The AnswersThatWork Blog

Monday, 14th July 2008

Thou shall not kill !

Thou shall not kill !

All churches of the Christian faith have this at the core of their sermons :  Thou shall not kill.

Got it ?

So, tell me, what do you think of a Baptist church which offers, as prize to its members, an assault rifle ?  We're talking Uzi, AK47, M16 here, or, more precisely, in the case of this story, an AR-15, the sort of machine gun that kills quickly, efficiently, and decisively.

A Baptist church gives as a prize to its members the tool for killing quickly and in multiples !

Whether one is Christian, Muslim, Jewish, Buddhist, or of no religion, this is an absolutely unbelievable story.  I have read the story about 20 times and my head still hurts every time I try to understand what's going on at Windsor Hill Baptist Church.  This is the sort of story you think is purely out of a Sci-Fi Hollywood film.  But, No, it happens every year.  Read about it  here in The Register  or here, as a smaller story, on  Oklahoma City Koco 5 Channel TV website.

Madness !  Shocking Madness !

—— (TUT) SpaceMan

Tuesday, 8th July 2008

Get Rich Quick

We all want to get rich quick.  As the saying goes :  "Money does not buy happiness, but Man does it help !".

In the current recessionary times, there are opportunities for making money, for buying "time", just as much as there are during boom times.

For example, a smart way to make money is to.....  save money !  Clever, hey !  Each country has its own ever changing and ever improving financial instruments for saving money, from the simple High Interest Savings accounts offered by Banks to more complex Money Accumulation schemes available to those with bigger pools of cash — for those who can invest in Gold, for example, now is a very good time to do so.

Another smart move, for businesses, is investing in affordably priced tools which save A LOT of time.  Our own The Ultimate Troubleshooter (TUT) is such a tool — you can read about it here.  As all businesses know, the most expensive and most elusive commodity is Time.  If you can make Time work for you, then all the better, so do check TUT out.

What's also interesting, however, is that just as during boom times, there are opportunities to get rich quickly in recessionary times too, but, as always, timing, luck, and, above all, a sound business plan still apply.

I was exposed to two contrasting approaches last week which show this.  On the one hand I read in the Financial Times about a company in Florida called something like Real Estate Vultures (what a name!) which does not hide that it wants to make money out of over-mortgaged house owners who are having to sell their homes.  What they do is concentrate on properties that cost at the very least $400,000 or, preferably a lot more.  They find two or three absolutely desperate home owners in the same price range, then find a buyer who is flush with cash and after a bargain that will appreciate over a long term period, and then they pit the desperate home owners against each other to drive the selling price down.  Once they've driven the price down, they tie up the purchase and make their money on the difference between the quoted price and the lowest price from the desperate sellers.  These Real Estate Vultures guys have been walking away with a minimum of $100,000 to $300,000 commission on each deal, and business is booming! Now that's a real smart idea.  Of course there are moral issues about it, and not everyone has the mental hardness and coldness to make money out of people's problems, but that's a different topic.  The point of the story as far as this blog is concerned is that this is a classic example of a Get Rich Quick scheme that works if you're good at it and if you've got enough funds to start with, and it works because the business plan is sound.

At around the same time that I was reading about Real Estate Vultures, or whatever their real name is, I was told about a couple who want to open a pawn shop together to "take advantage of the recession".  On the surface this sounds like another smart and potentially successful Get Rich Quick scheme.  Same fundamentals :  people in need of cash quickly, and, unfortunately, in a recession this will happen more often.  But are the fundamentals the same ?  Well, pawn shops are typically located in poorer districts, they do not survive in rich districts.  Pawn shops rely on two main business fundamentals :  repeat business from customers pawning an item, buying it back, and then pawning it again, and then buying it back, etc...;  and they also rely just as much on passing trade from people after a cheaper item. Problem :  in recessionary times both those fundamentals decline.  On the one hand the people desperate for quick cash pawn their belongings and then find they are unable to get the item back because their financial situation is simply not improving, and, additionally, passing trade declines because everyone in the area is feeling the recession and reducing all spending and making more use of the plentiful Pound shops around (Dollar shops).  The fact is, pawn shops depend on boom times for great business.  They depend on the sort of affluent times when people constantly "pop in" to check out on the latest bargains and they depend on the sort of feel good times where people get into temporary difficulties, pawn their belongings, but are then able to make money quickly enough to buy their items back because times are good and making money is relatively easy if you try.

Two separate stories, and, most probably, two different outcomes.

So, if you're looking for that next Get Rich Quick idea, remember :  those who do get rich quickly almost always have a sound business plan where the fundamentals are rock solid.  That business plan might not be on paper, and most of the time it actually isn't on paper (no time for that, this is about getting rich quickly after all!!), but you can bet my house that there is a well worked out business plan in their heads where all the main angles are covered and where the fundamentals check out perfectly.

So, Good Luck, and don't forget to send me my commission !

In closing, don't get me wrong, I am not advocating making a business out of people's miseries, I personally couldn't do it.  The above examples are purely to highlight two situations that seem identical at first glance but where only one idea is an outright Get Rich Quick winner because the business plan's fundamentals are simple and flawless.

—— (TUT) SpaceMan

Saturday, 5th July 2008

Who owns your Telephone & Internet Lines ?

If you are a business owner, or if you are in charge of IT for your employer, this is one for you.

One of our customers here in town experienced the following two days ago :  all their telephone lines, with 5 of those lines carrying ADSL (DSL) and SDSL broadband, were sourced through a third-party company other than the telephone company which actually owns the physical lines.  This setup was in place because the third party intermediary, a major communications company as it happens, could offer our client a cheaper deal on calls than the carrier company which owns the physical lines.

What happened ?  As a direct result of the credit crunch, falling demand, falling new business, and depressed markets, the third party intermediary went bankrupt without warning a week ago.  Four days later the phone company which owns the physical lines cut them off since their client was the third party company, not our client.  Result :  our client came to work on Thursday to find their 60 telephones and 5 broadband lines all cut off !!  Gone. No phones, no emails, no Internet access.  It gets worse :  17 sub-offices around town all normally connect back to the headquarters servers – those sub-offices are now all down with no computer system.  And to ensure that the whole event becomes a complete disaster, Wimax is not available in the part of town where HQ is located, and cellphone signals, which are perfect out in the street, barely reach inside the Headquarters Office.  Our client might as well be on a desolate island in the middle of the Pacific.

We are currently helping them get back into the "connected world", but at best it will be 5 days before they have any sort of connection to the outside world other than their mobile phones.

The irony is that we have for some time had in place a number of Disaster Recovery plans for this client, but the ownership of their physical lines was always out of our hands — they wanted to do their own deals, and we understand that.  Still, this example shows that the best Disaster Recovery plans will fail if you do not pay attention to who owns your telephone and Internet lines.

We all want a good deal but in these troubled financial times it is imperative that you re-visit your Telephone and Internet lines arrangements.  Above all, if you are able to, make sure that you pay the line rental bills directly to the owner of the physical telephone and Internet lines installed on your premises as, then, if the third party intermediary goes bankrupt, the main carrier which owns the physical lines will still continue to provide you with a service as they have  YOU  down as their customer.

You've been warned....

Good Luck.

—— (TUT) SpaceMan

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