Solomon Ali’s Take On Your Business Problems

« Back

MGU 62 | Business Problems

 

There certainly is no one path to doing business, but one thing is for sure, you can always count on people’s advice to help you see the road that will best take you to your goals. Going off tangent from the previous episodes, Solomon Ali flies solo to share with you his own personal opinions about your business problems. He shares his personal information and beliefs that may guide you in your journey. For whatever it’s worth, this episode aims to offer another perspective to some of the most common problems of budding entrepreneurs. What makes a business essential? What should you do with your 401k retirement plan? Should you pull out your money from the market? Equipped with his own knowledge and experience, Solomon answers all these questions and more.

Watch the episode here:

Listen to the podcast here:

Solomon Ali’s Take On Your Business Problems

What we’re going to talk about is going to be a little different than what we’ve talked about. In the past, we’ve spoken more about what entrepreneurs should do if you’re thinking about becoming an entrepreneur. We have had guests come on and talk about those things and I’ve asked them questions. I’m going to give you my personal opinion so let me put this disclosure out there. This is not legal advice. You can’t call me and pay for that though. However, this is not strategic advice for you to use. This is personal information and a personal belief. It’s for informational purposes only. If you need legal advice, please get an attorney. If you need tax advice, get an attorney. If you need any other professional advice, go hire the appropriate person or company to represent you and give you that type of information.

If it’s accounting or anything of that nature, it’s not investment advice. I’m not giving anyone in any investment advice. Please don’t go and say, “That Solomon Ali said this and said that.” It’s information purposes only. I’m going to have to look at my slides and think about what it is and then I’m going to give you the answer to what that slide is talking about. These questions came from a lot of young entrepreneurs and people who wanted to know and get some valuable information on what they should possibly do and when they should do it if they’re in the market or not. Hopefully, it will be helpful information that they may be able to add to their arsenal and think about it and some way. I’m going to say, please go get an attorney, a broker or some licensed professional that does those things but at least you will probably be a little bit more armed to ask the different questions that you need to ask. That’s where we are and going to talk about.

Essential Business

I have a slide that said, “How can your business be considered essential?” I don’t know the answer to how your business can be essential. It would possibly be a little too late at this point. It’s like saying, “In the eleventh hour, I’m going to change my whole business plan and my whole business model.” You don’t want to do that to try and take advantage of maybe opportunities that exist. If you did want to try to create a scenario, where maybe your business partner with a business that was already essential, you might want to think about that and consider that. I wouldn’t suggest to anyone to change their business plan, their business model or anything of that nature in the eleventh hour trying to take advantage of any opportunities. It’s not worth it and it wouldn’t be cost-effective at the end. You could consider possibly partnering with some other companies that are already out there that’s essential and that’s considered essential in the marketplace.

MGU 62 | Business Problems

Business Problems: 95% of all Americans have no clue of what’s going on within their retirement plan.

 

Some of the things that you may want to look at are, although they’re essential, what type of business is it? What industry is it in? Will it be considered essential in the future? I know everyone’s reacting to this virus. The whole world’s reacting to the virus. You don’t want to do that. That’s not how you run a business. Stay true to your core, philosophy and management style. I have a philosophy, “You don’t have to lie, cheat and steal in business. You do have to do the work.” Stay true to your core of what your business philosophy is and try to keep it that way and that will probably work out well for you. I don’t know the answer if you can make your business essential or not, but a good suggestion is to think about possibly partnering with someone else. That might be undercapitalized that you can make a subsidiary of your company or something. I hope that answered the question.

401k Retirement Plan?

We have another question here. The question is, “What should I do with my 401(k) or retirement plan?” That depends on a lot of things. People are watching the balances of what’s going on in their 401(k) or their retirement plan and they’re getting a little scared and nervous. If you’re in the market, you’re in the market. If you’re not in the market, you’re not in the market. If your 401(k) is tied to the market in some way, it’s tough. You’re probably wondering should you decrease or whether or not you should contribute more and take advantage of some of the low hanging stocks that may be out there. A friend of mine, we were having a conversation and we were talking about a particular industry. It was the travel industry. What’s going on and how hard they’re getting hit and let’s be honest, they’re getting slammed. People are not renting hotel rooms and doing conferences because pretty much we’re all shut in. We’re trying to follow the rules and keep each other safe, which is extremely important, but it’s taking a toll on the hotels.

