Lamarwaltersuccess Blog

April 29, 2011

“10 Questions To Ask A PR Firm Before Signing A Contract”

Filed under: Business, Inspirational, Motivational, Sucessful, Uncategorized — lamarwalter @ 10:33 pm

By: Katie Morell

Think about the last great article you read. The piece may have mentioned a few products or companies—possibly prompting you to research them in more depth. Chances are, a public relations firm was behind that placement.

Editorial placements can turn into big business for companies of any size, giving organizations a credibility lacking in traditional advertisements.

If you’re looking for a PR firm, here are 10 questions to ask before signing a contract:

Do you specialize?

PR firms come in all shapes, sizes and specializations. Some are experts in travel, others in home design, and others in entertainment. It is important to find an agency that knows your business.

“If you can work with an someone who knows your industry, there will be less of a learning curve and it can really work to your advantage,” says Jenna Oltersdorf, principal at Snackbox, a public relations and design firm in Austin, Texas. “If you can’t find someone who knows your specific industry, find someone who knows about something that parallels your industry.”

Who will be working on my account?

According to Oltersdorf, some agencies will send out their A-players to pitch, but then assign your account to another team with whom you’ve never met. It is important to meet the team/person who will be in charge of your business right off the bat.

What will be your approach to promoting my product or service?

“You want to make sure your PR agency is on the same page as you are,” says Jennifer Berson, president of Jeneration PR, a public relations firm focused on fashion, beauty, and lifestyle, based in Sherman Oaks, California. “You want your public relations approach to be in sync with your sales and marketing goals. Your agency needs to understand your products, competitive advantage, brand history and story.”

How do you measure results?

This can be tough. Editorial placements are never guaranteed, so it is important to have a frank conversation about metrics.

According to Berson, most firms will measure ROI based on a comparable ad placement. For example, if a firm lands you a full-page story in Vogue, they may value the placement at the rate of a full-page ad in the same magazine.

“Circulation of the magazine and impressions are also important,” she adds. “That said, there are also things a firm can secure that aren’t measurable, such as brand awareness.”

What is included in a typical contract?

Before signing on the dotted line, make sure you are on the same page.

“Ask when they expect payment, what happens if payments are late, etc.,” Oltersdorf says.

Equally important is determining how expenses will be handled.

“Ask if your firm will charge for phone calls, packages, etc.,” suggests Berson. “Make sure there won’t be any surprises.”

How much do I need to spend to achieve my goals?

Editorial placements can take time. It is very rare for a PR firm to hit the ground running and have a story appear in The New York Times two days later. Newsstand magazines can have three-to-six month lead times, turning goals into a waiting game.

Come prepared to talk about goals right away, Oltersdorf recommends.

“Tell them what you want and ask them how many hours it should take,” she suggests. “Remember, it is always okay to negotiate. Make sure to have upfront conversations about money tied to goals.”

What do you need from me to hit the ground running?

Before interviewing a PR firm, gather together materials that will help them do their jobs more efficiently.

“A brand needs to be ready with product samples for media outreach,” says Berson. “Also, make sure to have high-res JPEGs of your product on clean, white backgrounds. I also recommend having a press kit. If you don’t have one, ask the agency if it will help you develop one and how much it will cost.”

How often will I hear from you?

This is incredibly important. Since editorial placements can take months to secure, small business owners are wise to communicate regularly with PR firms.

“It is reasonable to hear from your agency at least once per week—just a check-in to hear what they are generally working on,” says Berson. “It is also fair to get a report once per month on placements secured from the prior month and plans for the following month.

“In addition, you should be hearing from your agency with every new opportunity when they’ve secured it.”

Who else is on your client roster?

Before contacting a PR agency, check out their website for a client roster. From there, Oltersdorf recommends researching what is happening in the news with the clients listed.

“This will give you an indication of the caliber of work the agency is capable of,” she says, adding that some firms will list an outdated roster. “Ask for a list of current clients. Find out how your project will affect their workload and how you will compete for their attention.”

Who are your references?

“Hiring a PR firm is like hiring an employee—it is important to ask for references,” Oltersdorf says. “Always call or e-mail references. Also, look into the firm’s past clients and find out why they don’t work with the firm anymore.”

April 28, 2011

“The Top 10 List of CEO Regrets”

Filed under: Business, Inspirational, Motivational, Sucessful, Uncategorized — lamarwalter @ 10:34 pm

Probably among the world’s best know CEO regret is, “I want my life back” cri de couer from Tony Hayward, the former CEO of BP. Or at least, he regrets saying it now! As a follow-up to this week’s column on regrets I would like to offer up my Top 10 List of CEO Regrets, please let me know which you would drop and what you would add:

By: Karl Moore

My List of Top 10 CEO Regrets

1. I regret trying to change those around me rather than changing myself to value others more

2. I regret focusing too much on individuals rather than their value in contributing to and building stronger teams

3. I regret not bringing in fresh eyes and experience to look at our recurring problems quickly enough

4. I regret that at times we didn’t put our employees first.

5. I regret that I never fired Joe, because I never really understood what Joe did.

6. I regret that we acquired that one extra company instead of achieving the growth organically

7. I regret that I followed too many after management fads, rather than waiting to see which was a keeper

8. I regret that I often let my work take priority over my family and health.

9. Too often I worshiped quarterly results when focusing on the long term would have paid off so much better, well, in the long term.

10. I regret that I hired too many people just like me.

April 26, 2011

“6 Steps To Overcome Your Fear Of Public Speaking”

Filed under: Business, Inspirational, Motivational, Uncategorized — lamarwalter @ 8:43 pm

By: RIEVA LESONSKY

Are you looking for a marketing tool that will help you build (or cement) your reputation as an expert in your field, make connections with potential customers and clients and expose you to the important people in your community? Then consider public speaking.

If the mere idea of speaking in front of a group of people terrifies you, you’re not alone. There’s an often-cited statistic that public speaking is most people’s No. 1 fear—surpassing even fear of death! I’ve got news for you: Most public speakers (myself included) still get scared every time they stand up in front of a group. I’ve delivered hundreds of speeches in my career, and I still get butterflies every time.

But it’s worth pushing past your fears because the rewards public speaking can bring to your business are so great. Here are just a few:

Exposes you to new networks of people
Earns you exposure as an expert in your industry
Generates leads
Creates trust on the part of potential customers
Here are six steps to get you started:

1. Set goals

What do you want to achieve? Do you want to get coverage in the media, generate X number of leads or ingratiate yourself with an important organization?

2. Target your audience

Based on your goals, pinpoint the audience you’re trying to reach and research groups or organizations in your local area that attract that type of person. For instance, if you’re trying to market your accounting services to local small businesses, you might want to speak at at Chamber of Commerce, lead generation groups or volunteer for small business organizations like SCORE.

