Spotlight: Mavely Helps You Shop for a New eCommerce Experience

Mavely Aims to support women owned businesses and responsible retailer

The company aims to support women owned businesses and responsible retailer through its curated shopping experience.

Influencer marketing and social media have completely changed the way people shop online. But many of those eperiences are still hosted across various platforms. Instead of that traditional experience, Mavely wants to create something new. Learn more about the business’s mission in this week’s Small Business Spotlight.

What the Business Does

Provides a platform for shopping and influence.

Co-Founder and Chief Community Officer Peggy O’Flaherty told Small Business Trends, “Mavely is a new way to shop direct-to-consumer brands that make life a wee bit happier. By focusing on brands that are female-founded and responsible, Mavely carefully curates a shopping experience like no other.

“When shopping on Mavely app, you earn back on every purchase you make. Recommend products into the activity feed and see what your friends are actually shopping for. When you share & invite friends to shop, you BOTH earn back together. The goal? Earn back on your influence, authentically recommend products, and drive the discovery of innovative brands.”

Business Niche

Providing a well rounded experience.

Instead of providing another cash back or influencer platform, Mavely focuses on authentic interactions. Because the team is so passionate about helping women owned and responsible brands, the community offers a lot of unique features to help people give back.

O’Flaherty says, “We allow for individuals who earn on their shopping and on their authentic sharing. We have a community of women who are giving that extra earning back to their favorite charity.”

How the Business Got Started

To lift up women owned businesses.

O’Flaherty had already started a few other small businesses through the years. After staying home for years to raise her children, she felt called to start another venture that supported female entrepreneurs.

She adds, “[I] wanted to create an authentic experience of shopping and sharing to support the women around us.”

Biggest Win

Getting some early press.

O’Flaherty explains, “Immediately 12 new investors came to the table, intrigued and eager to further our mission and product. Helping brands acquire customers at a lower cost, while helping women discover, cool new brands is our perfect marketplace.”

Biggest Risk

Changing the business model.

Originally, the company launched with a multi level marketing distribution business model. That led to tons of early growth. However, the team felt that it didn’t fit with their ultimate mission long term. So they decided to change their model, even though it meant some stagnation for a short period.

O’Flaherty says, “The biggest risk was a short period where our growth plateaued and even fell back in user base. Then when we found a better financial model, brand message and product the growth turned into a positive direction.”

How They Got Their Name

After multiple changes.

O’Flaherty explains, “Originally we were Million Moms, MyFavorite Things and now Mavely. Our community is filled with Maven, women who are knows for something unique in their circle of friends and followers.”

How They’d Spend an Extra $100,000

Rewarding women.

O’Flaherty adds, “We would create a scholarship / grant for women business owners, who are starting up and looking for national distribution through Mavely platform.”

Favorite Quote

“Lean teams who listen to their customers and pivot quickly grow the fastest.” -Tim Connors.

* * * * *

Find out more about the Small Biz Spotlight program

Image: Mavely; Top Image: Evan Wray, CEO and Co-Founder; Peggy O’Flaherty, Chief Community Officer and Co-Founder; Sean O’Brien, CTO, COO and Co-founder

This article, "Spotlight: Mavely Helps You Shop for a New eCommerce Experience" was first published on Small Business Trends



via Small Business Trends Business Feeds

Spotlight: Mavely Helps You Shop for a New eCommerce Experience

Mavely Aims to support women owned businesses and responsible retailer

The company aims to support women owned businesses and responsible retailer through its curated shopping experience.

Influencer marketing and social media have completely changed the way people shop online. But many of those eperiences are still hosted across various platforms. Instead of that traditional experience, Mavely wants to create something new. Learn more about the business’s mission in this week’s Small Business Spotlight.

What the Business Does

Provides a platform for shopping and influence.

Co-Founder and Chief Community Officer Peggy O’Flaherty told Small Business Trends, “Mavely is a new way to shop direct-to-consumer brands that make life a wee bit happier. By focusing on brands that are female-founded and responsible, Mavely carefully curates a shopping experience like no other.

“When shopping on Mavely app, you earn back on every purchase you make. Recommend products into the activity feed and see what your friends are actually shopping for. When you share & invite friends to shop, you BOTH earn back together. The goal? Earn back on your influence, authentically recommend products, and drive the discovery of innovative brands.”

Business Niche

Providing a well rounded experience.

Instead of providing another cash back or influencer platform, Mavely focuses on authentic interactions. Because the team is so passionate about helping women owned and responsible brands, the community offers a lot of unique features to help people give back.

O’Flaherty says, “We allow for individuals who earn on their shopping and on their authentic sharing. We have a community of women who are giving that extra earning back to their favorite charity.”

How the Business Got Started

To lift up women owned businesses.

O’Flaherty had already started a few other small businesses through the years. After staying home for years to raise her children, she felt called to start another venture that supported female entrepreneurs.

She adds, “[I] wanted to create an authentic experience of shopping and sharing to support the women around us.”

Biggest Win

Getting some early press.

O’Flaherty explains, “Immediately 12 new investors came to the table, intrigued and eager to further our mission and product. Helping brands acquire customers at a lower cost, while helping women discover, cool new brands is our perfect marketplace.”

Biggest Risk

Changing the business model.

Originally, the company launched with a multi level marketing distribution business model. That led to tons of early growth. However, the team felt that it didn’t fit with their ultimate mission long term. So they decided to change their model, even though it meant some stagnation for a short period.

O’Flaherty says, “The biggest risk was a short period where our growth plateaued and even fell back in user base. Then when we found a better financial model, brand message and product the growth turned into a positive direction.”

How They Got Their Name

After multiple changes.

O’Flaherty explains, “Originally we were Million Moms, MyFavorite Things and now Mavely. Our community is filled with Maven, women who are knows for something unique in their circle of friends and followers.”

How They’d Spend an Extra $100,000

Rewarding women.

O’Flaherty adds, “We would create a scholarship / grant for women business owners, who are starting up and looking for national distribution through Mavely platform.”

Favorite Quote

“Lean teams who listen to their customers and pivot quickly grow the fastest.” -Tim Connors.

* * * * *

Find out more about the Small Biz Spotlight program

Image: Mavely; Top Image: Evan Wray, CEO and Co-Founder; Peggy O’Flaherty, Chief Community Officer and Co-Founder; Sean O’Brien, CTO, COO and Co-founder

This article, "Spotlight: Mavely Helps You Shop for a New eCommerce Experience" was first published on Small Business Trends



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How to Open Your Own Paint and Sip Studio

How to Open Your Own Paint and Sip Studio

Paint and sip businesses have really taken off over the past decade. A few of the big names in this space, like Painting with a Twist and Pinot’s Palette, actually launched in the 2000’s. But the concept has moved into many more communities thanks in large part to franchise programs over the last several years.