If you're reacting to a situation, you are already one, two, or three steps behind. Click To Tweet

It’s taking a toll not jumping on planes. It’s a real good time to probably go and get a ticket and go somewhere. You won’t have to stand in those long lines. That’s still scary too. You get on a plane and you don’t know what may happen. Somebody else might be sick. That being said, hotel stocks are going to be down. That’s a given. Everything’s based on supply and demand. The stocks are going to be down because they’re going to be reporting that they’re having a bad quarter. Although this is a bump. What I would say in that particular case, whether if you are one of those particular industries like the travel industry or something like that, if planes, I’m not going to call out any airlines, but airline stocks are probably going to be down a little bit. If you’re already in it, hold on to it. Keep it long-term. “Will I take advantage of possibly buying currently?” Probably not. Seek your own professional advice.

My personal belief is this. Most companies are going to begin to have layoffs. Once they begin to have layoffs, if the people tied to these companies have 401(k)s that’s tied to the stock, they need money because all of a sudden, they’re unemployed. They’re trying to make ends meet or maybe even trying to pay down some bills so that they don’t feel some of this pain. Maybe they’re going to feel the pain anyway, but they have to liquidate some of their retirement. If I’m an investor buying their stock, I’m about to see some losses, why would I buy it thinking and believing that, “The companies are probably going to lay off 15% and may be as much as 40% of their workforce.” Let’s get real. I’m not about to jump in there and begin to buy their stock. However, if I’m already in their stock, I’m not about to sell their stock neither.

The diligent are going to make money. Click To Tweet

If I’m in the stock, I’m going to hold it long-term. I’m going to keep my position. If I’m not in it, I’m not getting in it. What I may do is wait for the bottom to fall. What I mean by that is I may wait for, “If a company’s going to lay off employees, I’m going to wait until they get to the bottom of their last tier of layoffs and cuts.” Knowing that after that everyone or the majority of those people who’ve been laid off or cut from the company will probably begin to liquidate that particular investment that they have in their portfolio. When they do that and it’s all over with and there won’t be any more layoffs or cuts, then I might look at that. I’m also going to be looking at their vendors. Are their vendors going to jack their prices on them because their vendors got slammed too? Their vendors are going to need to increase prices on some of the things that they’re providing as far as services to help make up for the differences.

Those are the things that you have to keep in mind. If I can reach a comfort level after all my due diligence and investigation, then I would determine to make that investment at that time trying to make that investment at the absolute lowest or what I would refer to at the bottom of that company’s actual stock price. I would hold on to it and forget that I ever made the investment. When I make investments, I make investments long-term. I don’t come in like some day traders because you don’t make money that way. You make some pocket change, but you don’t make any money. Most of the time you don’t even make a pocket change when you average it out. You realize, “I didn’t do as well as I thought for the time and everything.” If you invest and let it sit, you normally end up doing a whole lot better.

The other thing I would say is this. It’s late to be reacting to situations. This is where you get your financial advisors early on. I know a lot of you don’t want to pay people, but you get them early on. You pay people to help you to put together a strategic plan, where you think about these things and take advantage of them. Taking advantage of them, what I mean is this, everyone should have some type of insurance policy. If you look at different insurance contracts from various companies, they pay out a certain dividend or they pay an interest rate depending on the policy. That’s critical to have as part of your strategic and overall plan and strategy. If you sit in there with X amount of dollars in the bank, you can do the math. Your bank is probably paying you less than 2% for that insurance contract. I’m going to call it a contract because it’s a little different. I want people thinking it’s a life insurance policy because that’s not what it is, although it will have a death benefit. It will normally pay 4% to 5%.