3. Choose a topic

What topics can you talk about that will enhance your image as an expert, be relevant to your audience and help “sell” your services? You’re not doing a hard sell, but your topic does need to relate to your product or service. Using the example above, an accountant seeking to land new tax preparation clients could talk about year-end tax planning, how recent changes in the tax code affect small businesses, or how to reduce your chances of being audited. Whatever you offer to talk about, be sure it’s something of real value to your listeners.

4. Be prepared

Although your speech shouldn’t be a sales pitch, be sure to bring business cards, fliers or brochures you can give to interested prospects. You might also want to place a sign-up sheet at the registration table where attendees can leave their names, addresses and/or e-mail addresses and sign up to get something from you—an e-mail newsletter, discount offer or free information.

5. Start small

I mentioned local groups, because if you’re at all unsure of your speaking abilities, you’ll want to start small. Practice with small groups and gradually build up your confidence before you try to add bigger venues. Have family members or trusted friends watch you practice your talk and give honest feedback, or videotape yourself and watch the tape so you’ll know what you need to improve.

6. Follow up

If you’re shy, your first instinct after your talk is over may be to scurry off as quickly as you can. But after your speech is precisely when you need to be friendly, open and available to opportunities. So hang around, talk to people and get to know the audience.

Once you get confident speaking in front of small groups, try offering to speak at industry events such as trade shows, conferences and panels. The more you speak, the more comfortable you’ll be in front of an audience—and the more your business will grow.

April 25, 2011

“How–and Why–to Incorporate Your Business” Part 1

Filed under: Business, Inspirational, Motivational, Sucessful, Uncategorized — lamarwalter @ 9:31 pm

The term corporation comes from the Latin corpus, which means body. A corporation is a body–it is a legal person in the eyes of the law. It can bring lawsuits, can buy and sell property, contract, be taxed, and even commit crimes. It’s most notable feature: a corporation protects its owners from personal liability for corporate debts and obligations–within limits.

The corporation is considered an artificially created legal entity that exists separate and apart from those individuals who created it and carry on its operations. With as little as one incorporator, a corporation can be formed by simply filing an application for a charter with the respective state. By filing this application, the incorporator will put on record facts, such as:

•the purpose of the intended corporation,

•the names and addresses of the incorporators,

•the amount and types of capital stock the corporation will be authorized to issue, and

•the rights and privileges of the holders of each class of stock.

Why Incorporate?

It is true that operating a
s a corporation has its share of drawbacks in certain situations. For example, as a business owner, you would be responsible for additional record keeping requirements and administrative details. More important, in some cases, operating as a corporation can create an additional tax burden. This is the last thing a business owner needs, especially in the early stages of operation.

Remember, aside from tax reasons, the most common motivation for incurring the cost of setting up a corporation is the recognition that the shareholder is not legally liable for the actions of the corporation. This is because the corporation has its own separate existence wholly apart from those who run it. However, let’s examine three other reasons why the corporation proves to be an attractive vehicle for carrying on a business.

•Unlimited life. Unlike proprietorships and partnerships, the life of the corporation is not dependent on the life of a particular individual or individuals. It can continue indefinitely until it accomplishes its objective, merges with another business, or goes bankrupt. Unless stated otherwise, it could go on indefinitely.

•Transferability of shares. It is always nice to know that the ownership interest you have in a business can be readily sold, transferred, or given away to another family member. The process of divesting yourself of ownership in proprietorships and partnerships can be cumbersome and costly. Property has to be retitled, new deeds drawn, and other administrative steps taken any time the slightest change of ownership occurs. With corporations, all of the individual owners’ rights and privileges are represented by the shares of stock they hold. The key to a quick and efficient transfer of ownership of the business is found on the back of each stock certificate, where there is usually a place indicated for the shareholder to endorse and sign over any shares that are to be sold or otherwise disposed of.

•Ability to raise investment capital. It is usually much easier to attract new investors into a corporate entity because of limited liability and the easy transferability of shares. Shares of stock can be transferred directly to new investors, or when larger offerings to the public are involved, the services of brokerage firms and stock exchanges are called upon.

Advantages of Incorporating

•Owners are protected from personal liability fro company debts and obligations.

•Corporations have a reliable body of legal precedent to guide owners and managers.

•Corporations are the best vehicle for eventual public companies.

•Corporations can more easily raise capital through the sale of securities.

•Corporations can easily transfer ownership through the transfer of securities.

•Corporations can have an unlimited life.

•Corporations can create tax benefits under certain circumstances, but note that C corporations may be subject to “double taxation” on profits. To avoid this, many business owners elect to operate their corporations under subchapter S of the Internal Code. Also known as an S corporation, this entity allows income to pass through to the individual shareholders.

Disadvantages of Incorporating

•Corporations require annual meetings and require owners and directors to observe certain formalities.

•Corporations are more expensive to set up than partnerships and sole proprietorships.

•Corporations require periodic filings with the state and annual fees.

April 22, 2011

“Clif Bar: How a Husband-Wife Team Built a $235 Million Empire”

Filed under: Business, Motivational, Sucessful, Uncategorized — lamarwalter @ 8:37 pm

While the entrepreneurial bug infected Gary Erickson early on in his life, it was a 175-mile bike ride that inspired him to invent the product that would not only transform his company, but his life as well. Helped by his wife and co-CEO Kit Crawford, who was Erickson’s first sales manager, Clif Bar & Company has since blossomed into a household name with $235 million in revenue and more than a dozen different products, including the Clif Mojo and Luna bars; a winery; a line of women’s active wear, and the non-profit Clif Bar Family Foundation.

Erickson: Growing up, there were so many times I wanted to start my own business. When I worked at a ski shop or a restaurant, I knew I would own my own business someday. It wasn’t about not liking working for people. I just wanted to figure it out and do it my own way.

One day back in 1986, when I was working full time for a bike accessory company, I was sitting at my mom’s kitchen table as she was baking one of her favorite calzones. I had an “aha moment” and decided I could take that to market. After several months working on recipes, I did just that — selling a dozen here and a dozen there to Bay Area grocery stores and coffee shops.

I opened up a small bakery, Kali’s Sweets & Savories, which I named after my grandmother. I finally had my first business. Kit was my first salesperson and she would take her daughter on her hip and sell the calzones, which we called Yohas. She landed like 20 accounts right off the bat, which really helped the business get started.

Five years later, I had the epiphany that changed everything. At the time, my friend Jay Thomas asked me to take a 175-mile bike ride with him. After eating five PowerBars and a box of donuts, I decided I could make something better. That eventually led to the creation of the first Clif Bar, which I named after my dad, Clifford Erickson.

