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Looking for advice, expecting a lecture or 17 :)

Dolf112

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Hi,
I have been lurking around here again for the past month or so.
I won't go into it but I have had a rough few years due to health and family etc...
Finally I am feeling almost back to me again and want to start a business.
It won't be the first business I have had nor the last for that matter but the problem I have is I can't put my finger on what exactly to do.

I'll explain a little more.
I am now in a business program where I have a mentor who likes to rip business plans up in front of you if it doesn't make sense, so that is great. However I know roughly what I want to do and it involves a service doing something property related.

The thing about my model is that it doesn't actually matter which particular service I do, the need I am attempting to fill is the lack of great customer service in my local area and also further afield.

There are services such as painting and decorating which are paid on a job by job basis and services like window cleaning which in the UK is virtually a subscription service.

I can see pro's and cons to all of them and I just wonder if any of the lovely but hard nosed people here on this forum has some valuable insight on something that could critically change the way I look at this.

Thank you.

P.S I appreciate the information is lacking, if you have questions for me, fire away!
 

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Dolf112

Dolf112

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How easy would it be to run a test?
I have almost zero money to put in, that's the reason I have modeled it around having no real investment.
My initial costs are sub £1000
I don't know how much a few tests will cost but I'll look into, straight away that is a valuable comment though. Simple but I couldn't see that, Thank you.
 

Merging Left

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I have almost zero money to put in, that's the reason I have modeled it around having no real investment.
My initial costs are sub £1000
I don't know how much a few tests will cost but I'll look into, straight away that is a valuable comment though. Simple but I couldn't see that, Thank you.
If you can get one client, they can potentially fund the cost of your equipment (maybe not for painting). Throw up some ads on a free local website (do you have Craigslist?) for each of those services, and see what bites. That can help you gauge demand for each service and steer you towards the most viable option.
 
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Dolf112

Dolf112

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If you can get one client, they can potentially fund the cost of your equipment (maybe not for painting). Throw up some ads on a free local website (do you have Craigslist?) for each of those services, and see what bites. That can help you gauge demand for each service and steer you towards the most viable option.
Yeah, we have similar things to craigslist.
That is what I shall do.
Thank you.
I'm kicking myself thinking that's exactly what I should be doing anyway.
 

ProcessPro

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What is your purpose? What do you want to accomplish by starting a business, and why?

Your purpose will determine what is the most sensible course of action.

-M.
 
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Dolf112

Dolf112

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Jan 30, 2016
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What is your purpose? What do you want to accomplish by starting a business, and why?

Your purpose will determine what is the most sensible course of action.

-M.
My purpose is similar to the majority here I believe. That's the reason I choose to hand around here.
I want my freedom, I don't care about being a billionaire and I view money as a tool to operate in this system. I want to have enough money to live what I deem to be a comfortable lifestyle and be able to give everything I can to help others. I get a great sense of achievement from helping people. So being in a position where I can choose to do whilst being comfortable would be great.

Starting a business is the only way I feel I can tick these boxes. I have had two, actually three businesses in the past. One was a franchise, we all know what happens with those unless it is a huge one.
One was with a partner, never again for me.
The third was built on sand, just pure sales and no systems. I sold that because I had no idea what I was doing.
I now, a few years on know a lot more and have a lot of hindsight and believe I can build something on proper foundation. I am just a bit confused as to what direction.
 

Late Bloomer

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Welcome and thanks for switching from lurker to participant. :)

One theme you'll find here is that often, the Big Idea doesn't really matter that much. If you offer something with a reasonably strong demand, you can succeed with a Fastlane approach (I haven't got there yet, but I hope you'll find my remarks useful anyway), or you can muddle along with a Slowlane approach. Let me give you some examples -

"Let's design a product that countless people will like. It's hard to design and build and it takes a new distribution system, but it'll be worth it because this is so unique and scalable."

"Let's take some money on hand and some more money we can get from others, and acquire some already strong businesses, merging them into a corporate conglomerate while leaving them most of their freedom to do their own thing."

"Let's sell everyday stuff at lower prices than most other people are willing to do, in out of the way locations others aren't willing to serve."

"Let's start up some businesses, buy some others, put them into a conglomerate, and add our own unique marketing flair to promote the hell out of 'em."

