Experiences of a "Humanitarian Entrepreneur"

I recently had the life changing experience of volunteering as the de factor "entrepreneur-in-residence" at a well respected international NGO in the country of Ethiopia. I had never formerly volunteered before, had never been to Africa and I had never lived abroad. Like most Americans, I had only traveled to such places like Europe, Central America and elsewhere as a "pampered" tourist, seeing only what our "5 Star Budgets" provided. I even have lots of friends that have traveled to Africa...ergo on $20,000 "safaris" and what not.

The fact is that most Americans, myself at the top of the list, have no idea what it means to live among the members of a foreign culture. We Americans are wonderful at responding to a crises in other parts of the world with our checkbooks and military might, if needed. What we "miss the boat" on is actually understanding and appreciating the many different cultures that comprise the world. I am blessed to have been afforded the opportunity to share in the beautiful culture and people of Ethiopia, first as a volunteer and then as the "ExPatrepreneur" I have fashioned myself to become (www.peterjburns3.com)

My mantra has always been "Doing well by doing good, " and the opportunity I have to do just that is so obvious in my work in Ethiopia. With a population of 92 million and only 15% or so living above the poverty levels, there is so much that this country needs and that we as Americans and entrepreneurs with a social conscious can provide. To that end, I am endeavoring to bring high quality portable MRI machines to their capital city of Addis Ababa with a population of 5 million...and only 4 poor quality MRIs in the entire country.


Other projects "in play" include a unique livestock feedstock made from insects, which is not only far healthier to the animals being raised but also less expensive then the current meat by products. Another project involves the financing and roll out of kidney dialysis clinics that are in such short supply and so needed.

In short...we American entrepreneurs should consider rolling up our sleeves and volunteering somewhere in the world that needs our unique skill sets to observe and then act upon opportunities that not only help the indigenous populations but also make a profit. Another mantra I live by is..."You can't give unless you make."

Best to all,

The ExPatrapreneur

How do you eat an elephant?

One bite at a time...This was wisdom passed down from my since dear departed father when I was faced with the angst of being overwhelmed with major tasks of new business ownership starting at the tender age of 19. My father suggested that I take what was apparently overwhelming and break it down into "bite size" components, attaching each piece one-by-one until the seemingly impossible task facing me was reduced to manifesting into "wholly consumed elephant."

Thirty eight years later, I am taking Dad's advice yet again. Recently returning from a humanitarian mission in Ethiopia, I have accumulated no less than 42 viable projects that merit development, funding and launching into this remarkable country. Basically, I determined what was needed in that county and matched it up with the what was available back here in the States and which was within my ability to provide.

To that end, I took the "lowest hanging fruit" of approximately a dozen such ideas and created Project Files on each. I had great luck with interns in my past US-based ventures, so I reasoned that I could access a new set of eager and talented young people to assist me this time too. I placed my request for virtual interns with specific skill sets out in CyberSpace and lo and behold, I now have nearly 60 very qualified young men and women awaiting their selection for specific projects and tasks.

Through one such intern, already recruited, I established a Project Management template that each intern will follow. Another intern selected, who is now my virtual Administrative Assistant, has organized all of the various projects (up to 50 something with my US projects combined with the Ethiopian ones) into Google Docs and Drop Box files/folders. Each intern, assigned to specific projects, is granted access to his or her projects and my Administrative Assistant is adding to each project folder as I receive more info, updates and requests on each individual project. It is amazing how much material is flowing through these combined channels...and now, so efficiently!

Since I favor a mentoring-style of management and am as far removed from micro-managing as anyone I know, I informally communicate with each intern as regularly as once a week, sometimes more. I am making the move to place a new head of Project Managers, who is, herself, working on one of the major projects and happens to be going to school for a Project Management certificate.

The plan is to create complete packages of multiple projects and have a 5 page (or so) Summary of each project, complete with research, financial docs etc., so that I can present same to my top financing resources for consideration. Then, I either fund the project myself, or take on an interested joint venture partner, put in the internal operations and assign management to handle each operation.

