Wednesday, December 14, 2011

What The Mint Taught Me About Marketing

The Buck Stops Here: $1 Coins to Be Curtailed -

'via Blog this'

Early this morning, I awoke to an e-mail from a friend, Ed. Ed wanted to know what I thought about the Mint stopping production of coin dollars. Of course, my friend was aware that as Superintendent of the United States Mint (Philadelphia), I was involved in the first production of the Susan B. Anthony coin dollar in 1979.

As I watched the coverage, I was transported back to the early discussion of smaller coin dollars in the late 70s.

I recalled going into my office many mornings and finding mail bags with drawings from elementary school children from across the country. Many teachers inspired their students to participate in government by sending their suggestions for who should appear on the front of the new coin. As always, the students were quite creative. Their suggestions ranged from historic individuals to pop culture icons, perhaps even their mother, father, teacher, themselves, or their new puppy. I recall that Elvis Presley was particularly popular. As there is essentially only one law limiting who can be on a coin...the person cannot be currently living...many of their suggestions were possible.

Of course the real decision required hearings in Washington where people appeared to present their opinions. There was a big battle about whether it should be the Statue of Liberty or Susan B Anthony. Then the battle shifted to what image of Susan B Anthony. Should it be her in her early life as in the case of most coins? Or should it be in her later life after the victories for which she is noted?

When the decision was made, we sighed as we came to the end of the debate. Then, the next morning, we awakened to remember that a coin has two sides...the debate was just half done.

Of course there were many decisions to be made before the official First Strike Ceremony in 1979. The next day after the first striking , the process of getting them to the Federal Reserve Banks began. Then  there was another "next day" involving getting the coins into local banks.That was followed by getting them into stores, followed by getting them into the hands of people. This was followed by the first person spending one thinking it was a quarter...followed by the first reporter warning people not to spend the coin dollar thinking it is a quarter.

That battle has raged for 32 years and the discussion is still the same. This leads to what the Mint taught me about marketing:

1. People make decisions on how they feel. The decision are about emotions. Then we select the facts that support our emotions.
2. Everyone has an opinion. For the most part, individual opinions don't matter. It is the collection of opinions that determines if there is a problem that needs to be solved.
3. The fact that there is a problem to be solved does not mean that everyone wants the same solution. Many people awaken in the morning wanting corn flakes. Some of them want Post Toasties and some of them want Kelloggs Corn Flakes.That is not duplication of effort or wasting resources. We call that free market.
4. Marketing is about finding a solution to a problem that enough people want and are willing to pay for, to make it profitable for the person providing the solution. We call that a niche.
5. Business is about serving the niche over and over. Success is in finding your niche.
6. Government has niches too. We call them special interest groups. Government has no way of making every niche or interest group happy by giving them what they want. Government tends to hold it's nose and select one solution that "fits all".
7. Aren't you glad that as an entrepreneur, all you have to do is find the right niche and serve the people in it well?
8. There is always a "next day" unless you fail.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Baby Boomer - You Don't Have to Learn Entrepreneurship Blindly Or Alone

A personal and educational introduction to Michael E. Gerber : ""

As an aspiring baby boomer entrepreneur, you want to convert your business idea into a reality. There is approximately an 80% failure rate of people trying to accomplish your same goal. Yet, renowned business adviser Michael E. Gerber says that no small business owner has to fail.

In this video, Gerber talks with small business coaches. He shares what coaches must understand to help small business owners bring the dream back to fact to small business owners around the world. Here, you can get that advice straight from his mouth.

Gerber explains that small business owners fail for reasons other than what they think is the cause of that failure. As a baby boomer making a transition to an encore career, this is valuable information for you.

He begins with what it means to have a dream. He explains the process for converting your dream to reality and how to get clarity from the onset. If you want to understand what needs to be done...and then what needs to be done next, you want to watch this 29 minute video.

You will learn there is a road map to your journey. You will learn that there are people prepared to help you with the task of designing your baby boomer retirement business. You can increase your chances of success by looking for the people who can help you. You do not have to do it blindly or alone.


