Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Prince Was a Great Icon of Music - an Even Greater Entrepreneurial Leader

Prince - one of world's great entrepreneurs disrupted the music industry.
To most people the word "leader" is synonymous with being the boss of a group of people. The more people that work for you, the more the opportunity to demonstrate your leadership skills.

Of course, many entrepreneurs understand that you don't need to have a massive payroll in order to  make a real difference to the world. Some entrepreneurs demonstrate great entrepreneurial leadership skills by disrupting entire industries for the betterment of the market.  And that's why this week's loss of the musician Prince has hit many people very hard. Not only has the world lost an iconic musician but it also lost a great entrepreneur who knew how to shake up the old way of doing things and bring about major innovation is his field.

Indeed Prince's achievements as an entrepreneur were chronicled by the Washington Post. (Jena McGregor.) Here are some of his key achievements:

As the many eulogies and remembrances of Prince rolled in last week, the towering pop star - in influence if not in physical stature - was called a "certified genius" by The Who's Pete Townshend. A "true innovator and a singular artist" by Apple CEO Tim Cook. A "creative icon" by President Obama.

He was also, in his way, a leader...  He was a leader when it came to innovations in music distribution, to the issue of musicians' rights, and to a push for artists' independent control. And his genre-defying sound had the ability to unite generations of music lovers and the musicians he influenced.
First Album Released Online
Way back in 1997, Prince was the first major artist to release an entire album online, according to a Webby Lifetime Achievement award he received in 2006, when he let his fans buy the three-CD set "Crystal Ball" directly from him over the Internet.

"Prince's leadership online has transformed the entertainment industry and reshaped the relationship between artist and fan," the group said, and noted that he predated more recent efforts to "premiere videos and new music, challenge distribution practices and connect with his fans."

Early Crowdfunding
While the 1997 release was problematic, with delayed orders and disappointment that it was not sold exclusively online, it helped carve a path for others to find new ways of distributing their music. As Prince fan and social media veteran Anil Dash tweeted last week, "Prince crowdfunded an album on the Internet, complete w/ Kickstarter-style late delivery to angry fans, 20 YEARS AGO. Your fave could never." He also gave away copies of albums with tickets to concerts and with issues of British newspapers....

Long before that, he exhibited an independence few musicians had dared, battling Warner Brothers in the early 1990s over the pace he released his albums, famously changing his name to a symbol and writing "slave" across his face in response. He returned to the label recently, with control over music rights.

"Prince changed the game," read a statement from Greg Harris, CEO of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, which inducted Prince in 2004. "He controlled the stage, he controlled the music and he controlled the media," Harris said, calling him "a driven leader who made us bend to his will, created a new path and inspired others to step up, just to keep up."

Even beyond his pioneering independence, he was a social advocate, one who wrote songs and spoke out on political issues and inspired the YesWeCode nonprofit to help open tech jobs to black youths.

And then, of course, there was his music, which crossed boundaries, defied genres and had seemingly unanimous respect among musicians and fans alike.

Few voices in our world today have that kind of reach...

So whether you make music on the synthesizer or use the keyboard to create software you have the chance to change the world for good... and in doing so really demonstrate the true meaning of entrepreneurial leadership. 

How can I change the world in this time of global uncertainty, I hear you ask.
Well if not you with your great entrepreneurial skills, then who?  And if not now, then when?

Sunday, April 17, 2016

It's Better to Get a Pie in the Face than Sit Quivering on the Sidelines

Excellent history lesson in Business Insider by Matt Weinberger about some of the biggest forecasting errors Bill Gates made in his public pronouncements.

Why am I bringing it to your attention? Too many people are missing out on the fun of being an entrepreneur.  They are frozen in place. Why? For fear their next move in business will be wrong. 

This article demonstrates that even the most successful people make big mistakes. It's how they RECOVER that separates the true champions from the wannabees!  And I think its fair to say, Mr. Gates has demonstrated that he can take a good pie to the face and get right back up! Indeed, the boy turned out real good!

Here's six of the Bill Gates' Greatest Misses!

Viva Mac
1 "The next generation of interesting software will be done on the Macintosh, not the IBM PC," said Bill Gates in a BusinessWeek article in 1984.

At the time, Gates and Apple cofounder Steve Jobs were on good terms. But once Microsoft released Windows for the IBM PC, the relationship fell apart.

Viva IBM OS/2
2 Before Windows became a hit, though, Microsoft teamed up with IBM to create a new operating system called OS/2. "I believe OS/2 is destined to be the most important operating system, and possibly program, of all time," Gates said in 1987.

That didn't work out for IBM, either. Once Windows 3.0 became a smash hit in 1990, Microsoft didn't need IBM anymore and walked away from OS/2. IBM kept OS/2 going for decades, but it officially died in 2006.

