Starting With the Right Legal Business Type, Sole Proprietorship

When starting your business, one of the things you will need to figure out is the legal form you should register your business as, in order to ensure that you are operating with the correct business profile and level of financial protection to suit your precise needs.

Though not a lawyer, having worked in several countries, across 3 continents, I have picked up a few things that I suspect will prove helpful in your decision making process, and would suggest that you consider some of the following issues carefully.

To start with, in all the countries I have worked, it was clear that there were usually a combination of 3 or 4 legal business types used to legally conduct business. And for the most part the similarities were significant.

The most common of these business types is a Sole Proprietorship. And though these may known by different names, in different countries, they are essentially subject to the same rules, regulations, financial protection and taxation.

So, when considering this business type it is good to be aware of essentially three key features that typically govern this type of legal business form.

1. You are personally liable for the debts of the business

With this type of legal business type, you are the business. This means that the bank can take your house in lieu of a debt incurred to conduct business. If you get sued for something you did wrong in your business, you also stand to loose your personal assets, including your house and car as they are all on the line.

From an operational perspective it means that bank accounts will be in your personal name, as if you had no business. Notably in most countries it would be possible to register a trading name, which you could attach to your bank account in order to receive checks in the name of your business, however it is still you that are on the hook.

One thing to keep in mind though is that even though operating your business as this type of entity exposes you to personal liability, in most countries where this is a serious risk, you are able to insure against liability from suits. And when it comes to debt, the upside is that you can use your personal credit history to conduct business cheaper, which if managed well, should never really prove to be an issue. Just pay your bills and all will be fine.

2. Your business is taxed as if it is you.

Simply put the profits from your business are treated as personal income, and you would declare it as such. You are also able to deduct most of your personal expenses, that relate to your business, from your taxable income, which might mean that if you work from home, a part of your living expenses could potentially be deductible. Essentially the business is you, and for the most part the expenses you incur to earn a living are treated as tax deductible expenses.

3. You are unable to sell the business, you can only sell the assets.

Though for the most part this will not prove a significant issue, it is important to realize that since you are the business, you cannot sell the business. You are able to sell the assets of the business, which may include trading names, stock, customer databases etc. however you have to be aware that to transfer the debts and liabilities of the business, you have to specifically contract that into the sale. And even then it does not necessarily resolve all the issues that may potentially arise, even after the sale of the business.

Here are some of the benefits of this type of business:

1. It usually costs nothing or very little to set up or register.

2. Business operating costs are considerably lower than the other available legal business forms, e.g. your accountant and lawyer will likely cost you significantly less, because things are just simpler.

3. It is easy to setup, and you can start operating your business very quickly.

4. As mentioned above you can rely on your personal credit history for conducting business so this will, initially at least, make things a little easier.

5. It is easy to close down as you simply stop doing business. There is usually little or no cost to shutting down this type of business, except of course for liquidating the assets and paying off debts and liabilities.

In a nutshell, if you are looking to operate a small business with little risk of someone suing you, and you are fine with putting your house up as collateral for your business debt, then this might be the one for you.

And though personally I do not prefer this type of business, either way I would suggest that you do take the time to discuss this with your accountant and lawyer before making a decision.

I wish you all the best with your ventures and invite you to share your comments and stories here.


Pieter Heydenrych is the President of NetMecca, an online, free to participate, Multilevel Network Marketing company, dedicated to the creation of various income streams, including passive income streams for it’s members. For more details go to:

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Online Course: Child Nutrition and Cooking (May 6)

by Maya Adam (Stanford University)

Learn the basics of child nutrition and how to make healthy meals for healthy children and families.

Next Session:

May 6th 2013 (5 weeks long) Sign Up
Workload: 2-4 hours/week

About the Course

Eating patterns that begin in childhood affect health and wellbeing across the lifespan. In the USA, we are in the midst of a childhood obesity epidemic that threatens to leave our children with a shorter life expectancy than their parents. As processed foods become more readily available around the world, other developed nations are beginning to follow suit. This course examines contemporary child nutrition in America from the individual decisions made by each family to the widespread food marketing targeting our children.  The health risks associated with obesity in childhood are also discussed. Students will learn what constitutes a healthy diet for children and adults and how to prepare simple, delicious foods aimed at inspiring a lifelong celebration of easy home-cooked meals. This course will help prepare students to be the leading health providers, teachers and parents of the present and future.

