It’s Busy Around Here!

I know normally Friday is tech day, but hey we make the rules so I guess that means we can break them!  We have been really busy here at your Coffey County Chamber of Commerce office and I wanted to take the time to share some of the events we have been involved in.  Yesterday alone we had a ribbon cutting at the new ShopKo with 100+ attendants!  After that we switched hats and co-hosted a lunch-in with COF here in Burlington.  We had Clay Nickels from Arvest Bank in Kansas City give a great speech discussing the 2013 economic outlook.  That was all in one day!

ShopKo Ribbon Cutting

Here are some photos from the COF Lunch:

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Getting Organized for the New Year

The final month of the year is here, a time of wrapping things up before the New Year rolls around. Even though the approaching holidays make this a busy time, consider taking a little time to look at the systems you use to stay organized, and see if you can improve them.

First, clear off your desk. It is easy to set things aside to deal with “later” until the desk is no longer visible under the stacks and piles that quickly accumulate. Go through the stacks, shred or throw away anything that is outdated or unnecessary, and file the rest in the appropriate place.

Clean out your paper files. Even with “paperless” systems becoming more common, most of us accumulate way more paper than we need, and much of it ends up in our file drawers. The end of the year is a good time to free up space in your files to make room for next year’s documents. Spend some time going through your file drawer and see if the papers in there are still necessary and relevant. Look through your files and shred or recycle what you no longer need.

While you’re in your file drawer, take a new look at how your filing system is set up, and make any changes that will help it work better for you in the future. Do the file names make sense? Are the tabs and folders clearly labeled? Are you trying to stuff too many documents in a slim hanging file, when a box-bottom file is a better fit? Now is a great time to change file names, re-label, and get the right supplies to improve the system.

If you look through your office supply cabinet, you will probably find that you have supplies hiding in there that have never been (and likely never will be) used. Free up space by getting rid of those things you either never used or just don’t need. Most non-profits are happy to take office supplies off your hands. You may even get a tax deduction for donating these supplies to a charity.

Finally, delete junk from your computer. Files stored on your computer may not take up room in your desk, but they can fill a hard drive surprisingly fast. Delete drafts and out-of-date versions of files if you no longer need them. Use the search tools on your computer to find duplicate files, and keep just the ones you need. Clean out your email inbox, then check your other folders and delete any messages that are no longer needed. These can take up a surprising amount of space! This is also a good time to run a disk cleanup and defragment if they don’t run automatically on a regular schedule.

Monday Member Spotlight – TrustPoint Insurance

We are back in the office today still recovering from a Thanksgiving food coma!  Getting back into the routine of things today is Monday so that means it is Monday Member Spotlight!  Today we are spotlighting TrustPoint Insurance.  They are a locally owned Independent Agent, which means they can quote your insurance policy with many different insurance companies.  All Trusted Choice® agencies agree to adhere to a Pledge of Performance, designed to assure quality service that enables them to offer you competitive pricing, a broad choice of products and valuable advocacy.

You can call their office at 620-364-8811 for more information, get a quote online at www.trustpointinsurance.net, or stop in at 800 North 4th Street in Burlington Kansas.  Here is what they have to say:

“At TrustPoint Insurance, we have always believed in handling our customers’ needs as if they were our own. Our goal is to give our clients peace of mind by developing efficient, “tailor-made” insurance programs. Since we are truly an independent insurance agency, we have the unique ability to shop the marketplace for the insurance company that provides the best protection at the most competitive price.

Our agents are realists and understand that most people view insurance as a “necessary evil” which costs more than they like and which they expect they will never need. Agents will do their best to help you choose the coverage that best fits your individual situation and never try to “oversell”. However, rest assured that our professionals will work hard to insure that you’re covered for all those risks that most apply to you, your family, or your business.

TrustPoint Insurance is located at 800 North 4th Street in Burlington, Kansas. You can meet with one of our agents there or they will be happy to meet with you at your home or business.

We have made our web site as user-friendly as possible. Please browse through the site to get more familiar with TrustPoint Insurance. If you have any questions, do not hesistate to contact us.”

Thanksgiving Reflections

“Over the river and through the woods, to Grandmother’s house we go…”

As a child, Thanksgiving meant waiting impatiently for all of the relatives to arrive, then feasting on the traditional meal of turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes and gravy, sweet potatoes with marshmallows, green bean casserole, corn, cranberry sauce, and fresh-baked dinner rolls. After dinner, the adults retreated for their afternoon naps while the younger generation played games, watched football, or slipped out to the bowling alley. Later, everyone gathered again for desserts – homemade pumpkin pie and Grandma’s date loaf with mounds of real whipped cream.

