Entrepreneurship for Kiddies

My home office, which was once filled with sports memorabilia and inspirational photos, has slowly evolved into a combo business place and play room. It’s as though someone sprinkled preschool seeds and the native plants have been choked out. Walls are now adorned with paintings from school and shelves have been overrun by toys and books. Is my office also her play space, or is her play space also my office?

Well, today it served as office for both of us. At 4 and a half years old, Lydia has little knowledge of the concepts of working or money, and I don’t expect her to. But now we have taken our first step in what will be years of tiny lessons. Today, from humble beginnings, in the back corner of my office, Lydia’s Lemonade and Cookie stand was born.

Excitement was at its peak as we prepared our food, drink and signage. As we finally opened for business, she was glowing with pride.

Then the experiential lessons of business began to materialize.

The economic outlook of the market was that it would be challenging. The good news was that she has no competition, but the bad news was that I was the only customer.

Her service skills are fantastic. No sooner was my cup empty than it was being filled again. I didn’t want to tell her that I get horrible indigestion from acidic drinks, so after a half-carafe of liquid fire juice, I was scrambling for Rolaids.

Her inventory management, on the other hand, needs some refining. She was consuming her cookie stock at an alarming rate.

Moreover, her first experience with currency exchange didn’t fare well, as she reversed the traditional model: She was paying me to drink her lemonade and to eat her cookies. I felt a bit cheap taking the money from her, but hey, experience is the best teacher.

The rigors of work finally wore Lydia down and she moved on to playing with her doctor kit. That was a shame. If she had done more market research, she would have realized that in ten minutes Mom would walk in the door, doubling her consumer pool.

Surprisingly enough (or maybe not), throughout the day Lydia displayed the behaviors that many adult business owners exhibit.

They get excited about something new but don’t really gauge the need. They squander their own stock. They pay customers to take their product or service by underestimating the true costs and not pricing accordingly. Finally, once the ordeals of day-to-day business set in, they slow down and give up — sometimes right before their market finally matures.

One of the big draws for me in running my own business is that it’s something that I may be able to hand down to Lydia someday, if she wants it. Until then, a few lessons will also need to be handed down to get her to the point where she knows what to do.

For now, I’m hoping Lydia’s new business will be open again tomorrow. I just ordered a pound of Rolaids and I’m ready to go.

What were they thinking?!

What a simple joy it is to listen to Lydia independently play. She has reached a stage where her imagination and speech have blended and I get a front-row seat to reenactments of all of her experiences.

Lydia loves to play “House.” She carries her babies around with her, pretending to feed them. At times if I am not paying attention she may even try to give them a bath. I have to keep a keen eye, though. To a little girl, a toilet bowl looks way too similar to a bath tub.

The interesting thing is that without any prompting from me, air max 90 femmes the toys, games and imaginative play she uses are a display of instinctive nurturing and child-rearing skills. It’s as though she is pre-programed to care for little ones.

As a boy I didn’t play any of the same types of games. Pushing cars around in a sand box and building Lincoln Log houses was my routine.

When we first decided to have a child, we didn’t plan on having me home to raise her. I thought I would be the main breadwinner, but the economy and my wife’s work success changed that.

So I found myself — with almost no life experience — being handed a baby to care for. I would have been less nervous if they had handed me an un-pinned grenade.

To make matters harder, there seemed to be no single way to parent. Rather, there were lots of theories. And nobody told me about the weeks when she would be teething. (I like to refer to those as “hell weeks.”) I had to learn to be a caregiver after a lifetime of playing Legos, sports and working in the professional world. It was a big change and it took a lot of work to get myself caught up.

Then one day my biggest fear became real. I was alone with Lydia and she started to choke.

Without a thought I grabbed her and I perfectly followed, step-by-step, the recommended procedure to clear her throat. Within seconds she was back to normal. When I had a moment to think, roshe run nm br I realized that when I saw my baby in trouble, something inside of me took over. That natural child-rearing was in me after all.

