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The Hypothetical Entrepreneur - Have You Got It?

Posted by Adam Scouse at 6:00 AM on September 30, 2008:

From Adam Scouse:

You have a great idea that is going to sweep the nation, so you have decided to start a business. However, before you start, Jim Flowers wants to know if you have what it takes.

Jim Flowers, director of business acceleration center VT KnowledgeWorks, calls it moxie.

My generation would call it guts. Either way, in order to succeed as a small business owner, you need it.

Along with my drive to create a powerful product that is different from those of competitors, I need to take some time to better inform readers about my situation. As Thoreau wrote in Walden “I should not talk so much about myself if there were anybody else whom I knew as well.”

After considering some feedback from fellow bloggers on Handshake 2.0 here and here  (thanks you guys!), there are a number of questions that I need to answer. The largest of these questions pertains to how I will be getting my supply of ginseng. Because I am considering this business from a student’s standpoint, I will not try to grow my own supply of ginseng by obtaining land. I do not believe that enough college students have the capital or credit available to purchase the required land. To learn more about wild-simulated, woods-grown ginseng, I recommend checking out page three of Virginia Tech's fact sheet about the herb.

Instead, I would like to center my focus on acquiring ginseng from public lands. From a student's perspective, this more accurately describes how non-timber forest products can be used in an effort to supplement income while allowing ginseng collection to be done according to best practices--and to fit a student’s own schedule.

Note from Anne Clelland:  As a member of the Virginia Tech Rugby Club, Adam Scouse understands the need for the business fundamentals of scheduling, teamwork and competition.

Adam Scouse - Scrumhalf - Virginia Tech Rugby Club

Adam Scouse - Scrumhalf - Virginia Tech Rugby Club

You can follow the full series of posts by Adam Scouse for Handshake 2.0 at The Hypothetical Entrepreneur.

Valley Business FRONT Post - Roanoke Regional Writers Conference

Posted by Handshake 2.0 at 6:00 AM on September 29, 2008:

From Dan Smith, Editor, Valley Business FRONT:

Registrations for the Roanoke Regional Writers Conference, Janurary 23-24, 2009, started coming in this week and I guess it’s time to get pumped up again. The first conference, held this past January at the Jefferson Center in Roanoke, was such a success that one writer wrote a poem about it. Others talked about it for weeks.

I was tickled by that because the intent was to get people who write for a living and people who want to do so talking to each other, sharing experiences, techniques and resources. During the Saturday session, you’d see pockets of writers talking rapidly and enthusiastically as if what they had to say was going to roll under the couch if they didn’t get it out. Lonely professions can cause people to be socially clumsy.

Word got out about the conference and Hollins University jumped in and made us an offer we couldn’t refuse. Hollins is a natural spot for gathering writers (it has produced about seven Pulitzer Prize winners) and these lovely people genuinely wanted us. The Jefferson Center was great. Hollins is perfect.

This year, we have 25 professional writers teaching 25 classes and it only costs $50 (including coffee, lunch, wine, etc.). If you’re a writer, join us by registering.  We’d love to have you and I think you’ll enjoy it.

The Valley Business FRONT Post is written by Dan Smith, Editor, Valley Business FRONT, a monthly magazine featuring the business communities of the Roanoke and New River Valleys of Virginia. 

The inaugural issue of Valley Business FRONT will be on newsstands October, 2008.  To not miss it, feel free to subscribe (.pdf).

Dan Smith's e-mail signature quotes Kingsley Amis:  "If you can't annoy somebody, why write?'

The opinions Dan Smith expresses are solely his own and are not necessarily shared by Handshake 2.0.

Valley Business FRONT Post - Advice

Posted by Handshake 2.0 at 6:00 AM on September 26, 2008:

Given that Dan Smith has been in the news business 44 years and his new venture Valley Business FRONT--a business news magazine covering the New River and Roanoke Valleys of Virginia--will hit newsstands October 5, 2008, I asked him for wisdom he would share in the form of advice.

He wouldn’t have it.

Given his challenging history, chronicled in his memoir Burning the Furniture, Dan Smith asked, “Who am I to give advice to anybody?”

He did share his advice to himself. 

I asked for permission to share it on Handshake 2.0.  Permission granted.

From Dan Smith, Editor, Valley Business FRONT:Dan Smith, Editor, Valley Business FRONT

1. Give what I have to as many as want it, free of expectation, free of obligation, filled with joy and the hope that the gift proves to be of some value.

2. Be involved. Deeply. Fully. Competently. I know some things that are of value and it is my responsibility to give those things to anybody who asks for them and to do it without hesitation. It is my privilege in having these things to give them away.

