Friday, December 20, 2013

Last Lecture

My journey this semester has been exceptional.  I registered for this class with mixed feelings.  Part of me just wanted to get it over with, part of me wanted to prove that I could do it and the rest of me wanted to run away and just consider alternate courses that would count towards my degree.  I had no idea what the $100 challenge was, but I knew it had something to do with starting a business.

Anxiety built as the weeks passed that led to the beginning of the fall semester.  I dove into the curriculum with trepidation.  As the course progressed, one step at a time I was tackling all the challenges before me, even the $100 small business challenge.  There is now a sense of relief that this particular project is completed, but more elation in realizing how much I have learned this semester.

At the close of the semester, there are several trends that stand out from this semester.  I find that they are things that apply in so many aspects of life.

  • The only business worth starting is a business that can thrive.
  • Research and planning are required, not optional.
  • Build a strong network of individuals that can challenge you, support you, mentor you, work with you and dream with you.
  • Meet challenges head-on and learn to recognize quickly which challenges are worth surmounting and which challenges are queues to move on.
  • Do what you know and love what you do.
  • Find a greater cause to work for than an inflated paycheck.

Somehow, these high-points only seem to scratch the surface of lessons I learned this semester, but they pinpoint the principles that have given me a fresh outlook.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Failing Forward

$100 Challenge Update:

The $100 Challenge project has been wrapped up.  This week I completed my presentation and shared it on a discussion board with my fellow class members.

Weekly Highlights:

This week was filled with discussion boards.  There was one discussion board dedicated to the study of Steve Jobs and another discussion board for an entrepreneur of our choice.   I learned quite a bit about Steve Jobs.  Some of the highlights of the Steve Jobs materials studied are:
·         Move past set-backs swiftly and recognize their future value (Jobs calls this connecting the dots).
·         Do what you love doing, after finding your passion.
·         Know when to say "No."
·         Surround yourself with a great team. Hire people that could replace you, not just stay your subordinate.
·         Learn to be a great communicator.
·         This might be my favorite, "Changing your mind is a sign of intelligence."
·         Customers don't know what they want next.  Customers may be able to give valuable feedback about service and current products, but they generally won't be the source of new ideas.

The entrepreneurs I selected for the “Trail and Error” discussion board was the Wright brothers, Orville and Wilbur.  The highlights I gleaned from study of the Wright brother’s story are:
·         Do your research.  The Wright brothers were very hard working and very inquisitive.
·         Little successes can keep you going, but learn when to recognize the ideal time to “go public” with new ventures.
·         Progress only as fast as it is feasible.  Take one step a time and don’t try to skip forward, risking incomplete execution of a seemly less significant step in the process.

Most of my research of the Wright brothers was based on an article found on 

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Family Businesses & Buyouts

$100 Challenge Update

This project is complete.  I have begun working on my presentation for next week.

Weekly Readings & Studies

Case Studies:  I reviewed a case study of the DAG group and the Rogers Family real estate investment business.

Discussion Boards:  I researched businesses that are for sell in the area that I live.  I found a tutoring franchise that looked interesting.  My husband and I have talked about owning a business before.  The reality of this would most likely take a lot of savings on our part.  There was another discussion board about being a consultant for a family business needing to identify a successor.  This case study made me think of my grandfather who owned a ranch.  It’s not a portable business so his options were limited.  A succession plan was very important to keep his business going.

Acton Hero: Erick Slabaugh

This is such a poignant hero to study during this week while our studies are focused on family businesses. Slabaugh brought Absco to the number one slot in their field. Listening to his story solidified what I have thought about some of the difficulties of being a business owner.  Peers might look at you differently because you may not have everything they do and you have to live a different lifestyle, but the quality of life later on will be flipped.  Then people saw you were "lucky," not realizing all the work it took to get you to that point. Slabaugh came back to his dad's business when things seemed bleak.  He helped turn things around, bought all the equity in the company and built the business into something phenomenal.

My favorite quote from Slabaugh during the interview was, "Entrepreneurship is a wonderful way to go. If you choose to, it can be an adventure, but it also comes with a responsibility."  This is such a great quote because it can apply to all entrepreneurs. 

Saturday, November 30, 2013

A Time for Being Thankful

This week of Thanksgiving, I am grateful for the chance to attend a BYU school.  Even though the semester isn't what I expected, I am grateful for the things I have learned.

