Bring the PASSION!

You can have an average job and stay in an average relationship. This is what people without passion do, and then they wonder why they aren’t happy.

Life is too short to be average. Channel your passion and do something different!

When I was 21 years old I went to Taiwan to meet pretty girls and learn how to speak Mandarin. I did not know anyone in Taiwan when I arrived there (on a one way ticket) in May of 1995. When I came back to the United States nine months later I had thousands of dollars in my pocket, and had learned how to survive and thrive in a totally different culture.

I started my first business when I was 29, and then traveled all over the country to make it work. I had no safety net, no reliable paycheck from a boss. That business got me on national television (Shark Tank) and still provides a nice background income to this day.

Earlier this year I decided to get into the solar biz, even before any company would hire me I went out there and gathered leads. I had no idea what I was doing, but I felt passionate about using technology to make the world a better place.

Since March I’ve sold over $400,000 in new business. By the end of this year I’m going to crack $1 million. Right now I’m building a team of people who want to sell solar and make a six figure income.

I’m looking for people who are passionate about green tech.

But passion and energy should not just be present in your work, it should also exist in your relationships, even in your bedroom.

Staying in a ho-hum relationship that lacks passion is selling yourself short.

-Ben Alexander

August 2017

 

 

 

 

Mary Barra, a CEO for the future.

Take a moment to check out this interview of Mary Barra, CEO of General Motors:

The Chevy BOLT (full electric) car is now being sold all over the United States. It has a 230 mile range per electric charge, and it costs about $30,000 after the federal tax incentive.

Mary Barra has driven the growth of  electric drive technology at General Motors, thus changing a hide-bound culture that resisted change for many years.

Perhaps it took the leadership of a female CEO to make this happen!

Either way I’m glad that GM has shifted in this direction, I drive a gas / electric 2013 Chevy Volt, my next car will most likely be the full electric Bolt.

1 Chevy Bolt + 8kW solar array on the roof = ZERO $$ spent on gas at the pump!

Ben Alexander

July . 2017

UK bans gas powered cars by 2040.

Recent fog / smog in London:

This week in the United Kingdom the government announced a ban on the sale of new fossil fueled vehicles by the year 2040. There are 31 million registered vehicles in the UK right now, and the ban does not take place for another 23 years, but it signals to car manufacturers globally that they have to develop more alternative / electric powertrain technology if they want to keep selling vehicles in the UK.

The government in India has enacted a similar ban by the year 2030. There are over 60 million cars and trucks in India today, with robust growth in car ownership expected over the next 13 years.

As a country India is rapidly expanding their solar infrastructure as well, there are currently more than 300 million people in India who lack access to the power grid. The uptake of solar will improve countless lives, and this power source goes hand in hand with 100 million electric vehicles on Indian roads.

In 2016 over 350,00 new electric vehicles were registered in China, compared to about 150,000 new electric vehicles here in the United States. In 2016 across China 36 gigawatts of solar capacity was installed, compared to 14 gigawatts of new solar here in the United States.

Here is the current mix:

China has the most solar, followed by Japan, Germany and the USA.

The growth of solar installations and electric cars in England, India and China is not only driven by the federal government, but also by air pollution concerns in the major cities of these three countries. This is a good day / bad day in Beijing:

We don’t have as many air quality concerns here in the United States, with 320 million people in this country we are not as densely populated (per square kilometer) as China with 1.3 billion and India with over 1 billion people.

The city of Wuhan has a larger population that New York and Chicago combined!

The rest of the world seems to be ahead of the United States in regards to the uptake of green technology. China has to adopt electric vehicles because of the poor air quality in their cities.

Florida is still pretty slow in terms of adopting solar, but I’m going out there every day and spreading the word. Yesterday I sold 2 residential solar installs right here in Tampa Bay. Green tech has to make economic sense for the consumer, both of my sales yesterday were to conservative police officers!

100 million homes in the USA, only about 1% have solar today. BIG opportunity there.

Ben Alexander

July . 2017

Freedom to choose.

Every Tuesday night I head over to New Tampa to attend the weekly meeting for  Life Leadership. I’ve been involved in LIFE since 2014, at times building the business, at other times just as a student of the leadership and debt free material.