My Customers Love Bugs!
3 "There are no significant bugs in our released software that any significant number of users want fixed," Gates said in Focus Magazine in 1995. He went on to say that nobody would ever buy software just to fix bugs.

It was true then and it was true today: There are always software bugs, and people always want them fixed. That goes double for products as popular as Windows and Office. The big change now is that, thanks to the internet, bug fixes get to people faster than ever.

The Internet is Stillborn
4 "I see little commercial potential for the internet for the next 10 years," Gates allegedly said at one Comdex trade event in 1994, as quoted in the 2005 book "Kommunikation erstatter transport."

Indeed, in his 1995 book "The Road Ahead," Gates would make one of his most well-known blunders: He wrote that the internet was a novelty that would eventually make way to something much better. "Today's Internet is not the information highway I imagine, although you can think of it as the beginning of the highway," Gates wrote.

In the mere weeks between finishing the book and it getting to bookstores, Gates realized a little too late that the internet was taking off after all. He issued Microsoft's famous "The Internet Tidal Wave" memo and reoriented the company in that direction. In 1996, he released a revised edition of the book that included more on the internet.

5 Proprietary is the way to go!

"One thing we have got to change in our strategy - allowing Office documents to be rendered very well by other peoples browsers is one of the most destructive things we could do to the company. We have to stop putting any effort into this and make sure that Office documents very well depends on PROPRIETARY IE capabilities," Gates wrote in a memo to Microsoft in 1998.

Gates is a competitive guy. But in the end, Microsoft's reliance on proprietary technology ended up hamstringing the company in the long run. Current CEO Satya Nadella has gone a long way towards opening up the company's tech, to the delight of customers and developers.

6 The End of SPAM

 And in 2004, Gates gave us this doozy in a BBC interview: "[E-mail] spam will be a thing of the past in two years' time."

12 years later, that, uh, didn't happen. Security company Symantec says that spam has hovered around half of all e-mail sent for the last decade.

So entrepreneurs go forward and take a calculated risk. Its hard to imagine your idea could be any further off the mark than those of the  illustrious Mr Gates.
Despite being pied in Brussels in Feb 1998, Bill Gates did good for himself! Able to laugh at his misfortune, Gates told reporters, "The cake didn't even taste good."

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Dragon Lady Provides Entrepreneurs with Teachable Moment

Self-Proclaimed First Dragon Lady

There is a timeless law of market positioning which says that being first in your chosen market is a source of competitive advantage. So what should you do if you're an entrepreneur who finds his or her market niche already crowded? REDEFINE your market niche.

Take, for example, this enterprising person, Richard Hernandez of Arizona.

Former Banker Richard Hernandez

The 55 year old transgender, former banker, found his path to celebrity blocked by a growing number of people such as the former Olympian, Bruce Jenner.  So what to do?  He had a reptilian metamorphosis and became number one in the category of DRAGON LADIES. 

You've certainly got to admire her commitment to celebrity. Aside from having her ears and nose removed, the woman had to endure tooth extraction, eye coloring, adding horns to her head, getting a forked tongue and getting a face full of tattoos.

So remember today's lesson in entrepreneurship.  BE FIRST in Your Market.  And if you're second, third or 100th, "simply" redefine your market until you can say you are the first.  And just for the record, I, Jonathan Copley, claim to be the first Business Coach to blog about Dragon Ladies.

You can read more wisdom from the "Record-Holding" Business Coach at  Journal of Wisdom for Entrepreneurs

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Biz and Politics Mix Badly: Seattle Robbed of 2nd on List of Most Liberal

Forbes recently published its annual list of most liberal and conservative cities in the US  Any surprises? Well for one, DC is second most liberal beating out my hometown of Seattle. Who'd have thunk it...the Nation's Capital, the bastion of the Establishment would be the second most liberal in the Nation. In any case I thought DC was a District not a city! So Seattle demands a recount so we can occupy our traditional spot of second most liberal,  being very slightly to the right of the Nation's fruit and nut capital, which coincidentally is also on the Left Coast.

10. Baltimore, Maryland
9. Buffalo, New York
8. New York, New York
7. Detroit, Michigan
6. Minneapolis, Minnesota
5. Boston, Massachusetts
4. Oakland, California
3. Seattle, Washington
2. Washington D.C.
1. San Francisco, California

10. Aurora, Colorado
9. Tulsa, Oklahoma
8. Omaha, Nebraska
7. Anaheim, California
6. Arlington, Texas
5. Jacksonville, Florida
4. Colorado Springs, Colorado
3. Virginia Beach, Virginia
2. Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
1. Mesa, Arizona

So what has all this got to do with being an entrepreneur, I hear you ask? Everything. First of all four of the top tech hubs appear on the Liberal Top 10. Second no major hubs appear on the Conservative Top 10. But which came first...liberalism or entrepreneurialism? Great question. Probably liberalism would be my gut reaction.

