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.

Innovation

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. https://vimeo.com/77911159 

 

 

Business Disasters: It’s not If, but When

Not business as usualWhile disasters come in all shapes and sizes, they all have one thing in common – They impact your business revenue. 

Not only does a disaster slow down your income stream, but it adds expenses.

Recovery from a disaster is hard. And what makes it even harder for many small-business owners is the need to create the response on the fly plus the gathering of records and important documents, if that is even possible.

Most owners have a good intention of doing a disaster plan but somehow that day never comes. Or they get it done but fail to keep it updated. They are lulled into a false sense of security.

North Dakota State University Extension has developed a disaster app for both Android and iPhone applications. It allows the small-business owner to input basic crucial data along with pictures so that the business can get up and running more quickly.

More information about the app is available at: https://www.ag.ndsu.edu/news/newsreleases/2016/aug-22-2016/new-disaster-app-helps-small-businesses-prepare-for-the-worst/view 

Available for tablets and smart phones, the app provides a place to build your basic disaster plan. Not only do you build it, but, since you carry it with you, it will be stored typically in an off-site location. And you can take a couple minutes of otherwise wasted time that often appear in your day.

Get the app. Fill it in. Take some pictures. You have your plan.

We hope your business never experiences a disaster, small or big, but now you can be ready.

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.

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.

 

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!!

Important to Watch Trends

Mary PeabodyStaying current with what’s coming is key to small business success.

Your business is bubbling along. Things are going good. And then one day you look out and no one is buying anything. Not only are they not buying anything but there isn’t even anyone coming in the door.

Can you envision this?  What happened?

One of the possible answers is you missed an important trend.

Mary Peabody, University of Vermont Extension, looks that this topic of “trends.”

She notes how important it is for business owners to keep an eye on what’s going on.  She also cautions business owners to try and distinguish what is actually a trend from something that might be a fad.

Trends, she notes, can have a serious impact on your business but they can also represent opportunities.  If you find an interesting trend, further determine if it is going up or headed down. You want, if possible, to catch the upswing.

Watch this webinar. And then check out trends. It’s worth the effort.