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New tech stuff. What do you think?

Has anyone tried the new BlogRush tool? I found out about it from Denise Wakeman at Biz Tip Blog and am wondering how others feel about it? They are apparently undergoing some overhaul issues but the idea is sort of interesting. 

What do you think?

Sweet Binney's

Ryan and Stephanie Binney/ 8527 University Boulevard Suites 1 & 2/

Clive, Iowa 50325**515-270-9128

www.sweetbinneys.com

Ry_with_torte At Sweet Binney’s our mission is to provide our customers with premier homemade desserts while focusing on customer satisfaction and incorporating high-quality ingredients and bold flavors with dessert and pastry artistry.  Our vision is to transcend the dessert and service expectations of all our customers and we look forward to fulfilling all of your dessert and pastry needs.

The dessert and pastry selections we offer depict the vast array of endless possibilities available only at Sweet Binney’s. We do not use any prepared products and all of our desserts and pastries are made fresh - from scratch - daily.  Our products are currently available to both retail consumers and local businesses.

Ryan Binney, Chef Owner, has over 15 years of professional baking and pastry art experience ranging from Le Meridien Hotel in Boston, MA to our own establishment in Clive, IA – opened in 2005.  His extensive work experience in the field and amazing talent enables him to produce extraordinary desserts, pastries and wedding cakes with flavors that will tantalize your taste buds and designs that will electrify the eye.

Stephanie Binney, Owner, focuses on the bakery business structure. Her experience in sales and marketing give Stephanie the business savvy to complete this partnership. She also coordinates the wedding and special event functions and consultations.

Both of us are active in community organizations – we support local business, where possible, to use in our product such as Berry Patch Farm, Sheeder Cloverleaf Dairy, Zanzibar’s Coffee and Gong Fu Tea.  We are also advocates for Children and Families of Iowa, Iowa Kids Net and CASA Organization.  Ryan and Stephanie are current foster parents and work closely with biological parents to support them with basic parenting skills and job opportunities. 

October Entrepreneurs as glorious as the colors of fall

Kenyafallleaves Fall is my favorite season. Temperatures are crisp and the leaves turn gold, red, and brown. October is the pinnacle month of autumn to see these changes take place. While you enjoy this time, nestle down with a cup of something warm to gain new knowledge and ideas, with this month's line up of inspiring business owners on "Entrepreneur People. Real Stories."

October 2, 2007:  Dr. Ana Lopez-Dawson, a clinical psychologist, has businesses that do double duty. Each enterprise helps others find comfort and healing and they also support her non-profit called Guardian Angel. Be sure to listen to Dr. Lopez-Dawson’s compelling story of entrepreneurship.

October 9, 2007:  Dr. Letitia S. Wright, D.C, is the host of the Wright Place™ TV Show. The Show is now in it's 8th season with over 193 shows broadcast on television to over 3.8 million homes each week in Southern California. The Wright Place ™TV Show is the fastest growing women's show about business on air today. This will be an inspiring, high energy, way too short 30 minute interview. She'll also talk about her new book called The Power of Mentorship.

October 16, 2007:   Deb Gunn of Royal Delivery is building her business by filling the delivery niche for small businesses and individuals. Started in Iowa, they are now delivering large and small items in the state of Iowa in a day and also getting stuff where it needs to be across the US. We going to talk with Deb and learn more about this interesting service business and her adventures. 

October 23, 2007:  Working with management teams, entrepreneurs and businesses, Leesa Barnes teaches insider tips on how to open doors, generate leads and make money using a podcast. Leesa has been featured in national and international media and is recognized as an expert in podcasting and online media. She has also recently published the book Podcasting for Profit.

October 30, 2007:  What holds people back from preserving the stories of themselves, their family, and  their  history? Usually is the ability to commit to the organization and the big THING, the ability to write. Larry Lehmer of When Words Matter helps individuals and organizations achieve this daunting project. Listen to Larry explain some of his secrets of conducting a good interview and building a business one good history at a time. We’ll also talk to this former journalist about his incredible book called “The Day the Music Died: The Last Tour of Buddy Holly.”

photo by james charron powered by flickr

#25 entertaining the idea - an interview with Alice Barry

Alicebarry Perhaps the most valuable people for an entrepreneur are those who not only encourage but challenge us to think differently about some of our archived notions. As I'm meeting small business owners, I can see how tough it is to get fresh ideas. We're so busy with day-to-day operations and administration that generating unique thoughts is too much.

