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Wednesday, 10 October 2012 17:01

Change is goodChange is scaryChange is good!

Lately it seems that many of my friends and family members are going through changes, both personal and professional. I count myself among them. Making major changes in life is part of life, yet it can be very scary and unnerving. But change is necessary if we are to grow and reach our full potential. Making a change that you're afraid of is far better than never making a change and remaining in a situation that is no longer good for you that you've outgrown or that simply doesn't excite you anymore. Life is too short!

Published in Local Business
Wednesday, 03 October 2012 16:17

Pizza made possible by Kickstarter

When the Maine Grind in Ellsworth decided they wanted to add pizza to their menu, they turned to their customers for help raising the money they needed to make it happen. Using a site called Kickstarter, they launched a campaign to raise $20,000 - and they were successful! Kickstarter is a 'crowd funding' site, meaning individuals pledge money to projects they want to support. Kickstarter started to help fund creative projects - musicians, artists, etc. But more businesses are finding the site a great way to fund their creative projects. There are other crowd funding sites out there, but Kickstarter is among the most popular (do be sure any site you choose is legit!).

Published in Local Business
Wednesday, 26 September 2012 17:20

Life's marathon

I just completed a half marathon and now I hurt. So why do I do it? Why do I put myself through the pain? The answer is simple, yet apparently contradictory. I run because it makes me feel good. I like what it does for my body but mostly I like what it does for my brain. I swear that running clears out brain crud. Many of my most creative and best ideas came to me during a run. I also like to push myself beyond what I think I'm capable of.

Published in Local Business
Wednesday, 19 September 2012 16:02

You never forget your first day

You never forget your first day on the job. Much like your first day at school, it can be a success or a complete disaster. No doubt you have good stories and bad stories. I've heard them all - most recently from a new employee who was given a desk and sat there all day with no idea of what she was supposed to do. Her new boss swung by for a moment to say he was off to meetings and they would catch up soon. 'Soon' never came. He never took the time to welcome her and orient her to her new workplace or job duties. As a result she soon left for a better job in a much more welcoming environment.

Published in Local Business
Wednesday, 12 September 2012 14:54

Sales tax can be taxing

Sales tax may not be the sexiest of business topics, but it's often the topic that causes the most confusion for business owners especially new ones. Take myself for example. I recently launched a new business making jewelry and accessories and selling them online. I assumed that because I was selling online only and didn't have a retail store in Maine that I would not have to collect sales tax. But I wasn't sure, so I called Maine Revenue Services in Augusta and they set me straight. Let me first say that they were very nice and helpful, and I would strongly recommend that if you have any questions call them!

It turns out that, because I live in Maine and do business in Maine, I do in fact have to collect sales tax on items shipped to Maine residents. If a Maine resident orders and wishes to have the product shipped to another state, I do not need to collect Maine sales tax. I thought to myself, 'I should know this stuff!' Then it occurred to me that if I was easily confused, there are likely many of you who are as well. So I set out to learn more.

Published in Local Business
Wednesday, 29 August 2012 14:44

Breaking up is hard to do

It was a late night when they checked in - a husband and wife who had booked two weeks at my inn in Bar Harbor. I knew within five minutes of their arrival that this was not going to go well. They expected service valet, restaurant, bar, pool that my property did not offer. I knew there would be no way they would enjoy their stay with me and that we would both be miserable, so I sat them down for 'the talk.' I kindly suggested they would be better off with someone else and offered to find them a room at one of the more 'resort-like' properties on the island. They agreed. I made the break up easy by returning their room deposit and making all the arrangements for them. It was the best decision for both of us.

The downside of this break up was that I found myself with a vacancy at the height of the season and I risked that they would be unhappy with me and tell others (we know how important 'word of mouth' is to business). Fortunately, those worries were unwarranted. I rented their now vacant room quickly and learned a month later that this couple wrote a letter the Bar Harbor Chamber praising me for the exceptional customer service I gave them. They had a fabulous visit to Bar Harbor and planned to return.

Published in Local Business
Wednesday, 22 August 2012 14:09

White board wisdom

I was sitting in a conference room in a meeting about something to do with something but not anything to do with this column! What I'm writing about is what caught my eye in the conference room during one of those moments when my mind wandered (not that I wasn't paying full attention!). This is what was written on a white board, left there from a previous meeting.

'Learn to inspire the men and women who work for you. Learn to lift them up to give them meaningful responsibility to allow them room to grow. And YES even to make mistakes! Be slow to judge.'

Published in Local Business
Wednesday, 15 August 2012 15:17

Clear Predictable Reliable

I recently attended a session at a Lean Systems summit about how a city in New England is working to make licensing and permitting process easier for businesses that want to do business in the city. I was a bit puzzled when the presenter tossed a ball of yarn to a group of us sitting around a table at the session. She asked each of us to hold a piece of yarn and toss the ball to someone at the table who would hold a piece of the yarn and toss the ball again. Time and time again some of us 'dropped the ball' didn't know to whom to pass the ball and in the end we ended up with a tangled mess.

This game of 'yarn toss' was intended to illustrate how frustrating the process was for businesses in this community before they created a system that was 'clear predictable reliable' and has shortened the time it takes for a business to get their licenses in place from three months to a few weeks.

Published in Local Business
Wednesday, 08 August 2012 17:11

You're NOT on Facebook!?

The looks from my friends sitting around the table were of shock, wonder and a little jealousy as my 40-something friend (we'll call him Jim) confessed to a group of my friends that he is not on Facebook. 'What?' 'You're not in Facebook?' 'Are you serious?' 'Are you OK?' 'How do you do it?' 'How are we supposed to stalk you?' 'How can we tag you in this pic we just took of you?' 'I often wish I wasn't either!' These were just some of the reactions he received when he admitted this in public. The funny thing is that my friend seems to be pretty well adjusted, social, busy, successful and active in spite of the fact that he doesn't spend time on Facebook. Or perhaps he's that way precisely because he doesn't spend time on Facebook. I'll let you ponder that.

Jim, myself and the rest of the group at the table are all busy professionals, business owners, parents, wives, husbands, active in our communities - and we're (mostly) all on Facebook. I like being there. I've found it to be a very useful and fun tool to stay in touch with my friends and family both near and far, and it's a useful tool to promote a business. But there are times when I long for the days before social media - the days when we only knew what was going in the lives of others by actually seeing them, calling them or writing to them.

Published in Local Business
Wednesday, 01 August 2012 16:11

Olympic dreams

I was watching the Olympics swimming heats with my nephew, when at one point he turned to his mother and said, 'I'll never make it to the Olympics.' His Mom (aka my sister) replied, 'If you think about the Olympics, that's too big just think about your next meet and then the next and do the best you can.' I pointed out that the Olympic athletes likely started swimming in their neighborhood pools and swim clubs, and they just kept on swimming!

Published in Local Business
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