I Used to Dream Too Small

Growing up in the lower middle-class causes people to have some beliefs that can actually limit them from reaching their true potential. I know, because I used to be like this.

When you are surrounded by those with an average mindset, you may adopt average goals. I grew up thinking that success meant getting a high school education, a house, a family, a car, and a "steady job".

I grew up in a 1,000 sq-ft home, in a small suburb of Houston. My parents were hard workers. We were never poor, but we never had luxuries either. Every dollar that came into that house was based on sweat equity. Like most, it was just trading hours for dollars. Marking your calendar for paydays, so that you wouldn't overspend your check.

I learned to value working hard. I also figured my life would be a repeat of how I grew up. That was the norm. You see, people rarely climb out of their financial demographic. The mindset sets in, and they become comfortable when they achieve what everyone around them achieves.

I was always curious about how successful people reached those levels. I'd heard all the excuses before, like "They were born with it."

Hearing stuff like that has a tendency to make some people give up. They lose hope, because they weren't born with it. The average mindset strikes again. You start getting advice from those who never tried, and just repeat the same excuses that their elders told them. When you are young, you have no reason to disbelieve those senior to you.

Here is the real truth. If you are currently setting your goals to be within the middle-class, you will be living a tougher life. The reason is just based on sheer numbers. This group consists of the most people, therefore you are competing against the most people. You are competing for the same jobs, same homes, same resources. Supply vs demand forces your value down, because there is an abundance of supply - the people.

When you can set your goals higher, your mind will now compete for prizes at a higher level. Where there is much less competition. MUCH less. In our digital world, you won't need the large financial backing to compete in those arenas. Attention is like currency, nowadays. The money follows attention. It follows influence. It doesn't matter where you start from, the rules are universal.

When I was young, I used to think that earning six-figures was only a dream. It was so far away from my reality, my world. When I started my first side-jobs, I thought earning $50 was amazing. When I waited tables, I thought earning $100 after working all day long was awesome. When John and I started LS1Tech, we thought earning $500/month to pay for our hotrods would be cool. Yes, we set really low goals back then. That site earned over $30,000/month when we sold it, six years later. That was just a side-business for us. I eventually also earned multiple six-figures in my oil career.

This was all a result of a mindset shift. Surrounding myself with other driven people. Working with mentors. Working on self-improvement daily. Setting goals, and taking action. Stepping out of just settling for average.

This path isn't for everyone. Some will probably read this, and roll their eyes. They will continue to make excuses about why they haven't reached their own goals. They will blame others for their situation.

At the end of the day, it all comes down to you. Your grit. Your willingness to push aside self-limiting beliefs, trusting yourself, and doing the work. There is no easy way. There is no get-rich-quick. There is only work.

Today, I enjoy helping my clients start up their first businesses, and helping existing businesses level-up. It is what I was meant to do. If you want to work with me, please contact me.

I've accomplished much during my career so far, but I feel like I'm just getting started.

I have some BIG dreams, nowadays.

Building a Brand? Show Your Face!

Marketing & Personal Branding Tip - Show Your Face! 

I want to offer a helpful suggestion to those using social media to build their personal brand, or even a newer company brand.

Faces sell. Logos do not.

If you are using anything but your own smiling face for your profile pic, you are likely hurting yourself in terms of marketing potential. I'll explain.

The best marketers understand human psychology and behaviors. No, you don't need to be a psychologist to understand this, there are several books on influence and marketing that you can learn from. I'll offer the shortened version.

Humans seek connection with others. We are wired this way. The best ads always show another human. The best websites always have smiling faces shown. The power of testimonials is unquestionable. Faces build connection. Connection builds trust, and that leads to sales. People do business with those they like. It is really this simple.

When you use a logo, or worse - some cartoon or strange photo as your profile pic, you miss out on hitting your marketing potential. People are skeptics by nature, so now the initial reaction to your pic is "What are they hiding?" - the complete opposite that you want, as a brand builder. Until your brand logo is well-established and recognized by the masses, you are likely better served by using a picture of your company representative.

I used to have a logo on both my Facebook and Instagram business pages (365driven). Someone gave me this same advice a year ago, and my follower count literally doubled on both pages, in a single year. I didn't change my posting behavior, I just added a more "human" aspect to those accounts.

Now, let's see those smiling faces! 


Sundays are generally a day for relaxing, for most people. As the sun begins to fade, late in the day, there is a common mindset shift away from our enjoyed activities. We begin to think to ourselves "Tomorrow is Monday." Very few people look forward to Monday. If you happen to be one of the few that do enjoy the day, congratulations. Perhaps you will remember a time when you didn't enjoy the beginning of the work week. We've all been there, before. Remember, we may also return to that point of dislike or unexcited mindfulness, due to any unforeseen circumstance. Your happiness may only be temporary, and could be altered by someone else's decision.

