2 National Holidays Today you should pay attention to

There’s a common misperception that Chamber of Commerce people don’t like to have fun.  They’re stuffy and just really like the good ol’ boys club.  Well I thought I’d attempt to prove otherwise.  There are some weird holidays out there every year.  And some are worth celebrating and enjoying.  We even think that by enjoying these holidays you can support your local economy and increase your business acumen.

National Double Cheeseburger Day – go get yourself a BURGER!  It’s a requirement on a day like this.  Stop in at Washington Street Steakhouse & Pub, West Valley Taphouse, Spirit Mountain Casino or Blue Garden Restaurant and enjoy one of their delicious burgers and wash it down with a milkshake, soda or craft brew.  My mouth is watering already.

National Online Learning Day – time to add to your knowledge.  Today is the day you register for an online class of your choice through Chemeketa Community College, Western Oregon University or SBDC.  There’s so much learning to do you just have to decide what you want to learn next and do it in the comfort of your home.  Homework in your pajamas, been there done that, bought the T-Shirt.

See, we like fun.

10 Tips for Starting A Small Business

If you’ve thought about opening your own business, you might have begun to look for advice. There are so many tips for starting a new business out there that choosing which ones to follow can get confusing.

As a seasoned entrepreneur, I can tell you that there is no perfect formula for starting a small business. I’ve learned that the best business advice usually forces you to think in a new way. So, I’ve compiled a list of tips for starting your own business that you might not have heard.

Tips for starting a small business

Opening your own business is often a learn-as-you-go process. But, the more smart decisions you make early on, the better chance your company has for success. If you have an entrepreneurial idea, try these ten tips.

1. Address excuses

Today In: Entrepreneurs

Countless people dream of becoming entrepreneurs, but they never do. They’re burdened with excuses and fears of failing. From money to time to responsibilities, you can make a million cases for not starting a business.

Let’s face it, being your own boss is scary. In most cases, new business owners have a lot to lose with little insight into their chances of success. Worrying about the risks of business ownership is normal.

But, excuses only slow you down from reaching your goals. If you really want to start a business, you need to address the reasons you think you can’t start a business and get rid of them. Find a solution to the issue rather than let it hold you back.

2. Absorb everything

Listen to what others have to say—friends, family, experts, even yourself. When it comes to things that have to do with your entrepreneurial goals, be a sponge. As you learn, start to work out the idea in your head. Write things down. Keep notes from all the resources you come across to develop a detailed plan.

When you tell people about your startup, read their body language. Do they like the idea? Or, are they just being nice and really think you’re going in the wrong direction? Encourage your listeners to be honest with you. The collective opinion you get from peers could be a reflection of how consumers will react.

Don’t ignore the power of advice from experts and veteran business owners. These folks know first-hand what does and doesn’t work. Smart entrepreneurs learn from the mistakes other business owners have made.

3. Be a solution

Rather than starting your idea with what to sell, think about what it will solve. It’s a lot easier to gain a solid customer base when your business is fixing a problem. Your startup should fill a hole in a certain market or niche.

For example, I didn’t create Patriot Software just because I had a passion for software. I wanted to solve an issue that small business owners like me faced. After doing some research, I found I could provide payroll and accounting software that is easy-to-use and affordable.

Home in on why you are opening your own business. Understanding your motives will help you create a brand and market your company. Know what problems your target customers face and how you can solve them.

4. Keep it simple

If you’re like many entrepreneurs, you have a business idea and you’re ready to run with it. Be careful not to let your concept snowball into something overcomplicated. You could end up with an expensive, elaborate end-product that nobody wants to buy.

As a new business owner, try to start small and narrow your focus. Learn how to test your business idea. Create a simple, quality good or service. A successful business idea should fulfill promises to customers and exceed expectations.

Cut unnecessary features that water down your offerings and cost you money. As a small business, you don’t need all the bells and whistles of a giant corporation. It will be easier to add to your business as it grows.

5. Count the costs

Once you start to develop your business idea, add up how much it will cost. You will need to factor in every business expense necessary to launch and operate. Some costs to keep in mind include your location, rent, supplies, marketing, and more.

Come up with the most educated number you possibly can. Then, take whatever you think that dollar amount is and quadruple it. Seriously, quadruple it. You’ll experience unexpected costs of running a business around every corner. It’s better to be over prepared than short on funds when bills start to roll in.

When you’re thinking of the cost to start a business, don’t forget about your personal budget. Look at how much money you need to live, including rent, food, gas, healthcare, etc. Lay these expenses out in order of which ones you must pay (e.g., mortgage) to ones that can slide if the money runs out (e.g., entertainment).

