innovation grab your spork and dig in
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Nine Things Small Business Owners Should Do to Ensure Success
Meet 14 Members of the TRIBE
Special Qs What object can’t you live without?...........
What is the kookiest entrepreneurial idea you ever had?......
What’s your go-to lunch?..............
table of contents
Good Stuff Inside
Departments 4 b2bTRIBE Manifesto....... 5 Publisher’s Note............
Editor’s Note/ Become a Contributor.....
6 Book Review............. 55 Save the Dates............ 56 Staff....................... 59 Ad Index................... 62 TRIBE Index............... 63 Eye Candy................. 64
How do you recharge?
to b2bTRIBE magazine! This magazine was born from a creative spot in my head and is fueled by the need for a platform to share the realness of the lives of entrepreneurs and small business owners. This venture is needed to help unify our network of Charlotte-area business owners, so we know each other as people first but also know what our businesses have to offer each other’s. I do believe this publication is needed, and many of you have enthusiastically agreed. However, needing something, wanting it, and supporting it are all very different things. So Melisa, the SPARK Publications team, and I have had a great deal of thoughtful and intentional fun launching this issue. Where it goes from here will evolve from the support, participation, and collaboration from those of you who choose to believe in this effort. I don’t see this publication as competition with the already great and targeted magazines in our area; they are all needed and very valuable to their niches. b2bTRIBE magazine simply identifies and addresses an unmet need in our marketplace. (Hey, that can be considered innovation! We’re going to discuss a lot about innovation starting on page 16.) Our aim is authenticity, vulnerability, courage, and knowledge shared through story and photography while answering a few questions. What fuels the entrepreneur and small business owner day to day and year after year? What do we KNOW? How do we FEEL? What can we DO better? Who’s in our TRIBE, and what are their stories? As I sat down to describe this business-to-business tribe concept, the manifesto to the right just poured out of me. Can you relate? I look forward to your feedback and suggestions. Please send comments to publisher@b2bTRIBE.com. If you want to support this effort and promote your business with an ad, please connect via advertising@b2bTRIBE.com. Thanks for letting us play. Come join the b2bTRIBE! With Gratitude,
b2bTRIBE magazine VOL. 1, 2014 Fabi Preslar Publisher Melisa LaVergne Editor Larry Preslar Director of Creativity Merissa Jones Creative Goddess Sofi Preslar Production Assistant Constance Brossa/Final Edit Proofreader Design and Production by SPARK Publications www.SPARKpublications.com Advertise: advertising@b2bTRIBE.com Subscribe: subscriptions@b2bTRIBE.com Provide feedback: publisher@b2bTRIBE.com Submit story ideas: editor@b2bTRIBE.com 2116 Crown Center Drive, Suite 300 Charlotte, NC 28227 704.844.6080 b2bTRIBE.com / b2bTRIBE b2bTRIBE is published semiannually by SPARK Publications and distributed in the Charlotte region. Subscribe online at b2btribe.com/ subscribe. Acceptance of advertising does not mean or imply the service or product is endorsed or recommended by b2bTRIBE or SPARK Publications. POSTMASTER: Send corrections to b2bTRIBE, Address Change, 2116 Crown Centre Drive, Suite 300, Charlotte, NC 28227. ©2014. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced without written permission from the publisher.
is a community of ENTREPRENEURS and SMALL BUSINESS OWNERS —supporting, uplifting, educating, and laughing with other entrepreneurs and small business owners. We work hard, build smart, and play harder. We’re CREATIVE and RESOURCEFUL.
Independents, Democrats, Republicans, and Unaffiliated. We are multi-dimensional, MULTI-CULTURAL, multi-racial, multiethnic. We are straight, gay, married, single, divorced, widowed, wounded, and EMPOWERED. We’re a rainbow of PERSONALITIES peppered with type A and high D—and various degrees of ADD.
introverts who have been transformed to functional extroverts; we are extroverts taking relationships to new heights. We are dreamers with goals. WE ARE POSITIVE AND ENERGETIC. We love technology, simplicity, complexity, and nature. We thrive to challenge the status quo; BREAKTHROUGHS and DISRUPTIONS are our norm. WE
mostly unemployable, yet we know how to work for thirty bosses at once. WE ARE SERVERS to our clients, our staffs, our communities. We charge fairly and give genuinely. We laugh often and deeply. We are PASSIONATE.
in practices and opinions; we are unique. We infuse our unique beliefs into our businesses, and our businesses are viable and profitable. WE ARE THE BACKBONES of our cities and our countries.
united as a tribe. We are entrepreneurs and small business owners SERVING ONE ANOTHER and the community. We strive for and obtain EXCELLENCE.