The irony is that instead of feeling the opportunities of an entrepreneur we become trapped in our thinking. The more we say we have limited time, for example, the more pressure we feel. The more we say what we can't do, the more we set our mind in the cement shoes of the pragmatic, sinking far away from what might be possible.

Alice Barry shakes things up and asks people to re-think their belief about what it takes be an entrepreneur. She guides her clients to utilize their creativity and passion and then helps them to generate and implement ideas. If you're looking to re-energize your business for yourself, your customers, and your prospects than take a listen to this interview with Alice of Entertaining the Idea.

#25 interview with Alice Barry

nuts, bolts, cards

Nutsandbolts I've got the words "shop locally" in my google alert so each day I get a stream of things related to the topic. Yesterday I saw this great article from the Statesman Journal about the movement to support locally owned businesses and the benefits to local economies.

It was all good until I got caught up in a research jag in reference to the bit about a debt card program being launched in Santa Fe to promote locals and non-profits. I went out and found the Santa Fe Alliance and the local cares card.  Basically it is a point collecting card where merchants participate and every time a consumer shops at those stores they earn points on their purchases. Every 1000 points earns them $10 to be used toward any of the participating locally owned merchants AND a percentage of the sale goes to a local non-profit.

I had sort of looked at something like this initially because I had seen something similar being used for locally owned restaurants in New England. At that point, I called a restaurant owner in that area and just asked him what he thought of the debt card program. His response was that he ended up finding that he was basically giving discounts to his regular customers, not getting new business, finding that people would sometimes abuse the system (buy a round for everyone and just accumulate points) and it was sort of pricey.

I called a Santa Fe merchant and they said that consumers love points and do submit their cards frequently. If the card gets more purchases at the shops AND donations to non-profits that is great. I left a call with these folks in Santa Fe as I want to see how their program compares in terms of expense.

This all had me in a lather as to whether I had chosen the right direction to go with dsmBUZZ card program. But then I thought about the challenges I've faced with offering something that is basically free for merchants to join. Last I researched, the card program such as this point one cost money and I know many small businesses who just don't have the extra funds.

I think the nuts and bolts of the dsmBUZZ card program will work fine and is the right choice given the feedback I have gotten here. The cards and the concept continue to catch on bit by bit and I think we're making good progress for 7 months out of the shoot. A moment of self-doubt subsides.

photo by Jim Frazier powered by flickr

I'm begging you don't miss this interview with Joan Stewart

Joanstewart I like to tell my husband that I'm getting better and better with age. That may not be true on all levels but let me say I keep getting incredible guests on Entrepreneur People. I feel lucky, privileged and like I'm sharing these wonderful people with the bigger audience in the social media sphere.

Now the interviews are improving all the time but sometimes a guest comes along who should resonate with just about anyone who is in business. That is the kind of person Joan Stewart of The Publicity Hound will be for you.

She does not want to take your time with wasted fluff so she jumps right in with one tip after another on how to promote your business, concept, non-profit, or book. I'm even on my second listen because her information is just so useful.

Do yourself a favor and listen and then go over and find out more about Joan Stewart and The Publicity Hound. Once you've listened you can check out her blog and site at www.publicityhound.com.

Thanks for listening! I'm proud to share this interview with you.

a tale of two merchants, really four

Indianolasquare_2 This week I started working on gathering information for the next issue of our newsletter Small Business Buzz. We plan to feature businesses in Indianola, Iowa. It is a lovely bedroom community with a college, activities that draw people, and a charming town square.

In my effort to work "smarter" with the newsletter and bring more businesses on board dsmbuzz, I've decided to feature those that actually join the network. Thus I'm having more of a "sales" conversation with the merchants that opens me up to possible rejection but also allows for an informative conversation that reveals the concerns of small business owners.

There are strong opinions and ideas from people here and efforts on how to help from many in the community. Recently, for example, a web site was launched by Simpson students that shows some great shots of the square and a listing of the businesses. I talked to several merchants and heard stories that tell two sides of a coin. The photo of the square comes from that site.

The first merchant I spoke with was very kind and gave an honest response even though the merchant said no. For the purposes of honoring this merchant's heartfelt honesty, I won't mention gender or names here.

Merchant explained that his/her business had changed significantly in the past several years. Merchant felt it was due in some part to the presence of Jordan Creek Mall in the western suburb. Merchant lamented that business had declined so much that the store's square footage had to be reduced. Merchant's honest response to my ask to join was that he/she was really discouraged and probably not a good fit because of that feeling. I also had another appointment cancel that same day for the same reason, stating they may not be here next year.