In the end, everything really can work out fine, even though we men like to see things in black and white before taking action. Sometimes, in business as well as parenting, you simply have to have faith that things will work even when you don’t have all the information to prove it.

Strategic Partnerships 1

There is more than one way to skin a cat when it comes to building your business. I block off a section of time each quarter to think about and work on strategic partnerships.

Strategic partnerships come in all shapes and sizes. In essence it’s an agreement between two or more companies to work together in some way that results in increased revenue for all with limited monetary expenditure.

When I was starting my current business free run 3.0 v3 femmes and didn’t have a lot of capital, I approached companies that specialized in the services I needed and offered a service trade: They provided their expertise for free in exchange for my company providing our expertise for free.

When I say free I mean that neither company had to outlay the usually expected fee. Neither of us received cash for our transaction, and each company covered their own cost of getting the work done.

One of the partnerships we established was with a web development and marketing company. We matched apples to apples between our service and theirs. They wanted to become a vendor to the Federal Government and we had the expertise to get them set up. We wanted a fully optimized website and one year of technical support. Each side had to bear only the cost of in-house labor. For my company it amounted to about 15 percent of what we would have had to pay if we had purchased the website service on the commercial market. Both sides made additional sales that would never have been realized, all without a big layout of money.

I read an interesting article some time ago about two fathers who worked and cared for their children from home. They created a type of strategic partnership by trading off days: One of the fathers would watch both kids while the other focused on working. The children’s days were enhanced (they developed a stronger friendship and had nike lebron 11 undivided guardianship) and the fathers had more unfractured time to focus on work.

Strategic partnerships are not easy to put together. They require a very well-thought out and scripted agreement. But if approached properly, they can yield big results with limited investment.

Dirty Laundry

We can’t create extra time. We can, however eliminate unnecessary lost time.

I define “lost time” as time spent doing something that could be done faster by changing the process. Lost time cannot be recovered, but it can be prevented. When I save time, I can use it to catch up on work or to spend more time doing things I enjoy.

The key is to project the time savings over the course of a year — that’s where the real value of enacting this philosophy becomes apparent.

For example, if I can save two hours per week (while getting the same result), that totals 104 saved hours per year. That’s over two and a half working weeks (at 40 hours per week) per year free run 3.0 v5 femmes of saved time. That’s a lot of hours that I can use for working on my business or taking off special days to spend with my daughter or wife. If I can save four hours per week, I earn over a month of extra time per year.

Consider something as simple as laundry. There’s not much about washing clothes that I can control. The washing machine takes the time it needs, as does the drier; and loading and unloading either doesn’t present much opportunity for saving significant time. However, there is one big part of doing the laundry that I can control: the time spent separating clothes.

In the past we spent about one hour per week doing nothing but sorting whites, darks, baby clothes, linens, etc. Today we save that time because we made one small and simple change.

I still take off my clothes when they are dirty and throw them directly into the laundry basket. The difference now is that we have four baskets rather than one: One for each person and a fourth for towels. (Actually, some of them are net bags since those are easier to carry together.)

The result is that I lose no time throwing powerlins ii femmes clothes into separate baskets, but I gain all of the time that I would have spent separating them later. This one simple step saves an hour per week, or 1.25 working weeks per year.

I think about this concept with everything I do. Any time I save betters both my business and my quality of life.

A Winning Strategy

Running a business can be very stressful and most owners will tell you there never seems to be enough time to get everything done. Most stay-at-home parents say the same thing. I am just crazy enough to try to take on both at the same time. However, as the owner of the business I have the ability to reduce that stress by making changes on the fly.

One of the benefits of running my own business is the ability to set and change the company direction. I don’t have to bounce ideas off of a boss to try to get permission to follow a new path. I have full free run 6 v2 femmes control to temporarily hold off new work so my plate is not too full or to make changes that bring in revenue faster. I build the business offering and the workload to benefit my personal and professional life.

As an entrepreneur my focus is on finding new opportunities where I can provide a service (or sell a product) for a profit to a person or company that needs it. But not all opportunities are created equal, and not even all opportunities that are good for me are good for business overall.

