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Michael E. Odell's University of Entrepreneurship

Michael Odell's Tips & Hints

The following selected excerpts are from Michael Odell's e-mail newsletter Hints and Tips. Valuable information to help you develop a winning strategy, bring in new clients, boost sales, increase profits - and live a better life. _______

Appreciation For Success Sell More & Make More Plan To Win

In Search of Clients & Customers University of Entrepreneurship

You, The Real War on Poverty Selje, Successful Sales Strategy

Time For A Sex Change? Hope & Prosperity Prospecting For Business

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For Family Happiness & Business Success

Do you enjoy sincere appreciation? Of course you do. So do I. Our family, friends, and business associates are no different. Sincere appreciation costs nothing. Yet it pays rich dividends in family happiness and business success. And what should you do when someone pays you a compliment? Forget the humble, "Ah shucks, do you mean me?" Don't play it up. Don't put yourself down. Just say thank you.

Appreciation pays. But first, we need to invest some personal initiative. We need to develop the habit of sincere appreciation. Write yourself a "sincere appreciation" reminder on several 4 by 4 cards. Put one in your pocket, tape one to your computer, put another next to your phone.

Then at the end of the day, go over each personal encounter. Were you positive? Did you give encouragement? Did you look for and give sincere appreciation? If not why not, and how can you correct the situation the next time? How long do we do this? We keep at it until we establish the habit of sincere appreciation. ___________________

The Three Steps To Success
Preparation - Perspiration - Persistence

If you think you are beaten, you are.
If you think you dare not, you don't
If you like to win, but think you can't,
It's almost a cinch you won't.

Life's battles don't always go
To the stronger or faster;
But soon or late the one who wins
Is the one who thinks he or she can.
___ Anon

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Sell More & Make More
present a sense of trust and respect

The micro-business owner must sell or fail. And your sales materials are critical to the process of doing so. Both you and your sales material must present a sense of trust and respect - the first step in the selling process.

You will find potential customers are more responsive when you present an image they trust and respect. So be professional. For your ads, web site, sales letters, and business cards use professionally done graphics that visually sell your product or service. And use solid sales copy that moves your prospect to action.

If you are in business to make a living, your marketing material must do more than show and tell. The material must sell. Keep the glitzy to a minimum and the sales information to a maximum. If graphics are important to your presentation, use a sales-minded graphic artist who knows how to support your sales idea. And you are not seeking to create literary artistry, so use a writer who knows how to sell.

Your written materials can help build your business, sell your ideas, promote your business, and establish your business reputation. To sell more and make more, however, your written materials must focus on benefits; motivate to action; show how to take action - and take action now._______________

"Some people are confident they could move mountains
if only somebody would clear the foothills out of the way."

Don't sell your product or service. Do sell profit improvement. Show how your product or service saves money or improves profits.

Don't sell your product or service. Do sell added value and solve problems. Sell the benefits of your product or service. The more benefits the more value. Benefits sell. And be excited.

"There is a name for people who are not excited about their work - unemployed"

Home-Office Deductions
Can I or can't I deduct the cost of my home office? Maybe yes. Maybe no. But don't wait until tax-paying time to decide if you can or can't. Start your tax-cutting strategies now.

The home-office deduction issue is somewhat clouded, but there are some clear IRS proclamations that must be met. Your home office must be your principal place of business to be deductible. To determine that: First, you must do your most important money-making work there. Secondly, you must spend the majority of your working time at your home office in relation to any other location where you spend your working time.

Should you deduct your home office? Don't wait until April 15 to decide. Consider the pros and cons now. For more information on deducting your home office and other home-office expenses, send for IRS Publication: Business Use of Your Home. Also of interest is IRS Publication: Starting a Business & Keeping Records. Both are free. Just go online, or visit or call your local IRS office.

Whether you decide to deduct your home office or not, keep detailed records of all your business expenses and potential deductions.__________________________

"He who observes the wind will not sow, and he regards the clouds will not reap." ____ Ecclesiastes 11:4 In other words, if we wait for perfect conditions, we will never get anything done.