Why would I have my money parked somewhere paying me less than 2%, when I can have my money parked somewhere paying me 4% to 5%? It’s simple things like that of getting professional advice and getting very strategic. The other thing is maybe you need a self-directed IRA where you’re managing and watching your money and you’re making the appropriate investments. If you had a self-directed IRA, maybe you want to take advantage of some of the real estate that will be coming up in the future. Not now, we’re in the month of April 2020. I wouldn’t be trying to take advantage of any real estate in the month of April 2020. I would wait until probably August when some of the things are going to turn around. What I mean by that I believe personally is that guess what’s going to happen? People are going to run out of money. People are going to end up being a few months behind going into foreclosure because they’re out of a job. We may see as many as 45 million to 60 million people lose their jobs and being unemployed. That’s crazy.

MGU 62 | Business Problems

Business Problems: Reacting is not how you run a business. You stay true to your core and your philosophy.

 

If we see that, I don’t know what we’re going to say because a lot of people at that point in time, they’ll become homeless. They have to go live somewhere else. For you as an investor and an entrepreneur, if you have that IRA, an Individual Retirement Account, especially for self-directed, you can go ahead and purchase real estate. You can purchase other businesses and other types of assets. Take advantage of it. However, if you’re a 401(k) or your retirement plan is being managed by the company store, you don’t know what’s going on. Ninety-five percent of all Americans have no clue of what’s going on within their retirement plan. Even when they get the statements, they don’t know or they don’t understand how to read them and they don’t know what’s going on in there. They don’t know the mix of what makes up that retirement plan.

The first step is become more knowledgeable. Get involved, get some professional help, ask. It’s well worth paying some people. It’s not that you may want to take their advice at the end of the day but you at least want to listen to them. There’s a lot of wisdom and wise counsel. You pay the people to give you their wise counsel and then you make the definable decision on what you’re going to do and how it fits your needs based on your other experiences that you may have in life and based on other people. When I try to make a decision, I try to do what we call a Poll. I asked different people from different walks of life. Some may be professional and some may not be because I want to get a good understanding. I’m not dealing with just professionals because professionals are trying to pinpoint and give me a narrative normally of what’s happened in history. I’m trying to pinpoint on what people are thinking and doing and that’s how you want to make an investment. Think about that.

Be slow to start making any changes because any changes that you’re trying to make is you reacting to a situation. We all know if you’re reacting to a situation, you’re already 1, 2, 3 steps behind. When I was in boxing, if the guy hit me, by the time I block, he did already throw 2, 3, 4 more punches. I like to say I’d normally get off the first hit. That way he was behind. I don’t like being behind. I like staying ahead. You want to think about that. If you’re reacting to a situation, you’re already 2, 3, 4 steps behind. There is no real catch up. All you’re going to do is spend a little bit of money and lose a little bit of money because you’re reacting to a situation. Try not to react to a situation. Get some professional help before you make those decisions. If it was me, I would have already gotten a self-directed IRA so I could sit back and take advantage of the real estate market. It’s not too late to do those things. You do want to make sure you have some wise consultants to help you. You can rely on the wisdom and then you can develop from there.

If you're moving out of fear, you're probably going to lose money. Click To Tweet

Investor’s Portfolio

The next slide says, “What does all this mean for investor’s portfolios? What actions should they take?” Your portfolio is probably looking bad. It’s probably down 30%, 45%. Chill out, smoke a cigar and relax. Go stream a couple of movies. Do some bingeing. We have the largest economy in the world. The world is dependent on our economy. Yes, there are some strategic people and wealthy people and plan on getting wealthier. There are more millionaires and billionaires that will be created during this period of time. If you look at history, this was the first time this has happened this way. In 1918, the Spanish flu, that was a little bit different. Our market conditions and everything was a little bit different but similar. My point is this, lots of people made money and lots of people lost money. The diligent is going to make money. You’re going to make money if you’re diligent, if you’re prudent.