I didn’t start Clif Bar to make money or to fill holes in my life. I did it because I wanted to make a better energy bar for my friends and myself. But the growth of the product was astonishing. At the time, annual sales in the bakery, after six years of hard work, were about $280,000 — which wasn’t always enough, as I had to plow money from my other job into the business from time to time. Imagine my surprise, then, when sales of the Clif Bar topped $700,000 in its very first year.

We hit upon a perfect storm of sorts where, while we had strong sales in bike shops, the healthy and natural foods movement was emerging and was seeing incredible growth. We quickly landed some big accounts, which helped the business tip into what it has become today. I do ask myself the question “What If?” quite a bit. What if I didn’t have the experience in running my own business, or what if there were more than just one energy bar on the market at the time? It’s funny how everything came together at the right moment.

Crawford: We have also always done a good job at giving people variety in our products. We personally love to play in the kitchen to come up with new flavors. Our source of innovation is our customer’s pain, meaning we’re always trying to find ways to combine what we’re good at with what our customers want. For example, we have a new product, Luna Protein, that people are just going crazy over.

Erickson: We continue to do new things, like starting the Clif Family Winery & Farm in 2004. But we’re not doing it as a hobby — we want to make it a thriving business. People ask us, “Why would an energy bar come out with a wine?” We want people to know that Clif Bar loves all of life and not just energy bars, and good wine goes with good food. It’s a celebratory thing.

Crawford: As co-CEOS, we are two people who are naturally interested in and good at different things. That’s been really helpful working together. We see things in different ways and have a lot of respect for what each other brings to the table.

Erickson: It’s been easier for us to run the business together than it was to raise three kids.

April 20, 2011

“How To Source, Produce And Finance An Overseas Export”

Filed under: Business, Inspirational, Motivational, Sucessful, Uncategorized — lamarwalter @ 9:54 pm

By: Laurel Delaney

Got a customer overseas who has asked you to export 25,000 umbrellas? Fantastic—here’s how.

Let’s say Customer A is located in Finland and wants you to find a manufacturer of high-end umbrellas from the United States. You do your homework and come up with four reputable suppliers, who you ask for proposals including: 25,000 umbrellas with a superior design, competitive price, high quality, timely production schedule and reasonable transportation fee to your factory door. You narrow it down to two and propose both, indicating the unique benefits each brings to the table.

You might want to get two separate quotes on transporting the goods from your supplier: one from the U.S.A. umbrella factory door to your factory door and the other from the U.S.A. umbrella factory door direct to your customer’s door in Finland. (The latter will probably be the lower price because you reduce transit miles.) Remember, when it comes to shipping anything overseas, consult with the best transportation company available to make the right transport decisions for you and your customer.

Your customer decides on Umbrella X, which comes to a total of $14,500.00 for 25,000 units. You add in shipping and insurance costs and the total now comes to $17,000.00. To make a profit you need to factor in a markup or profit of anywhere from 10-20% on the actual cost of the product. After checking on the market for umbrellas in Finland, you find people need and want them but they aren’t widely available. With that in mind, you go with a high-end markup: 20% profit. Now we’re looking at $17,000.00 + $2,900.00 (20% of $14,500.00) = $19,900.00.

Next, figure out how to finance the deal. Contact your own bank to show you thought of every imaginable way to finance an export sale. You can also refer to my previous article, “8 Ways to Cut Costs On Export Sales,”—see point No. 6. Ask your banker: Can I finance an order for 25,000 umbrellas valued at $19,900.00 with a transferable letter of credit or an assignment of proceeds on a letter of credit? If so, how does it work and will you guide me in working with my customer to ensure that my supplier in the U.S.A. and I get paid?

Here is an explanation of the difference between a transferable letter of credit and an assignment of proceeds:

1. Transferable letters of credit.

You are permitted to transfer your rights in part or in full to another party. In our case, it would be transferring a specified dollar amount sans your profit to your supplier in the United States. Transferable letters of credit are typically used when the original beneficiary (you) acts as a middleman between the supplier of the merchandise and the buyer. The supplier is thus assured of payment for the goods even though he is not dealing directly with your overseas customer. Keep in mind that no credit line is needed here, since you are using your L/C as collateral. Once you transfer an L/C, there will be a nominal transaction fee involved.

2. Assignment of proceeds.

This method is very similar to a transferable L/C. The difference is that whether or not a letter of credit is issued in transferable form, you may request the paying bank to pay to a third party the proceeds guaranteed under the letter of credit. No credit line is needed in this transaction, but you will be charged a nominal transaction fee. The assignment of proceeds has no monetary value to the third-party assignee until the proceeds (the actual payment by the bank) become available. If you neglect to ship merchandise as ordered, or fail to submit proper documentation, no payment will be made to the assignee even if they can present the letter of assignment.

I find L/C assignments very advantageous. For my first seven years in operation as an independent exporter, I conducted business only against irrevocable letters of credit confirmed with a U.S. bank. The customer opened the L/C in favor of my company. Once the documents were prepared and approved by the bank, we were paid. We then paid our supplier. For an export sales transaction of $25,000 or less, the supplier would usually be agreeable to granting me an open account status, provided they could at least review a copy of the L/C and verify that it was legitimate.

When preparing a copy of an L/C to show a supplier, we would block out our customer’s name and address to protect their confidential status and our own sales interest. For a larger deal—say, $45,000 or more—the supplier would require a more secure payment method. That’s when we discovered an assignment of proceeds against a letter of credit.

The customer doesn’t have to know you are making the assignment against his L/C, and the supplier never finds out who the customer is. All you have to do is go to your bank with the L/C that has been opened in your favor, request an assignment form and fill it out. You indicate on the form exactly what portion of the L/C you want assigned to your supplier (again, in our case above, we’d leave out the profit). You can state this portion either as a dollar amount or as a percentage. There’s a small fee involved, but it’s worth it. Your supplier now has payment guaranteed from you, provided she does her part by supplying the product.

Have we convinced you how easy it is to source, produce and get paid on special export sales? If so, get going with your customer’s big idea!

April 18, 2011

“The Most Important Word In Business”

Filed under: Business, Inspirational, Motivational, Sucessful, Uncategorized — lamarwalter @ 10:02 pm

By: John Mariotti

I speak to business students at a local university every semester and I always open my “lecture” with this question: What’s the most important thing in business? Clue: It’s a six-letter word that starts with P.

Invariably, the first answer I hear is Profit—to which I say, “Wrong!” Usually the second word I hear is the right one: People—to which I say, “right!”

