Profit Minded
  • Galloping from pop-up shop to thriving retail business

    Farmyard Darlings owners Kim Berry (left) and Carole Sinclair

    Until about three years ago, Carole Sinclair had a solid career as a Silicon Valley public relations executive. But at heart she has always been a country girl who’d rather be riding a horse than commuting on US 101 to a high-tech office. She was also a self-confessed hoarder of vintage Americana. In 15 years of collecting saddles, typewriters, linens, and other old treasures, she had filled a garage, never quite sure what she would do with it all.

    Then, at a formal party several years ago she met Kim Berry, a fellow farm gal disguised as a Nordstrom buyer. The only two women in the room wearing cowboy boots that night, they became instant best friends.

    The two decided to team up in an effort to give a new life to Sinclair’s garage full of collectibles. In 2010, they found a vacant cottage where they could host a pop-up vintage sale. The location, in Lafayette, Calif., was ideal: behind a charming nursery garden, adjacent to a 5-star restaurant, and a 15-minute drive from downtown San

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  • A way to make a business of teaching what you know

    Patricia Boudier teaches organic gardening at

    Have a skill that you can teach on camera? Justin Kitch has created a way for you to make a business out of sharing what you know—or to share what you know as a way of marketing your business.

    Kitch, who sold his paid web-hosting service, Homestead Technologies, to Intuit for $170 million six years ago, raised $7.5 million in venture capital to launch last month to “help people who have expertise to create intellectual property they can monetize.” A few hundred thousand visitors have checked it out, and tens of thousands have enrolled in the video lessons, he says.

    Judging from content already on the site, lessons can be in anything from advanced math to automotive repair, from ballroom dancing to beard trimming, and hundreds of other subjects.

    Sure, you can find many such experts on YouTube—cooking instructors, gardening gurus, and makeup application pros all share their knowledge there for free. But Kitch says YouTube doesn’t let learners interact with instructors, and it

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  • In 1997, Harvard Business School professor Clayton Christensen coined the term “Innovator’s Dilemma” to describe the situation in which a company becomes the victim of its own success and gets toppled by new technologies.

    The term gets bandied about quite a bit, but lately it has been applied to an unlikely target, a corporation that until recently has been seen as invincible, superhuman, and immune to the forces that disrupt ordinary organizations: Apple.

    Roger McNamee, co-founder of private equity firm Elevation Partners, tells Bloomberg TV: “Apple is caught in a classic innovator’s dilemma. They’re doing the same things that they were doing five years ago. The difference is that five years ago they were creating the smartphone market.”

    And there’s Olof Schybergson, CEO of a consultancy called Fjord, writing on GigaOm that, “As things unfold over the next few years, Apple will probably become a new textbook example of the Innovator’s Dilemma.”

    These comments are coming out in the wake of

    Read More »from Apple's iDilemma: Can Apple Escape the Whirlwind of Disruption?
  • Social Strategy

    Last week, Facebook made waves with its announcement that the network would roll out support for clickable hashtags. This is welcome news to many brands, especially those that have been successful with hashtag campaigns on Twitter, Instagram, and other social sites.

    Using hashtags on Facebook won’t just be a matter of copying your strategy from other networks. Marketers won’t be able to purchase hashtags for their advertising use, and the privacy limitations of status updates creates an unusual framework for companies to work within. We spoke with three experts for an inside look at how they plan to navigate this new tool.

    Bizzy Coy is the creative supervisor of content at Situation Interactive, an agency that represents live entertainment brands from Broadway shows to the Guggenheim museum. Syed Balkhi, president of holding company Awesome Motive, told us about his marketing plans for WPBeginner, an educational site about blogging platform WordPress. Casey Smith of Bibo International

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  • Are your meetings miserable? Tips from a global meeting guru

    As video conferencing technologies enable far-flung colleagues to join more business meetings, organizations can avoid spreading global meeting misery by following the advice of Krish Ramakrishnan, CEO of the cloud-based video collaboration service Blue Jeans Network. To benchmark meeting trends and technologies, Blue Jeans, which claims that its services save users 1 billion miles of travel and $600 million in travel-related costs in a year, surveyed more than 1 million Blue Jeans Network users in 177 countries.

    Here are some key modern meeting trends that the Blue Jeans research picked up on, followed by Ramakrishnan's advice for hosting an effective meeting.

    • An average business meeting lasts 45 minutes and has 4.3 participants
    • Women attend 11 percent more meetings than men
    • Fewer than half of meetings start on time
    • CEOs, CTOs, and founders are more likely to be late to meetings than their underlings
    • Midwest meetings are more likely to start on time than meetings on the East or West coast
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  • A look back at Father’s Day and its lessons for the entrepreneur

    Empower Kids

    As a father, once a year I get to relish in the accolades I receive from my children (and, sometimes my wife) on what an exceptional dad I am. I love it. I definitely eat it up. Who doesn’t bask in (at least for a day) the joy of being the beloved one? I even love the multi-colored, animal tie that doesn’t seem to match anything I own.