Course Syllabus

Week one: Introduction to the problem – the childhood obesity epidemic facing the USA in particular and many developed nations who are following suit. Why should we care and what can be done? Cooking also starts this week with how to make a simple breakfast and a stir-fry. We also explore the six basic ingredients every cook should have on hand!

Week two: What constitutes a balanced meal? Learn tricks for controlling portion sizes while maintaining satisfaction; cooking continues with more healthy breakfast alternatives, an easy dinner all in one dish, and a simple, (gluten-free) cake for special occasions.

Week three: How to pack a quick, healthy lunch for a child and why this is so important; how to shop for fruits and vegetables (and teach children to love them); making over our children’s favorite foods, and more healthy treats.

Week four: Gardening as a way of getting children excited about fresh foods; more creative ideas for serving vegetables and basic techniques for making soups and cooking fish.

Week five: Summing it all up. What have we learned about encouraging the right food choices despite environmental challenges like advertising and readily available processed foods? Cooking this week: the simple stew, a basic homemade salad dressing plus a Sunday morning treat that will make the whole family smile.

Online Course: An Introduction to Operations Management (April 29)

An Introduction to Operations Management

by Christian Terwiesch (University of Pennsylvania)

This course will teach you how to analyze and improve business processes, be it in services or in manufacturing. You will learn how to improve productivity, how to provide more choice to customers, how to reduce response times, and how to improve quality.

Next Session:

Apr 29th 2013 (8 weeks long) Sign Up
Workload: 5-7 hours/week

About the Course

Remember the last time you went to a restaurant. What did you expect from that restaurant? You wanted to find something on the menu that you liked, you wanted the meal to be prepared according to high quality standards, you wanted to get it quickly and didn’t want to pay too much money for it. Now, remember the last time you went to a doctor’s office or a hospital. What did you want the doctors and nurses to do? You wanted them to provide the right care for you, you wanted the care delivered with great quality, you wanted to get the care quickly, and you (or your insurance) didn’t want to  too pay too much for it.

Put differently, the management skills that you need to run the operations of a restaurant are the same that you need to run a hospital. And these are the skills you will learn in this course. Specifically, you will learn how to improve productivity, increase responsiveness, provide more choice to the customer, and deliver higher quality standards. In short, you will learn how to analyze business processes and how to improve them. Along the way, you will learn about topics such as Lean Operations, Six Sigma, and the Toyota production system, you will hear about bottlenecks, flows rates, and inventory levels. And, much, much more.

Course Syllabus

The course is broken up into six modules:

  1. Introduction
  2. Process analysis
  3. Productivity
  4. Responsiveness
  5. Quality
  6. Product variety

There are two tracks in this course, an academic track and a practitioner track. For the academic track, the final grade is determined based on five homework assignments and a final exam. It is also possible to complete the course via a practitioner track, which requires the completion of a real world application project.

Online Course: Healthcare Innovation and Entrepreneurship (April 15)

About the Course

Healthcare Innovation and Entrepreneurship applies a focused approach toward sustainable healthcare innovation. Students will be introduced to definitions and concepts that include the innovation process, design thinking, “intrapreneurship,” entrepreneurship, six sigma principles of process improvement, regulatory issues, patent law, and the market forces that impact the healthcare innovation process. All students will gain confidence in the basic elements of the initial discovery phase in the healthcare innovation process, including

  1. Defining and describing key components of the healthcare innovation process.
  2. Becoming aware of challenges to the quality of healthcare delivery and the opportunity for improved patient care and cost reductions.
  3. Learning and practicing a step-by-step “needs finding” process and a “needs filtering” process for identifying and prioritizing real clinical problems and opportunities for innovation.
  4. Developing cross-disciplinary collaboration skills.
  5. Strengthening communication and leadership skills in advocating health systems change.

