The Family Business: From Main Street to Wall Street

family business owners

Photo (CC) by Dana, on Flickr

Chances are you do business with with one, and probably many more, family businesses.

Family businesses surround us. Family businesses form an integral part of our economy. We find them in all shapes and sizes, from WalMart and Ford to your main street stores and even some operating out of the garage or off the dining room table.

Family businesses represent a unique intersection of the business system with the family system. Family businesses have additional opportunities and resources because of the family system of which they are a part. Intermingling of time and resources has been found to be used in the business just as such resources, at times, find their way over to the family system from the business.

Yet with such potential benefits, family businesses are also navigating family dynamics and relationships that a traditional business owner never encounters.

Understanding the family business with its merger of the both the family and business systems, along with a two-way relationship with the community, has been the the mission of the Family Business Research team and its National Family Business Survey. The team is now collecting data providing 20 years of information from its national panel of businesses.

From the development of the Sustainable Family Business Theory in 1999, the team has focused on understanding the factors of success along with how communities and family businesses work together. Resource exchange, disaster preparedness and response, and family tensions have all been examined.

How such family businesses give back to the community has been highlighted earlier. Recently a highlights newsletter has been distributed and a complete bibliography for the group can be found here.

Family businesses are key economic contributors. They not only feed the family that runs them but expands and enhances the local economy. Get to know your family business owners. See how your community and these businesses can work more closely together. 

Effective Employee Feedback

Good job sign

Photo (CC 2.0) by Steven Depolo, on Flickr

We all know that some guidance will help us to do our job more effectively and efficiently and in line with the needs of the company.

Yet most of us also know how nervous we get when its time for the annual appraisal. We are afraid of what we will hear and so we enter the conference room with our shields and rebuttals already in place and formulated.

And the person doing the evaluation may have had little support in providing effective feedback and also may find these conferences scary and perhaps of little value.

With this background, should we be surprised that the results are less than what we would hope for. A recent article confirms the idea that annual appraisals offer little in terms of results.

The University of Wyoming Extension’s, Enterprising Rural Families, looks at the issue of effective feedback in their July newsletter. Juliet Daniels, the author of the article, outlines the need to give feedback often, quickly and in private. She discusses the need to focus on observable behaviors, something that can be seen and something that can be changed. She gives the example of a “bad attitude.” This comment isn’t specific and may be something that the employer and employee see quite differently.

As you think about your employee development program or you work with small-business owners who are involved in such an activity, this newsletter offers some practical advice and a great background of effective feedback.

The goal is behavior change. Effective feedback can help make that happen.

Find the full article at: http://eruralfamilies.uwagec.org/Newsreleases/2016_07_NEWSLETTER.pdf 

Be a Destination

destination sign

Photo (CC) 2.0) by Mai Le, on Flickr

You probably have heard small-business owners talk about being a destination.  And you might have said to yourself that while it works for them, the type of store you have would never lend itself to that. But why let traditional thinking stand in your way?  This owner didn’t http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2016/08/convenience-store-owner/494756/

Support and Mentoring for Small-business Success: A Missouri Example

Success sogm

Photo (CC) Bruce Berrien, on Flickr

There is one truth about the small business segment. They rarely have all of the resources they need.

For them the practice of bootstrapping is an every day occurrence. And one way that many small-business owners use is finding mentors and technical assistance through networking.

In Missouri, one such resource is the University of Missouri Extension and their business development program. In addition to one-on-one assistance they have a monthly newsletter filled with news and alerts for the businesses they support. It also provides a calendar of upcoming events and funding opportunities.

Learning from other business owners is part of their effort as well. They support this by having two success stories in each addition. As you look through the stories, you will come away with tips and ideas used by other business owners; information that you might find helpful in your own business.

These same stories have a dual purpose in that they form a regular posting on the success of their work.

Keeping up with people who have come through their system takes time but the stories help other business owners as well as provide a story for the University of Missouri Extension.

So business owners, tune in and see what people like yourself are doing. And for Extension colleagues, get ideas on what you might try to help grow your small-business community.

Food Entrepreneurs: Change is Here

Nutrition label

Photo (CC) by USDA, on Flickr

If you are a food entrepreneur, or foodpreneur as sometimes reference, there has been a change in your world. The rules governing what goes on your nutritional label are changing.

Consumers are more and more using this label. The changes being made will provide them with more useful information.

The Oklahoma State University Food and Agricultural Products Center has posted an article regarding these changes. They also have a short (1 minute) highlight video.

You can also find information on these changes from the USDA Food and Drug Administration here.

Keep your business on the right side of these regulatory changes.

Agritourism Interest Continues to Grow

Female farm worker

Millennial and Food, Photo by Mary Peabody

Agritourism – Bringing people back to the farm!

More and more people are showing interest in having an agritourism experience.  It may be picking fruits and vegetables or a wine tasting or a corn maze. Others are interested in learning how their food is grown and others want to purchase local foods. And the list goes on.

Many small farmers and ranchers are looking at responding to this growing interest by starting a agritourism venture alongside their ongoing enterprise. However in lots of cases, the agritourism business is substantially different than their current business and requires different skills, talents, and marketing

Extension across the country has stepped up to provide educational programs to cover these new areas of  education and support that agritourism operators are requesting. An example of a recent effort has been the University of California Cooperative Extension Small Farm Program. It has provided lunchtime webinars, led by Penny Leff, as part of their offerings.

