Hard Work and Humor

Hard Work and Humor

Inc.com has an article about Gert Boyle, chairman, Columbia Sportswear. You might remember her as the one that does "animal testing" on their clothing sending her son through a car wash.

The article details the growth of Columbia Sportwear from a small failing company to market leading success today. At one point, according to Columbia's web site, bankers told her they needed to sell the business. After realizing that she would only get $1,400 off the sale she said:

For that kind of money I’ll run the company into the ground myself.

Her story reminded me that as a business owner you can't choose what life gives you, whether death of loved ones, multiple labor strikes, or whatever. But what you can choose is how you will respond. Being in business is tough, she showed some great characteristics such as working hard, not giving up, trying new things, and humor.

It is a good read and when you get done check out the hilarious ads of "animal testing" on their site.

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Guy Kawasaki - The Art of the Start

Guy Kawasaki - The Art of the Start

Guy Kawasaki has posted the table of contents, first chapter, and index for his latest book, "The Art of the Start". If you haven't read it yet and are in the start-up process, or preparing for it, you should give this a read.

Lots of great info here. Here's a quote from Clayton Christensen, author of The Innovator's Dilemma and The Innovator's Solution:

This is a delightful, complete, and consummately practical entrepreneur's handbook-quintessential Kawasaki. Every person who wants to start a business should read it. And read the footnote on page eight. There's more good stuff in here, but this alone is worth the price of the book.

Customers who feel that you are listening to them are more likely to recommend you to a friend. How do your customers know that you are listening? Learn more

Justifying a Fishing Trip

Justifying a Fishing Trip

I like trout. I like being out where they live. I like to watch them and figure out how they work. I have discovered an interesting characteristic of trout. They are wary and careful as they investigate food, but once they see another fish feeding, their wariness takes a back seat to quick action.

It is as if two criteria must be met, first is it acceptable food, and second, can I get it first. Since another has obviously met the first condition then it is OK to move on to the second immediately, often resulting in a feeding frenzy. This characteristic serves the trout well as it quickly discovers available food and can eat it immediately.

Maybe I have spent too much time fishing lately, but it seems that trout rely on word of mouth, so to speak, to survive and prosper.

Our customers are also wary and looking for a good, safe solution. Once they have met that condition then they will buy. A referral or word of mouth recommendation provides them with the confidence to move directly to purchasing.

So the question is, are we making it easy for our customers to spread the good news? What are we doing to help potential customers see our happy customers? Spending some time and thought on empowering your customers to share could very well lead to a purchasing frenzy.

Finally, should we use worms or flies?

The average American consumer discusses brands 56 times a week. Are they discussing yours? Learn more

This Growing Business is Sweet

This Growing Business is Sweet
Remarkable is the key here. These native american kids are remarkable in and of themselves. Their product follows suit. They have figured out government issues, food serving issues, product, marketing, web sales. Wow!

Their web site is pretty weak but they make up for that with a remarkable product and a 14 year old CEO. They are Lickity Split Chocolate Studio, LLC located in the southeast corner of Utah. Through attending an economic development conference and getting to know the right person (U.S. Senator Bob Bennett) they were set on track to land a major contract with a billion dollar company. Can they pull it off? "Of course we can we are only limited by our imagination" states their CEO (yeah, he's really only 14).

The company is managed by native american kids who discussed, brain-stormed, developed technology and a marketing plan that has brought them success. Now they can afford to buy the movie tickets that they wanted which was the motivation to start the business.

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Business Success... How Sweet the Sound

Business Success... How Sweet the Sound

It's always nice to hear success stories. Here are three from the Small Bussiness Association, winners and runners-up for the 2006 National Small Business Person of the Year Award.

Eric A. Hoover of Conneaut Lake, Pennsylvania, who overcame childhood rheumatoid arthritis and built a thriving machine tool company from scratch in the scenic northwestern Pennsylvania resort town where he was born and raised, was recognized as National Small Business Person of the Year.

Hoover's company, Excalibur Machine Company was founded in 1988. Excalibur provides original equipment manufacturing, machining and fabricating services for major manufacturing companies. In the past five years Excalibur has experienced continual growth in a difficult industry, and has posted sales growth of more than 350 percent, giving Hoover the time to launch three other companies: Camelot Consolidated, a sales organization; Blade Transport, a trucking firm and Lancelot Construction, a construction firm.

Andrew Field, the first runner-up, is what one might call a “serial entrepreneur,” having launched three successful businesses since 1976. His current venture, PrintingForLess.com, started in 1999 with 6 employees and $600,000 annual sales when a customer at his conventional print shop asked him to print a brochure that had been created on a computer.

Today, that company has grown to 125 employees, posting more than $20 million in sales, and is working on the construction of a 46,500 sq. foot, state-of-the-art facility set for completion in May 2006. PrintingForLess.com has been named to Inc. Magazine's 500 fastest growing companies in the United States for a third year in a row, and is a leader in the field of Internet- based color printing.

Big dreams, new ideas, perseverance and SBA financial backing gave the second runner-up, Robert 'Leroy' Shatto, the drive and wherewithal to save his family's dairy farm and restore its profitability. Marrying into a family that had been milking Holsteins in Missouri since the 1800s, Shatto embraced new ideas and equipment that turned him from a producer who sold his milk to other processors into a bottler who sells a variety of finished dairy products directly to stores.

After consulting with SCORE, Shatto developed the idea of reaching out to families with great-tasting raw milk with no hormones or chemicals added. Through dogged determination to succeed, several SBA-backed loans and timely business counseling and assistance, Shatto Farms, Inc., today employs 20 full-time and part-time employees, delivers its products to 56 stores, and has become a home-grown small business success story.


Seeds from the blogworld
We search the business blog world looking for posts that illustrate principles, or "Seeds", that if followed, or "planted", will help small businesses grow. We list them here for your convenience. Enjoy.
I grew up in the west and now live in Arizona. There is a simple rule for growing things out here (this rule applies everywhere but is more obvious in the arid west): if it doesn't get water it does ...more.
After describing modern consumers and their desire to watch or read what they want, when they want, the current issue of Business Week concludes: The result: a serious case of attention deficit for ...more.
What is the most compelling thing about your business from your customers' perspective? Is it remarkable? ...more.
Another example of the power of promoters. Shade Clothing sells undershirts for women that are longer than normal for those that aren't interested in showing the world their belly button. It was fou ...more.
I read recently about a musician--a cello player to be exact--that moved to New York City. She didn't know anyone in the city and was looking for opportunities to play her cello. Her solution? She ...more.
I read a great article recently about George Washington. As I read about his amazing leadership characteristics it occurred to me that they are the same characteristics any entrepreneur or business l ...more.
On the company the effect is like being assimilated into the Borg, but for users of their software it's like having a friend with a malignant brain tumor. You're going to have to say "goodbye" soon t ...more.
What says summer more than traveling carnivals? Cotton candy, hot dogs, rides that go around and around until you puke! Does life get any better than that? I submit that it cannot! The blog worl ...more.
Remarkable is the key here. These native american kids are remarkable in and of themselves. Their product follows suit. They have figured out government issues, food serving issues, product, marketi ...more.
In the cluttered marketplace we compete in, I don't think the power (and necessity) of staying in touch can be overemphasized. I learned the lesson again last week--thankfully in a good way. It had ...more.

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