25 Mar March 25, 2020 – How of Business Henry Lopez and Cross Cultural Negotiations Dean Foster
Turn your purpose into a more micro level. What can my
business do to serve my community?
Henry Lopez is a serial small business owner, business coach and consultant, a SCORE Mentor, and the host of ‘The How of Business’ podcast. I have over 34 years of diverse business experience, including successful careers in the information technology industry, sales, sales training and business ownership. His current business endeavors include co-founding Levante Business Group (offering Business Coaching & Consulting), hosting the top-rated The How of Business Podcast, co-founding of iTopIt (a self-serve frozen desserts restaurant in Colorado Springs), and L3 Destinations (a Travel Agency business co-founded with my wife). The How of Business podcast is a top-rated on-demand audio show for small business owners and entrepreneurs. The weekly show features specific small business topics and interviews with other successful business owners and professionals.
Dean Foster – Cross Culture Negotiation – Principal at DeanFosterGlobal.com
We must recognized that culture, including legal
issues, effects how we negotiate and the expectations we have. at 8:00
Dean Foster is the Principal at Dean Foster Global Cultures and former Worldwide Director of Berlitz Cross-Cultural. Dean has worked with most major Fortune 500 companies, national governments and NGOs (the United Nations and World Trade Institutes, among others), and as a guest lecturer and faculty for premier educational institutions, including Harvard Business School, Columbia University School of Business, New York University, and Darden Business School. His work has taken him to more than 100 countries. He is the host on CNN of the nationwide “Doing Business in … ” series; a frequent guest commentator on culture, global work and social issues for CNN, CNBC, the BBC and other radio and TV shows; and has been interviewed in Newsweek, USA Today, New York Times, and elsewhere. In 2012 Dean was inducted into Worldwide ERC’s prestigious “Hall of Leaders” and in 2013 he received the Forum for Expatriate Management’s acclaimed Lifetime Achievement Award. Dean has written many articles and published five books, including Bargaining Across Borders, voted as one of the top ten business books of the year by the American Library Association. As a contributing editor with National Geographic, he wrote the monthly “CultureWise” column appearing in National Geographic Traveler Magazine.
Highlights from Henry’s Interview
I definitely became an entrepreneur on purpose. I always wanted to be my own boss, but in the early days of my life, I just didn’t have the know-how and the resources. I didn’t know how to get there, but I always knew I wanted to have that control. That was initially what drove me. My very first business venture was in 1991 with a business partner; a friend of mine. I kept my job; he ran the operations. It was a franchise of a local delivery pizza restaurant here in the Dallas area. So that was my first business venture. I had always wanted to be a business owner.
I kept my first job and I was reducing risk so that I still had income, but I had no choice really. And I never got that business to a point where I could quit my job and replace the income that I had from my job. That eventually happened in the early 2000s. I finally got to a point personally, financially, where I could make that leap. In the early 2000s, I ventured into real estate and got into real estate investment, and that was when I first went full-time on my own.
In real estate business, I dabbled in all of it. I also got my realtor’s license so I could learn about residential real estate, I bought rental properties, flipped a couple properties, had some rental properties. In fact, I just sold last of my rental properties a couple of years ago, so I’m out of that now. I still invest in real estate but as a silent partner in funds and other groups, but I wanted to do all of that.
Initially, brick-and-mortar businesses were the common thing for me. There is no theme to all of these restaurants and businesses that I’ve had, it’s been about opportunity. But I’m actually shifted here recently to either a business; if it is brick-and-mortar, it has to be self-managed. In other words, I can put a manager there like our frozen yoghurt restaurant, so that I don’t have to be on-site, because the biggest thing for me now is freedom of location. Recently, I’ve been focusing on businesses that either don’t require me full time, or that are on-site, or that are virtual. So, I have shifted that approach here in the last few years.
I do not believe in the word retirement. I will stop creating when my mind can no longer do so. I think sometimes when we create something with our hands, there’s that lasting value. I look at everything in business as a work of creativity; so, it could be something that’s written, something that you leave behind. Hopefully, it’s the inspiration that we leave behind in others.
So, to assess whether or not a person is ready to start a business, I break it down into: Ready, Willing, Enabled, Purposely, and I dive into those areas. The Ready part is that mental and emotional component. What I have found is that the biggest thing that keeps people from moving forward on their dream of starting their first business is the fear of failure. I like to break it down into two types of failure because I think it helps people think through it. There is the real fear, as I call it; fear is real, but the real fear of financial failure. In other words, I’ve mortgaged my house, I’ve tapped in my 401k, I’ve used up all of my savings to start this business. If it fails, I’m going to have some consequences. I kind of put that in a bucket of real fear of financial failure. But usually, you can reduce that risk and do it the smart way, so that’s not what holds people back. What holds people back is the fear of the embarrassment of failure. So that’s the biggest part of the Ready part. Are you ready to deal with the failure and not let it hold you back that you’re embarrassed to tell your friends, your loved ones, everybody that you told about this great idea you had, and that it failed? That’s what I see holds so many people back.
