Have You Got What It Takes?

By Lyle Hill

My friends and readers … and I hope some of you are both … I think you would agree that these are turbulent times. Uncertainty is all around—problems in our schools and chaos in the workplace. But I encourage you to take heart … there is always opportunity in chaos. And perhaps, as some of my other friends and clients have wondered … is this the time for me to take the plunge and go into business for myself? Should I, you ask, become my own boss and stop working for the crazy people I now work for? Indeed, I am asked this question regularly, and I am guessing that maybe you, too, have pondered this matter. So I want you to know I am here for you if you are in this situation. To prove my sincerity and willingness to help, I have put together this very simple test that has served my clients well. I call my test the SUCCESS ASSURANCE PROFILE (SAP). This test will help you decide if you have what it takes to venture out on your own and get out from under the oppressive, confusing and demanding people for whom you’re currently working. One more comment on this … as you will quickly see, I have spent a great deal of time and energy developing this 10-minute test. I have no doubt that I could sell it for a great deal of money. However, because I care about you, I am herein letting you use it absolutely free. I would ask that if you find it helpful, that somehow you will look deep into your heart, and more importantly, your wallet, and send me a reasonable amount of cash as a token of your appreciation.

One last thing … you need to clear your mind and eliminate any distractions before you proceed. I strongly suggest you take this test late at night while sitting in a warm bath. If that is not possible, then an empty store parking lot would also work. Lastly, if you want to feel really good about taking the SAP test, take it while on the clock at your place of employment when you’re supposed to be working. The test is self-scoring, and I have been told that a stubby green crayon works best. Okay, let’s get going.

The Setting

You are 12 years old … live in a small Midwestern city … and work for a 15-year-old at her lemonade stand located in a park frequented regularly by a large number of people. You don’t like your boss. She makes you do all the hard work and, in your opinion, you are very underpaid. Summer is coming, and you have decided to start your own lemonade stand business. Your 10-year-old little brother says he will help.

Question #1: You decide to open up about 100 yards from your old boss in a busy park intersection. Your old boss sells a 7-ounce cup of her drink for 25 cents each. You are going to steal the sugar for your lemonade from your mom and have cut a deal with a kid up the street whose dad can steal plastic cups from where he works. You don’t intend to pay your little brother for working for you because he thinks working is fun. So you think your costs will be about 8 cents a cup. You, therefore, decide to:

A. Claim to have a vitamin-enriched formula and sell it for 28 cents/cup. (score 7 pts)
B. Sell for 25 cents, but offer senior and student discounts of 10%. (score 3 pts)
C. Sell for 15 cents a cup, hoping to force the old boss out of business. (score 1 pt)

Question #2: You decided to drop your price (answer #3 above), and now you’re in a price war with your old boss, and you’re both at 11 cents a cup. Your little brother is still working for free, but he told your mom you were stealing her sugar, so now you have to buy the stuff, and you’re losing money. You, therefore, decide to:

A. Beat your little brother up for ratting on you. (score 2 pts)
B. Claim your competitor uses contaminated water. (score 5 pts)
C. Meet with your old boss and agree on a price-fixing scheme. (score 10 pts)

Question #3: The price-fixing scheme worked. You now both are selling your lemonade for 35 cents a cup and making a profit. However, the kid selling ice cream bars in the park tells you about a government program available for business owners and says he got thousands of dollars through some payroll tax rebate program. He tells you not to worry about having real employees or not paying taxes because he’s got a CPA guy who can take care of everything for you. You notice the kid dressing better than ever and driving a new sports car. You, therefore, decide to:

A. Buy an ice cream bar and ask him for a ride in his new car. (score 0 pts)
B. Tell your old boss about this so she can take advantage of it, too. (score 0 pts)
C. Meet with his guy to see if you can get on the gravy train, too. (score 12 pts)

Question #4: You meet with the guy the ice cream bar kid recommended and quickly find out that he is a bit shady. He tells you that you in no way qualify for any governmental assistance but not to worry about that. He says he can submit a phony claim for you and that as long as you stay below a certain dollar amount, no one will ever audit or question you. He tells you there are a couple of programs you can collect on, and he will do all the work. His deal is that he gets 50% of whatever you get. You, therefore, decide to:

A. Get away from this creep as soon as possible. (score 1 point)
B. Work with the guy to see how much government buckage you can get. (score 20 pts)
C. No other option … you’re either in or you’re out.

Question #5: Remarkably, the sleazy CPA comes through, and you end up with $360,000 as your cut from the government programs. Winter is coming, and the lemonade business will soon shut down until next spring. You now have some big decisions to make. You, therefore, decide to:

A. Give the lemonade stand to your brother and open up a hot dog stand. (score 2 pts)
B. Relocate and hope the government never finds you. (score 7 pts)
C. Immediately contact Lyle Hill and hire him as your consultant. (score 50 pts)

Analysis/Conclusions from your SAP Test

Scores of 60 pts or more … go for it. You are destined for success.

Score of 59 or less … you don’t have a chance. Don’t quit your day (or
night) job.

Lyle R. Hill is president of Glass.com®, an information portal and job generation company for the glass industry. Hill has more than 50 years’ experience in the glass and metal industry and can be reached at lhill@glass.com

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