We are the b2bTRIBE. © 2014 Fabi Preslar, Publisher, b2b TRIBE
For b2bTRIBE to truly be by and for small business owners and entpreneurs, we need your contributions! Submit your ideas to me at editor@b2bTRIBE.com. Ideas that show lots of personality and are crafted to fit within an existing section of the magazine are more likely to be chosen. Ideas submitted in perfect Chicago Style will earn a hug and tears of gratitude. I hope you’re as excited as I am to add b2bTRIBE to your reading list and to get involved as a contributor. Welcome to the TRIBE!
The TRIBE features local, small business owners who provide businessto-business services. The profiles heavily emphasize the person, because people do business with other people.
the special Q
DO offers a few brief and practical checklists of actions readers should take on a variety of topics.
FEEL is a photographic essay of sorts that should convey 10,000 words or so with as little typography as possible. In this issue, it is tied to a Special Q, but that doesn’t need to be the case.
KNOW is an informative, in-depth article on a topic important to business owners. Readers should gain a greater understanding of the topic and immediately be able to apply lessons to their own businesses. They should also know from the sidebars and mini profiles who to turn to for help should they need it.
How to contribute to b2bTRIBE
The Special Q is just fun. Any small business owner who provides businessto-business services may participate by submitting the questionnaire at b2bTRIBE.com/ thespecialQ. The most entertaining answers will be highlighted. Be sure to include a high-resolution headshot, because we made special spaces for your faces.
If you’ve already subscribed to b2bTRIBE, thank you! If not, this is your promotional sample issue. Please subscribe at b2bTRIBE.com to continue receiving the magazine. 6 b2bTRIBE.com
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Q What personal or business item can’t you live without?
“Pants. Never overrated and always a must! I also like a cool watch.”
– Michael LoBiondo, Michael LoBiondo Photography, mlobiondo.com
Your Cash Should Be in Your Pocket by Deborah Peterson
Properly managing cash flow can make or break many small business owners and solopreneurs. Unfortunately, most financial planners and accountants are accustomed to dealing with people who are flush with cash. They provide well-meaning advice about tax deductions, investing profits into retirement accounts, and using accrual accounting as a strategic planning tool. Many of them have also never started or owned a business and don’t realize that focusing too rigidly on the future can sometimes be a detriment to your present.
Before I embarked on my entrepreneurial adventures, I was in charge of trust banking operations and technology at a major bank in upstate New York. That position came with heavy responsibility for strategic planning. I found that having a
five-year strategic vision was nice, but planning out that far was a waste of time. Too much could change. So my strategic plans went out a year, and even in that shorter time frame, I kept them flexible.
Strategic Timelines Are Subjective
When I became a business owner, I began taking an even narrower view, especially when it came to cash flow. I realized that my optimum strategic planning window was six months. I would think ahead and determine the minimum amount of money I would need to pay expenses on the business and personal sides, and then make sure I kept enough cash accessible and in my control to cover my needs. That optimum
Keep your money accessible, and stay in control of the cash in your business. Your money needs to be where you need it when you need it. window may be slightly more or less for other small business and microbusiness owners depending on their revenue models. But from experience, I’ve found that six months is a good benchmark.
Disclosure: Money Counts, Inc. is an independent company with securities offered through Summit Brokerage Services, Inc., Member FINRA, SIPC. Advisory services offered through Summit Financial Group, Inc., a Registered Investment Advisor.
Deborah Peterson, president of Money Counts, Inc.
