Monday, June 24, 2013

The Heart of The Entrepreneur

If love is all around, as the song saysthen so are entrepreneurs.  And they have been with us since us humans started to interact and trade commercially.

One can almost imagine the brighter cave man a few million years ago realizing that as the most competent fire maker he could sell that skill to other cavesand get all the cave woman he wanted without having to club one over the head. (This skill is still evident in some pubs in Joburgbut I digress)

Wherever there has been supply and demand, there have been entrepreneurs, looking for the gap to make something from nothing, to add value, to take advantage of a fear or a greed.

Do you realize, virtually every commercial product & service that you consume or use has its origins with an individual entrepreneur somewhere in the past, either recent or distant.

Sound far-fetchedname a service...say retail, Pick n PayRaymond Ackerman, your telephoneAlexander Graham Bell, motor carsKarl Benz, electricityThomas Edison; all now represented by huge organizations, but started by individual people.

Yes they had assistance, backing, teams of people but what they, as individual people had most was the single minded vision and drive to achieve their dreams against any and all odds.

“Entrepreneur” is defined as “one who organizes, manages, and assumes the risks of a business or enterprise” (Meriam Webster) It's a word borrowed from French, and is derived from Old French, from the word “entreprendre” , or to undertake.

It's a great derivationto undertake or to set about; it came into broad use in the 1850’s and is today commonly seen as a business leader and innovator of new ideas, but in truth its anyone who embarks on a journey to achieve an objective
There are, and have been entrepreneurs in every sector of society, from every age group, from trading, entertainment, technology, energy, design, health and retail. They are inventors, designers, accountants and lawyers, engineers, male and female and from every ethnic group on earth.

Whether ancient or very recent, and whether you accept the interpretation above, one thing you can agree with is that entrepreneurs have been and are greatly admired.  They are originators, founders, creators; without them the world would stagnate, and we surely wouldn’t have the world which we inhabit.

Many books have been written on what makes a great entrepreneur; the Kersners, Bransons, Packers, Gates and Jobs of this world are held up for inspection & interrogation. Entertainers such as Beiber, Cruise, Spielberg, are case studies unfolding in the media daily.

For the small businessperson this is a great source of inspiration; they all have common factors that have made them successful, they are an awesome bunch.  Driven, focused and mostly big, big dreamers.

But can I, a small businessperson, actually apply some of this knowledge?

What if I just want to make a success of my local (fill in anything you choose) business, do these factors apply? What if I don't want to conquer the world, or even the country or province, I just want to pay for my kids to get a decent education?

We are inspired yes, by reading and hearing of these people; we admire and even may envy their abilities, but can we ever hope to emulate them?

Well, you can, as long as you have one factor very firmly in hand, its not complicated and its intensely personal, and may require a little introspection; it's a first yet vital step.

That critical factor is “Purpose”the reason for why you get out of bed in the morning, the fire in your belly, the drive you may have.  Every time you fail, its purpose that rekindles your desires.

It's a tough one; many people will answer if asked this question with, “survival”, “money”, “children”, “family”.  All totally valid but not quite answering the question; these are outcomes and results, they don't tell you the full picture.

Deep in your awareness is that one reason you do what you do (or should have or want to do) It may be to help people, entertain them, educate them, make the world a better, organized placeits your way of contributing.

Find that, be painfully honest with yourself and when you see it you will recognize it.  You may still be following it, or you may have abandoned it, it could be anything but it will be yours.

Invalidate it at your peril, embrace it & rekindle your energy and drive.

 Some relief may even wash over youits is only in the failure of having, believing and following our purposes that we succumb to the acceptance & justification of our shortcomings.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

War & Other Little Things

I hate war...for any reason, nor do I generally like most politicians, having said that I guess I like politicians that oppose war.

But those that glibly promote the clap trap that war creates great economic booms & discount quite glibly the untold suffering that war creates; or those that promote war as a means of security should be sent to the front lines for a SRA.

But worse still is that war needs huge funding which means creating debt, and guess what, the so-called economic growth after a war, yip, is funded by debt.

The only people benefitting are the international banking cabal.

However regardless of the disastrous economic & social results war has produced in the 21st century, it seems that the good old US of A is once again gearing up for a war with Iran via the conflict in Syria.

This past week the US House passed an act to impose sanctions on Syria & Iran. President Obama also signed an intelligence “finding” directing the CIA to covertly assist rebels in Syria. (like they haven't been up to now...right!!) 