If you’re unfamiliar with how paint and sip studios operate, here’s the basic gist. Most of these businesses host private parties with groups of friends, family members, or business colleagues. The business owner supplies a canvas and paints to each attendee, along with an example piece of art that everyone can use as inspiration for their own work. As for the sip portion of the event, most venues have a BYOB model, but some do offer bar service or retail options as well.

This type of business model tends to appeal to potential entrepreneurs because it mixes creativity and fun. It’s something that can appeal to a wide base of potential customers, from bachelorette parties to corporate team building outings.

Many of these studios have popped up around the country thanks to franchise programs. If you’re interested in getting started with a recognizable brand behind you, there are some options to consider below. However, you could also opt to start your own independent version of this business model, perhaps with a unique spin of some kind.

One of the hottest business trends involves both drinking and painting. Get in on the action – here’s how to open your own paint and sip studio.

Open Your Own Paint and Sip Studio

Create a Business Model

The business model for paint and sip studios can vary a bit. Many charge a standard fee for parties. Others charge by the person. Some sell alcohol on site. Others just allow you to bring your own. Before you get started, you’ll need to have at least a general

Consider a Niche

If you want to open your own independent sip and paint studio rather than opting for a franchise, you may want to consider a niche to help you stand out. For example, many of these studios are already popular with the “girls night out” crowd — so you might opt for a craft beer as your sip of choice over wine. You could also offer sip and paint for kids with juice and easy art options. Or you could even focus on date night events or specific types of art like “paint your pet” classes.

Brian Bullard of The Paint & Wine Studio National Training Center wrote, “Creating a unique business is not the matter of copying the exact model of a competing business and “painting” it a different color. If this concept is employed, the only thing setting you off from the competition is the price, and inevitably, novices believe if they copy a successful business and offer a lower price they will be successful — which couldn’t be further from the truth.”

Find the Right Location

Sip and paint businesses do usually require a physical location. And it helps if it’s somewhere centrally located. Though people usually book parties ahead of time, a location in a downtown area or business district increases the chance that they’ll actually think of your business the next time they’re planning a fun outing or special event. You may also want to offer walk-in classes during the day to supplement your earnings from evening parties. So a walkable location would help with that. You also need to make sure the building has enough space for large parties to set up easels and view your inspiration art in one large room.

Check Local Regulations

Every state and local community has their own set of rules for registering new businesses. So check with your city or local chamber of commerce to get the specifics for your area. But in nearly every case, you’ll need a business license, inspection of your location, and tax and zoning permits.

Your business model may also impact whether or not you need a liquor license. If you’re employing a BYOB model, you may not need this step. But some states and communities do require you to have one if you just allow alcohol on the premises. Some businesses have even been shut down over this mix-up, so don’t overlook this step.

Build Your Team

You don’t need to be a professional artist to run a sip and paint studio. But you should have instructors and support staff on your team who are at least a little familiar with artistic techniques. Your team should also be able to speak clearly and interact with guests in a fun and laid back way. With this type of business, you might start small with just a couple of hires and grow your team as your calendar fills up.

Invest in Painting Supplies

You’ll need a fair amount of canvases, paints, brushes, and accessories to get started with this type of business. Find a wholesaler that offers prices in line with your budget. Quality is important, but this type of business is usually focused more on creating a fun experience than long-lasting works of art.

Create a Price List

Once you have a better handle on your expenses and the types of parties or experiences you’ll offer, it’s time to create more specific prices. You should have set offerings for private parties and/or individual or walk-in events if you choose to have them. The prices should be enough to cover the paint and sip supplies and instructor pay for each session, while also contributing to your fixed expenses like rent and utilities and leaving you enough to save or turn a profit.

Build an Online Presence

Even though paint and sip businesses serve customers in person, you still need an online presence to let people know you’re there and give them information about how to book an event. At the very least, you’ll need a website and Google My Business Listing that offers your hours, location, contact information, and probably a way to book online.

However, this type of business can also benefit from an active presence on social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram. Since it’s such a visual experience, customers are likely to share their creations and fun times with friends online. So if you have social media accounts that they can tag or link to, you’ll be even more likely to grow via word of mouth.

Market Your Offerings

From there, you may also want to consider marketing your business in other ways. You can take out search ads and social media ads to reach more customers online and direct them to your website where they can book a party. But you can also advertise locally in newspapers, outdoor ads, or even sponsor local events where your target market may be present.

Consider Paint and Sip Franchises

If you like the idea of starting a sip and paint studio but don’t want to start from scratch, there are plenty of existing brands with franchise programs that you might consider.

Painting with a Twist

Arguably the biggest name in this space, Painting with a Twist offers an extensive gallery of art and offers training and support for franchisees around the country. The franchise fee is $25,000 and comes with a proprietary online system, a fun culture, and economical prices for supplies. This company also now owns the Bottle & Bottega brand, another big name within the sip and paint space.

Pinot’s Palette

Another nationally recognized wine and paint franchise, Pinot’s Palette aims to set its model apart by focusing on customer service and training. The company is also known for its creative culture, constant new product development, and marketing. The total initial costs range from about $100,000 to $250,000 depending on location and other factors.

Pretty In Paint

Pretty In Paint, or PIP, takes the sip and paint concept out of the studio and into customers’ homes. Instead of opening a dedicated studio, you travel to your customers for private parties where they provide the food and drinks and you provide the art supplies and instruction. It’s a relatively low cost franchise, since you can avoid the lease and many expenses related to support staff. The initial franchise fee is $14,000.

Board & Brush

If you want to do something a bit different from the traditional canvas art, Board & Brush offers painting classes where customers instead paint rustic wood signs. The initial franchise fee is $25,000 and total initial costs can go up to about $90,000 depending on your location.

Wine & Design

Wine & Design currently has about 60 franchises operating around the country. So it’s one of the larger brands in the space, but still offers plenty of opportunities for growth in new markets. The initial fee is $25,000, with a discount for veterans and those bringing the brand to a new state.

Image: Depositphotos.com

This article, "How to Open Your Own Paint and Sip Studio" was first published on Small Business Trends



via Small Business Trends Business Feeds

How to Open Your Own Paint and Sip Studio

How to Open Your Own Paint and Sip Studio

Paint and sip businesses have really taken off over the past decade. A few of the big names in this space, like Painting with a Twist and Pinot’s Palette, actually launched in the 2000’s. But the concept has moved into many more communities thanks in large part to franchise programs over the last several years.

If you’re unfamiliar with how paint and sip studios operate, here’s the basic gist. Most of these businesses host private parties with groups of friends, family members, or business colleagues. The business owner supplies a canvas and paints to each attendee, along with an example piece of art that everyone can use as inspiration for their own work. As for the sip portion of the event, most venues have a BYOB model, but some do offer bar service or retail options as well.