1. Develop a positive self-image and project a winning attitude.
2. Continually prospect for potential clients or customers.
3. Attain the knowledge to present product or service confidently and professionally.
4. Ask the prospect to buy your product or service. And keep asking.
5. After each sale, follow up. The sale only begins the relationship. Are they happy with your product or service. Keep in touch. Work on becoming a reliable expert the client or customer can depend on; and the person they come to when they need your type of product or service.

" Success comes through persistence.
So know with precision the goal and stick to the game plan."

In a new group or business situation: Always greet people with a smile. Introduce yourself, take the initiative and volunteer your name. Put your hand out first, look the other person in the eye. Show an interest in the other person, in their wants and needs. And act positive and successful. Successful people seek those who look and sound successful.

Got a problem? First separate the facts from the fiction. Then separate the important facts from the unimportant ones. Then focus your energy on the important ones. And don't tell your problems to people unless they are directly involved.

"The easy or quick solution often breeds new problems".

Test it first. Got an idea for starting a new business or adding to your present business? Think big. Start small. Test, and then continue to test.

Want to sell more and make more? People buy our product or service for their reasons not ours. Pick out the most vulnerable reason and concentrate everything on that - the key issue. How do you find the key issue? Encourage the prospect to talk , listen until you find out what the other person wants. Keep asking. Why? Why?

Building a successful life rests on the cornerstone of a positive mental attitude. And we are the only ones who can control our attitude. To do so, we need to consciously eliminate negative thoughts and replace them with positive ones.

We are ruled by our acquired habits. Negative habits can be broken. If we work at it. And we can acquire the good habits that lead to personal and business success. But we must work at it.

"Anything in life worth having is worth working for."

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Plan To Win

Prepare to win. Expect to win. And get on a regular schedule to win. Then charge. Go out and meet the people with enthusiasm and confidence. A timid charge never won any battles.

How do we build enthusiasm? Act enthusiastic. How do we gain confidence? By knowing our product or service from beginning to end. And by knowing the benefits

To sell our product or service with confidence we must: Know the features. Know the functions. Know the benefits. It's the benefits that sell. People don't want braces. They want straight teeth. They want to look more attractive.They want the benefits.

It's true: We can never know too much about our product or service. But first, people want to know we understand and care about their needs. What are their needs? Ask questions. Then listen. We can have more of everything in life, if we will help enough other people get what they want.

The person who is sure nothing can be done is
usually someone who has never done anything.

You're sick of the game! "Well, now, that's a shame."
You're young and you're brave and you're bright.
"You've had a raw deal" I know - but don't squeal.
Buck up, do your damnedest, and fight.
It's the plugging way that will win you the day,
So don't be a piker, old pard!
Just draw on your grit; it's so easy to quit:
It's the keeping-your-chin-up that's hard.

It's easy to cry that you're beaten - and die.
It's easy to crawfish and crawl;
But to fight and to fight when hope's out of sight,
Why, that's the best game of them all!
And though you come out of each gruelling bout
All broken and beaten and scarred,
Just have one more try it's dead easy to die,
It's the keeping-on-living that's hard.

_____________ Robert Service

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What has worked for you? Help other entrepreneurs succeed.
Send us your hints & tips - e-mail


"We can never get rid of mouse ideas completely; they keep turning up again and again, and nibble, nibble - no matter how often we drive them off. The best way to keep them down is to have a few good strong cat ideas which will embrace them and ensure their not reappearing till they do so in another shape." ----- Samuel Butler ll

IN SEARCH OF CLIENTS AND CUSTOMERS: First, whether you have a shop on main street or operating part-time out of your kitchen or bedroom, you must have a marketable product or service. Then, once you know the needs and wants of your potential customer, develop a prospecting game plan and go for it.

Be persistent. Be good at selling yourself be professional and look professional. Looking professional also means having business cards, stationery, and other well-written sales material reflecting your professionalism. Always try to look the very best and be the very best at what you are doing - strive for excellence.

If you are just getting started and searching for clients or customers, then network with people you already know. Let friends, neighbors, former co-workers, and other personal contacts know what you are doing._________________

Turn prospects into customers. Sell the benefit. We are not selling body soap, we are selling a clean body and all the benefits that go with it.

