Farewell for a few

Graduating in a few days, dealing with finals, and moving to Alaska means I won’t be able to blog again for a few weeks. I’ll try to come up with some new topics along the 3000 mile drive.
Here’s a map of the drive.

I will still try to update twitter, and I may change my brand when I get back. Stay tuned!

What Recovery?

Discovery Small Business Watch has been doing surveys of micro business owners for years, those are the businesses with less than 5 employees.

What their most recent survey has shown is that confidence in the economy has dropped from 90.2 to 86.5 from last month. Although we have all heard the economy has improved, many do not see it. Perhaps it has to do with commodities rising in price.

Actually the confidence indicators point to even worse statistics. I pulled these from here, on discovery’s website.

  • “54 percent of small business owners said the U.S. economy is getting worse, up from 41 percent in February and the highest since September 2010; 27 percent of small business owners said conditions are improving, down from 34 percent; and 15 percent said conditions are the same, down from 20 percent in February.
  • Small business owners’ outlook for their own businesses over the next six months also declined: 42 percent say conditions are getting worse, up from 40 percent in February; 30 percent say conditions are getting better, down from 33 percent; and 24 percent say conditions are the same, down from 25 percent.
  • 56 percent rate the current U.S. economy as poor, equal to February; 35 percent rate it fair, up from 32 percent; 6 percent rate it good, down from 7 percent; and 3 percent rate it excellent, unchanged from the prior month.
  • On the upside, fewer small business owners report temporary cash flow issues. Over the past 90 days, 52 percent of small business owners reported no temporary cash flow issues that affected their ability to pay bills on time, up from 46 percent in February; 43 percent of small business owners reported having cash flow issues, down from 50 percent.
  • 29 percent of small business owners plan to increase spending on business development in the next six month, up from 28 percent in February; 40 percent will decrease spending, down from 41 percent last month; and 27 percent say they will make no changes, down from 30 percent last month”

The number of business owners who rate the economy as good or excellent has also decreased.

The other numbers put out by discovery are very disturbing, also accessed from Discover Card Small Business Watch, find it here.

  • “77 percent of small business owners said their profitability was hurt by the economic climate of the past three years, and only 22 percent of that group has experienced a sustained recovery, while 57 percent have not, and 21 percent aren’t sure.
  • Among those who have not experienced a comeback for their businesses, 14 percent said they may never recover, 45 percent expect it to take more than a year, 16 percent say they will recover in six to 12 months, 10 percent predict three to six months and 7 percent are expecting a sustained recovery in the next three months. Only 1 percent said they are already experiencing recovery.
  • Two-thirds of small business owners, 66 percent, say it is very likely or somewhat likely that they will have to use personal assets in the next 12 months to stay in business, up from 61 percent who reported the same in October 2009.
  • The number of small business owners who extend credit to their customers has dropped: 27 percent said they extend credit, compared to 32 percent who extended credit in April 2008.
  • The news in March is slightly better for small business owners who extend credit: While 63 percent of small business owners now say customers have asked to delay a payment in the past three months, that number was up to 73 percent in April 2008.
  • Nearly a third of small business owners have contemplated going out of business sometime during the past two months.

Small Business Owners Feel Squeeze from Gas Prices

  • 76 percent of small business owners say rising gasoline prices are affecting the profitability of their businesses. Of those, 90 percent say prices are having either a somewhat negative or very negative impact, which is on par with their sentiments in April 2008, when government statistics show that the national average for gasoline hovered near $3.42 per gallon.”

So when will we see a recovery, and if the economy hasn’t actually started to recover yet then what is really going on? There seems to be a lot of confusion right now as to the value of the dollar and what will really happen when QE2 ends, and if QE3 ever happens.

Will the death of Osama Bin Laden really increase the confidence enough to turn the economy as some thought today? Doubtful, as metal prices started their rise back later in the day. I still think metals are a good investment at this point.