I think the reason you don’t often tell people about your ideas is you don’t necessarily need their input. I have found that sometimes when you get input from people who are not business owners, it doesn’t help us much. Even after you assess everything, you don’t know what’s going to happen and we accept that. It doesn’t mean that we enjoy failing, but we accept that as part of the process. But most other people who are not business owners do not get that. We are indoctrinated to avoid fear. But if something bad happens, you know that was part of the process and you move on to the next stage or focus on the other things that you have. But for most people, once they haven’t crossed that initial obstacle of accepting that failure, it’s part of the process.
Then, the Willing part is about, are you willing to put in the time and effort? Specifically, the two words that are most important to me here are, sacrifice and discipline, and being able to delay gratification. All of those things come into what I mean by, “Are you willing to put in the time and effort?” Are you willing to sacrifice? What I feel is, maybe sometimes people want it quick; they want it all now. That has not been my experience. I have found that for me, I’ve had to work at it, I’ve had to put an effort. Some things fail. I’ve been fortunate to have more successes than failures, but I’ve had to make sacrifices to get where I am. Another critical thing is, if you have a partner in life, you have to be in alignment. I’ve talked to plenty of people who are looking to start their business and the spouse is afraid of it and doesn’t like the risk of it. I’ll tell you, it’s really hard if you’re not in alignment with your partner. What I’ve seen happen is, if one person is in the business but the other one is not, you get home and the spouse wants to know what’s happened, and the last thing you want to do is go through it all again. That can create a disconnect as well. So, you got to make sure you’re communicating in addition to being in alignment.
The third part is the Able part. Are you able to afford, and I use that term loosely, the investment of time, money, and energy? So, this is where some of it is being realistic about, how much time do I have, am I going to be keeping my day job? I need to be realistic about how I’m going to start. I may have to start smaller. Do I have the money? Now, you don’t have to have all of the money, but you at least have to have some credit worthiness in most situations. What I find with a lot of people I talk to is they’re delusional about wanting to start a business and borrowing money from a bank, but their credit score is abysmal. You got to be realistic, you’re going to have to fix that. Then there’s the health part of it, which is the energy. This is going to take a tremendous effort, and if you’ve got health issues, it’s going to be harder. So, are you able to afford the investment of time, money, and energy?
As much as I don’t buy into a lot of “what is your why”, I think motivating yourself and getting yourself off the couch is about that. I think it’s about how strong is your vision for where you want to go, and are you sick and tired of being sick and tired? It’s really that simple, but it’s that hard. Everybody gets to that point at a different point in their life is what I have found. Maybe your why is you want to have financial independence and you don’t want anybody else controlling you. Your product or service might be irrelevant to your why, which is another reason you don’t see any theme in the businesses that I’ve gone into. I’m all over the place, but I’ve got to like some aspects of it. Like, I didn’t love the salon business but it was a highly profitable business, and it was a means to my ends, and that’s my why. The whole thing about saving the world, I don’t get it. The way I interpret that is, because I have also struggled with this very thing, is I turn it into a more micro level; what can my business do to serve my community? That’s the way I look at it.
It’s not easy to manage business from a distance, but of course, the secret there is that my business partner, David Begin, lives in Colorado Springs, hence why we ended up partnering. Partnerships are challenging, but I prefer working in partnerships. I do all of the marketing. We used to do a weekly call, but he’s doing that now with the manager. We hire people and we compensate them well. So, our manager is well-compensated and well-motivated and has the systems in place to execute, so that we don’t have to be there on a daily basis. That’s the key.
My podcast basically is about helping people start, run, and grow a small business; a micro small business. One of the reasons why I started it is my own frustration. I read all of the business books, all of the biographies, the periodicals, but they’re all aimed at creating the next Apple. I can apply some of that, but not all of it. So, my goal is to speak or share some tips or techniques or ideas for that very small business owner like myself.
You can find more about me, my coaching services, and the podcast at “howofbusiness.com”. I do small business coaching, so my clients fit that mold obviously. They’re either looking to start their first business or they have a small business that they’re looking to continuously improve and grow. So that’s my ideal coaching client. I have retail customers, I have commercial services clients, and I have one that’s a virtual business, so my niche kind of really varies. They’re all businesses with 1 to 20 employees, a lot of them are under a million dollars in revenue, so they’re micro businesses. But it really spans the whole gamut as far as industry. That’s where, fortunately for me, I’m able to leverage my varied background in business.