This type of business model tends to appeal to potential entrepreneurs because it mixes creativity and fun. It’s something that can appeal to a wide base of potential customers, from bachelorette parties to corporate team building outings.

Many of these studios have popped up around the country thanks to franchise programs. If you’re interested in getting started with a recognizable brand behind you, there are some options to consider below. However, you could also opt to start your own independent version of this business model, perhaps with a unique spin of some kind.

One of the hottest business trends involves both drinking and painting. Get in on the action – here’s how to open your own paint and sip studio.

Open Your Own Paint and Sip Studio

Create a Business Model

The business model for paint and sip studios can vary a bit. Many charge a standard fee for parties. Others charge by the person. Some sell alcohol on site. Others just allow you to bring your own. Before you get started, you’ll need to have at least a general

Consider a Niche

If you want to open your own independent sip and paint studio rather than opting for a franchise, you may want to consider a niche to help you stand out. For example, many of these studios are already popular with the “girls night out” crowd — so you might opt for a craft beer as your sip of choice over wine. You could also offer sip and paint for kids with juice and easy art options. Or you could even focus on date night events or specific types of art like “paint your pet” classes.

Brian Bullard of The Paint & Wine Studio National Training Center wrote, “Creating a unique business is not the matter of copying the exact model of a competing business and “painting” it a different color. If this concept is employed, the only thing setting you off from the competition is the price, and inevitably, novices believe if they copy a successful business and offer a lower price they will be successful — which couldn’t be further from the truth.”

Find the Right Location

Sip and paint businesses do usually require a physical location. And it helps if it’s somewhere centrally located. Though people usually book parties ahead of time, a location in a downtown area or business district increases the chance that they’ll actually think of your business the next time they’re planning a fun outing or special event. You may also want to offer walk-in classes during the day to supplement your earnings from evening parties. So a walkable location would help with that. You also need to make sure the building has enough space for large parties to set up easels and view your inspiration art in one large room.

Check Local Regulations

Every state and local community has their own set of rules for registering new businesses. So check with your city or local chamber of commerce to get the specifics for your area. But in nearly every case, you’ll need a business license, inspection of your location, and tax and zoning permits.

Your business model may also impact whether or not you need a liquor license. If you’re employing a BYOB model, you may not need this step. But some states and communities do require you to have one if you just allow alcohol on the premises. Some businesses have even been shut down over this mix-up, so don’t overlook this step.

Build Your Team

You don’t need to be a professional artist to run a sip and paint studio. But you should have instructors and support staff on your team who are at least a little familiar with artistic techniques. Your team should also be able to speak clearly and interact with guests in a fun and laid back way. With this type of business, you might start small with just a couple of hires and grow your team as your calendar fills up.

Invest in Painting Supplies

You’ll need a fair amount of canvases, paints, brushes, and accessories to get started with this type of business. Find a wholesaler that offers prices in line with your budget. Quality is important, but this type of business is usually focused more on creating a fun experience than long-lasting works of art.

Create a Price List

Once you have a better handle on your expenses and the types of parties or experiences you’ll offer, it’s time to create more specific prices. You should have set offerings for private parties and/or individual or walk-in events if you choose to have them. The prices should be enough to cover the paint and sip supplies and instructor pay for each session, while also contributing to your fixed expenses like rent and utilities and leaving you enough to save or turn a profit.

Build an Online Presence

Even though paint and sip businesses serve customers in person, you still need an online presence to let people know you’re there and give them information about how to book an event. At the very least, you’ll need a website and Google My Business Listing that offers your hours, location, contact information, and probably a way to book online.

However, this type of business can also benefit from an active presence on social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram. Since it’s such a visual experience, customers are likely to share their creations and fun times with friends online. So if you have social media accounts that they can tag or link to, you’ll be even more likely to grow via word of mouth.

Market Your Offerings

From there, you may also want to consider marketing your business in other ways. You can take out search ads and social media ads to reach more customers online and direct them to your website where they can book a party. But you can also advertise locally in newspapers, outdoor ads, or even sponsor local events where your target market may be present.

Consider Paint and Sip Franchises

If you like the idea of starting a sip and paint studio but don’t want to start from scratch, there are plenty of existing brands with franchise programs that you might consider.

Painting with a Twist

Arguably the biggest name in this space, Painting with a Twist offers an extensive gallery of art and offers training and support for franchisees around the country. The franchise fee is $25,000 and comes with a proprietary online system, a fun culture, and economical prices for supplies. This company also now owns the Bottle & Bottega brand, another big name within the sip and paint space.

Pinot’s Palette

Another nationally recognized wine and paint franchise, Pinot’s Palette aims to set its model apart by focusing on customer service and training. The company is also known for its creative culture, constant new product development, and marketing. The total initial costs range from about $100,000 to $250,000 depending on location and other factors.

Pretty In Paint

Pretty In Paint, or PIP, takes the sip and paint concept out of the studio and into customers’ homes. Instead of opening a dedicated studio, you travel to your customers for private parties where they provide the food and drinks and you provide the art supplies and instruction. It’s a relatively low cost franchise, since you can avoid the lease and many expenses related to support staff. The initial franchise fee is $14,000.

Board & Brush

If you want to do something a bit different from the traditional canvas art, Board & Brush offers painting classes where customers instead paint rustic wood signs. The initial franchise fee is $25,000 and total initial costs can go up to about $90,000 depending on your location.

Wine & Design

Wine & Design currently has about 60 franchises operating around the country. So it’s one of the larger brands in the space, but still offers plenty of opportunities for growth in new markets. The initial fee is $25,000, with a discount for veterans and those bringing the brand to a new state.

Image: Depositphotos.com

This article, "How to Open Your Own Paint and Sip Studio" was first published on Small Business Trends



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The New Approach to Work-Life Balance

CareerBuilder found that nearly half of American workers check email after they leave work, and 45% say they do work during non-business hours.

Additionally, this phenomenon crosses global borders, prompting new laws in France and a campaign in Japan to limit working hours.

Of course, we'd all love a little more balance in our lives. But it's more than that. We need it.

Today's "always on" mentality has serious consequences. Stanford professors Joel Goh, Jeffrey Pfeffer, and Stefanos Zenios found that more than 120,000 deaths per year and approximately 5%–8% of annual healthcare costs may be attributable to workplace stress from long working hours, job insecurity, work-family conflict, high job demands, and low social support at work.

But achieving work-life balance is hard. Obviously, reducing workplace stress is essential. But, despite finding that those who take vacation and travel are happier in their personal and professional lives, Project Time Off also found that more than half of American workers don't take all of the vacation days they've earned.