Once you have a grasp on all your expenses, start to create a business budget. At first, you might need to get some outside capital to make ends meet, like a small business loan. Go over all of your options before putting your money into the startup.

6. Imagine yourself with zero money

I mean zero. There is a high probability that this will happen. I’ve had several businesses not make it for the long haul. And, I’ve come close to bankruptcy.

Launching an unsuccessful business idea is a reality for many entrepreneurs. Over half of new businesses fail within the first five years of opening. How would you handle having no incoming money?

It’s a good idea to come up with a “just in case the worst outcome happens” plan. You might need to get a job on-the-fly or temporarily live with your parents. You might have to go without comforts that you’re used to. Figure out how you would get by if your business plan went south.

Look at your current sources of income. What do you earn from your current job? How long would your savings last if you quit? What unexpected things could mess up your plan (e.g., you wreck your car or your furnace breaks)? Prepare yourself for all the situations that could happen if the business idea doesn’t work out.

7. Earn while you build

If you want to start a small business, don’t quit your day job—yet. Launching a successful startup is a process. Build your business in stages and gradually transition from employee to entrepreneur.

As a new business owner, it will take some time to earn a steady income. Keep your nine-to-five and work on the business during off hours so you can earn during those tough, first stages. Once you have a healthy inflow of cash from your company, you can tackle business ownership full time.

8. Speak up about your business

One challenge many business owners face is that they don’t know how to sell. It can be intimidating to share your business with the world, especially when you’re new.

If you’re worried what people will think about your business, you need to get over it. If you can’t convince consumers to buy from you and support your company, it’s difficult to make money. Not outgoing? Fake it ‘till you make it. If you really want business success, you can’t afford to be shy.

In my early days as an entrepreneur, I had to to do public speaking for the first time. Back then, I didn’t have any training or experience in talking to large groups of people, not to mention I wasn’t very keen on the idea of facing my worst fear.

But, if I wanted my young company to succeed, I need to to get out of my comfort zone. This came in the form of planning and hosting nearly 70 three-day conventions for my customer base of network recruiters.

I can’t begin to tell you how afraid I was. As it turned out, I became a lot more comfortable in front of people after speaking at the conventions. Though I was more introverted than extroverted, I learned to “put myself out there” for the sake of my business.

Be ready to speak confidently about your business, even if it makes you uncomfortable. As a new business owner, you will need to market and network constantly. From networking with clients to negotiating supplier payment terms, you must be able to communicate.

9. Know the legal requirements for starting a small business

Starting a business is exciting. Laws are not. But, you need to understand the rules that come with opening a business. If you fail to follow government regulations, you could face steep penalties.

From forming a legal structure to setting up an accounting system, you must follow laws. You need to register the business with your state. You must also take care of business-specific tax liabilities. And as you hire workers, you need to follow employer laws.

The rules that apply to you depend on your state, business structure, and industry. Consider talking to a small business accountant as you set up your company.

10. Balance passion with wisdom

One of the most important ingredients in a successful business idea is passion. Passion will consistently drive you to improve your process so your business grows.

That said, don’t let passion take over all your decisions. Passion will move you forward, but knowledge will point you in the right direction.

Conduct market research on your industry and talk to target customers to find out your business’s potential. Ask experts questions about launching a startup. Reach out to professionals that can help you with certain areas of business, such as financial advisors and lawyers.

As your business starts to come together, think of it like driving a car. Let your passion hit the gas pedal and your mind control the steering wheel. That way, you can be confident about the direction you’re headed and sustain the momentum you need to get there.

Mike is the founder and CEO of Patriot Software, LLC. He has over 30 years of entrepreneurial experience across five startups. He started Patriot Software in the basement of a factory and grew it into a multi-million dollar company that serves small businesses all across the United States. he knows what small business owners and entrepreneurs face because he’s faced it himself. For more information, please visit Patriot Software or Follow: @PatriotSoftware on Twitter.

The Genius of Asking ‘What If?’ Questions

Again we feature a guest writer.  John Hittler, Father of 7, husband, difference maker, transformational business coach, generous, bold. Author of The Motivation Trap (Oct, 2018)  Featured writer for forbes.com

“Ever wonder how leaders change the world? It’s simple, really. They make declarations that do just that. They can sound something like this:

  • “I’m going to get into the best shape of my life this year!”
  • “Our team is building our second product, and it will be twice as profitable as the first.”
  • “We’re going to take the White House and change the course of history!”

