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Archive for May 2014

Nicknames

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What's In A Name?

What’s In A Name?

Some people have nicknames and some never get a nickname.  Some people nickname everybody they know.  In my life I have heard some pretty good nicknames that were creative and I will list them below.  Nicknames like stretch or Shorty aren’t going to cut it to make it on my list.

  • Special Ed – this was for a person named Ed who taught special education and was named Ed.  I think most people who knew Ed thought he was special.
  • Eddie Spaghetti – this was another nickname for Special Ed and it has a nice ring to it but is not as clever as Special Ed.
  • Z-Man – this was the nickname of my college roommate in my freshman year.  It was a shortening of his name that ended with s-k-i
  • G-Man – this was the nickname of another friend of mine in college who got this because his last name began with the letter G although it was a very common last name.  Maybe it didn’t make sense but it just sort of worked out that way in an irrational need for sobriquet symmetry.
  • Jellybread – This was a nickname of someone my dad knew and I guess he liked bread with jelly on it.  I wouldn’t mind this nickname.  It sounds like a nickname for an old blues musician.
  • Buster – this was a nickname that I got from Special Ed.  It came about when I was constantly digging up my lawn and creating flower beds I told him I was sodbustin’.  It kind of stuck and turned into buster of sod and then quickly just buster.
  • The Godfather – I created this moniker for an Italian friend of mine who knows everybody and people of all walks of life seek his advice so it kind of works.
  • …and finally the best one of all…
  • Jimmy Sad Eyes – By now everyone should be familiar with the story of Jimmy Sad Eyes.  If not, read about him here, here and here.

This is what you get if you search Google for “Jimmy Sad Eyes”

Have a great week and enjoy the unofficial beginning of summer.

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Written by pacelinebiz

May 26, 2014 at 8:01 am

Another Lesson From Starbucks

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Makes Great Coffee

Makes Great Coffee

On April 29, 2014 Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz appeared on CNBC in the 10 o’clock hour to discuss a variety of things – mainly that he was listed at #14 on their top 25 most influential business people over the past 25 years. See the list here. 

While he was speaking he talked about their recently announced plan to sell alcohol after 4 P.M. at some of their stores. This is to continue their approach of having a more diversified product line. They have already added non-coffee menu items such as juice and teas and this roll out of alcohol will continue that trend. Diversification and a larger pool of potential customers is always a good idea in my opinion.  During his time on CNBC he mentioned that this alcohol strategy would leverage its fixed assets. I wrote about this idea 2 years ago in my blog Peanut Butter And Jelly And Other Great Combinations.

He is taking an underutilized asset a coffee shop at night – busy but not prime time and adding a reason to go there. What a great way to have 2 stores in one! Based on past experience I believe Starbucks will make this idea work. I am sure it will bring people for alcohol sales but will also bring people not familiar with Starbucks coffee and teas that don’t care to have alcohol. This will be a great introduction for their non-alcohol line of menu items. It sounds like a great cross-selling opportunity.

I doubt I will go to Starbucks for a beer or a glass of wine but who knows? Recently I have been asking my wife after dinner if she would like to get a “nightcap”. When I say this I mean; go to Starbucks for a coffee before we go home to extend the evening. Soon, maybe we will have a nightcap before going home and it will be a glass of wine.

Have a good week thinking of ways to get more from what you already have. Whether getting more means existing customers or fixed assets.

Written by pacelinebiz

May 19, 2014 at 8:01 am

My Brother, The Most Interesting Man In The World

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He Ain't Heavy He's My Brother

He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother

My younger brother has a birthday coming up very soon and I thought I would immortalize him with this tribute of things he has done that I think are cool, amazing or otherwise something I could not or would not do.

  1. Carved waterfowl from blocks of glued-together wood
  2. About 5 years ago someone gave him an early 70’s MG and he restored it to road ready condition
  3. Built 2 kayak’s from a kit, one of which was free from the company who sold it to him since they included incorrect components in the first one
  4. Can finish my sentences and has a disturbing similarity to my personality
  5. Bought a used racing bicycle, stripped it down to the frame and had it repainted a cool color and got graphics from the manufacturer to reapply after the painting
  6. Sleeps on the hard ground in a tent with our nephew’s proving he either is a better Uncle than me or insane
  7. Bought a camper-trailer and refurbished it (the ground might be getting harder or he might be getting older – or “soft”)
  8. Recently made a cupola with an electric lantern in it with an on/off timer for my older brother’s garage for no apparent reason and it is cool
  9. Bought a used, early 80’s Mustang and put a V-8 engine in it and tricked it out with a GT500 paint scheme. He drove it for a while then sold it to a kid and made some decent money on it. It could haul…
  10. Sewed a bicycle jersey in two-tone bright green and purple to prove a point

There are many other things I could add but as I read this short list of things about him, it could be said that he is the most interesting man in the world. Happy Birthday!

Written by pacelinebiz

May 12, 2014 at 7:59 am

Does Your Business Hedge Against Rising Input Costs?

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Input Costs

Input Costs

I have been thinking about commodity costs lately as they are subject to increased volatility and upward pressure on costs due to the expansion of emerging markets. Anyone who has a product they re-sell or manufacture that has a large cost component attributed to a commodity such as grain, metals or is petroleum-based etc. is subject to risks when these go up and down. Companies like this can gain additional profit when they buy at a good price and sell when the market moves higher. The reverse is true and can be painful.

What can be done about this without going to options contracts or other hedging transactions? These can require a level of sophistication the average small business owner does not have. They are then forced to ride the waves and hope they can navigate successfully. Many small business owners rely on their past experience and time the purchases when they deem it is right – their gut reaction.

Some owners use a consultant on retainer to guide them when to buy. More often than not a good consultant can make the right decisions for them and a good one will also have the courage to say they don’t know what is going on with the market. There are some markets that can be very volatile and perhaps manipulated by “market makers”. A consultant can also give guidance on when to buy options contracts and how much.

If your business is not greatly affected by large swings in input costs there are still times that a small business owner can strike when the time is right and pounce a good deal. If your business keeps cash reserves and has a low amount of debt the best thing to do might be to make a big buy on a good price even if it takes several months to liquidate it. Cash reserves are currently paying next to zero interest so the holding costs over three months are minimal. If you invest in a large inventory purchase and you think it is at a 3% savings – that is an annualized 12% return over the three months. It is not a great deal of money but if you can pounce on good deals multiple times per year then it becomes a little more interesting.

In a small way I suspect we all hedge a bit in our personal lives by filling up on gas when we see a good price at the pump or by waiting until we are on fumes when we think the prices will go down. I know I do that but there was that one time that my wife took my car and ran out of gas…

Have a great week.

Written by pacelinebiz

May 5, 2014 at 8:01 am