By contrast, many other countries offer or mandate additional vacation days. For example, The Center for Economic and Policy Research found that the United States is the only country surveyed that doesn't have a law requiring paid leave. Compare that to Germany (20 days), the United Kingdom (28 days), and Australia (20 days). With the exception of the United States, laws in other countries mandate a minimum of 10-30 days of paid leave per year.

The Work-Life Balance Matrix

Work life balance can (and should) look different for everyone, based on what's most important to you. There may be times in life when you're focused on career and personal development, and other times when your focus turns to family or a favorite hobby.

In other words, work-life balance examples run the gamut. But we've got some tips to help you find the work-life balance that's just right for you.

Before addressing areas that might be out of balance, it's a good idea to first understand what you value and how satisfied you are with the time you're allocating to those areas of your life. When I was touring colleges, I used a weighted decision matrix to score each campus on the things I cared about. Ever since, I've used this handy tool to evaluate everything from jobs, to apartments, to vacation spots.

Here's a sample of a completed matrix, with steps to complete your own, below:

weighted decision matrix work life balance

Step 1: Create a list of 4-6 categories that most contribute to your satisfaction in life. I recommend using categories that are broad enough to encompass changing life phases, but narrow enough to act upon. You can use anything that contributes to your satisfaction, from hobbies, to career, to family, to spirituality, and volunteer work.

I also recommend that these categories have a significant effect on how you make life choices, how you spend your time, and have actionable and measurable steps associated with them.

For example, while it may significantly increase your satisfaction to "be a successful person," a better category might be career. Or, if your satisfaction is impacted by "helping people," a more actionable category might be "volunteer work."

Step 2: Assign each of the chosen categories a percentage for the amount that the category impacts your satisfaction. For example, if your categories include family, career, hobbies, charity work, and education, you might say that family is 30%, career is 25%, hobbies are 10%, charity work is 20%, and education is 15%.

Be honest with yourself when choosing and rating each category. If you honestly don't receive much satisfaction from hobbies, don't give it more weight than career.

Step 3: Assign a percentage for your current satisfaction in each category. Are you 100% satisfied in your career? Are you only 50% satisfied with your family life? Go through each category and give an honest percentage with how satisfied you are with that area of your life.

Step 4: Multiply the satisfaction percentage with the weight of each category. Now add the categories up. The end percentage is how satisfied you are with your life. What's your total? It's rare than anyone will be 100% satisfied, but maybe 90%? What if your percentage is low, say, 30% satisfied?

Step 5: Analyze the results, and determine which areas of your life are causing the most dissatisfaction. What steps can you take to change that? How much of your satisfaction is built on choices and situations within your control, and how much is not in your control?

7 Work-Smart Strategies

Once you've quantified your life satisfaction, it's time to start tackling areas with lower scores. Most people struggle with finding enough hours in the day to fit it all in, especially for personal time. Working smarter and savvy time management help you free up mental capacity, physical hours, and emotional space to accommodate more of the activities you love.

1. Just say no to low-impact work.

We all want to play as a team, but helping out on too many projects sucks up your time, leaving too little for the work that really matters. Setting quality OKRs (objectives and key results) is the key to knowing which activities are high-value, and which will distract you from accomplishing your goals.

And this doesn't stop with office tasks. If the committee you've chaired for three years no longer brings you joy, step down and get back to participating in a way that feeds your soul. Are too many hobbies making you feel stressed and frenetic? Pare them down to the activities that bring the most pleasure. If an activity is not bringing you joy and helping you progress towards your goals, give it up!

When going through these steps last year, I recognized that I was feeling stressed and guilty about my role as a board member for a local community theater. I kept skipping meetings because of other commitments and I felt like I wasn't contributing. I still wanted to volunteer on an ad-hoc basis, so I sent a note to the board president explaining that while I didn't have time to make the required commitment to board duties for the coming year, I'd still love to participate by helping staff auditions, contributing time and money to opening night festivities, and acting as the house manager for productions. This allowed me to keep the things that brought me joy, and provided much needed support on a more reliable cadence for the theater.

2. Stop multi-tasking.

Seriously. How many browser tabs do you have open right now? Multitasking makes you think you're getting more done, but research from the American Psychological Association has shown it reduces productivity by as much as 40%.

Instead, break each project into time-bound tasks, and spend focused amounts of time completing each element. Prioritize the tasks that require input from others for completion so that you can finish your portion of the project and hand it off to the next worker. Parallelizing work (where multiple work streams happen at the same time by different people) is an efficient use of time, but trying to do it all yourself is a recipe for disaster.

3. Break work down into achievable tasks.

Create a project plan that includes all the tasks you need to accomplish for the quarter. Then, divide the tasks in monthly and weekly to-dos. These can be kept on a team whiteboard, personal notepad, or shared Trello board. Whatever method you choose, make sure that you can check things off the list when complete, and move activities to the next phase of the project when ready.

4. Make your meetings matter.

Many people assume a weekly check-in meeting is needed for their projects … but is it? Do you really need to get in a room for 30 minutes to talk about the status of the checklist, instead of looking at the shared board or exchanging comments in writing?

Useless meetings waste tons of valuable time, so get 'em off the calendar if they aren't adding value! If you want to take a bold step, delete all the recurring meetings off your calendar for the next quarter. Ask organizers to re-send the invites to meetings you should attend, and confirm why they feel your presence is valuable. You might find that check-ins for old projects never re-appear, and the meetings that remain actually do help you move work forward each quarter.

5. Create checklists.

Don't procrastinate on checking things off your list. Sometimes we waste more energy worrying about doing the thing than actually doing the thing itself . David Allen, who wrote the book "Getting Things Done" and offers training on how to be more productive, says that the mind is for having ideas, not holding them.

He advocates for making a series of lists to capture and process all the things that you need to accomplish in a day. Once captured, do. Sometimes we get so mired down in the need to make the list perfect, make the steps perfect, make our desk perfect, that we forget that the act of starting means we're one step closing to finishing our task. Once you've got a plan in place, take action.

6. Evaluate your daily schedule.

A long commute is another area that eats up time and contributes stress to most peoples' lives. Want to reduce these effects? Try negotiating for a work-from-home day once or twice a week. Gallup found that in 2017, 43% of Americans said they worked remotely at least some of the time, and with collaboration tools like video, chat, and email, you can stay just as connected to your team.

If a long commute is non-negotiable, use that time for something that you've deemed important to your work life balance. For instance, if you have a goal to advance your knowledge or learn a new skill, you can listen to podcasts or audiobooks, or if you want to focus on well-being you can use apps like Headspace that offer guided meditations for relaxation.