Declarations can be pretty dramatic, or they can be simple and straightforward. But one thing is certain: Without them, nothing changes. We simply stick with the current paradigm or the old declaration.

Where, then, do declarations come from? The most effective place is a “what if?” question.

Why Start Things With A Question?

That’s a great question, really.

Questions literally open up (and close) pathways in your brain. Like an itch, questions need to be scratched. When a great question is posed, whether in a team meeting or at a family dinner, our brains race to answer them (or in the case of teenagers, avoid them like the plague).

Consider the relative power of questions that we hear often:

  • “When will you be home from the movies?”
  • “Where are we going on vacation?”
  • “How do we get this project moving forward again?”

With questions such as these, our brain knows pretty much what to do since there are similar precedents and experiences we have from the past. Our brain uses these precedents to find or quickly create an acceptable answer.

So why, then, is a “what if?” question so much different? And why do leaders and visionaries use “what if” questions so fluidly?

The Power Of A “What If?”

With a normal question, your brain quickly and transparently uses previous information, data or situational experiences to concoct an acceptable answer.

With a “what if?” question, your brain usually holds no previous precedent, paradigm or example to rely upon for an acceptable answer, so the answer heads to a different area of the brain. When this happens, we often say out loud, “Great question!”

“What if?” questions force us to imagine or create, often calling forth strong emotions. Consider the structure and possibilities of the following two questions:

  • “Where are we going on vacation this year?”
  • “What if we enjoyed our best vacation ever this year?”

Both deal with the quality and details associated with an annual ritual for many families, a great break designed for fun, relaxation and togetherness.

With the first structure, “Where are we going on vacation this year?” notice how your mind immediately conjures up options that are most likely known entities: perhaps a traditional family meeting spot or a favorite “comfort” vacation like a lake house or cottage.

With the second structure, “What if we enjoyed our best vacation ever this year?” you notice that the structure of the question produces a new mandate: “best ever!” That standard or mandate could certainly be achieved by the structure of the first question, however, it is not required. Hence, the power and the subtle genius of “what if?”!

When SpaceX was founded, which question do you suspect Elon Musk asked: “How do we create private space travel for individuals?” or “What if we create a private space travel company for individuals?”

The second question leads much more easily to a beautiful, powerful act, namely a declaration of a previously impossible (or improbable) outcome.

How To Start

If “what if?” questions are so powerful, when can you utilize them best? The answer is simple: Anytime when a change, large or small, is what you’re after.

Consider these areas/themes to ask great “what if?” questions:

  • Health: “What if I felt energetic, focused and ready to go every morning?”
  • Adventure: “What if I took the most outrageous adventure of my life this year?”
  • Wealth/Investments: “What if I had $5 million in liquid assets invested by 2025?”
  • Learning: “What if I finally learned to paint with watercolors?”
  • Team: “What if we doubled our sales this year?”

The list seems endless. Where the mind can conceive it, the question can be asked and then answered in the form of a powerful, world-changing declaration. Declarations have that power. Simply asking the question and making the declaration to change shifts your entire world and the quality of your life.

What Comes First For You?

If you are going to change the world, or at least your little part of it, start with one theme or category. Pick a simple theme that will pay big dividends. Health is a great one, as everyone can envision a higher version of vitality, energy, weight and strength.

Ask a simple question, like, “What if I were in the best shape of my life?”

You’ll transform your world more so than if you were standing still.”

National Get to Know Your Customers Day

In light of today’s national “get to know your customers” day, we’re featuring an article from woocommerce.com author Maria Scarpello, “a classically-trained designer who is passionate about the customer experience, and strives to deepen research practices among designers.” Find her on Twitter at @msdesign21.

“At WordCamp US 2016, Matt Mullenweg’s State of the Word outlined a vision for WordPress being design-led. Since then, WooCommerce has doubled down on our efforts to follow suit.

From growing our one-person design team to five (and still hiring!) to talking more to our customers — hearing what’s most important to them, and how eCommerce fits into their lives – we’re just getting started on our journey to make this transition, and we’re learning a lot!

Our hope is that you can take some of the lessons we’re learning and apply them to your business, no matter how big or small.

It’s never too soon or too late to start talking to your customers, understanding who they are, and how they made their way to you today.

  1. Understanding and mapping a customer journey

One key component of the design process is understanding your customer’s experience, often referred to as mapping a customer journey.

