Futuristic Home Furniture

Looking at the future for inspiration in furniture

It is no longer fashionable to restrict the choices that you have to the old world view. You can get modern items such as the metal lawn ornaments. The reasons for this are due to the fact that the market has started dealing in niches. That means that virtually everyone has a chance to get their own niche which they use in the manner that they feel is the most appropriate. The old conventions have been thrown away and the young people feel that they can also make an impact on the way that the world is fashioned. That is why the use of the lawn metal ornaments is not so surprising. They too have their own merits.

Some people might find it a weird combination to have the green grass with the metal lawn ornaments. However it does seem to work well based on the contrasting hues that each element brings to the garden. The items are also good for purposes of keeping away the pests that can damage them. The wooden ornaments tend to suffer from mites and other disturbances. When it comes to the ornaments of the future the only thing that you have to seriously worry about is the potential for rust. Even this issue can be dealt with if you have proper care for your property. You can oil them on a regular basis to keep away the rust and you could even put them in a shade in order to give the opportunity for them to build up.

As time goes by you will find that the accessories of the modern age will grow on you even if the initial response was not all that great. These are things that tend to blend in well with your garden and the overturn the stereotypes. You can have them in any shape that you like. Animals are particular popular but also the size is used to achieve different effects. When the sunlight falls on the glistening effect can be very impressive and will add yet another dimension to your garden. It is possible to get the very best out of the metal lawn ornaments. You have to be prepared to do the hard work.

There are people that look down on the products of the futuristic period as something that is bordering on the tacky elements that others put in their homes. Each person will have their tastes and it is very difficult to come up with a standard that is a requirement for all the parties. It is all about getting the right compromises in place so that the family can enjoy their garden in peace. The use of the metal product lines is just one of those things that will either thrill you or fill you with dread depending on your attitudes to décor in general. As a word of comfort I would say that the popularity of these items is grow on a daily basis. You are in good company when you buy them.

Making Travel Plans

When planning your get away for this summer, if you are thinking of all the snow like us that we are getting. Your really ready now, but you don’t want to spend a fortune, did you know that the best deals can be found for travel during the first two weeks of June and the last two weeks of August.

Where will you go? this plays a big role in pricing. But if you choose the right destination you will be able to save alot. For instance, the New Yorker that wants to go to London in mid June, there are deals as low as 600.00 or better.

Also another way to save is to avoid heavy times of travel, which can actually save $ 20 per ticket. Holidays too, staying clear of those times can save you a bundle. On another note, some cannot afford big vacations, so why not drive?

That is what we plan on doing this year and you too, can enjoy a simple vacation and don’t forget that many nice places have pools for the children to swim and have fun. You might like it if they also have game rooms for fun. My kids loved this activity and asked for money every hour on the hour. But of course we tried to be reasonable with them.

Stay in a nice hotel, go to Tampa, maybe New York where rates are down! So when you get your income tax check, get on it and start your thinking and planning now.

Four Elements of Small Business Success

The prospect of starting a small business may strike people as exciting, intimidating, or both. This is for good reason; the appeal of being your own boss and launching a lucrative business is tempered by the high failure rate of small businesses. A quick internet search reveals no shortage of studies providing causes and statistics regarding small business failure rates. While the exact rate of each study varies by industry and timeframe, most studies indicate that roughly half of small businesses remain in operation within a few years of opening.

This reality invites the question of what makes the survivors successful? I recently had the opportunity to speak with a few small business owners, each of which owns a retail storefront. The purpose of my inquiry was simply to learn a bit about the challenges of being a small business owner, and even more so, to learn what has contributed to their survival and success.

Factory Direct Trains is an Asheville, North Carolina-based online and storefront retailer of scale model trains. Factory Direct Trains specializes in HO scale trains, and has been in business for six years. The Music Shoppe is a music store located in Harrison, Ohio, a suburb on the west side of Cincinnati. The Music Shoppe, which has been in business for 21 years, sells musical instruments and offers instrument repair service and music lessons. Originally founded by three partners, the Music Shoppe is now solely owned and operated by one of the original three. The Practical Outdoorsman, which is also located in Asheville, North Carolina, has been in business for two years, and sells retail and consignment outdoor goods for hunting, fishing, camping, hiking, biking and paddling.