Image Credit : http://www.discovercard.com/business/watch/historical_graph.html
Image Credit : http://smallbiztrends.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/05/economy-improving.jpg

Show some American Pride in your Business

With the newly ignited American pride after Osama Bin Laden was killed yesterday the support for America is at a high not experienced in recent years. It’s time for businesses to fly the flag. It can help bring in more customers and help show support for the country.

A few rules to follow when flying the flag :

  • When the American Flag is flown with other flags such a state flag it should always be on top.
  • When raising flags the American Flag should always be first to rise and last to fall
  • When the U.S. flag is displayed from a staff projecting from a building, the union of the flag should be placed at the peak of the staff unless the flag is at half staff. When suspended from a rope extending from the building to a pole, the flag should be hoisted out, union first, from the building.
  • When flags of two or more nations are displayed, they are to be flown from separate staffs of the same height. The flags should be approximately equal size. International usage forbids the display of the flag of one nation above that of another in time of peace.
  • When the U.S. flag is displayed other than from a staff, it should be displayed flat, or so suspended that its folds fall free. When displayed over a street, place the union so it faces north or east, depending upon the direction of the street.
  • The U.S. flag should be at the center and at the highest point of the group when a number of flags of States or localities or pennants of societies are grouped and displayed from staffs.
  • The U.S. flag, when displayed with another flag against a wall from crossed staffs, should be on the U.S. flag’s own right, and its staff should be in front of the staff of the other flag.

For more information click this link

Now fly those flags. Show your spirit, and enjoy the benefits of supporting the country.

The Olympic Impact

Reno and Tahoe are in an intense competition with other locations to be the chosen host of the 2022 Winter Olympic Games. The citizens of Reno and Tahoe should be doing whatever they can to help make us a more viable location as well, for the benefits to the area is large.

It is widely thought that the buying of both Squaw Valley and Northstar at Tahoe this past winter is because of speculation from the Olympics coming. There is much debate over whether the Olympics actually bring in money in the long run. Although directly almost every Olympics has brought in more money than it cost to run, those direct costs do not usually count in federal dollars used to bring that city up to date.

Federally it seems the Olympics are a loss. In total according to about.com’s report, the last Olympics cost the government 1.2 billion dollars. However; locally the Olympics completely change the city which is hosting it. Not only do these changes help the area up to date technologically but also increase tourism for years to come. Just look at these staggering figures coming from Utah from the Olympics.

Utah’s economy is larger and stronger because of the Olympic Games.

  • Official state estimate of economic impact: $4.8 billion in sales, 35,000 job years of employment, $1.5 billion in earnings for Utah workers.
  • $100 million in Olympic profits were distributed within the community following the Games: $72 million endowment to maintain facilities, $10.2 million for Olympic Legacy Plazas, $11.5 millio
    Olympic Cauldron at Rice-Eccles Stadium
    Olympic Cauldron at Rice-Eccles Stadium

    n charitable donations, $7 million in USOC business credits.

  • 350 venture capitalists and 600 corporate guests visited Utah during the Games. Venture capital growth in Utah reached a five-year high in 2005, tapping $249 million.
  • The State of Utah hosted 8,000 local and out-of-state business executives during the Games. Some Utah companies became direct contractors for the Athens and Torino Games. Other companies have expanded or relocated in Utah for market reasons that were complimented by the hosting of the Games.
  • Utah’s ski and ski-related lodging industry have enjoyed record-setting years since the Games.

Marketing Value
The Olympics put Utah on the map in a powerful way.

  • 2.1 billion viewers in 160 countries and territories amassed 13.1 billion viewer hours of Olympic coverage.
  • 220 thousand people visited Utah during the Games.
  • In 2005, 40 million viewers in 52 countries viewed international TV coverage of events at Utah Olympic venues.
  • Estimated value of print media exposure value during the Games tallied $22.9 million. Coverage included national and syndicated stories, USA Today stories, Sport’s Illustrated features and thousands of stories in major media markets.
  • 2.2 million airline passengers viewed the 27-minute Bud Greenspan film called “Discover Utah.”
  • Follow-on Utah advertising reached 13.7 million people in targeted markets.
  • The marketing value continued with Salt Lake City’s participation in the World Pavilion Program in Torino, Italy.
  • Torch relay included 11,520 torchbearers and traveled in 46 states.