Business is a game and the score is kept in money. If you win—make enough money—you get to play again. If you lose, it’s a single elimination tournament like the recently completed NCAA basketball “March Madness.”

I then remind them that everything that happens in business starts with the actions of people. Done correctly, the founders of the business set a “purpose” for the business—beyond the obvious one of making a profit.

Pharmaceutical giant Merck has a good, simple purpose statement: Our business is preserving and improving human life.

Once that is communicated, understood, and embedded in the minds and hearts of the people who work for the company, then the people can proceed to create and operate a business that serves that purpose.

People make the plans, execute them, decide what to sell, to whom, where to get it, and how much to charge. People also decide on structure of the business (how it’s organized, what people in what places, etc.) and the processes used to get things done.

If the people do all of these things well, fulfilling the needs of customers compared to competition, then profit will be the result. Like the scoreboard in sports, profit is the measure of how well the people “played the game.”

Is having the best people enough to guarantee success and profit in business? No, far from it. But it is the critical starting point. There must be that worthy purpose, and the people need strong leadership to take the organization where it must go, and have it do what it must do.

Strategies, plans, execution, metrics and much more are required for the people to succeed. But lacking good people, like a sports team with weak players, makes it so much more difficult. With strong, talented and motivated people, today’s tough global competition is still a big challenge; but without them, it is almost an impossible challenge.

Therefore, the next time you face a decision that involves people in your company, your organization or anything else, stop and think about the most important P-word.

April 15, 2011

“Seven Tips for Building Customer Loyalty”

Filed under: Business, Inspirational, Motivational, Sucessful, Uncategorized — lamarwalter @ 11:19 pm

By: Micah Solomon


Loyal customers can be an important driver of sustainable business growth. They’re usually much less price-sensitive, can be nearly immune to competitive entreaties, and can become a powerful marketing arm, going out of their way to promote and defend your company online and off — for free.

If you’re looking for ways to foster greater customer loyalty, consider these tips.

1. Anticipate customer wishes
.

When a customer’s need is met before it has been expressed, it sends the message that you care about the customer as an individual. It doesn’t require telepathic ability, just paying attention and knowing your customers.

It’s well worth the effort. The cared-for feeling a customer gets when her wishes are anticipated is where you can generate the fierce loyalty.

For example: Instead of putting up one of those generic signs saying “If our restrooms need attention, please notify the staff,” Charlie Trotter’s famed restaurant in Chicago long ago decided on a proactive system: They themselves discreetly check the towels and soaps after every use, thus never leaving the next guest’s experience at the whim of the last, nor ever putting a guest in the awkward position of having to ask for supplies or maintenance.

•Related: Building a Business in the ‘Thank You’ Economy

2. Hire with patience.

In an organization aiming for superb service, a single disagreeable or unresponsive team member can erode customer loyalty and team morale. That’s why it can be better to leave a position unfilled, rather than rushing to hire someone unsuitable. More broadly, customer service excellence is most fully achieved when a business owner becomes expert at recruiting and training service personnel.

3. Develop a customer-service vocabulary.

Create and rehearse a list of vocabulary words and expressions that fit your brand perfectly. Cut out all off-brand language.

For example, the expression “no worries” may sound fine from a clerk at a Portland audio equipment store, but not from a salesperson at Cartier in Milan.

What’s more, search out and replace any vocabulary words that could bruise customer feelings. For instance, avoid telling a customer: “You owe us.” Try instead: “Our records seem to show a balance. . .” Employees of some successful companies carry pocket-sized cards with handy reminders of recommended and discouraged phrases to use in a variety of common scenarios.

•Related: Four Ways to Improve Customer Service

4. Dedicate yourself to acknowledging each returning customer.

Whatever your business and its size, get to know each customer as well as a beloved bartender, doorman, or hairstylist would. For example, the kind who would know each customer’s preferences, the name of her pet, when she was in last and other details.

Computer-assisted client-tracking systems — and an attentive staff — can help create that same “at home” feeling in your customers — regardless of the size and price point of your business, and whether it’s an online or bricks-and-mortar operation.

5. Make every hello and goodbye perfect.

Psychological studies demonstrate that customers remember the first and last minutes of a service encounter much more vividly — and for much longer — than all the rest. The first and final elements of your customer interactions should be particularly well-engineered, because they are going to stick in the customer’s memory.

•Related: Three Ways to Spark Engaging Social Conversations

6. Speed up your service.

Modern customers expect speedier service than did any generation before them. Not only speedier than their parents expected, but even than they themselves expected last year. In the age of iPhones and Amazon.com, you may as well not deliver your product or service if you’re going to deliver it late.

7. Show your personality.

When customers choose to interact with a person at your company, they want the transaction to be, well, human — even in an online interaction.

For example, why send emails to customers from a Please-do-not-reply-to-this address? Instead, if possible, invite recipients, even of your mass emails, to respond directly — and, of course, make sure someone answers those replies when they come.

April 14, 2011

“Run Away Success Story: Jimmy Beans Wool”

Filed under: Business, Inspirational, Motivational, Sucessful, Uncategorized — lamarwalter @ 10:04 pm

Back in 2000, Laura Zander was riding the dot-com wave. She and her husband Doug (both pictured above) were working as software engineers in San Francisco and spending weekends at their second home in Truckee, Calif.

Pretty soon, the Internet bubble burst and the couple decided to move to their mountain abode. Just before leaving the City by the Bay, Zander found herself browsing through a yarn shop and decided to take up a new hobby.

She soon became “obsessed” with knitting and once in Truckee, met a woman who would change her professional life forever.

“I was designing business websites and learned of a nearby company called Lorna’s Laces,” Zander said. “I went to her house, became friends with her, and she ended up convincing me to open a knitting shop.”

Without any background in retail, Zander dove head first into opening her store, naming it Jimmy Beans Wool. It was 2002 and Zander was only 27 years old.

“Doug and I invested $30,000 into opening the store, which was just 500 square feet in downtown Truckee,” she said, adding that most of her inventory came from Lorna’s Laces. “We had a great location and every time someone would come into the shop, I would teach them how to knit. The next day, they would usually come back for yarn, which is how I originally created my customer base.”

Less than six months after opening, Zander put her business on the web and hoped for the best.

“In December 2002, we made $19 online,” she remembered. “But the following month, we made $221.”

Since the store’s launch, Zander opened another location in Reno, eventually closing the Truckee store. The couple is now based out of Reno and Jimmy Beans Wool has 20 employees for its brick-and-mortar store and booming online business.

“Our online business has really grown since we opened,” Zander said. “I’d say it is about 90 percent of our business now. We do about $4 million in sales.”

What are the secrets behind Jimmy Bean’s success?

