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Monday, September 29, 2008

The IC-TechNetwork

How does the IC-TechNetwork operate?

Individuals, including technicians, engineers, hobbyists, VARs and retailers post their information on IC-TechNetwork.
You either contact or are contacted by others on in the Network or outside the Network because of mutual interests.
Payment terms are agreed upon between consultant and client.
Submit your information to: GTorresCUE@gmail.com

The IC-TechNetwork will take on life of its own.

Individuals will connect with VARs or small businesses to perform tasks well within their capabilities. Groups of consultants will find each other and network together to take on projects for clients.

Who are the people who need to look into the IC-TechNetwork?

Certainly, they are people who possess varying degrees of Knowledge, Skills and Experience in the tech world. They may be gainfully employed. They may be about to become unemployed. They may be unemployed.

1. Individuals who want something to fill in the gap while they look for something else they prefer to do.
2. Resellers/retailers who want to ramp up their sales/service accounts, but cannot afford or do not want to add employees to their payroll.
3. Individuals whose vast KSE intimidates prospective employers salary capabilities and ability to retain such highly qualified individuals.
4. Individuals with B1 visas who must fulfill US Embassy requirements of “gainful employment” for immigrants.
5. VARs who may not be able to hire highly skilled workers, but will work with consultants, eagerly.

What is the goal of IC-TechNetworks?

A launch date is out there in the vastness of Texas in Round Rock. Anyone who wishes to “upgrade” from their network will be able to do so through membership in the IC-TechNetwork. Nobody is required to do so. We are not government or union.

Why would you want to upgrade?

A truly, effective and dynamic network does two things:

1. It brings networkers into and keeps them in contact with friends and peers who share similar abilities and interests, and
2. It generates residual income for you.

Get posted, today!

Sunday, September 28, 2008

TechNetwork

It’s been a really tough task for myself, being tech-challenged as I am, but I have managed thanks to the Google team, to setup the IC-TechNetwork.

If you live anywhere in the 50 states you may send me your information for posting. It will appear under your state of residence.

This service is free. Any earnings you might derive through your products or services as an independent reseller/retailer or independent contractor are yours to keep. Service fees are agreed upon between you and your clients.

Notice to local, independent Apparel Designers and retailers:

Watch for a similiar setup for APPAREL in the days to come. It's another tough challenge, but I am encouraged by my success with the setup of the Tech network.

Keep the faith. Grow in faith.

GT

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Boxing clever

This is a great article. I especially call your attention to his point about technology. Technology may be hardware, but in our age we are familiar with software, such as MS Windows, as technology, too. IE-Networks is one such technology independent retailers can leverage for the development of their business. gt


By Neil Davey The last ten years or so in the retail world has been a grim time for smaller independents.

The march of the big box retailers and their relentless focus on scale, efficiency and cost cutting has left many smaller shop owners despairing that they can ever compete.
Of course this is crazy talk. After all Sam Walton began Wal-Mart’s journey by taking over a single franchise store and building from there. And as Uzi Yemen, CEO of the MAPCO Express C-store chain, explains elsewhere in these pages, US retail will always have room for entrepreneurs willing to take risks and build a business.
Of course the key in retail is to give customers something they want. The vast scale of the big boys means that smaller stores won’t succeed if they try to compete directly with supercenters – they don’t have the scale or logistics to make this feasible.

But all is not lost. One of the big buzz’s in retail in localization – how can assortments, and even stores be created to better serve the needs of local, unique markets. And while the heavyweights of the sector scratch their heads and wonder how to re-design supply chains, or take advantage of the reams of customer data they produce to meet these needs, it’s fair to say that smaller, local, stores have an inherent advantage in focusing their efforts on local needs.

To look at how smaller chains and stores can better compete ERS has spoken to Thomas Zaucha, the CEO of the National Grocers Association, and Marc Jacobs, author and CEO of Dollar Days. They explain how being small should be seen as an advantage – as long as you have the insight to offer something different.