3. Do the right things for the right reasons. Understand why because it is important. A good result that emerges from a self-centered intent is tainted and at some point will spoil. Get it right up front and pursue with integrity.

The Valley Business FRONT Post is written by Dan Smith, Editor, Valley Business FRONT, a monthly magazine featuring the business communities of the Roanoke and New River Valleys of Virginia. 

The inaugural issue of Valley Business FRONT will be on newsstands October 5, 2008.  To not miss it, feel free to subscribe (.pdf).

Dan Smith's e-mail signature quotes Kingsley Amis:  "If you can't annoy somebody, why write?'

The opinions Dan Smith expresses are solely his own and are not necessarily shared by Handshake 2.0.

Defining the Local Social Entrepreneur

Posted by Handshake 2.0 at 6:00 AM on September 25, 2008:

From Melinda Marcus:

“Would you like a Christmas baby or a Christmas Eve baby?” 

The doctors pose that question at 11:30 PM, Christmas Eve, 1987. The dad-to-be asks, "You can do that?"  Meanwhile his wife is screaming in the other room.   Thirty-six minutes later, at exactly 12:06 AM on Christmas Day 1987, according to my parents, a beautiful Christmas baby girl was born. And that is how I got my humorous start into this world. 

My name is Mindy, and, yes, I was born on Christmas, and I love it. A few things I also love are my spirituality, Hokie football, reading, being challenged, and serving others. I care most about people.

Melinda Marcus - Defining the Local Social Entrepreneur for Handshake 2.0

Something I have come to believe in my short life is that this life is not about the individual, but about the influence one has on the others with whom one interacts.  I believe that there is a greater power out there then just ourselves - the power of love and humility.

I grew up in the typical suburban home of a middle income and traditional values. Childhood for me had no hardships or setbacks. Life was great – I was encouraged to be all that I could and obey all the rules. And, of course, I did.

As I grow up, one question that continues to disconcert my soul is this:  What kind of life is just playing by the rules of society?  Is there more?  My goal in life is to find the answer to these questions and live it out. In essence I want to find the “Mindy Dream” – not the American Dream. I want to fight for all I believe and do it with a passion that is uniquely mine.

I want to know how I can bring together my two passions: social justice (or helping people) with my deep interest in business.  I think this is can be summed up in the idea of social entrepreneurship.

But what is social entrepreneurship? What does it mean to me, a college student about to be pushed off into the real world (and trust me it is "pushed" – why would I want to leave college, especially Virginia Tech)?

As an intern with Handshake 2.0, my attempt  over the next few weeks will be to explore the relationship between social justice, local business, and entrepreneurship.  I hope to discover a definition of social entrepreneurship for today’s local economy.

This is going to be an interesting ride, full of eye-opening and humorous stories (like the way my life started) as well as challenges to how I think and see life.

Twitter for Business

Posted by Handshake 2.0 at 6:00 AM on September 24, 2008:

Jeremy Hart of the NRVLiving Real Estate Group, Coldwell Banker Townside, REALTORS®, and author of the blog NRVLiving - Real Estate. Simplified, comments on the use of Twitter for business, "in 140 characters, each line," he writes, "just like a good Twitter-ite would."

Anne, I read your recent post regarding using Twitter for business with interest and a side of humor – why IS Twitter so popular?

In fact, I’ve spoken to several groups just within the last few weeks, trying to describe why tools like Twitter are so good for business.

I’ve been using the service for almost exactly a year at this point, and I’m one of those Twitter-fanatics, just tweeting the day away.

Jeremy Hart of the NRVLiving Real Estate Group, Coldwell Banker Townside, REALTORS®, and author of the blog NRVLiving - Real Estate. Simplified Like most people, my first tweet went something like “Okay, I’m on Twitter, what’s this all about?” You could have heard crickets chirping.

I didn’t see the point.  Why would anyone care that I was at a home inspection with a client, or lunching at Gillie’s here in Blacksburg?

“Don’t people have better things to do with their time than worry about what I was doing?”, I wondered.

I was an early adopter, as the piece describes, but not an enthusiastic supporter. That changed with just one tweet, however.

A local follower contacted me to say that he and his wife were moving, and that he wanted me to come discuss selling their home for them.

Then someone else contacted me to say he was moving into the area, and wanted to begin looking for homes upon his arrival.

As this pattern began to repeat itself, I realized that there truly was business – serious business – to be done in 140 characters or less.

I was interviewing for my next job, my next listing, my next sale, with each new Tweet.

