Friday, March 31, 2006

Up With "Grups"

As a full on pop culture and trend junkie, I loved this week's article from NY Magazine that examines ever diminishing generation gap: Up with 'Grups'.
* Also known as yupster (yuppie + hipster), yindie (yuppie + indie), and alterna-yuppie. Our preferred term, grup, is taken from an episode of Star Trek (keep reading) in which Captain Kirk et al. land on a planet of children who rule the world, with no adults in sight. The kids call Kirk and the crew “grups,” which they eventually figure out is a contraction of “grown-ups.” It turns out that all the grown-ups had died from a virus that greatly slows the aging process and kills anybody who grows up.

The article mentions a nyc jeans designer, Rogan who has a line of jeans that retail for upwards of $300 a pair--and are basically all ripped to shreds, or "distressed." His first collection sold out in a matter of days--all thanks to the grups. Many grups could easily afford expensive suits, but for obvious reasons, prefer jeans. It's all about the statement: "yeah, I'm wearing jeans, but these jeans cost bank. Do you think its easy to get them ripped and shredded this prefectly?"

I guess I feel a kinship with this group, myself, though I don't have any kids (which is probably the most widely accepted indicator in our society of "grown up" status). But from a business perspective, I think this group is basically opening up the floodgates in terms of creativity and possibility for many of us who might not be have been able to successfully make a go of it 10 or 15 years ago--and that's pretty cool.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Spring Cleaning?

CNN asks Is a messy office hazardous to your career?.

Uh Oh.

Happy, Happy, Joy, Joy

Man, too bad college wasn't like this in my day.

The lucky co-eds at Harvard University are enjoying a popular new class called "Positive Psychology" that basically promises to help students figure out How to get happy.

Note to Harvard: the rest of the world wants in too. How bout an online version?

Minipreneur Madness

This is another one of those ideas that I can't help but label brilliant: designers and artists renting out retail space in an already established store. The designers pay a monthly fee and then leave the selling, merchandising and customer service to someone else. Seems like the best of both worlds.

The particular store reported on in this article is in Singapore and I think they've come up with a pretty fabulous approach. Each artist or designer rents out a "box" within the store's shelving units. Depending upon their location, fees differ, but prices start at an insanely reasonable $50/month. I like the idea of each designer having close to identical spaces (there are some exceptions for clothing, etc) as I think its both fair and easier for the consumer to shop and see everyone's creativity really shine through. There are a couple of stores like this in NYC already: EdgeNYC and Shecky's Shop.

Again, this reaffirms the idea that minipreneurs are here to stay and will likely continue inspiring creative solutions and directions in business that chumps like me have yet to even imagine.

Friday, March 24, 2006

Paper Mama!

Hola, everyone and apologies for my slacker-ocity lately. I've been busily preparing our newest venture, Paper Mama and I'm proud to announce she is here!

We had a fab mention in the NY Daily News yesterday, but due to the inexplicable and totally ineffective structure of their search, I cannot find it online. It was great though, and I'm oh so happy to have Paper Mama up and running.

I'm definitely flying blind with this whole mommy thing, so I hope all you mamas dig it!

How will business change in the next 10 years?

Fast Company has a great article in which they interview a number of visionaries about what they think the biggest changes facing businesses in the next 10 years will be. Many of these ideas may seem a bit broad for itsy bitsy little biz owners like you and me, but in truth, they're really not. Whether you have one employee or 1000, there are so many commonalities we all deal with on many different levels, and I loved reading about each of these business leaders takes on what's ahead.

In particular, I loved Avram Miller's thoughts:

Fewer and fewer people will want to be employees of corporations, because corporations don't have anything to offer. Corporations don't provide security and provide fewer and fewer benefits. People may find new ways to sell their skills. I can imagine eBay or the equivalent of eBay being in the business of letting people bid on work all day long. Office buildings may turn into housing, or maybe individuals will rent office space as you would rent a hotel room.

