Make Time Management Work for You

Clock“I don’t have enough time.”

No matter whom I am with or whatever group I am participating in, these words are a constant in the comments that people are making.

No one has enough time and it seems like our lives just keep getting busier. So how can we manage?

There are lots of self-help books, articles, podcasts, and webinars on the subject. Some are good in my view and some aren’t. The most helpful tips come I find come from real people discussing their own situation.

In a recent conversation, I mentioned this common cry for time management help. An author friend, Claudette Hegel, was kind enough to share a chapter on time management from her book, Down-to-Earth Writer’s Manual. These tips are from her experiences. What I appreciate about the chapter is that she realizes the broader life people have than just their work. She has simple tricks to help you stay on task.

I encourage you to read this short chapter. Then develop tricks and eventually habits to help you get out from the time crunch so many of us feel.


For small businesses to succeed, they need to be innovative. But what is it?

It might be said that we know innovation when we see it, but don’t ask us to define innovation or tell you what it is.

As this short video outlines, it is dots, known and those unknown.

Businesses that continue to operate discover the unknown dots. Yes, they may be new but they also may be dots we have forgotten.

Take a couple of minutes to watch the video. Then go discover the dots that will help you move forward and remain competitive. 



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

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.

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.

Millennials, Millennials, Millennials


Photo (CC2.0) by Elizabeth Hahn, on Flickr

Today’s blog post was written by Annette Dunlap ( Her position is the Food Business Specialist/Agribusiness Development for the North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumers Services.

The millennial segment of the  U.S. population is of great interest to small business owners. Although she writes for the food entrepreneur, much of what she says is just a valid for any small business owner. I hope you enjoy.

Millennials. Millennials. Millennials.

Nearly every e-newsletter I’ve received this past week has had at least one article about the impact of Millennials on the food market. With that in mind, let’s take a quick look at their buying power and their impact on the food business.

First up: Let’s define what a Millennial is. Based on Pew Research, a Millennial is someone who was born between 1981 and 1997. So, the youngest Millennial turns 19 this year and the oldest turns 35.

Next: How big a group is Millennials in NC? According to the US Census Bureau’s 2014 estimate, Millennials make up 26.7% of the state’s population (for the United States it is just over 25%). This compare with 21% for Boomers, the second largest cohort. But, in terms of buying power, Millennials spend more money because they are in their household formation years, whereas Boomers are reducing their expenditures as they scale down.

These two pieces of information help understand why all retailers, including food purveyors, are responding to Millennial trends.

We’ve discussed those trends in previous Friday Food for Thought comments, but given the renewed attention in recent weeks, they are worth another look.

Trend: Millennials are trading restaurants for ‘grocerants.’ – This trend isn’t exclusive to Millennials, but we are seeing them increase their purchases of prepared foods at supermarkets and reduce their visits to restaurants. What does it mean for you as a food business?

  • Shrinking footprint in the shelf stable section of the store as supermarkets increase prepared food offerings.
  • Increased demand for complementary condiments.
  • Greater need for complementary products to be positioned where the prepared foods are purchased, such as when mustard and pickles are near the deli counter instead of in the traditional section of the store.

More detail here.

Trend: Millennials are creating their own food culture. While the base of Millennials’ food preferences was formed at their parents’ dining table, they have grown into a cohort for whom idea sharing and information gathering are routine and instantaneous with a smart phone. The more sophisticated Millennials are the trendsetters who often blog and go to trendy restaurants. But as a larger group, there is a strong emphasis on global flavors, health and wellness, and clean labels. Many of you are already moving into this space with your use of natural ingredients and the absence of preservatives in your recipes. You are definitely “fashion forward” with Millennials. The key is to continue to remind them of the appeal of your products. More info here.

Trend: More Millennial dads in the store. A whopping 80% of Millennial dads claim to have primary or shared grocery shopping responsibilities. Having children changes their buyer behavior – somewhat. They will buy healthier foods, but they are also more likely to make the alcohol and related snack food purchases. Have you responded to the change in your consumer? At least one report says that dads aren’t motivated by couponing and are less price sensitive. But quality is a big deal to them. How do you promote your product? Would your promotional messages appeal to a male shopper? May be time to step back and take a look at your messaging. Get some ideas here.

In case you missed it – The latest edition of the Got to Be NC newsletter can be found here:

Innovations, Opportunities and Small Business

Innovation is a key element for the successful small-business owner.

When many want-to-be owners read that statement, however, it often makes them think that their idea for a product or service must be something new, something different.

Yet the reality is that many successful businesses don’t sell anything new or different, they just have taken a different approach in how they sell or where they sell or some other business process. Maybe it’s just a new approach to customer service or taking advantage of a new technology.

The “new” can be something big but it’s often easier to find a little tweak that gives you just as much advantage as a business owner.

The challenge is finding the innovation. This video, “What is Innovation,” might help you see that more dots do exist. As it notes, fire was once a dot as was the wheel.

So as you think about what small business you might start, think about dots. Where are the holes that you can fill?


Enjoy Success with Your Small Farm

mama-and-baby-goatThe number of small farms continues to grow in the United States. While many of these represent noncommercial operations, the interest in local foods, natural and organic also represent a big driver of this movement.

Small farm operators, as noted by Mary Peabody, University of Vermont Extension, are an “enthusiastic, passionate, ambitious lot.” Farming is demanding, requiring commitment of mind and body to be successful.

The UVM Extension New Farmer Project is one effort to help coordinate resources and services for this segment of the economy. In addition to providing tips for a successful startup,  you can find information on farm labor, marketing, pricing, and quality of life.

Many other states along with USDA and nonprofits are also supporting the small farm industry. Some of these resources can be found here.

As a small farmer, you do not need to feel that you are going it alone. Check out the resources and also build your network.

Good luck.

Pop-Up Shops as Opportunities

Pop-up shop

Photo (CC 2.0) by USDA, on Flickr

Are you looking to start a business? Or maybe you work with someone who desires to have a small business?  One of the common questions is how to start?

A pop-up shop may be a good way to give business ownership a try. It also is a way to see how the market responds to your product or service.

What is a pop-up shop?  It’s a temporary place of doing business, i.e., think carts in the mall as an idea. You can find more on the topic here. 

Pop-up shops come in many forms, from the carts just mentioned to a temporary shop in a vacant space to a portable building brought in to a tent along the road. Each of these methods allow you to test your idea and yourself as a business owner/manager.

Becky McCray, of Small Biz Survival, has posted several articles on pop-up shops. She writes on how they can be beneficial in encouraging business owners in small towns. Some of her articles include:

Pam Schallhorn, of the University of Illinois Extension, has also done a blog post on the idea of pop-up shops.  Her articles looks at how they helped rebuild a downtown.

And the Des Moines Register just published a story on a man who has started a business making store fronts for pop-up shops.

Pop-up shops, or similar models, can offer economic development growth and opportunities for local communities.  And communities can be very helpful in making such alternative ideas possible and even helping to market them and encourage their development.

Thinking of starting your own business? Working to develop your community’s economic sector? Try pop-ups!!