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. 



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.

Could I be an Entrepreneur?

lemonade stand

Photo (CC 2.0) by Steven Depolo, on Flickr

Lots of people have a desire to start their own business.

At the same time, communities and economic development agencies encourage this as these businesses help build the local economy.

The interest for starting from the owner’s perspective come from a desire for control, to show their creativity and to make money. Communities see them as adding new jobs as well as providing a substantial amount of US sales and GDP (Gross Domestic Product).

Yet often people just don’t take the plunge.

One thing holding them back is the fear they don’t have the right stuff to develop a successful business.  It is the myth that entrepreneurs are born and not made.

Kay Cummings, Michigan State University Extension, examines that myth. She outlines what qualities are helpful to the entrepreneur and defines what business skills one should have, either before starting or soon thereafter. Read her article here.

Kay also outlines some of the resources found he her state that can help the aspiring entrepreneur. And she outlines some national efforts as well.

While your state may not have these specific resources, nearly every state has some type of support services for the new business owner.  You just need to go out and find them.  I would suggest you start with your Extension office. They can define the resources available in your state.

Good luck.

Elwood Market Moves Forward with Nebraska Encouragement

Guest Bloggers: Jim Crandall, Cooperative Business Development Specialist – University of Nebraska Extension

Elwood marketTaking a look back at a business our guest bloggers highlighted in May, 2013. Find the original story here.

The Elwood Hometown Cooperative Market was born to meet a community need.  When the local grocery story closed, the citizens were faced with no place to buy milk or a loaf a bread. With the assistance of the UNL Nebraska Cooperative Development Center, a part of Nebraska Extension, a steering committee made plans and then opened a new cooperative grocery store in town.

The store continues to do well.  The Nebraska Cooperative Development Center Extension staff continue to meet with them on a regular basis as they develop and change to meet community needs. With the closing of a local café, they have added a daily lunch special to their offerings.

Inside Elwood MarketThe expertise of the staff is growing. New things are happening. Membership communication has been expanded and includes the use of social media and emails. Check out their Facebook page.

Jim Crandall summed up his comments saying the store is doing well as it grows slowly and deliberately into the future.

And while they work hard, they also have some fun. Check out their video.