Opportunity knocks

For independent retailers, the news that a big box retailer is to open up shop in their community is enough to send shivers down the spine. Yet evidence suggests that it needn’t be a death knell for small retailers. Indeed, research by DollarDays International has revealed that by undertaking various strategic changes, 42 percent of small retailers maintained their market share when a big box player opened up nearby – and a further 35 percent actually reported an increase in business.

Marc Joseph is CEO of DollarDays International, an internet-based product wholesaler to small businesses and local distributors. After being inundated with calls from entrepreneurs seeking advice, he decided to put his nearly 30 years of experience in retailing and wholesaling, to use in the form of a book. The ensuing tome, entitled “The Secrets of Retailing…Or How to Beat Wal-Mart” details how small businesses can compete with big box retailers that come to their towns, as well as providing advice on the nuts and bolts of setting up a successful retail chain. Marc divulges some of the secrets to ERS.

ERS. What are the main strengths of big box retailers?

MJ. There are two things that have made them strong. The number one is their ability to buy in bulk. There are certain commodity goods on which you can’t compete with chainstores – laundry detergent, for instance, or paper goods. They can just buy truckload after truckload and small stores have to buy it in pallet form, so the chainstores compete on price. The second thing is their efficiencies of distribution. Wal-Mart has a just-in-time inventory system where it can flow goods from manufacturers to the stores very quickly and very efficiently. So the whole distribution center that these chainstores have created for themselves is a competitive advantage.

ERS. According to survey results by DollarDays International, 99 percent of the small businesses have big box retailers located near their stores. Does this spell the end for these small businesses?

MJ. If you are an entrepreneur this is actually an opportune time to go into retail, because the chainstores have created so much opportunity for everybody else. There are a couple of factors that have come about in the last ten years that have made it such a good time. The first thing is technology. The cost of technology has come so far down that small stores can now have the same kind of technology as the chain stores. Independent stores can now track their inventory and track their customers. That has created the opportunity to have the knowledge you need to compete. The other thing that has arrived to give the independent stores a chance to compete is the internet. Small stores are not only selling across the street and across town, but now they can sell across the US and the world. So this has opened up a whole opportunity for bricks and mortar stores.

ERS. Interestingly, the survey results suggest that 72 percent of small businesses opened their stores after the chainstores arrived in town. This seems to tie in with your argument that these chainstores have created opportunities.

MJ. Lets take the coffee shop business as an example. Starbucks is on every corner of the US. They are everywhere. But there are 600 more independent coffee shops now in this country than there were six years ago. What happens is that it is kind of like when the tide comes in, all the ships rise. The awareness of the coffee industry has created a niche for these smaller independents to go out there and find their little piece of the action. So chainstores create opportunity for independent stores.

ERS. How can retailers translate this opportunity into big bucks?

MJ. We advise entrepreneurs to open a store right next to a chain store. The Targets and the Wal-Marts of the world are spending millions of dollars to drive customers into their stores, so smart entrepreneurs are opening up independent stores around that to play off the traffic, so they don’t have to pay for all the advertising. These chainstores have also opened up the opportunity for dollar stores. When you walk into any modern mall these days, you will see a dollar store. A place where everything is easy to understand and you don’t have to ask about pricing and you can buy what you want. Retail Forward predicts that there is going to be another 9000 more dollar stores in the US by 2009.

Another niche that opens up when chainstores arrive are gift stores, selling better kinds of unique interesting kinds of gifts. And then there are specialty retailers – none of these chainstores do large sizes well, and none of them do juniors well. So you see that these independent apparel stores are opening up all over the place. When you think about it, most major trends have started in independent stores, because they are the ones out there taking a little chance and trying something a little different. And then it is picked up by the chainstores. So we see that chainstores have opened up an opportunity for entrepreneurs to open up their own independent stores.

ERS. In your book you suggest that there are a number of secrets to competing with the big players. Can you divulge the secrets?

