Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Using the Right Equipment

Stopped by Danbury General Store on my way to work this morning for a jolt of caffene and noticed in the parking lot a truck with fishing equipment in the back. This is not a rare occurance in Stokes County but taking another look, it struck me as odd that it was really heavy duty gear, not what you would anticipate for fishing in local ponds or the Mighty Dan River. The owner wasn't in sight, so I couldn't ask what he was fishing for and left scratching my head.

As any of you that might know me are no doubt aware, I have a vivid imagination and I started thinking about huge catfish that might be in the local depths and what fun it would be to hook one. It is more likely, however that you would land a 1/2 lb sunfish and not the monster you were after. That led me to my next thought: how often do we go fishing with the wrong tackle and end up empty handed or overmatched.

In my business, the right equipment includes making the right contacts, providing information in a timely manner, creating good content on our websites, preparing useful marketing materials and listening to what my clients and co-workers are asking for and responding in the proper manner.

I think I will take some time today to review the equipment that I have at my disposal, make sure I have the right bait and maybe daydream a little about a visit to my favorite fishin hole to try my luck!

Friday, August 19, 2011

Wise words from a friend

I am reposting a blog from Mark Wells that I received today. Mark is the Executive Director of the Rockingham County Business and Tech. Center and a real ally for the farmers and small business oweners not just of Rockingham County but Stokes County as well. His words ring true and we should all take notice:

Local Green: Food, Environment, Money…Envy
August 16, 2011 | RCBTC

Local food has become trendy, chic or whatever “hip” word you want to throw at it. For those who have become local foodies because it makes you feel like one of those words, thank you. For those who have become local foodies because you truly believe supporting local farms improves lives, thank you even more! What’s the difference you ask? Well, the latter will likely be local foodies for a long time, while the former will only be local foodies as long as it’s in fashion.

Let me be frank; farmers need your money no matter why you might purchase, but our economy needs our farmers to keep people working. People have talked about “off-shoring” for years, mostly in the context of manufacturing, textiles and furniture, in the Piedmont Triad. But we have been letting other people grow and prepare our food for us even longer. Do you know where your last meal actually came from? Statistics tell us food travels an average of 1,500 miles before it gets to your plate. That’s roughly a trip from Greensboro to Denver. Let me assure you that food picked in California, Mexico or China and shipped to North Carolina was not picked at the peak of freshness.

So what is the alternative you ask? There are several. farmers’ markets, CSAs (Community-Supported Agriculture) and road-side stands have been around for a long time, but they haven’t changed our dependence on food grown far away. I argue that this is largely due to the convenience factor. Namely, if we can’t buy it when and how we want it, we go somewhere that will let us. Have you heard of delayed gratification? If not, don’t worry. Most of us don’t believe in it so it doesn’t matter.

That’s where Piedmont Local Food comes in. The Rockingham County Business & Technology Center, and Rockingham County Cooperative Extension have partnered to create a virtual farmers market. It’s different from the other local food efforts mentioned above. First, it’s online, which means it’s open for shopping 24 hours per day, seven days per week, 365 days per year. Think that’s convenient? Next, we don’t give you a “mystery box” of food that is typical of most CSAs. You order exactly what you want, period. You also get to choose from a variety of locations from where you want to pick up your food. This isn’t as convenient as ordering a pizza and having it delivered in 30 minutes or less, but PiedmontLocalFood.com hasn’t been around as long as pizza delivery; give us some time!

So as you go about shopping for your fresh produce, meats and even breads and jellies, remember that buying from your local farm supports your local economy, which ends up helping you. Every dollar invested in local agriculture is estimated to have a local economic impact of seven dollars. Every food item purchased locally helps burn less gasoline, which can provide positive environmental impact. And I assure you that after you compare the taste of local food to what you’re used to, you’ll take pride in knowing how envious your friends will be of the great food you’re eating!

Mark Wells is the founding Executive Director of the Rockingham County Business & Technology Center (RCBTC

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Being Intentional

I look forward each month to receiving my newsletter from Thomas Dismukes. Sometimes the information is full of humor and other times it pulls at the heartstrings. I don't always share them but the one below was very touching and I needed to send it along to those that read this blog. I am sure most of you have had a similar situation and I wonder how many handled it as well as young Thomas. Hope you enjoy:

Be Intentional Principle by Thomas Dismukes

He was the meanest kid I ever worked with. By the end of the first day, I wanted him gone. No way both of us would survive six days of camp. He was intentionally mean to other campers. He was a destructive disturbance and had to go back home, now!!

