Shop Local- Lake Orion – Town My Way blog

2 08 2012

Shop Local- Lake Orion – Town My Way blog.

Great blog. Be sure to subscribe. The video is posted below.

 





Plan to Change Plans

31 07 2011

Developing a plan is great, but plans never seem to go as we expect. It is easy to look good on paper but your success in the real world depends on how well you react to change. Be open to change and finding a new direction. Sometimes it is a small change, but other times it is a complete transformation in company goals.

When I first came up with my business idea, I immediately developed a business plan. I wanted to define my business, develop a marketing strategy, create a financial projection, and determine all costs involved. This was easy. The hard part comes when you begin to implement your plan and talk to other people. One single idea can be perceived a million different ways so it is your job to adapt to meet the needs and wants of others.

My objective from the beginning is the one thing that has not changed: to connect communities through an online social network. This may sound vague, but it forces me to find different ways to achieve this goal. I haven’t limited myself to take one path to reach my destination, rather I have left the path open for me to fill in as I go along. The journey is the best part because you never know what will lie in your way. There will be shortcuts, obstacles, and you will make mistakes, but as long as you keep moving towards your ultimate goal, you will be fine.

The first battle was deciding on my target market. The idea came with Lake Orion in mind but my solution seemed to be perfect for a college town. I started to make my plan for Oberlin College to serve as my first test market. I always knew the ultimate goal was to help Lake Orion but felt I wasn’t ready for that. If I could develop a proven model first and generate revenue, then I could launch my service in Lake Orion.

With Oberlin, I wanted to partner up with the school and have students pay $5-$10 as a student activity fee to access the service. I was talking with a developer in New York about not only developing a website but mobile apps for the android market and iphone as well. Everything was all set and I was ready to commit except for one small detail. The developer wanted me to pay a subscription fee every month to use his service, so I felt restricted in what I could do. Even though the initial startup cost was far less than my other developer I talked to and this New York developer had already created a market-tested product, it would be more costly in the long-run. I decided to pass and completely change my model.

I found a local developer and decided I wanted to launch in Lake Orion. I wasn’t going to settle for a product that didn’t have all the functions I wanted it to. Now I would have to sacrifice getting mobile applications but my website would be much more customized to meet my requirements. This also meant I could no longer charge users for the product but would instead have to charge local businesses a subscription fee. To sell my product I had to push the idea that my product would serve as a much more cost effective marketing tool.

If you look back at my original business model, you could hardly recognize it. I created a plan, but in the end all my plans changed. All of this happened in the span of two months. You may think it was a waste to create a plan I won’t even end up using. I disagree! Creating plans forces you to think critically and find solutions. Plans will constantly change. You can’t expect to ever have it all figured out. Instead, make plans to change plans. Find new solutions, create new models, and progress to your ultimate goal.





Inspiration

25 07 2011

Inspiration is everywhere, you just have to look. Often people become complacent, accepting things for how they are. Don’t fall into this trap. Find something new or find ways to improve what already is. The world is full of opportunities and those willing to take the chance will be rewarded for their efforts.

You never know when that one big idea will hit. For me it happened as I was working my summer job for a venture capital firm in Detroit. This line of work forced me to get in the mindset of finding something better. Before, I always knew I wanted to be an entrepreneur but just settled with the idea that it will come later on. I didn’t actively pursue a new idea. At Detroit Venture Partners I was working exclusively with local entrepreneurs and felt the window was open. Don’t dwell on the obstacles, find the idea and the path will come. An entrepreneur’s biggest mistake is to put off what they can do today. If you have an idea, act on it before it is too late. Someone will always be biting at your heels and being the first to act is key to gaining market share.

I come from a small town called Lake Orion, Michigan. If I am going to call Lake Orion home, then I want to be sure to make it is the best it can be. If you were to purchase a new home, you wouldn’t just keep it empty. Instead, you will decorate it with pictures, plants, furniture, and painted walls. The home is one way to represent who you are just as Lake Orion represents who I am. There is no way to hide it. When the grass gets to long, you cut it. When your roof is leaking, you fix it. I am from Lake Orion and I can’t change that, so why not make it better. In Lake Orion, I noticed a trend of local businesses constantly failing and new ones coming in. There is no growth, only change that is keeping Lake Orion at a standstill. Instead of watching business after business fail, why not find some way to help our business environment. I don’t want Lake Orion to be a place where you don’t even know a business exists until you drive pass it.  My solution is to give businesses a voice in the community. Town My Way aims to develop an online marketing platform for local businesses to reach out to their potential customers directly. I want to create a more vibrant and exciting community where local businesses and consumers can interact on a more personal level.

Ideas don’t come easy, so when you have one, don’t wait but see what you can do today. Surround yourself with innovative thinkers. Hearing how others think influences how you perceive the world. Seeing how change can happen allows you to find ways to make change happen. If you surround yourself with Debbie-downers you may feel as if the world has no hope for change. The fact is the world is open for change, you just have to listen. Find flaws with the world and figure out a way to make it better.

I spent countless hours trying to figure out what an entrepreneur was or how they got their idea. I figured ideas just came magically without having to work at it. This frustrated me because I wasn’t coming up with any good ideas. The problem was I didn’t actively seek out new ideas. I sat back and waited, but the first thing I learned from my summer internship is you cannot afford to wait. Look at the world around you. Think through your typical day. I’m sure there are thousands of nuisances you wish you could avoid or make better. When you see something that can be improved, write it down. Start making a list and figuring out ways to solve those problems. It doesn’t have to be anything major or some revelation that no one else has thought of. Everything can use improvements and it is our job to keep improving the world around us.

Now, my mind never turns off. I can’t walk down the street without discovering new ideas. I no longer see the world for what it is but I see it for what it can be. There is so much potential and I am excited to see what we as a society can create. It doesn’t take one of us, it takes all of us. I will leave you with this short video and all I ask is for you to follow. Leaders can’t create anything great without the support of the people around them. To be successful, you can never do it on your own.





Hello world!

20 07 2011

For as long as I can remember I have been studying entrepreneurs and trying to get inside their head. What is it like to start up a company? Where does the initial idea come from? What steps can I take today? All of these are difficult questions to answer, varying from person to person. What I have learned is there is no one formula.

The goal of the Town My Way blog is to help you understand the journey. I will take you from the very beginning of being a startup through the whole process. There is sure to be ups and downs, but be sure to always enjoy the ride. I never thought I would be launching my own business at this point in my life. I am still in school at Oberlin College and thought that was just a dream I would pack away until I had a couple years of work experience under my belt after school. Then the idea came and I couldn’t ignore it.

I was fortunate to secure an internship with Detroit Venture Partners this summer which has really helped inspire me to start my own business. Through Josh Linkner’s inspirational writing and Dan Gilbert’s passion, I began to look at the world in a different way. Instead of seeing the world for what it is, I try and see the world for what it could be. How can I help improve what’s around us?

Lake Orion is the start. I have grown up here and see a need for a more vibrant community. I want to help businesses market themselves to their consumers and for consumers to communicate back. Today is the beginning of the new journey. Follow me on twitter, like me on facebook, and check in with my blog. Let the road to success begin!