    The day can also make me nostalgic for the time gone by. As the saying goes, “with children, the days can proceed painfully slow, but the years fly by.” If you are paying attention, there is a wealth of knowledge we all gain upon indoctrinating ourselves into parenthood that we can apply to our business lives.

    There are the easy lessons:
    • time management is a necessity, not a class we were required to take.
    • patience truly is a virtue - how many different ways can I answer the question “why”?
    • sharing is highly recommended…for anything and everything.
    • instituting the golden rule really does solve most person-to-person conflicts. Who knew?

    There are also

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  • Billion Dollar BabyThere was a time, not so very long ago, when $1 billion was a lot of money. But apparently that is no longer the case in Silicon Valley, where these days not a week goes by without a rumor about yet another company raising money at or near a $1 billion valuation.

    Lately there’s been Snapchat, an app that lets you send photos that disappear in seconds, which TechCrunch reports has raised money at an $800 million valuation, two weeks after originally reporting that the company was being valued at $1 billion. Also rumored to be valued at $1 billion are Path, a social network, and, an online commerce site.

    This might not be so strange, except these companies (e.g. Snapchat, Path) have little in the way of revenue, and as for profits, well, you must be joking.

    If this seems a bit extreme to you, you’re not alone. As Quentin Hardy of the The New York Times recently reported, “The number of privately held Silicon Valley companies that are worth more than $1 billion shocks even the

    Read More »from Billion-Dollar Babies: Are All These Little Companies Really Worth $1 Billion?
  • There aren’t many people as qualified as AJ Ware is to teach entrepreneurship to convicts.

    After serving a four-year sentence for committing robbery with a dangerous weapon at age 25, Ware was on food stamps when he started a house painting company with $25. He grew it to 18 employees generating close to $3 million in annual revenues, and sold it. Now, at 43, he’s the owner-operator of a racetrack in North Carolina with “a nice home, a car, a wife, kids, the whole nine yards,” he says.

    For the past year, he’s also been Executive Director of Inmates to Entrepreneurs. The nonprofit organization was founded in 2008 as the community outreach arm of Raleigh, NC, financial information company Sageworks, and is now a separate organization that Sageworks employees continue to support with time and resources.

    With a mission to reduce recidivism and support small business in the region, Inmates to Entrepreneurs offers business seminars and one-to-one mentoring at state prisons. Ware says, the

    Read More »from From inmate to entrepreneur: How a successful ex-con is helping others start businesses
  • No website? Why you should go for a mobile app instead

    Is your small business among the many that still haven’t gotten around to establishing a website? Here’s advice you might not have heard before: forget about it. With consumers increasingly using mobile devices to find businesses and shop online, a mobile app could be a better way to bring in customers than a traditional website.

    Paul Choi, CEO of the design and development firm Worry Free Labs, which has created apps for well-known brands including Disney, says, “Everything is moving to mobile. The trends are enormous, especially for the 18-40 year old market.” Choi sees Mom & Pop shops using mobile apps to engage customers outside of purchasing goods. And smart retailers use apps to create loyalty programs that get customers in the door, but also let the business track users' behaviors, such as how often they’re purchasing which goods, he says.

    Starbucks’s app is one stellar example: “Their loyalty points program gives you a free cup of coffee on your birthday and lets customers store

    Read More »from No website? Why you should go for a mobile app instead
  • How a used car salesman closes deals with a mobile app

    Yossi Levi of Dani's Auto Sales

    Without his tech-savvy 20-year-old son's input, it's unlikely that used car salesman Dani Levi would be using a mobile app to move inventory. But that he is.

    Yossi Levi says he practically grew up at his dad's business, Dani's Auto Sales in Philadelphia. And today, in addition to studying finance and marketing at Temple University, he's in charge of "all the marketing and anything to do with advertising" for the family business.

    The younger Levi says the idea for creating a car sales app came to him when he stumbled across a Facebook ad for Conduit, a company that offers DIY tools to enable individuals and businesses to create their own apps and mobile websites. "I always look for new and fresh opportunities, and this was something no other dealers in the area had," Levi says.

    Using the Conduit tools, he built a mobile app that customers can install on their iPhones and Androids. It offers the dealership's entire current inventory, coupons and discounts, a credit application function,

    Read More »from How a used car salesman closes deals with a mobile app


(444 Stories)


Profit Minded is the Yahoo! Small Business Advisor blog that looks at ideas, trends, commerce, and noteworthy developments that can help small business owners develop and grow their organizations.

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Owen Linderholm

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