Apr29
Quilting and Quilt Patterns Built Threaded Pear Studio Built from the Ground Up

A couple of years ago, Gina Halladay and Stephanie Goudzwaard both worked at their local quilt shop, helping out with customers, making sales, learning the quilting industry, when they realized that an opportunity existed to take their quilting skills, knowledge, and passion beyond just working at the quilt shop. They saw a demand in the quilting market for custom quilt designs & patterns and for help building quilts using a long-arm quilting machine. So, they found a store location in Brea, California, invested their money to buyThreaded%20Pear%20logo.jpg a Gammill Statler stitcher machine, opened their doors, and thus the Threaded Pear Studio was born in Feb 2006.

Over the last 2 years, the “threaded pair” of Gina and Stephanie have focused on building their business (and juggling that with raising 6 kids between them). They aggressively attended and exhibited at all the major quilting tradeshows in the western US. They created a website with online store. They held promotions and extensively networked within the national and local quilting market. They taught quilting classes, designed their own quilting patterns, and built literally hundreds of quilts for customers. Their hard work has paid off—the business has expanded to become very successful, requiring 2 moves to new locations; Threaded Pear has has now settled in Yorba Linda, CA.

More recently, Threaded Pair has focused on creating original custom quilting patterns. It offers "unique and stunning" quilt patterns. Its first quilt pattern series includes 31 patterns under the name "Afternoon Delights”  - quilts you can complete in an afternoon or two. It also added a new series called “Comfort Quilts” this year and will also introduce a series of fashionable aprons next month at Quilt Festival. These quilt pattern series have been very popular and are distributed nationwide to quilt stores.

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Jan21
Purple Cows and Yellow Bananas

Just a banana? 

It's really just the Purple Cow influence manifested in a flower shop in Atlanta, isn't it Seth?

But that's the point.  Sometimes it just takes...

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Getting Good Employees to Become GREAT Employees

I highly recommend Michael Masterson's new business book, "Ready, Fire, Aim".  I'm about halfway through, and can already identify many great pieces of advice that I can apply to my business. 

Recently, in his daily newsletter from Early to Rise, he provided a segment from his new book that talks about the "superstars" that work for you, and how to get them to have the most impact in the growth of your business:

"Your goal should be to have only two kinds of employees: stars and superstars. Stars are workers who show up on time, ready to get going and enthusiastically put in a full day of work for you, always putting your customers' interests first. Superstars have all the good qualities of stars, but they also possess the rare ability to create corporate growth. 

Everyone who is answering your phones, configuring your data, making your products, handling customer problems, and processing and fulfilling orders should be a star employee. And everyone who is managing all those stars should be a star, too. 

The growth side of your business should be manned by superstars, for only superstars are capable of creating and marketing innovative ideas. You also need superstars to create and manage your profits. 

You won't find many stars and superstars in the job market. That's because they are already working happily for other people. You might be able to poach a few, but for the most part you will have to create your own. The way to create stars and superstars is by hiring their untrained counterparts: very good and great people. 

Very good people turn into stars, and great people turn into superstars, as long as you provide them with the training and mentoring they deserve."

Speaking from experience, superstars can make all the difference in how a small business grows and prospers.  This is great advice, and like I said earlier his book is a worthwhile read for business owners.

business superstar

Jan18
The Incandescent Light Bulb Black Market

Energy Star Pledge 

It's going to be booming if the controversial CFC light bulbs take over like some hope they do.

I like incandescent light bulbs better, and I'll pay extra to get them (if it ever comes to that...actually, the new CFC's are much more expensive to buy now but do show savings over the long term with use). 

I think I wouldn't be alone

Who knows...banning the incasdescent light bulb might just spawn a huge new business sector.

Jan16
Entrepreneurship Exploding in Ireland

It's a boom, according to a recent New York Times article.

They key to this rise in new business creation?  The government removing roadblocks:

The change began when Ireland entered the European Union in 1973. IrelandIn subsequent years, the government rewrote its tax policies to attract foreign investment by American corporations, made all education free through the university level and changed tax rates and used direct equity investment to encourage Irish people to set up their own businesses.

“The change came in the 1990s,” said James Murphy, founder and managing director of Lifes2Good, a marketer of drugstore products for muscle aches, hair loss and other maladies. “Taxes and interest rates came down, and all of a sudden we believed in ourselves.”

I added the bold to that sentence, just in case any of the leading Presidential candidates stumble upon my blog.

It's exciting to see a new business boom taking off in a most unlikely place, and to read about the enthusiasm they have for their new opportunities.

Does More Freedom Really Equal Better Results for Small Business?

Author and blogger Polly Labarre thinks so.   Polly Labarre

And she's got the stats and the studies that prove her point.

