This Week In Business: The Too Much Information Edition

This Week In Business: The Too Much Information Edition

Do you ever ask yourself what you think is an innocent question involving a bit of internet research only to find two weeks later, you know way too much about what doesn't work and why?

I researched different web conferencing software packages including GoTo Meeting, Teamviewer, WebEx, iLinc, DimDim, and MegaMeeting. (I am only listing them here to make myself feel like I did something during that seemingly wasted work time!)

Besides doing a lot that didn't work, here's what happened:

I found Skype (with the Mikogo add-on) was perfect for holding free and productive web conferences.

I was looking for a cost effective (read: free or cheap) way to hold virtual meetings. It began with Skype until I realized that I couldn't share my screen on a group conference call. After this, I tried all kinds of different web conferencing solutions including the ones that didn't work above. They were either cost prohibitive ($50 or more per month) or they lacked in an important way (like having a 2.5 second sound delay).

Too Cute Tuesday: Wine Tasting

Too Cute Tuesday: Wine Tasting

Every Tuesday, it's a craft, a cocktail, and friends. To get in on the fun, check us out on Facebook or read all the posts at www.toocutetuesday.com. Comment, suggest crafts, or start your own TCT chapter. It's fun!

When my friend Sue said her wine expert friend John would be in town and asked if I'd want to hold a wine tasting/lesson instead of our usual craft format, I knew I'd be crazy to say no. I also knew I'd be doing this writeup on Wednesday.

On my way to Craft Central, my car broke down on the side of the road. I called up and John and Sue's husband Andrew came and rescued me. They popped open my hood and started talking about belts and fluids. Andrew kept going in his car and getting liquids to pour in and John told me that before becoming a wine person, he was a mechanic. That's versatility!

After making my car safe enough to drive to my favorite garage, we left it and off we went to Too Cute Tuesday.

At the beginning of the wine tasting, look how excited Sue looks. As the person taking the picture, you can't see that I am also pretty darn excited.

After this incident, John didn't skip a beat and we all had a great experience. Here's how you can approximate it without your own car mechanic/wine expert on hand:

Andrew: smelling the bouquet or checking if something is in his drink? When wine and dog ownership intersect...Materials

6 bottles of wine, shoot for the same kind of grape and same year but different regions. We did Cabernet Sauvignon in 2008-2009 vintages from four regions of the world.

Baguette, fancy crackers, and fancy cheeses: both palate cleansers and dinner substitutes.

Ideally one wine glass per wine type per person. Ideally, the same glass size and shape. We only had three per person so we worked with it.

Container for dumping the wine (there is probably a better technical name for this and, while it is sad to throw it out, six people drinking six whole bottles of wine would not have made for a nice Wednesday morning)

Cocktail of the Night: Um... wine!

1. Line up the bottles (don't tell people prices or specifics).

2. Pour small glass of each wine to excited TCT participants. First smell, then swirl the glass and smell again. Discuss how the smells change.

Marketing Monday: Your Ideas Please

Marketing Monday: Your Ideas Please

I've had a tough sell recently and I thought I'd take it to the Breaking Even Blog readers.

A local small business counselor who sees a lot of people come through his office told me he is skeptical about social media/online marketing working for small businesses in rural Maine.

I highlight examples of businesses doing this well every week with the Marketing Monday feature on this blog. That said, I could use some small businesses, particularly in rural areas, using blogging, email newsletters, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Flickr, Youtube, and other online promotion techniques to communicate with customers and increase sales. Bonus points if the business is in Maine.

Please share your idea(s) below! Thanks for your help and ideas!

Fun Friday: Things I’ve Learned On Reality Dating Shows

Fun Friday: Things I’ve Learned On Reality Dating Shows

At the end of the week, I write about whatever I want. Because I can.

So my love for television shows that most people publicly shame is well documented. My latest guilty pleasure has been dating shows. I could only stomach about 15 minutes of the Bachelor but the less sincere ones like 'Seducing Cindy' and 'Rock of Love' make me laugh out loud about group dynamics and the predictability of people's public behavior.

I've learned the following from watching celebrities try to fake sincerely look for love in front of a bunch of television cameras. Single people, take note. Maybe one of these realizations will help you nab the B-list celebrity of your dreams.

One guy, twenty women... and when it comes down to a 40 year old and a 23 year old, guess who the middle aged rock star picks...

Celebrity Reality Dating Show Rule 1. One person has the power.

In any relationship, one person does the choosing and the other is chosen. In the really realistic scenario of living in the other person's fourth house with the 20-something other people pursuing them, each powerless person will only get more so as the season progresses.

Celebrity Reality Dating Show Rule 2. You have fit in the other person's life, but they aren't worried about it working in the other direction.

While you will be asked superficial questions like what music you like or where you grew up, the celebrity will be asking themselves how the potential mate will fit into their lives. They will never ask the reverse question.

This Month In Business: Running on Coffee And Enthusiasm Edition

This Month In Business: Running on Coffee And Enthusiasm Edition

It has been a crazy insane month in my life. I've joked that if all this movement was actually running, I could run a marathon by now!

The big theme of the month was diversification. I mean my client base is growing at a steady rate but it's really important to have a few related streams of income. This way, I'm not counting on one check to come in or one other person to decide to buy my services.

How I've been doing this is creating more in-person seminars. I love public speaking and people seem to enjoy my presentations so the question was, how can I make money doing this? How can I help more businesses? Here are a few things I did this past month:

I planned a whole new program to help small businesses learn about the internet.

Hugo Diaz, who is a local web developer in my area who normally works on really high end projects, took a lot of his time to help me develop the Downeast Internet Incubator Program (DIIP). The basic idea is to take business owners through the process of setting up social media and a basic CMS (content management system) website in small groups online which will 1) cut down on costs, 2) allow me to help more people, and 3) get more business owners in my area comfortable with using the internet and help build future capacity for my services.

The kickoff for the program is Saturday afternoon at the Maine Grind. I'm charging $10 for the program orientation because while some of it will be about the program, most of it will be about how to use Skype and DimDim to have remote meetings. I figure whether or not people like the program, they'll definitely get their $10 worth.

There's plenty of spots. To register, click here.

I presented at the Deer Isle Stonington Chamber.

Deer Isle-Stonington is a beautiful part of the county I live in and one of my old clients got me a speaking gig with the Chamber. It went well and I even got a client out of it. She says if I do a good job, she'll tell everyone. Great!

I negotiated regular rent at the Maine Grind.

If I was going to set up regular seminar experiences, I needed a venue. Leslie, the owner of the Maine Grind was my first client ever so I've always had a soft spot for her. Even before I started working with her though, I loved her coffee shop with its free Wi-Fi, local art, and an upstairs room with good light (not to mention food and drink on site).

Too Cute Tuesday: Too Hot to Handle

Too Cute Tuesday: Too Hot to Handle

Love Tuesdays? We do too. Every Tuesday, it's a craft, a cocktail, and friends. To learn more see www.toocutetuesday.com for all the posts or check out the Facebook page.

MDI Ice Cream, the only solution to a day too hot to do anything beyond what you have to.

Three weeks ago, I had planned to make car bomb cupcakes from a recipe on Smitten Kitchen sent in by my friend Kate. I had not planned for it to be a million degrees outside (actually 90 F). Way too hot to bake, my friends... but who knew that it would get to be this hot in May?!