How many of you feel stuck in a routine? A stagnant, stale, repeating schedule. The thought of the stack of to-do's that you must tackle, the pile of paperwork or tasks that you must unravel. All of this stuff is just on pause, awaiting your return to your desk. It can seem overwhelming, at times. That phone, curse that annoying digital ring tone. It can't wait to annoy you again, evidenced by the ringing it is already making as you first walk up to your desk. You aren't late, the callers are just relentless. That email inbox. Sometimes you wish you could just click "select all" and follow it with "delete". You smile when you think of doing this. But, you know reality cannot be avoided. The emails will keep coming. The important messages get buried beneath the reply-all conversations from people who just love to read their own messages.

Sometimes you'll find yourself staring at a wall in your cubicle or office. You begin to think "Is this really my life? Is this it? Do I really have to do this for 40 years? There has to be more. This can't be my life." Then your logic steps in to justify things. "Well, they are paying me to do this. I guess I'll keep doing it. I need a job. I have bills to pay."

How many of you are feeling throttled back at your job? Knowing you could do much more, but are held back from your potential? You succumb to doing busy-work that really isn't challenging to you. You continue to provide value, but feel unrecognized for it. You are continually told to wait your turn for those promotions, while watching the current role-sitters fumble with incompetence. You can keep watching that show, because you know that the company rarely removes people. You might be waiting a very long time, decades perhaps. "Pay your dues" they say. Welcome to the no-passing zone. Stay in line behind that slower moving vehicle. Now, this isn't to disregard wisdom and experience, but some corporations fail to realize that some people never gain those attributes - regardless of age. You can laugh, because we've all seen cases of this.

So what do you do about it? Complaining at the coffee machine in the break room, or while eating lunch with your co-workers won't solve anything. Everyone does that, it is like a favorite pastime for colleagues. Complaining never solves anything. Only action that results in change, can alter your trajectory. If you don't know what your career trajectory is, take a look at your supervisor. Maybe their supervisor, too. That is the path you are on. When you evaluate their positions, pay-scales, and lifestyles; is it going to be enough for you? Are their current standings equal to your final goals in life?

These are the questions that few employees take time to consider. The sad reality is that most people eventually land on a plateau of being content. We get to a point where what we earn, can make us sustain just enough pain. It isn't until we feel true pain, and discomfort that we are willing to incorporate changes. We might be running on that treadmill with a tasty snack hanging just before our nose, just out of reach. Then we look at our clock and 40 years have passed by.

These thoughts are what always made me strive for more. While I've truly loved many aspects of my engineering / project management career in oil, I always felt I could do more. If I wasn't going to receive the potential during that 8 hours a day at work, then I'd find an alternate path on my own time. I started building my own companies, in my spare time. It has proven successful. I've essentially led a dual career for the last 20 years, in two completely distinct industries. Oil and Automotive Performance. I have created huge networks within both industries, without merging the two.

I've always striven to do my best, on both sides of this career division. No doubt I've put more manhours into the oil side, as it is more demanding of time. Financially, both sides have been about equal in the long-term. I just want to provide you with the knowledge, and courage to understand what is possible. You can make excuses, or you can make things happen. This was the basis for writing my book, Sidehustle Millionaire. I know there are thousands of working professionals out there, who have hit that glass ceiling within their corporate careers. Highly talented, driven people, who will never get the opportunity to shine brightly. I also know of  younger generations of professionals that are hungry, and willing to take alternate paths.

When you aren't receiving the opportunities at your day job, sometimes you have to create your own. I hope to help thousands with this.





Reasons Why We Do Not Start a Business

There is no shortage of excuses available, when it comes to the consideration of starting a new business. Many people have simply created mental roadblocks, and set self-imposed limits of their own potential. Most of us already know the answers to our hardest questions, yet we still seek validation to take that first step. The internal struggle is the real battle here, nothing else.

These are the results that I compiled, while gathering research data for my upcoming book about starting a business. I sent out inquiries, and received over 100 responses back. These people consist of current business owners, and aspiring entrepreneurs. There was no specific industry requirement, no age or gender bias, nor revenue target. We received feedback from at least 5 different countries, as well. This effort was purely to collect the main reasons that people do not start their first business, and to identify the main drivers to starting a business. While I had their valuable attention, I sought to ask for lessons learned. What their challenges were, and what changes they would make if they were to start all over again.

The data below is expressed in a percentage, based on the number of responses received. I removed any single-digit responses, to provide more focus on the predominant replies.

