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“The victorious strategist takes the field only after the battle has been won.” — Sun-Tzu
“Basements are imperative to a strong standing building, especially when you plan on building it tall and you do! Some skyscraper basements can go over 100ft underground. Thats over 10 stories! If you want your building to stand tall you will want it to go deep and wide. These are your roots; They will hold you strong.” – “Eli”, bluehatseo.com
INTRODUCTION: Foundations For Success
Despite the massive importance of this topic, I’m not seeing anyone talking about it.
I just don’t think they think clearly enough.
Don’t be one of them. You’ve got to have vision!
Foundations are everything.
In business and wealth building, one often hears it advised to play the “long game”.
This tutorial is a deep dive into aspects of the long game that many do not even consider!
When building any great structure; whether it is a skyscraper or a wonderful future, the first things that go in are the foundations.
If you are planning on reaching for the sky (which you are doing, aren’t you?) your foundations must be strong and stable! For you are planning on building a robust, powerful, durable structure that will be your safeguard and stronghold for a successful life; protecting and supporting you, your family and those who will come after you.
When putting in foundations, it is typically good to overbuild a little and allow for expansion that might happen over time.
Here are nine levels of foundations that should be considered vital to the planning of your personal / business empire. Treat this document as an “idea source” designed to get you going; however please seek professional consultation as appropriate on matters such as security, legal affairs and health.
FOUNDATION LEVEL 1: Mission Control
In order to focus on entrepreneurial efforts, you will need some kind of HQ or “sanctuary” where you can concentrate and develop ideas. A work space that is conducive to doing your best work.
You are creating your HQ. Mission control. The Nerve Center. So choose a location that affords security, cleanliness, privacy, and preferably minimal distractions such as background noise or interruptions. Your HQ will ideally be some kind of “inner sanctum” where nothing will intrude on your ability to concentrate fully and achieve your goals.
Your work space does not need to be fancy. It needs to be functional.
Your personal/home office should be a totally private space. It should be absolutely your own territory.
This is a critical factor of wealth building that many overlook. When you are in there, you are not to be disturbed unless it is urgent.
Then you can think the thoughts you need to think, and make the plans you need to make.
LEVEL 2: Physical Security
This is of critical importance. Your office should ideally be a high security room. Insurance can protect you against theft, fire or flood. But the loss of your life’s work? This is far more serious! Those things might be absolutely irreplaceable.
Your business HQ may ultimately contain the most valuable items that you own. Blueprints, intellectual property, original ideas, trade secrets, unique documents, business contacts, customer databases. It is absolutely vital to protect these. Take the appropriate physical security measures to ensure no-one steals your stuff. Also, pay close attention to fire, and flood safety. Fire, water, theft and vandalism are the most common forms of physical property damage.
LEVEL 3: Data Security
Most people don’t back up their computer data until one day they suddenly lose a few years’ work or records in an afternoon. Then they start backing up their data.
It happens. It happened to me once. Hard drives don’t last forever! They are mortal. Sooner or later, they suddenly bite the dust – usually with little or no warning!
If you are using OSX, a good backup software option is the free software Carbon Copy Cloner.
Most people do not have a remote backup. But what would happen if there was a burglary, flood or fire? You can replace a computer – but lost data might be irreplaceable! A company I did some work for several years ago implemented a “triple level backup”: They performed an on-site backup of the entire day’s work at the end of the day. Then, they also had a “remote backup” which was brought into the office once per week, and then taken away to another location.
The simplest option however for most nowadays for remote backup is cloud storage. There are very many options available – just Google “best cloud backup”. I would still keep a backup hard drive in a secure remote location, just in case there is a problem with internet access.
Accidental deletion: Another data protection idea that I don’t hear talked about, yet which has been an invaluable strategy for me in the past, is to save new versions of files using “save as”, instead of just saving over the old version of the file every time. For example, let’s say I put the finishing touch on a long document. Yet without realizing, I had accidentally selected and deleted a large chunk of it before I hit save.
If I were to then perform full backups of my drive, I would be copying over the good versions of the file with the incomplete one.
This has actually happened to me in the past and it was a nightmare.
By saving several versions of a file, old versions can come in handy for retrieval of sections which may accidentally become corrupted. There are also options such as Apple’s Time Machine which enables you to keep and retrieve previous versions of files.