In speaking with the owners of each of these three businesses, a few consistent themes emerged that were attributed to their success: conservative financing and the general avoidance of debt, a priority on customer service, business differentiation, and the service of an identified market void or opportunity.

All three businesses started small, slow and deliberate, and did not go into debt to launch their business. Often small retail operations with comparatively little overhead can avoid business loans with proper planning. Each business owner interviewed began with his own money, and in one case, also the money of two partners. Launching with savings as opposed to financing carries the benefits of a heightened personal commitment, as well as the absence of the burden of third party debt. Business loans or some manner of external funding are often unavoidable in other businesses with higher overhead and fixed costs, but retail can offer more flexibility in this area, depending on the scale of the launch.

A contributing factor to the low overhead of these businesses is the small number of employees, the largest of which employs four people including the owner. The absence of debt facilitated a business growth pace for all three, which was directly linked to the growth in sales and revenues. Conversely, some of the interviewees cited the opposite scenario in which a business owner, typically a rival, borrowed money to build a business that was of a scale larger than the market it served, and as such, the business was then unable to both service the debt and generate enough money to cover operating expenses.

Commitment to customer service was emphasized by each business. The age of internet retailing and large discount box stores makes it imperative for smaller businesses to offer value through other means, as they generally cannot compete on price and selection. This is where the human element becomes critical. A personal selling effort and cultivated relationships with return customers, if managed properly, are able to win out over the appeal of larger retail options. Some people are willing to pay a higher price for a more personalized buying experience.

Differentiation was another key factor identified by all three businesses. Something needs to set your business apart to draw customers through the door. As previously discussed, customer service is one area of differentiation when competing with box stores and online retailers. Customer service is the primary differentiating factor between The Music Shoppe and larger, national chain music stores.

Other differentiation criteria were also cited. Factory Direct Trains competes in the scale model train industry. This business, which maintains a physical storefront but is primarily an online retailer, differentiates itself from its competitors by having a sophisticated web presence. Integral to this web presence is a robust and growing degree of social media connectivity. This is a relatively modern model in an aging hobby business. The social media participation makes a small company in North Carolina highly accessible to online customers all over the country and internationally and as such, social media is a key component of Factory Direct Trains’ customer service efforts.

The Practical Outdoorsman is unique in that it offers retail and consignment outdoor gear under one roof. Additionally, this business carries local, handmade outdoor items such as hunting knives, fishing lures and flies, and hunting calls. Such products give The Practical Outdoorsman the appeal of local authenticity that is not found in the larger chain outdoor goods stores.

Each of the three businesses has remained viable by serving a market demand that was either growing or previously under-served. Two market opportunities were dictated primarily by geography. The Music Shoppe opened in a suburb on the west side of Cincinnati that is roughly 20 miles outside of the city. Since the store’s opening, this suburb has grown significantly, and the Music Shoppe has grown along with the population and economy. The Music Shoppe secured dealer status for large music brands such as Guild, Taylor and Martin guitars, and thus serves as the nearest dealer for such brands for the west side of Cincinnati as well as southeastern Indiana.

Research prior to opening revealed to the owner of The Practical Outdoorsman that the nearest similar consignment and retail outdoor goods store was located over 150 miles away. Additionally, this store is located in the northwest quadrant of Buncombe County where there are very few outdoor goods stores. The Practical Outdoorsman is also the only North Carolina Wildlife Agent in this quadrant of the county, which provides such services as selling hunting and fishing licenses. Serving as a Wildlife Agent generates significant customer traffic.

Factory Direct Trains found its market niche by establishing a strong web presence in a hobby industry that has been comparatively slow to embrace online retailing and social media usage. In doing so, Factory Direct Trains has been able to reach out and expand its customer base in areas under-served by local hobby shops with more limited selections.

Of the four elements discussed common to these three successful small businesses, all seem intuitive from an outside perspective. However, small business start-ups have a high failure rate, and even these seemingly obvious attributes escape some small business owners, who ultimately close their doors as a result. These four elements, debt management, customer service, business differentiation and proper market opportunities, are by no means a comprehensive list of the requirements for business success. The formula for business success contains many more variables than those covered in this article. However, the consistency throughout the three cited examples of debt management, customer service, business differentiation and proper market opportunities, underscores their importance as contributors to business success.