During college, I worked for the Clemson University Outdoor Laboratory, a camp and conference center. During the summer months it supported a number of “special population” camps that focused on specific needs such as children with cancer, visual impairments, muscular dystrophy, or mental handicaps. Camp Sertoma, one of the summer camps, was designed for children who are either underpriviledged or have a speech or hearing impairment. Sertoma campers were great kids with a vast majority growing up in tough environments. With most campers, you could crack their hard outer shell within a few hours and consequently have a joyful and memorable week. Matthew, on the other hand, was not like any camper I had ever had. Within an hour of his arrival he had intentionally star ted four fights, intentionally broke toys and seemed to intentionally tick me off. I wanted him sent back home, which rarely happened at camp! But we rarely had campers this mean!

Three days into camp, our cabin of 10-year old boys was in total chaos due entirely to Matthew. To make matters worse, we were scheduled to campout that night. No one wanted to be around him much less be stuck in the woods with him. When we arrived at our campsite we set up our shelter, made dinner over the fire and once it was dark, we told a few stories to encourage the kids. We then rolled out our sleeping bags and called it a day. Everyone was ready for a nice, quiet sleep, under the stars but apparently, Matthew had a bit more meanness he wanted to dish out.

It was the strangest thing. Everyone had found their places on the ground and was settling into their sleeping bags when Matthew would walk up and intentionally kick another camper. If he didn’t kick them, he would punch them in the chest or head. Oddly enough, that was the norm for the week. It was what he did immediately afterward that was strange. Matthew would walk up, punch or kick, and with a sincere and tender voice ask his victim, “Hey, can I sleep beside you?” It was bizarre! He would hurt a kid and then in the same breath ask if he could lie beside them. Of course, no one wanted him anywhere near them! In the darkness all you could hear was, “Ouch!”… < /span>“Can I sleep beside you?” … “NO!” … (Whack!)… “Can I sleep beside you?”… “GET AWAY!” We were all so exhausted I had to make this madness end, so I said, “Ok… Come HERE, Matthew. Lay beside me!” In the blink of an eye he was next to me in his sleeping bag and silent.

For the first time in days, everything was at peace. It was just after midnight when Matthew, the meanest kid I had ever known, taught me a lesson I have never forgotten. Everything and everyone was quite and I was just falling asleep when I heard Matthew unzip his sleeping bag and slowly extend his hand in my direction. At that moment, I truly thought he must have smuggled a knife out of the cafeteria and was now about to stab me in the heart. However, all he did was bring out his little hand and gently placed it on my chest. I laid there wide awake, my heart racing, waiting to defend a death blow. He kept his arm there for only a few seconds and then returned it to his sleeping bag.

I laid there for several minutes trying to process what had happened. Then again, he stretched out his arm and placed it on my chest. This time he moved his hand up to my face and touched each side. As quickly as it happened, he withdrew his hand. I lay there stunned and confused. Why was he doing this?

He performed the same little ritual several times over the course of an hour, until finally I had to know. In a voice more annoyed than concerned, I asked, “Matthew, what are you doing?! Why do you keep touching me?” The stab in the heart was a premonition. In just above a whisper, this mean little kid that I wanted to send back home, simply said, “I wanted to make sure you were still there. Every time I fell asleep, I had a nightmare that I was home. So I woke up and touched you, to make sure you were real.” I laid there as tears poured down my face. How bad is life when “home” is a nightmare?

The next morning, we broke camp and headed back to our cabin. While our cabin learned about archery and nature, I absorbed Matthew’s case history. I had never read of such abuse and neglect. Matthew had been physically and sexually abused. He had been taken out of his home to foster care, then a delinquency center and then sent back to the home where the abuse all started. For 10 years people had intentionally hurt Matthew. In turn, the only love language he knew was a punch in the face and intentional neglect. Matthew was simply replaying the messages that were recorded into him.

From that point forward I too would be intentional with Matthew, only I would intentionally love, praise, listen, encourage, teach and spend time with him. The “Be Intentional” principle rolled over to life outside of camp. I learned to be intentional with my friends and family, co-workers and customers. I would not wait for other people to fix the problems. I found a need and filled it. I learned to lead by example. If you want to be the greatest in the world, serve others! If you want to be first, put yourself last! If you want to get even with those that harm you, forgive them. I decided to live intentionally. Rather than have life just happen… I decided to be the cause .

I cannot lie and say everything was a bed of roses that week of camp, but things were considerably better. Matthew’s hard shell began to fall away and an amazing young man began to emerge. My time with Matthew ended years ago but I still find those same needs in others today. I see issues that need to be addressed and problems that need to be resolved. I have decided to be intentional, and that has made all the difference. I know this principle works, because by the end of the week, the one kid that originally fought to leave… cried to stay.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Business Plan Competition

If you have a business plan that is just waiting for the right opportunity, if you have a fire in your belly to create something important that can lead to job creation, below if just the opportunity you have been waiting for. Please feel free to get in touch, if you need assistance.

