Handshake 2.0 Turns 1.0 Today!

Fireworks photographs by Z. Kelly Queijo

For one year of joy and excitement – from our launch on July 28, 2008, to today, July 28, 2009 – Handshake 2.0 gives grateful thanks to its clients, visitors, partners, supporters, advisors, writers, interns, commenters…O, the number of people who helped create something from nothing!  In the world of "It's still who you know," we are so glad to know you!  Thank you, thank you!

***

"I'm thrilled to be able to say 'Happy 1st Birthday' to Handshake 2.0!  What a novel concept – a business that takes the time to focus and extol the value of other local businesses in the New River Valley!  Everyone at Handshake 2.0 is focused night and day on that one central idea, and everyone in the New River Valley – not just the business community – is better for it.  A very enthusiastic high-five to the Handshake folks, and best wishes for many more to come!"
Jeremy Hart, Coldwell Banker, Townside, NRVLiving.com

"I've been working with Handshake 2.0 for about five months.  I've know Anne Clelland for much longer and admired her drive and enthusiasm, but I did not relate what she did with social media and public relations to my business.  Later, over lunch one day we discussed my business and she offered, 'Let's just try HandShake 2.0 for a month or two for your business.' I'm glad I did.  I've made contacts in my industry I would not have made, there is more 'churn' in the market relative to our service, and our website traffic is up 14%.  Thanks H20!"
Barry Welch, Internet Databases, FurnishWEB

"Handshake 2.0 has been like a partner to 88Owls and a lot of the PR we have received has been largely due to their passion for helping companies, their knowledge of social media, and their exceptional writing skill.  Handshake 2.0 is a stand out."
Allan Tsang, 88Owls

"Where do I go to stay up-to-date on local and regional news? Handshake 2.0, of course! Congratulations on a truly successful year, Anne. I know I speak on behalf of many when I say you have branded Handshake 2.0 as THE GO-TO website showcasing the successes, talent and news of the region."
Lindsey Eversole, VT KnowledgeWorks

"I do enjoy Handshake and promote the site to folks throughout the region as the place to go for the latest in technology blogs.  You are a welcome dynamo in our area."
Sam English, CIE Partners

"Depending one whose statistics you look at, between 20% and 90% of businesses fail in the first year.  Wherever the actual number is, there’s no denying it is tough to survive the first year, and Handshake 2.0’s passing this mark is a testament to both the relevance of its content and the vision and persistence of its founder. The need for a thoughtful Web 2.0 presence is of growing importance in today’s marketplace, as customers and users demand more interaction and updated, useful information.  While helping its customers navigate this new world, Handshake 2.0 also manages to capture a timeless truth – that even in the Web 2.0 environment, it is the relationship that is of ultimate importance.  This is where Handshake 2.0 excels, and why it has succeeded."
Ken Maready, Venture Counsel

"If not for Handshake2.0, I would never have met Tyson Daniel of LimbGear!"
Wade Hammes, FITnoke, fiveFORTY Marketing and Design Group

"Congratulations on year one. You’re certainly a mover and 'shaker.'"
Tom FieldValley Business FRONT

"Anne's vision – every business blogs – has the potential to transform our community by creating a sticky online presence, while reinforcing the offline image of our area being the most wired small community in the U.S. Her site is an example of a hybrid media company equivalent to a local version of TechCrunch.com, a Chamber of Commerce, and the newspaper. She is our region's technology reporter and Handshake 2.0 is the community where it all comes together.”
Stuart Mease, host of Connecting People in the RNR, the Handshake 2.0 video series

"In only a year, Handshake 2.0 has established itself as a first-class blog, ranked in the top 0.3% of blogs tracked by Technorati. In addition, Anne Clelland is now the acknowledged regional expert on social media. Very few start-ups achieve that level of market success in their first year."
Jim Flowers, VT KnowledgeWorks

***

Photo credit: Z. Kelly Queijo. Camera:  Olympus Stylus Tough 6000 on loan to blogger Z. Kelly Queijo

Three Months of Handshake 2.0

Handshake 2.0 launched three months ago today and I have been reflecting on what I have learned from the process.  I have been in the fascinating position of being an entrepreneur in a high-tech business acceleration center, previously known as a high-tech start-up incubator, so I have had guidance from great minds and from great experience.

I started my start-up, however, before I entered the acceleration center.  Let’s just say some legacy issues have been brought to my attention, now that I’ve been privy to the latest and greatest in entrepreneurship.

Although some pundits advise quitting a day job to devote oneself completely to one’s idea, others advise keeping a day job at least until one has customers for one’s products or services.

Uh, well, having already left my previous position, I pitched my idea, got it provisionally accepted on an experimental basis, i.e. no moolah, started a sole proprietorship and went chunk by chunk through my savings, converted that provisional accepter into a client, then realized my idea could be scaled up, so started an incorporated business and had beautiful business cards made and chunked a few more withdrawals and pitched my scaled up idea and got it provisionally accepted on an experimental basis, i.e. no moolah, and then I got a friends and family loan to cover my insufficient funds notice. 

What would I do differently?  Nothing. 

I, like many entrepreneurs with start-ups, have unrelenting passion for my idea.  If I had stayed in my previous position, done my idea piecemeal, slowly, slowly pitched it here and there, gotten a onesy-twosy customer thing going?  Soul pain.

I thought my idea was good when it was small.  Scaled up, it’s exquisite.  I think it can be something that inspires and moves and lifts and reaches.

I must be an entrepreneur.

I’m crazier about my idea than I was when I started.

As it turns three months old, thank you with the deepest gratitude to readers, clients, partners, and friends of Handshake 2.0.

Rules of “The Knack”

"I’ve been an entrepreneur for almost 30 years now–29 years and two months, to be exact, but who’s counting?–and one thing I’ve learned is that there is no formula for success in business…what we have in common is a certain mentality, a way of thinking that allows us [company builders] to overcome many obstacles and take advantage of many opportunities as they arise.  I call it the knack."

That’s an excerpt from Norm Brodsky’s Street Smarts column in the print edition of the October 2008 issue of Inc.  He and his co-author, Bo Burlingham, have written The Knack: How Street-Smart Entrepreneurs Learn to Handle Whatever Comes Up

In Inc., Brodsky writes, "Rather than repeat what’s there, I thought I would give you what I believe are the 10 most important lessons I have learned over the past 29-plus years, the rules I still rely on today."

Handshake 2.0 found Brodsky’s business advice of inestimable value.  Although the article is not yet available online (one assumes it will soon be on Street Smarts) and the text explaining the rules is stellar, we offer this excerpt as Brodsky’s Rules of The Knack:

  1. Numbers run a business.  If you don’t know how to read them, you’re flying blind.
  2. A sale isn’t a sale until you collect.
  3. When your short-term liabilities exceed your short-term assets, you are bankrupt.
  4. Forget about shortcuts.  Run a business as if it’s forever.
  5. Cash is hard to get and easy to spend.  Make it before you spend it.
  6. You have no friends in business, only associates.
  7. Don’t focus on the top line.  Gross margin is the most important number on the income statement.
  8. Identify your true competitors, and treat them with respect.
  9. Culture drives a company.  In the long run, the boss’s most important job is to define and enforce it.
  10. The life plan has to come before the business plan.

The Hypothetical Entrepreneur – Have You Got It?

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

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

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.

Twitter for Business

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?

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

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.