7. Make time for self-care.

As you're thinking about your daily plans, revisit your routines for physical health. You can gain time and nutrition benefits by meal planning and cooking in bulk on the weekends. Freeze meals in pre-portioned containers for easy reheating in the evenings. The time and stress you save each evening allows you to spend more time unwinding with your family, and getting to bed at a reasonable hour.

Speaking of which … how's your sleep schedule? Are you going to bed at a reasonable time, getting a solid night's rest, and waking with energy? If not, commit to a bedtime routine for 30 days, and see how you feel at the end. Keep the elements that improve your rest, and experiment with changes to ensure you get a good night's sleep.

Of course, all of these new habits take time to build and practice to maintain. Some tactics, like deleting all your meetings and negotiating a regular WFH day, can be done right away. Others, like declining low-impact work and focusing on tasks individually, require diligent attention throughout the year.

This article was originally published on Atlassian.com and republished with permission.



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How Consumers Actually Responded to All Those Black Friday Ads [New Research]

Although Cyber Monday is described as the biggest online shopping event of the year, more than $7.4 billion in online purchases were made on Black Friday in 2019.

While a majority of Black Friday purchases happened online, a Fiserv study found that brick-and-mortar store purchases rose by 4.2% compared to 2018. The same study found that a quarter of people traveled 25 miles or more to stores with Black Friday discounts.

By now, you may know that this was one of the biggest Black Fridays ever. But, as a marketer, you might be wondering what drove people to overcrowded stores and ecommerce websites during the national shopping event. You also might want to learn more about consumer shopping behaviors to strengthen your overall strategy in 2020.

To help you discover more about the consumer behaviors behind Black Friday's 2019 results, I surveyed a pool of more than 300 people using Lucid Software to learn what led them to engage with or purchase products in Black Friday ads.

In this post, I'll fill you in on what I learned from these consumers, arm you with other helpful stats and facts about Black Friday, and offer takeaways that you can use in 2020.

Black Friday's Online Ad Engagement

With crazy Black Friday deals comes an inundation of Black Friday ads throughout all forms of media. It's no surprise that millions of people shopped on Black Friday -- but which ad strategies actually led to purchases?

With more brick and mortar stores than ever, and the bombardment of ads that comes with them, do these Black Friday promotions actually influence purchases? To learn more about the Black Friday ad behaviors, I asked consumers about how they interacted with ads for the shopping holiday.

While you might think that people would get annoyed with the constant stream of ads, or try to completely disregard them, you'll be slightly surprised by the results.

When I asked participants, "Did you engage with any online ads or promotions for Black Friday?", 61% said they engaged with one or more ads in some way, while only 39% said they disregarded them.

Data Source: Lucid Software

Of that 61% of people who engaged with one or more ads, 38% clicked on the promotions without making a purchase, while 23% converted to a customer after clicking the ad.

When it comes to where people saw the ads they clicked on, 62% found promotions on social media.

Data Source: Lucid Software

"Non-social media sites" were also a fairly successful place for promotion, with 38% of people saying they clicked on ads in these locations. These sites could include websites owned by other brands where a native ad is located, search engine platforms, or other areas of the web that aren't considered social media.

Although only 32% of people said they clicked on ads shown in marketing emails, recent research still shows that this tactic is still a vital part of digital marketing. In fact, CampaignMonitor recently published research showing that email marketing was responsible for 20% of holiday-related traffic.

Aside from the ad's location, the product or service advertised could have played a role in an audience's level of engagement. To get an idea of which products were most popular, I asked survey participants, "Which best describes the products or services that were featured in the Black Friday ads you clicked on."

Of those who said they clicked on or purchased something from an ad in the first question of the survey, roughly 36% said the ads they engaged with featured products in the "Gadgets and Technology" category. Meanwhile, two other popular categories were "Fashion and Beauty" and "Home Goods, Furniture, and Decor" which both received votes from more than 18% of participants.

Ads and Black Friday Foot Traffic

In 2019, in-store Black Friday foot traffic dropped 6% lower than in 2018. However, this shopping event was still significant for brick-and-mortar stores as earnings from in-store purchases still rose by 4.2%.

Much of the in-store foot traffic and purchases could have also been because of ads. When I asked consumers if they "entered a store on Black Friday after seeing an ad or promotion for its sales," more than half said, "Yes."

Data Source: Lucid Software

To determine how much impact online ads made on Black Friday foot traffic as compared to physical ads, I asked the same consumers, "Where did you see the Black Friday ads for the store you visited on Black Friday?" Those surveyed could choose from a long list of ad style options from more digital social media promotions to traditional TV commercials or newspaper advertisements.

Although these participants decided to brave crowded physical stores on Black Friday, the survey found that they weren't pulled into them by physical or more traditional ads like billboards, newspaper promotions, or commercials.

Again, social media was the front-runner, as 38% of people who entered stores on Black Friday found ads on these types of platforms first.

Aside from social media, 15% of those who visited a store due to a Black Friday ad said they saw it on the store's own website. Only small portions of those surveyed said they went to a store after seeing television commercials (7%), email marketing ads (7%), newspaper promotions (8%), or physical signage (1%).

However, keep in mind that this was still a rather small sample and that it should not completely rearrange your marketing strategy in 2020.

While only 7% of those surveyed found ads that led them to visit a physical store in marketing newsletters, data shows that including ads and offers in emails is still a vital strategy for gaining web visits, leads, and even in-store foot traffic. We don't encourage pulling email marketing from your strategy just because of one pool of shoppers' Black Friday behaviors.

What Black Friday Means for 2020 Marketing

If you're running a brick-and-mortar or ecommerce operation, these results, as well as mounting research show the importance of developing or constantly improving on a web presence, whether that means purchasing online ad space or taking on free strategies like building a social media profile or creating a Google My Business for your store.

Due to social media's popularity and track record for ROI, you'll definitely want to consider advertising or at least posting for free about your products on platforms that align well with your audience if you aren't doing so already.

If you're trying to build your social presence, or determine which platforms you should be promoting your products or deals on, check out this research-based blog post where I reveal which social media platforms people use to learn about products.

You should also consider experimenting with or expanding on other online tactics to expand on or create a highly digital promotional strategy. For example, continue marketing products your own website, placing native ads on other websites, and embracing email marketing within your strategy.

Boosting your web presence will not only help you promote sales and events, such as Black Friday. But this strategy could also boost brand awareness and conversions throughout the rest of the year.



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How to Use Body Language to Attract People Your Business Wants

You’ll find a lot of studies revealing how much of communication is nonverbal. Body language creates a more true measure of what the person is actually trying to communicate. Compare this to what is coming out of their mouths. In your business, communication attracts or repels the customers that you want.

