If entrepreneurs didn’t know by now that Technology was taking over the business world, now it’s encroaching on the gambling casinos. We can’t even escape it on our trips to Las Vegas.
RADIO-FREQUENCY IDENTIFICATION is headed for Vegas. Casino chips embedded with RFID tags and are being tested at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino and will be displayed this month at the new $2.7 billion Wynn Las Vegas hotel and casino.
The chips will each be given a unique player code to track behavior and possibly get more revenue out of high rollers. It’s estimated that this could be a $100 million business by the year 2010.
There are two Vegas based companies that own the casino-RFID game: Progressive Gaming International and Shuffle Master.
Progressive’s TableLink, which reads RFID chips using table-embedded antennas and records the wagers on a dealer’s PC, is the system of choice at the two casinos. Progressive and Shuffle Master have also developed optical card shoes, which holds decks and scan cards as they’re dealt. Shuffle Master’s Intelligent Shoe is already getting rave reviews in Australia and Asia.
The cost of outfitting a table with the chips and antennas costs a casino about $8,000, but analysts predict that Progressive will score bigger bucks from the $6 per day per table it charges for its system.
One RFID chip costs a casino 40 cents more than a standard chip, but that margin will drop to about 10 cents in the coming months.
This is certainly a “technology leap” from the “eye in the sky” that we all knew about in the casinos, but I don’t think that even George Orwell would have thought of these chips.
Those of us who used the games in Vegas casinos to escape our computers and software programs, seem destined to be followed by technology no matter where we go.
Somehow Radio-Frequency Identification in poker/gaming chips just doesn’t seem to be what a good poker player expects. Oh well, technology marches on...and on….and on.
KNOW THE SCORE
by Maureen Stephenson
Get What You Want in 7 Powerful Steps
In my most recent columns we’ve covered issues about improving your business and marketing, but today let’s start right at the beginning.
You’re really getting tired of the 9 to 5 “rat race” and are thinking about chucking it for your own business. All your friends keep telling you that you could do for yourself just what you’re doing now for your boss. Why shouldn’t you profit from your ideas instead of him?
You keep thinking about it because you know that you’ll never be financially where you want to be with a weekly paycheck, but what business would you start?
Before you pack in that weekly paycheck, this is the time to evaluate yourself and your future and it takes some real, down to heart honesty. You want to change your life for the better, so let’s start.
Did you know that you have the potential to do and be anything you want? People have different perceptions of the ideal life, and it ranges from obtaining financial freedom to as simple as owning a new pair of sneakers. Unfortunately, many fail to reach their aspirations because they can’t get a solid, clear picture in their mind of what they want.
Take the next few days and embark on a fact-finding journey that will be a life-changing experience. Get a pad and pencil and start with this first step:
STEP 1 - KNOW EXACTLY WHAT YOU WANT – Be specific in your passions, then focus all your efforts on that particular desire.
Those who always change their minds and those who give up easily when the going gets tough will never get anywhere. If you’re a bit confused and aren’t sure what you really want in life answer these questions:
1. What makes your heart beat with excitement?
2. What makes you happy?
3. What are you constantly thinking of day and night?
4. What do you want to do with the rest of your life?
5. What do you enjoy doing?
6. What are your obsessions?
7. What things make you jump for joy?
Write down all your possible answers to the above questions. Write down everything, no matter how silly or unimportant it seems. Put all your desires on paper that answers any of the above questions.
When that’s done, go back and circle five to seven items that interest you the most. Then evaluate and choose with your heart, not your mind, the one and only thing worthy to spend all your time and resources on and that brings out the best in you.
Now you may wind up with something like, “I want to play quarterback for the RAMS.” If you’re over 20 I’d say that isn’t too viable a choice, but you could do something related to football or sports. How about starting a sports publication? Or perhaps a sporting goods retail business, sports memorabilia business, or even a gym could be the answer. You can always read books and surf the net to help you in your search.
The most important thing to remember, no matter how “pie in the sky” it seems, is to USE YOUR HEART. Others may disagree with you, but you should be firm with what you really want. Others may offer comments or advice, but the final decision is always yours to make. You should concentrate on what you want, not what others want.
Remember you only get one shot at living your life. There are no replays and you don’t get to do it over. You may not do it right, but at least you’re doing it. Too many lives have been lived in quiet desperation waiting until – until they had saved a nest egg, until the children are out of school, until I retire, and they depart this life before “until” ever arrives.
Don’t go to sleep tonight without making a decision on WHAT YOU REALLY WANT IN LIFE MORE THAN ANYTHING ELSE.
Then spend a few days evaluating how to make it possible and make a living at it. Begin living every day as if it were the last day you had – never leaving anything to be done next week, next month, or next year.
There will always be bills, things will always break down eventually and need replacing, there may be storms and earthquakes and repairs – but there will only be one life for you to live. It can’t be put on “hold”!
The final outcome of your efforts may be in the future, but you’re living each day by taking steps toward that outcome.