Why does this list matter? Because when you are going through the early stages of starting a business it's very important that investors see that you share their values. Although few investors will admit it, I believe at least at the subconscious level they are looking for clues that the entrepreneur is their "type" a person. And these days that transcends race, religion and gender, and goes to values. As one colleague recently told me, he'll never do business with anyone that supports the candidate with orange hair.

So if you are a hard-charging entrepreneur in Seattle who's looking forward to seeing a President Cruz, my advice would be to keep it very well under wraps or relocate to Aurora, Colorado. Despite Aurora's prestigious position on the Top 10 List of the Nation's most conservative cities, not only may you get funded, but you'll be able to enjoy weed legally, ..but then again maybe you should smoke it in private!

Friday, April 1, 2016

How to Avoid an IRS Audit? Make Less Money!

The WSJ presents some wisdom on how to avoid an unpleasant IRS Audit. The cynics among us may be tempted to sum it up as "to avoid an audit make less money!" The less money you make, the less chance you'll be audited is the message that comes through.

Laura Sanders writes "With tax day nearing, you may be wondering what triggers an IRS audit.

The short answer: It often takes more than it has in the past. In fiscal 2015, which ended Sept. 30, the Internal Revenue Service audited less than 1% of nearly 147 million individual returns, the lowest rate in a decade.

The drop in the audit rate stems from budget cuts, according to IRS Commissioner John Koskinen. Last year, the agency had $900 million less in funding and 25% fewer enforcement officers and agents than it did in 2010. Revenue from audits and other enforcement also dropped last year, to $54.2 billion, from about $57 billion in 2014.

In a November speech, Mr. Koskinen cited an IRS estimate that every dollar invested in the agency produces $4 in revenue.

The overall numbers don’t tell the whole story. In recent years, the IRS has increased its focus on high earners, and in 2015 it audited nearly 10% of returns with $1 million or more of income. In 2006, just 5.3% of taxpayers reporting at least $1 million of income were audited.

To identify returns for exam, the agency often turns to its top-secret computer program known as DIF, for Discriminant Inventory Function system. Its formulas are closely guarded, but tax specialists said DIF seems to compare various numbers on the return with one another and with norms, looking for aberrations.

For example, the program could identify disproportionate charitable, medical or business-entertainment deductions and flag them for scrutiny, said Joe Walloch, a professor emeritus of advanced taxation at the University of California, Riverside.

The IRS also has ramped up enforcement through automated document matching and “correspondence” audits, which are conducted through the mail. Document-matching inquiries focus on discrepancies between a taxpayer’s return and income that a third party reports for that individual. Correspondence audits examine issue-prone areas, such as business expenses or rental properties.

Forewarned is forearmed, so here are areas known for attracting IRS attention:

Form 1099 mismatches. Taxpayers receive a flurry of income reports from banks, brokers and others who have paid them and are required to tell the IRS about it. Taxpayers who don’t account for this income on returns will probably get a letter from the IRS, sometimes within a few months of filing.

If there is a mistake on the form, try to have it corrected. If that isn’t possible, tax specialists said to claim the erroneous amount on your return and enter an adjustment correcting it, to avoid confusing the IRS’s computer matching the documents.

Charitable deductions. It can’t be stressed enough: Taxpayers must have appropriate proof of a donation in hand by the time they file the return to qualify for a deduction. The law has gotten stricter in recent years, and the IRS is enforcing it. Failure to comply with the letter of the law cost one taxpayer an $18.5 million deduction in 2012

For details of proof, see IRS Publication 526. For donations by check, taxpayers often need a letter saying the amount of the donation, its date and whether anything of value was received in return.

Small-business income. IRS research has shown that underreporting of income is high in cash businesses. To uncover it, the IRS may turn to analysis of bank deposits and other methods.

In recent years, the agency has gained another useful tool, Form 1099-K. It reports receipts from credit-card firms and other processors, such as PayPal, both to the owner and the IRS.

Auditors are using this data in the hunt for unreported income. In one example cited by Mr. Walloch, a tobacconist received Forms 1099-K totaling $80,000 and claimed $150,000 of income. The IRS wrote him saying that according to statistical data, a proprietor with $80,000 of 1099-K income should have total receipts of about $240,000 and proposed an assessment of $90,000.

Business travel, meals and entertainment. This is another perennial hot spot for scrutiny. In brief, taxpayers must have records detailing who, what, when, where and why to qualify for a deduction. Tax preparers said people often forget to record the why, the business purpose of the deduction. For more details, see IRS Publication 463.

Undeclared foreign accounts. U.S. law requires taxpayers to report foreign financial accounts, and there can be draconian penalties for both citizens and green-card holders who don’t.

U.S. authorities know much more about such accounts than in the past due to a provision requiring foreign financial firms to submit information to the IRS. In addition, banks and other financial firms in Switzerland, Israel, the Caribbean and elsewhere have been turning over account information following legal settlements...