Sunday, April 27, 2014

The library

Community libraries are necessary resources for start-ups and other small businesses.  This seems obvious - or does it?

Stephenson Library in Marinette, WI
I have been working at our public library for about a 1/2 of a day every 2 weeks or so.  This gets me out of my office - which is in my home - and into a new environment for a few hours.  I seem to get a fresh perspective on the projects that I am working on just by the change of venue.
But that's not all the library has done for me.  I can search an online "card" catalog  that includes a large number of libraries through-out the state of Wisconsin.  I can request books that I am interesting in and they arrive at my local library when they become available.  I can review the books and if it's a great resource, I can purchase my own copy.  If it only has a few tidbits of good stuff, I can take some notes and return the book.

Our library has meeting rooms that I can reserve for meeting clients or to gather a group of collaborative partners for a problem solving session.  

All of these services are accessible to all of us - no one is turned away!

It's convenient to have so much data available to us through our home or office computers or other devices, but let's face it - getting up from our desks, interacting with other people and finding different ways to access information is energizing.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Your legacy

Granny Sue at the christening
of the USS Kinzer Nov 1944.

On November 1, 1944, the USS Kinzer was christened by my great-grandmother, "Granny Sue".  This destroyer escort vessel was named in honor of my great-uncle - Ensign Edward Blaine Kinzer, US Navy. Uncle Blaine was killed during the Battle of the Coral Sea on May 8, 1942 and was posthumously awarded the Navy Cross.

Uncle Blaine's bravery and sacrifice are a matter of great pride for our family and his memory lived on through this ship's service to the US Navy.

These old pictures have gotten me thinking.  Most of us will never have this kind of legacy - it is not the kind of legacy we would seek or wish for. But our legacies don't need to be this dramatic. We can leave our mark in many other ways - through our friends and families, the work that we do and the acts that we perform for the benefit of others.
Ensign Kinzer

Most of us don't think about our legacies. If we do, we are uncomfortable with the idea because it feels arrogant and presumptuous.  The beauty of dreaming about our legacy is that we don't have to tell anyone else about it!  Instead, we can just start living in a way that moves us closer to our vision.  I'm not going to tell you the vision that I have for my legacy but if do it right - who knows you might be able to figure it out!

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Face to face

Novel idea - sitting down and talking face to face!

Why not invite a couple of people to just chat with you?  It's a great way to learn from others, share ideas and even solve a problem or two.   Turning off the electronic devices makes the event even more enjoyable - go wild - turn off that phone!

You can always add some food and/or beverages to the mix - but the goal here is to talk to the people that you are with - not text, not email, not even call on the phone - focus on that person across with you.  You may just find out some truly amazing things about yourself and the people that you're with.

We may be spending too much time alone or with only our co-workers passing emails during our work days.  Cultivating new friendships has great benefits.  Certainly networking is part of this but it is just as important for rebuilding entrepreneurial energy and enthusiasm for ourselves.

Invite someone for chat - see what this "old school" activity does for you!

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Puzzling through social networks

I have become convinced of the importance of social networking as a tool for business development.
After doing some research into today's busiest social network sites, I am gaining a better understanding of the purpose and audiences of the various sites.

Not all sites are well suited for sharing business ideas, insights and trends.  A site like CaringBridge would be a very poor choice for businesses - it is much more private and you sure don't want to interrupt people who are sharing information about an individual's serious illness.

So here's what I've been able to puzzle out so far:

Thursday, February 27, 2014

The name

 The name
I'm not a parent so I've never had the serious responsibility of naming a child.  I have thought about what I might have named my child - at one point, I really liked Mary Kyle and Nigel.  I have thought about how the name could be messed with as a kid grows up - insulting nicknames, what the initials spell, association with infamous characters with the same name and other nasty notations.

Naming a business is serious, as well.  Certainly not as serious as naming your child but still a challenge.  Should the location be represented?  Should the owners' name be included?  Should the name indicate what the business does?  Or should a name be a made-up word (think Google)?

What organizational form are you going to use?  Limited Liability Company (LLC), Corporation, Partnership or Sole Proprietorship?  Do you understand the advantages and disadvantages of each?  If not, do some research or ask West Ventures LLC for some guidance.

Think about how your brand may be defined from or around your name.

 Once you have a couple ideas, you have to vet the names.  Do some internet searches - maybe someone somewhere is using YOUR idea already - darn it!  Go to an internet domain name vendor - like GoDaddy and search to see if the domain name is available in any form.  Go to your state's website where you would register your business.  (In Wisconsin, it is the Department of Financial Institutions.)  On these sites, you can do searches to see if your chosen name is being used by another organization.

After you've done all of this research, ask some trusted friends what they think.

Some cultures perform naming ceremonies this truly demonstrates the importance of a name.  So don't rush through this step in the development of your new venture!

Tuesday, February 25, 2014


We all have stress... maybe be not all of us and not all of the time - but it happens!  How we react to it is usually all we can control - I haven't figured out a way to make it go away.

Here's a Ted Talk that gave me a hopeful message about stress.

Come and get me, oxytocin!

Saturday, February 22, 2014

What a niche!

I want to showcase what it means to service a niche market - true entrepreneurism!

This Girl Scout had a brilliant marketing scheme that was well executed.

She found a need - the munchies.  She found a market solution - Thin Mints sold in front of a medical marijuana dispensary in San Francisco.  She sold 117 boxes of cookies in only 2 hours!

We all need to find a perfect niche - the best way to do that is to be innovative and act on those rare opportunities when they jump out at us.

What's your niche?

Friday, February 21, 2014

When we were kids

When we were kids were often asked "What do you want to be when you grown-up?".  Our answers varied but I'll bet most of us didn't adamantly say ENTREPRENEUR (if we even could say that word).  I sure didn't - I wanted to be a social worker and then, later, an accountant like my dad.  I had no idea what an accountant did, except go to a nice office and stay there for very long hours.  Strange how that appealed to me...

After many years of working for others, I decided it was time to try something completely different  - go out on my own - be my own boss- hang my shingle - to become an entrepreneur!  So here I am learning to blog, so I can develope my business using social media.  I need to reach bunches of companies that want accounting and bookkeeping services.

West Ventures LLC is open for business and I am ready to tackle new challenges.