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by Justin Hitt, Strategic Relations Consultant,

In an excellent article presented by Forbes magazine called Some Billionaires Choose School of Hard Knocks by Matthew Herper he presents interesting statistics about the some 234 US billionaires today. Mr. Herper presents the fact that 18% of these billionaires never received a college degree; many of them never finished the degree programs they started – a statistic that might make you want to quit school and run off on your latest ideas.

I would ask you first to look at the other statistic he is indirectly presenting – a statistic that says roughly 80% of the 234 US billionaires have completed a college education. Billionaires have attended the School of Hard Knocks to build their fortunes, but it is not hard work alone that produces their greatness, many times college enhances their opportunities for earning their billions.

First hand I learned that hard work alone will not get you greatness, my small business ran great until 1999, three years after I went full-time after running the same business part-time since 1992. Something unexpected happened, customers were not paying on time and I was soon headed for trouble. How did this 23 year old know things were going to be trouble? At the time I had just finished an associates of arts degree in general studies from the local community college, all my math experience was Calculus based, and my business experience was home grown.

What saved me was a college Accounting text book I picked up in the used books store. This text had a great chapter on cash flows – this knowledge kept a roof over my head by providing me enough insight into the numbers of my business, so I knew when to get out.

Well, I am not a billionaire, yet! Maybe saving myself from a half a million dollar business flop from a single chapter in a college text book isn't the most practical example. I was just using something the most successful people in the world have done for thousands of years – seek knowledge outside of their internal circumstances. Biblical King Solomon even had advisors, and it is rumored that he was the wisest man ever in the world. Billionaires of today become successful from hard work and learning from the environment around them – in many cases college.

Many billionaires hire the knowledge they need or seek business partners that can do things better then they can, many times heavily requiting from colleges. The United States most famous billionaire William H Gates, III, better known as the Microsoft giant Bill Gates, did not write Microsofts first Disk Operating System (DOS) he saw the idea and hired someone to do the work for him.

John R Simplot, mentioned in Mr. Herper's article, when obtaining the patent for the frozen potato did not do all the work by himself, he utilized the people around him to make the idea happen. His organization is now the largest supplier of frozen potato products to the worlds fast-food mammoth McDonalds. Even though both of these people dropped out of school, they both sought people with formal educations in the School of Hard Knocks to accomplish their objectives.

Okay, so of the top five billionaires, as listed on Forbes: The World's Riches People, only one Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Alsaud has a college education, the other four all dropped out of school. Of the top ten billionaires only three graduated, two dropped out, and the remaining six never
attended college. Recent High School graduates and young entrepreneurs, do not think that if you drop out of your formal schooling you will never need to learn another thing to become a billionaire. If you do drop out, you better be ready to seek learning and knowledge in every aspect of forming your business dreams.

Successful billionaires used hard work and the knowledge of the people around them to accomplish their objectives, they hire the best in every aspect of their businesses, and they keep informed to always be one step ahead of the competition. Mr. Herper in his article Some
Billionaires Choose School of Hard Knocks
makes some excellent points, however I would encourage you to stay in school because a degree is essential if only to provide you the background knowledge to know how to work in your area of interest.

Do not get a degree just to have one, but seek the specific education that will enhance your ideas, letting the degree be shining proof of your steps towards your success. Billionaires learn more each day making life a formal education, most have found that college only enhanced their opportunities.

y Scott Gingrich, The CRM Coach,

Having a project come in On-Budget is the holy-grail of project management, especially when it comes to CRM projects. With their 70% failure rate, CRM projects represent a significant risk to a small business' financial health and warrants more 'measure twice, cut once' consideration before beginning.

Coming in On-Budget does not mean you managed to squeeze your project into whatever arbitrary budget you came up with when you first started. It also
doesn’t mean that you started with an overly generous budget.

It does mean that you develop a budget that takes into account an analysis of 4 critical areas:

  • Payoff. You need to know exactly how your CRM system is going to generate ROI. This will help you focus your project on the right areas. By knowing how you expect payoff to be achieved, you can plan to achieve it.
  • Risk. You need to figure out where the risk is in your project because 'risk=expense'. By figuring out what can go wrong, you can take measures to minimize and contain that risk.
  • Services. Be sure to fully account for the variety of services that will be required. A few often overlooked areas that can increase your services bill significantly include: meetings, testing time, debugging time and 'while you're here...' time.
  • Technology. Choosing the wrong technology is can be a huge waste of money. From the worst case scenario of a totally failed project to having to spend extra money to make the wrong software do things it wasn't intended to do.

What makes putting together a realistic budget so difficult for small businesses is that it's not what they do and they don’t have the experience of having done several before. It’s not what they do. So, they rely on the Sellers of CRM who have their own vested interest in not scaring off their customers with numbers that are perceived to be too expensive. By putting together a realistic budget, you may very well find that the project is going to cost much more than
you were intitally prepared to spend. It's best to find this out now and before you 'sign on any dotted lines'. If you do find out the project is going to cost more, here are a few ideas of what to do:
  • Wait & Save. Perhaps you need to wait 6 months until you have a bigger budget. Use this time to get prepared for the project: learn more about the software choices, make sure you're business processes are as fine tuned as they can be, and focus on how CRM software will generate ROI.
  • Go ahead. It may be more money than you were expecting, but may still be within your budget. If you're clear on how the CRM system is going to generate ROI and you're otherwise ready, go for it!
  • Scale Down. If you have a very clear idea of how the CRM software is going to achieve ROI and you can't afford the full project, focus in a smaller area to begin with that will have a payback. Use this payback to help fund future projects. It's always a good idea to start with smaller, high-payoff projects first.
  • Find more ROI. If you have a really clear and compelling business case for how a CRM system is going to improve your bottom-line, it's much easier to find the necessary funds to implement it.
  • Double Check. Make sure you're choosing the right technology. Cheap software can often be expensive to implement. Double check to make sure you're basing your budget on the right CRM software. You may find that a software that costs more in licensing, ends up being an overall more affordable solution.

Coming in On-Budget means you started with a realistic budget. The "Insider's CRM Success System" goes into great detail on how to develop a realistic budget and provides the control forms and worksheets you'll need.