A Letter to My Blog Subscribers

To: All Subscribers to my Bootstrapping 101 Blog

From: Bob Reiss


First, thank you for subscribing and reading my blogs.

Second, I want to wish everyone a happy, healthy, and fulfilling New Year.

When I started writing these blogs over 15 months ago, I was told by the Internet experts (of which I am the polar opposite) that the Subscribers list would be very valuable  and that I should regularly communicate with Subscribers to help sell my book. Since I never wanted to distract from the blogs and the value some of them may have to you, this is my first communication.


So, I think that after 15 months and 60 blogs, I do not feel it is inappropriate to make a few requests.

  • I would love any type of feedback on the blogs. Are they too frequent? Should they be more often? What new subjects should be covered? What subjects should be concentrated on? Any favorite ones or worst ones? Etc.
  • Self-Publishing is hard as you are almost automatically shut out from selling in retail stores where sales must be guaranteed. As you might surmise from my blogs, that would be against everything I believe. My plan was to sell online primarily through Amazon and to Corporations who do business with Small Businesses like Banks, Credit Card companies, Accounting firms, Insurance companies, and many more. These companies would then give away the book to their customers to hopefully make them (the customers) more profitable. The books can be printed with their logo and message. So I would appreciate it if any of you have leads for me with specific names and titles of such type companies that I could follow up with.
  • If any of you are authoring a book, please let me know, and I can provide you with all the details and contacts on how to do it profitably and more easily. It is much more profitable than using a publisher unless you get a sizeable advance. The problem either way is getting people to know about your book and to buy it.
  • For those who have read Bootstrapping 101 and liked it, your recommendation to Small Business Owners or Wannabees that you know is appreciated. They can read all the details on my web site, www.bootstrapping101.com, which can connect them to the order page on Amazon.com
  • If any of you really like the book, reviews on Amazon or Barnes & Noble are appreciated as they do help sell books. In fact, Amazon encourages publishers and authors to solicit reviews. (Hopefully good ones.)

Thank you.

Bob Reiss




I have received this email story a number of  times over the years with no idea who created it. I think it’s a good one to share to remind Entrepreneurs of perspective in their lives.

When things in your life seem almost too much

When 24 hours in a day is not enough

Remember the mayonnaise jar.

A professor stood before his philosophy class with some items in front of him. When the class began, wordlessly, he picked up a very large, empty mayonnaise jar and proceeded to fill it with golf balls. He asked the students if the jar was full. They agreed it was.

The professor then picked up a box of pebbles and poured them into the jar. He shook the jar lightly. The pebbles rolled into the open areas between the golf balls. He then asked the students again if the jar was full. They agreed it was.

Then the professor next picked up a box of sand and poured it into the jar. Of course the sand filled up everything else. He asked once more if the jar was full. The students responded with a unanimous yes.

The professor then produced two cups of coffee from under the table and poured the entire contents into the jar, effectively filling the empty space between the sand. The students laughed.

“Now,” said the professor, as the laughter subsided. “I want you to recognize that this jar represents your life. The golf balls are the important things—family, children, health, friends, and favorite passions. Things that if everything else was lost and only they remained, your life would still be full.”

“The pebbles are the other things that matter like your job, house, and car. The sand is everything else—the small stuff.”

If you put the sand into the jar first, he continued, there is no room for the pebbles or the golf balls. The same goes for life.

“If you spend all your time and energy on the small stuff, you will never have room for the things that are important to you.”

“So. . .pay attention to the things that are critical to your happiness. Play with your children. Take time to get medical checkups. Take your partner out to dinner.”

“There will always be time to clean the house and fix the disposal. Take care of the golf balls first—the things that really matter. Set your priorities. The rest is just sand.”

One of the students raised her hand and inquired what the coffee represented. The professor smiled. “I’m glad you asked. It just goes to show you that no matter how full your life may seem, there’s always room for a couple of cups of coffee with a friend.”


Lesson for Small Business

The President has proposed an up to $5,000 tax credit for Small Businesses for each employee they ADD in 2010, and an additional tax break for salary increases given to employees making under $100,000 a year. The purpose of this is obviously to add badly needed new jobs.

To receive the maximum $5,000 credit, you would have to hire someone for at least $80,645. An employee you hired for $50,000 would earn you a credit of $3,100. It’s a sliding scale.