KNOW THE SCORE
by Maureen Stephenson
Safe Way to Start Your Own Business
Hopefully, you took my advice last week and you have a handy-dandy list now of what you want to do. We know you want to start your own business; hopefully you now know what it will be.
Being used to a steady paycheck from a regular job, with a family or other financial obligations, makes stepping out of your comfort zone a little risky. It doesn’t seem to matter how miserable you are in that job, the alternative scares the pants off many of us. There is a safer way of jumping off that cliff and it entails your current boss.
Your employer could be your ticket to a successful freelance business, if his business doesn’t conflict with your dreams. If you were thinking of starting a freelance copywriting business, you could negotiate a contract with your current employer for 50% of your time for the first year after you leave. This would give you a springboard for finding other clients while still covering your monthly expenses.
You’re probably wondering about now, why your employer would agree to sign a contract for half of your time? There are a number of reasons, and they can result in a “win-win” situation for both of you.
If you’re on good terms with your employer, chances are he doesn’t want to lose you. It takes time to train someone to fill your job and train them to the company’s way of being productive.
Even if he decides to replace you, it can take months to gather resumes, interview candidates, and hire the right person. During that time you can be performing job functions from your home office, perhaps even training your replacement and providing your boss with a smoother transition by minimizing the disruption to his business.
If you’re not on good terms with your boss and the company is downsizing, merging, or being bought out, you can help them avoid the unpleasantness and cost of firing you. You are actually doing them a favor by restructuring this in the form of a contract for services that can be “stretched out” for a period of time if needed.
Frankly, if an employer has to choose between letting you go and paying severance and benefits versus signing a contract for a time period, which do you think they’d prefer? Signing and getting tangible work and services in return without the costs associated with terminating you is a much better deal for him. The contract may even be allocated from a different budget category, making it more affordable for the company.
There’s another reason your boss may opt for a contract, and that is your knowledge. You are already familiar with the company, its clients and services. You’re able to provide the services they need and you understand what has to be done. Many creative people have used this logic in approaching their bosses to negotiate their first contract and go out on their own.
If you’re interested in starting your own business your current job can provide the security you need in your first year. What better way to get started on your dream?
KNOW THE SCORE
by Maureen Stephenson
Getting In On The Ground Floor
Tractors that steer themselves, property that knows it’s been stolen, airplanes that land without pilots – that sounds like science fiction. It’s all a result of the global positioning system which is mind-boggling. The industry is set to skyrocket and opportunities for the entrepreneur are there.
This spring the U.S. government will launch its first next generation GPS satellite to complement the 30 older models already in use. The aim is to create stronger signals, increased bandwidth, and lots of potential for smart entrepreneurs.
Since the Defense Department made its GPS signals available for commercial use in 1993, the market for location-based services has swelled to nearly $5 billion, and that’s just the beginning. The demand for these services is expected to double in the next few years. The three hot growth areas – tracking, navigation, and hardware promise to be multibillion dollar markets by 2010.
Though startups are springing up all over the place, plenty of technologies remain untapped. One of the untapped areas are automated navigation systems in family cars that keep drivers a safe distance from other vehicles.
Huge companies such as UPS plan to outfit 75,000 drivers with GPS-enabled handhelds this year to help them reach destinations more efficiently. Some savvy entrepreneur who offered similar navigation and tracking services could also make out nicely.
Consider AtRoad, a Fremont, Calif. firm that went public in 2000. It offers “geo-fencing” software that triggers email alerts if a company’s vehicle speeds or goes into unauthorized areas. They charge a monthly fee of $45 per head to track more than 133,000 employees of clients such as SBC, Verizon, and the city of San Francisco. For the fiscal year ending in December, AtRoad’s revenue grew 19% to $75.2 million. That was a whopping 12.2% net profit margin.
This lucrative game was also played by Steve Wozniak, Apple co-founder, who started Wheels of Zeus in 2002. This company combines GPS data with local wireless networking. The technology helps parents keep tabs on their children, or can alert IT managers when company-owned computers leave the premises.
The agriculture and manufacturing companies are getting a taste of the technology by a company that outfits tractors with antennas that pick up signals to automatically guide the equipment and control the amount of pesticides used.
There are companies that are using this technology to guide and navigate giant trucks around cliffs and mine shafts. The maritime industry is predicted to invest hundreds of millions in coming years to outfit cargo containers and ships with GPS receivers.
Chipmakers already cashing in are charging about $13 per device to put GPS chipsets in phones, electronics, and car navigation systems. And with a new federal regulation that is forcing wireless operators to include GPS in their phones and networking equipment, chip demand is sure to explode.
Remember the day when we said that expecting to buy drinking water in bottles was something the American consumer would never do. Pay for water that comes out of the kitchen sink faucet? How silly! Look at the industry that’s grown up in that area!
Entrepreneurs - the GPS opportunity is out there, if only you know where to look. Remember, you heard it here first!