TO: Friends of the incubator, area entrepreneurs, students, and colleagues

FROM: Stan Mandel, Professor of Practice, Director of Angell Center of ENT

DATE: July 29, 2011

SUBJECT: PTP NEXT Seed Funding Competition Opens August 15th

Trust your summer is progressing nicely and you are finding new opportunities to capitalize on. Following is one you may wish to participate in as it offers exciting opportunities if you are launching a new venture or wish to be part of an ecosystem to assist in such launches.

Please check out the PTP NEXT Business competition http://ptpnext.com, a brand new grant and support competition for innovative Triad NC region entrepreneurs, and share it with your colleagues, clients, students, constituents and friends.

PTP NEXT is spearheaded by a truly collaborative, talented and region-wide group of young leaders who are deeply committed to the Piedmont Triad's future economic vitality. They've forged partnerships with NC IDEA (who has granted more than $2 million to 57 young NC companies) and the Piedmont Triad Partnership. PTP NEXT is working closely with the Angell Center for Entrepreneurship and our incubator-among many others - so that young Triad companies can successfully compete for grants of up to $50K. (If you or your organization wants to be more actively involved, you can connect via their website.)

The online application launches on August 15th and is open only until September 9th, so our immediate task is to spread the word. Detailed info about eligibility and the review process is on the PTP NEXT websitehttp://ptpnext.com and I've also attached their recent press release.

We all know that lack of early funding is one of our biggest obstacles, so I encourage you to get behind this effort and spread the word.

Best regards, Stan

Stanley W. Mandel, Ph.D., CPA, PE
Professor of Practice and Director, Angell Center for Entrepreneurship
Schools of Business
Wake Forest University
P.O. Box 7659
Winston-Salem, NC 27109


p 336.758.3689

c 335.671.9884
f 336.758.4514

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

More on young entrepreneurs

I go to the Agurban Newsletter for update this week on your entrepreneurs that are making a difference in their communities. If you enjoy these entries and know of similar stories locally, please share them. I am sure that our young people are as creative and innovative as those that are shown below.

More Young Entrepreneurs!

Thanks to our many readers for submitting examples of young entrepreneurs. Below are three more stories.

Tyler Finchum, 18, of Muscatine, IA, developed Farm Manuals Fast as an online business that reaches customers around the globe. Tyler sells digital copies of operator manuals to farmers and agrarian workers through his website, giving those producers of the world's food supply information they need to keep older farm equipment operating. His customers purchase manuals and download the documents.

"Sometimes the manuals are so rare, if they couldn't get it from me, they'd probably just leave the equipment in a ditch somewhere," states Tyler.

Thirteen year old Jacob Bernhardt has taken a different approach to summertime entrepreneurship. He has been making and selling his own trout flies at the Great Falls Farmer's Market for the last few years. From a small kit, Jacob taught himself to make the lures. He has had to also learn everything about running his own business, from purchasing supplies to scouting out the competition to pricing his merchandise right. An avid fly fisher himself, he's able to recommend the flies for the right conditions, and now, what started out as a simple hobby has grown into a successful summer business.

AJ's Hawaiian Iceez is an ice-shaving enterprise started by Adam and Jonathan Holland of Prince George's County, MD. The resourceful brothers started the business to help their parents cover the steep cost of tuition at their private school. Their parents and 12-year old sister also help with the business.

"You have to make the sacrifice in order to reap the reward," Adam states.

The boys' expect to gross about $50,000 this year, with a profit of $25,000.

These are great examples of young people becoming entrepreneurs. Please keep the stories coming in!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Assistance for Organic Growers

There is still money left for partial reimbursement for the costs associated with becoming certified as an organic grower. See the information below for more details.

NCDA&CS offers organic certification cost-share assistance

RALEIGH – Organic growers in North Carolina can apply for partial reimbursement of the cost of becoming certified or recertified producers through a program offered by the N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.

Growers who have been certified or recertified since Sept. 30, 2010 can apply for assistance. The program will pay 75% of the cost of certification up to a total of $750.

The program is for the 2010-2011 season, and is funded through a grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Funds are available on a first-come, first-served basis, and the deadline to apply for reimbursement is Sept. 30, 2011.

To apply, growers must fill out an authorization form that can be found online at www.ncdaorganic.org. The completed form, a copy of the farm’s certification, a copy of the receipts from the certifying agency and an IRS W-9 form should be mailed to the NCDA&CS Division of Marketing, Attn. Heather Barnes, 1020 Mail Service Center, Raleigh, NC 27699-1020.

Growers with questions can call Barnes at (919) 707-3127.