Help Fight a Killer!

tour_spoMore observant readers may notice that a new tab has been added at the top of the page.  It’s a page called “Help Fight Diabetes!”.  To make a long story short (and you can read the longer story by clicking the tab) my son and I will be riding in the Tour de Cure, a bike ride to raise money for the American Diabetes Association.

Here’s the thing.  Even though I have type 2 diabetes myself, my real reason for riding is to help raise money to keep other people from getting the disease and to help find a cure for those who already have it, especially the kids.  Most of us associate diabetes with eating too many sweets and with being overweight.  And that’s true.  But it can strike at any age, even in young children.  The idea of my grandkids or yours having to stick themselves two or three times a day to check their blood sugar and possibly taking insulin shots for the rest of their lives  scares the hell out of me.

So, here’s what I’m going to do.  First, I’m inviting you to participate by making a small donation.  Click on the page link above to do that (or click here).  Second, as a guy who promotes social media, I’m going to put the power of facebook, twitter, and other social media tools to work to ask for donations.  I have enough connections through these sites that I should be able to raise a nice amount of money.  Consider your donation as a gift to fight a deadly disease and a test of the power of the Internet.  I’d really appreciate it if you would encourage your friends to donate too.  Let’s show the world what a few committed geeks can do.

Third, and certainly not least, I want to encourage you to get yourself tested.  Nearly six million people have diabetes and don’t know it.  All it takes is a simple blood test to find out if you have the disease, or if you are in danger of getting it.  Do yourself and your family a huge favor by getting the test.  While it’s not curable (yet), diabetes is certainly controllable.  But you can’t control it if you don’t know you have it.

Thank you in advance for your help!

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Sweating the Small Stuff

I know you’ve heard the expression, “don’t sweat the small stuff.” Sometimes it may be good advice, but in running our businesses, it’s often the small stuff that can make a big difference. From Seth Godin’s blog comes an interesting story about a bread shop. The shop opens every day at 6:00 am. That seems very early, especially in the small town where this business is located. But, every morning at 6:00, 20 to 50 people board a bus, headed for a day at the shore. That’s 20 to 50 potential customers who are on the bus, leaving town when the shop opens its doors. If the owner were to open just ten minutes earlier, the difference in sales would be substantial. Just 70 minutes of additional work per week (assuming the shop is open and the bus runs seven days per week) could yield as many as 350 more customers per week. Sometimes it pays to “sweat the small stuff.” Is there any small stuff that you might be overlooking in your business?

[This post originally appeared on “Mine Your Own Business“, May 30, 2006.]

Saving the Economy 3 Stores at a Time

3_50-project

Thanks to Jay Ehret, aka themarketingguy for pointing out this article from WCCO.com about the 3/50 Project.  The 3/50 project was launched by Cinda Baker, a small business consultant.  The whole thing is really simple.  Consumers pick three local, independent businesses that they’d hate to see disappear and spend $50 per month at those businesses ($50 total, not $50 each).

Consumers aren’t being asked to spend any additional money; just to redirect part of the money they’re already spending to their friends and neighbors who own local businesses.  Unlike some “buy local” campaigns, there is no cost for you to join the project, just a short registration.

Once you’re a member, you’ll be able to download a bag stuffer, counter cards and other promotional goodies.  Other non-downloadable stuff can be ordered at little or no cost.

If there’s no official “buy local” organization in your area, or if you’re running on a tight budget, here’s your chance to start something with virtually no out-of-pocket expense except for paper and ink to print the bag stuffers, counter cards, etc.  You’re inviting your friends and neighbors to support you and your fellow merchants just by spending a small amount of their monthly income with you instead of a national chain.  This is one of those win/win opportunities that can really add up.

You can make this happen today.  Go to the 3/50 web site.  Sign up.  Download the counter card and bag stuffer and put them into use immediately.  You have absolutely nothing to lose and a lot to gain.

Is Your Small Business a “Mom & Pop” Operation?

In a local TV (You remember TV. It’s like YouTube but with fewer channels.) interview a manufacturer referred to his dealers as “mom and pop” stores. Some retailers called the term “demeaning”.

Here’s a question for you. Is “mom and pop” a derogatory term or does it imply “down home”, “warm and fuzzy”, or other positive images?

Let me know what you think.  I’d like to hear from you whether you consider yourself “mom and pop” or not.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day

March 17 is a day when any self-respecting blogger of Irish descent almost has to blog about St. Paddy’s Day.  You know, the wearin’ o’ the green, Erin Go Brah, Irish coffee and all the rest.  It’s also a day when a lot of “pretenders” put on silly green hats and “kiss me” buttons in a futile attempt to become a member of the “Great Race”, the Irish.

So, rather than bore you with my thoughts on what was originally a religious holiday (St. Patrick was a man of God, after all.  He was not, repeat not, a guy who ran around in a green derby, green sport coat, and shamrock suspenders), here are a couple of the 600+ pictures I took last fall in Ireland.

Enjoy.  And Happy St. Paddy’s Day.