The key is that I look for a Win/Win transaction between my company and the buyer. If it’s not a win for both sides then I let the opportunity go. There are just too many potential problems that can arise from breaking this rule.

A Win/Lose looks good on the outside. My company would get the profit it expected but if the customer comes out not getting what they expected, that can have bad long-term results.

For instance, customer referrals are a big part of any business. Losing that long-term opportunity for a short-term gain is not a healthy business strategy. The immediate gain of making money is trumped later by having to spend extra time and cash to rebuild reputation. Moreover, we would have to spend additional money to generate the same amount of prospects as we would have received from referrals if the deal had been more equitable.

A Lose/Win is a desperate business move that I look to avoid. I often see small businesses or new entrepreneurs make this mistake because they feel that a less-than-ideal opportunity is better than no roshe run suede femmes opportunity at all. However, that’s simply not true.

If the company loses and the customer wins, that usually means you did the work for no profit or a loss. Additionally, even if the happy customer generates referrals, they will usually be to others who expect the same Lose/Win deal. While a practical thinker would say this type of thing should never happen, it’s actually one of the most common business problems I run across when talking to others.

Winning is always better when it’s a shared result. When both parties benefit, everyone feels good and everyone’s business grows.

Shopping Sucks

We all need food and supplies to survive. At its essence, though, shopping sucks up time and money, the two biggest elements of my life that I am trying to protect. Not to mention that shopping ranks right down there with going to the dentist on my list of fun things to do.

Nevertheless, I can’t ignore the fact that food and household goods represent 20-25 percent of our monthly spending. Controlling that outlay is a must. We need to save as much money as possible to save for future events like college, a wedding and retirement.

Also, a highly overlooked cost of shopping is time. My wife Courtney has traditionally done the bulk of our shopping, but the only times she can go (Saturdays and after work on weekdays) are the worst to be at a grocery store. I’m the one with the theoretically more flexible schedule, so I’m the one who should be able to go to shopping at market down-times (i.e., weekday mornings).

But from a business perspective I have to be careful. I can’t rework my schedule without impacting my work. If I shop during my core income-generating hours, free run 4.0 v3 then I lose not only the money that I spend but also the money I could have made if I had continued working.

These are the issues that have led us to learn to shop smarter and more efficiently.

For one, we limit the number of trips we make to the store by keeping better track of what we need in the house. The key is that we record items to buy (and then re-stock them) before we run out. This limits the need for spontaneous trips to pick up one or two things we need right now. Just this one simple adjustment reduced our trips to the store by 50 percent.

Another time-suck for me is that I used to wander around the store like a lost dog, returning to aisles over and over to sniff out what I needed. So I made a spreadsheet of our most purchased items, organized by department. Now all I have to do is check off the list as I walk the circuit once. Having an idea where things are keeps my shopping trips fast.

We also bulk-purchase things that we know we will need over the long haul. The spare freezer we purchased eight years ago has paid for itself several times with the dollars and hours saved by storing large amounts of mass-purchased perishables.

One tip we can’t take advantage of anymore (because we reside in too rural an area) is ordering groceries online. When we lived in a more populated region, we used Peapod. For a $5 delivery fee, I could order everything we needed through their website in just a few minutes, as opposed to spending an hour or two making a brick-and-mortar trip.

All these strategies save us time new jordan in ancillary ways, as well. Fewer trips out equals less time packing up our daughter for a car ride, and less time dealing with tantrums because she didn’t get something she wanted at the store. It also equals less money spent on gas, and less wear and tear to the car, extending the life of our vehicles and the periods between repairs.

Now if only I can figure a way to reduce trips to the dentist…

Take 2

Paddle Power is a benefit to raise awareness for suicide. This two-day canoe trip on the Connecticut River has become a tradition for my sister and wife. It’s a wonderful event that is very near and dear to our hearts.