This involves examining a customer’s path from the first moment they interact with your brand to the endpoint of that task. For example, purchasing a product, completing a course, or booking a reservation.

These touch points can then be mapped to understand the overall picture.

To understand and apply this to your business, ask yourself:

  • What tasks am I wanting them to complete?
  • Why would someone need or want to complete this task?
  • How easy is it for them to complete the task?
  • What are the blockers?

From here, write out steps for each task.

We use the diagram below to help map each step, ensuring we consider what customers may be thinking and feeling alongside external factors that could interfere.

For example, if there are limitations with their device, connectivity, or environment that prevent them from easily completing a task and leave them feeling confused or frustrated, we note that.

Once every touch point is mapped, you can then vote on which are the most important areas to focus research.

When thinking about tasks, it’s important to consider what stage your customers are in via interactions with your brand and products.

Each stage has its own sets of needs and states of mind. For WooCommerce, we apply the Six Universal Experiences from IBM, which breaks down the customer journey into six distinct phases:

  • Discover, Try, and Buy
  • Getting Started
  • Everyday Use
  • Manage and Upgrade
  • Leverage and Extend
  • Get Support
  1. Talking to customers: smart listening and uncovering insights

One way to examine each of six phases is to talk to customers while they are in each stage. What initially brought them to you? Why did they want get started? How do they use your product or service? What happens next?

When talking to customers, it’s critical to ask the right questions. Rather than having them to talk about what they want, ask customers why they do what they do. Have them show you how they use your product or website, then observe how they go about it. Listen to what they say, but also take notes on what they do.

“To design the best user experience, pay attention to what users do, not what they say. Self-reported claims are unreliable, as are user speculations about future behavior. Users do not know what they want.” — Jakob Nielsen

For example, asking our customers what they think of a new WooCommerce feature that we have yet to develop would produce the wrong insights: they’d only be able to speculate on what they think we mean or want to hear. A better approach would be to observe customers complete a related task for the new feature, such as adding a new product.

By observing and talking with customers, we may discover that more control over customizing the product page could be useful because they want to be able to cross-sell a few related items but the theme layout isn’t what they wanted. Asking them what they want would not produce the same result.

As Erika Hall, author of Just Enough Research and co-founder of Mule Design suggests:

“Good research is about asking more and better questions, and thinking critically about the answers. It’s something every member of your team can and should do, and which everyone can learn, quickly. And, done well, it will save you time and money by reducing unknowns and creating a solid foundation to build the right thing, in the most effective way.” — Erika Hall

Erika is an advocate of good research and knows what it takes to uncover insights that can influence how customers use the products you’re creating.

“To make the best use of your time and truly do just enough research, try to identify your highest-priority questions—your assumptions that carry the biggest risk.” —Erika Hall

  1. Laying down assumptions, building empathy and cultivating curiosity

Anything you think you know about your customers should be considered an assumption that needs to be validated, when diving into research. Build your hypothesis and start exploring. For example, if you were to outline high priority questions for your eCommerce website, you might ask:

  • Can my customers easily make it through checkout?
  • What’s blocking them from making a purchase?
  • What information are they looking for?
  • Can they find the information they need to help make the decision to purchase?

From here it’s a matter of finding customers to talk with, setting a time to meet, and planning for your session. Ideally this can be done in person, but that shouldn’t stop you from talking to your customers in other ways.

There are many tools we use for remote user research. If you’re interested in learning more about various research methods and best practices, Usability.gov is an excellent resource.

In addition to Erika Hall’s Just Enough Research, Steve Portigal’s book, Interviewing Users: How to Uncover Compelling Insights goes in depth on interviewing techniques, tools, and how to analyze results. Both books can be purchased via Rosenfeld Media, which we’re proud to say is powered by WooCommerce!

In conclusion, know thy customers!

Learning more about customers and how your product or service fits (or doesn’t) into their everyday life allows you to relate to who they are on a more personal level.

Building empathy for your customers is key to helping ensure your offering is as useful, desirable, and accessible as possible. It’s important to take time to understand the needs and expectations of your customers as it’s been proven time and time again:

“Across sectors, satisfied customers spend more, exhibit deeper loyalty to companies, and create conditions that allow companies to have lower costs and higher levels of employee engagement.” —The CEO Guide to Customer Experience McKinsey Quarterly, August 2016″

 

Free Resources for Businesses

When you start a business, the path that awaits isn’t always a straight shot. The good news is there are a plethora of resources both locally and at the state level that can help guide you along the path that is best for your business.  Many resources are free to you, well you pay for them in your taxes so I guess they are prepaid. Below are a few resources to help you get where you’re going.