Course Syllabus

Week One: Innovating in healthcare
Introductions with an overview of how to identify problems in need of a solution within complex healthcare environments; vocabulary for talking about healthcare innovation and entrepreneurship, and systems thinking.
Week Two: Finding what’s needed
How to prioritize, select and refine identified problems that can be tackled in a real-world environment through applied science.
Week Three: Prioritizing needs
We provide a process for identifying the currently available solutions in the market and for researching/analyzing the size of the remaining market.
Week Four: Sizing up the market
We focus on our “freedom to operate,” or our ability to develop solutions within a host of existing constraints, which include the regulatory environment, the legal environment, the organizational policies and procedures in place, and our organizational culture.
Week Five: Designing an innovation
We consider the issues that arise with real-world deployment of an innovative solution, including questions of finance, business, work processes, and quality.
Week Six: Gaining commitment
Finally, we focus our attention on selling our solution, finding support while protecting intellectual property rights.

Successful Jamaican Entrepreneur: Khary Robinson

K-Robinson Ever since the 1940s, Jamaica has suffered from a mass movement of intellectuals and professionals to more developed nations in order to find employment.  No doubt, this continuous “brain drain” has interrupted the flow of productivity and real entrepreneurial success. The fact remains, though, that Jamaica has failed to attract these Jamaicans who are abroad to return and as such, despite their many remittances, Jamaica still suffers from this loss. It came as a surprise, then, when in 2004, the young Khary Robinson decided to return to Jamaica in order to “give back” to his country by setting up a business or two. It is true that, in entrepreneurship, the entrepreneur must step back to analyze his ideology and truly understand what he is doing and for what he would or would not sacrifice. Khary knew that he would be sacrificing a challenging investment banking job and a real opportunity to make it big in America. Yet, he chose to return home. Khary Robinson is not only an entrepreneurial success, but he is, also, patriotic to his country of birth.

From his early years, Robinson has shown what it means to work hard in order to achieve success. Through his accomplishments in playing football at both the preparatory and high school level, he showed many Jamaicans that he would reach a high mark. To many, he was a rising star. Because of his dedication and love for the sport, he was given a football scholarship at the age of 16 to attend the prestigious boarding school, Choate Rosemary Hall in Connecticut, USA, the same school that President John F. Kennedy went to. Understanding the great opportunity he had gotten and wanting others to experience the same, Robinson teamed up with the Dean of Admissions and started a recruitment drive to encourage other young, smart Jamaicans to attend American schools like Choate.

At Choate, he received rather impressive SAT scores and as such, he set his sight on receiving another scholarship for college. Not long after, he earned his second football scholarship to the Georgetown University in Washington D.C where he graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in Finance. During his first semester of his senior year, Robinson received an offer that he dared not refuse. He was offered a position as an Analyst at the New York office of Bank of American Securities, which meant that he would work with corporate clients to provide financing solutions for wealthy clients. He knew that the hours would be ‘insane” and that his life would be consumed with this job, but he was excited about the challenge and hard work that the position would bring with it. In addition, he knew that the experience “would pave the way for future endeavors”. There were many days that he had only three hours of sleep, enough to sustain him, but this taught him how to push beyond his limits, a trait he may also have learnt while playing competitive football. At the end of his tenure there, he was offered a contract renewal and even though, the money was appealing, he declined, as he was excited at the prospect of opening his own business in his homeland.

Presently, Robinson operates and owns thirteen companies throughout Jamaica, United States and Ghana. He is the Managing Partner and Founder of Norbrook Caribbean Investment Company, a company which excels in obtaining and operating privately owned businesses in emergent markets. Before this great achievement, though, when Robinson returned to Jamaica in 2004, he had to work assiduously to establish his first two companies—International Data Processors and TropicalPhones. He became the CEO of TropicalPhones and collaborated with AT&T and Vodafone to provide phone service for travelers. At that time, he sought to remove all the worries linked to communication by providing an inexpensive and convenient solution for Jamaicans travelling abroad and in return, for tourists visiting the island. Further, in 2010, Robinson gained control of MailPac, a company that offers mail and packaging services to Jamaicans who wish to purchase items overseas. The company has gained much stride since the take-over and has even increased its number of outlets. In fact, under Robinson’s leadership online shopping in Jamaica has grown tremendously.