How to Use Body Language

On the Small Business Radio Show this week, I talked with Greg Hartley who served for nearly twenty years as an intelligence collector and interrogator with the U.S. Army. His new book is called “Get People to Do What You Want: How to Use Body Language and Words to Attract People You Like and Avoid the Ones You Don’t”.

As an interrogator, Greg describes the ideal way to get information from people is not to threaten them, but to talk calmly. He says that the best way to open up communication channels (with customers or employees) is to nod your head when people are talking even if you disagree with them.

Taking the Next Step

Consider the next step. Watch any physical changes in their body behavior while they are talking. You’ll find this especially if they are in a stressful situation. Crossing their arms may mean nothing. Greg says “look for what is normal for that person and then look for a deviation…when they change their behavior, it tells them something has changed in their mind and you need to probe for that.” Similarly, he remind us that when you are in a selling situation “if their chin goes to your level, or they meet your eyes, or give a slight smile, the customer is signaling that they are buying what you are selling.”

Contrary to popular belief, making eye contact does not mean the person is telling the truth. Greg believes that “if a person is staring at you, they are probably lying.”

Want to attract customers to your business? Greg says you must get them to want to be part of “your group by raising their self-esteem.” Get prospects to think their self-esteem will go higher by being a customer of your company. You’ll probably win them over for life.

Listen to the entire interview on the Small Business Radio Show.

Image: Depositphotos.com 

This article, "How to Use Body Language to Attract People Your Business Wants" was first published on Small Business Trends



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How to Use Body Language to Attract People Your Business Wants

You’ll find a lot of studies revealing how much of communication is nonverbal. Body language creates a more true measure of what the person is actually trying to communicate. Compare this to what is coming out of their mouths. In your business, communication attracts or repels the customers that you want.

How to Use Body Language

On the Small Business Radio Show this week, I talked with Greg Hartley who served for nearly twenty years as an intelligence collector and interrogator with the U.S. Army. His new book is called “Get People to Do What You Want: How to Use Body Language and Words to Attract People You Like and Avoid the Ones You Don’t”.

As an interrogator, Greg describes the ideal way to get information from people is not to threaten them, but to talk calmly. He says that the best way to open up communication channels (with customers or employees) is to nod your head when people are talking even if you disagree with them.

Taking the Next Step

Consider the next step. Watch any physical changes in their body behavior while they are talking. You’ll find this especially if they are in a stressful situation. Crossing their arms may mean nothing. Greg says “look for what is normal for that person and then look for a deviation…when they change their behavior, it tells them something has changed in their mind and you need to probe for that.” Similarly, he remind us that when you are in a selling situation “if their chin goes to your level, or they meet your eyes, or give a slight smile, the customer is signaling that they are buying what you are selling.”

Contrary to popular belief, making eye contact does not mean the person is telling the truth. Greg believes that “if a person is staring at you, they are probably lying.”

Want to attract customers to your business? Greg says you must get them to want to be part of “your group by raising their self-esteem.” Get prospects to think their self-esteem will go higher by being a customer of your company. You’ll probably win them over for life.

Listen to the entire interview on the Small Business Radio Show.

Image: Depositphotos.com 

This article, "How to Use Body Language to Attract People Your Business Wants" was first published on Small Business Trends



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Tracking emissions in China

In January 2013, many people in Beijing experienced a multiweek period of severely degraded air, known colloquially as the “Airpocalypse,” which made them sick and kept them indoors. As part of its response, the central Chinese government accelerated implementation of tougher air pollution standards for power plants, with limits to take effect in July 2014. One key standard limited emissions of sulfur dioxide (SO2), which contributes to the formation of airborne particulate pollution and can cause serious lung and heart problems. The limits were introduced nationwide, but varied by location. Restrictions were especially stringent in certain “key” regions, defined as highly polluted and populous areas in Greater Beijing, the Pearl River Delta, and the Yangtze River Delta.

All power plants had to meet the new standards by July 2014. So how did they do? “In most developing countries, there are policies on the books that look very similar to policies elsewhere in the world,” says Valerie J. Karplus, an assistant professor of global economics and management at the MIT Sloan School of Management. “But there have been few attempts to look systematically at plants’ compliance with environmental regulation. We wanted to understand whether policy actually changes behavior.”

Focus on power plants

For China, focusing environmental policies on power plants makes sense. Fully 60 percent of the country’s primary energy use is coal, and about half of it is used to generate electricity. With that use comes a range of pollutant emissions. In 2007, China’s Ministry of Environmental Protection required thousands of power plants to install continuous emissions monitoring systems (CEMS) on their exhaust stacks and to upload hourly, pollutant-specific concentration data to a publicly available website.

Among the pollutants tracked on the website was SO2. To Karplus and two colleagues — Shuang Zhang, an assistant professor of economics at the University of Colorado at Boulder, and Douglas Almond, a professor in the School of International and Public Affairs and the Department of Economics at Columbia University — the CEMS data on SO2 emissions were an as-yet-untapped resource for exploring the on-the-ground impacts of the 2014 emissions standards, over time and plant-by-plant.

To begin their study, Karplus, Zhang, and Almond examined changes in the CEMS data around July 2014, when the new regulations went into effect. Their study sample included 256 power plants in four provinces, among them 43 that they deemed “large,” with a generating capacity greater than 1,000 megawatts (MW). They examined the average monthly SO2 concentrations reported by each plant starting in November 2013, eight months before the July 2014 policy deadline.

Emissions levels from the 256 plants varied considerably. The researchers were interested in relative changes within individual facilities before and after the policy, so they determined changes relative to each plant’s average emissions — a calculation known as demeaning. For each plant, they calculated the average emissions level over the whole time period being considered. They then calculated how much that plant’s reading for each month was above or below that baseline. By taking the averages of those changes-from-baseline numbers at all plants in each month, they could see how much emissions from the group of plants changed over time.

The demeaned CEMS concentrations are plotted in the first accompanying graph, labeled “SO2 concentrations (demeaned).” At zero on the Y axis in Figure 1 in the slideshow above, levels at all plants — big emitters and small — are on average equal to their baseline. Accordingly, in January 2014 plants were well above their baseline, and by July 2016 they were well below it. So average plant-level SO2 concentrations were declining slightly before the July 2014 compliance deadline, but they dropped far more dramatically after it.

Checking the reported data

Based on the CEMS data from all the plants, the researchers calculated that total SO2 emissions fell by 13.9 percent in response to the imposition of the policy in 2014. “That’s a substantial reduction,” notes Karplus. “But are those reported CEMS readings accurate?”

To find out, she, Zhang, and Almond compared the measured CEMS concentrations with SO2 concentrations detected in the atmosphere by NASA’s Ozone Monitoring Instrument. “We believed that the satellite data could provide a kind of independent check on the policy response as captured by the CEMS measurements,” she says.