Thursday, September 22, 2011

Networking is about people not numbers

Recently I wrote a guest blog for Warren Cass, 'Networking is not a numbers game'. In a reply on Twitter, Roberta Ward summed it up quite neatly, "No, its a people game!".

In the article I wrote about how some people approach networking as a numbers game. Meeting as many different people as possible at different events. Or collecting the maximum number of connections or friends on social networking websites.

The people who really make networking work for them and their business build strong relationships with a smaller number of people. They don't need to go out and meet new people all the time. Their introductions to new people and opportunities come via this group.

Constantly meeting new people all the time leaves no time for relationship building. It's like starting from scratch every time or the Networking equivalent of Groundhog Day!

Good Networking!
Dave Clarke

 ps Visit the new home of the business networking blog for the latest posts

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Aspiring Baby Boomer Entrepreneur - Are You Smarter Than An Old Walrus?

A number of my closest friends have received this video recently with the caption "My New Exercise Routine". And though my stomach could benefit from some sit ups, that is not what I am really talking about.

Much of what it takes to become a successful baby boomer entrepreneur involves behavior modification. You have to learn how to go from being an employee to being an owner. We often call that obtaining the entrepreneurial mindset. This is a new mental exercise routine.

Learning to make that change is a radical shift in your thinking and behavior. But if an old walrus can have his behavior shaped to accomplish new things, so can you.

Your task is to learn what behavior is required for success in the business of your choice. Then you must begin shaping that behavior a step at a time. That is the exact process the trainer used to teach an old Walrus to do sit ups. You can do it. You are smarter than an old walrus, aren't you?

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Sunday, September 11, 2011

You Are Not Alone - Most U.S. workers want to be entrepreneurs -

Most U.S. workers want to be entrepreneurs -

'via Blog this'

If you have a secret dream of quitting your job and becoming an entrepreneur, you are not alone. UPI reports that "Three-quarters of U.S. full-time and part-time employed adults say they want to leave their job and become an independent entrepreneur..."

Aspiring Baby Boomer Entrepreneurs seem to have an edge in the effort to have a balance in life. This balance is often described as having the ability to set one's hours, spend more time with friends and family, not have to deal with office politics and/or not have to endure a daily commute. You can take this advantage by retiring from your current job and starting a semi-retired life as a business owner. This is sometimes referred to as an "encore career".

For other aspiring baby boomer entrepreneurs, the solution may be in developing a part time business. In this case, you begin developing the business on the side until it can sustain your needs.

In either case, you must take action. You must take steps to make your version of the "American Dream" your American Reality. Smarter Small Business Blog is here to help you.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Are you networking with the right people?

I met someone recently at one of my regular networking groups. When he explained what he did I advised him that the group may not be great for him and his business. He sold cosmetics direct to consumers and was there to generate leads for his business. The group was made up of professionals and providers of business services.

He said, rightly, that everyone there either used or knew people that used the types of products he sold. I said that was true, but they were all there because they shared the same target market. They were not selling directly to consumers of domestic products so the best network for him would be with others selling directly to the same domestic consumers.

Successful networking for business development is all about building relationships with the right people. A good place to start when selecting a networking group for business is to find one where the other members sell to the same target market as you.

Good Networking!
Dave Clarke

 ps Visit the new home of the business networking blog for the latest posts

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Twitter - My Magic Carpet Ride

My father was a born in 1899. He lived in that rare time where he was barely old enough to serve in World War I and barely young enough to serve in World War II. He did both.

Full of curiosity and adventure, he decided to visit every one of the fortyeight states that then made up the USA. He rode the rails to realize his dream, passenger cars when he had money and freight trains when he didn't. He realized his dream between the wars. In 1949 he had his first born son and began a new journey, teaching me to dream.

Having inherited his taste for adventure, I wanted to do life at a bigger scale. I wanted to visit every continent of the world. I visited some continents, but was behind the pace I had hoped.