With Mailpac, customers are given a “Smart Address” consisting of a street address and Post Office Box number. Customers are then able to make purchases online and forward their packages to their “addresses”. The packages are then sent to Jamaica where MailPac clears them at customs and delivers them. MailPac is affiliated with worldwide brands such as UPS and ePAY. No doubt, Robinson has been creating alliances with trusted brands that offer quality service, reliability and product innovation. Each of these companies provides a solution to a specific need. Mailpac, in itself, delivers over 40,000 packages each month for customers. They strive to have delivery that is prompt, reliable and efficient. In addition, they provide over 50,000 clients with the assurance that their goods and personal items would be moved in the most cost effective and efficient way. It is no wonder then, why many have placed their trust in Robinson’s courier service.

Furthermore, Robinson’s impact is far-reaching; he not only has an indelible impact on the Caribbean, but his reach far extends to the other side of the world. Through Khary’s Student Card Limited (SCL), it has been estimated that Ghanaians will be able to save over $130 million in their school feeding programme. The programme, it seems, had been overrun by corruption, mismanagement and nepotism so much so that the real benefits to the students had been rarely met. In 2010, SCL was granted the contract to provide technology based solutions to their school feeding programme, replacing the previous paper-based voucher system. It is hoped that the introduction of Robinson’s technology will reduce corruption and grant help to the real beneficiaries—Ghana’s starving children. Truly, Robinson’s innovation and prowess are needed at this time, even in Ghana.

Khary Robinson has many more years to grow, but with the progress and the many goals he has already achieved, it is obvious that sooner or later, he will be a great entrepreneurial force to reckon with. His brilliance is only overshadowed by his strong determination to do well. He is what Jamaica needs at this time—young men who are not lingering on the streets of poverty, but who are concerned about the depressed state of the nation and have the guts to do something about it. Robinson was brave enough to return to a country that offered little or nothing to him at the time; he defied the status quo and returned to his homeland. His innovation and quick-thinking are what Jamaica needs at this time and it is only a matter of time before the greatest impact of his entrepreneurship is shown.

©Tony Thomas
(Do not reproduce in any form without expressed permission from the author.)

Online Course: Property and Liability: An Introduction to Law and Economics (Mar 18)

Course Syllabus

Part I: Property   (5 lectures, March 18 – March 24)

What is Property? An Infinity of Rights; Creating Property; A Neighborly Dispute; “It Doesn’t Matter Who Wins”

Homework I due Monday, March 25 at 8 a.m.

Part II: Exchange and Efficiency   (5 lectures, March 25 – March 31)

The Coase Theorem; Posner’s Corollary; Stacks of Flax; A Hundred LeRoys; Owning History

Homework II due Monday, April 1 at 8 a.m.

Part III: Externality   (6 lectures, April 1 – April 7)

Externality; Markets for Goods; Markets for Bads; Liability; Pigou and Voltaire; Internal Policing

Homework III due Monday, April 8 at 8 a.m.

Part IV: Crime and Punishment   (8 lectures, April 8 – April 14)

Retribution and Deterrence; Torts; The Costs of Crimes; Organized Vengeance; Efficient Crimes; One Crime at a Time; Pricing Crimes; A Certain Kind of Justice

Homework IV due Monday, April 15 at 8 a.m.

Part V: Property, Utility and Technology   (8 lectures, April 15 – April 21)

Property and Police; Erasing the Bright Red Line; Locke and Bentham, Even Now; The Competition of Technologies; Intellectual Goods; Locks and Keys; A Peculiar Property Right; The New Fair Use

Homework V due Monday, April 22 at 8 a.m.

Part VI: Criminal Procedure   (7 lectures, April 22 – April 28)

The Disappearing Trial; Plea Bargaining; A Prisoner’s Dilemma; “An Essential Component;” The Virtues of Candor; Two Kinds of Systems; European Plea Bargains?

Homework VI due Monday, April 29 at 8 a.m.