They seem determined to fight yet another war in Syria that has nothing to do with American national interests.

Am I missing something here, America that has created massive national debt in the last three years, (stands at $15 trillion... is trying to, it would seem, to create an economic revival by creating another war, funded by more debt. 

Does one need 3 degrees from Harvard to figure out this is even more nuts?

...enter Ron Paul, the dark horse in the Republican presidential nomination race, to highlight the actual travesty to sanity.

In an article on his web site this past week he points out that the rebels being funded in Syria have as their biggest allies, none other than al - Quaeda.

So the US by involving itself in another war thats got nothing to do with it not only creates more debt, destroys lives and societies (its own and others) but also funds its biggest enemy.

Its the most sadly laughable Alice in Wonderlandesque acid trip idiocy perpetrated by so-called leaders in the past 2000 years.

At least Julius Caesar could only wipe out a small part of earths population, these loons will blow up the planet.

Hey but us Saffa's are safe...the fallout wont get to us so we only have the little things to worry about...

Saturday, August 11, 2012

The Emperors New Power Station

Whats the heck is the deal with Eskoms announced R8b profit? (this on top of R2b last year) Apparently this is mostly made up of the exorbitant price increases that now affect all people in SA, plus we have the pleasure of looking forward to more increases. As Eskom is a government institution I want to know what happens to those profits.

How much for example goes into the pockets of the Eskom Executives? As a public or private company they would be entitled to profit but whats the deal here?

They are funding the building of new power stations through The World Bank, Government, and other institutions, so what capital projects are they planning to spend R8b on.

So as happy as I am sure it makes us all that they can create a profit (they must be doing something right) why must it be at our expense. I mean, after all, who are we, mere customers of a national monopoly to question this.

Never mind that our taxes have funded this institution for its entire duration, we now have to fund its expansion after years of dismal management.

What can we do as law abiding, tax paying people. As one wit suggested we could stop using our electricity for a bit...mmmmmmm. That makes its a little tough and thats the rub.

Eskom know that if you dont pay, they cut you off. You cannot stop using them as they have the monopoly, so they have us by our collective short and curlies.

Passive objection comes in many different forms, Greenpeace dumped 5 tons of coal at their head office today, its certainly a statement and they pose a good question...what is Eskom doing about seeking and developing renewable energy sources.

But what are we doing about sucking up this passive attitude we all have to having to cough up for every government whim. Can we not take a leaf out of the Trade Unions book? They certainly have the ear of government.

We are the tax payers of SA after all, we are the consumers, we are the employers! We make this whole circus function. Without us the government has no game.

Take it or leave it but truth is, your silence costs you money...

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Toll Roads & Taxation

Taxation is dependent entirely on the will of the governed. The greatest revolutions in history were accomplished when the governed stood up and said to the governors to hell with you and your unwelcome taxes. The American Revolution, the French Revolution, the Russian Revolution and so we can go on and on through history.

After the municipal elections in May this year we are about to be forced without consultation, to pay for taxes on the roads where more than 40% of our Gross National Product is produced viz on every single major highway within Gauteng, and in violation of a Statute still on the books that obliges the authorities only to apply tolls on roads where there are alternative routes. These do not exist, so think what your suburbs are going to look like as all the heavy duty 18 and 26 wheelers leave the highways and start using your suburban streets to avoid these ludicrous taxes, imposed on us without so much as a by your leave? Enough with this.

What legal measures can we the unwilling and overburdened motorists take to say NO in the most effective way that exists to the unhearing and arrogant politicians who think we can simply be forced to accept something we object to in the most strenuous manner. The answer is withdraw your consent by simply refusing to cooperate with this disgraceful imposition. That is by way of the following suggestion.

The best way to achieve this is to avoid totally any cooperation with the authorities and to inconvenience them to the highest extent possible by your refusal to cooperate. The very best way to do that is to refuse to install the electronic toll transponders in your car for which they are offering a discount. Transponders require linkage to a credit card, which guarantees payment or for you to pay upfront, by loading a credit on the transponder, thereby assuring they get money for the toll at the time of use. AVOID THIS. Do not respond to this enticement to discount this onerous tax, as this is how they are trying to buy your cooperation. Say NO to their outrageous discounts by saying NO to their outrageous taxes and then still continue to use the highways, as this is entirely legal. That will force SANRAL to issue and mail accounts and then when you still don’t pay, to issue summonses to all motorists who refuse. Only pay under duress and continue to do this until such time they drop the prices. SANRAL will be forced to send out millions and millions and millions of accounts every month and they don't have either the man power or the budget to do it, most especially if you don’t pay them upfront – which is how they will front load the costs of enforcement. Deprive them of that mechanism from the outset. Bankrupt this morally bankrupt system!!!