But three years ago today (July 31, 2008) a magic moment happened in my life. I had already decided that I wanted to begin sharing my business coaching skills with aspiring baby boomer entrepreneurs. These are the people born between 1946 and 1964, about 78 million in the United States alone. Many of these people have a taste for adventure and do not want to retire in the traditional manner. Many have a passion for something that they want to share with the world in the form of a business. Many also need help in developing the skills to convert their dreams into reality. My dream is to help them them reach their dreams.

Three years ago today, that magic moment happened while listening to Ed Dale...I learned about Twitter.

Ed is the face of a free training that happens each year called The Challenge (formerly the 30 Day Challenge). He teaches aspiring entrepreneurs to use the Internet at a tool to research business opportunities, a tool to market those opportunities, and a networking process to find others with a similar passion. I couldn't travel to every continent by rail, but I had something better, Ed helped me discover a magic carpet ride.

Twitter has taken me to every continent, except Anarctica...that will happen in time. I 've learned about people's passions and shared mine. I've made genuine friends during this three year journey. Thanks Dad, Ed Dale, and Twitter. To everyone else I extend this invitation:


Friday, July 15, 2011

What is a Business Networking Group?

I wrote this after a dinner party when one of the other guests asked me what I do. I used the phrase 'Business Networking Group' in my reply and she said, "What's a Business Networking Group?"

I was a little thrown at first, but realised I shouldn't be. I think we often assume that everyone knows more about whatever it is we do than they actually do. I once met someone on a Referral Institute training course who had written technical manuals. He said that the instructions included the advice to write so that an 8 year old can understand.

Wikipedia describes Business Networking as 'a socioeconomic activity by which groups of like-minded businesspeople recognize, create, or act upon business opportunities. A business network is a type of social network whose reason for existing is business activity'.

A little complicated so I realised that I needed to explain a little bit more. I explained that there are now many more people running their own business than ever before. Many of them are specialists in what they do and do not have any marketing or sales people. They rely on personal recommendation or word of mouth for their business. Their main problem is that they need more of these opportunities than they currently have. Many of the older business support services in the public and private sector do not really help these business people with generating positive word of mouth. As a result specialist business networking organisations have emerged.

Any club or group group exists because the members share and are committed to a common cause. The common cause for the members of a business networking group will usually be helping each other in business. This may be around sharing business, support and information (or all 3). It is mainly the need to generate more business by recommendation that has lead to the growth in the market of specialist business networking groups.

A business networking group is a club where the common cause is helping each other become more successful in business.

The most important thing in an effective business networking group is that the members don't just share the same needs. They must be in a position to really help each other. That will often mean that the members share similar target markets and provide similar value services. Success is then down to the commitment and contribution they make.

Would an 8 year old understand how you describe what you do?

Good Networking!
Dave Clarke

ps Visit the new home of the business networking blog for the latest posts

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

The small business advantage in the Digital Age

I wrote this on a train heading into London earlier this year and it was first published at the new home of the business networking blog. I was on my way to a 'Digital Mindset' workshop from Ecademy founders Penny & Thomas Power. The idea that Ecademy website was about 'Learning, networking and business development for the digital age' got me thinking about whether things have really changed.

If we are in a 'digital age' what does this mean for the Owners, Directors and Partners of small specialist businesses and professional firms? It is mainly these people who go networking as their primary route to market.

Most of the people I meet in this category are passionate about what they do and are open and transparent about what they do and why. It is this passion, openness & transparency that gives them an advantage in this digital age. It is exactly the right approach online.

Contrast this with the news furore at the time about wikileaks. Whatever the rights or wrongs of leaking the information the revelations showed some of our politicians, diplomats and representatives of big business taking the opposite approach. Saying one thing in private and another thing in public. The internet has made it easier to judge openness, honesty and transparency. The very things that small business is mainly better at that big business.

You may have heard the expression 'people buy people'. The approach for the digital age is the same as what came before.