WHAT ARE THEY ASKING BEFORE THEY BUY? How your client or customer answers these next six questions, will determine your success or failure: 1. Do I need this product or service? 2. Is the price fair? 3. Can I afford this? 4. Is this company reliable? 5. Is this company the best source? 6. Should I buy this product or service now?

"If you want milk, don't sit on a stool in the middle
of the pasture expecting the cow to back up to you."

You need to go for it. Hope may be the magic ingredient to motivate ourself and others, but don't forget the hard work.

Our business plan may be well thought out and written down. Our business and personal goals set. We know there is a market for our product or service. We are pumped on great expectations. Now we need to go for it. We need to sell our product or service.

It often comes as a shock to the new micro-business owner that he or she must sell or fail. And each month, as bills come due, the rest of us are also reminded of this fact.

To succeed we must sell. To prosper we must prospect. We meet prospects in different ways. Some of us meet our clients face-to-face. Others use the phone to cold call. Many of us are using e-mail and the internet.

Our method of contact doesn't matter. We must, however, know what we are going to say. Those who "wing it" will crash. To succeed we need to be prepared. We need to know the features, the functions, and the benefits of our product or service.

Being prepared builds our confidence. Confidence founded on preparation creates enthusiasm. And enthusiasm gives us inner strength to keep at it when all others have quit.

"The person who gets anything worth having is the person who goes after his or her object as a bulldog goes after a cat with intensity." _______Author Unknown


No matter how well we do; we will have complaints.
So what do we need to do?

First: Speak in a moderate tone. Be sure to empathize, apologize, and record the facts.
Second: Always ask, "What can I do for you?" Or, "What would you like me to do?" Never be afraid to say, "I don't know, but I will find out for you."
Third: Follow-up with notes, letters, phone calls. Let them know you care.
Keep a customer complaint book. Record the complaint and the action taken to correct the problem. Periodically check for recurring problems.

There is a tide in the affairs of men,
Which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune;
Omitted, all the voyage of their life
Is bound in shallows and in miseries,
On such a full sea are we now afloat,
And we must take the current when it serves, Of lose our ventures.
___________ Shakespeare, Julius Caesar

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The University of Entrepreneurship

Welcome to Michael Odell's University of Entrepreneurship

University of Entrepreneurship is a school of practical learning. The tests are tough. And you can't cheat on the exams. The same problem may have different answers. Often the student will create his or her own answer - a new answer.

Unlike the public school system, University of Entrepreneurship lessons must be mastered before we pass. The teachers are brutal, punishing the student over and over until the lesson is learned. And the learning never ends. Each lesson is relevant.

The University of Entrepreneurship does not care who our grandparents were or where they came from. You can be a PhD or a high school drop out. The university treats everyone who enters the same, regardless of athletic ability or political correctness. It doesn't matter if we are rich or poor, young or old. All are welcome to enter.

There is no graduation from the University of Entrepreneurship. Either you drop out or you stay. For a few, staying in school is easy. For most of us it is tough. To stay, however, we must be willing to put into practice the University of Entrepreneurship's three P's: preparation, perspiration, and persistence. ____ M. E. Odell

Are You Ready To Be An Entrepreneur?

1.Your Physical Health: Do you have the stamina to meet the physical demands required?

2. Your Mental Health: You don't stress when facing set backs?

3. Self Confidence: Do you have confidence in your ability to recognize, control, and face problems?

4. Drive: Are you someone who thrives on activity, who doesn't waste time?

5. Realistic and Aware: Are you aware of business issues and business concepts?

6. Attracted To Challenge—Not Risk: Are you ready to accept modest risk where you can influence the outcome?

7. Product And Market Knowledge: Have you gained the first hand and working knowledge neccessary

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The Small Business Owner

& The Real War on Poverty

Poverty is a sad fact. And we are bombarded with erroneous academic theories and self-serving political prattle on the causes.

These proponents of pessimism want us to believe wealth is limited. If you are blessed with two pairs of shoes and three meals a day you should feel guilty and forced to divide with those with less. After all, the world's wealth is limited.

These bad news bearers are wrong. The opportunity to create new wealth is unlimited. New wealth comes from hope, ideas, inventions, from the earth itself; not from the negativism of envy.