If you’re a consumer and you’re trying to react to a situation, you’re probably going to lose money. If you’re moving out of fear, you’re probably going to lose money. Your portfolio’s down, big deal. It’s down 45%. Whatever the case, big deal, chill out, don’t worry about it. Move on. Look at some other investment opportunities. One thing I will caution you, look at the industries that are making up your portfolio because there are going to be thousands of industries that are lost, gone and will no longer exist. You do want to get out of those particular industries. Look at what type of companies you’re investing in and what’s making up your portfolio and get some advice. You want to get out of it. Someone’s telling me, “Would you be on the cruise?” I said, “Nope.” That to me is scrap metal. If I’m a buyer of a ship, I may buy a ship and be buying it at a discount and doing something else with it as an asset, but let’s use some common sense.

People are not going to be flocking back in my personal losses. Take it on the chin and then go ahead and invest that money in something else. No one could tell you whether or not you should pull your money out of the market. If you made a good investment, if you did your homework, your due diligence at the time you made the investment, stay with your investment and with your confidence because you did your research. I’m trying not to pick anything, but let’s say we invested in a particular retail store. In that retail store, people can buy clothes or whatever online. There’s no need for that retail store to exist and to have 400 or 500 locations. Either they’re going to change their business model or they’re not going to be there. The chances are it’s too late for them to change their business model. They’re probably not going to be there.

MGU 62 | Business Problems

Business Problems: Be slow right now to make any changes because whatever you are trying to do, you’re just reacting to a situation.

 

I’m mindful of a company like Netflix. You had Netflix. They’re the new kid on the block. You had Blockbuster who was the old dog on the block and that old dog had an opportunity to take advantage and purchase Netflix. Who’s here and who’s gone? Let’s keep this real. Blockbuster’s missed an opportunity to take advantage and purchase Netflix. Netflix is here, Blockbuster’s gone. Use that analogy. Blockbuster had what? All these store locations and various places and now, they’re all long gone. What did Netflix have? You can pull everything down online. That is a good indicator of what industry you might want to be looking at. If you can see it that way, that should help you out a great deal. Another company was RadioShack. RadioShack had 1,300 locations across the country. In fact, at one time I wanted to buy RadioShack. You would’ve been able to pick up the whole thing for about $10 million, $15 million, which would have made easy financing from a banking standpoint.

Bringing in a couple of partners to help qualify for the loans towards the company that I was representing and working forward, we didn’t quite have the cashflow to be able to do it. We were able to possibly go borrow the money and bring some other companies in. We could have partnered with that had some cashflow that may have been able to show that and pulled that deal off and done some great things with our smart home technology and stuff like that. That being said, let me tell you something. You can’t work with people that’s unevenly yoked. If you’re the smartest one in the room, if you’re the smartest one on the team, quit. Get off that team. You need people as smart as you. I prefer people smarter than me. The only thing you will end up in is waist-high full of crap if you’re the smartest person in the room. I’m telling you from experience. I’ve gone through this. You don’t want to be the smartest person in anybody’s room. You want people around you that are far smarter than you are.

Pulling Money Out

That way as you collaborate a new vision, it may come together or how to do things and how to get it done. “When you’re looking at the market, should you pull your money out?” Understand the industry and company. Look at Blockbuster and Netflix. Blockbuster’s had the opportunity to purchase a Netflix for a reasonable price. Netflix is still here. Blockbuster is gone. A company like RadioShack are gone. Other companies online are selling the same thing. Look at those things. Let me give you one last one to look at. Have you heard of this company Amazon? I’m sure you have. Amazon started out as what? Something that was a little bit different. Barnes & Noble, they’re mostly gone but they had to shut down a great deal of locations. Amazon started out trying to what? Sell books online. People told them, “That wouldn’t work or this and that.” The event boys had a chance again to buy them out prior to them getting as large as they were. These companies, I’m going to call them the old dogs, chose to ignore that and not believe in it and some of the old dogs are non-existent or had to scale way down. Where do you buy your books at now? Who’s the number one bookseller? It’s Amazon. They’re the number one seller for almost anything in our economy.

