Here’s a photo of one of my childhood heroes, Roy Rogers. He is looking at his “Empire board,” the diagram of his various business enterprises and income sources – including movies, TV, radio, ownership of a rodeo, licensing his name and likeness, etc.

I doubt at the time that I was conscious that Roy was more than a cowboy hero on TV, that he was an entrepreneur, yet I was attracted to him and entirely disinterested in other cowboy heroes (except Sky King a little – ‘cuz he had his own airplane). I grew to like other TV characters who somehow represented entrepreneurship or affluence. I loved Burke’s Law, about the police captain who was driven around in a chauffeured Rolls Royce, lived in a mansion, and often wore a tuxedo.

My favorite comic book hero was Batman, the alter ego of the ultra-wealthy businessman, Bruce Wayne. Later on, TV, it was Banacek, the freelance insurance investigator who only solved big thefts for big fees – also with mansion, great car, and a chauffeur. Interesting stuff for a shrink, I suppose. If I ever go into therapy, it’s my opinion they should pay me, given I’ll be such a fascinating case. (This is in keeping with my general theory that everybody should pay me.)

Anyway, back to the Empire Board. You’ve got your own diagram, I imagine. I find a lot of people ponder theirs, at year’s end, before the start of a new year. What’s good, bad, profitable, unprofitable, satisfactory, unsatisfactory, synergistic, distracting, safe, dangerous, capable of growth, limited? Should something be cut, or expanded, and if so, how?

I think this year-end assessment is a good thing, even though the calendar is essentially a fiction. It’s good to actually STOP everything you’re doing and reconsider what you should do more or less or none of, in the context of your goals.

Too much continues or even increases of its own forward motion, as if it had a life of its own, with authority of its own. As you consider, I have two thoughts for you to stir into the stew: First, it’s all entirely up to you. There’s no law that says you have to keep doing anything in business – even keeping the doors open. Years ago, a client of mine hit his pre-determined “enough is enough number” on a Thursday, had his Farewell Party on Friday, and disappeared into the woods on Saturday. Five years ago, the owners of Hostess hit their “enough struggle is enough” spot and shuttered the venerable baked goods factories, stores and offices, erasing 14,000 jobs.

There’s also almost nothing you can’t do if you are determined to do it. Start, grow, expand, acquire, sell. Retarget to different clientele. Fire the worst customers you have. Change pricing strategy. Change placement strategy. Stay local, go global. Change media. Change distribution. GKIC Membership includes all sorts of “ordinary” businesses married to very un-ordinary price or place strategy, aimed at specific, un-ordinary clientele. We have a pizzeria, barber shops, and clothiers using membership concept and monthly continuity; we have a construction company specializing in safe-home makeovers for seniors, law firms specializing in elder law and Alzheimer’s law, a large consultancy in the hospital industry eschewing fee models and getting paid a percentage of expense reduction.

GKIC also is home to very unusual, even odd businesses. We have a mail-order/e-commerce company selling only to owners of Scottish terriers, another selling only to quilting enthusiasts. A manufacturer and marketer of healthy dog treats made from deer antlers. A professional dominatrix. (No, I’m not going to name her.) We have a man weary of practice, but with sound business methods, via franchising, went from 4 to 365 clinics – and another who loves his private practice tucked away in a very small town, who draws patients from all over the world. We have a commercial real estate agent selling 80 percent of his properties to investors outside his state, mostly by mail and e-mail driving traffic to his website and conference calls.

A large percentage of our members make mid to high 6-figure or 7-figure incomes, built in “ordinary” and in unusual businesses with GKIC methods. The most successful amongst them have nothing discernible in common, but one intangible. No common educational background or advantage, no age commonality, no high concentration in any one kind of business. The group includes people of virtually every ethnicity and hundreds of nationalities, straight, gay, lesbian, transgender, short, tall, of many religions and of none, even pastors (and one pastor of four churches who also coaches other church operators on marketing), conservatives and liberals (a personal disappointment to me) and libertarians.

Oh, and did I mention, we let lawyers in? They live in every part of the U.S., and in Canada, Argentina, Brazil, South Africa, Japan, India, Australia, New Zealand, Russia, Poland, Sweden, Israel, Bahrain, the U.K. and other places I forget or can’t spell. The only commonality, the intangible, is recognition that it is all up to them, and that they can decide and accept and reject and mold and make things as they want them to be, and that however things are, it is they who have permitted them to be as they are.

Second, I want to focus you on: marketing. Gary Halbert used to say the solution to any problem was a great sales letter. This was even true for my friend George Douglas, who convinced a hospital to give him a replacement heart after his and a hundred others rejected him, via his sales letter. The broader idea is that marketing is the solution to any problem. The success that so many GKIC members experience is because they focus a VERY LARGE portion of their thinking, study, association, energy, time and work on marketing – most businesspeople do precisely the opposite. This is a simple thing. If I know what percentage you are devoting to marketing, and how interested in it you are, I can predict how well you’re doing financially and in achievement of autonomy, liberty and security.

Unless and until you come to grips with this, you are anchored and earthbound, great success ever beyond your reach. As you examine your Empire Board, consider what’s on it, what isn’t, the arrangement, and also the roles you play and the allocation of your time inside the boxes in the diagram. Neither Roy’s nor your diagram is carved in stone. May I be the first to wish you a new year that you truly want. It’s a nice sentiment. But no one’s wishes manifest much. So, I’ll also wish that you get your butt to work, on work that can and will make your wishes occur.

About the Author

Dan Kennedy

Dan Kennedy is the undisputed master of No BS direct-response marketing and the guru of the information marketing industry. Forty-plus years ago, Dan founded the company now known as GKIC, which continues his legacy today with a renegade style of marketing for entrepreneurs everywhere. For some free marketing resources to jumpstart rapid growth in your business today, please visit or call for a free business consultation at 800-871-0147.