When is the time to stop dreaming?

I dream big conceptIs there a certain age or personal milestone where dreaming should end?

My answer is a resounding NO!  I am a dreamer and sometimes I dream big.  Why not?

Without dreams, nothing is possible.

It is true there are times when they do not come to fruition, but with a well developed plan and sheer determination, sometimes we get lucky and they do become more than just a dream.  When those dreams become a reality, there is nothing sweeter.

We are fortunate that in this industry, there is always room to dream.  It is one where those with creativity and entrepreneurial skills can flourish.  I recently received an email from a lady who owns a small gift company in California.  Her dream was to take her business to the next level.  She was asking for my thoughts about how best to do this.

Simply stated, my best advice to her, and to any of you who have the same question,  is to develop a focused plan and then little-by-little put the plan into action.

   Dream big but bite off small pieces of that dream at a time.

Secondly, but equally important, is to network.  Go to places and events where potential customers are likely to be.  How else will they even know that your business exists?  But also important is to network with others in your industry.  The Internet has made this so much easier than it was when I started my business.  The opportunities are endless.  There is Facebook, email, the telephone, and online forums.  Compare notes and share information about new suppliers, new techniques, and new ideas for growing your business.

And, lastly, don’t put those dreams on the shelf.  If you continually move towards
attaining them, one day you will look back and proudly say, “Yes, I am a dreamer and they came true.”



Chocolate Prices Soar!

From Specialty Food Retail:

Hershey, Mars Raise Prices as Chocolate Costs Soar

While food in general is becoming increasingly expensive, chocolate is in the fast lane. Mars and Hershey have both announced price hikes of 7 and 8 percent, respectively, to cover rising supply chain costs. The cost of the cacao bean has risen 18 percent this year alone, due to a combination of poor yields from major suppliers and the growing demand for higher cocoa content in chocolate products. Earlier this year, the World Cocoa Foundation predicts the rate of increase in cocoa production “may slow in the coming years, as cocoa trees are sensitive to changing weather patterns,” which could mean a price impact felt throughout the chocolate industry, reports Slate. Full Story

You Are Your Business

magicI heard on public radio a few days ago that defaults on SBA guaranteed loans to franchisees rose more than 50% last year. One in ten franchises closed their doors. Many businesses that are not franchises fail each year as well.

I mention franchises because they supposedly have an edge over independently owned businesses. When you buy a franchise, you buy an established brand and a business and marketing model that has proven to be successful.You get the resources and suppliers. You get the advertising slicks that all you have to do is fill in your local info and send them to the local media.

The problem with most—both franchises and independent businesses — isn’t just the economy.  It’s really more the mistakes these business owners have  made from the day they opened their doors.

The economy is merely the straw that broke the camel’s back. We’ll talk about some of these mistakes in a later post.

But  during depressions and the cycles of economic downturns and upswings, new independent businesses, that will later become franchise,s are begun. They don’t start as a huge business with all the resources they need to get established. They start out just as you are.

McDonalds is one example. It started as a small local business in a depressed economy. It was grown into a huge franchise much later.

Independent businesses have advantages over franchises that are rarely mentioned.

A franchaisee trades dollars for a business model

You begin with an idea that you’re enthusiastic about.
You do your research and learn whatever skills you don’t know.
You locate your own suppliers and talk to those suppliers about the particular niche you’ve chosen.
You learn from the ground up.
You create your business plan based on what your vision is for your business and what money you have to put into it.
In the end, your business isn’t just a replica of one in San Jose, CA or Tampa FL.
Your business is unique.

As a result, when you talk about your business you understand it. You’re enthusiastic. And, if you’ve done your research right, you’ve selected the proper business model, the best location for your business (whether it’s in rented real estate or is homebased) and you know what to expect from your business.

You are your business and your decisions will determine its success or failure.