This year my sister arrived a week early with baby in tow to raise money for the event. Baby Tara will turn 1 in a couple of months. She is a beautiful little girl with the beginnings of curly, light blond hair air jordan 13 femmes and big blue eyes. She’s also quite possibly the squirmiest baby on earth.

My wife and I have been weighing the idea of having a second child and this week’s experience gave me a good look at how things could be. It didn’t take long to see that our day-to-day lifestyle has changed a great deal over the four years that our daughter Lydia has been with us.

People have told me that as time goes on, the day-to-day care becomes easier. In a lot of ways that’s correct, but all the challenging tasks that pass are replaced by new and different challenges and responsibilities. I don’t know if child care gets easier so much as there’s a relief of past stress and the gain of new stress.

From a work perspective, the way I go about completing day-to day tasks is much different than when Lydia was a baby. Then she would take two naps a day that could span as long as two and half hours each, and she would go down for the night around 7:30. Those were all open hours for me to work. But now Lydia doesn’t need a nap most days, so those open hours have substantially dropped.

On the flip side, when Lydia was awake as an infant, she required 100 percent attention. I had to stop everything in order to take care of her needs. Now Lydia’s interests in dolls, shows, books and coloring occupy her during most daylight hours. I don’t have to be involved in her every waking minute (nor should I be). Because of that, powerlins ii if some work thing just has to be done by noon, meeting that deadline is much easier than it was four years ago.

My week with my new niece was packed with reminders of how my wife and I used to run our household. It was a memorable time with family, and a preview of how things may change for us again in the near future. My open hours may not be so open anymore.

The Get-Out-of-Nap Routine

It may be long forgotten but it’s not hard to imagine that we all, as kids, had a get-out-of-nap routine. Lydia will do anything to avoid that time of the day when she has to lie down, stay still and be quiet; it’s the polar opposite of what a 4-year-old wants to do.

Lydia’s natural reaction is not to take no for an answer. In business I admire that philosophy, but at home it’s frustrating. Most days I eventually put my foot down, but today was different. Because today, in her own way, she told me how she views her world.

Lydia picked out a stuffed monkey and decided it was her baby. air jordan 14 Then she put it in a doll rocking chair. She put on a dress and told me that she had to go out to “bring home the bacon,” a term her mother uses when Lydia asks why mom is leaving for work. She asked me if I would take care of the baby while she was gone. Of course, I agreed.

She was gone for a couple of minutes before I tracked her down to check on her. She was at my desk, pretending to work. When she was done she took out a puzzle box and stuffed the pieces into her purse. “This is the money I made from working,” she says. “Now I have to go shopping.”

But first her little hand surfed into her purse and she handed me five puzzle pieces. “We have to save some of this money for later. Can you go back to watching the baby now?” She went off again.

A little while later she returned from her shopping trip with a basket of random items and asked if I would help her put on an apron. “Look at all this stuff I got for us, Daddy. I bought it with the money I made from work.” Then she began making lunch at her Kiddie Kitchen.

When we finished eating, she retrieved her baby out of its chair and hopped into her bed, a place she has refused to sleep for months. “Snug as a bug in a rug,” she says with a smile. “Don’t worry, nike zoom hyperrev Daddy. I am not scared to sleep in here.”

She understands that her mom leaves each day because she has to help provide for the family. She knows we have to make money to buy the things we need and that we also have to save some of it. She feels safe where she is and knows that someone she loves is there with her every day.

For a while it may have simply been a get-out-of-nap routine, but it worked — in many ways.

Fat Gym Rat

I will always be a gym rat. As a child I spent my summer days and after-school hours at the Carter Community Building, a wonderful gift to the town of Lebanon, New Hampshire, and to budding rats like me. As a high-school and college athlete I could pretty much always be found on a field, court or weight room. Today I coach high-school football and basketball (many times with Lydia by my side), so I haven’t strayed too far from my roots.

I love athletics, but dieting and exercising for the sake of looking better was never my thing. If I wasn’t training to compete then it all seemed meaningless. I rarely felt out of shape, but when I did I’d jump right back into a routine and be right back to normal.