Relying on cash

“Cash flow is huge for us,” Zander said. “We only deal with cash. That way, we have infinite flexibility to buy things when we need them.”

Following instincts

In the beginning, I only purchased inventory that I liked,” she said. “I figured if we go out of business, I want to take this yarn home and use it myself.”

Prioritizing purchases

“We are not a high-end furniture store, so I don’t need high-end displays and furniture that will cost me $20,000,” Zander said. “Instead, we’ve always spent our money on more yarn or something that we could sell at the store.”

Valuing the team

“I don’t like the word ‘employee,’” she said. “We are a family, a team. I firmly believe that our employees are the most important assets we have. We give them flextime and don’t care when they come into work, as long as they get their work done. Employee wise and business wise—that mentality has helped a lot.”

Focusing on customer service

“The minute I have a customer interaction, I try to think about things from their perspective,” Zander said. “If I was buying something online, how would I want to be treated? If someone sends us an email in the morning, they get a response in the morning.

“Also, we listen to customer complaints and act on them. Communication is huge with us.”

April 13, 2011

“Ready, Set, Launch”

Filed under: Business, Inspirational, Motivational, Sucessful, Uncategorized — lamarwalter @ 9:33 pm

If you’re reading this, it means you’re interested about starting a business. Now it’s time to focus your entrepreneurial spirit using the following five steps.


1. Look for that “aha” moment

Sometimes the inspiration for business ventures comes from what’s around you–or from what isn’t. Take Entrepreneur magazine’s home base of Irvine, Calif. The lack of fast-food restaurants in the business area meant treks across town for lunch, prompting two young men to ponder, “Wouldn’t it be great if we could get some good food delivered?”

Rather than waiting for someone else to capitalize on the idea, they purchased one of Entrepreneur’s business startup guides and launched a restaurant delivery business. So far, it’s served more than 15 million people.

Netflix provides a similar example. After founder and CEO Reed Hastings got charged $40 for returning a rental movie late, he didn’t get mad; he got inspired. That $40 led to a billion-dollar online DVD rental business.

The lesson? Everybody kvetches about what’s missing in their corner of the world, but only a select few–the entrepreneurs–do something about it. It may be cliché, but it’s true: Where there are problems, there are opportunities.

2. Plan ahead
You’ve got the inspiration. Do you really need a business plan?

Plenty of people argue yes. One is Sean Hackney, who co-founded Roaring Lion Energy Drink in Sun Valley, Calif., and grew it from a $62,000 investment to the No. 2 energy drink in bars and nightclubs. Hackney says writing a business plan was “absolutely” worthwhile: “I had a lot of stuff in my head that needed [to be] put on paper.”

Entrepreneurship professor William B. Gartner of Clemson University in South Carolina analyzed data from the Panel Study of Entrepreneurial Dynamics, a national survey of more than 800 people in the process of starting businesses. He found that writing a plan greatly increased the chances a person would actually go into business.

“You’re two and a half times more likely to get into business,” Gartner says. “People who write business plans also do more stuff.”

That stuff includes researching markets and preparing projections, which is valuable in itself, and also increases the chances that an entrepreneur will follow through. And if you want to get funding from banks, VCs or government agencies, a business plan often is required.

But more isn’t always better. Aim for 20 to 40 pages.

“The shorter, the better,” says William Bygrave, a professor emeritus at Babson College in Babson Park, Mass., and longtime entrepreneurship researcher. “And don’t have any numbers you can’t explain instantaneously.”

3. Value your business
Unless your startup funds are coming out of your own pocket, someone will have to value your business. Be prepared for a reality check: If investors say your startup is worth $1 million, then that’s what it’s worth. You might think it’s worth more and be able to back that up by pointing to, say, $2 million in liquid assets. But unless investors agree, you’ll have to live with their valuation.

That’s one example of how sometimes valuing a business is like pricing a home. Here’s another: comps. Use sites such as BizBuySell and BizQuest to determine what similar companies in your industry and geography are worth. Other potential sources are accountants and lawyers who specialize in your industry and geography.

4. Find the right location
Here’s another similarity with real estate: Location equals money. “In the brick-and-mortar retail world, it’s said that the three most important decisions [you'll make] are location, location and location,” says Irene Dickey, a lecturer in management and marketing at the University of Dayton’s School of Business Administration in Dayton, Ohio. “Careful determination of new sites is critical for most retail and consumer service businesses.”

For example, look at neighborhood traffic generators, such as other retailers that draw people to the area, industrial or office parks, schools, colleges and hospital complexes. (Or lack thereof, as in the case of the Irvine restaurant delivery business.) Consider both highway and foot traffic if most of your customers will be coming in that way as opposed to, say, the Internet.

While you’re at it, look for competitors. “Quite simply, the best place to be is as close to your biggest competitor as you can be,” says Greg Kahn, founder and CEO of Kahn Research Group in Huntersville, N.C., and a behavioral research veteran who’s done location research for Arby’s, Buffets Inc., Home Depot, Subway and other major and minor players. “By being in close proximity to your competitors, you can benefit from their marketing efforts.”

5. Find your first customers

Your first customers are key–and not just because they’re turning on the revenue spigot. They also legitimize your idea, demonstrating that there actually is a market for your products and services.

They’re also a source of valuable feedback that will help improve your business so more customers keep coming in. Don’t overlook the opportunity to ask if you can turn some of the positive feedback into testimonials.

Where do you find your first customers? The answer varies somewhat based on your industry, but one common strategy is to leverage your personal and professional contacts–and their contacts. Those could include former employers, employees and customers, contacts within your civic activities, such as Rotary or Kiwanis, and tradespeople and professionals, anyone from your dentist to your plumber.

Consider sending each one a personal letter, then follow up with a phone call a week to 10 days later. In this letter, announce your new business and offer something, such as a free consultation or a special discount, or even a finder’s fee for any referrals they send your way.

April 12, 2011

“The Management Wisdom of Simon Cowell”

Filed under: Business, Inspirational, Motivational, Sucessful, Uncategorized — lamarwalter @ 7:26 pm

By: Carmine Gallo

Former American Idol host Simon Cowell surprised me the other day. He appeared with Piers Morgan on CNN to promote his new television show—The X-Factor—as well as talk about his decision to leave Idol, fame, money (having it, losing it, and regaining it), and other topics you’d expect to hear. Then came this exchange after Cowell talked about losing his father about twelve years ago, the “worst day” of Cowell’s life.

Morgan: What’s the best advice you got from your father?
Cowell: “He said to me—because he was successful, my dad, when he ran his company—he said, ‘everybody around you has an invisible sign on their head which says ‘make me feel important.’ What I understood from that is what you’ve got to recognize that everyone around you wants to be recognized, wants to be appreciated.”

