Harry Newton's In Search of The Perfect Investment
Newton's In Search Of The Perfect Investment. Technology Investor.
8:30 AM EST, Wednesday, March 21, 2007: The
perfect investment is your own business. You benefit in two ways. First, when
you make profits, you put the money in your pocket. Second, when you sell the
business, the buyer pays you ten times (or so) the profits you already put in
your pocket. That's a lot better than being a salaryman, where you get paid
once and Uncle Sam is your greedy partner.
staggered at how badly most people run their own businesses. Items of late:
1. Our skylight
vendor has messed around for four months, losing our order, building the wrong
skylight, not getting the second specs right again, and generally acting stupid.
And he's our second skylight vendor. The first one was even worse.
2. Our closet
guy (a local variation of California Closets) has no brochures, almost no pictures
of his work on the web, doesn't know to receive bank wires, or send photos through
email and says, proudly, "I'm not computer literate."
3. I called nine people at my new dictionary distributor yesterday. Not one
was in -- from the president on down. When I complained via email to the president,
he suggested I take my business elsewhere. He forgot to apologize for his ineptitude
with one customer, i.e. me. He doesn't need my business, he says, but then who
needs customers, anyway? By the way, today he's on vacation in Costa Rica and
seems to say that I should wait until his return. They don't have phones there?
two biggest common problems among "your own" businesses are:
No one pays attention to sales or marketing. Believe it or not, most companies
don't have customer service reps, whose job is to work with the customer. They
have someone in charge of this (e.g. production) and someone in charge of that
(e.g. finance). But no one is in charge of speaking to the customer, and perhaps
up-selling him on a more expensive closet. The concept of having someone sitting
by the phone ready to deal with customers seems to have bypassed most companies.
2. No one pays any attention to the process of serving a customer --
from taking the initial order, to processing it, to sending it out, to tracking
the order. Most companies (except the big mail order companies, like LLBean,
Eddie Bauer, etc.) don't have a simple way of looking up your order on their
computer and finding where it stands. A remarkable number of companies still
run on paper-based systems, all neatly filed away in hanging Pendaflex folders.
The problem is that someone took the folder; it got put in the wrong place,
or it simply got mislaid. Four months later, the customer's roof is done --
bar a skylight whose paperwork is lost. And the customer is going ballistic
and will badmouth you to all his rich friends.
There is no excuse
for not placing the customer at the top of the food chain. Ten years there was
an excuse for not computerizing. It cost a fortune. But these days, computers
are cheap; networks are cheap and the software to run it all is neither expensive
nor complex. But you do have to be computer literate, which means read the instruction
book, go to a course. And you do have to be willing to answer your phones, or
at least stagger your people's lunch hours. All the people at my book distributor
seem to take common lunch hours -- except for the telephone operator who takes
one an hour later. She was perplexed that there was no one for me to speak to
yesterday -- except her.
There are huge
opportunities everywhere -- irrespective of the "competition." Most
companies are not affected by competition. They shoot themselves in the foot
by messing around with their customers.
This morning I just received this email from a lady who deals with customers
at my book distributor, and who wanted some urgent information from me -- which
I sent her last night:
I will be out
of the office on Wednesday, March 21, but will be checking my emails. I will
respond on Wednesday or Thursday.
I don't make this
friends swear by GoToMeetings.com. Want to
make a PowerPoint presentation to five people in five cities, with you in a
sixth? Easy. GoToMeetings.com.
Their web site is awful. But the service, I'm told, works great.
is incredible. It finds things. It shows a satellite picture that
is good you can see individual houses and thus see how your new house is situated.
And then it combines the map and the satellite in "hybrid" picture
that's truly amazing. It's the best implementation of a technology called Ajax,
which allows you to drag the map around your screen without having to wait for
the Google (and the Internet) to refresh your screen. This technology is what
makes Google maps so incredibly fast.
happened to God's eyesight?
45 year old woman had a heart attack and was taken to the hospital. While on
the operating table she had a near death experience.
Seeing God she
asked, "Is my time up?"
God said, "No,
you have another 43 years, 2 months and 8 days to live."
Since she had
so much more time to live, she figured she might as well make the most of it.
After surgery, the woman decided to stay in the hospital and have a face-lift,
liposuction, breast implants and a tummy tuck. She had someone come in and change
her hair color and brighten her teeth!
After her last
operation, she was released from the hospital. While crossing the street on
her way home, she was hit by a bus and killed instantly.
Arriving in front
of God, she demanded, "I thought you said I had another 43 years? Why didn't
me from out of the bus's path?"
God replied: "I
didn't recognize you."
best comeback line.
The following is totally untrue. But it's still a great story and is probably
in your inbox this morning sent by some kind soul who thinks it's true.
Marine Corps General
Reinwald was interviewed on the radio the other day and you'll love his reply
to the lady who interviewed him concerning guns and children. Regardless of
how you feel about gun laws you gotta love this!!!! This is one of the best
comeback lines of all time.
It is a portion
of National Public Radio (NPR) interview between a female broadcaster and US
Marine Corps General Reinwald who was about to sponsor a Boy Scout Troop visiting
his military installation
So, General Reinwald, what things are you going to teach these young boys when
they visit your base?
We're going to teach them climbing, canoeing, archery, and shooting.
Shooting! That's a bit irresponsible, isn't it?
I don't see why, they'll be properly supervised on the rifle range.
Don't you admit that this is a terribly dangerous activity to be teaching children?
I don't see how. We will be teaching them proper rifle discipline before they
even touch a firearm.
But you're equipping them to become violent killers.
Well, Ma'am, you're equipped to be a prostitute, but you're not one, are you?
The radio went
silent and the interview ended.
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 .
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