The webinars were recorded and offer tips on marketing as well as negotiating regulatory issues. And you can find more agritourism resources on their website. A colleague and I have done several articles on the topic including:

Agritourism is an opportunity that continues to grow. Check it out to see if it might be right for you.

 

Building Community Through the Little Free Garden

Little Free Garden

Little Free Garden

Thanks to Meghan Myrdal, co-founder of Ugly Food of the North, for sharing this story.

Her story focuses on an effort to bring food and an awareness of food to communities. In it she discusses how the project can bring meaningful connections.

I have the privilege of knowing her and watching her work towards a well-connected food system that, in turn, drives strong, healthy communities.

I hope this idea inspires you to try something new or to try this program in your own area. There are so many different ways it could be done and it could involve some many different groups.

Thanks Megan for sharing.


Grow. Take. Share. – The Little Free Garden Project 

By: Megan Myrdal

This summer you will find small, raised-bed gardens springing up in front yards across Fargo, ND-Moorhead, MN. But there’s something special about the little boxes with the green placard. The food grown within eight-square feet can be taken by anyone. In fact, it’s encouraged!

Ugly Food of the North recently launched the Little Free Garden, a project intended to foster communities committed to growing, sharing and cultivating food in small, raised-bed gardens, designed to fit in residential spaces.  The project launched with an inaugural build event at Concordia College on April 23.

The project was inspired by the Little Free Library project, but instead of sharing books the owners share food. The small, cedar wood, raised-bed gardens (4 x 2 ft, 12” deep) are placed in a household’s front yard, are planted and tended by the homeowners, and all the food grown is to be harvested by anyone who wants it or needs it.

Ugly Food of the North formed in August of last year with the goal of creating a more sustainable, personal food system through education, networking and community organizing. Since the group formation, they’ve held monthly events to bring the community together to learn about and discuss important food issues including food waste, urban agriculture, local food access, and food security.

The creation of the Little Free Garden project was inspired by the idea that the little box symbolizes a simple response to many of the important food issues the group has been working to address — the disconnect between food and agriculture, people lacking access to healthful, locally grown food, a lost sense of value for food and therefore waste and/or overconsumption, and people craving an opportunity to connect with one another around healthful food and positive social experiences.

The project envisions that the little gardens will not only be a free transaction of food, but an littlefreegarden2exchange of personal, meaningful connection – a reason to talk to a neighbor or stranger; a chance to connect with one another in a shared growing experience.

The project launched over 50 gardens in the Fargo-Moorhead area this spring and has been documenting the community growing experience on their social media channel. They hope to follow the first gardens, learn how the process is received, and to launch the project more broadly next year.

You can read more about the Little Free Garden project here including ways to donate and support.

Field to Fork: Growing, Processing and Selling Local Food Safely

Farm workerThere are two big food movements currently going on in this country.

The first, the one we all have heard of, is that of local foods. Every state has some sort of activity going on. More and more people are enjoying getting fresh food from local producers. It’s great to get food ripened in the great outdoors and brought to us at its peak of freshness and taste.

The second movement we also have heard much about, although not lately. That issue is food safety. It arises most often when something happens somewhere in the process and people suffer. No one wants that to happen. Regulations have been passed and laws made but sometimes such events still occur.

It is important for anyone in the system, from growers through distributors and merchants, to do everything possible to keep our food supply safe. And that responsibility continues right on to the consumer to do his or her part.

With those thoughts in mind, Field to Fork, an effort of Julie Garden-Robinson of North Dakota State University Extension, was development of information on building a successful local foods business along with making sure the products stay safe throughout the process.

Check out the videos offering a variety of tips, including those for food safety.

And good luck.

 

Local Resources and Cooperative Extension Help Build Community

2016-07-05_1004Thanks this week to Pam Schallhorn, both serving as University of Illinois Extension Community Economic Developer Educator, for sharing their blog post.


It is not an uncommon remark someone makes wishing that his or her local community could grow.

Quite often a follow-up comment discusses “if only” we could bring in some new industries to make that happen.

The reality is that the resources, tools and spark plugs for community growth often already exist in the community. I have watched this happen in three counties in south central ND as they have come together around their Germans from Russia cultural heritage.

Pam’s  blog post shows how a community has built from within. Rockford, IL called it “tapping your own creative talent.” Locally grown businesses started based on the needs they saw. It’s a great example showing just what can be done. Cooperative Extension played a role in helping to make this happen.

In the post, Pam writes that the town realized that businesses were not just going to move in to save it. Instead, the people in the community needed to invest their own talent, time, energy, and, yes, even money to make things happen.

So are you ready to make things happen in your community?

 

Fine-tune Your Agritourism Operation

steve-driving-the-tractor-980-websiteGetting the most out of any business requires constant adjustment and fine-tuning. Agritourism businesses need the same thing as noted in this blog post by Michigan State University Extension.

In the post, they pulled together three tools to help you take a good look at your agritourism business. These tools came from the University of Vermont Extension, University of California Extension and Louisiana State University Extension.

You may also want to look at a resource booklet from Oklahoma and another from Oregon.

Agritourism offers some great opportunities to develop additional income from available resources. Achieving that goal requires you manage it like any other business. These guides can help.

Still wondering if agritourism is an opportunity for you?  Here are four farms that made it work. They are just a small sample of what there is to offer.