And with that Simon Cowell just offered today’s managers the single best piece of advice they can get if they hope to attract, engage, and retain their top performers—a technique that is so easy (and free) to implement, I’m constantly shocked at how few managers use it on a daily basis: make your people feel important, recognized and appreciated.

“Just having a job isn’t enough.” The monthly job numbers are getting better— slightly. Confidence is rising—slightly. But eventually the turnaround will be in full force and employees will have far more options than they have today. We are already seeing signs that people are no longer satisfied with “just having a job.” One MetLife survey found that one in three currently employed professionals hope to find another job in the next twelve months. Morale is at an all-time low. As a leader what are you doing about it? Start by taking Cowell’s advice. Many employee surveys conclude that employees want more praise, recognition and appreciation. It’s a free incentive for Pete’s sake and your employees are clamoring for it!

My wife’s friend is the top salesperson for her company, but she’s seriously looking for another position. Why? It’s not due to poor compensation. She’s happy with what she makes. It’s not for lack of “perks” because she has earned two week-long trips to exotic locales for her and her husband this year alone. It’s not because of her work environment—she gets to work from home most of the week. And it’s not because of her travel schedule since she rarely travels out of the area for business. She says she’s looking because her boss has never praised her publicly nor shown any verbal appreciation for her achievements. Imagine that. This company is about to lose its best salesperson in a very challenging economic environment because its managers haven’t figured out that praise is the best incentive they could offer.

Simon Cowell may come off as abrasive and caustic on-air, but behind the scenes he’s a top-notch manager thanks to the lesson he learned from his father. Maybe we should all heed the lesson.

April 11, 2011

“How a Five Year-Old Startup Attracted GE’s Attention– Without Selling in the U.S.”

Filed under: Business, Inspirational, Motivational, Sucessful, Uncategorized — lamarwalter @ 9:44 pm

By: Helen Coster

Urban slums have unreliable electricity, if they receive any grid power at all. Most slum dwellers rely on diesel generators or an inverter—a battery that users charge on the grid. As Chelina Odbert and Benjamin Twigg reported from Nairobi, some entrepreneurs in urban slums have created a black market for electricity, re-routing power to “unconnected” parts of a city.

All of these options are flawed: the generator gives off noxious fumes; the inverter only allows users to charge one product at a time; and the black market is illegal.

In 2007 Stanford MBAs Sam Goldman and Ned Tozun figured out a safer, cleaner way to provide power to low-resource areas. They started D. Light, a company that makes portable, rechargeable, solar-powered lights. D. Light manufactures the lights in China and sells them in over 30 countries. It offers three models, which range in price from $10 to $40, depending on the model and the country where it’s sold. The most high-end product, called the S250, provides up to 12 hours of light per day, and includes a cell phone charger.

D. Light relies on a network of “master distributors” to penetrate remote rural areas and urban slums. In Africa, the gasoline retailer Total sells the S250 in its quick-marts, which are similar to general stores. In most cases, distributors have sales teams that are already on the ground selling soap and other household goods, and add D. Light lights to their offerings. The salespeople get paid on commission.

While D. Light focuses primarily on rural villages, chief executive Donn Tice sees potential in urban areas as well. Because developing countries often leapfrog technologies—like relying on mobile phones rather than build landlines in every community—Tice believes that governments are on the hunt for “renewable, affordable solutions.” “We know that governments aren’t going to invest in grid power in all of these areas,” he says.

The privately-held company, which has raised $12 million in funding, won’t disclose sales. Tice says that companies like General Electric (which today announced plans to build the largest solar power factory in the United States) have approached D. Light about strategic partnerships.

“What we know is that the vast majority of people in the developing world work in some kind of entrepreneurial, cottage industry,” says Tice. “Light allows them to extend their work day. They make more money. Their children have more time to study.”

April 7, 2011

“Do’s and Don’ts of Securing a Domain Name”

Filed under: Business, Inspirational, Motivational, Sucessful, Uncategorized — lamarwalter @ 9:39 pm

By: Jane Porter

Navigating the world of domain names can be a daunting task if you’re not up to speed on how to get one. With countless caveats and hosting companies out there, it’s easy to be overwhelmed or worse, make a mistake that could ultimately cripple your business.

Consider these do’s and don’ts from small-business owners and experts to help secure your company’s domain name.

1.) Do: Include a location or keywords in your domain name, if you can. If your business focuses on a geographic region, try to put the location into the name of your domain, says Jean Bedord, a Silicon Valley-based search consultant and author of the book I’ve Got a Domain Name–Now What??? When Mikalai Krivenko needed a domain for his painting business in Hoboken, N.J., in 2009, his son Yuriy, a Jersey City, N.J.-based search-optimization specialist, suggested he put “Hoboken” in the name. For $11, Krivenko bought hobokenpainter.com, which shows up at the top of keyword searches that include “Hoboken” and “painter.” Whether it’s location, or what your company does, Krivenko advises: “Put the most important keyword for your industry in the domain name.”

2.) Do: Register yourself as the owner of the domain name.
Some business owners make the mistake of not checking to ensure whoever registers their domain name does so under the business owner’s name. It’s very important to be sure you are the domain owner and administrative contact, says Bedord. “It’s just like a piece of property. If you don’t own the property, you can’t sell an existing business,” she says.

It’s an obvious, yet common, mistake made by business owners. Three years after Graham Hunt, 44, started his real estate firm Valencia Property in Spain in 2000, the two-person web design team he hired to build his site split and he had to choose between them. Hunt soon discovered the partner he didn’t choose had registered himself as the owner and administrative contact for the domain name, so Hunt didn’t own his own website. It took three years and he ended up paying the disgruntled partner nearly $6,000 in sales commission fees to get back ownership of the domain, which originally cost just $15.

3.) Do: Remember to renew your domain name registration.
When Nick Hoffmann, 32, missed the renewal of his networking company’s domain name inetguru.com in 2000, it was a crippling business blow. The name got bought by someone else and without email access through the site, Hoffmann lost contact with clients. Eventually, he folded the company. Now working as chief operating officer for an aftermarket marketplace for domains, Hoffmann suggests buying a registration for five or 10 years upfront, or setting up an annual auto-renew payment. Just make sure the credit card on file doesn’t expire, another common mistake that might lead to losing a domain name. “The whole aftermarket industry is based on names that drop off,” he says. “It happens every day.”