For the comparison, they limited the analysis to their 43 1,000-MW power plants — large plants that should generate the strongest signal in the satellite observations. Figure 2 in the slideshow above shows data from both the CEMS and the satellite sources. Patterns in the two measures are similar, with substantial declines in the months just before and after July 2014. That general agreement suggests that the CEMS measurements can serve as a good proxy for atmospheric concentrations of SO2.

To double-check that outcome, the researchers selected 35 relatively isolated power plants whose capacity makes up at least half of the total capacity of all plants within a 35-kilometer radius. Using that restricted sample, they again compared the CEMS measurements and the satellite data. They found that the new emissions standards reduced both SO2 measures. However, the SO2 concentrations in the CEMS data fell by 36.8 percent after the policy, while concentrations in the satellite data fell by only 18.3 percent. So the CEMS measurements showed twice as great a reduction as the satellite data did. Further restricting the sample to isolated power plants with capacity larger than 1,000 MW produced similar results.

Key versus non-key regions

One possible explanation for the mismatch between the two datasets is that some firms overstated the reductions in their CEMS measurements. The researchers hypothesized that the difficulty of meeting targets would be higher in key regions, which faced the biggest cuts. In non-key regions, the limit fell from 400 to 200 milligrams per cubic meter (mg/m3). But in key regions, the limit went from 400 to 50 mg/m3. Firms may have been unable to make such a dramatic reduction in so short a time, so the incentive to manipulate their CEMS readings may have increased. For example, they may have put monitors on only a few of all their exhaust stacks, or turned monitors off during periods of high emissions.

Figure 3 in the slideshow above shows results from analyzing non-key and key regions separately. At large, isolated plants in non-key regions, the CEMS measurements show a 29.3 percent reduction in SO2 and the satellite data a 22.7 percent reduction. The ratio of the estimated post-policy declines is 77 percent — not too far out of line.

But a comparable analysis of large, isolated plants in key regions produced very different results. The CEMS measurements showed a 53.6 percent reduction in SO2, while the satellite data showed no statistically significant change at all.

One possible explanation is that power plants actually did decrease their SO2 emissions after 2014, but at the same time nearby industrial facilities or other sources increased theirs, with the net effect being that the satellite data showed little or no change. However, the researchers examined emissions from neighboring high-emitting facilities during the same time period and found no contemporaneous jump in their SO2 emissions. With that possibility dismissed, they concluded that manipulation of the CEMS data in regions facing the toughest emissions standards was “plausible,” says Karplus.

Compliance with the new standards

Another interesting question was how often the reported CEMS emissions levels were within the regulated limits. The researchers calculated the compliance rate at individual plants — that is, the fraction of time their emissions were at or below their limits — in non-key and key regions, based on their reported CEMS measurements. The results appear in Figure 4 in the slideshow above. In non-key regions, the compliance rate at all plants was about 90 percent in early 2014. It dropped a little in July 2014, when plants had to meet their (somewhat) stricter limits, and then went back up to almost 100 percent. In contrast, the compliance rate in key regions was almost 100 percent in early 2014 and then plummeted to about 50 percent at and after July 2014.

Karplus, Zhang, and Almond interpret that result as an indication of the toughness of complying with the stringent new standards. “If you think about it from the plant’s perspective, complying with tighter standards is a lot harder than complying with more lenient standards, especially if plants have recently made investments to comply with prior standards, but those changes are no longer adequate,” she says. “So in these key regions, many plants fell out of compliance.”

She makes another interesting observation. Their analyses had already produced evidence that firms in key areas may have falsified their reported CEMS measurements. “So that means they could be both manipulating their data and complying less,” she says.

Encouraging results plus insights for policymaking

Karplus stresses the positive outcomes of their study. She’s encouraged that the CEMS and satellite data both show emission levels dropping at most plants. Compliance rates were down at some plants in key regions, but that’s not surprising when the required cuts were large. And she notes that even though firms may not have complied, they still reduced their emissions to some extent as a result of the new standard.

She also observes that, for the most part, there’s close correlation between the CEMS and satellite data. So the quality of the CEMS data isn’t all bad. And where it’s bad — where firms may have manipulated their measurements — it may have been because they’d been set a seemingly impossible task and timeline. “At some point, plant managers might just throw up their hands,” says Karplus. The lesson for policymakers may be to set emissions-reduction goals that are deep but long-term so that firms have enough time to make the necessary investment and infrastructure adjustments.

To Karplus, an important practical implication of the study is “demonstrating that you can look at the alignment between ground and remote data sources to evaluate the impact of specific policies.” A series of tests confirmed the validity of their method and the robustness of their results. For example, they performed a comparable analysis focusing on July 2015, when there was no change in emissions standards. There was no evidence of the same effects. They accounted for SO2 emitted by manufacturing facilities and other sources, and their results were unaffected. And they demonstrated that when clouds or other obstructions interfered with satellite observations, the resulting data gap had no impact on their results.

The researchers note that their approach can be used for other short-lived industrial air pollutants and by any country seeking low-cost tools to improve data quality and policy compliance, especially when plants’ emissions are high to begin with. “Our work provides an illustration of how you can use satellite data to obtain an independent check on emissions from pretty much any high-emitting facility,” says Karplus. “And, over time, NASA will have instruments that can take measurements that are even more temporally and spatially resolved, which I think is quite exciting for environmental protection agencies and for those who would seek to improve the environmental performance of their energy assets.”

This research was supported by a seed grant from the Samuel Tak Lee Real Estate Entrepreneurship Laboratory at MIT and by the U.S. National Science Foundation.



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What is Urban Farming and is it Profitable?

What is Urban Farming and is it Profitable?

Urban farming includes a wide array of food-producing projects and activities. And with the recent resurgence of farming in and around cities, people have been reconnecting to agriculture by growing food themselves and visiting farmer’s markets. This fast-growing phenomenon has the potential to nourish communities and create economic opportunities. Urban farming is popular for several reasons such as sustainability, affordability, health, and convenience.

Today urban agriculture exists in many forms including: community and backyard gardens; rooftop and balcony gardening; growing in vacant lots, parks the list goes on.

What is Urban Farming?

Urban farming is often confused with community gardening, homesteading or subsistence farming. Simply put urban farming focuses more in selling produce, produce grown as sold as opposed to being grown for personal consumption or sharing.

Urban farming can support the well-being of individuals and communities in many ways. From providing fresh produce to communities, creating a sense of community belonging, job creating and promoting health lifestyles.

Being a community enterprise, urban farming helps stimulate the local economy through job creation, income generation, and the growth of small businesses. More importantly, urban farming makes fresh food more affordable. It is fast becoming an important component of a city’s food system.

