory that came up as I read it though is something I wish to address here. In many ways, I owe Mr. Mitnick a debt of gratitude. He along with people like Timothy Winslow made headlines for the FBI pounding down their doors for poking around in the wrong places on Arpanet (The backbone of what is now the internet.)  I, at the time thought figuring out how to get into programs and alter them was a cool pastime. Due to Mr. Mitnick’s arrest, I decided to give up computers for a while. I only used them for writing papers in college and didn’t get on the internet at all again until after the World Wide Web had launched. I digress from my thought though.

I never understood why it took years for Mr. Mitnick to create his computer security company. It seems to me that the phone companies he hacked and/or the FBI themselves would have been much better served by simply sending him a job offer. Putting talent like that in prison for extended periods of time could very well have turned him into someone who hated the United States Government. Personally, I want men like him on “our side”.

Before anyone says, “But he was a criminal!” I do want to differentiate between hacker types. There are hackers who do malicious things with their code. They shut down companies, wreak havoc on their websites etc. There are hackers who steal credit card information in order to steal actual money from the original card holders and/or the credit card companies themselves. Mr. Mitnick did none of those things. While he admittedly hacked into many systems, all he “stole” were copies of code.  The original code was left intact. He did once steal the information on thousands of credit cards, but the records do clearly show that he never even attempted to use any of those card numbers. He wasn’t perfect in any way, but he was a diamond in the rough. It seems that his biggest real crime was he suffered from “Can I do it? syndrome”.

Not all of us need a hacker. We may still find use for a diamond in the rough. Don’t overlook that troubled teen. They might just be the perfect fit for your company. Is that frustrated employee really bad? Or are they just bored and need more of a challenge? Let us do our best to influence the future Kevin Mitnicks of this world for the better. Help them harness their gifts to be used for good.

Oh, and in case you are wondering, companies now pay Mr. Mitnick to hack into their systems and check their security for holes that can be exploited. Sad that his skills had to be sidelined for a few years in prison and then on probation where he couldn’t touch a computer.

 

We are in the third month of 2016. How is it going so far for you? Are you still working on those New Year’s resolutions?

My goals were:

  1. to blog each month. Not the everyday pace I set a few years back, but telling myself to blog at least once a month is an easy goal.
  2. To read at least one non-fiction book a month. My hope was to read more than 12 this year, but the one a month goal still sets me ahead of most Americans in that department.
  3. To help Swing dance grow in the upstate of South Carolina. Greenville Swing is doing wonderfully! (If  you live in the Greenville, SC area, come check us out!)
  4. To completely re-vamp the classes I have been teaching rather than relying on any previously written quizzes or tests.
  5. Keep my eyes open for another entrepreneurial opportunity that I may want to invest in, run, or start from scratch.

So far, I am keeping up with my goals. None of them were earth shattering, but having them is still important. What are your goals this year and how are you doing with them?

 

One term in business that cannot be escaped is ROI (Return on investment). What if you don’t own your company? Or you are in an odd industry like mine, (Education) that doesn’t produce a widget. We shape students. Traditionally, ROI is the profit that the company has at the end of the day. That is the return on the investment made by those who took the leap to start the company, or those who have invested along the way. Sometimes though, we need to measure ROI differently.

  • A homeless shelter: ROI might be seeing people get off the streets, get a job and get into more permanent housing.
  • A school:  students who are successful in their lives due to their education.
  • A church: the people whose lives are changed.
  • A political campaign: The voters who turn out to vote for your candidate.

Then of course there is the traditional measure…money. Money made – Cost to produce = ROI. It might be positive (Also called profit), it might be negative, but it is the return on your monetary investment.

How do you measure your ROI?

 

When you put together your marketing strategy, there are many things to keep in mind, but at the core, regardless of what industry you are in, your marketing plan must incorporate a way of understanding the changing needs of your customers. You must figure out how you plan to become the solution for those needs/problems. When you do that, you are seizing the opportunity and defines the value that you bring to the table as a company.

Who is your customer?

What is her need?

How is that changing?

What is your solution?

The answers to these questions will aid you in defining your marketing strategy.

 
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