4.) Don’t: Use dashes, abbreviations or numbers in your domain name. Instead, come up with a catchy name that’s easy to remember and captures your business. Fan Bi, co-founder of Blank Label, a Boston-based online custom dress shirt company learned that lesson when settling on a domain in 2008. At the time, blanklabel.com was out of his price range at $15,000. Bi chose blank-label.com for a much cheaper $250. But as the business grew, he realized the hyphenated name was far from the best choice. “You get much more word-of-mouth if it’s a name you can easily say without having to spell out,” Bi says. Last year, after months of negotiation with the domain owner, he was able to purchase blanklabel.com for $6,000. Just three months after the change, website traffic shot up 25%.

5.) Don’t: Waste money on extensions other than .com.
When you register your domain name, you’ll be bombarded with offers to purchase other versions like .net and .co. For most small businesses, that’s not needed. Investing in other extensions becomes important when patenting something or protecting a trademark, says Bedord. If you think a competitor might want the .net version of your domain name, for example, consider taking it first. “The reality is you have to pay for every one of those,” Bedord says. “The value is really in the .com.”

6.) Don’t: Buy a domain without checking into its past.
Even available domains can be exposed to legal trouble if the name is too similar to another company’s trademark. Nearly a year after launching New York-based LEEDTeacher in 2009, Zachary Rose learned the domain LEEDTeacher.com infringed on the registered trademark of a massive nonprofit. Rose, now 29, received a cease-and-desist letter demanding he change the name of his green jobs training firm, and shut down the website. He ultimately paid $2,000 in lawyer fees, renamed the company Green Education Services and switched the domain to GreenEDU.com.

April 6, 2011

“2011 Ferrari California”

Filed under: Business, Inspirational, Motivational, Sucessful, Uncategorized — lamarwalter @ 7:56 pm

The Ferrari California is a convertible grand tourer with a retractable hard-top. It represents several firsts for Ferrari: first front engined Ferrari with a V8, first to feature a 7-speed dual clutch transmission, first with a folding metal roof, first with multi-link rear suspension, and the first with direct injection.

This Italian exotic is available as a 4-seat convertible with a power folding hard top. The standard 453-horsepower 4.3-liter V8 engine sends power through 7-speed dual clutch transmission with F1-style steering column-mounted shift paddles that allow for extremely quick gear changes. A six-speed manual transmission is available. Brembo brakes featuring carbon-ceramic material discs are standard. Optional magnetic fluid-filled shock absorbers react instantly to road conditions and driver inputs.

A switch on the steering wheel, called a manettino, integrates suspension, traction control, stability control and shifter systems and allows the driver to choose the optimum setting for current conditions. The standard CD/MP3/DVD stereo features a 30-gigabyte hard drive, navigaton system, and Bluetooth wireless connectivity. Options include carbon fiber interior trim, reverse camera, and front and rear parking sensors.

April 5, 2011

“Motivational Keynote Greg S. Reid”

Filed under: Business, Inspirational, Motivational, Sucessful, Uncategorized — lamarwalter @ 7:57 pm

It seems to be a great writer; we must begin our quest ~ with something to say- Greg S. Reid

In 2001, after a short speaking engagement at a local University, a student asked the fate-filled question that would literally transform Greg’s existence.

“When are you going to write a book?”

This lone query ignited a mission that would inspire Reid to not only transform his own life, but to inspire and motivate the lives of many across the globe.

Now published in Over 42 books, his teachings have been translated in multiple languages, with many becoming instant best-sellers.

From his initial title ‘The Millionaire Mentor’ that gave us the quote

“All I want in Life, is to Give My Life My All”

to ‘Positive Impact’ which shares a proven roadmap toward Success, Reid’s work has captured the readers imagination with his simple, easy to read formula that keeps the literary community chanting for more.

In his Award Winning project “Think and Grow Rich: Three Feet From Gold” (co-authored with Sharon Lechter) Greg carries the torch of Napoleon Hill’s historic messages as he guides the reader through the triumphs and pitfalls of creating any worthwhile endeavor, knowing in the end that we truly are – a mere:

“Three Feet From Gold continues my grandfather’s teachings in a remarkable manner”- Dr. James B. Hill

April 4, 2011

“How to Make $500,000 a Year Wearing T-Shirts”

Filed under: Business, Inspirational, Motivational, Sucessful, Uncategorized — lamarwalter @ 5:13 pm

By: Geoff Williams

Each year, hundreds of companies pay 28-year-old Jason Sadler to wear T-shirts with their logos — and then promote his fashion statement through Facebook, Twitter and other social media. Consider it the modern-day sandwich board.

Jason Sadler will earn more than $220,000 this year. Next year, he expects to bring in around half a million. All because the 28-year-old founder of IWearYourShirt.com wears T-shirts for a living.

At first glance, it sounds like a dream come true for any slacker who wants to become an overnight millionaire. Except that wearing T-shirts for money takes a lot more work than you might think.

Every day, Sadler wears a different T-shirt with a different company logo. Plenty of people happily purchase T-shirts emblazoned with a brand name, but in this case, companies actually pay Sadler to wear their brands. In turn, Sadler promotes the heck out of what he is wearing. At any given moment, you can find him on Twitter, Facebook, Flickr or YouTube, sharing his wardrobe with the world — and, in turn, providing viral marketing for his sponsors.

On Jan. 1, 2009, Sadler charged his first client, UStream.tv, $1 to wear a branded T-shirt. On Jan. 2, he charged the next company $2. On the 114th day of 2008, he charged a company $114 to wear their T-shirt, and so on, until Dec. 31, when he pocketed $365. At that point, he had accumulated $70,000.

As for how he finds his clients? “I’ve been incredibly fortunate to live off of word of mouth,” Sadler says. “Obviously, the first group of clients in 2009 took a leap of faith, but at $1, $2 and even $365, it wasn’t much of a gamble. We’ve continued to live off word of mouth and enjoy meeting new sponsors that find us on Twitter and in various press.”

Because the prices went up in 2010, he’s making more now, and he’ll charge $5 on Jan. 1, 2011, $10 on Jan. 2, $15 on Jan. 3, etc. Sadler needs to raise his prices because he isn’t the only one who will be sporting company T-shirts next year. He’s in the midst of hiring four people to wear T-shirts.

As you would expect, Sadler used social media to find his new team. Potential employees had to create a video resume, which people then voted for on YouTube.

Each employee will make $35,000 in 2011, with bonuses set up so they can reach $50,000. They’ll also receive a brand new computer, a digital video camera and free travel to Jacksonville, Fla., on Dec. 18, where they can meet their new boss and their fellow employees. They’ll be contracted to work for a year.

Sadler says he is glad to be able to create jobs in this economy, and if the company’s success continues, he will be able to offer more jobs in 2012. The first five months of 2011 are sold out, and as Sadler says, “If I can employ 50 people, I will. I just need to keep driving that value, and I’m very fortunate to be in the position I’m in when a lot of companies are cutting back on their advertising.”

