Stop making excuses for not succeeding.

A friend of mine just sold his p-h-c contracting business for millions of dollars. He is 39 years old and looking at a world of possibilities. Money buys options.

Being a big believer in education and personal development, this fellow signed up for a three-day seminar with Tony Robbins shortly after the sale of his business. When I talked to him after the seminar, he was in the stratosphere! He learned great skills for communicating and deepening his relationships. He learned techniques for being more successful. Gosh, he even walked across a bed of glowing red coals! How about that?

I asked him, "Why?"

He replied, "When you believe it can be done, you can do anything. The walk across the coals is just a demonstration of mind over matter. If I can do that, then what else can I do?"

He was flying high. I asked him, "What was the essence of Tony Robbins' message?"

He said, "To get over it."


"There are always a million reasons, excuses for not living the life you want to live. Basically, you gotta get over it. Do it anyway."

Get over it. What a great phrase!

In that spirit, allow me to present the Top Ten list of things you just, well, gotta get over. I teach business basics. Lots of people call me up, looking for help, or just a shoulder. In the course of a week, I hear every one of these excuses. Which ones are you hanging on to?

I'm Not Making Any Money

Of course not. You've seen the statistics for this industry: Owner's compensation is in the mid $40,000's. Journeyman's compensation is lower than that.

Michael Gerber, author of "The E-Myth," claims that 80 percent of all small businesses fail within the first five years. 80 percent of the surviving businesses fail within the next five. Gerber says that, with a few exceptions, those who stick it out past 10 years then become cynical and hard. That's what happens when you don't make money and work until your back breaks or your knees give out.

Making money is not the natural consequence of working hard. There are ways to make money. If you want money, you have to learn how it works.

I'm Not Good With Numbers

Why do we spend 12-16 years in school and never learn basic financial skills? What would the world be like if we had learned how to read and use a balance sheet in sixth grade?

Well, we didn't. So get over it.

Have you seen the movie "The Legend of Bagger Vance?" Bagger Vance, a caddy who spouts philosophy, tells a story about his uncle. His uncle got his right arm cut off in a cotton gin. So he learned how to do everything with his left hand. Then he lost that hand in a car accident. So, he learned how to do everything with his teeth. Then, he got his teeth knocked out in a fight. So, he became a dancer.

It's overwhelming when you look at all the things that need to be done to create a successful business. What's first? Crunch the numbers and create a realistic selling price. Then, you can afford to forge ahead and make mistakes and keep on going.

I Can't Afford To . . .
join the group or go to the seminar.

My friend, the Tony Robbins graduate, recalled joining a progressive association a few years back. He credits the association and its fraternity of success-minded members with much of his own success.

He told me that at the recruiting event for the group, he sat next to another contractor from his market area. Throughout the event, his competitor shot holes through the program. Though the competitor joined, he left the group in a huff a few months later over a dues payment dispute. The competitor is still griping about it. He is still going nowhere with his business and making all kinds of excuses.

My friend, in the same market, wrote the check and joined the group. He is still writing checks and signing on for programs that offer personal and business development.

People In My Town
Are Just CHEAP

There are two kinds of people. Those who are and those who aren't . . . cheap, smart, rich, poor, funny, kind or any other label you want to put on them. If you truly believe the people in your market will not buy your goods and services at a price that allows you to make a living, then you are obligated to STOP doing business.

The other day a nice young man told me that the people in Long Island were cheap. Really? Millions and millions of people live there. They are ALL cheap?

Get over it. The problem isn't your customers. It's that you don't know how to sell and market so that they see the value of the wonderful work you do.

I Don't Want To
Rip Anybody Off

I have never found a plumbing contractor whose price is too high, based on this industry's contributions to society. The term "rip off" refers to people who lie, cheat and steal - take advantage of another person. So, don't do those things.

In our industry, I find a lot of employers take advantage of their employees. Who can't afford to pay them well? Who can't afford benefits? Who can't let them take the week off without carrying a pager? If you won't raise your prices to a proper level, you are ripping off your employees.

I Can't Find Good People

See No. 5 - get over it and start doing the right thing.

My REAL Problem Is My . . .

(boss, partner, employee) who is also my É (wife, husband, son, daughter, other family member.) We hurt the people we love because they will stand for it. Stop enabling your husband, wife, father, cousin, whoever, to operate a crummy business.

If your family business relationships are causing you to sacrifice your hopes, dreams or integrity, then YOU have to change. You sure as heck are not going to change anyone else.

Learn new skills. Set boundaries and time lines. Be firm, yet kind. And if the family business won't work for you, then quit.

My REAL Problem Is
The Low-Ball Competitors

Really? You can't communicate why you are better, nicer, faster, more professional, better skilled, less drug-crazed, more interested, cleaner, more polite, respectful and punctual than the other guys?

Thank goodness for the competition. They can have all the customers you don't want.

Get over it. It's amazing how really successful contractors never mention the competition. They are so over it.

I Don't Have Time

You don't have time to do what? Be successful? What else are you going to do with your time? Be a loser?

Get over it.

I'm Afraid

Ah, now we are at the core of it. Fear is the ONLY reason that keeps us from being what we want to be and doing what we want to do.

I get this. It is scary to change. Remember the word homeostasis from high school biology? Homeostasis is the body's mechanism for maintaining body functions. It's the mechanism that keeps our body temperature right at 98.6 degrees. Isn't it fascinating that your body works that way? Drastic changes in body temperature would threaten our survival, so our body automatically and unconsciously keeps us from changing.

Physically, on a cellular level, our basic programming is to stay the same. It takes a conscious effort to change. And any kind of change usually kicks in a whole boatload of fear.

Each of the Top Ten Reasons is fear-based. Fear will trip you up every time, until you get over it.

In every conceivable market (small, big, Northern, Southern, Eastern, Western, cold weather, hot weather, every ethnicity, every religion and philosophy, and every income level), I can introduce you to people charging more than $200 an hour and making their customers happy. Creating good jobs for their employees. Socking away money for their next big lifestyle change. Selling their companies and moving on to other things. Living lives that are of service and benefit to others.

Walking The Talk

I've been writing for PM magazine for six years, since the time we sold our plumbing and heating company. Without the confines of a contracting business, it is easy for me to be a know-it-all. From the stands, it's easy to coach.

In 1995, I started writing and speaking and teaching about business basics. Simple stuff. How to read financial reports. How to make money. I teach the basics, the few things that make all the difference in your business. My mission is to help people make a living doing what they love.

Recently, I accepted the position of president of Benjamin Franklin Certified Plumbing, a new franchise opportunity. We have plans to become the No. 1 plumbing company in the world - any way you measure it.

I took on this job to help a lot of people make a living doing all kinds of wonderful work in this honorable industry.

I've been sitting on the sidelines, watching and learning how to play. The sideline is a safe place to be. It's time for me to get into a bigger game.

And, frankly, I am a bit scared. It is one thing to be a commentator - another thing entirely to be the quarterback. All of a sudden, the Top Ten Things sound reasonable! There are so many details, and pitfalls and problems.

Lot of things to get over.

Problems are no problem if the big picture is compelling enough.

Why not create a company built on honesty and integrity? Why not be super selective about the people we choose to work with? Why not set the bar so high that achieving that level is an admirable accomplishment? Why not create a company culture that treats all people - from the customer to employees to the person who hauls off the trash - with dignity and respect? Why not create a selling price that allows us to achieve the status we are entitled to as professionals?

Why not? I'm over it. I'm playing the game, as best I can.

There are a million ways for us to fail. Get over it. And lead a brilliant life.