Identity protection: Identity theft can be a nightmare. Take a moment to research methods which help prevent identity theft. Learn about phishing scams and how to avoid them – it will be time well spent. A web site that has much information on this topic is Fraud Watch International. There are also services now such as Lifelock which may be able to help protect your identity.
Information privacy: This covers passwords, and data security. Someone once said “Passwords are like underwear – change them often”. Another thing to bear in mind is that certain passwords are “safer” than others. Passwords such as the name of your road, or any word in the dictionary, are terrible – and there are various methods (such as the “dictionary attack”) by which hackers can crack them more easily. A “strong password” consists of a jumbled mixture of numbers, upper case and lower case letters. The trouble with these kinds of passwords is that you might have to write them down in order to remember them: and then you have to hide the document! The problem is compounded when you are running multiple devices – such as smartphones – and I have found myself “locked out of my stuff” on occasion while on the road because I did not have the password with me.
There are, good ways to conceal password documents. On some computer systems there are ways to store passwords within a “keychain” file which remembers all your passwords and unlocks them with one “master” password. This factor can help encourage you to use “complex” passwords for web sites etc.
Other things to consider: Is your firewall set up properly and actually switched on? Also (and this is one that many people have not thought of although it is something of a running joke in the security industry) – you might have strong passwords, the ultimate in firewalls and all sorts of expensive software protecting your systems from internet hackers – but if you leave the downstairs window open, it would be easy for a thief to either steal the computer or even install a “keystroke logger” which records every key press of the computer keyboard! And then of course, you must have heard those urban legends of the “maintenance guys” dressed in overalls who breezed right past the security and calmly loaded everything into a plain white van…
LEVEL 4: The Safe
Can you guess the most important object in the life of a wealthy person?
No, not the Aston Martin. Close, though.
I’ll be willing to bet that very few people would have got this one. The most important object in a successful and wealthy person’s life?
A high security, fireproof safe.
This item is designed to last the lifetime of the owner and to be a core component of the estate that is passed to the next of kin. It is a key component of generational wealth.
The safe is not just for diamonds and gold bars. There are things that are more important than that. Documents that may need protection for 50, 100 or more years.
The average “cheap” filing cabinet might weigh 50lbs and cost $200. Regular filing cabinets are cheap, and enable you to organize and store your papers – but that’s it.
They are cheaply made, using thin steel and easily get dented. If there is a fire, it will burn everything inside. And their security is pathetic; five seconds with a crowbar and it’s open.
A serious fireproof / high security safe might weigh over 500lbs – perhaps over 1000 – and will of course be expensive.
These cabinets will have a thick layer of gypsum which acts as a fire retardant. They will also be made of heavier grade steel and have high security locks.
If the house burns to the ground your most important documents and valuables will be protected.
Thieves will be unlikely to steal it as they cannot lift it without a professional moving dolly and a truck with a tail lift. And that is assuming it is not bolted down into the concrete, which it probably will be! They will also be facing a lengthy process of breaking it open – for what? Unknown contents that might only be paperwork after all.
They are much more likely to leave it untouched and go for the laptops, jewelry and cash – or devote all their energy to attacking the safe (which eats up their time).
Best if the “real” safe is completely hidden. By all means leave a nice, shiny, expensive looking “decoy safe” nearby with enough replaceable items of secondary value in it to look like it’s the real thing.
Gold bars and cash are replaceable and covered by the insurance that you do have, don’t you. Insure it, keep good records, lock the doors and windows and sleep well…
The same principle applies to storage space – it needs to be both efficient and safe. How long would it take you (- or an intruder!) to find any given thing that you own?
LEVEL 5: Legal and Logistical
Branding, brand protection, asset protection:
This involves things such as company name, web site domain name and related matters. It also covers trade marks , copyrights and questions such as incorporation of a business or the formation of a Limited Liability Company – which can be invaluable protective strategies for a serious business to consider.
There may be additional issues related to your specific field. For example if you are a musician, this might involve registering your band name with an entity such as www.bandname.com.
Issues of brand and asset protection are often complex and it is – of course – recommended to seek professional business advice / legal consultation in these areas.