Be yourself!

Good Networking!

Dave Clarke

ps Visit the new home of the business networking blog for the latest posts

Saturday, July 2, 2011

What 3 Issues Must You Master To Be A Successful Baby Boomer Business Owner‬?

YouTube - ‪Behaviors of Successful Business Owners‬‏: ""

All businesses have certain things in common. Business coach Ron Finklestein suggests that you greatly increase your odds of success as an aspiring baby boomer entrepreneur if you master the three issues every business leader faces:
  • Making more money
  • Having more time
  • Having productive employees
He also suggests that YOU must have certain things to achieve mastery of these issues:
  • Attitude
  • Strategy
  • Discipline
Check out his video for more insights.

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Sunday, June 5, 2011

You Are Probably Not A Natural Born Baby Boomer Entrepreneur

Should being a baby boomer entrepreneur be your encore career goal? Are you a natural born entrepreneur? Should owning your own business be the next step for you?

Many people feel that they have what it takes to be a baby boomer entrepreneur. YOU might be convinced that it is the logical next step because YOUR goals might be:
  • To have more freedom in general in semi-retirement,
  • To have better financial control over your life,
  • To have greater control over how you use your time,
  • To have more control over your intellectual or creative life.
All of these are great goals. But they don't require becoming a baby boomer entrepreneur. Plus becoming an entrepreneur has around a 90% failure rate. You are probably not a natural born baby boomer entrepreneur. You might want to explore your alternatives to accomplishing such goals.

My first suggestion to you is visiting the creators of the above video, They will show you how to think about "combining purpose, passion, and a paycheck". However, they will show you alternatives, including the possibility of becoming a baby boomer entrepreneur.
  1. If you determine becoming an entrepreneur is still your goal,
  2. If you decide that you are committed to developing a business that aligns with your needs, values, and beliefs,
  3. If you decide owning a business is what you want, not what someone else wants for you,
You can accomplish what you want. But be sure what you are trying to accomplish IS what you want.


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Saturday, May 7, 2011

Why Do Veterans Choose To Become Entrepreneurs?

Veterans Often Choose Entrepreneurship | Business Wire

Can aspiring baby boomer entrepreneurs learn from veterans? In a study released yesterday, May 6, 2011, the Office of Advocacy of the U.S. Small Business Administration published new information about veterans who become entrepreneurs following completion of military service. The study reveals that veterans are 45 % more likely than those with no active duty military experience to be self employed.

I am wondering if there is a correlation between veterans moving into civilian life and former employees moving into semi-retired life. SBA Chief Counsel for Advocacy Winslow Sargeant said, "Knowing more about the factors behind veteran's self -employment offers the opportunity to lay the groundwork for future success."

At this point, we know from the study that it does not appear that military training is the factor that drives entrepreneurship. Those with four years or less of service are more likely to choose entrepreneurship. However, there seems to be a high correlation of military retirees becoming entrepreneurs. It is believed that this may be the result of higher degrees of wealth and life stability. The research shows that with each additional year of age, the probability of becoming an entrepreneur increases by 7.5%.

Retiring baby boomers share many of the same characteristics of retiring veterans. Can we learn more about promoting successful transition to entrepreneurship by studying these veterans who transition from the military to civilian entrepreneurship? Take a look at the study and the research summary for yourself: Factors Affecting Entrepreneurship Among Veterans.


Saturday, April 30, 2011

Lemonade Stand Day - Inspiring Future Entrepreneurs

Prepared 4 Life: Inspiring Entrepreneurs, One Lemonade Stand at a Time - AOL Small Business

For years, the lemonade stand has been the symbol of entrepreneurship. With that thought in mind, Houston-based entrepreneur and philanthropist Michael Holthouse inspired the creation of National Lemonade Day. It happens on May 1 for the purpose of teaching youth about business.