I do not believe many new jobs would be created through the program although the attempt will incur a significant cost.

Here’s why I don’t think this well-intentioned plan will work and, in fact, will produce negative results. If you are one of the many Small Businesses who are struggling in this economy or are doing well by maintaining your business, why would you spend $50,000 on a new hire to receive a $3,100 credit? It makes no sense. Small Business entrepreneurs are smart and practical, particularly with money. They have no bailout net. They will hire when they need to and not before. This proposal will adversely affect their cash flow.

There is another group of businesses that are doing well right now and are looking to hire to handle their growth. They will hire with or without government credit. It is a waste of taxpayer money to give them this gift, as it will not alter their behavior.

Both groups are reluctant to hire or borrow money until they know the new rules of the game. How much will their taxes be increased? What will their new healthcare costs be? What will new local taxes be, considering that most states and municipalities are in financial straits? Who will be governing, and will they rein in spending? Is inflation around the corner? Etc. These smart entrepreneurs will not spend expansion money on new hires until they know the answer to these and other questions. They know there is no urgency to hire now, as there will still be highly qualified people available tomorrow. 

There is another cost associated with this proposal that has gotten little press coverage. What will the administrative costs be to implement this plan? It must be monitored, or there will be lots of gaming in the system. I would imagine that the new bureaucracy created will be very costly, but the good news is it will unfortunately create new governmental jobs.

There are a lot more companies eligible for these credits than one would think. Small Businesses are not only home based solo workers or small local retail stores. According to the SBA (Small Business Association, a government agency), Small Business is defined in terms of number of employees or average annual receipts.

Companies with 500-1500 employees or $7,000,000 to $35.5 million dollars in receipts fall into the definition of Small Business and are thus eligible for these tax credits. These large Small Businesses who are doing well will be hiring a lot of employees because they need them and not due to the tax credit. However, the government will be giving them money for jobs that would have been created anyway and thus adding unnecessarily to the plan’s cost. (for more info about Small Businesses definitions at http://www.sba.gov)

There is a lesson in here for Small Business owners. I liken the Small Businesses in this situation to the customers of the government. The government created a plan without a clue as to the mindset and needs of their customers. I cannot imagine that the decision makers in government who created this tax credit plan TALKED to Small Business CEO’s. If they did, they would have discovered their plan would not work.

So, Small Business owners as you grow and your business gets more complex and time-consuming, do not lose sight of your customers and their changing needs.


Success is All in The Attitude

“Entrepreneur commissioned me to write the following article, which they ran January 4. I believe it applies to small business as well as large and services, product and home based businesses. Here it is:”

What’s important to the success of small-business owners and entrepreneurs? Knowledge, skill and talent.

However, many competitors have the same traits you do. The key to beating the competition and achieving success is mental, reflected in one’s attitude, totally controlled by the individual and requires no cash. This holds true in most human endeavors besides business–in sports, the arts and politics.

How many times have we seen the underdog team or player win over the more talented opponent? The difference is often attitude.

These 12 attitude attributes can put you in the right mindset for achieving entrepreneurial success.

  1. Have passion for your business.
    Work should be fun. Your passion will help you overcome difficult moments and persuade people to work for you and want to do business with you. Passion can’t be taught. When it wanes, as it surely will in difficult times, take some quiet time. Whether it be an hour or a week, take inventory of all the reasons you started the business and why you like being your own boss. That should renew your passion.
  2. Set an example of trustworthiness.
    People have confidence in trustworthy individuals and want to work for them in a culture of integrity. The same is true for customers.
  3. Be flexible, except with core values.
    It’s a given that your plans and strategies will change as time goes on. This flexibility for rapid change is an inherent advantage of small over large business. However, no matter the pressure for immediate profits, do not compromise on core values.
  4. Don’t let fear of failure hold you back.
    Failure is an opportunity to learn. All things being equal, venture capitalists would rather invest money in an individual who tried and failed founding a company than in someone who never tried.
  5. Make timely decisions.
    It’s okay to use your intuition. Planning and thought are good. But procrastination leads to missed opportunity.
  6. The major company asset is you.
    Take care of yourself. Your health is more valuable than the most expensive machinery or computer software for the company. You don’t have to choose between your family or your company, play or work. Maintain your health for balance and energy, which will, in turn, enhance your mental outlook.
  7. Keep your ego under control.
    Don’t take profits and spend them on expensive toys to impress others. Build a war chest for unexpected needs or opportunities. This also means hearing out new ideas and suggestions no matter how crazy they sound.
  8. Believe.
    You need to believe in yourself, in your company, and that you will be successful. This confidence is contagious with your employees, customers, stakeholders, suppliers and everyone you deal with.
  9. Encourage and accept criticism graciously. Admit your mistakes.
    You need to constantly work on convincing your employees that it’s okay–even necessary–to state their honest opinions even it if conflicts with the boss’s opinion. Just stating it once or putting it in a mission statement won’t cut it for most people.
  10. Maintain a strong work ethic.
    Your employees will follow your lead. It will also help you beat your competition by outworking them, particularly when your product or service is very similar.
  11. Rebound quickly from setbacks.
    There surely will be plenty of ups and downs as you build the business. Learn from the setbacks and move on. You can’t change the past.
  12. Periodically get out of your comfort zone to pursue something important.
    Many times you will feel uncomfortable in implementing a needed change in technology, people, mission, competing, etc. For the company and you to grow personally, you sometimes have to step out of your comfort zone.