I now provide financial planning advice to individuals and to entrepreneurs and small business owners with twenty employees or fewer, a niche with unique needs and challenges. I’ve already hinted at the most important advice I give to my clients, but I’ll say it clearly and repeat often: keep your money accessible, and stay in control of the cash in your business. Your money needs to be where you need it when you need it. What do you have to change to make that work? Come see me. I’ll help you clarify your priorities, put together a plan that works for your unique circumstances, and keep an eye on your progress while you focus on your work.
moneycounts.biz email@example.com 704.315.5623 11121 Carmel Commons Blvd., Suite 400 Charlotte, NC 28226
o n v In a
by Melisa LaVergne
Grab Your Spork and Dig In
and support their families. Is innovation really important for them? How much time and money would it take, and are their businesses even structured for it? Perhaps most importantly, what is it?
Chief Executive, Edison Nation Louis Foreman started his first business while still in college at the University of Illinois and went on to create nine successful start-ups. He is also the inventor on ten registered US patents, and his companies have developed and filed more than 500 US patents. He founded Enventys in 2001 to help other inventors and entrepreneurs navigate the process of product development. From Enventys, a family of companies was born.
What Is Innovation?
Like a movie starlet hounded by paparazzi and plastered across the tabloids, innovation has lost its identity to its own fame and oversaturation. It’s used interchangeably to mean everything from developing new processes to producing disruptive technology, from creating new packaging to creating new markets. Acting on such a vague concept is a sure path to wasted productivity for most small business owners. Louis Foreman, chief executive of Edison Nation and one of Charlotte’s go-to speakers on the topic of innovation, isn’t pleased with the oversaturation of the word. “Everyone is using the word innovation, but the real meaning when you look at it is so different from how people use it,” Foreman said in a recent telephone interview. He went on to note the rising popularity of innovation as an advertising concept, even for products such as tequila, as though a company’s ability to innovate is a key selling point. Edison Nation helps inventors and people with great ideas take their concepts to market.
The drive to innovate—to be innovative—sometimes feels like peer pressure. Organizations like Apple and Bell Labs are held up as paragons of the Innovation Age, something like the preppy clique with their fancy patents and deep pockets. Over decades of research and development, these companies have created and then dominated markets. Similarly, tech startups fueled by nothing more than caffeine, caviar wishes, and sturdy bootstraps are lauded for their nimble moves and experimentation. In recent years, many such companies have changed the way we play, communicate, and do business seemingly overnight. They’re like a mixture of the rebels and the valedictorians, the role models kids choose combined with the role models their parents wish they would choose. The cool kids are driving innovation, and the media and boards of directors never hesitate to belabor the point while they cry, “Innovate or die!” That leaves the rest of the class: the accountants who want to make a decent living, retire comfortably, and help their clients do the same; the lawyers who want to keep their friends and clients out of trouble; and the graphic designers who want to make the world a little more beautiful one pixel at a time. These professionals do their jobs well, please their clients,
Not all great concepts can be consumed in small sound bites.
Founder, Salum International Resources, Inc. Carlos Salum calls himself a performance architect, breakthrough catalyst, and value designer. His business focuses on helping executives and leaders to overcome risk and to develop and adopt plans that achieve exponentially positive results. An avid tennis player, Salum’s most famous client may be Gabriela Sabatini, the 1990 US Open champion. He designs and manages corporate events and hosts a series of educational and networking workshops and events.
Y variable (payoff, degree of newness, or market impact)
And that’s where Foreman says the true meaning of innovation lies. “Invention is coming up with a novel idea. Innovation is putting that novel idea to practice. So the way I define innovation is a great idea plus execution. A great idea by itself is just that— it’s a great idea. But innovation occurs when you take that great idea and you execute on it.” Carlos Salum of Salum International Resources takes his definition a step further by emphasizing value: “Creative thinking needs to produce something new. It’s a human skill that needs to be developed just like learning a language. Creative thinking is essential. And in a way, it is a human right. Innovation is very symptomatic of creative thinking, but it has to deliver value.”