"Let's make it more efficient for people to buy stuff based on seeing what other people recommend and have also bought."

"Let's offer a more convenient way for people to have a weight-loss diet."

"Let's increase distribution of an industrial commodity."

"Let's make it easier for people to rent out something they have in surplus, from time to time."

You might recognize that all of these are the way some current billionaires got rich in one generation.

If the idea's good enough, it's really about the way the business is run.
 
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Dolf112

Dolf112

Contributor
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Jan 30, 2016
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Welcome and thanks for switching from lurker to participant. :)

One theme you'll find here is that often, the Big Idea doesn't really matter that much. If you offer something with a reasonably strong demand, you can succeed with a Fastlane approach (I haven't got there yet, but I hope you'll find my remarks useful anyway), or you can muddle along with a Slowlane approach. Let me give you some examples -

"Let's design a product that countless people will like. It's hard to design and build and it takes a new distribution system, but it'll be worth it because this is so unique and scalable."

"Let's take some money on hand and some more money we can get from others, and acquire some already strong businesses, merging them into a corporate conglomerate while leaving them most of their freedom to do their own thing."

"Let's sell everyday stuff at lower prices than most other people are willing to do, in out of the way locations others aren't willing to serve."

"Let's start up some businesses, buy some others, put them into a conglomerate, and add our own unique marketing flair to promote the hell out of 'em."

"Let's make it more efficient for people to buy stuff based on seeing what other people recommend and have also bought."

"Let's offer a more convenient way for people to have a weight-loss diet."

"Let's increase distribution of an industrial commodity."

"Let's make it easier for people to rent out something they have in surplus, from time to time."

You might recognize that all of these are the way some current billionaires got rich in one generation.

If the idea's good enough, it's really about the way the business is run.
This is a fantastic post and I do agree. I'm not trying to reinvent the wheel and reading between the lines you are saying at the end of the day, it doesn't really matter the vehicle, it's just how you drive it.

These are the two things in my head that constantly have a war. The conservative smart approach or the confidence in my abilities approach.

Ideally I want to find out which service is the most in demand in my local area but then I tell myself that's irrelevant if I am separating myself from the competition anyway. I'll have a different type of customer from existing competitors anyway. The mental conflict really does not help things haha
 

Late Bloomer

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I want to find out which service is the most in demand in my local area but then I tell myself that's irrelevant if I am separating myself from the competition anyway.
Yes. Automobile mogul Henry Ford said, "If I'd asked my customers what they wanted, they'd have told me, a faster horse."
 

Merging Left

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Ideally I want to find out which service is the most in demand in my local area but then I tell myself that's irrelevant if I am separating myself from the competition anyway. I'll have a different type of customer from existing competitors anyway. The mental conflict really does not help things haha
I wrote out a pretty long response to this and then decided the tl;dr version of it is better than the long-winded response.

The size of the demand does matter, because that defines your ceiling.

If you wanted to wash windows, but your entire town is literally underground (humor me), you're going to have a very hard time finding clients. The best market is going to be one that meets the following criteria:
1) Very high demand and large number of potential clients (bonus points to repeat/recurring clients)
2) Is currently underserved - i.e. there are more potential clients than current providers can handle

The Craigslist ads can help you find those markets.
 

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ProcessPro

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My purpose is similar to the majority here I believe. That's the reason I choose to hand around here.
I want my freedom, I don't care about being a billionaire and I view money as a tool to operate in this system. I want to have enough money to live what I deem to be a comfortable lifestyle and be able to give everything I can to help others. I get a great sense of achievement from helping people. So being in a position where I can choose to do whilst being comfortable would be great.

Starting a business is the only way I feel I can tick these boxes. I have had two, actually three businesses in the past. One was a franchise, we all know what happens with those unless it is a huge one.
One was with a partner, never again for me.
The third was built on sand, just pure sales and no systems. I sold that because I had no idea what I was doing.
I now, a few years on know a lot more and have a lot of hindsight and believe I can build something on proper foundation. I am just a bit confused as to what direction.
Okay fantastic. You probably know what you ought to do. A basic CENTS analysis is always relevant and a good starting point. Remember, if your idea doesn't meet the CENTS criteria, then you're less likely to get the level of results necessary to attain the purpose you desire and that which is the object of this forum; you also want probability on your side. Keep your eyes open and listen to the market's voice. Don't commit to the first idea that comes to mind, but be obsessive about meeting the CENTS criteria as best as possible. Explore whatever ideas come up, then when you find the one, execute hard. There's a section in unscripted where MJ lists about 13 ways to find 'fastlane' ideas, so perhaps you can create a checklist of those ideas and keep it handy so that you'll know where to look and listen.