Today, things are a little different. The menu is basically the same, though the people and location change from year to year. The number of children has increased dramatically, and after-dinner activities now include hours of strategic planning for the Black Friday shopping spree that begins on Thanksgiving night and continues into Friday afternoon.

It sometimes seems that the reason for the holiday – giving thanks – is lost in the busyness of the season. Taking a few minutes to reflect on the things we have to be thankful for yields typical thoughts of family, friends, home, health, and finances.

Giving thanks is easy when things in your life are good, but when you are struggling through times of stress or crisis, whether it’s unemployment, a health problem, a relational struggle or another source of stress, it may be hard to find genuine gratitude. Instead of focusing on what is wrong, or what is missing, give thanks for what you do have, including the smallest of things. Notice good things happening around you – a beautiful sunrise, the sounds of birds singing, a kind word – and acknowledge them with gratitude. Know that even if things are difficult right now, better times are coming.

Have a Happy Thanksgiving!

This Black Friday Shop Local!

In between the Black Friday sales and the Cyber Monday deals is Small Business Saturday (November 24th) — a day set aside to support the small businesses that play a vital role in creating jobs and economic opportunities all across the country.

Small businesses are the back bone of our communities. And when we shop small, we not only get great products and services, but we support our neighbors and strengthen our local economies.

Over the last two decades, small and new businesses have been responsible for creating two out of every three net new jobs in the U.S., and today over half of all working Americans own or work for a small business.

Want to participate in Small business Saturday?  Here is what you can do:

  • If you are a business owner, register your business at http://www.shopsmall.com so your customers know where to find you and you can receive free Small Business Saturday promotional materials. You can also make sure you’re prepared for the holiday season by checking out SBA’s advice at http://www.sba.gov/Saturday.
  • If you are a customer, learn which businesses in your community are participating in Small Business Saturday at http://www.shopsmall.com. The website provides information on businesses currently registered and how you can rally your community to support the initiative.

 

By shopping small, we can help America’s small businesses do what they do best: grow their businesses, create good jobs and ensure that our communities are vibrant.  I encourage you to join small business owners and the more than one hundred million people who were part of Small Business Saturday last year.

 

Shop small this holiday season. I know I will.

Monday Member Spotlight – Helper Hinge, Inc.

This week’s Member Spotlight is Helper Hinge, Inc., owned by Duane and Lois Smith and located at 704 S. 4th Street in Burlington. Helper Hinge is a device that allows one person to easily attach a trailer ramp, one hinge at a time. With a typical hinge, the ramp has to be folded upright when traveling on the highway, catching the wind and wasting gas. The Helper Hinge makes it easy to remove the ramp and place it in the trailer bed for travel, saving up to $8.50 each hour you pull it on the highway. For more information, visit their website, http://www.helperhingeinc.com/ , or call (620) 364-2881.

How to Cook Up a Great Marketing Plan Part 2-Add the Essentials

This part outlines the key essentials you need to include in your marketing plan. No matter how it’s organized, your marketing plan should be a straightforward and easily understood-to anyone. It should provide you with a clear direction for your marketing efforts for the coming year, and it should give an insightful look into your company for all readers.

Market Situation

The “market situation” section should contain your best and most clear-headed description of the current state of the marketplace (this is no place for hunches).

  •     What are your products/services or product/service lines?
  •     What is the dollar size of your markets?
  •     What is your sales and distribution setup?
  •     What geographic area do you sell to?
  •     Describe your audience in terms of population, demographics, income levels and so on.
  •     What competitors exist in this marketplace?
  •     Historically, how well have your products sold?

 

Your market situation section might read like this:

XYZ and Associates is a bookkeeping and accounting firm started in 1981. We provide tax services to individuals and to businesses under $500,000 in annual sales. We provide bookkeeping and payroll support to those same businesses. Our market area Coffey County, Kansas, and its neighboring counties.

For the personal market, our clients typically are in the $75,000 and higher income range, or they are retired with assets of $200,000 or more. For the business market, most of our work is for restaurants, service stations, independent convenience stores and a large courier service.

With the exception of a slump from 1988 through 1991, XYZ and Associates has grown steadily from its inception. Gross sales in 1997 were $145,000.

Competition for our immediate market is a group of eight firms roughly comparable to our company. Only one of these firms, Acme Bookkeeping, has an interest in marketing itself. We believe we rank second in the group of competitors, behind Acme.

 We have a strong position in the restaurant portion of our business.