Course Format

This course consists of 39 lectures, each between 15 and 25 minutes in length. The syllabus is divided into six parts, with 5 to 8 lectures in each part, and we’ll cover one part during each week of the course.  Every lecture includes several easy, ungraded questions to see whether you’ve understood what you’ve just heard, and if you find yourself unable to answer one of these correctly, you can simply listen to that segment of the lecture again to find the answer. Along with each of the six parts of the syllabus comes a set of questions and simple problems separate from the lectures to help you think about the lecture material a little more deeply. To earn the statement of accomplishment, you must complete all six of the homework sets and keep working on them until you reach a score of 75% correct on each set.
Current Session:

Mar 18th 2013 (6 weeks long) Sign Up
Workload: 2-4 hours/week

Online Course: Foundations of Business Strategy

Next Session:

Mar 4th 2013 (6 weeks long) Sign Up
Workload: 2-3 hours/week


About the Course

In this course, we will explore the underlying theory and frameworks that provide the foundations of a successful business strategy.  We will develop your ability to think strategically by providing you the tools for conducting a strategic analysis. Strategic analysis is critical for analyzing the competitive context in which an organization operates and for making reasoned and reasonable recommendations for how that organization should position itself and what actions it should take to maximize value creation.   Aspiring managers, entrepreneurs, social entrepreneurs, analysts, and consultants all may find value in mastering these fundamentals.


Course Syllabus

Week One: We will introduce the concept of strategic analysis plus explore the impact that competitive markets have on business success.  Will include a case discussion of Google.

Week Two: We will explore how industry structure impacts competitive outcomes and learn how to analyze industry forces.  Will include a case discussion of the microbrew industry.

Week Three: We will learn how to analyze firm capabilities and how they may provide competitive advantage. Will include a case discussion of Apple.

Week Four:  We will learn how to analyze competitive dynamics; the interplay between businesses as industries evolve. Will include a case discussion of the game player industry.

Week Five: We will combine our learnings to date to determine how an organization best positions itself competitively to create value.  Will include a case discussion of Pepsi.

Week Six: We will extend our analysis to consider how businesses compete in multiple markets and will learn how to analyze firm scope.  Will include a case discussion of Disney.


PM Announces Touch Measures that will Affect You and Your Business

Last night the Prime Minister of Jamaica and the Minister of Finance laid out a plan to reduce the national debt. While this may appease the IMF, the implications will be painful for ordinary Jamaicans and small businesses. Here is an excerpt from the Jamaica Observer that focuses on the problem and the solutions as seen by the PM and her party:

The debt now stands at over 140 per cent of the nation’s GDP – a figure the administration wants to move to 95 per cent within seven years.

“If the debt is not reduced, Jamaica faces a dismal future,” Simpson Miller said.

The prime minister last night said that as long as Jamaica’s debt as a percentage of the economy remains this high, the country’s capacity for growth and development would be severely limited.

“With this debt, no administration will be able to provide the level of education and training required for Jamaica’s labour force to meet the needs of the job markets,” she said.

“With this debt, we will not be able to achieve the levels of productivity that will make our economy more competitive.

“With this debt, no administration will be able to provide and sustain the quality health-care service we deserve,” the prime minister said.

Simpson Miller told the nation that there were “some very steep mountains to climb” and signalled that her administration would redouble its efforts to collect the taxes that are due to the state from every business enterprise and every individual.

Check out REVENUE MEASURES FOR FINANCIAL YEAR 2013/2014 to find out more about the government’s proposals.

Successful Jamaican Entrepreneur: Gordon Swaby

GordonSwaby- If you were told about a 22 year-old man who is so passionate about entrepreneurship that he already has three companies listed under his success belt, you would probably say that that young man was born with the proverbial “gold spoon in his mouth”. Yet, Gordon O’Brien Swaby, a young man who is on the cusp of greatness, had no golden spoon given to him, but instead was endowed with a strong determination to be the best in all that he does. For sure, not every entrepreneur gets it right the first time, but Swaby embodies the spirit of the persistent and triumphant entrepreneur. Living up to his personal mantra and business philosophy of always being an employer and never an employee, Swaby is poised to be the next great entrepreneurial success story in Jamaica.