It’s interesting how Anita Campbell describes it:  “It’s a mosaic, a backdrop that helps you understand how they tick.”

It’s true – by learning more about the way the people I followed viewed things, I became engaged in their business, and vice versa.

Engaged customers are loyal customers, and I’ll take a loyal customer every day of the week. 

Now, I am certainly an enthusiastic supporter of Twitter. I’ve got it on my iPhone, on my laptop, and I check in often during the day.

Twitter is not a detriment to my blog, but instead augments the conversational aspect that social media provides. 

The keys to success are consistency and showcasing YOU, not your product. The consumer wants to engage to get to know you first.

If you engage them, they’ll seek out your product – and they’ll have already made up their mind, because they’ll consider you trustworthy.

I’d encourage you to seek out how Twitter can open you up to new customers. There’s nothing like doing business with loyal customers.

Twitter me, @NRVLiving, and let me know how you’re using the service to reach new customers. Happy Twittering!

The Hypothetical Entrepreneur - What's in My Energy Drink?

Posted by Handshake 2.0 at 6:00 AM on September 23, 2008:

From Adam Scouse:

Ginseng.

That’s right.  Ginseng happens to be an ingredient in many of the colorfully designed energy drinks that catch our attention as we pass by the coolers of our local convenience store and reluctantly pay for our gas. 

To do some ginseng market research, I took a walk down to my favorite general store to see what items I could find listing ginseng as an ingredient.  As The Hypothetical Entrepreneur, I left a happy customer.

Most of the products I discovered containing ginseng focused on energy boosts either in the form of pills or drinks.  Products containing Ginseng

Why even include ginseng in a product in the first place?  The acclaimed medicinal purposes of ginseng have a long history in Asian culture.   According to the Western Maryland Research and Education Center, Ginseng has been rumored to have anti-tumor, anti-viral, antioxidant, and metabolic effects.

Research has been done on the effects of ginseng, such as in this study, and I will address those issues in the future.  Right now, I hope to find out what products are currently on the market that contain ginseng and for what are they being used. 

The largest market demand appears to be for American-grown ginseng (Panax quinquefolius) where demand in Asia is high due to lack of resources and climate needed to grow the herv (.pdf p.6).

Purchase options online include companies like Ginco International

It offers ginseng remedies that range from treating stress to hormonal imbalance.  Consumers are offered a variety of choices in types of ginseng available as well as the targeted medicinal purpose.  So, whether it be as a main ingredient as an herbal supplement or as a trace ingredient in an energy drink, consumers are offered a diverse array of ginseng products. 

Ginseng promoters target multiple consumer markets.  Possible buyers may be athletes, women, those with stress, those who need energy, and even those suffering from sexual dysfunction.  While ginseng is widely sold in pill form much like daily vitamin supplements, it is also be found in teas, tonics, and as an extract.

Overall, the market for medicinal ginseng seems to be very well-saturated.  I believe I will have to look for ways that I can add value to ginseng in order to offer a product that consumers will have to have.   

But no matter the form, a large demand exists for the plant.  At this point, if I go with the claims for ginseng, all I have left to do is choose a favorite energy drink flavor to ensure a productive day behind the desk!

You can follow the full series of posts by Adam Scouse for Handshake 2.0 at The Hypothetical Entrepreneur.

Valley Business FRONT Post - Kevin Creehan

Posted by Handshake 2.0 at 6:00 AM on September 22, 2008:

From Dan Smith, Editor, Valley Business FRONT:

Kevin Creehan, president of Schultz-Creehan Holdings, Inc. in Blacksburg, Virginia, a high-tech engineering firm, made some strong points about manufacturing’s future in a talk at the NewVa Corridor Technology Council Technology & Toast on September 18, 2008.

Kevin Creehan’s premise is that we need to be selective about the manufacturing jobs we try to keep in the United States and avoid putting our fingers in the dike for every leak that springs. He believes there are some jobs we won’t really miss and insists that many of manufacturing’s old-style base jobs are going unfilled as an aging workforce retires, anyway.Kevin Creehan, President of Schultz-Creehan Holdings, Inc. (photo by Dan Smith)

Creehan says there are fewer manufacturing jobs in the U.S. now than there were 50 years ago, that in Virginia there are 47,000 manufacturing employees in the 55-64 age range, and that between 2007 and 2012, 47,000 vacant manufacturing jobs will be unfilled. He calls it a “supply and demand problem with labor.” Jobs go overseas, he says, “because we don’t pay enough, because of the image…”

According to Creehan, a 50 percent increase in productivity has compensated to a degree for the losses, but “the jobs that will stay here have to do with interesting products; they’ll take training and thought; they’ll use new and exotic materials that foreign workers don’t understand yet.”