Until this century, oil was a gooey muck with limited use and value. Then came the idea and development of the internal combustion engine and the numerous new petrochemical products.
Forty years ago, the tiny transistor began to replace the bulky and power consuming electron tube. The transistor revolutionized electronic circuit construction. Engineers produced entire integrated electronic circuits on a single silicon wafer. Existing products were simplified and improved. The transistor gave birth to new products, new businesses, and new wealth. For those of us in the electronic and communication business the possibilities were exciting.

None could imagine, however, the wealth creating opportunities the microchip and personal computer would bring. Today, the microchip is creating new industries and new wealth. And the microchip, made from what? The microchip is made of silicon an element of sand. The microchip is a winning combination of dirt, an idea, and hard work.

Hope, new ideas, hard work, and the freedom to succeed is the answer to poverty. Not envy. Not lowering everyone's living standard by taking from the haves and dividing it amongst the have nots. To create new wealth and raise everyone's living standard we need the freedom to build wealth. That means a government that respects and protects the individual's right to life, liberty, and property. Not a government based on envy.

To create new wealth and raise everyone's living standard we need men and women of character. Entrepreneurs dedicated to honest work and service to others. These are the people willing to take risks, willing to sacrifice, willing to work hard. And that is the small-business owner. Each year thousands of entrepreneurs start a new business. The business may be a one-person enterprise today, but a potential Fortune 500 company. Or it may be a part-time business conducted from the kitchen table. All are creators of new wealth. This is the real answer to poverty.

Ever so often someone like Microsoft's Bill Gates will take an idea or a resource and create billions in new wealth. And I am thankful for that. But, it is the hundreds of thousands of ongoing small entrepreneurs who created and continue to create trillions of dollars in new wealth that are the real warriors in the war on poverty..

Yes there is good news. It is the true prosperity of hard and honest work in service to others. It is the small-business owner's freedom to pursue their dream. _______ M.E. Odell

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"We do not improve gradually. We do it by sudden jerks, by abrupt starts.
We may even slip back.
The weak give up in despair. Those with grit persist."

Your Only Successful Sales Strategy

For some of us who live in Washington State, Ballard is just a part of Seattle. For others, however, Ballard is the Scandinavian Capitol of Puget Sound. The only place one can get a steamed-fish breakfast or a decent pickled-herring sandwich for lunch.

Now, before I go any further, just let me say: "Some of my best friends are Scandinavian." And I have been known to eat more than my share of pickled herring.

Anyhow, on a recent sunny afternoon while exploring the many fine businesses and interesting buildings in the Ballard area, I saw the Norwegian word Selje. A key word if you are in sales. Every business owner regardless of product, service, or the size of their enterprise, must sell. And the word sell is derived from the Norwegian word selje. It means to serve.

To sell we must serve. To serve we must understand the needs of our clients, customers, or prospects. And we must meet those needs.
What meets our customer's needs are the benefits of our product or service. And benefits sell. The customer doesn't buy the product or service. They buy what our product or service will do for them, how it meets their needs.

How do we find out their needs? Easy. We ask questions. Then listen. The hardest part for most of us is not asking questions. It is learning to listen. But, if we want to sell more and make more, we must discover and then meet the needs of our clients and customers. We must do more than asked and contribute more than is required.

The the key to both our personal prosperity and sales success is learning to serve others: family, friends, and customers. ______ M.E.Odell

"Good business ideas must serve the real needs of others to be successful. The creation of wealth is not a mere selfish activity, but rather a unique opportunity to creatively serve others." _________Don Johnson, Youth With A Mission

Personal Check Up

1. _____ I have a set of personal goals I am committed to?

2. _____ I am committed to fulfilling those goals?

3. _____ I believe most things are possible if I am committed to achieving them?

4. _____ Anything I do, I feel is worth doing well?

5. _____ I practice controlling my thoughts and actions?

6. _____ I make my own choices and most are good ones?

7. _____ I hold myself responsible for my choices?

8. _____ I think through ideas and control my feelings before acting?

9. _____ I keep trying?

10. _____ I have chosen to think positive, talk positive, act positive?