Gordon O’Brien Swaby was born on November 18, 1990 to parents, Olivene and Lloyd Swaby at the Hargreaves Memorial Hospital in Manchester, Jamaica. At an age when other teenagers were consumed with meaningless social website activities, the 13 year-old Swaby was consumed with perfecting a skill that had evolved from simply “messing around with computers” into a full-blown enthusiasm for the Internet and web designing. Gordon describes himself as a “little [more than] the average teenager” whose determination for success is driven by hard work. Amazingly enough, Gordon did not have any formal web design training. Instead, he learned how to harness his skill through a friend whom he had met over the Internet. From him, he learnt the beginning steps of building ROM sites.

A year later, Gordon was able to receive his first pay cheque of $14,000. No doubt, this encouraged the young Swaby even further and in 2005, at the age of 15, he started his own, now defunct, gaming website called This was the largest gaming website in the Caribbean. Quite rightly, Gordon did what any well-thinking entrepreneur would do—he created a product that no one else had created that would serve the need of many people. In an interview with the Jamaica Gleaner, Gordon made the assertion that, “there’s no other gaming site that is Caribbean-oriented and owned by a Caribbean individual. It is the only one in the Caribbean and, being around for three years, I think I take the grabs.” In that same year, too, he created a website for a rotary club which compensated him with cash and a trophy.

Many other opportunities for remuneration came after that, including completing a real estate website and his own blog, He has even built websites for the Press Association of Jamaica, the Bethune Dubois Institute and Coastal Steel Construction, the largest steel company in Northwestern Ontario. Swaby also started his own design and programming company, Iconictouch.

Undoubtedly, anyone who has a strong determination to succeed and the will to work hard is poised for success. In 2010, Gordon started a company, an idea that was originally formulated by his cousin, which caters to the needs of students who may have trouble learning the traditional “chalk and talk” way. In the Gleaner Youthlink, Swaby asserted that the formation of this company was in keeping with one of his ‘life wire frame’, an outline that he created for his life to meet measurable goals set for 20 to 30 years. One of the goals that he had set for himself, at the age of 16, was that he wanted to start a company before he left college, and he certainly did.

Edufocal, hailed by the Information and Technology Minister as “magical” and “transformative”, is a social learning interactive website which allows students to combine study with play. Swaby himself found the traditional method of learning quite boring and as such, created Edufocal with the determination of becoming the premiere social learning platform in the Caribbean. In November 2012, Swaby was listed among the 50 under 50 Jamaican business leaders who, through their contributions to the business community, has advanced the cause of entrepreneurship.

The Minister of Education, Ronald Thwaites, has lauded Swaby and his attempt to move Jamaica beyond the “mediocrity of [its] educational outcome”. In fact, Thwaites further noted that Edufocal is the right tool to encourage critical thinking and deemphasize rote memorization. Half the story of Gordon’s success has not been told simply because he is in the early years of his achievement. One thing is for sure, though, Gordon Swaby stands tall among his peers. He is the epitome of what the young can achieve if they dedicate themselves holistically to their passions and dreams. Swaby has set measurable goals for himself and with each step he takes, he inches closer to being an entrepreneurial mogul.

©Tony Thomas
(Do not reproduce in any form without expressed permission from the author.)

Business Quote of the Week

“The purpose of business is to create and keep a customer.” ― Peter F. Drucker

You have a choice of focusing heavily on either making money or acquiring customers. Those who focus more of acquiring customers usually do better. Treat your customers as the “engine” that drives your business. Give them a quality product or offer them impressive service. Very likely they will return for more and recommend you to friends and family. Word-of-mouth referral and repeat business will keep money flowing into your establishment.

© Tony Thomas



“The person who starts out simply with the idea of getting rich won’t succeed; you must have a larger ambition.” – John D. Rockefeller

Successful business men and women often say “its not all about the money.” For many millionaires, the money is the “side effects” of a passion, a dream, determined effort and countless hours of hard work. Someone once said “Follow your passion and the money will follow.” Successful entrepreneurs immerse themselves in what they do, giving their best, changing lives along the way and reaping the financial rewards.