Part of my recent success with Tampa Bay Solar has to do with what I’ve learned in the LIFE business, I’ve also been fortunate to make many good friends in LIFE, people of faith and integrity who are moving in a positive direction.

When I teach the “Go Debt Free” class over at Harvester Methodist I use the LIFE Financial Fitness Program as a teaching aid.

Last night I was talking to Anna, a smart young woman in our LIFE group who was telling me how she felt limited working as a hairstylist in a traditional job.

I haven’t had a traditional job since 2003. Even working in the solar biz I’m self-motivated, I have no regular schedule. I close deals then send the paperwork to the main office in Tampa.

If I want to go watch a movie on any given afternoon I am free to do so.  

This gives me the freedom to run Balloon Distractions, share the LIFE business with new team members, or go after solar commissions. In the last week or so I was working on the final edit for my 2nd book, Fishing on Wednesday, which I wrote in my free time.

I have 4 streams of income: balloons, solar, the LIFE business and book sales on Amazon from my first book:

There is something to be said for designing YOUR life on YOUR terms, entrepreneurship is the best way to do that.

Some might say “Hey Ben, you don’t own Tampa Bay Solar, how are you a business owner there?”

If you work as an Independent Contractor, even in sales for a larger entity, you ARE in business for yourself without the overhead costs of trucks, employees, rent on a warehouse or having to pay for inventory!

Been there, tried that…. Balloon Distractions was a balloon supplier for awhile, with a fancy office, storage space full of balloons, a secretary at a front desk… and a ton of monthly overhead.

All of that is GONE, I run all FOUR of my income sources from my home office; 1 desktop computer, 1 old printer, 1 used desk and a smartphone.

There are boxes of supplies in the back of my Volt, some LIFE CD’s, some solar brochures, some balloon twisting aprons….

My goal has always been to reach total debt freedom, own my house outright with zero mortgage, and travel all over the planet. By establishing these different sources of income (over time) I’m setting things up to accomplish these goals.

Anna and her husband Shawn are smart, young, and they have tremendous potential to lead a BIG life with lotsa options. They are learning the right thinking NOW that will set them up for big things later!

That’s exciting!

Ben Alexander

July . 2017

Small is better than ZERO.

There are some homeowners who start with a small solar array on their roof, maybe enough panels to eliminate $75 to $100 from their electric bill.

Doing this is far better than not getting solar at all. Some people think you have to spend $30,000 and get a massive system that generates $300 per month. Not at all.

A small solar array can cost between $6,000 to $10,000, and on a 4% loan your payment will be LESS than the amount of electricity you generate.

If anyone pitches you on solar and you are NOT cash flow positive the first month that installer is charging you too much.

There are 100 million homes in the United States, just over 1 million have some type of roof mounted solar already. If just 10% of the homes in the USA had a small system that generated $100 per month in energy this would make a huge difference, not only in terms of less atmospheric carbon dioxide, but also for the finances of those 10 million homeowners.

When you pay off your panels your energy is free. This is the best part about solar.

The LG panels that I sell for Tampa Bay Solar will pay for themselves by 2022, with a warranty that runs all the way out to the year 2042.

20 years of free electricity… and the panels will still be at 80% capacity in 2042. The return on investment (ROI) for solar is predictable and very low risk. We know the sun will come up tomorrow, and solar still generates energy even on cloudy days.

If you are considering solar get a smaller system and try it out. The future is here, stop wasting your money by sending it to Big Electric.

Ben Alexander

July . 2017

My first $250,000 in solar sales.

A few months ago I looked at my income from Balloon Distractions, looked at the amount of debt that I still had to tackle, and decided to (somehow) get into the solar business.

My thinking was to go on offense; the more you earn the faster you can pay off your home and achieve financial freedom. I had been playing financial defense for three years, paying off over $185,000 in debt since 2014.

Even before any of the local solar companies would talk to me I went out and knocked on doors to drum up business. Within a week of doing that I met the owner of Tampa Bay Solar, Steve Rutherford, and he reluctantly agreed to teach me the business.