The City of Dallas can assist business owners in finding business resources, locating available properties, understanding local government permitting and approval timeframes & understanding current Dallas demographic and economic trends.

Chemeketa Small Business Development Center (SBDC) gives small business owners the tools and environment they need to make great decisions they offer classes, small business advising, and resource materials on loan.

Small Business Administration (SBA) is committed to helping small business in the US succeed. As such, several programs and laws have been sponsored that directly affect small business owners. Here, you can learn more about how legislation such as the Small Business Jobs Act and SBA initiatives such as Emerging 200 program can help you and your business succeed.

Micro-Enterprise Resources Initiatives & Training (MERIT) asks the question. “Have a business idea, but don’t know where to start?”  If you’ve been thinking about starting a business and you’re not sure your idea will make you money, they can help. They can guide you toward the information resources that will help you make a great decision.

Go to our weblink for more details and links to each of these resources.

https://dallasoregon.org/business-toolkit/

Break Away From the Masses

One of the biggest challenges at work is to maintain your integrity and to remain consistent with not only who you are, but who you strive to be. The drive to succeed, especially early in your tenure, can influence your thoughts and actions. This drive can lead to a strong desire to be completely accepted by your peers at work. Most people understandably want to be amiable and like by the other people in their office. They will do what is necessary to ensure that interactions through the day are as smooth as possible. However, it is exceedingly difficult to avoid finding yourself In the middle of office politics, as a result being socially compliant.

Office politics not only affects productivity and depresses morale, but it can be damaging to your career. It is important to learn how to avoid getting distracted by the drama and instead focus each day into being productive in your work. Learning how to navigate around the interpersonal chaos will be your best overall career move.

Cliques are not exclusive to school. They also exist in the workplace. It is very easy to want to be included within the “in crowd” at work. They seem to enjoy their day, have some laughs, be friends, and may even socialize outside of work. But these groups can have a negative effect on the work culture, productivity, and morale. The best way to rise above the desire to be included within these cliques is to foster relationships with a variety of colleagues, sometimes working in different departments with differing job duties, who can help you grow within your position and beyond.

Jealousy and resentment are the most common work distractions that people face. It is very easy to get emotionally wound up about the one who is asked to lunch with management or assigned to that high profile project. Managers are not immune to the effects of jealous staff and can often get dragged into the middle of a conflict between staff members. Competition is human nature, but it takes strength to let it go and realize that even though life does not seem fair at times, those with integrity, focus, and drive will be recognized – especially by those managers whose time you save by not forcing them to contend with negativity. Developing a “tough skin”, or objectivity is the best way to handle issues of jealousy. By having a tough skin and maintaining focus in your work, you will find that you simply do not care anymore about the surrounding jealousy or in being jealous yourself. The petty thoughts and emotions will eventually fall to the way side, as will the petty personnel, while the important tasks of the day sit in front of you ready to be successfully completed.

Building relationships both in and outside of your company is a great way to hone your leadership skills. Influence is a great leadership skill to develop, but not everyone takes the time to do so. Gaining experiences and meeting a variety of people in the community (outside of work) who handle negativity in different, positive ways will help you learn how to foster authentic and honest relationships with many different people, regardless of their ability to directly help you. Through these relationships, you will become adept at recognizing an office politician and immediately neutralizing their effect on you.

Rising above office politics can be achieved if you remain true to yourself. Even though it can be difficult to see yourself through the day-to day negativity, surrounding yourself with those at work in your community who are positive influences to your integrity and quality of work will allow you to see yourself and your potential quite easily and clearly. As a result, others will begin to seek you out as the voice of reason and regard you as a positive influence upon them as well.

The 10 Don’ts of Networking

Don’t dress down. Looks matter, whether you like it or not. Before you can “wow” people with your impressive set of skills, you’ll need to awe them with your appearance and body language.

Don’t dismiss people who don’t look important. “You should behave here like everyone you interact with has the potential… to get you a cover story in The New York Times.” Sometimes it’s the secretary that will get the job done, not the president.

Don’t expect a job. Getting a job might be more about who you know than what you know – but don’t be so obvious about it.

Don’t be uninformed. No card, no contact. Be up to date with what is going on in your field and in the field whose business you are trying to get. It’s okay to learn something new, but if you don’t know something crucial then you have just lost their faith in your abilities.

Don’t collect business cards like candy. “Don’t trick-or-treat for business cards.” Make an honest connection with someone before you start soliciting for business. They are more likely to give it after a positive interaction verses a cold call.