Stay on the right side of the law:
Are you doing anything that could get you in trouble? If you are, don’t do it! It’s not worth it. If you are not sure, find out! If you are not sure of business law requirements, research these. Another important link – Compliance and Guidance Documents from the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection.
There are many legal requirements for running a business – and of course these can vary in different countries. You need to know what these are and to follow them. I cannot give legal advice – you must contact your attorney. However, I often recall the saying of a multimillionaire friend of mine: “Lawyers are cheap”. He doesn’t hesitate to spend the money it takes to get the legal side of things solid – because if you are a serious businessperson, it could save you thousands if not millions, years down the road.
Don’t get sued:
Use a good lawyer to minimize your risk of getting into litigation. What you don’t know can hurt you! This is a litigious society. So it’s essential to understand the make proper use of things such as disclaimers, copyright law, trade marks and other legal matters that apply to what you are doing. It pays to be sure. You can probably find much of the information you need from the links in this section and from searching online, but a competent business attorney will be able to help and it’s worth getting one to look over your materials before going live. And it’s far better to get this right in the first place than to find yourself in a position where you wish you had!
This link leads to listings of permits, licenses and registrations you’ll need to run a business in the USA.
For other countries please check with the relevant government agency / board of commerce in your location.
Make sure you have the right insurance to cover your business, your home / office contents etc.
LEVEL 6: Computer Systems
For most modern businesses and individuals, a good computer system is an invaluable asset that will continue to pay you back. Get great equipment and learn to use it properly. I am a particular fan of larger flat screen computer monitors – they enable you to lay out and see work better, even if you are not working in graphics.
Spare computer(s) can save a lot of time. Sooner or later, computers die.
A few years ago I learned about this the hard way: My computer started having “kernel panics”; luckily I got the 3 year extended warranty and sure enough, it needed a new logic board. It was gone a week though. Then, my laptop just straight out died suddenly a couple of nights later. No warnings, instant doorstop. Like an old TV on the blink, screen went haywire and it froze.
Determined to carry on, I pulled the old G4 from the basement. A friend of mine was going to take it to the dump cos she couldn’t be bothered to get $75 for it on ebay – but I took it off her hands; and it worked great! Firefox made it slow down but I got a ton of work done in those few days and I would have been big-time stuck otherwise…
If you are in internet business, I totally recommend:
a) getting a spare computer, nothing fancy, just something cheap that works. Imagine if the main machine died in the middle of a product launch or something. It can happen and you won’t have time to pick up another used on on eBay in time to save the day.
b) using external firewire drives as your startup drive, using carbon copy cloner (Mac), and having an external backup too. That way, if the machine dies and you have to send it in, you can just plug the drive into another machine and off you go. I’m not sure what happens with PCs but for me, if I’m on external firewire, the actual machine becomes irrelevant and I’m good to go.
LEVEL 7: Essential Services
I highly recommend getting a P.O. Box. It takes longer to go to the post office to retrieve mail – but a P.O. Box can help prevent identity theft and protect your privacy and safety. A good phone service with a dedicated land line number and 24/7 answering service for your business is also recommended. Note that in certain countries a business is required to provide an actual address from where business is being done.
LEVEL 8: Contact Database
Many people don’t have their contacts and personal data very well organized. It’s a really good idea to invest the time it takes to sort it out. I highly recommend creating and keeping organized categories such as:
1) friends, relatives and family
2) existing or past customers / all the people who have ever purchased from you
3) potential clients / leads
4) advisors / helpful people / experts.
Your contact database could be some of the most valuable information you own! Your list of past purchasers is gold. It’s really good when you need more clients to be able to look through your list of past clients – especially if you can send them all an email at the touch of a button. And when your contact list starts to get big, which it will (mine contains several thousand people!), you will thank yourself for having put a system in place earlier on. Don’t forget to back up the numbers on your mobile phone!
LEVEL 9: Business Library
It pays to have access to the best information. There are certain forms of required knowledge that will be essential to whatever form of work you do. This can be anything – from knowledge of business licenses that may be required, to books on disciplines within your field; or a database of bookmarks of essential web pages.
You will find that if you are serious about being an entrepreneur, you will quickly build up a business library of all materials that are relevant to your mission – and if you are like me you will find this indispensable. This might also include computer software manuals and install disks, inspiring quotes, books and text files on disk. It is a good idea to have these materials accessible at all times for easy reference.