Added 9/26/08:  Kevin's Creehan's PowerPoint slides and a video of his talk are here, courtesy of The NewVa Corridor Technology Council, NCTC.

The Valley Business FRONT Post is written by Dan Smith, Editor, Valley Business FRONT, a monthly magazine featuring the business communities of the Roanoke and New River Valleys of Virginia. 

The inaugural issue of Valley Business FRONT will be on newsstands October, 2008.  To not miss it, feel free to subscribe (.pdf).

Dan Smith's e-mail signature quotes Kingsley Amis:  "If you can't annoy somebody, why write?'

The opinions Dan Smith expresses are solely his own and are not necessarily shared by Handshake 2.0.

Cool Tool - Design Nine

Posted by Handshake 2.0 at 6:00 AM on September 18, 2008:

Handshake 2.0 asked, "What's the coolest tool in your office?"

From Andrew Cohill, President, Design Nine, Inc.

Design Nine, Inc. specializes in broadband planning, broadband project management, and broadband operations services.

Cool Tool Fujitsu ScanSnap at work at broadband specialists Design Nine, Inc.

We have two Fujitsu ScanSnaps, and the device has completely changed our workflow.  We scan all our project documents now--business cards, handwritten notes, maps, handouts, flyers, etc.  The machine is much faster than flat bed scanners, scans in color and scans both sides at the same time.  You can drop up to 50 pages of double-sided sheets into the feeder and it will scan them into a single PDF file in under one minute.  And it automatically saves a copy to your hard drive.

We still keep a few paper documents for archival storage, but the ability to scan anything is saving many hours of looking for paper documents. 

Gather to Gavel 2008 for Historic Fincastle

Posted by Handshake 2.0 at 6:00 AM on September 17, 2008:

Photograph by Dan Smith, Editor, Valley Business FRONT

Dogwood by Dan Smith

Dan Smith, Editor of  Valley Business FRONT and author of Valley Business FRONT Post  for Handshake 2.0, will be one of over 25 artists featured in Gather to Gavel 2008, an annual fundraiser for Historic Fincastle, Inc.

Gather to Gavel 2008
An Annual Fundraiser for Historic Fincastle, Inc.
Saturday, September 20, 2008, Botetourt Center at Greenfield
6:00 – 9:00PM – Live Auction with Ross Laguzza starts 7:00PM
Preview: Friday, September 19, 2008, starts 6:00PM

The inaugural issue of Valley Business FRONT will be on newsstands October, 2008.  To not miss it, feel free to subscribe (.pdf).

The Hypothetical Entrepreneur - Into the Wild

Posted by Handshake 2.0 at 6:00 AM on September 16, 2008:

From Adam Scouse:

If you are like I am, you might agree that there is no better way of spending a warm afternoon than by romping around in one of Virginia’s beautiful national parks or forests, or even in your own backyard.  Much as author Henry David Thoreau wrote in Walden, we enjoy going to the woods to “front only the essential facts of life, and see if [we] could not learn what it had to teach."

Adam Scouse I would like to invite you to witness and participate in an experiment that will be unfolding over the next three months.  I am a senior Wood Science and Forest Products student at Virginia Tech.   Within my specialized Wood Science degree, I have focused my studies towards Non-Timber Forest Products (NTFPs) because of my interest in sustainable resources available in both foreign and domestic forests. 

Now, with a goal of learning about small business consulting and how it may apply to NTFPs, I will embark upon a new adventure. 

In an effort to learn what role Non-Timber Forest Products (NTFPs) might play to those living in the beauty of southwest Virginia, I will create a hypothetical small business which seeks to sell ginseng, an herbal plant that grows in the Appalachian region of Virginia.  Through blog posts on Handshake 2.0, I will communicate my successes, failures, and discoveries.  I will set objectives, create a business plan, and do market analyses to form an up-and-coming, theoretical small business from within my dorm room. 

I do this with the hopes of learning what role NTFPs play in the local southwest Virginia economy while gaining hands-on experience as to what steps small businesses must go through to get up and running and see success.   

Understand that what you will be reading is happening in real time and I invite and encourage feedback and communication.  I hope that readers participating in this experiment with me will be able to analyze my efforts and draw their own conclusions from it.  That being said, I am excited to be writing to you today as The Hypothetical Entrepreneur and hope you will join me along the way.

At the end, we'll see what this experiment "had to teach."