And those individuals will compete with people from all over the world. This isn't globalization, because globalization to me feels big. I think it's the opposite, it's villagization--making everything smaller and in some sense more intimate. And that's very powerful. I'm totally capitalistic, but I don't like large organizations because they tend to want to control. If this reduces the power of corporations and governments to limit what human beings can do, the thing most exciting to me is the potential for everyone to participate.

Amen to that!

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Sell, Sell, Sell!

Though I'm getting better and better, my weakpoint in the world of business is most definitely sales. So I loved this article from today's Startup Journal on "7 Sales Tips for Solo Operators."

Friday, March 17, 2006

Are you a "minipreneur?"

I've been hearing the term "minpreneur" lately and I think its a really interesting way of describing the movement that seems to be going on right now: everyone wants to own a small business. And why not? There are fantastic tax benefits, its loads of fun and offers a means of creating real wealth for yourself that a 9-5 job does not (steady paychecks are great, but how big is that check ever really going to get?).

Trend Watching's definition of a minipreneur is as follows:

We have dubbed this trend 'MINIPRENEURS': a vast army of consumers turning entrepreneurs; including small and micro businesses, freelancers, side-businesses, weekend entrepreneurs, web-driven entrepreneurs, part-timers, free agents, cottage businesses, seniorpreneurs, co-creators, mompreneurs, pro-ams, solopreneurs, eBay traders, advertising-sponsored bloggers and so on.

With all of the amazing available resources these days, it seems like this trend is only going to continue to grow and grow. And to that I say "Holla!"

For further reading on minipreneurs, here's a load more info.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Not that I'm cheating on you guys or anything...

But if you are in the market for some bridal blogging, check me out over on the NY Observer's Bridal Blog.

Gawker even made fun of linked to my post yesterday.


For those of you entrepreneurial types who really have the gift of gab, Ether might be for you.

Here's how it works: Ether gives you a free 800 number and you decide how much you'd like to charge for your expertise. Perhaps you can set up a jewelry designer's hotline for bead loving chicks or a blogging for dummies hotline where wannabe bloggers can call and get your feedback. You can charge people however you'd like (per hour, in blocks, etc). You then decide where you'd like the call to ring through (home, cell, etc) and you're done. Calls only come through after someone has prepaid your rate, so everytime your phone rings, you can confidently let out a "ka-ching" before answering your phone.

Though, I'm really lovin this hotline idea, Ether takes it a step further by also allowing you to make money via email (send people direct marketing mails about your podcasts, photos videos) and let them buy directly from them or even include a "buy now" button on your website that easily allows people to purchase your digital content.

Pretty nifty.

While ether is in beta release, their normal 15% take is reduced down to 10%.

Are you ready to prosper?

For those of you who just need a bit of cash to get your business going but are too overwhelmed (or would not qualify) for getting a loan through some of the more traditional methods, you might want to check out, a new online small lending community.

Anyone can participate in and the site works by matching borrowers with lenders without all of the red tape. You can post your $$ request along with the reason you need the cash and then others in the community can "bid" on your loan. You choose any of the bidders and, voila...there is your loan.

All of the logistics are handled by, which takes much of the worry out of a normally worrisome situation.

Another cool feature of the site is the ability to start lending groups. You can create groups of family, friends, co-workers, or even base them around like minded interests (i.e. those interested in helping non-profits). Members of the group can borrow from other members and the group can choose how the profits (from interest paid) are shared.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Under 30 and Rockin' it Startup Style

I have been out of this group for exactly three years now (gulp), but I love hearing about younger people who are seriously shaking things up in the world of business.

I thought one of the coolest featured companies was My Rich Uncle: a company that helps that growing group of students who do not qualify for student loans based on their parents income, but still can't really afford to go to school. I also love Yelp which is a community of user generated reviews on all sorts of local businesses in your area. They have categories for restaurants, nightlife, even hair salons.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Stats on Crack!

Though my addiction has waned a bit, my "statcounter fix (checking the traffic stats of my biz site and blog sites) still needs to happen several times throughout the day, otherwise I start to twitch and slur words. But, man, Crazy Egg brings checking stats to a whole new level.

They actually provide you with "heat maps" that show you exactly where people are clicking on your page on each visit (and more importantly, where they are not).