1. What were the top 3 reasons that kept you from, or delayed you from starting a business?

  • 58%         Fear, self-doubt, lack of confidence
  • 56%         Lack of money or funding
  • 36%         Lack of knowledge, experience, or education
  • 33%         Already had comfortable salary / benefits career
  • 25%         Lack of time
  • 25%         Too many ideas, lack of focus
  • 18%         Negative influence from friends or family

No surprises here. The most popular answer that holds people back is simply fear. Fear of failure, fear of rejection, fear of becoming successful. If anything, this shows you how important your mental mindset is. These people had to overcome these fears, and take that crucial first step. Fear isn't something tangible, you can't put your hands on it. It is purely a mental roadblock, which you will need to put in serious effort to improve upon. It is unfortunate that so many people are held back from their potential, simply by a lack of self-confidence. Confidence is purely a decision, it isn't a genetic characteristic. You simply have to decide to be confident, even if it feels uncomfortable at first. This is how you build real confidence, by trying it more often.

Lack of money was near the top, as expected. However, many of these business owners mentioned that the money thing was mostly a figment of their imagination, prior to getting started. Once they actually started the company, they realized how inexpensive it can be to actually start a business. Not every business requires huge funding, many could be started for a few hundred bucks. So, before you put money as a reason not to start, be sure to evaluate if the business you want actually requires a large investment. You may find it doesn't.

Feeling as if you do not have enough experience or knowledge was also similar to money. It was a perceived roadblock, but many entrepreneurs discovered that they were able to start and also learn along the way. The truth is, we never quit learning. Don't be afraid to jump, and learn as you go.

Rounding out the bottom of that list, is one topic that I address quite often with clients. The power of influence by their inner circle of friends and family. People love to keep relationships and attachments, even if those are deemed caustic. It is difficult for some people to let go, and they try to please everyone. If you are not being supported within your circle, it may be time to find a better circle. Spend less time with those who hold you back, and replace them with people that encourage you to improve.

2. What were your top 3 reasons to start a business?

  • 82%         Independence or flexibility
  • 73%         Increase of income
  • 35%         Gain a sense of personal accomplishment
  • 24%         Following passion, fun, or enjoyment
  • 20%         To help other people, or build legacy

Freedom! There was certainly a breakaway response within this pack of responses. While the potential increase in income was important to most, the idea of being in control of their own destiny was the most important reason to start a business. How many of these resonate with you?

3. If this is a side-hustle business, what reasons keep you from quitting your normal career?

  • 49%         Need for steady income or benefits
  • 20%         Enjoy their current career

The funny thing about this question, is that I did not specify any amount of responses. But, we ended up with basically two reasons that people would start a business on the side of their normal career. Several could not walk away from the stability their 9-5 offers, and a few even loved their current job. They just wanted to increase income, on the side.

4. Once your business was started, what were your 3 most difficult challenges about running the business?

  • 40%         Managing cash flow, financial and taxes
  • 31%         Lack of knowledge or time related to salesmanship or marketing
  • 29%         Managing partners, employees, or contractors
  • 20%         Time management
  • 16%         Managing growth or expansion
  • 11%         Work / Life balance

Did you know that a recent study from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that 20% of all new businesses fail within their first year? And, 50% of those businesses fail within 5 years. The number one reason businesses fail is cash flow. Some data suggests as much as 80% of failed businesses are directly related to cash flow problems. Not pricing their goods or services properly, not generating enough revenue, not collecting on overdue invoices, screwing up payroll, improperly filing taxes. Money is the lifeblood of your company, and it is essential to manage it properly. You should make financials the #1 responsibility in your business, because you cannot operate without money. As a business consultant, I can't count how many times I've seen small businesses fail because they got behind on bills, and were just trying to drum up new business to pay for the old debts. It always leaves the last round of customers screwed, when they shutter the doors. Get ahead of that, be sure to keep enough cash on hand to operate your business, and flow that money through the process properly.

Marketing and Sales seems to be a really weak spot for new business owners. Pay extra attention to this! Just because you are a technical wizard, or have some awesome talent or knowledge in an area, it doesn't make you good at creating sales. That is Business 101, to create a transaction. Too many people jump into starting a business, but have no clue on how to market or advertise, and close the deal. There are numerous books, courses, and coaches out there that can help you with this. Do not take this lack of skill lightly!

5. Has your business has achieved your original goals? Choose one.

  • 47%         Have not met goals
  • 22%         Exceeded goals
  • 13%         Met goals

This result from the feedback shows us the hard truth. Not every company is successful, in the eyes of the owner. I know that it seems trendy for people to want to become entrepreneurs, but the reality is that there is still a lot of work required. Many times, we are buried under trivial tasks that we should be delegating or outsourcing, and cannot accomplish the priority tasks. There are many important aspects to running a business, and many times you feel like you are trying to coordinate chaos. We spend too much time trying to fix our personal weaknesses, rather than hire others who can compliment our strengths.