From the production, to the processing to distribution it brings together a variety of community benefits. The benefits vary according to the type of urban farming. This includes personal consumption, institutional, educational, for-profit, or nonprofit. Successful urban farming projects however require considerable planning and commitment.

Space and pollution can be major challenges for urban farmers but also motivates them to develop new farming strategies aided with technology. However, because they are closer to local restaurants and supermarkets, urban farmers can supply fresh produce faster and easier.

How to Get Started

Do your Research

Educate yourself on the best practices in urban farming. Check your local, state, and federal laws for permits.

Identify the Project and Define its Purpose

You will first need to identify your target customers, what to produce, how and where it will be distributed, and what the existing market is. These will be critical to the success of the business.

Engage the Community

Work with community members and friends to identify what is needed and is desired. Brainstorm and network.

Check out the Competition

Visit existing farms to learn what others are doing. How will your project be the same or differ? Ask other farmers to share lessons they have learned.

Plan how to be Profitable

Identify your customer and determine what you will produce. Will you be selling direct to consumers or to restaurants or to the local farmers market?

Establish the type, scale and method for the project: vertical farming of micro-greens, aquaponics, hydroponics, organic or natural? Before investing in structures start small and develop a market. Then, if you see the demand growing then expand.

What Types of Urban Farming are There?

More and more people are pursuing urban agriculture as a business venture. Focusing on niche markets, higher-margin products, and specialized services. Some urban farming enterprises are successfully negotiating the profit landscape.

Start-up expenses for an urban farm can vary widely depending on location because many of the components (such as land or utilities) are site-specific. Start-up expenses can be broken down into a few categories, location, site preparation and structures.

Structures include both infrastructure necessary for growing (such as high tunnels) and storage (such as a cooler). The type of structure you need will depend on location, types of crops grown, and the length of the growing season.

Vegetable Landscaping

Also called edible landscaping, this includes mixing flowers and vegetables throughout the garden. This allows for flexible opportunities with a small startup capital. Your investments will mostly be investing in tools to grow vegetables either on freshly tilled soil or in containers.

You have wide repertoire of plants to work with from herbs, onions, garlic, to strawberries and even fruit trees.

Products and Services

Besides your urban farm, you can generate another revenue line in your business through providing seedlings and compost. With a growing market for environmentally friendly products and services, many are starting to look at waste in a new way.

Composting today is no longer a method of disposal in rural areas. It is fast becoming a common way to manage waste and produce a usable product- creating a viable business opportunity. Your customers could be landscaping companies as well as fellow urban farmers.

Hydroponic Farming

Hydroponics is the process of growing crops with nutrient-rich water kept in contact with the plant roots without using soil. This process is touted to significantly reduce the risk of wastage and pollution that can harm the produce and cause diseases, making it popular to health-conscious consumers.

A well-designed hydroponic system is characterized by less wastage of water and nutrients than soil-based farms. Both water and nutrients are fed directly to the root structure of the plants and recycled through the hydroponic system. This also eliminates the typical land and water pollution possibilities due to overland flow and runoff.

Mushroom Farming

Mushrooms are relatively easy to cultivate. A profitable mushroom will depend on knowing which mushroom strain to cultivate and how to maximize your production. Growing mushrooms doesn’t require a full-time commitment.

You can still have a full-time job, and produce enough to become a steady supplier to other businesses. Mushroom farmers harvest an average of 25 pounds of produce per square foot every year. Prior to harvest, contact local restaurants and take orders from them for a quick sale.

Beekeeping

Beekeeping can help you produce extra products for you, as well as having other indirect benefits like making your existing crops better pollinated. Having bees around your vegetable plants will dramatically increase your yield.

You will however need to do a thorough research before embarking in apiculture. You will need to consider the size of the bee colony, the health of the work force, weather conditions, the availability of nectar for the bees to collect will affect your bottom line.

Rooftop Tea Gardens

Finding the right amount of space is often a challenge in cities. Rooftop gardens provide a solution for those with an inclination towards trying their hand at urban farming but don’t have a plot of land to use. By starting a rooftop tea garden, you can grow a variety of aromatic and medicinal herbs and greens to sell directly to your customers.

Urban Chicken Farms

Backyard chicken keeping is an easy and popular way to get into urban farming without spending a lot of money or the need for a lot of space for gardening. Chickens require relatively little space for the number of eggs and meat they produce and are easy to care for. Therefore you can initially start by investing in a modest chicken house in your background and gradually grow in capacity.

Organic Farming

Generally speaking, organic farming is a method of raising crops and livestock and has evolved into a niche of its own. A growing number of restaurants and supermarkets market specifically for organic produce.

These businesses rely on organic farmers to supply them with organically grown fruits and vegetables and organically raised, or free-roaming livestock. Organic farming is highly sought because they provide customers with safe, wholesome food from a toxin-free environment.

Flowers Growing

If you know your roses and lilies well and have a green thumb, perhaps you should look into growing flowers. There are ample avenues you can pursue from selling to florists (cut), for nurseries, direct to the public and others. Growing flowers can also dramatically increase the yield of your land.

Cannabis Farming

If you live in a state where cannabis use is legal, you might take advantage of the available space and start your own small cannabis business. If you have a large backyard it can helps keep your investment low, while giving you a flexible space with which to work. You can also grow your business by building a small greenhouse.

Processing

Beyond selling simply farm produce, you can also venture into value-added products. By transforming the raw farm products into food, personal care, craft products and more. Value added products can help boost your income and expand the market season.

Deciding to get involved in creating new products generally calls for a long-term commitment in that it requires additional capital for infrastructure, compliance with food safety and labeling requirements, liability insurance, and marketing.

Takeaway

To start an urban farming business, you don’t necessarily need a background in urban farming. All you need is to educate yourself on the abundant resources on urban farming found online. Today there are many small businesses popping up across America focusing on urban farming. The demand is not only for green thumbs but also for people with sales, marketing and other skills in the value chain.

If you can reach large production capacity look towards a business to business farming model. This is a business method that farmers use when producing agricultural products to supply business clients. Businesses prefer to deal with farmers directly for the low cost and quality by getting produce directly from the source. Examples of business clients are grocery stores and restaurants that re-sell these products in their original or processed form to customers.

The key to profits is creating a niche for your business. While creating your business plan, be sure to include opportunities to get small business grants to help fund your new venture. For this reason, always look towards diversifying your revenue streams and build strong relationships with your customers.

Urban farming is all about making the most of the space you have. You can start off using your own garden to start growing food, and may eventually expand and start growing on other plots in your area.

Having an urban farming business can be particularly satisfying as you get to make your own contribution to making the world a better place as well.

Image: Depositphotos.com

This article, "What is Urban Farming and is it Profitable?" was first published on Small Business Trends



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