For those answers we gave a good solid yes, let us give our self a pat on the back. Where our answers lacked a positive response, let us sit down and write out a plan that will allow us to answer "yes" the next time.

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Time For A Sex Change?
Need A Little Age or Economic Diversification?

"Men are major purchasers of autos, guns, phones, computers, sports gear, personal services and everything else. Women shop for household needs and little else."

Still think that way consciously or unconsciously? If you market to one sex, it's time your business undergoes a sex change.

Marketing to a particular sex, age, or economic group limits sales and profit potential. Break free of those limitations. Increase sales and profit potential with price, product, service, and marketing diversification. You might even add a new business.

Product diversification: You want bigger sales and more profit. But you can't, your products only appeal to a particular economic or age group. Sales in your line are declining, or your current products are seasonal. Whatever the reason or reasons, you know you need to diversify.

Start by adding products that harmonize with your present products and appeal to your current customers. Later add products that broaden your customer base.

Price diversification: In good times or bad, some people can only afford inexpensive essentials. Others buy whenever and whatever they desire. During severe economic slumps the not quite so well-to-do continue to shop upper-scale, although many cut back on the luxury items. The well- to-do, however, continue to purchase even the luxury items.
Pricing to one economic group or an inflexible price structure can limit sales and profits.
Using price diversification to meet financial goals and marketing objectives does, however, require innovative thinking.

No single pricing method will always be best. You may temporarily lower prices to unload a product; to win a place in a new market; to reach full production, or to fill your billing hours. Or you may raise your prices and create an upper-scale image.

Service diversification: This does not mean you must become a jack or jane-of-all-trades and a master of none. It may not be a new service only a diversification of how you distribute your present service: If they always come to you, you may go to them. Many service centered businesses add related products or services they can sell to current clients: The hair saloon will sell haircare products. The accountant will provide financial planning, or investment products.

Marketing diversification: The last 30 years, we experienced momentous changes in market demographics. The number of single households and women in the workforce increased dramatically. Purchasing patterns changed. Today men grocery shop and women buy firearms. Youth-centered products saturate the media. At the same time, the 50-plus age group is larger than any time in our history, and growing. The 50-plus have a higher net worth and more discretionary income then previous generations of their age group. So do not leave them out of your marketing plans.

Today's mega-budget mass-marketing has brought a decline in brand name loyalty. This gives the innovative smaller business owner an opportunity to compete with the bigger competitors. Know who your clients are and what they want. Then, use a cost-efficient one-to-one sales and marketing strategy to build an interactive relationship.

Marketing to one group can limit sales and profit potential. Break free of those limitations. Undergo an age, sex, or economic change.

"The three great essentials to achieve anything worth while are, first hard work; second, stick-to-itiveness; third, common sense." ______ Thomas Edison

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Hope & Prosperity

Yes, we have our problems. But, America is still the greatest land of opportunity. Ours is still a land of hope and prosperity, a land whose shores beckon to those outside our borders. And they come. Legally and illegally they come many without money, education, or the ability to speak English. What many come with is a dream, the desire to succeed, and the belief that the American dream lives. And it does.

Ours is the land of opportunity. Thousands come to follow their dream, and successfully do so, including two of the very famous actors': Jean-Claude Van Damme and Arnold Schwarzenegger.

As a young body builder, Arnold Schwarzenegger left his native Austria and came to America to follow his dream. He became a world champion. He raised body building and physical culture to new heights. He became a movie star, a businessman, and a spokesman for the positive life.

Another dreamer, martial artist Jean-Claude Van Damme. Van Damme left his native Belgium and comfortable lifestyle. He worked as a cab driver. He became a bouncer. He took numerous other odd jobs while he pursued his dream. Van Damme has yet to exhibit the upstanding character and community concern of Arnold Schwarzenegger. Van Damme has, however, turned his karate skills and penchant for hard work into movie fame and millions of dollars.

Both Schwarzenegger and Van Damme took charge of their own destiny. They made the most of opportunity when it knocked. They got the attention of those who could help them to achieve their goals. And both worked hard at achieving their dream.

