The Family Business Starts

It all started for me in a small California city about 1960 where I worked in my father’s taxi business. My grandfather had died of a burst appendix when my father was 12. This caused him my dad to drop out of the 8th grade never to return and go to work to help support the family.

He worked at any job that he could get until the age of 16 when started running a small service station. He worked there until he entered the service during WWII. In 1947 when he returned from the war he started yellow cab with one cab with money that he has borrowed from my grandmother. His one little cab company had grown into a large fleet servicing more than ten or so cities in the Los Angeles suburbs.

That year he was the president of the National Taxi Cab owners association and was seated with other officers of the NTA. One of those officers started discussing a new “franchise” and it was going to need people who knew how to run vehicle fleets.

He described, what he thought, was a great opportunity in “renting cars”. This was in completely new concept and in direct competition to the cab business. “Why would people want to rent cars when they had cabs.”

But as the convention continued he had several more conversations with this enthusiastic fellow. Eventually he convinced my father to try just one franchise for one city and if that worked he could buy others. The fellows name was Warren Avis.

My First Business Age 11+/- Dad’s real competition

Sounds like a paper route or mowing lawns right… Nope I went in the TAXI business! I went right into competition with my dad!

When I was about 10 or so I started building cars with motors. Ones with old lawn mower motors and using the tools my dad bought for me to tinker with the old car parts he would bring home from old taxi’s. I would build one car, it would fall apart, then I would build another, each one becoming more sophisticated and more reliable than the last.

However, all of the kids the neighborhood wanted to drive my cars and consistently those kids would have a wreck or damage my car.  Unknowingly, I had turned from the great car driver to mechanic for our neighborhood kids who wanted to drive my car.

That was when I had the great idea…and I built my first taxi. The driver at the front, passenger in the middle and a motor operator at the back ( I eventually found a longer throttle cable to go the distance from the motor in the back to the front of the car). Much to the relief of many of my young friends who suffered some serious “road rash” after involuntarily being jettisoning from the rear of the taxi when they touched the spark plug accidentally.

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Where I learned how to use Business Cubits

My fathers love of numbers!

It was in my fathers businesses where I honed my business skills and I shared his love for business! (I started my first business and went into competition with my dad at age 11 (see My first business)

Being self-taught he loved numbers and develop an unbelievable skills at using numbers (key Indicators) to manage his business.   I can remember him saying to me… “so son what does number tell you?”  I think he knew numbers were the key to mastering his cash flow and to him.. cash was king!

He had hand written charts filled with all sorts of numbers (cubits in today lingo KPI’s).  These hand written spread sheets were in loose leave binders in shelves over his desk and he entered those numbers faithfully each day.  (When, he died in 1979 I found literally hundreds of old ones going as far back as 1950).  Everyone in the company learned to use those number to manage (speak in those terms) in our respective responsiblities and personnel… EVERY DAY!  He taught us to managed his business with those cubits… and we did if we wanted to keep our job.

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Finding Your Cubit

So what is a business cubit?

“An ancient unit of linear measure, originally equal to the length of the forearm from the tip of the middle finger to the elbow.  However, the total number of bones in the arm and hand the total number is 30. humerus (upper arm) radius and ulna (forearm) make up the arm, and in the hand we have a total of 27; the wrist is made up of carpals (8), then metacarpals (5) and finally our phalanges, being our fingers. we have 14 phalanges, 3 in each finger and 2 in our thumb. Think of each of these bones as numbers which relate SPECIFICALLY to your business they measure and define your business.  Just like the Pharo’s or “Royal Cubit” if you were a young pharaoh you had small bones and a small cubit…if you were a large pharaoh you had big ones.  As they (your bones changed) so did you cubit change.  Just like you business.

What our friends (that is what they call themselves at the banks) say they are trying to do it put your business in a box so they can measure their risk when lending you money. Why do they have some trouble measuring you? Your financial data is not lining up with your peers.  What you’re having difficulty understanding is how and by what system they are measure you.  They use a different financial ruler than you do. (more…)