X variable (risk or invesment)
Innovation Delivers Value
Now we’re on to something. Delivering value is something most business owners can understand. The next natural question is how much change is necessary for the resulting value to count as innovation. Here’s where the issue gets tricky again. Incremental improvements to a widget still leave you with a widget, not a groundbreaking new product. But what if those small improvements lead to significant cost savings or become the tipping point that makes the product or service the hottest on the market? What if, for example, those small improvements transform a spoon into a spork, reducing by half the amount of material necessary to create your dining utensils? That small improvement nets big results. How to measure innovation varies just as widely as the definition. As Suzanne Fetscher, creator of the Innovation Institute at the McColl Center for Art + Innovation, puts it, “In every way that an organization can embrace or implement innovation, there are different ways to measure it.”
Fetscher also believes measuring innovation will become a growing field as innovation becomes more mainstream. Most existing measurement methods plot variables on a matrix to determine various levels of innovation. Then each MBA with a book deal assigns a clever name to those levels, and the MBA with the highest book sales that year wins the name game, for that year anyway. It looks something like the charts shown here. “Unicorns” is a particularly descriptive label Tim Kastelle (an Australian blogger and lecturer) applied to companies that don’t try hard to innovate but somehow manage to churn out innovations despite themselves; in other words, those companies are mythical beasts. This variety tells us that measuring innovation is subjective and depends on a company’s industry, business model, goals, and other unique factors. So like many business processes, intentionality, information, and respect for the process are key factors.
Innovation Starts with People
David Phillips, interim director of the Innovation Institute and innovation provocatuer at Faster Glass Consulting, says that “innovation efforts should, in most cases, focus on what people (internal or external) need or want, not what the company needs or wants.” He teaches his clients people-centered design principles with wide applications to problem-solving and creativity. Inspiration can come from anyone inside your company. In fact, great solutions frequently
President and CEO McColl Center for Art + Innovation
come from people who aren’t as close to problems as those typically tasked with solving the problems. Early in his career, artist and inventor David Martin tackled a project that involved inventing new materials and methods to cast metals for an art installation. Everyone at the studios and foundries approached for the project said it was impossible, so Martin hired a staff with zero foundry experience, people who had no idea what was or was not possible. Through trial and error, Martin and his team figured it out and made something beautiful. “It was an art project but had nothing to do with art. It was my first research and development project,” says Martin. He took that experience and, without a formal degree in science, went on to become a Disney
imagineer and a research scientist in Lockheed Martin’s remarkable Skunk Works division. His work led to the first articulated aircraft seat made entirely of composite materials, which reduced aircraft weight, and the embedded fiber optic sensors that monitor the structural integrity of composites, making these materials safer for a wider variety of uses. He also founded Charlotte-based ScentAir, a scent marketing company. Martin believes that some of the best ideas—those that seem to drop fully formed from the sky—really do come from a higher power to those who are receptive. What if the most receptive person in a company is the receptionist or the accountant or the slightly awkward intern? When a company needs to generate ideas that bring value to its customers or to design
Suzanne Fetscher was appointed founding president of McColl Center for Art + Innovation in April 1998. In 2005, she created the Innovation Institute at McColl Center for Visual Art, a program led by artists and designed to help senior-level executives understand where creative capacity lies and how to nurture it, create a culture that supports it, and harness it for organizational or business advancement. She holds a bachelor’s and a master’s in fine arts.
Innovation Provocateur Faster Glass Consulting LLC After thirteen years working for large corporations and consulting firms, David launched Faster Glass Consulting in 2010 “to help people grow their businesses and to help businesses grow their people” through innovation and peoplecentered design. His company offers solution design workshops, innovation training, ethnographic research, and visual storytelling. In addition to running his business, he is also the Innovation Institute’s interim director.
Queen of the Lake 38
Pride in All She Does 31
Keeping It Real
Mentorship in Motion 28
Finding Joy in the Word 30
Web Guy down the Hall 30
The TRIBE Each issue of b2bTRIBE highlights a few of those worthy rebels described in The Manifesto on page 5. The common thread among the small business owners and entrepreneurs featured in this issue is their affiliation with SPARK Publications, a design firm that produces custom-published books and magazines, including this magazine. The natural bias aside, these individuals take a rightful place in the spotlight as they design and grow their enterprises.
Ghostwriter Takes the Podium
Waltzes and Whinnies 37
Reinvention Is Spelled G-R-E-E-N 36
Journalist for Hire 33
ifestyle L RN 36
PARKly S Creative 32