Online Education Part 2

I am still an advocate for online education. It’s the best education in the world, and it relieves a lot of stress to a person who does not like to travel other than work and back. Since my first article on this subject, online education has taken a leap into the future. Traditional colleges are offering online college courses also to join the ranks of the online education.

Since my first article there are more and more universities getting into the band wagon of online education, and more students taking the chance and the risk to make their educational dreams come true. All they have to do is possess a computer and a little knowledge to get them going.

I could be watching Law and Order and still utilize my skills by studying for my course, and not spending excessive money on gas and bus fare to stroll into a building to make my dreams come true.

I attended Kaplan University and I am pleased to announce that I am about to graduate. My requirements and courses are done, and let me tell you it was not an easy road. I am not going to tell you that going online is not without stress, but its good stress. You need a lot of discipline to keep up with deadlines and there are plenty of them. Deadlines are good for online education because it keeps you on the road to completion of your assignments and motivates you.

There are still students who prefer to interact with students in person on a college campus, and I salute those students. Education is important to everyone and however you choose to obtain it is your choice.

I recommend online education for busy full-time people, and children. When the children are in bed, this is the time to sit down at your computer or laptop and get into your assignments. You might be able to tackle some of your assignments at lunch or on the job as long as a computer is handy for you.

My graduation ceremony is February, 2007 in Florida. I am looking forward to attending the ceremony. I am so proud of myself for accomplishing this task and graduating with an Associate Degree in Paralegal Science. In my last semester I had three classes, and I was literally pulling out my hair. College Algebra was one of my courses, and math is not one of my favorite subjects. I was able to work with a tutor and I passed all three classes with flying colors. I feel good, and soon when I am holding my degree in my hand, I am going to shout and celebrate. A friend of mine finished her online B.A. program and she gave herself a party to celebrate. It was a long and difficult road, but we both accomplished what we set out to do. Now the door is open for employment opportunities and utilizing the degree that we worked so hard for.

My friend was already offered a job when she completed her studies, so online education does work in boundaries. You just need the faith that you can use your computer for education and not just surfing the net, chatting, and meeting people on myspace.com. Your computer/laptop can make your dreams come true.

As you can see I am still preaching about online education; the need still exists for women/men who have been out of college for years. This is the opportunity to get off your fanny and get that associate, B.A., and Masters degree. You can do it, and all you have to do is be computer literate. If not, there are CD’s out there to teach you how to educate yourself on the computer. There is no excuse; surf the net and find Kaplan University and many more that will enable you to finish or begin your education.

Now that I have my associate degree is that the end of schooling for me? I am pleased to announce that I am already into my second course for my B.A. in English/Professional Writing at Ellis College. I am not going to stop here. I will be in online schooling until I reach my Masters in Creative Writing, and then the road ends for me. There will be teaching opportunities for me, and I look forward to this new chapter in my life.

Online Education is expensive, but so is the cost of living. I rather sacrifice and pay money for an education that is going to benefit me for a career instead of a job; living from paycheck to paycheck. I get the rewards by making more money than I know I am worth, and then some. Financial Aide is available and some grants for low income people who are qualified.

Excuses are the negative traits haunting you in an effort to enable. I knocked on the door of education and look where I am today. I am not particular about the job I have now. With my associate degree in paralegal science I am going to find the job I want, and turn it into a career. I am in the money now, and not living from paycheck to paycheck. I am finally here!

So what are you all waiting for? Kaplan University, and Ellis College, and many more is the key to success and we all want it. I can feel the need to sign onto one of these colleges and get the application process going. It takes less than five minutes to fill out the application, and just a click of your mouse to send it. In an hour or less a representative from your selected college will give you a call, and then you are on your way to a rewarding career.

Online education is still making an impact in 2006, and in years to come it will skyrocket. You just watch and see. This is the new technology in education and I am pleased to be part of the trend. Why not!

Copyright © by Carol Ann Culbert Johnson