Today I hit the pavement and knocked on a few other doors. The response was quite a bit more promising. Both merchants I spoke with had strong opinions about the concept of buy local and voiced some skepticism about whether my "plan" for spreading the message will work. Apparently there have been other things done that were similar to dsmBUZZ in the past.These two particular merchants have thriving businesses and have been small business owners for quite some time. They will be featured in the newsletter (yeah!) and will also be great interviews for the podcast Entrepreneur People.

These conversations left me with many questions.

1)  If we can point to "outside" venues that drive traffic away from the locally owned merchants and hurt business then why are some businesses still able to thrive?

2) Is there a benefit in promoting "locally owned" to the "non-locals" from nearby communities?

3) Is price really driving business movement or is it unique presence that matters more?

Thanks for reading! What do you think?

first "buzz on us" recap

Me_at_buzz_on_us We held our first ever "Buzz on Us" event at the Grounds for Celebration on Grand. I sat there in a "big empty" at 6:30 a.m. until Steve Friedman of The Melting Pot arrived at about 6:45 or so. He and his partner Stephanie Stevens have a web based business that they have created on a shoestring budget. Steve has had to learn everything about creating a website and trying to generate traffic on his own. He and I visited together until about 7:15.

Steveofmeltingpot_2

Then about 7:30 to 7:45 Derek Bough of Bridges Financial arrived. I was a bit clueless at first as to where we met and then realized I recognized him from the last central Iowa blog gathering. He reminded me that one of his products is called the Home Ownership Accelerator. I asked him to send me the video and the simulator so I could take a look.

About the same time, Brian Sweeney of Angie's Kids Zone came in and sat to visit. He has a great story to tell about the beginnings of his business and how he has utilized his knowledge as a CPA and technical background to help maximize hits on the site that turn into customers. He only began to touch the surface of what he does with inventory, for example, to make accounting more efficient and what they've learned that works in terms of using on-line advertising and Amazon. Will he be in a future Entrepreneur People interview? Yes, he said he would do that.Brian_steve_derek_kathy

It was this kind of information sharing that I thought would be great for all kinds of merchants but today we had a light turnout. Could it be Friday is a bad day? Or perhaps it is a bad time of day? I'm not sure but hopefully when I try this again in January I'll hear what people might want as far as a time or day.

I tried advertising the event, emailing, announcing in the Small Business Buzz newsletter....

Our member consumer was Kathy Winter. She is my good friend so I thank her for stopping in on her way downtown. 

I'm so grateful for the people who could make it and maybe I'll get some feedback as to what might work better if others are interested in attending the next buzz on us in January.

Thanks for stopping by and reading!

I do, I do. An interview with Maureen Thompson

Maureenthomsonlyssabethsceremonies This podcast with Maureen Thomson of Lyssabeth's Wedding Ceremonies was a fun half hour of inspiration and wonderful stories. Maureen is a natural entrepreneur who has attracted a business filled with joy for her clients and herself that maximizes her talents and life philosophy. 

There is powerful information for anyone interested in starting a small business on how to think about perhaps finding your business and a creative idea or two for the bride and groom thrown in. Thanks for listening!

Download maureen_thomson_lyssabeths_ceremonies.wma

thinking multiple revenue sources and key words

Cup8 I can't recall how I came to have Janis Pettit in my favorites list but finally today I'm taking a look at her site.

I liked her post on keywords  but wonder how to get started with this process and what is important for dsmBUZZ. My challenge is how to implement keywords to find entrepreneurs for the local network in central Iowa, find entrepreneurs to interview for the podcast Entrepreneur People which is the wider audience of small business owners EVERYWHERE, and also to find consumers in the central Iowa area who want to support the message and get added value when they shop locally owned. The post offers a keyword search tool to explore.

I was very interested in Janis' article on the Entrepreneur Mindset. I wonder how I can create multiple streams of revenue and attract customers to the dsmBUZZ site. I also read a post on a survey Janis conducted about her audience makeup. She yielded some impressive feedback. At the end of the post she offers 100 of those businesses help to go from broke to success in a year. This sounds like a pretty bold promise. I'll have to read more to learn how those businesses did with her help.

Janis has lots of free articles and other resources and ideas to review.

As always thanks for reading! 

or call 515-274-6703.

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