Buckley the butcher.  No relation.  I only butcher the English language.

Buckley the butcher. No relation. I only butcher the English language.

Powerscourt golf course, once an Englishman's front yard.

Powerscourt golf course, once an Englishman's front yard.

They say Irishmen don't park their cars.  They abandon them.

They say Irishmen don't park their cars. They abandon them.

Kinsale Harbor.  Awesome!

Kinsale Harbor. Awesome!

The Cliffs of Moher, spectacular!

The Cliffs of Moher, spectacular!

D-Fence (clap, clap)

June, 2008 Graduating from Mizzou

June, 2008 Graduating from Mizzou

One of the perks of being a blogger is that you can put whatever you want on your own blog.  Today I’m going to depart from the usual to brag on one of my kids.  Son #3, Patrick Buckley MSMAS, today successfully defended his master’s thesis at the University of Alabama, Huntsville.

After Patrick saw the movie “Twister, back in 1996 (he was twelve) he decided that he wanted to be a storm chaser.  His interest in storms and weather in general took him to the University of Missouri where he earned his bachelor’s in meteorology. Thankfully, he got over the storm chaser dream and settled into research.

But, I’ll never forget the time that he called me to tell me about the thunderstorm that had just passed through Columbia (MO).  While everybody else was hiding in their respective basements, he was outside gathering hail stones.  The most exciting thing was that the lightning bolts had tingled his bare feet. Yikes!

Nowadays, he’s helped build, and has gotten his name on the patent for, some kind of advanced detection device.  Frankly, I haven’t the faintest idea what it does.  But a I know that representatives from the EPA attended his defense.

I guess the days of looking at clouds with him and finding the bunnies and puppies are long gone.  But Patrick’s mom and I are extremely proud of him (and his siblings, too).  Our kids have so many letters behind their names that we can’t list them all on a single sheet of paper.

Congratulations, Patrick!

You can't be a scientist 24 hours a day.

You can't be a scientist 24 hours a day.

The SBA Gets Into Podcasting

While we all wait for the government’s stimulus package to start healing the economy, here’s something from the Small Business Administration that might really help your business.

The SBA has posted a series of podcasts on their website covering topics like “Marketing to the Federal Government“, “Getting Your Small Business Ready for Tax Season“, financing, and filling out various government forms.  You can listen to the programs right on your computer, or you can download them to your iPod or other mp3 player and listen to them at home, in your car, or even while you’re out jogging.

You can also subscribe to the SBA’s rss feed for updates.  The agency promises to provide new content monthly.  Check it out.  It’s free. (Well, it’s not really free, but at least you’ve already paid for it.)

On Looking Prosperous

I was talking to a friend today and he mentioned some recent shopping experiences. He’s noticed, and I have too, that there are some (a lot of?) companies who aren’t making a very good impression on prospects and customers based on the appearance of their offices/stores.

Ok, things may be a little tought right now and maybe you’re trying to cut expenses in every way possible, but you have to maintain a look of success if you’re going to get anyone excited about doing business with you.

Your business must be bright and cheerful.  If things are slow right now, it might be a good time to invest in some paint, a carpet cleaner, and some new accessories to liven up the place.  Replace burnt-out light bulbs and anything that’s not 100%.

Then take a look in the mirror.  I know, we have to work with what nature gave us appearance-wise, just look at the picture on the left.  But I’m talking about your overall disposition and your wardrobe.  This applies to everyone in your business, whether they deal with customers or not.  You must give the appearance of success, even if you’re in a slump.  You may not have had a customer in a week, but when one does come in, you can’t look like you just crawled out of bed.

If yours is a casual business, then dress the part.  But casual doesn’t mean sloppy, dirty, or unkempt.

If you’re in a business where you deal with customers (and who isn’t) then you’re in show business.  Actors dress the part and so should you.  They practice their craft and they’re ready to go on when the time is right.  Ask yourself, “Are my customers seeing a box office smash, or are they seeing ‘Death of a Salesman’?”

Weird Managers

weird_ma2Having left the corporate world behind, I can safely say that “weird managers” is often an oxymoron.  But Anita Bruzzese wrote an excellent piece on her “On The JOb” blog this week about why managers should get weird.

What Anita is promoting is out-of-the-box thinking for managers and I couldn’t agree more.  Face it, times are tough right now and we could all use a little more fun in our lives.  If we can make that fun part of the job, everyone wins.

My favorite of her suggestions it the idea of “reverse mentoring“.  Of course older, more experienced employees can be a great help to their younger coworkers, but generation X and Y have a lot to offer as well, especially when it comes to technology.  Don’t let that knowledge go to waste.

At the risk of repeating myself (repeating myself) the current economic situation offers a wealth of opportunities to small businesses who agressively and creatively go after the business.

Good Luck!

MTS isn’t a political blog, but this really isn’t a political picture. I hope you find it as funny as I do. [And thanks to Mike Anderson for posting this on his St. Louis Media web site.]

photo-goodluck