 

Much of this information exists in the heads of the management team, the way it is at many companies. But now is when you write it down. For example, how much information do you have in your office–right now–on your competition? A marketing plan gives you a chance to pull all this relevant information together in one place, to spur ideas and justify actions.

Consider each of your products or services up against the matching products or services of your competitors. How well do you stack up? Is there any significant market opportunity for you that neither you nor your competitors are currently exploiting?  You’ll also find that the best thinkers in your company may well have different ideas about elements of the current situation. Your marketing plan will provide a good arena to test different snapshots of the market against each other.

Organize Your Holiday Schedule

The holiday season is almost here, ready or not. This is one of those times of the year when you could really use a personal assistant to keep track of events and get things done. Cozi is a free app and website that helps you manage your busy family calendar. Spend a few minutes putting must-do activities and family traditions on your Cozi calendar. Then, you’ll get a view of what’s going on each week with Cozi’s weekly email agenda. Plus it keeps track of everything from school schedules to sports activities, meals, grocery lists, and chores, all in one place. You can stay on top of family life from anywhere; your Cozi account is accessible from any computer, and the mobile app is available on the iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch and on Android devices. Managing your family calendar online with Cozi will help keep your family organized and on the same page. Here are a few more ideas for how Cozi keeps you on top of it all year:

  • Create shopping lists in Cozi so you are always prepared and stay on budget
  • Put your meal plan on the calendar
  • Start a family “to do” list
  • Create checklists or chore charts and assign to family members
  • Schedule family nights on the calendar
  • Set up reminders for appointments that go to mail or mobile phone for peace of mind that you won’t forget
  • Get your weekly agenda emailed to anyone in the family for a view of what’s coming up each week

Use Cozi lists to keep track of gift ideas for family, friends and special people in your life. Saving the lists online with Cozi a great way to make sure you don’t forget the perfect gift idea you had for Grandma, and even better, you can access the lists whenever you find yourself out and about.  Learn more about Cozi here.

Monday Member Spotlight – Burlington Building Materials

This week’s Member Spotlight is Burlington Building Materials located at 626 Neosho Street Burlington.  Vince carries a wide range of lumber, home improvement supplies, building materials, paint, and much more!  They are a full service home center offering you great customer service, including delivery, installed sales, estimates and design help. For your shopping convenience, they would like to welcome you to their online store (Click Here) where you can purchase 70,000 items available for overnight delivery. If you want to purchase a product that cannot be delivered by UPS, stop in or call the store to purchase the product, 620-364-2212. If they do not stock the item, one of their friendly employees will be happy to special order the item for you.

 

Visit their other locations:

  • Osage Building Materials
    425 Main Street
    Osage City, KS 66523
  • Lyndon Building Materials
    118 W 6th Street
    Lyndon, KS 66451

Tech Update – Windows 8

If you are currently running Windows 7, Windows Vista, or Windows XP, an upgrade version of Windows 8 is available for you – and it’s already available pre-installed on hundreds of desktop PCs, laptops, and all-in-one PCs. Windows is now also available on tablets for the first time.

Windows 8 is a completely new version of Windows. There is a completely new user interface ideal for touchscreens, but also designed to be used with a mouse and keyboard. The key to the new interface is the brand new Start Screen. It replaces the Start Menu and fills the entire screen, but it can be used in the same way as the Start Menu – you can search by typing a name and browse and find applications using your mouse.

But the Start Screen is also a home for new Windows 8-style apps you can download from the new Windows Store (this works much like Apple’s App Store or Google Play). The Start Screen features new colorful tiles with your key Windows 8 applications. And, for the touchscreen, there’s a great on-screen keyboard and handwriting recognition.

On traditional PCs, Windows 8 does represent a different experience from what you’re used to, and there are new tricks to navigate through apps – just click in the top left corner to cycle through your open apps (the equivalent on a touchscreen is to flick in from the left-hand side of the screen).

Another new feature on all Windows 8 devices are charms – these are quick access tools on the right side of the screen – move your mouse towards them or swipe in from the right side with your finger. They enable you to share from any Windows 8 app, search from anywhere on your PC, go to start or access your devices and settings.

In the background, Windows 8 closely resembles  Windows 7, but it has been given a fine tuning, meaning that it will run just as well on equivalent hardware. Gone are the days of expensive upgrades for the latest version of Windows and Microsoft says that Windows 8 will run better on the same hardware as its predecessor. If you are upgrading to Windows 8 will be asked which files and settings you want to bring from your previous installation – although what you can bring to your new Windows 8 install will depend on what older Windows version you have.