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Harry Newton's In Search of The Perfect Investment Newton's In Search Of The Perfect Investment. Technology Investor.

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8:30 AM EST Tuesday, April 11, 2006: Gave a talk on entrepreneurship to a class at MIT yesterday. Some points:

+ By owning a business, you get double rewards. Once, when you earn the profits. Twice, when you sell the business and you get a multiple of profits as the sale price.

+ Serious wealth creation is mindset. Training your mind is key. We all need to develop our own framework / criteria for checking each opportunity as it comes along. Sadly, we all miss more than we ever seize. We often let the best ones slide.

+ In examining new ventures, logic is not key. Assumptions are key. Too many bad businesses are started because the entrepreneur gets obsessed by the intricacies and beauty of a complex Excel spreadsheet.

+ 80% of success is luck. 10% is showing up (being there). 10% is planning.

+ Most failed businesses die too slowly, too painfully and too expensively. You should kill your bad ideas quickly and move on. Eventually you'll hit good ones.

+ Partners are great. Few people have the entire gamut of skills necessary to make a new business succeed. I certainly didn't.

+ There's always a "gotcha" -- that one factor that comes out of left field. You might be targeting the wrong customer. You might be naming your product wrongly. You might be pricing it too low. You need to keep asking your customers.

+ You need to figure your Unique Selling Proposition and encapsulate in a pitch that you can give in fewer than 25 seconds.

+ You must develop your own accounting system that reflects the fundamentals of your business. That system is not accrual and it's not cash.

+ You'd better learn selling. Sadly, few schools teach it.

+ Learn enough finance, accounting, engineering and law to make yourself dangerous when dealing with "experts" in these fields.

Yesterday's most interesting question: "What happens if, on graduation, I don't have an idea for a new business?"

My answer: Research every exciting company you can find. Pick the five that excite you the most. Go offer to work for them -- for free, if necessary. Salary is irrelevant. Once there and once you make yourself indispensable, you'll get stock options and equity. They're what counts. Imagine if you had worked at Google early on and you'd received a few stock options. Imagine how much you'd be worth today.

Spring car cleaning: Go to your local manual car wash. Take the high pressure hose and blast soap and then clean water into your car's four disc brakes. You will be surprised at how much crude emerges. You will also have extended the life of your brakes. The road salt from this past winter can quickly rust and damage your brakes. It happened to me. Cost of my stupidity: $900. My car was basically new, but not being driven very much. The rust and crude had time to work their magic).

A Gift From God
There was a preacher whose wife was expecting a baby, so he went to the congregation and asked for a raise. After much consideration and discussion, they passed a rule that whenever the preacher's family expanded, so would his paycheck.

After 6 children, this started to get expensive and the congregation decided to hold another meeting to discuss the clergyman's salary. There was much yelling and bickering about how much the clergyman's additional children were costing the church. Finally, the Preacher got up and spoke to the crowd, "Children are a gift from God." He said. Silence fell on the congregation.

In the back of the room, a little old lady stood up and in her frail voice said, "Rain is also a gift from God, but when we get too much, we wear rubbers."

And the congregation said, "AMEN!"

The Pearly Gates.
Saint Peter was manning the Pearly Gates when forty people from New Orleans showed up.

Never having seen anyone from the Big Easy at Heaven's door before, Saint Peter said he would have to check with God. After hearing the news, God instructed him to admit the ten most virtuous people from the group.

A few minutes later, Saint Peter returned to God breathless and said, "They're gone!"

"What? All of the New Orleans people are gone?" asked God.

"No!" replied Saint Peter. "The Pearly Gates!"

Harry Newton

This column is about my personal search for the perfect investment. I don't give investment advice. For that you have to be registered with regulatory authorities, which I am not. I am a reporter and an investor. I make my daily column -- Monday through Friday -- freely available for three reasons: Writing is good for sorting things out in my brain. Second, the column is research for a book I'm writing called "In Search of the Perfect Investment." Third, I encourage my readers to send me their ideas, concerns and experiences. That way we can all learn together. My email address is . You can't click on my email address. You have to re-type it . This protects me from software scanning the Internet for email addresses to spam. I have no role in choosing the Google ads. Thus I cannot endorse any, though some look mighty interesting. If you click on a link, Google may send me money. Please note I'm not suggesting you do. That money, if there is any, may help pay Claire's law school tuition. Read more about Google AdSense, click here and here.
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