Many organizational and leadership shortcomings can be overcome or mitigated with the good attitudes described above. All can be learned except passion, which comes from within. Take time out of your hectic schedule to periodically reflect on these attributes. You may be inspired to act.



Whether you’ve had a difficult year in this current environment or have been one of the fortunate ones and prospered, it would serve you well to pause and take stock of all the things you should be thankful for.

Be thankful you are in your own business and you are your own boss. Millions of people aspire for the same.

Be thankful you live in the United States, which affords you the opportunity to pursue your passion and to succeed with no limitation and yes to fail, which is one of life’s great teachers.

Be thankful you can choose which 80 hours each week that you can work.

Be thankful for your family and friends who are your support team- an essential element for Small Business owners.

Be thankful you are rewarded for your company’s successes while knowing you can pay for its risks.

Be thankful that you and you alone can make sure everything is done the right way.

Be thankful you can try to implement any ideas you have and bring them to fruition. The corporate people can’t say that.

Be thankful you are in a position to positively impact other people’s lives.



This myth seems to emanate from the media portrayals of entrepreneurs, likening them to old gun slinging, sneering, arrogant cowboys just looking to find and attack risk. My experiences and those of most successful entrepreneurs I’ve met indicate the exact opposite: small business owners with their own money on the line look to minimize, avoid, share, or make risk disappear.

Every time I think of this topic, I’m reminded of Professor Howard Stevenson’s remarks on the subject, essentially saying, “have you ever met an Entrepreneur who wakes up in the morning, bounces out of bed, and says, ‘What a great day! Where can I find risk?’”

I think risk, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder. By that I mean that risk looks and is different when viewed by an outsider and an insider. An insider is one with good general business experience, and specific industry expertise. This person does not perceive certain risks because he/she knows their way around the risk minefields that the outsider cannot see. Successful business people do their homework to understand given situations. The more knowledge they bring to bear on a situation, the less risky it is. It’s a little bit like throwing more wood on the camp fire: more and more space around the periphery gets illuminated, and it becomes clear that –at least as far as you can see—there really aren’t any wild animals out there. I like Gourmet Coffee marketer Dennis Boyer’s take on this subject. He says, “I think entrepreneurs have a talent for capitalizing on opportunities that have a lot of perceived risk, but because his math is a little more insightful, those risks aren’t quite the same as those for those who see the situation from the outside.”

That is not to say that there are no business risks out there. Of course there are, but the smart businessperson seeks to identify and understand the risks inherent in a given situation. If the risks are too big and can’t be managed, and the risk/reward ratio is out of line, the good entrepreneur will most often walk away.

I also think many business owners do not delineate between Risk to the Business and Risk to One’s Ego. Risks to the business and the assets behind it are real and should be scrutinized with concern. By Risks to your Ego, I mean fear of being rejected by a potential buyer, loan officer, licensor, or whatever. Those should not be confused with Risk to the Business.

A rejection is not a failure. It should be viewed as an opportunity to learn. Successful entrepreneurs have the self-confidence to face all these ego risks and to put their energies into reducing or avoiding risks to the business.

Answer to Challenge #6:  GEORGE BUSH—He bugs Gore.

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