Since then I’ve sold just over $250,000 in residential solar installations. My goal is to close $1 million in closed deals by the end of 2017. The first $250K in sales in a new industry is always the hardest. I made mistakes, missed deals that I could have closed, and learned a ton about how residential solar works.

During this time I also ran Balloon Distractions as usual, we sold a few new clients in the Tampa region… I filled gigs, trained new artists, etc. Of course, selling solar created more gross revenue in 3 months than Balloon Distractions generates in an entire year.

One of the key metrics in business is this: how much gross revenue can you create by going out and selling your product or service?

It’s always tough to learn a new industry. In my first few months I’ve heard all the usual questions and objections that a typical homeowner will have in regards to solar. I set up a folio with various print-outs that address specific objections; from HOA rules to how the panels are mounted on the roof.

I learned how to prepare proposals for different roof types, different inverters and different types of panels. Tampa Bay Solar also sells solar pool pumps and solar pool heaters, so I had to learn the details and pricing for those products as well.

My next step is to tackle the intricacies of commercial solar.

I’ve yet to land a commercial deal but we have several leads that I’m working. Commercial solar is a longer sales cycle, I can meet a homeowner today and the deal is closed and installed in just a few weeks. Commercial solar is slower to close and more complex.

It makes sense to stay in residential solar for weekly sales while also learning commercial solar for larger commissions, even though I might only close 1 or 2 larger commercial deals every year.

All in all I’m grateful that Steve Rutherford gave me a shot at the solar business.  He has a great team of installers and a solid reputation, I’m proud to sell for Tampa Bay Solar.

Ben Alexander

July . 2017

4 Factors, and the emerging billion.

I’ve been to Honduras several times on mission trips to install water filters with Pure Water for the World. I saw firsthand how people live outside of our “first world” existence; no clean drinking water, few paved roads, no underground sanitation, and no power grid.

There are 7.5 billion people on our planet right now:

In other words MORE of the world lives like the folks in Honduras. There are a billion people who do not have daily access to clean drinking water, for instance.

Technology will help many people transition from poverty to the middle class, and there are 4 main technological forces that will drive this transition.

  1. Smartphones everywhere. Check out this graph: This means that more people will have instant communication with internet access. The most advanced phones sold for $500 right now will be sold as used phones for pennies on the dollar in 2020.
  2. Less expensive solar. Even a small panel can charge up a smartphone for a few hours. In areas without a power grid solar panels can provide electricity for cooking, LED lighting and internet access. Solar panels can power a well pump and a filtration device for clean drinking water. Solar is cheap now:    

Solar panels are robust and last decades, so a family who buys 3 or 4 panels can provide power for their family for many years. This is especially beneficial for communities that are hundreds of miles away from a traditional power grid.

3. Less Expensive battery storage. As the electric car market heats up the global demand for inexpensive battery power will ramp up as well:

It doesn’t really matter where the batteries are made, they will eventually find wide distribution in the developing world. As production increases the price point for battery storage will go down, and there will even be demand for used batteries. The 16kW battery in my Chevy Volt can be used for home energy storage even after it is no longer effective in my car. When you combine cheap solar with cheap energy storage? This gives poor folks LED light at night, phones with internet access, power to cook without burning wood, and power to pump and filter drinking water.

4. Last, but not least…. YouTube. Not for cat videos, but to learn practical solutions to local problems. You don’t need to read or write to learn from a video.

YouTube is the cheapest university on the planet, even if you don’t speak the language used in the video. Here is a video that teaches how to set up an off grid solar array:

A cheap smartphone, charged by a solar panel, with battery storage and YouTube access?

In the hands of a billion people who want to lift themselves out of poverty?

There is untapped potential out there. As these 4 factors come together we will see a much larger global middle class, which means more demand for basic services, a larger global economy and more opportunity.

With fully deployed green tech we don’t need to worry about a lack of resources, there is enough sunshine falling on the earth to supply every human being with electricity, food and clean water.

It all comes down to the 4 factors; smartphones, solar, cheap batteries and YouTube.

Ben Alexander

June . 2017