That is how I plan "to eat this elephant." I think my dear father would have been proud. :)

A lesson from one of History's Greatest...

Arguably, one of WWII's greatest heroes was Winston Churchill. He is immortalized with many famous quotes but the most important one for me in my life of entrepreneurship has been:

“Never give in–never, never, never, never, in nothing great or small, large or petty, never give in except to convictions of honour and good sense. Never yield to force; never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy.”

Life in general and entrepreneurship in particular is fraught with challenges. We, who live and die on every decision we make to determine the course of our livelihoods through self enterprise are particularly vulnerable to the slings and arrows of our detractors. Not only must we constantly face the challenges of creating a venture from scratch from our own passion and ingenuity but we must also secure the financing and sustain our dreams through the life of that creation.

Along the way, our heels are nipped by the naysayers and by the"dogs" that are ill equipped to do much more than whine and remain merely irritants in the scope of things, belittling the entrepreneur's vision and doing anything in their power to "rain on our parades." Through all, we as entrepreneurs owe it to our families, our supporters and most of all ourselves to embrace Churchill's credo to "Never give in."

Memorial Day is much more than family picnics...

As I sit before my computer on the porch overlooking the beautiful hills and forests of my part time home in California (I live in Ethiopia most of the time) I am moved by the freedom to conduct business and live a life far away from the strife many others face across the world. My experience of moving to Africa had been quite a revelation and I'm so thankful to have served as a humanitarian volunteer in that peaceful and safe capitalistic democracy, while the rest of Africa seemed to explode with murderous conflicts each passing day. Truly, Ethiopia is like an oasis on the African Continent, as the USA is an oasis on Earth.

The reason I can happily pound out my thoughts of free expression and even conduct worldwide commerce on my laptop while sipping my morning coffee on the porch of my dear friend's multi-million dollar mansion... is because of the brave souls of the US military branches that gave their very lives to protect the freedom that I and so many generations of other Americans enjoy but regrettably, often take for granted.

My grandfather, Peter I served in WWI. My father Peter II served in the Pacific battlegrounds and until he passed away a little under two years ago, was one of the last remaining combatants who stormed Iwo Jima and precipitated the defeat of Imperial Japan. My dear father is featured, along with a half dozen other Iwo Jima veterans each anniversary of that immortal battle on the Discovery Channel in a feature entitled, "Going Back." Watch it if you can. It's the "real deal"

I served my country as a US Army infantry soldier at the age of 17 at the end of Viet Nam and while I was blessed not to have gone overseas, I lost many fine young fellow soldiers to that infamous war. We, as Americans and indeed the entire world, owe a debt of gratitude for every single American life lost in the preservation of Freedom that marks America as the one true Superpower and the Forever Guardian of the Free World.

As you all enjoy a peaceful and fun filled Memorial Day weekend gathering with your loved ones, take a moment and bow your heads for the brave souls that gave their lives for the Freedom we all enjoy as Americans.


God bless America.

Entrepreneur has solution for businesses squeezed by government

“Rather than hire the individual as an employee, the entrepreneur explains to the individual what the benefits would be if they were to incorporate by obtaining the necessary EIN number, bank account, and business license to establish a consulting business in their specialty field,” Burns told the Digital Journal. “The consulting business would then contract with the small business for this service.”

That’s right. Burns suggests that instead of hiring on full-time employees to work for your small business, why not have that individual create their own start-up consulting firm, which would then contract with your small business for work.

No catches. No hoops to jump through. It would function as any other business-to-business interaction would, and you would not be faced with the difficult task of categorizing a worker as an independent contractor or full-timer.

And as of this point in time, and according to Burns’ knowledge, this is 100 percent completely legal and within all IRS rules, regulations and guidelines. In fact, Burns has employed the model with his company B3 Funding Partners, which serves as a portal, or conduit, between small and medium-sized businesses in need of capital and willing lenders.