Hope that's helpful in some way.

-Marc-anthony.
 
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Dolf112

Dolf112

Contributor
Speedway Pass
Jan 30, 2016
75
87
128
28
England
I wrote out a pretty long response to this and then decided the tl;dr version of it is better than the long-winded response.

The size of the demand does matter, because that defines your ceiling.

If you wanted to wash windows, but your entire town is literally underground (humor me), you're going to have a very hard time finding clients. The best market is going to be one that meets the following criteria:
1) Very high demand and large number of potential clients (bonus points to repeat/recurring clients)
2) Is currently underserved - i.e. there are more potential clients than current providers can handle

The Craigslist ads can help you find those markets.
I am going to run the tests to find out which market matches that criteria so thank you for your reply.
I have a question about number two though.
If there are enough providers to meet the demand but those providers aren't giving the customer exactly what they need i.e. full customer service from phone call to after sale. Would this not also class as underserved?
 
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Dolf112

Dolf112

Contributor
Speedway Pass
Jan 30, 2016
75
87
128
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England
Okay fantastic. You probably know what you ought to do. A basic CENTS analysis is always relevant and a good starting point. Remember, if your idea doesn't meet the CENTS criteria, then you're less likely to get the level of results necessary to attain the purpose you desire and that which is the object of this forum; you also want probability on your side. Keep your eyes open and listen to the market's voice. Don't commit to the first idea that comes to mind, but be obsessive about meeting the CENTS criteria as best as possible. Explore whatever ideas come up, then when you find the one, execute hard. There's a section in unscripted where MJ lists about 13 ways to find 'fastlane' ideas, so perhaps you can create a checklist of those ideas and keep it handy so that you'll know where to look and listen.

Hope that's helpful in some way.

-Marc-anthony.
Every post so far has been extremely helpful!
One of the things I have always been scared of slipping into is 'action faking'.
So to hear people on this forum actually tell me to take time to analyse things and not dive in head first is a bit of a relief. It allows me to not ridicule myself for not going at something like a hammer at a nail.
However I understand I can't spend the next six month analyzing haha!
I'll listen to that part of if not all of Unscripted again and jot them down for sure.

Thank you
 

RogueInnovation

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Sounds like there might be some scaling issues in what you are planning
But I'm sure that at your age, going out there and doing the work will lead way to some innovative idea, so you'd be stupid to not just pursue it with an open mind

The super basics of a one man biz or a self made job is that you set up a good schedule
Like have boundaries on how you spend your time, and put certain tasks down in stone regarding when they are to be done.
The more you are "juggling" tasks the more quickly you get tied down and overworked, so scheduling and being clear on what to do with your time is a good thing to get sorted out.
Like I don't allow infinite rescheduling, if I set a time to do a job, I don't expect people to back out without getting charged, this is cuz there is more to work than just the task itself, there is mental preparation and all that sort of thing and it is best to not get "stood up".
So once the date is made keep it, don't allow fiddling around and a million revisions, it saves time and energy you need for expanding your client base.

Other than that, sell people on your services, and don't wait to do so, just sit down and set up a contact list by investigating, then go through those people and ask how they can be benefited and set it up.
 
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Dolf112

Dolf112

Contributor
Speedway Pass
Jan 30, 2016
75
87
128
28
England
Sounds like there might be some scaling issues in what you are planning
But I'm sure that at your age, going out there and doing the work will lead way to some innovative idea, so you'd be stupid to not just pursue it with an open mind

The super basics of a one man biz or a self made job is that you set up a good schedule
Like have boundaries on how you spend your time, and put certain tasks down in stone regarding when they are to be done.
The more you are "juggling" tasks the more quickly you get tied down and overworked, so scheduling and being clear on what to do with your time is a good thing to get sorted out.
Like I don't allow infinite rescheduling, if I set a time to do a job, I don't expect people to back out without getting charged, this is cuz there is more to work than just the task itself, there is mental preparation and all that sort of thing and it is best to not get "stood up".
So once the date is made keep it, don't allow fiddling around and a million revisions, it saves time and energy you need for expanding your client base.