As aspiring baby boomer entrepreneurs, we can think back to our experiences with lemonade stands from our youth. We can reconnect to what we believed before we became workers. We might have been trying to buy streamers for our bikes or a new pet. We knew we could solve our problem by solving the thirst problem of those around us.

If you need to reconnect with that time in your life, click the link and re-experience the moment through the eyes of today's youth.


Saturday, April 23, 2011

How Coachable Are You?

How Coachable Are You? « Ingrid Elfver

Just how coachable are you? Are you prepared to learn and expand to make the transition to being a baby boomer entrepreneur? Or, are you stuck on the situations that developed in your former career from which you are seeking semi-retirement?

Recently I became familiar with the work of Ingrid Elfver. She is a coach who works with other coaches to help them expand their abilities to serve their clients. She asked this same question, "How Coachable Are You?", in one of her recent blog posts. It stimulated me to think about how coachable I am personally and how coachable I expect my clients to be. You fan find my assessment of myself by reading my comments on her web page. Just click the title to this post and it will take you there.

Now, it is your turn. As you make the transition from being an employee to a baby boomer entrepreneurs, how coachable are you? Here is a video, Baby Boomer Entrepreneur- You Need A Guide, that may help you evaluate yourself.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

How Seth Godin Helped Me Understand The Entrepreneurial Mindset

Seth's Blog: Moving beyond teachers and bosses

Almost daily I find myself thinking about the meaning of "The Entrepreneurial Mindset". As I think about trying to help a baby boomer make the transition to from employee to baby boomer entrepreneur, the definition of the entrepreneurial mindset is always an issue.

Seth Godin, one of my favorite writers recently helped me bring this concept into a tighter focus. If you follow the link to his blog, you will learn how we get conditioned to please teachers and bosses. In the process we forget how to take initiative.

Grasping this simple concept shared by Seth will help you, just as it helped me. It brought me to a new level of clarity. It can do the same for you as you make the transition to becoming a baby boomer entrepreneur.

Shallie Bey

TrackBack URL for Seth's entry:

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Baby Boomer Entrepreneur - Shouldn't You Know The Top 10 Dying Industries?

Top 10 Dying Industries - Real Time Economics - WSJ

As an aspiring baby boomer entrepreneur you look forward to the exciting and new opportunity before you. But are you taking time to look around you to see what is crumbling and how it may impact your plans?

This Wall Street Journal Article shares information about the top 10 dying industries around us. Does you business idea sell to, use products of, or depend upon people who work in these industries? If so, you need to know what the future of these industries will be.

In the big picture sense, the point of this article is that everything is changing around us. A few weeks ago, I drove through a community where I had once owned a small restaurant It has been 25 years since the business closed. I was amazed to see how the community had changed. I wondered what that change would have done to the restaurant if it had continued to operate. I saw corners with vacant lots where thriving businesses had once operated. I wondered ...

So as you make your plans for your business, what assumptions are you making. Do you expect the world to stand still except for the improvements your business will bring to the market? Think and think again!


Tuesday, January 18, 2011

The Business Networking Blog is moving

The Business Networking Blog has a new home at Please check the new location for new posts with business networking tips, hints, advice and stories.

The full archive of posts is also available at the new site.

For new posts go the new home of the business networking blog.

EDIT July 5, 2011
A number of people still visit here so I'm going to start adding posts here too. It may take a while to catch up.

Good Networking!

Dave Clarke

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Do you know where you are starting from?

Over the last week or so my inbox has been full of well meaning advice about goal setting and new year resolutions. The same topics have seemed to dominate on blogs and social media. One thing has been missing from a lot of what I have read - the importance of knowing where you are starting from. You may be a lot nearer to your goals than you think. One of the common mistakes people make when building a business network is thinking that it is all about making new contacts. Don't forget the people who already know, like, rate and trust you.

I shared some tips on how to identify the people already in your network in a short podcast that you can listen to here:

I heard someone say once that if you don't know where you are going then any road will do as you don't know which one to follow. Equally if you don't know where you are then you don't know which road to take.

Good Networking!

Dave Clarke