MJ. There are seven secrets; seven ways that you can compete. One is by selling close-outs. A true close-out is only a couple or three truckloads of product. Because it is small quantities, independent stores can buy what chainstores can’t, because they can’t fill all 500 of their stores with close-outs. So true close-outs give the independent the chance to have a lower price and show something different than the chainstore. The second thing is that there are plenty of manufacturers that are just too small to sell to chainstores – there are more and more places where they just don’t make enough product. So there are plenty of manufacturers with which you can create that relationship and buy unique product. We also have a whole level of manufacturing where they won’t sell to chainstores because it would take up 80 percent of their production to deal with them and then if the store takes their business offshore it will put the manufacturer out of business. So you have the opportunity to find those manufacturers who will do that for you.

Also, the small stores have an agility with their overhead costs – chainstores have got management super structures, teams of buyers, lawyers, store designers, public relations and so forth. If small stores need someone to do public relations they just outsource it. And you run your own store so you have got the ability to figure out when you need people in the store to service your customers and when you don’t. You have got the opportunity to get agility on the overhead. Another reason that small stores can compete is that they offer a much simpler shopping experience. I was in Target last weekend, and I had to park all the way out at the end of the parking lot, It took me ten minutes to get into the store; where I was going to was at the back of the store, so that took me another ten minutes; it took me another ten minutes to check out…it is an experience going in these chain stores! Independent stores are smaller, you can usually park close to them and you can get in and out.

Elsewhere, there are plenty of rural areas that are just too small to support chainstores. And there are inner cities where chainstores just don’t go. So there are independent stores being opened up by entrepreneurs because of their location. And the last thing is customer service. If you run an independent store you get to know the customer so that he/she feels at home. You go to a chainstore and sure they have a guy greeting you but that is really for security. They want to get you through the registers as fast as they can. The whole personal attention thing really works and is something that independents could run with.

ERS. Ultimately, is your message that small retailers need to understand that when a big box retailer opens in their community it’s not a death sentence?

MJ. It is more of an opportunity than a challenge.

So there you have it – for smaller stores the secret seems to be leveraging the best practice and technology that has been developed by the bigger boys, and utilizing their size and agility to offer a different customer experience to the supercenters. You might not be able to land a knock-out blow to the might of Wal-Mart et al, but clever retailers should at least be able to get to a points decision. Difficulties remain for sure, but if retail were easy then it wouldn’t be any fun.

Tips to compete with big box retailers

Think small?
Large chains can’t benefit from true closeouts, which are broken lots or leftover goods that a manufacturer needs to unload. This gives the smaller retailer a chance to show products of real value.

Be unique?
There are many new and unique products that, because the supply is limited, chains pass over them, giving the independent stores a chance.

Develop relationships with small manufacturers?
Many small manufacturers will not sell to chainstores.

Agility on overhead cost?
Small retailers can beat the giants in another price-related factor: their overheads can be significantly lower.

Simpler shopping experience for the customer?
A store that is 2000 square feet is much easier to shop than a 100,000 square foot giant.


Location?
Underserved neighborhoods are a real opportunity for independent stores to thrive. Be where the giants are not. Personal attention?Customer service is the backbone to the independent business. People like to shop where they feel comfortable and at home, where they feel the owner cares about their wants and needs.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Discount designers

It seems every week we are exposed to some new effect of our struggling economy. Read this article on how high fashion designers are not above moving into the low-end discount market to increase sales. The most interesting thing to me is that in our economy, such as it is,
none of these designers think to ease up, slow down, or wait for better times.

Here’s what I take from the article for local independent apparel retailers determined to succeed and grow in this economy:

· Have you designed an affordable line?
· Are you reaching more people?
· Have you created any new partnerships?
· Do you have a source of new designers to provide you with fresh ideas and designs?

http://www.businessweek.com/lifestyle/content/sep2008/bw20080911_459145.htm

Take special note of the additional benefits these designers gained as a result of trying something new. Mizrahi found sales of high end fashion designs were revived quite unexpectantly.