$100 Challenge Update

So this was the last week to produce and sell for my $100 Challenge.  I have to say that at the beginning of the semester I felt excited about the entrepreneurial prospects of starting a business.  At this point, in a way, I feel like I have fallen flat on my face.  I suppose if I have learned one thing from the entrepreneurs I have encountered in my life is that I should be prepared to fail, but then get right back up, dust myself off and get right back to work.  That is the lesson I have learned from the $100 Challenge, that I must take what I have experience and plan better to avoid failing.

Weekly Lesson Highlights

The case study this week focused on IceDelights.  I tried to find a record of this company online and there was no footprint on the internet.  I can only assume that this venture was not successful in the long run.  What I learned from this case study is that no aspect of starting a business can be left to someone else.  As a business owner, you have to be ready to have your finger in every pie as a business gets off the ground.  Failing to focus on just one aspect can be detrimental.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Crunch Time.......

….an all too familiar moment for me.  You’d think I would have learned my lesson by now.  I’m still looking to make my first sell of my Crane Earrings on my shop.  If you stumble onto my blog, please check out my shop. 

This week, I've lower the price to $5.00 for each pair of earrings in an attempt to bring in some sales.  The costs for my supplies is relatively inexpensive and I will not be operating at a loss to sell at this price.  I’m not comparing myself to Roxanne Quimby, but something she said stood out to me, that as long as you can sell something for more than it cost to make it, you can keep a business going. Of course, that’s a very simplistic way of looking at a business plan, but in the end that really does matter.

Highlights from this week’s studies

One of the Acton hero’s we studied this week really made an impression on me, Catherine Rohr.  Her story of setting up the Prison Entrepreneurship Program was very inspiring.  I was deeply moved by her dedication to the program and the sacrifices she made in her life in order to get this program off the ground and running. I can’t imagine how fulfilling it would be to see these individuals find hope in their lives and find a way to create a business, especially when it seems like the world is against them.

The Harvard Manage Mentor topic was Process Improvement.  This was a little trip down memory lane.  I can truly see the value in the experience I went through as a manager when the office I was working at converted to Six Sigma processes.  Albert Einstein said, “Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”  This is the simplest way I can think of to define the importance of process improvement.  The world will continue to change around us, and in fact, not changing in business can not only yield no change, but it can decrease outcomes.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Ever start to feel defeated?

The $100 Challenge Update

I feel like I have hit a hurdle with my product.  I have gotten listings posted, shared with my social networking group and still have not sold one product.  In the coming week, I plan to focus on marketing. I am going to join groups that make similar products on and read material available about boosting page visits and the potential for more sales.  The only thing I can say is going well is the final product.

I plan on adding a button here too, but for now here is my website. Even though I have not made a sell yet, I have been thrilled to see the views of my page.  Now to focus on getting more views and learning how to market my product differently. I don’t have much time left to meet the goals of this project, but I have enjoyed the experience and will continue it after this class is over.

Reading and Discussion Board highlights.

The highlighted topic this week was hiring.  The importance of getting the right people in the right role is crucial to the success of your business.  I enjoyed the topic this week as this was one of the things I enjoyed the most about being a manager.  During the hiring process I was pretty meticulous because I want to hire someone that would be a good fit in the company’s culture. Based on the things I read this week, I learned that will be even more cautious if I am a hiring manager again.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

What a week!

Do you ever have a week where you feel like you did nothing, but you know you worked your tail-end off?  Well, that was how I felt this week.  For the $100 challenge I was able to produce a final product that I thought was worthy of posting pictures of.  When I was thinking about creating a listing without a quality photo of the product, I knew I would be sunk.  I created ten products.  I found out that glossing the paper before folding is much more time consuming and creates a sub-par product.  Now I gloss the paper before folding the origami crane.  I still feel unsuccessful in regards to sales, but feel like my planning will pay off.  I was able to get a listing posted on Etsy and setup a Paypal account.

The lesson material this week was management and leadership.  It’s the kind of material I wish I had read before my first real job.  There was so much to learn this week, but here is a brief highlight of a couple of the readings:

  • Kim B. Clark-Leadership with a Small “L” helped me understand the value of leading by example, leading with vision and leading with love.  Being a leader should not be an opportunity to boast about how great you are. On the contrary, effective leaders often find ways to blend in and lead through service. This was
  • Spencer W. Kimball-Jesus: The Perfect Leader was an excellent reminder that Christ gave us the perfect example of how to lead through love.  Through reading this and the discussion board this week, I realized how important humility is.

Bottom line from this week: I was reminded of how important service is in a leadership role.  Service in church callings, in the workplace and in the home will have an impact on the degree of leading that can be accomplished.  The best measurement of a leader is not in that individual, but in the people that follow.