That said, what Sadler does is simply a natural progression in advertising, according to Kevin Dugan, director of social marketing at Empower Media Marketing in Cincinnati. “It’s far from a new phenomenon,” says Dugan, who points out that we’ve seen some pretty nutty marketing stunts over the years, from CBS advertising their TV shows on eggs in 2006 to companies posting ads over the urinals in men’s bathrooms, starting back in the early 1990s.

In fact, what Sadler does — wearing a company logo and message — was pioneered in the 1800s, when people would walk up and down the sidewalks, wearing sandwich boards with messages.

But Dugan says he admires what Sadler is doing. “There’s an art between accepted and novel advertising and novel but acceptable advertising, and I think I Wear Your Shirt is practicing that art pretty well,” says Dugan, a 25-year industry veteran. “I always tell people that stunts, marketing stunts, are for Evel Knievel. You need strategy if your marketing is going to work.”

Sadler intends for it to work. “I’m trying to build something great here,” he says.

April 1, 2011

“Meet the 10-Year-Old CEO of a $500,000 Family Business”

Filed under: Business, Inspirational, Motivational, Sucessful, Uncategorized — lamarwalter @ 9:18 pm

By: Geoff Williams

It almost sounds like the makings of a TV show. With shades of Disney’s Hannah Montana or Nickelodeon’s True Jackson, Hannah Altman is a fifth-grader by day and a CEO by night.

The 10-year-old helps oversee Hannah’s Cool World, which has 12,000 registered customers across the globe, having shipped products to countries as far away as Italy, Israel, Norway, Spain, Australia and New Zealand. In 2009, the year it launched, the website sold more than 250,000 pencil toppers, referred to as squishies.

Hannah’s Cool World is part of West Bloomfield, Mich.-based IBeOn, the $500,000 company Hannah’s parents, Rick and Lauren, started in 2007. The name for their business’s website was CoolZips, something then-6-year-old Hannah came up with — the beginning of her professional life. CoolZips.com sells handmade decorative zipper pulls for duffel bags, jackets, backpacks, stuffed animals and the like.

Lauren had left her job as the executive director of the Michigan chapter of Camp Mak-A-Dream to be a stay-at-home mom, so she had time to work on CoolZips.com. Rick worked as a senior manager for a parking equipment company by day and on CoolZips.com at night. At home, Hannah was there to learn about profit margins and marketing strategies.

But that pattern changed in 2009, when the family went to a restaurant that had a vending machine with pencil toppers. Hannah was transfixed and asked her father for a quarter. Rick suggested it was a waste of money, but Hannah really wanted one, so he gave her a quarter. Best money he ever spent.

Hannah wanted to start a website where she could sell pencil toppers. Not wanting to quash their daughters’ entrepreneurial spirit, Rick and Lauren agreed. They developed a hastily made website named Hannah’s Cool World and purchased a few Google ads so customers could find it when they typed in “pencil toppers.” Then they went on a family vacation. When Rick checked on the site, he saw orders were coming in for the pencil toppers.

The next time they passed a vending machine, Rick dug out some quarters and said to Hannah, “See what interests you.”

The orders at CoolZips.com continued on a hot streak, and the pencil toppers and additional toys and gifts from Hannah’s Cool World were selling, inspiring Rick to make it his full-time business. In May 2010, Rick quit his full-time job to work with Lauren and Hannah.

“Having a business like this has given us a lot of freedom,” Rick says, though in many ways, he’s tethered to his office more than his previous one. “We work every day, all hours a day, but it’s something we truly enjoy. I always tell people that if you’re going to start a business, you have to find something you truly like doing. You don’t just pick out flashlights and sell them. You have to find something you love doing. If it’s golf, do golf. We genuinely have fun with this. When we get a new squishy or eraser, we love looking at it and playing with it and finding things that we think our customers will like, and I think that’s why we’ve been successful.”

Hannah is working hard, but she’s hardly missing out on a childhood. In fact, she estimates spending about five hours a week on the family business, working an hour a day after school. Hannah says her main duties are to look online to see if she can learn about any new, hot products she thinks would sell well on the website. She sometimes helps to fill orders or take the lead on a customer service issue.

In any case, it isn’t easy being a kid CEO straddling two different worlds. “I don’t really talk about it much at school,” Hannah says, but unlike Hannah Montana, she doesn’t hide her second identity either. “When they come over and hang out, they see the different toys everywhere and what we carry and think that’s really cool.”

And while it would undoubtedly be even cooler for Hannah to draw a six-figure salary as adult CEOs do, it hasn’t exactly worked out that way. “We consciously take money from her company to go toward her education and wedding and Bat Mitzvah and future expenses,” Lauren says. “We’ll give her money from the business for some big-ticket items, like her guitar, but we’re trying to put it in the bank for her, so she’ll have it later. That’s a tricky thing. When you’re 10 and you have your own company, and you’re making money, you want it.”

Meanwhile, when Rick and Lauren go to a toy trade show like the big ones in New York and Las Vegas, they don’t bring Hannah. They’d like to — but they simply aren’t allowed. “I’ve asked before, explaining Hannah’s role, but they’re adament,” Lauren says, “No kids, period. The way they see it, if they let one in, they’d have to let all of them in. They feel kids would be saying, ‘I want this, I want that,’ when they’re just trying to do business and negotiate.”

And so Lauren and Rick never make buying decisions at the shows — they bring brochures and catalogs back to the CEO of Hannah’s Cool World to get her input for what they should purchase. That’s something that a humbled Rick learned early on: Let a kid make the buying decision for the kid customers.

Says Rick, “About a year and a half ago, we were looking at these monster pals figurines, and I said, ‘I don’t like them.’ I thought they looked stupid and babyish, but Hannah loved them. So we ended up selling them.”

Based on Hannah’s tip, they’ve sold thousands. Kids say the darndest things.

“Maybach 57S 2011 Interior And On The Road Trailer “

Filed under: Business, Inspirational, Motivational, Sucessful, Uncategorized — lamarwalter @ 7:16 pm

In the tradition of “if you have ask the price you can’t afford one,” Maybach glides into the 2011 model year with the first major restyling inside and out since the marque’s introduction. There are three models. The 57 measures 5.7 meters long and the 62 taps out at 6.2 meters.

Add an S to the name, and instead of the 543-bhp 5.5-liter bi-turbo V-12 you have a 6.0-liter bi-turbo V-12, its horsepower upped to 620 for 2011. The Landaulet is the 62S that has a convertible top for passengers and a steel top for driver. Standard Maybachs have 19-in. wheels, Landaulets have 20s. Optional for 2011 is a 19-in. TV screen in the partition between driver and rear passengers.

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