Here's the best part of her recent post about the new emerging business climate among entrepreneurs and existing businesses:

"The really interesting shift isn’t from one profession to the next, but from one way of thinking about the arc of a career and working life in general to the next. It goes something like this:

Old version: work hard (for a very long time), achieve success, earn freedom (to retire and do all the things you missed out on while you were working)

New version: find work that affords you freedom = success

I would argue that the organizations and leaders that find a way to build freedom (freedom from the time clock, freedom from the cube, freedom from the org chart, freedom to create) into work will be the winners in the future. Freedom is a bigger game than power. Power is about what you can control; freedom is about what you can unleash. And, increasingly, freedom isn’t something you pay your dues to earn so much as a basic human right of all working adults. Sounds pretty obvious, but most organizations today would have to go to drastic extremes to make that a reality. And some are."

Thanks to Seth Godin for pointing us to this thought-provoking treatice on how the workplace is changing, and what it means for today's entrepreneur.

Jan14
Goal Three...

...buy some doors that are mechanically correct and stay closed.  doors that won't close

I think the morale to Seth's story about his visit to an Apple store is how often business goes above and beyond what they should to work around an annonying problem (like the front doors not shutting) and just get the dang things fixed.

They are doors, for goodness sake...we're not talking about re-attaching someone's arm.

What problems is your business ignoring or working around that could be taken care of with 30 minutes of dedicated attention and locating a repair guy in the Yellow Pages?

Lessons for Your Small Business from "American Idol"

Here's a problem that the executives at "American Idol" are dealing with as they head into the new season of the show, which premiers on Tuesday, January 15th, 2008, as reported in today's edition of Variety:

"The show has got to look better. It's got to be more fun as a show," he says. "It absolutely comes down to the content of what we provide the viewers."

Exec producer Nigel Lythgoe concedes that mistakes were made last year. For starters, Lythgoe says the show spent too much time on big-name guest mentors and performers, at the expense of investing viewers in who's who (particularly early in the show's competish).

"We need to put our hand up and take the blame," he says. "We missed out on telling the best stories. If (contestants) were uninteresting, it's because we made them uninteresting."

As a result, "Idol" is looking to shake things up this year by spending more time on those contestant backstories.

"I want to give up that time and focus on the kids," Lythgoe says. "It's the emotional hooks that sell us, and get us watching every week. I don't think last year we were necessarily an appointment to view. There wasn't a 'I want to watch Bo Bice win' or 'I want to see Justin Guarini get kicked off' feeling to the show."

Already, the marketing of "Idol" has reflected that change, Liguori says.

"We've had our promos talk a little bit more about 'I'm from Nebraska, I'm a cotton candy maker,' and 'I'm from Oklahoma, I'm a cowboy,' " he says. "We're basically trying to set it up that this is a show about people with stories. ... It's about people who think they're good (singers) and (are) not, and people who think they're good and are great."

The bottom line for small business owners like you?  Keep focused on what your customers want, and what they like, from your business.  If you see a drop off in sales, you want to immediately look at what went wrong and what you need to do to change.

Big-time TV shows have to do it, and so do you.  Or else it'll be "thumbs down" on your entrepreneurial venture...

Simon Cowell

Jan12
The Benefit of Running Your Own Business

Yes, it's a struggle.  There are more headaches, and more hassles, than the average 9 to 5'er has to deal with.

But there is a payoff.

I set my own schedule.  I decide when to work, and when to call it a day.

That means I get to take my two daughters to school every morning.  I think I'll cherish those ten minutes every day when I'm old more than matching 401(k) contributions.

I don't have to go to mandatory management meetings any more.  You know the meetings I'm talking about...a meeting just for the sake of having a meeting, where you sit through six hours of b.s. and come away with 7 minutes worth of useful information.Dishwasher exploration

One day this week, our 1 year old son decided to explore the dishwasher.  And I was here to see it, and chronicle it.  What kind of value do you place on something like that?  It's priceless.  Not the sappy, worn-out use of the phrase "priceless" that MasterCard has made famous.  I mean really, really priceless.

I'm coaching my daughter's youth basketball team.  I know that means the world to her, which makes it mean the world to me.

I come home for lunch with my wife most days around noon, since my office is about a three minute drive from my front door.  That beats any fancy and important (and boring) lunch meeting I ever had at my old corporate job.

The things I listed just now, and countless other moments in time, are what I consider to be the real fringe benefits of being my own boss.  They are more important than anything a big company could offer, and I doubt that I could ever leave all of this behind to go back to work for someone else.

Thinking about leaving the safety net of your current employer and starting your own business? 

Do it.  It's an incredible experience.

Jan11
"Pranks" That Went Over the Top

Seth Godin is too nice in his comments today.

Let me go a step further: The company that pulled these pranks at the mega-huge CES in Las Vegas should be sued.  By the show, and by the companies that were effected.

It was mean, disruptive, and selfish.Gizmodo

Trade shows are big business for companies both large and small.  The people at Gizmodo owe a lot of people apologies (now, before they're apologizing with their checkbooks in front of a judge).

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