Other than that, sell people on your services, and don't wait to do so, just sit down and set up a contact list by investigating, then go through those people and ask how they can be benefited and set it up.
What scaling issues do you see?
I'm happy to be told I am wrong but I look at it as if you can establish measurable marketing that works and systems that are effective so it doesn't matter how quickly or slowly you grow. If everything is working in harmony and it is profitable, when you reach the ceiling for one area you can move onto another and use the same methods and same marketing(especially because not much changes from place to place in the UK).

I already have it in my head I won't be doing the work personally (not afraid to get my hands dirty if needs must) but I plan to use my contacts to fulfill the work. It's taken me a long time to realise I am much more effective at the sales side than actually doing the work.

Yes, I agree with the rescheduling part. I already know, depending on the type of work there will be a deposit for most things.

Could you expand on your last point a little please?
You mean literally just call everybody I know?

Thank you
 

ProcessPro

Bronze Contributor
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Every post so far has been extremely helpful!
One of the things I have always been scared of slipping into is 'action faking'.
So to hear people on this forum actually tell me to take time to analyse things and not dive in head first is a bit of a relief. It allows me to not ridicule myself for not going at something like a hammer at a nail.
However I understand I can't spend the next six month analyzing haha!
I'll listen to that part of if not all of Unscripted again and jot them down for sure.

Thank you
I understand. I think action faking is correctly applied to those who have already listened to the market's voice and found wise (CENTS) opportunities and are either procrastinating or taking superficial/irrelevant actions. So you're not action faking. Rushing into a poor business idea is probably a cousin to action faking itself. Perhaps we can call it action-mistaking?

So, challenge yourself to get your idea asap. Give yourself a harsh time limit and work within it, otherwise you might end up researching indefinitely. Don't rush, but don't relax either.


Regarding rereading the book, I suggest that you read selectively. There are so many ideas in there and the problem with a book is that the ideas necessarily have to be presented in a linear, one page at a time manner, so it's often easy for us to start losing the bigger picture and how everything fits together. Or it's also possible to get the bigger picture while neglecting the smaller, yet critical points. Our brain really tries hard to oversimplify.

What I've done and am recommending to you is that you make a set of checklists which captures the important/actionable ideas under each section.

See attached for an example of one of my checklists. You should focus on the column for finding fastlane ideas since its relevant to your current situation. My plan is to have my checklist as a go to tool. I'll use it routinely over the course of my entrepreneurial activities and never discard it. This ideas in it capture the years of successes and failures of MJ and the tens of thousands of entrepreneurs he has interacted with over the years. It's gold.

Hope this helps.

-M.
 

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ProcessPro

Bronze Contributor
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Apr 26, 2018
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I understand. I think action faking is correctly applied to those who have already listened to the market's voice and found wise (CENTS) opportunities and are either procrastinating or taking superficial/irrelevant actions. So you're not action faking. Rushing into a poor business idea is probably a cousin to action faking itself. Perhaps we can call it action-mistaking?

So, challenge yourself to get your idea asap. Give yourself a harsh time limit and work within it, otherwise you might end up researching indefinitely. Don't rush, but don't relax either.


Regarding rereading the book, I suggest that you read selectively. There are so many ideas in there and the problem with a book is that the ideas necessarily have to be presented in a linear, one page at a time manner, so it's often easy for us to start losing the bigger picture and how everything fits together. Or it's also possible to get the bigger picture while neglecting the smaller, yet critical points. Our brain really tries hard to oversimplify.

What I've done and am recommending to you is that you make a set of checklists which captures the important/actionable ideas under each section.

See attached for an example of one of my checklists. You should focus on the column for finding fastlane ideas since its relevant to your current situation. My plan is to have my checklist as a go to tool. I'll use it routinely over the course of my entrepreneurial activities and never discard it. This ideas in it capture the years of successes and failures of MJ and the tens of thousands of entrepreneurs he has interacted with over the years. It's gold.

Hope this helps.

-M.
-Disclaimer-Under that column for finding fastlane ideas, you'll see that I've renamed some concepts. This is to simply help me remember them more easily, so you will have to refer to the book for their original names. My apologies.
 