You can't work with people that's unevenly yoked. If you're the smartest one in the room, then leave. Click To Tweet

Think about those things. When I say industries, thousands of industries are going to be lost and are going to be gone. That’s exactly what I’m telling you and this is how you look at it and how you gauge it. What made Amazon survive? They’re not just a bookselling company now. I can tell you what they are, but it’d be better if you do your homework. They survive. Other companies such as Barnes & Nobles and other companies in other industries had to what? They had to scale down. They had to go down. These are the times we’re living in. You want to be diligent in doing your homework. Everybody can point the fingers. Please stop blaming Donald Trump. President Donald Trump is our president. Stand behind him and do the best you can. Whether you voted for him or not, he is the president of United States. Stand behind him. That’s what people do. That’s what Americans do. Stand behind your president.

It is easy to point a finger on Monday night after a decision has been made and say, “It was wrong,” and tell all the reasons it was wrong. It’s the hardest thing in the world to make a decision and knowing that you’re the one that’s responsible for that decision and how many people it’s going to affect. That’s hard. Give the man a break. He needs a break. He needs prayer. That’s what you need to be doing. That’s what the media need to be doing. Let’s pray for him and let’s move on because we are Americans. We are great and we will do great things and we will come out of this better than we were before, but we will come out as a new economy. Things will be new. Yes, there will be thousands of jobs and still have lost. The market will take a hit, but a lot of people will become extremely wealthy. Yes, a lot of people will become poor. However, the power is in your hands. You can keep pointing the fingers at other people. You can point the fingers at your president or you can get busy and start doing your homework, investigating on what’s going on so you can pick the right companies to be a part of as your portfolio.

I know I say way too much on that, but you don’t have to lie, cheat or steal. What you have to do is do the work. Most people have to lie, cheat and steal because they can’t do the work. That’s it. If you can’t do the work, guess what you’re going to do? You’re going to lie, cheat and steal because you don’t know what you’re doing. If they can do the work and they’re lying, cheating and stealing, then we call them straight up evil. They need to be taken behind the woodshed. It’s that simple.

MGU 62 | Business Problems

Business Problems: Even if you pay people to give you their wise counsel, you will still have to make the definable decision on what you’re going to do.

 

Do The Work

We have time for one more. Let me find a good one. I do want to say this. Minority Business Access is here to help people that were like me that started in business with little capital and didn’t have a traditional education. I don’t possess a college degree or anything. I did attend to school and I did drop out. I dropped out and I started making some decent money and thought, “That was the end of it. I didn’t need it.”

I can’t say it fits for you or not for you. Here’s what I can say. Every kid around me goes to college. Every kid around me finishes and completes college because if nothing else, it helps to make your life a little bit easier. It opens up the doors. You’re not going to be able to do what guys like me had done without a college education. I know there are more billionaires out there. I think the number is over 80% of the billionaires do not have a college degree. I understand that but what you got to understand is that the era and when they made their money is different than the era that we live in. You’ve got to understand that. It’s not going to be, “Get out and roll up your sleeves and do the work.” It’s going to be a little bit more challenging than that. I want you to keep that in mind.

The other thing is there is no need for panic and fear. Fear is False Evidence Appearing Real. If somebody is trying to get me to be afraid of something, what do I have to do? I have to sit back and say, “I’m going to go right through that.” Like in boxing, I don’t have time to be afraid. I got trained to work. If they throw a punch, I’m going to throw 2 or 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 punches. If they throw one, I’m throwing by 6 or 7 and I’m going through them. I’m not about to stay back. I’m going through them. I learned the same thing in football. Business is the same way. You got to look at what your competition is doing. If I’m going into business as a new entrepreneur, I’m looking and measuring the industry. I’m looking and seeing where there is a demand, where there’s a need. I know a lot of you say, “Do what you love. Do what your passionate for.” You can do that. I’m being really sarcastic here. You can do that and your ass will be broke because what you’re passionate for doesn’t mean there’s a need or a demand for it. Let’s get real.

People lie, cheat, and steal because they can't do the work. Click To Tweet

I can be passionate about picking up poop, but it doesn’t mean that there’s a need or demand. Find something where there is a need and there is a huge demand. You will be successful. Screw that BS. Some of these people tell you, “Do what you’re passionate about. Do what you love.” You do that and your ass will be broke. You do that, you’re one of the people that won’t make it through this era. I’m being honest with and that’s my personal opinion. You can write, call, do whatever. I’m not going to answer you. If you do that which there is a demand and a need for, you’re going to be successful, but you got to do the work. You got to learn it. A lot of times when you learn something, the passion develops and the love comes because then you’ll realize, “I’m good at this.” You get all excited and giddy and you don’t mind working the 15 to 17 hours a day, seven days a week for 3, 4 years that it’s going to take to get that business up and going before you can start making money.