© Tony Thomas



“When morality comes up against profit, it is seldom that profit loses.” ― Shirley Chisholm

For-profit corporations’ main goal is to make money. However when the quest to make money tramples certain basic rights, companies take a hugh PR hit. Case in point is GlaxoSmithKline, Britain’s biggest pharmaceutical company. The company has been accused of “corporate greed” by a small business group for extending the amount of time it takes to pay its suppliers to up to 90 days. This action hurts the “small business man and woman” who does not have the financial muscle of GSK. An aspiring entrepreneur need to find the right balance between making profits and supporting the business community that help keep his company in business. Read the story here

© Tony Thomas



“The wayside of business is full of brilliant men who started out with a spurt, and lacked the stamina to finish. Their places were taken by patient and unshowy plodders who never knew when to quit.” – J. R. Todd

The very nature of business means there will be moments of success and moments of failure. There will be good times and there will be bad times. Acccept this as part of doing business and do not allow failures to derail your goals or dim your vision.

© Tony Thomas



“Sometimes it’s hard to admit that the difference between you and your competition is your attitude.” – Y. Luke

We all have 24 hours in a day. We all have 7 days in a week. In some cases we have access to the same road, water supply, electricity and the same set of customers.

If Company A and Company B sells burgers at nearby intersections, the company with the better burger is not guaranteed to do better. Customers are influenced by quality and price but a negative attitude from employees can turn off some customers and affect sales.

Your attitude towards people and the way you deal with them are crucial to the success of your business. The following video is a story by motivational speaker Zig Ziglar about bad attitude and negative thinking or as he calls it “stinking thinking.” The video is about 9 minutes and well worth your time.

© Tony Thomas


This week’s quote is from a very successful entrepreneur, inventor and visionary named Thomas Edison:

“Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.” – Thomas Edison

This quote reminded me of a story that shows the importance of not giving up too quickly. As Thomas Edison found out before he produced a practical and cost-effective incandescent electric light, many hours and days of patience can pay off in the long run.

This story is called “Acres of Diamond.” As the story goes a farmer in Africa heard that other farmers had made millions by discovering diamond mines. In an effort to get his hands on some diamonds he sold his farm and set off around the continent in search of diamond. His search turned up nothing and in frustration he committed suicide by drowning.

Interestingly, a strange set of events took place back at the farm that the farmer sold. The new owner was walking by a stream on the property when he noticed “a bright flash of blue and red light from the stream bottom. He bent down and picked up a stone. It was a good-sized stone, and admiring it, he brought it home and put it on his fireplace mantel as an interesting curiosity.”

Some time later a visitor noticed the stone, examined it carefully and almost passed out. He asked the farmer if he knew what the stone was. The farmer said no and said he thought it was a piece of crystal. The visitor told him “he had found one of the largest diamonds ever discovered. The farmer had trouble believing that. He told the man that his creek was full of such stones, not all as large as the one on the mantel, but sprinkled generously throughout the creek bottom.”

As the story goes this farm that the original farmer sold in his quest to find diamonds, had more diamonds than most other diamond mines in Africa. Right under his nose were acres of diamond that he had owned free and clear. He simply failed to take the time to inform himself about what diamonds really look like. (Diamond in its raw natural state needs to be carefully cut to display it full lustre.) SOURCE: Nightingale-Conant

Moral of the story is: don’t give up easily. Persist. Persevere. You may be “sitting” on a million dollar idea. Before you abandon the idea or sell it to someone else, expand your knowledge. Learn from great thinkers like Steve Jobs, Marc Andreessen, Eric Schmidt, Marcus Garvey, Leonardo Da Vinci, Albert Einstein and Galileo Galilei. Make sure you have exhausted all avenues and opportunities, before you decide to move on.

© Tony Thomas


Here is a quote that you can apply to your business ambitions:

“Keep away from people who try to belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the really great make you feel that you, too, can become great.” – Mark Twain

When McDonalds first started selling hamburgers through a drive-thru, many said the idea would not work. Fifty years later, the idea is hugely successful and it has been copied by many other fast-food restaurants. The McDonalds brothers did not allow the doubters to kill their ambitions. They challenged the way things had been done for many years, came up with a creative idea and made millions when they sold the business.

© Tony Thomas