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Dolf112

Dolf112

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-Disclaimer-Under that column for finding fastlane ideas, you'll see that I've renamed some concepts. This is to simply help me remember them more easily, so you will have to refer to the book for their original names. My apologies.
That is brilliant, that's such a good tool. I wish I had something to give to you in return.
Thanks again.
 

Merging Left

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I have a question about number two though.
If there are enough providers to meet the demand but those providers aren't giving the customer exactly what they need i.e. full customer service from phone call to after sale. Would this not also class as underserved?
Yes, absolutely. I was just trying to illustrate that if you can actually find a niche where there are more customers than providers, it's pretty much a slam dunk. Otherwise yes, you can add value in lots of ways: lower prices, more eco-friendly products, excellent customer service, A+ quality, etc. (or all of them together!)
 
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Dolf112

Dolf112

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Jan 30, 2016
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Yes, absolutely. I was just trying to illustrate that if you can actually find a niche where there are more customers than providers, it's pretty much a slam dunk. Otherwise yes, you can add value in lots of ways: lower prices, more eco-friendly products, excellent customer service, A+ quality, etc. (or all of them together!)
Thank you for getting back to me on that.
I appreciate what you taking that time to respond.
If you haven't already take a look at the image that ProcessPro attached.
He has essentially created a checklist against numerous points in Unscripted which is very helpful for someone like me who tries to store all that kind of information in my head but every now and again memory fails me when needed most.
 

Late Bloomer

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If there are enough providers to meet the demand but those providers aren't giving the customer exactly what they need i.e. full customer service from phone call to after sale. Would this not also class as underserved?
It's under served IF there are enough people who'd be willing to pay more for that extra level of service. But, not if people wouldn't pay more. For example, many people don't want to pay a penny more a month for cell phone service, but would willingly upgrade to the Concierge Luxury Floor for a hotel stay.
 
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Dolf112

Dolf112

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It's under served IF there are enough people who'd be willing to pay more for that extra level of service. But, not if people wouldn't pay more. For example, many people don't want to pay a penny more a month for cell phone service, but would willingly upgrade to the Concierge Luxury Floor for a hotel stay.
Extremely well pointed out!
 

Late Bloomer

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I am now in a business program where I have a mentor who likes to rip business plans up in front of you if it doesn't make sense
That may be a way to prevent a losing plan from going off the deep end. But, be wary... apparently the business plan for Federal Express, was a business class project that only got a mediocre, C-minus grade.
 
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Dolf112

Dolf112

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That may be a way to prevent a losing plan from going off the deep end. But, be wary... apparently the business plan for Federal Express, was a business class project that only got a mediocre, C-minus grade.
Thanks for the tip. I see it as a good thing because if for example the guy points out something that he thinks does not make sense, first he will explain it in an in-depth and logical way. "so I hear". Then allow me to debate with him about it.

I think the whole point of the process is so he can play devils advocate and press on the weak spots, but he is also a self-made guy who doesn't mess around trying to play mr nice guy.
 

Bearcorp

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Hi @Dolf112, looks like theres enough info here for you to get started straight away, get some ads online, get some customers, get cracking.
Whats the purpose of the business mentor? How much is it costing? Writing business plans for some guru to rip them up sounds action fakey on both parts, your at the right place for help, advice, or a kick in the a$$ ;) Good luck, look forward to following your progress!
 
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Dolf112

Dolf112

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Jan 30, 2016
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Hi @Dolf112, looks like theres enough info here for you to get started straight away, get some ads online, get some customers, get cracking.
Whats the purpose of the business mentor? How much is it costing? Writing business plans for some guru to rip them up sounds action fakey on both parts, your at the right place for help, advice, or a kick in the a$$ ;) Good luck, look forward to following your progress!
Yeah, I've been surprised by the quality of advice I have already received. I am already working on that.
The purpose of that mentor is to surround myself with like minded people and to observe.
I honestly struggle to find anyone who even thinks remotely like me. This forum is the only place I don't feel so lonely.
So just being around those people and discussing business topics is almost therapeutic.
The guy isn't rich through mentoring and isn't costing me anything. He's doing something I'd like to do at some point. Giving back I guess.
So far I have seen no signs of a sales funnel but obviously I have to be aware.
So basically the structured environment and intellectual discussions help more than you could imagine.
 

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