Though the service is not yet available, they plan to launch in April. If you have less than 5000 visitors to your site per month, you'll be able to sign up for a free option. If you have more, be prepared to pay up (but looks worth it!)

Saturday, March 11, 2006

It's all about the "last mile"

In yet another fantastic post over at I Will Teach You To Be Rich, I learned all about the "last mile" of customer service. Basically, the last mile is the final bit of interaction you have with a company before you each go your merry ways: i.e. Dealing with a cashier as you check out at a supermarket or arranging for a return of a product you ordered with the company's customer service representative.

As it turns out, the last mile is unbelievably crucial when it comes to leaving people with a positive (or negative) feeling about your company. If a last mile interaction is positive, you may very well create a walking, talking billboard for your biz, and if its negative, you might end up with something like this.

I really think this whole discussion is seriously right on. Without realizing it, I've pledged my "never again" credo to a number of companies that I've had negative last mile experiences with and likewise, my never ending love and devotion to those companies that just really have it all together. I know that most of us are way past "the customer is always right" sentiment, but this is actually a really good reminder about the importance of really following through (in business and in life) and remembering that our last impressions are...well...usually the most lasting.

Friday, March 10, 2006

It's written in the stars

Here's a really interesting article about handbag designer Laura Merkin's journey to get her bags into the hands of celebs at this year's academy awards. She invested over $30,000 in the hopes that the celeb endoresments and photos would catapult her into a new handbag stratosphere. Depending upon what type of biz you have, this is a decision that many of us consider and struggle with in one form or another (for me it was whether or not to spend the cash to hire a PR firm). Whoever said "you've got to spend money to make money" sure wasn't kiddin.

Speaking of celeb endoresements, Paper Bride has her own little Desperate Housewife fanclub. This article appears in this months In Style Weddings.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Squidoo for You

There are so many amazing new resources on the web that I come across every day, I swear I almost can't even keep track of em all. squidoo is this brainchild of marketing guru Seth Godin and is really a load of fun to browse through.

Basically, squidoo is a database of really neat, extended articles or "lenses" (including links, pictures, tips, lists) on every topic imaginable, all created by the web's best experts--i.e. you and me. Perhaps you don't normally think of yourself as an expert, but I bet if you thought about it long and hard, there are a few topics out there that you could go on an on about with great authority. I'm not necessarily talking quantum physics here either. Some of the coolest lenses I found include: what makes us creative at work, starting and running a web business or even a rundown on what's up with all of the hoopla over sudoku. You literally could spend hours reading about anything that has ever interested you and then some.

For us biz owners, there is an even a cooler aspect to this whole set up: getting your name and product out there in a big way. If you are a web designer, why not write a lens on common design mistakes new web business owners make? Or if you are a jewelry designer, write up some lenses on how to make a simple bracelet or necklace, or even how to start a jewelry making biz. Lensmasters, as they are called, are never shy about including personal plugs and along with getting the word out, there's also the whole search ranking benefit you'll have going (i.e. you want your comapny and links to it mentioned as many times, in as many places as humanly possible). Writing up a group of great, informative, well trafficked (hopefully!) lenses might be a great way of gettin' that all done.

Ok, on to the personal plug part of our programming. I wrote a lens that I think is pretty snazzy: wedding planning for cool chicks. If you like it, feel free to give me a good rating as that will bump me up in the squidoo rankings. I'm hoping to write some more (though I must confess that this did take me a loooong time). But it actually was a lot of fun. I included a bunch of my favorite links and tips, and of course plugged both my biz and my other blog.

Time for you to squidoo too!

Monday, March 06, 2006

From blog to book in 3 easy steps

Ok, I'm seriously intrigued. For those of you who have blogs of your own too, this is just about the coolest thing I've seen in a long while: Blurb allows you to take all of your blog entries (including photos) and have them published in a nifty hardbound book. Now, calm down for a moment because this feature is not quite available yet, but when it is, Blurb will actually suck all of your blog posts into preformatted pages and then allow you to nip and tuck as needed.