Utahn’s enjoy first class amenities and infrastructure improvements because of the Games.

  • Skating, hockey, soccer, and other activities at the Utah Olympic Oval (Kearns) and five ice sheets (Provo, Ogden, Logan, and two in Salt Lake City).
  • 2006 Utah Olympic Oval use: 20,000 public skating admissions, 80 hockey teams, 200 soccer teams, and 307 hours of figure skating.
  • Other venues include Soldier Hollow (Wasatch County), Utah Olympic Park and the Alf Engen Museum (Summit County), and Cauldron Park (University of Utah).
  • Housing for 3,500 students at the University of Utah’s Olympic Village.
  • Transportation improvements on Trappers Loop Road, I-80 Silver Creek and Kimball Junction, and Park City infrastructure.

Winter Sports
Utah now prospers as a winter sports capital.

  • Hosted or secured 17 World Cups, U.S. Championships, or Olympic trials since the Games.
  • 38 USA Olympic Team members trained in Utah, including 13 who are now Utah residents.
  • Selected to host the World All Arounds in Feb. 2007.
  • The Utah Sports Commission has been involved in over 150 youth and other sports events since the games, including the Moscow-Utah Youth Games.
  • In addition to winter sport equipment and apparel leaders Marker Ltd., Black Diamond Equipment Ltd., and Petzl America, Utah is now home to Rossignol, Scott, Goode Ski Technologies, and Descente North America, Inc.

Utah’s Olympic halo reached all corners of the globe.

  • Olympic Ski Jumps at Utah Olympic Park
    Olympic Ski Jumps at Utah Olympic Park

    President George W. Bush, eight cabinet members, and leaders from 77 other countries attended the Games.

  • Utah/Salt Lake City’s image and awareness changed dramatically after the Games.
  • Surveys in France, Germany, Italy, United Kingdom, and The Netherlands yielded these results:
    – One in five respondents had knowledge of Salt Lake City as the host city pre-Olymp ics; one in three knew after the
    – One in ten respondents had knowledge of Utah as the host state pre-Olympics; one in six knew after the Games.
    – Europeans images of Utah’s mountains and deserts increased dramatically as a result of the Olympics.
  • The Utah Governor’s Office led post-Olympic trade missions to five countries: Canada, China, Mexico, Greece, and Torino.

The unity, patriotism and passion of the Olympics touched every Utahn.

  • The human drama and satisfaction of sport – personal best, joy of effort, and fair competition – continue to inspire Utahns.
  • The Cultural Olympiad remains part of the community as symbolized by the Chihuly “Torch” at Abravanel Hall.
  • More than 100 thousand trees were planted in Utah as a living Olympic
  • legacy; 15 million trees were planted worldwide.
  • 138,000 school children attended the Olympics at no charge.
  • Every Utah high school received an Olympic torch.
  • Volunteerism remains alive and well in Utah.

From LifeInTheValley

Obviously the economic stimulus to the area would be vast. i80 would likely be expanded, housing prices would move up, and most importantly the association with the Reno name would be of a real “adventure place” as our slogan insinuates. We would no longer be so reliant on the ever so volatile casino industry as our tourism attraction and tax source. The benefits are almost indescribable to the area, therefore citizens should support the Olympics coming to Reno/Tahoe as much as possible.

Picture Credit

The Customer is Always Right

My Roommate is very into offroading. He has brought a k5 Blazer from the brink of death into a go anywhere machine on a very limited budget. He usually buys all parts he needs from a junkyard and modifies them, or buys new parts online.

However; when he is on the run and needs some spare parts or some parts for a quick fix he usually runs into the local auto parts shop which happens to be either Shucks or O’Reilley Auto Parts. He has had numerous bad experiences there in which he asks for a part, and even gives the person behind the counter a part number, and they still will not give it to him because that person believes it is not the right part. We understand that they may be thinking they are helping the customer, but when the customer knows the exact part he needs the ego of the clerk should not get in the way of delivering it.