6. If you could do things all over again, what would you do differently?

  • 31%         Started sooner
  • 15%         Find coach, accountability partner, or mentor
  • 11%         Be more focused on one business, or the core business

I received numerous responses to this open-ended question, but these are the only three that got into double-digits of responses. Starting sooner was certainly the most common response, and this should help encourage others to take that first step. There is a Chinese proverb that I enjoy reading that goes like this: "The best time to plant a tree, was 20 years ago. The second best time is today." Those who responded wishing they had started sooner, no doubt feel this tree proverb in their mind. The second highest response was unexpected, simply asking others for help. Even though we hear successful people always suggesting to find a mentor or coach, it seems too many of us put this task aside. We allow our pride, ego, or anxiety, to hold us back from asking the advice of others who have done what you want to achieve. I've been guilty of this myself, and I've committed to asking more people for advice from now on. You see, even a business consultant and mentor still needs a mentor! Learning is not something that you have done, it is something you DO. Always. Never be afraid to ask for help, but just be respectful of other people's time. And, never hesitate to help others, when called upon.

I hope this data is useful for your mental processing, in determining where to start. I hope it shows you that the fears and thoughts you currently have are common, and that you aren't alone. Maybe this will help reduce the fear. I'll be capturing the main questions and responding to them in more detail within my book. This exercise was important, as I wanted to be sure that I can provide everyone with the best book possible. The book that confronts, and answers the hardest questions. I greatly appreciate all the participants taking the time to respond, and I hope you will find this data useful for your own business endeavors.


Quickly Evaluate Your Business Ideas

The most difficult question for an aspiring entrepreneur, is where to start. First, you need an idea for a product or service that you could earn income with. Even better, have several ideas to choose from. I always recommend that someone follow their passions, and start a company based on something that they love. Money follows passion. Many businesses fail because they were started for the wrong reasons, lack of management skills, distraction by something else that was more shiny, or losing the drive to put in the hard work. When you work within your passions, you are less likely to give up, and more likely to push towards success. Your passions can be identified with one simple question: If you could do one thing every day for the rest of your life, and get paid for it, what would that be?

Barring the wisecrack answers of “Semi-Pro Wine Drinker” or “TV Binge-Watching Expert”, you still have to be realistic with your definition of passions. Is the subject within your skill set, or knowledge capability? Not everyone can be an NFL starting quarterback, or create quantum physics theories. Some level of self-awareness is certainly required. You also have to come up with the idea to earn income from the idea, somehow.

With your business ideas fresh in your mind, now it is time to evaluate each of them individually. To do this, you should first come up with some short-term and long-term financial goals. I recommend 1 year, 5 year, and 10 year goals. Measurable, actual numbers are required here. You will need to define a specific goal that can be quantified and pursued. Saying “I want to be rich” is not a measurable goal. There is no value to measure against, and “rich” is a subjective description that is just based on perspective. A better example of a measurable goal would be “I want to earn $200,000 per year” or “I would like to have $5 million saved in 10 years.” Both of those are good specific goals, as there is a dollar value and a time value within each. This makes them measurable, and you will also know when you achieve those goals. I do not typically recommend just attainable, easy goals. I usually recommend aiming higher, as larger goals are more likely to motivate you, and keep you motivated. When people set goals too low, they get lazy and become content.

With your defined financial goal in mind, you can then reverse-engineer the yearly, monthly, weekly, and daily income required to achieve that goal. This exercise will also test the validity and likelihood of this business idea, to achieve the income level of your goal. Here is an example.

Let’s say you want to open a small store in your town, and your financial goal is to earn $200,000 salary per year. If you do some Google research on the type of store you are interested in, you can find the average Net Profit Margin for similar businesses. Net Profit Margin is the pure profit, after overhead costs are subtracted. Overheads are your building lease, utilities, cost of goods, advertising, reinvestment into the company, employee pay, services needed, and other associated costs needed to operate the company. Let’s assume your business idea usually has an average 10% Net Profit Margin. As a small business owner, that remaining net profit could be the same thing as your personal income.

To earn $200,000 income per year, at a 10% Net Profit Margin, you would need to have a sales revenue of $2,000,000 in products or services per year. For a small business owner, the simple formula is:

Income = Sales Revenue x Net Profit Margin

$200,000 = $2,000,000 x 10%

Now you must accept the potential harsh reality of your business idea. Does it seem possible to achieve the calculated sales revenue, to reach the financial goal of your income dream? If your business idea isn’t scalable, or your potential customer base isn’t large enough, or your competitors have too large of a market share already, it may be very difficult, if not impossible, to achieve the sales revenue that you need to achieve the income you want.

This quick check will tell you if the idea is a waste of your time, or if the idea needs to be refined to improve the potential. You’ll find that many of your ideas do not align with the financial goals you have, as this is quite common. Your choice is to relax those financial goals, or to think of some better ideas. Don’t waste a minute chasing an idea that will never potentially arrive at the goals you have set. Create, plan, and execute only the best ideas to potentially reach your goals, backed with that important passion aspect.

Now, get after it!