Viewing entries in
Running the Business

Comment

Entrepreneurial Farming

 Putting up the hoop house or high tunnel for Old Depot Farm.

Putting up the hoop house or high tunnel for Old Depot Farm.

I often talk to professionals in the mental and behavioral health field and I repeatedly walk away with the sense that most people who go into this career are not risk takers. The idea of doing free-lance, contract, or entrepreneurial projects is a strange and scary--but somehow exciting--prospect.  I understand. I am not naturally a risk taker myself.  But . . .

Time and necessity make us grow and face realities . . . and this has led me into becoming more entrepreneurial and willing to get outside the box.

My wife needs no such prompting. She is more comfortable with business in general and specifically with engaging in the "to and fro" of dealing with the vagarities of an out of the box process. As such, she and a few other farmers, have developed Tiny Farm Group, and together provide local produce and edible flowers to local chefs.

One restaurant, Venue, with its dynamic staff, led by Chef John Benton, recently brought some of the chefs to visit our farm and created a video featuring Amy.  Her business, Old Depot Farm, features all the elements of business we promote at HSC -- collaboration, high quality, people-centered, service -- and has contributed to making Tiny Farms Group and the partnership with Venue a powerful joint venture.

P.S. -- If you want to learn more about Amy, Old Depot Farm, the Tiny Farm Group, or just read great posts on local foods, or if you just enjoy a good laugh and really good writing, check out her blog.

Comment

Comment

Unintended Contracting

Since 1994, I have had all or some of my professional work paid for through contracts. This was NOT the plan!  I have mentioned before in this blog that I am not, by nature, an entreprenuer. To wit . . .

  • I hate the idea of sales and marketing.
  • I am not a "joiner." Involvement is not something I seek.
  • I am inherently risk-aversive.

Thus, my first contracts came by "default." That is, through no intention or effort on my part to try and sell my services. Here's how it happened . . .

1993: A colleague offered to guarantee 3 months pay to encourage me to join their private practice. The hospital, whose employ I was leaving, offered to contract with me, part time, for weekend therapy groups.

1994: Citibank, who had bought the hospital chain, closed the hospital. An education consultant, who had a contract with the Department of Education, offered me a contract to do counseling with identified kids in schools. (Realizing this part-time gig paid me better than the full-time job was an eye-opener. But, I had dreams and it was off to grad school.)

1997: A colleague of mine and I dreamed up a consulting gig as part of an assignment for a Qualitative Research class. We proposed, with support from our professors, to help improve employee satisfaction at this 3,000+ plant.

2000: A university offers me a job, but it's not where I want to live. I counter-offer to teach from my preferred location. This leads to a contract to combine trips to campus and distance-learning that continues for 15 years until I decide to retire to pursue other interests.

2003: Interest peaks among students about the consulting work I am doing and I am assigned to teach a Doctoral class on Consulting with Larger Systems.

2010: Students continue to value the class and encourage the writing of Beyond the Couch. As multiple students indicate that the class has been the "most practical" and "best class" in their curriculum, I begin to dream about how to help others benefit from contracting.

2011: I begin coaching mentees about developing contracts. These colleagues develop contracts with schools, churches, medical practices, and non-profits. Personally, I continue with my work with a limited private practice and consulting.

So, that's it.  Let me encourage you to seek colleagues, opportunities, and supports to add contracting and consulting to your "toolkit." It will open up many doors to creative and energizing work!

Comment

Comment

Promotion . . . and savings!

 Screen shot of the first campaign after a week.

Screen shot of the first campaign after a week.

Have you discovered Outbrain?  This service is a way to market your products and services to consumers on line. It allows you to easily create ads, target specific geographical markets, and set your budget so that you can plan your expenses as you grow your business.

HSC is testing a marketing campaign on Outbrain currently. What we are finding is that it quickly creates a large number of "impressions"--presentations of your ads--in your geographical areas very quickly. It has increased traffic to our website, created new subscribers to our email list, and produces a few sales. Not bad for a campaign running only a little more than a week and costing less than $40.

We continue to experiment with our promotion. One thing we have done is to temporarily lower our prices--to put our products on sale at Gumroad. While this places them as "loss leaders" (in other words the prices won't support the cost of providing them-marketing costs, software product costs, etc.) it will help us gage the marketability of the products themselves.

So if you have some products or services you want to sell. Check out Outbrain! It presents a very low bar to "test the water" and dip your toes into on-line ads and marketing.

Special thanks to everyone who continues to tell others about us! We are energized by your support, your comments, and your sharing!

Comment

Comment

"Five for Five" or "Old Dog Rebellion!"

Here is some of what I'm working on . . . soooooo slowly!

Okay, I'm an old dog.  I remember the 60's . . . although barely. Now I'm part of the group disparaged by that oft-repeated adage, "You can't teach an old dog new tricks." Fortunately, I come from stock that didn't listen to such dour predictions. Both my mother and my father were still engaged and working into their 80's. So, to carry on that tradition . . . I thought it would be fun to share "5 new things I've learned in the past 5 years" and to hear what others have learned in the past few years as well.

In the past five years I have learned . . . 

1. to read music (and improve my fingerstyle guitar playing)

2. to drive on the left side of the road (thank you New Zealand!)

3. the proper way to make face-frames for cabinets

4. to use apps, like Trello, to deliver consulting services

5. what Kombucha is and how to spell it

There's my list. Obviously not all of these things happened in one-year's time so things like "reading music" could still be on my list next year but I'm hoping to add five new items for 2017.

Come on, the rest of you "old dogs," what did you learn in the past five years?

Available eBooks:

Private Practice through Contracting: Decreasing dependence on insurance.

Engaging Your Team: A framework for managing difficult people.

Family Legacy: Protecting family in family business.

Comment

Comment

What is an Organizational Behavioral Consultant?

Organizational Behavioral Consultant.  It's a mouthful isn't it?  What exactly does it mean?  Well, I'll give you my take.  First, Organizational to me means "system."  In other words and Organizational Behavioral Consultant (OBC) should have a focus on the organization as a wholistic richly cross-joined system.  He or she needs to understand the entire "animal" and how subsystems work within the larger needs of the organization.  They need to understand that each subsystem is interdependent upon the others and a change in one will effect the other subsystems.

Second, Behavioral means that the focus is on how the organizations actually "acts"--what it believes, says, and does. No grand theoretical models here!  Instead it is a practical, pragmatic, approach that focuses on real outcomes and solutions.

Third, consultant.  For me this means a collaborative partnership.  Working with the talented, smart, experienced leadership in a way that allows our "outside" perspective and experiences with the methods, processes, and tools of consulting to help influence and guide the steps to creating the most effective and successful system.

Well, that's it, I've run out of words to define.  Organizational. Behavioral. Consultant. Do you see it differently? Would you change or alter the definition? Share it. Maybe I'll change mine as I continue to upgrade and grow in my own experiential path. Thank you, as always, for sharing!

Available eBooks:

Private Practice through Contracting: Decreasing dependence on insurance.

Engaging Your Team: A framework for managing difficult people.

Family Legacy: Protecting family in family business.

Comment