Break Time

Power of Business ChatConference and meeting attendees know that the best information is gathered during the breaks. This same idea is why people gather at the coffee shop in the morning.

It is the informal times, when we take a few minutes to slow down and connect with others, where we often get answers to our questions and/or build our store of ideas and potential connections. A number of authors have reported on how valuable and important the informal network is to the success of a business. Such networks are built slowly and over time. Successful networkers report that it is also impossible to know when the best connections will be made. With that in mind, these people comment that they take every opportunity they can to attend as many events as possible.

Yet small business owners, especially those in rural areas, report they have little time to attend and fewer such opportunities in their local area. They can attend meetings further away but then it takes more time away from the business to make that happen. Such meetings create a hardship when trying to build a business.

Power of Business is offering the First Friday chat series designed with these real-world concerns in mind. What you get are: 1. short (15 minute) chats with business owners focused on providing 2 useful tips and information; and 2. the chance to connect with others and ask questions.

So take a break this Friday, grab a cup of coffee and join your fellow business owners at 11:15 CT and build your business.

Agritourism: People Will Come

I am a farm boy. Grew up on a what today would be a small farm. My summers and after-school hours were spent working on the farm. Days were long and there was always something to do. Putting up hay always happened around July 4th.

For most of my farming friends, this was a way of life yet few people ever came by to see what we were doing, well maybe the relatives. There was no reason as many had grown up farming or were closely connected with the people who worked the land such as a relative or family friend.

Making hay

Making Hay (CC) by Stephen, on Flickr

In my world, I couldn’t imagine getting people to come and pay money to load hay, shovel grain, feed cows, or just wander the farm.

Today, this has all changed. People are now looking for an experience, and agritourism experiences are capturing interest. For those of us old enough, we may remember the movie “City Slickers.” . Today, some of us want to relive those days or may be a desire to learn more about where our food comes from or to experience something our ancestors once did. For a third group, it is making connections with our history.

Visiting an agritourism operation

An agritourism experience (CC) Jessica Reeder, on Flickr

Agritourism can be a business opportunity. From pick-your-own to pumpkin patches and corn mazes to dude ranches to birding and wildlife to a bed and breakfast, all of these can be developed into a profitability venture. They can be near, or even in, the city but can also be well away from the beaten path.

Not only can such businesses be economic engines for the business owner but communities can also build around those efforts. Visitors will want to see other local sites, they are interested in local history and they want to spend money, for food, beverages, gas, souvenirs, etc. The community needs to be able and willing to offer those items as well as to help link agritourism and other business owners together as collaborators.

Now may be a great time for developing agritourism on your farm/ranch and in your community. They can be good business opportunities? It may not be right for everyone (do you want people on your farm or ranch?). It may be something to consider though if you are looking for new ways to use assets you already have.

You can get more help from your local Extension office. In terms of marketing, online marketing is so important today so check out: Marketing Agritourism Online

Hard time understanding SEO

If you are a business owner, this information can be very useful to you.

Huskerpreneur

This SEO Success Table helps explain On-Page and Off-Page SEO factors that will help you understand SEO – but goes beyond that and dissects the areas where you can improve the use of:

– Content/HTML/Architecture which are the On-Page factors search engines use to rank your pages
– Links/Trust/Social and Personal are the Off-Page factors that you have control over as well!

In the next few posts – we’ll talk more about each of these! But for now study the table and think about your SEO strategy or create an SEO strategy!

http://searchengineland.com/seotable

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Marketing Takes a History Lesson

When asked for what help they need, practically every study of business owners I have read mentions the need for help with marketing.

So this week, let’s take somewhat of a historical ride through history using expressions we have heard or events we have witnessed.

It becomes pretty obvious, given this high demand for assistance, that “build it and they will come” just doesn’t get the job done. We know that and we write about it but hearing from other business owners so loudly should give a clear signal that something else is needed. All media channels are filled and growing with messages for one product or another. Some are subtle, some are clever, and some just straight forward. But the majority don’t translate to more people coming in the door.

Which leads us to another historical event, change and evolution. Even if we could figure out the perfect marketing plan, it won’t last. I suspect everyone in the United States has heard of Facebook. Yet some are predicting that it will fade in the coming years (and some say it could happen relatively quickly and relatively soon). I won’t take a stand on that issue but am very comfortable saying that a new not marketing means will be here within 5 years. Or at a minimum, Facebook will make significant changes in how it operates. So as a business owner be ready to change and evolve.

Yet just as things evolve, the often quoted, “what goes around, comes around,” saying tells us that some of our best marketing methods may be in those once used but now forgotten. I couldn’t find a historical time frame for when those words were first used, but they certainly are true.

And as we consider marketing, it is important to remember the historical Aesop fable of The Tortoise and the Hare. You maybe can start off quickly but it is the slow, steady pace that wins the race. So it is with building a business. It rarely happens quickly. Instead a solid, consistent stream of marketing can create and sustain your business.

Yet after saying marketing tools come and go, there remains some truth in another old saying, “only the strong survive.” In some sense this is true in marketing. Probably the two strongest means of marketing are the networking of the owner himself or herself and the testimonials of clients. Those two means have, and I predicted, always will lead the list. So consider how you can work them into your marketing plan.

And finally, humans are driven by a need to explore. We see that constantly in our historical records. And the same should be true for the business owner looking for what marketing tools to use. It remains important to stay aware of new trends and tools. Given the importance of marketing and the understanding how it changes and flows, staying abreast of marketing tools and trends should be an everyday constant for the business owner.

Bottom line – Marketing is crucial. Marketing changes. Marketing takes time. Marketing needs regular attention.

Learning From Other Business Owners

There are two important ways we learn.

The first is the formal process of learning. This includes formal education but also the workshops, reading, and the self-improvement courses we take and do.

The second means is the informal process and it is key in our lifelong learning. Let me give you an example.

I have a 9-month old grandson. He learns every day but not through the formal methods. He learns by observation, watching and listening to the world around him. He knows that eating must involve a spoon so, when eating, he wants a spoon in his hand even though he doesn’t use it. Also what he eats is depend on what he sees others eating.

Much of our learning comes from listening, sharing and observing others. We often refer to this as “real-world” experience.

The examples of my grandson is learning through real-world experience. And that learning happens when we connect with our peers and reference groups.

But does informal learning work? Can it be trusted?

According to research, yes it can. Effectiveness depends on two factors among several others. First, finding a person you follow over time who is often typically correct. The second way, one we more commonly employ, is to listen to lots of people on a single issue. If we then average the answers, the result is often quite accurate. This latter method, when tested in the intelligence community has been found to be better than the expert opinion more than 30% of the time.

So why bring this up?

Friday starts a new opportunity for learning. The Power of Business Friday 15, a 15 minute conversation, helps you network with other business owners on a variety of questions.

Chats will be held the first Friday of every month at 12:15 ET, 11:15 CT, 10:15 MT, and 9:15 PT. THE COST IS FREE!!!

To register, go to: http://go.unl.edu/Friday15registration. You will receive an email acknowledgement with information on how to get to the session and about existing and future Power of Business opportunities.

Take 15 minutes to improve your business. Join us online at Friday 15!

Power of Business - First Friday Live Chat

First Friday – Live Chat