In an exclusive, in-depth interview, Burns discussed how he came up with this idea, what it means for the IRS and most importantly, what does it mean for you and your business. Here’s what he had to say:

CC: How did you come up with this idea?

PB: I look at it from a purely business stance. The government is jamming us [small businesses] right now trying to make it to where if you have 50 employees or more, they’re trying to force you to have ObamaCare. They are taxing us into nonexistence… So I said let me take a look at how I can solve one big problem: I’ve got a business and I’m growing, and I need help, but if I bring people on I have all of the restrictions of having to worry about unemployment insurance, withholding taxes, benefits…

And then I said, "What if the individual became a business themselves and simply had their services exchanged for full compensation from the company?" It wasn’t the half-solution of being an independent contractor… That is so restrictive on all of the elements you have to prove, and then the IRS will slam you and fine you, both the individual and the employer, if they disallow that.

But they can’t do anything about incorporating and starting a business because that’s IRS guidelines and if you adhere to exactly what they require (EIN number, bank account, contractor services), then you’ve come up with a solution using their own legislature against them. I’m not trying to say we’re anti-government. I’m saying if they want us to play by the rules, then they have to obey the rules too. I see it as a really good solution; I see it as a way to hire yourself. You create a little company – you get to offset all of the other expenses you can’t do as an individual. The company itself that needs those services pays a simple gross amount which is up to the client company… if they don’t perform correctly then you sever the contract – you don’t have unemployment insurance, you don’t have to worry about them filing for unemployment, you don’t have any of the headaches…

CC: What are the benefits of doing this?

PB: The top benefits are that it is a simple transaction between business to newly created business without any of the hair of reporting and withholding taxes, or with social security and health care et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. It streamlined what was the relationship between the employer and employee – it streamlined it into a very efficient business model, which is what capitalism is supposed to be all about anyway.

You don’t have to worry about hiring them [independent contractors] and making them an employee and towing the line for all of the things you have to do that the government requires. It is a simple exchange of services for money for an actual service performed, agreed to and paid for.

In this case the IRS code doesn’t have anything to do with it. It is a “pay-for-services to an actual company to company transaction.” Period.

You agree on a payment amount, service is rendered, you pay it and it’s a straight deal. I don’t see the negatives in this…except the IRS can’t grab a bunch of money from people and there’s no way to actually screw the individual or the company if you use my process. I can’t see the negatives, honestly.

CC: What did your lawyers and accountants have to say about this? What is the IRS going to think?

PB: I do not believe the IRS is going to like me talking about this but guess what, I don’t really care. I’m the advocate for small business. I’ve been doing this since I was 19 years old… I’m their friend – government is not so I’m going to do whatever I can to help.

My CPA is a principal at one of the largest accounting firms in the country, my lawyer has been practicing for 25 years. I went to them and I said ‘Punch holes in it, tell me… is this right or wrong?’

They both looked at me and said it is completely within the realm of the current law. My accountant didn’t think it was sustainable, he thought companies are going to have to hire people, and I said of course they are – but what if you can exchange the bulk of, or at least some of your would-be employees with this concept. My lawyer said technically it’s completely correct.

CC: So what made you want to help out fellow small business owners so much? Where is this creativity and passion coming from?

PB: We’ve got to do something to help our small business population; nobody’s helping us so we’ve got to help ourselves.

When you involve government with capitalism, it’s a cluster. It always has been and it always will be. It’s just like how government is interfering with crowd-funding right now. What was a great idea and was actually passed is now mired in controversy and legislation… it’s just a mess. Let business people stay with business people, let government stay with government. Do not mix the two – it is a recipe for disaster.

I’m just another entrepreneur out there just trying to help my fellow entrepreneurs. I am not a lawyer, I am not an accountant, I am just a fellow businessman who may have come up with a way to save a lot of time and trouble, and not to mention money, for my fellow entrepreneurs.

Read more: http://www.digitaljournal.com/print/article/347056#ixzz32lucCfu4