But, Blurb doesn't stop there. They have options for Dog Books, Baby Books and even Cookbooks. The gift giving options for this are seriously endless: you can gather all of mom's fave recipes and makes books for her and all of your siblings, put together a new baby book for any of your recently knocked up friends, or give any of your dog crazy friends (like me!) an ode to their little fido.

The coolest thing of all is you can set it all up, see how it looks, tweak as necessary and you only pay whenever you decide to publish. And prices start at only $29.95.

You'll need to download their "booksmart" software to get started (via The New York Times).

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Paper Bride in The New York Times

Check out our recent mention in The New York Times in an article about the new wedding postage stamps.


Friday, March 03, 2006

Bloglines, please

I'm one of those people who, when I find something I love, I don't really let up until everyone I know loves it too. I've done this with Tivo. I'm pretty sure I don't have any friends or family members left who don't own it (so if you're looking to strike up a friendship with me, you may want to hit up a Best Buy before introducing yourself). I have similar zealous feelings about Apple, Jet Blue and the newest member of my coterie, Commerce Bank.

There are plenty of sites and programs I love online, as well, but right now, there is nothing that manages to win my affection more than Bloglines. My post today is for everyone who might be reading this who does not have a bloglines account: PLEASE GET ONE. I promise you, it will totally change your websurfing experience.

Bloglines is a news aggregator that neatly and super easily helps you keep track of every news site and blog you like to visit through RSS feeds. If you read more than 3 blogs a day (and let's get real, if you are here, you're likely making some pit stops at some other fine urls on the www), bloglines will help you keep track of everywhere you want to go and everything you want to read. You can look at your bloglines feeds and quickly see if a particular blog or site has been updated (and how many posts have recently been posted). You can make folders to categorize your feeds, so that if you want to quickly get a bird's eye view of what's going in your "business" category, you can see that Startup Journal has added 2 stories since your last visit, or that Wired has added 10. And really folks, this is just the tip of the iceberg. You can track packages this way, keywords (through Google alerts, so if you want to be notified everytime a news story shows up with the word "wedding" in it, this will let you know), press releases...everything!

Here is a fantastic step-by-step roundup on exactly how to set up your own bloglines account (with screenshots!).

I promise you each that you will really, truly, madly, deeply love it. If not, I'm happy to offer you a full, money back guarantee.

Bloglines, is free though. Really, it will change your web surfing like 4 evah!

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Zen and the art of figuring out what's the next big thing

One of my fave things about Startup Journal are the profiles they do on all sorts of businesses that really have got it goin' on. Today's entry is just what I'm talkin' about.

The article profiles two new NYC businesses that are tapping into both the luxury market and the whole "green" thing going on today. There is a a cooler than thou laundry service, Slate NYC and an environmentally friendly house cleaning service called ZENhome Cleaning.

This is such a great reminder that there are SOOO many ideas out there waiting to be hatched for needs/markets/products that are not currently being met. I know many people like to go for the "tried and true" when thinking about business ideas, but I have to say, I think its really all about coming up with a new angle...rethinking a stale idea...or coming up with a solution where no one else has. That is, of course, exactly what I tried to do with Paper Bride and is still something I think about everytime I come up with a new idea.

Someone said to me the other day, "you guys should do birthday cards." Birthday Cards!? I mean, sure birthday cards are great, but there isn't a whole lot of ground to break in the arena of the birthday card. And that is, by no means, a snub for any of you who might make birthday cards--some of you might have even gotten rich making birthday cards. But I'm all about standing out in a crowd...and the smaller the crowd, the easier it is to stand out. word.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Go It Alone!

I realize I'm like the last person in the universe to officially blog about this (its been tagged by 985 people on, but Bruce Judson has a fab book called Go It Alone! about taking the leap and starting your own biz--and you can download it and read it for free.

I was blown away by the first statistic he sites, which is that somewhere in the neighborhood of 56% of all Americans dream of starting their own business. Holy cannoli.

Forgive me for being cheesy, but eventhough I've already started my own business, I still really enjoy reading books like this. It reminds me of all of the reasons I decided to take the leap in the first place and I almost always learn something new.