Yes, America has its problems. But, the merchants of evil tidings are wrong. The American dream still lives. Ours is the land of opportunity. _______ M.E.Odell

"Don't concentrate on past mistakes. Concentrate on your next success."


The first time Arthur Miller's play, Death of a Salesman 1949, was made into a movie, it starred Fredrick March. Later, the movie was redone staring Dustin Hoffman.

Death of a Salesman is a dispiriting and tragic story of a salesman named Willy Loman. After years of being on the road, the sales firm he works for has exhausted his vitality. Then, they quit paying him a salary. Working on straight commission, Willy cannot make enough money to pay his bills. And then, after thirty-four years with the firm, he is discarded. They fire him.

His sons are failures, but Willy doesn't want to believe this. He wants his sons to succeed where he has not. He decides he is worth more dead than alive. Hoping the insurance money will support his family and help his sons get a new start in life, Willy gets into his car and kills himself.
The play portrays Willy as a failure as a father, as a husband, as a person. We our left with the view of the salesperson as a frighten, insincere, back slapper. And there have been numerous movies and plays since showing a dishonest and sleazy car or siding salesperson. Someone who only has one goal, to separate you and your money.

In real life, Arthur Millers father was a ladies-wear manufacturer and shopkeeper who was ruined in the depression. The sudden change in fortune had a strong and bittering influence on Miller—often his plays depict how families are destroyed by what he thought were the false values of capitalism and America. But he was wrong.

Professional sales people are problem solvers. Doing things for their customers instead of to them. Professional sales people fill a need, a want, or a desire. Professional sales people are problem solvers

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Prospecting for Business
Thar's Gold

In Them Thar Hills

Those of us who are self-employed or sell for a living are like the legendary gold miner of the 1800s. We also need to prospect. We must constantly and consistently seek those with the authority and financial ability to make the decision to buy our product, service, or idea.

The gold miner's successful quest sometimes happened by accident. Sometimes it happened over night. Or it could take a lifetime. Gold prospecting required men and women of determination. It took preparation, perspiration, and persistence. It meant being away from friends and family sometimes forever.

In the mid-1800s, those seeking mineral wealth flocked to North America. Month after month they prospected. Some searched Death Valley. Thirst, scorpions, rattlesnakes, and scorching heat their companions. Others prospected the frozen Yukon. The dream of striking it rich made the never-ending nights and paralyzing cold endurable.

Hunger, the elements, and madness often ended the prospector's quest for riches. Most never made a strike. They did not look in the right place or dig deep enough. Many lost their determination. Lonely, frightened, discouraged; they gave up too soon.

Prospecting for new customers can be lonely. If we do not share our trials and tribulations with the right people those who are positive and supportive.

Prospecting can be discouraging. If we do not have a game plan for digging up qualified prospects those with both the authority and financial ability to buy our product or service.

Prospecting can be frightening, if we are not prepared. So be prepared. Know the features of your product or service. Know how those features meet the customer's needs the benefits. Benefits sale. And know your presentation: What are we going to say? What questions are we going to ask? What action do we want the prospect or customer to take?

Those of us who are self-employed or sell for living must prospect. We need to look in the right place. We need to dig deep. We must not give up. Successful gold prospectors knew the precious metal was found where it has always been found such as the same geological formation or close to a previous strike.

And today, our best prospecting often comes from satisfied clients in both new sales and referrals.

We do not want to our waste time on the wrong prospects. But we do need to expand our territory and look in new areas. We need to prospect always. We need to tell everybody about our business what we do. We need to develop quality prospects by tuning into the people who need our product or service. And we need to do something out of the ordinary and explore new prospecting ideas.

Even the most secretive gold prospector exchanged information with traders and fur trappers. We too need to exchange leads and information: Someone who sells custom-created high-end jewelry can trade leads and information with someone who sells luxuriant autos.

To prospect for new clients or customers we do not need a pick and shovel. We do not need a mule loaded with tent and grub. We do, however, need to get in the field or on the phone and develop our sources. And keep records. Records help us identify our most productive referral base and most effective follow-up methods.

The gold is there for our taking. All we need do is look in the right places, dig deep, and practice the entrepreneur's three 'P's of success: preparation, perspiration, persistence.
_______ M.E.Odell

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