None of the above suggestive questions involve anything extraordinary or expensive. They are all part of the IE-Network model which any two enterprises; at-home apparel contractor and local apparel retailer can partner together for their mutual gain.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

The value of a penny doubled

If you have ever attended a network business opportunity meeting you have probably been teased, provoked and made to feel silly/stupid with this question:
Do you know how much money you would have if you took one cent on the first of the month and doubled it every day for thirty days?
Just to give you the idea: Day one = 1 cent, Day two = 2 cents, Day three = 4 cents, Day 4 = 8 cents. Guesses range from .60 cents to $60 to “about 100 dollars”.

I have heard it more than a few times at network business meetings. Unfortunately, I believe the presenter and his/her audience often overlook the more important lessons while they argue in their minds the disbelieve at what they are hearing. If you are a whiz with a calculator you figured it out as quickly as it took you to touch those number keys. You others can take the slightly longer, manual approach. Take a sheet of paper. Number it one through thirty for the days of the month. Then start writing in your numbers beginning with 1 cent for day one, 2 cents for day two, 4 cents for day three until you reach day thirty on your paper.

One co-worker argued as though he knew for certain I was mistaken without even attempting to figure it out for himself: Lesson number one: Perseverance. Another co-worker simply worked his fingers on the calculator and confirmed what I had told him. A friend replied, “Yeah, that’s assuming you have a penny to double every day”: Lesson number two: Networking. This little exercise was reported by Richard Poe in the first ever investigative work by a veteran journalist in his book on network marketing, “Wave 3: The New Era in Network Marketing”.

Lesson number one is about perseverance. It’s about sticking with it to the end. My co-worker was unwilling to even start the work of figuring out the answer. I can’t say I did any better. The first time I sat down with paper and pencil I thought to quit at about day 25 because it seemed to me, “No way is this going to add up”. Even though I knew the total dollar outcome at 30 days I was about to quit! I was incensed at myself for even thinking to quit on a friendly mental one-cent exercise.


Lesson number two is about networking; what the many can do together. My friend missed the point saying, “. . . assuming you have a penny. . .” Networking is all about what the many can do together for each other, not you alone. Things, like one cent, that have very small beginnings can grow enormously far beyond what any single individual can imagine or can accomplish on his own . . .if you do the work.

J Paul Getty was an oilman in Oklahoma in the 1930s. Although he was not a networker he understood the concept. One of his sayings: “I would rather earn 1 dollar from a 100 people than 100 dollars myself.” The networking concept has been well understood and practiced by corporations like McDonald’s, Starbucks and Burger King who cover the country (and the world) with their franchises. Corporations earn small license royalties (called, “residual income”, also) over and over from their many franchises. Networking, or private franchising, allows any private individual with the vision and desire to build a business to receive similar royalties from networkers in their organization.

Seemingly small things are transformed before our very eyes and we fail to see it. There is an instance recorded in scripture when Jesus fed 5000 with 5 loaves and 2 fish. The disciples who walked through the crowd dispensing the loaves and fish failed to see their baskets never ran empty. Worse still, it never dawned on them they gathered 12 baskets full from the leftovers after the 5000 ate. They were no worse than many of us who fail to see things before our eyes greater than we’d ever imagined.

The point of the exercise is neither a promise nor guarantee of immense wealth in thirty days. It is about the reward and the value of a penny as being far greater than its monetary worth when two or more people work together.

The next time opportunity knocks at your house answer the door. When you do, don’t make the mistake of quitting before you do the work. Do not underestimate what the many can do, together.
Day 30: $5,368,709.12

Friday, September 05, 2008

Dell to sell factories

The reports are Dell may be looking to possibly sell its manufacturing facilities worldwide to contract manufacturers within eighteen months. There’s no joy in such news for those most affected should the reports become reality. However, there is opportunity, also.

As I see it, it is a vindication of E F Schumacher, the late British, world-renown economist. Although an economist himself, Schumacher had no kind words for his brethren and the lofty places they occupy in crafting and shaping government economic policy. He summed up his view of economics as it affects the common man in simple terms in his book, Small is beautiful. The mega-corporations, like Dell, Microsoft, IBM and the like, are not the answer to economic inequality and the enhancement and nurturing of human worth with dignity. The manufacturing floor, he believed, is in total opposition to these human values.