This is the best and easiest way to boycott the system. South Africans are too complacent and its time we fight back. We have already paid for these roads long ago with the massive ongoing taxes for licences, the levy imposed on your licence fee of R32 every single year, the fuel levy on every litre of fuel, the VAT on your new car, the VAT on your tyres, the VAT on your workshop bill and so on and so on and so on.

Has anyone thought just how much tax we are already paying?

a. Generally 25% to 35% on your salary
b. 14% on everything you buy (except fresh food and some services) but please exclude your sewage usage as you even pay 14% on the water and sewage charges paid to the municipality every time you take a trip to the john.
c. Carbon tax if you buy a new car (besides the 14% VAT you have to pay for VAT)
d. Tax on the fuel you put in your car to run it.
e. Toll on many of our existing roads

When are we going to get up and do something about it? Now is the time to start saying enough. Why now, because everyone is simply outraged and the critical mass to say enough is there. Join the groundswell and say to hell with you!

Where is all our tax money going to?

It is definitely not being spent on what it should be - our hospitals are in a state of disrepair, our schools in shambles, our roads full of potholes, our water contaminated, sewers not working, people left in the dark because Eskom failed to do their upgrades and their managers then get bonuses for millions of Rand which in turn provoke strikes by the general labour force which end up in 11% salary increases, and all the while the poor are poorer still, municipalities are on the brink of collapse, and so the list goes on.

Heard about the youth day celebration that cost R100 million? Mmm... did you pay for it? Oh yes sir/madam you did! R100 million that could have paid for a couple of things our country needed more instead of little boys and girls who pay no taxes holding silly parties to issue useless statements about imperialists – who are those and where are their empires?

Its high time to tell these rapacious and dippy politicians at the Transport Ministry, the Treasury and the Provincial Government, we say enough of you and your attempts to take anymore of our hard earned money for you to waste on whatever hair brained scheme you can think up next so as to give yourselves even more annual bonuses for their implementation. Yes we see how you work, how you reward yourselves for every hair brained bit of lunacy.

Friends withdraw your cooperation to pay these tolls and when it reaches a huge critical mass, watch those tolls come tumbling down. We saw during the World Cup last year, how the nation came together and flew the flag on their cars with delight. They were there at every stop light, every street corner, every filling station, every highway. Everywhere you looked public spirited patriots flew the flag with pride. Now is the time to do the same by saying you’ll only get our toll money with the biggest possible effort.

And for those of you who can avoid the daily, or weekly trips on the highways, take your car out and go through one single toll gantry, and then off at the immediately following offramp. When thousands and thousand of us are doing that, and the toll fee is a measly R8 and the cost of postage and summonses are R40, watch the system collapse under its own weight. Oh yes, they will tell you, you’ll have to pay for the summons, well they have to be delivered in person. If you refuse to collect registered mail at the Post Office, they cant be delivered so then the delivery process moves to another mode. Next they’ll tell you, you have to pay at the time you pay your car licence, well hello, no one can force you to pay anything unless you’ve had your day in court. Yes it’ll be inconvenient if you really stand up to them, but passive resistance the Ghandi strategy which led to India’s independence and which had its origins in this country can move mountains. It threw the British out of India and it can throw Mr Nazzir Ali off our roads (he’s the SANRAL boss)

Its out consent which will make their outrageous tolls work. Its our refusal to cooperate that will raise the price of implementation so high, they will have to think twice.

Author unknown.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Responding to disaster

The scenes coming from Japan these last few days are heartbreaking...sometimes I cannot watch the endless renderings from CNN and Sky for more than a few minutes without wanting to just do SOMETHING to help these people. I have donated money to volunteer groups heading over there but it gnaws at me; how does one respond more personally, and to whom, but more importantly where does one get accurate information on what is really happening. My 9 year old believes from the two minutes of CNN he surreptitiously snuck that all Japanese have been killed. Where else does one get updated information other than these carrion sources.