That’s how this works and there is no other way of getting there. There are no shortcuts. If you’re coming to a guy, you’re coming up with a great idea and you’re saying, “Invest in me,” you think that they’re supposed to invest in you because you’ve got a great idea, “We’re looking for a return on capital. We’re looking for a return on investment. What is the net present value?” In other words, “When am I going to get to break-even? When do I get my money back? What is my risk? If your business fails, how am I covered?” A lot of you are living pipe dreams when you start your entrepreneurship and you don’t want to give up on that. You might have to give up 60%, 70% of your business if you want a guy to come in here and invest all his hard-earned money. What you’ve got to understand and appreciate is he made his money already. He has earned his money already and you’re asking him to risk it on your dream. You’re asking him to take a ride with you, but he’s the one that’s providing the car. He’s the one that’s providing the gas and you’re going to be doing the driving. You’re asking a lot. You need to understand what it is that you’re asking of a company, an investor when you’re asking them for money to come and invest in your company, to come and invest in your dream. You’re not willing to work the 15, 16 hours a day and you’re not willing to take the time to learn your competition, to learn your industry. Are you kidding me? Get out of here with that crap.

I want to thank everyone for tuning in. I love you. Please, stay safe. Do not be afraid, that false evidence appearing real. Do not be afraid to ask. Go out there and look for the businesses that make sense. Do your research. Don’t just jump in. I’m sorry if I offended any of the day traders, but you are not doing enough research. You don’t know what you’re doing and you’re going to get slammed in this market. I’m being straight with you. There are going to be thousands of industries that are not going to exist anymore. There are already millions of jobs that are lost. That number may be as high as 45 million to 60 million when this is all over with. That’s a lot. You need to think about something. The majority of the jobs were created by small businesses. Think about this, small businesses are what will be wiped out. It doesn’t take rocket science to figure if the majority of the jobs have been created by small businesses and the majority of the small businesses are about to be wiped out, we’re about to have some tough times.

MGU 62 | Business Problems

Business Problems: Find something that has a need and a huge demand, and you will be successful.

 

Your unemployment rate, you can see go as high as 60 million, 70 million people. I’m going to make my own verdict. It’s probably between 45 million and 65 million unemployed. That’s horrific. For other people, that’s an opportunity. For some people, it’s going to be hell because they’re going to be afraid of trying to figure out, “How do I feed my family? What do I do? It’s the president’s fault.” No, it’s not. It’s your fault. Go to work. Figure out what you need to be doing. We told you in previous episodes, if you’re a small business, what to start doing with your vendors? What to start doing with your customers? Start looking around how to innovate. You had a blueprint from the big companies back in 2008. They got billions and billions of dollars. What did they do? You saw what they’ve done. They laid people off and got the money. They automated their plants. You’ve got a blueprint from them on what you needed to do. There are a few more things that you need to add to that blueprint. They gave you a baseline.

When they’ve got that money, they didn’t go turn around and reinvest that money back in human capital, did they? They kept reducing their human capital. They made sure their plants we’re being automated so that they can be more efficient. That’s what I’m saying, think a minute. Don’t let the fear paralyze you. You will be all right. I know I’m going to be all right because it’s not about how much money you have. It doesn’t matter if you had a dollar. When I started my first private equity company, I started with $250. I was loaning out millions of dollars within twelve months but you have to do the work. I can’t stress that enough. Everybody is going to say, “I’m not that smart.” Neither am I, no one is but when you find something that you’re willing to put the time and the work in, you can do it. You have been created to do great things and to do wonderful things. Get over yourself. Get over the fear and do these great things that you are created to do. The world is counting on you to become who you’re supposed to be. We’re counting on you, each and every one of us. Thank you so much for tuning in.