However, once our bundle of mass destruction arrived four years ago, exercise time was replaced by family time, chores, company work and trying to get sleep. Fat and happy became fine with me. I invented many late-night sandwiches that were sure to be a hit at the restaurant I’d open someday.

My mindset was that I have a fantastic wife, beautiful new child, air jordan 11 great friends and family, successful start-up company and I live in a beautiful place. What else was there?

The answer was my health, but I didn’t get it yet.

When my hair turned to grey it didn’t bother me. I figured maybe I’ll go for the George Clooney look. Then one day my friend’s wife told me I looked like Taylor Hicks, the former American Idol singer. She didn’t mean the clean, polished Hicks we know today, but rather the pudgy, chunky version. The message was well received. I dusted off the scale and stepped on. Wow! — I had gained 30 pounds in a year. That was the halfway point; I gained another 30 after that.

I had expected to gain weight, but what surprised me was the myriad of side effects. Joint pain, snoring that led to lack of quality sleep (and I wasn’t getting much sleep in the first place), longer periods of recovery from sickness, and many other side effects started to dig away at my health and productivity.

Finally it hit me. I recalled a conversation with an older friend many years ago. “You have a responsibility to your family and your business to be healthy,” he had said. “If you do walk down the wrong path, nike kobe 9 elite gs expect it to take the same amount of time to get back.”

The next morning I turned around and started the long journey back. A year later I still have a long way to go but I am more than half way home.  I focus daily on diet, core flexibility and basketball, which all keeps me healthy, happy and a better reflection of my former fit self.

Fortunately Lydia is a ball of energy and she loves to play chasing games, and that helps, too. I get to simultaneously stay fit and bond with my daughter. Moreover, she gets a better role model for maintaining physical health.

Maybe someday Lydia will be a gym rat too.

The F Bomb

In many homes, for at least one half of the marital couple it’s a dirty word: Finances.

For most people, the word triggers a fight-or-flight response. The problem is that for each individual, the response is almost always the same. At the mention of the word “finances,” some get excited and prepare for battle with numbers, while others prefer a more pacifistic approach.

Furthermore, when the twain mix, intramarital wars can often arise.

In my house, I’m the finances warrior. My wife Courtney and I are so polarized in this area that if I want to watch a ballgame alone, all I have to do is drop the F Bomb. She’ll vanish from before my very eyes, leaving behind just a cloud of dust, à la Wile E. Coyote. There is no way I can package the word without bringing on her instant anxiety.

Well, there’s nothing like throwing a baby into the mix to make the finances challenge even greater. It really makes you start thinking about the future.

College: Are we going to pay for it? That should be a palatable $300K bill by the time our daughter graduates. Wedding: That’s cheap, right? Maybe we can convince her that weddings are bad. Or maybe we can lock her in the attic for the rest of her life — that would save on college, too. Insurance: We all live forever so why is that air jordan 9 important? Will: In the event of a fiery wreck that kills Courtney and I, who is going to care for our child and where is all our stuff going?

So how do Courtney and I approach this? Plan A was scratch-off tickets, but that seemed a little risky. Plan B could land me in jail for a while. So we are on to Plan C: the crazy notion of looking at the numbers and starting to strategize our financial life.

I handle personal finances the same way I tackle business finances: I use tools and seek knowledge. How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. Taking the first step is a bite, and if you take bites frequently then you’re on the right track.

My tools? I use Quicken to track business and household finances. It’s a very easy program to learn and it allows us to see all our money plans in one picture. What gets measured, gets managed.

My knowledge? When I don’t already know something, air jordan 5 femmes or when I need a second opinion, I go to Edward Jones for advice. Not only are they professional and knowledgeable, but they have a great feature for a work-from-home father of a 4-year-old: They make house calls.

No matter who in the home feels comfortable with the F word, it’s important to confront the matter early and often. If you can’t tackle it as a team, at least make sure you acknowledge which of you is the quarterback and which is the water boy (or girl). Both roles are important to putting a winning team on the financial field.