Don’t only think about yourself. “Networking can be described as the process of interacting or engaging in communication with other for mutual assistance or support.”

Don’t be vague. “I want to go back to school… maybe do something in the business world.” Almost everything has something to do with business. Have clear goals in mind.

Don’t reach too high. Having Mark Cuban, Warren Buffet, or John Maxwell on speed dial would be great – for you. But would you really be able to offer them much help? Maybe… but probably not.

Don’t monopolize anyone’s time. This isn’t a phone call or an email exchange, so give people space to mingle. If they are giving hand signals to a partner across the room to help them escape, you’ve lost the opportunity.

Don’t follow up with a sales pitch. Before you ask for a favor, you need to develop the relationship further, Sue Clement writes on Businessknowhow.com. She recommends referencing something you spoke about at the networking event and then offering the person something they can use – whether that is an introduction or a helpful article.

Excellent Customer Service

“I can help next in line!”

You recognize this cashier and begin to order a large coffee with cream when the cashier says –

“Hi John, it’s great to see you. Can I get you the usual?”

Now, that’s great customer service.

Sadly, with the advancement of the internet, and big box stores, getting that personal touch can be lost. But hope is not lost.

While it can be a struggle it is not only possible to build a relationship with your customers, but incredibly doable. As a managers, we might tell our staff that we as individuals do not pay them, our guests do so offer them the best service possible. Even a complaint can be an opportunity to go above and beyond. So don’t shy away from asking how things are.

Best Western Dallas Inn & Suites is one of those big companies that still tries to have those unique interactions with their guests. The vision of Best Western is to lead the industry in superior customer care. Andrea Reyes, Manager, had this to say concerning customer service, “Every interaction counts, and we want to be the reason our customers smile.”

Those extra personal touches go the extra mile and bring in more revenue. I’m more likely to be loyal to a store that knows my name and remembers me, than the one that just sees me as another source of revenue. So take the time today to chat with a customer. Ask them how things are, or even follow up on a past conversation. Your customers will thank you for it.

For a great example of customer service in book form, look for Mark Sanborn‘s “The Fred Factor” on a bookstore shelf.

Winston Churchill Day April 9th

Let’s be honest, life is hard. Sometimes it feels like the odds are stacked against us and we are not sure where to go or what to do next.

Winston Churchill, Britain’s great hero and Prime Minister during World War II, was once asked to give a commencement address at Oxford University. Churchill was a leader admired and loved by the people. He had led Great Britain through a time of defeat, despair, and great loss, but had continued to provide inspiration exactly when it was needed. You can imagine the anticipation of the students, faculty, and family members as Winston Churchill made his way to the platform. Dressed in coattails, he carefully removed his gloves and top hat to deliver these words, “Never give up. Never, never give up” He then turned and went back to his seat. It was perhaps the shortest speech on record but also the most remembered at Oxford University and around the world. It was a message of hope and encouragement.

Without going into a lot of drama and details I will tell you that I recently went through one of those life-changing events. This event should have left me a mess, feeling alone and no idea how to pick myself back up. Instead, I found a community standing behind me, willing to give me a shoulder to cry on or an encouraging hug.

Yes, life is hard. There are always going to be challenges, some greater than others. The nice thing is that we don’t have to surmount them alone. We have people in our lives that want to help us; whether it’s personal or professional. The trick is to reach out and ask for it. We at the Chamber of Commerce would love to help in any way we can. If we can’t help you then we darn will help you find someone who can. Today, in honor of Winston Churchill, we at the Chamber say, “Never give up.”

~Sarah Javins

The Future Starts Now

Ever look back and think about the things you should have done? What life could have been like if you or someone else would have done something differently? Well STOP IT! Someone recently spoke to me in a way that I needed to hear. He said “Quit playing the blame game, it kills progress in life. Blame lives in the past and keeps you from accomplishing your best future when you’re living in the past.” Blaming one’s self or others will accomplish nothing to reach goals for the future.

When a martial artist breaks a board his or her focus is not on the board, rather he focuses past the board or through the board. It is the same when we are seeking to accomplish a task of any magnitude. When we encounter struggles of many kinds we must not focus on the issue at hand but continue to focus on the goal. 

So in our pursuits, we must continue to keep the focus of our mind’s eye on the prize to which we’ve committed. Be committed, get there, ‘break through the board’!  As every corporate trainer or motivational speaker has spoken at some point, ‘plan the work, work the plan’.