Schumacher’s small, but workable, view of an efficient and effective economics model incorporates the following elements:

· Affordable Any tools or equipment an individual procures to work their trade must be affordable. Purchase of such should not put the individual in debt for much more than the equivalent of an earnings period of , for example, one or two months.

· Small Whatever tools or equipment the individual acquires to earn his/her livelihood should not require any more storage space than one can afford in their own home.

· Creative An individual should be able to find creative expression in what he/she does in earning their livelihood. This creativity is not necessarily of an artistic form, but in the freedom to create one’s day with their family in mind.

Some examples of the above include, a sewing machine, computer/air conditioning technicians’ tools, roofers, satellite dish installers, light automotive and much more.

Now, here’s a scenario.

Suppose a given factory employs 100 builders to assemble computers. The indication by companies outsourcing operations overseas is that model cannot be sustained indefinitely. What Dell may do would not be anything unique. The private manufacturing contractor? That’s just another “mega-corporation” model not unlike the one which just failed. Those affected by a plant shutdown and those who view that plant as their competition are the same who can benefit, _ together.

How many of those 100 individuals with the Knowledge, Skills and Experience in computer assembly in an at-home IE-Network would it take to build systems for a VAR or local independent retailer/reseller, _ as independent contractors? How much would the retailer/reseller’s sales increase were there a small and ever expanding local IE-Network to build custom systems? Although the IE-Network model will launch in Round Rock Texas the model can be easily replicated in Reston Virginia, Schuamburg Illinois, New York City New York and San Angelo Texas.

Small is beautiful.

Stay tuned.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Another look at the social contract

There are those who define as a social contract the agreement between citizens and their government. According to definition long ago people made the choice to give up individual personal freedom in exchange for the greater, mutual benefit of all. Then, they setup government to keep peace and order. I wonder when it happened that we also took that same social contract and applied it to the employer/employee relationship.

A social contract is not a written document. It is a willful binding of two by mutual agreement for their mutual benefit.

I believe whether you are talking about government or employers the agreement is a mutual one. We may not like it, but it is one we have accepted. It is not forced on anyone. Everyone has an opportunity to work to change it. Everyone has a right to leave it. No one individual has the right to tear down either government or social contract. Yes, there is room for improvement. There are other options besides the traditional, conventional, employer/employee model.

The Independent Enterprise Network model (IE-Network) provides another look at the social contract. There’s nothing to protest or teardown. It’s people who choose to build something of their own for themselves, but not by themselves. Although they may hear their own fears and the doubts from friends and family they do not listen. They move forward.

Before you think about changing your social contract and moving forward here are some things to keep in mind.

· The US government recognizes the right of the individual to act on their own behalf and earn his/her livelihood as an independent contractor.

· The low-cost, low-risk nature of contracting allows the individual to invest their time and energy into his/her service and product cautiously and solidly.

· The IE-Network model social contract is strengthened by the human qualities of creativity, warmth and sharing.

· The IE-Network model, unlike other network marketing businesses, elevates the designer and his/her creativity.

· Networkers partner with retailer/resellers who choose the networker’s products and services for their customers.

· The IE-Network model, unlike the employer’s limited wages, generates constant and increasing income for network members.

Quite often I find people who want to tell me about a friend. Usually, it’s a friend with immense talent and experience. In some instances, they have a great deal of equipment. They have all the resources and desire to give expression to their creative power.

There are, on the other hand, retailers. You and I have seen them come and then they are gone. They are no different than those anonymous friends I’ve mentioned. They have a vision to target a clientele no one else reaches.

The curious thing is, without fail, every time they each learn about the IE-Network model they become excited about the possibilities for realizing their dream. However, nothing changes.

Here’s another definition you’ve probably heard: Insanity is doing the same over and over and expecting different results.

Stop.

Note: Like some of you, I am an employee. I have been facing the prospect of unemployment. The (mild) chaos that creates in terms of losing/gaining ground toward launching my business (example: loss of conference facility) does not diminish my resolve. Yes, your thoughts and prayers are welcome. gt