Last week before a weekend trip he ran down to O’Reillys to get a spare U-joint. U-Joint sizes are constant, although one truck may have a different U-joint than the exact same year and model of a similar truck.  Here is an example of a size comparison of a 1310 to a 1350.

All stock front-driveline Chevy u-joint’s were 1310’s. He asked for a Blazer front driveline 1310 U-joint yet was confronted with 1330 and 1350s. When he explained the exact size (1310) the clerk was still unable to figure it out. The problem is the computer was giving the wrong U-joint for the application, and the clerk had no idea how to figure out the size of U-joints in the back, she only knew how to look up U-joints for applications. She began to get frustrated then snapped and told him that usually customers know exactly what they want when they come in. He also was frustrated and told her exactly what he wanted, a 1310 U-joint. He asked her how long she had been in the industry, which she replied that she had been in retail for 8 years.

He gave me the analogy that it was like she was working in a shoe store, but only knew that shoes had different brands and colors, and fit certain applications such as boys or girls, yet had no idea that there were different shoe sizes.

Its understandable that these retailers are generally referred to as discount parts stores, and therefore try to keep their costs low to pass low prices on to the customers. The quality of employees they hire sometimes is just horrendous, and their attitudes are despicable. In my roommates situation a different employee eventually came into the picture to help my roommate and eventually found the correct U-joint, but every time he goes into the store it seems it is the same story. These experiences accumulate, get spread by word of mouth, and eventually reduce the companies market share. These companies need to realize the customer is always right, and if the customer isn’t and had requested the wrong part then the company did the right thing.

Image #1 Credit

Image #2 Credit

Taking Green to Far

I recently saw someone repping these boards at Northstar. They are made out of Poly-Carbonate, or as they call it Baylor Makrolon, fancy!

Snowboards need to be able to bend thousands or even millions of times in their life without fatiguing. There is no one material in the world that has the toughness, high endurance limit, resiliency, and specific moduli that is needed in snowboarding and skiing. Which is why successful snowboard companies all make snowboards out of a composite of different materials.

These recyclable boards lack metal edges which would make them very scary in icy conditions. They are very bendable which could make them fun in the rare deep powder conditions, but could make them dangerous by mid-day when all the powder is gone.

They also market the snowboard as 100% recyclable, which is true poly-carbonate can be re-used. Yet is that worth paying the same amount as a real snowboard that performs in every situation? This is when green goes to far. Marketing can only go so far, if your product can not perform the duties for which it was created why try to sell it as one that can. They would be better off selling this as a kids learning board for $50 rather than $300, then when the kid has thrashed it and learned to snowboard it can easily be recycled and the parents aren’t out $300.

Image Credit

Why Small Businesses Should ipadvertise

Tablets represent a large market. Although they were indeed around before the ipad, Apple definitely make the tablet more popular by selling 15 million in 11 months.

Recently SevenSurvey did a survey about the industry here.

The survey had some great results which will help small businesses in deciding where to market their products. Below I listed three reasons why advertising through the ipad will work.

#1. 84% of iPad owners say they would be likely to download an app from one of their favourite brands

Keeping a customer is cheaper, and usually easier than gaining a new customer. Creating apps for your customers may be the easiest way to retain customers with tablets and smart phones.

#2 87% of owners use it every day of the week, 26% for half an hour to an hour per day, 32% for 1-2 hours per day, and 24% for more than 2 hours a day.

This means apps for your product may be reaching customers more through tablets than through other mediums.

#3 51% of those reading magazines on the ipad and through print prefer the ipad. 23% prefer print. 36% compared to 24% of people think ipad advertising actually works better.

This shows that advertising may be more useful through ipad online magazine’s than print magazines. Although participants gave weaker results on how well the advertising works, the most important number is how many people are actually reading. If there are more customers reading on tablets, and if the number is expected to increase it may be a great strategy to lock in some long term low priced advertising contracts before advertising rates raise in price.

Image Credit : http://www.gadg.com/2011/03/25/the-battle-of-tablets-is-on/