I grew up in the country, not on a farm but everyone had five acres and a few animals now and then, and we did have an acre size garden that kept us in food year around.
Though it fed us, my mom had a seemingly endless supply of canned and frozen food around us, I hated to work in it–I was a kid after all. I didn’t know we didn’t have money because we always had food on the table and my clothes were hand made until I was twelve.
I did know that I rarely got the ‘cool’ things my friends at school had. Atari 2600, Colecovision Football, moped, BMX bike. It was my personal desire for more that led me to my first job.
At age 12 I started working for my neighbor, Robbie Robertson, a grand ol’ man that was victim of a stroke but retained the heart of an Oklahoma cowboy. Each year I would paint a quarter mile of fence by hand, feed his horses, clean out their stall, weed eat and trim. Robbie would cut the grass because that was the only driving he was allowed to do now. You name it and we did it.
Robbie’s stroke forced him away of his primary love…Robbie’s Pantry…think of village pantry before the chain stores arrived. Robbie was the first businessman that I’d ever spoken with and when we’d take breaks in the tack room of his horse barn Robbie would always offer me a cold Fanta and a story.
I learned much from this man. Some stories were about family and life and other stories were about business. I didn’t realize it then but every story had meaning and Robbie was shaping my future life. The things he said to me made me a better person and planted the seeds of business in my mind. If I was smarter I would have written down and recorded every word then because Robbie passed away when I was sixteen. I lost my only grandfather in 1976 when I was nine and Robbie filled a void in my heart.
During my last years with Robbie I began to also feed myself information. At age fourteen I started reading books on investing, several from Charles Givens and I’d subscribed to Kiplinger’s Personal Finance magazine which taught me to invest in my future.
When I was eight I read of an opportunity in the back of my Cub Scout magazine and I started an annual tradition of selling personalized greeting cards around my country block to earn $1/box. It wasn’t your typical door to door sales route as my block was four miles around with driveways 1/8 to 1/4 mile long. This felt more like a job than a business but it did lay a foundation.
Over the years I would go on to build four Main Street businesses in my home town but the biggest missed opportunity and lesson learned was CJ Sports that was both a mall store and online. CJ Sports was a hurting point, and turning point, in my life that forced me to change direction and begin helping other businesses.
Don’t get me wrong, CJ Sports was a success in its own right but my ignorance and naivete caused me to miss out on perhaps the largest business opportunity of my life.
In the 80s I was a geek, a computer builder, a dial up BBS operator, a poor coder that started out on a TI99-4a but a geek nonetheless. Being a geek I was using computers to talk to people around the world before the internet existed.
Email me if you want to hear the long version but through my geekdom I leveraged a sub-directory on a university server in New York to open one of the first 100 stores on the internet ever. It was so early in the internet’s development that we didn’t even have our own domains and the http:// you take for granted today didn’t exist yet as we were still using gttp:// for web addresses.
Two years later, after selling successfully on five continents, my largest distributor, Maryland Screen Printers, discovered the internet and pulled my Big Johnson product line. I’ve always been one to roll with the punches so instead of fighting for the right to continue selling online I sold inventory back to them and closed shop. Before Google, before Ebay, before PayPal & before Amazon; closed, quit, adios, no more…I was done.
Me, naïve and ignorant, incorrectly assumed that I’d already ‘saturated‘ the online market as it was certainly only made up of other geeks like me, I mean, how many of us could there be? I kept my head down and out of technology for two years.
Where would I be today if I’d continued online? Would my name be a household name? Would I have my own airline, my own car named after me or my own rocket to Mars?
Little did I understand that mobile phones would become ironically named smart phones a decade later and online commerce would explode.
I learned and wanted to teach others. My Big Bang Theory is that other businesses, properly educated and informed, need not ever experience the huge vacuum of regret that haunted me for so many years.
I took this regret, mixed in a bit of Robbie’s sage advice from years back, and for a decade dedicated my life to helping other businesses. Volunteering with SBA & score.org as director and mentor, writing a book, giving seminars and workshops, partnering with the SBA and building satellite offices that offer free one on one mentoring to new and existing businesses.
I sold my last business in 2012 and began spending the majority of my time with family. My goodness I had a lot of new time on my hands and though I’ve always entertained thoughts of the next business I was perfectly happy and content watching my kids grow and evolve. I’m blessed they’ve done well in their lives.
Flash forward to 2018, nearly two decades after my computer company helped local businesses stave off the Y2K Bug, and I’m antsy to get back into something substantial.
Months of research lead me past simple business opportunities, I don’t want to be in business for business sake, I want to create a business helping other businesses.
What if I created a business where I only benefit when other businesses benefit and would allow me to include lessons learned from my life so that others don’t experience the regret of ignorance as I did.
The trifecta would be offering a product that also directly benefits the consumer. It would be a Win-Win-Win scenario. Who’s in?
Well, it’s here. This business, iBuyLocal.TV that places information directly on nearby smart phones. Intelligent 21st Century Signage that creates a physical internet around and within the community you live. As a business it gives your consumers insight into products you have, helps show the care you put into your goods and services and provides a platform for you to tell your story.
As a business owner if you miss out getting on the physical internet you are putting the nails in your own coffin and you will lose your business. Missing out on the physical internet today has the same magnitude of loss as me missing out on the digital internet in the early nineties.
Think about it…a physical internet with the reach the digital internet has today, just think about what you could do. For businesses, 76% of buying decisions happen in store. Integrating the physical internet with your business allows you to advertise to passers that are up to 300 yards away. Use the long tail of product marketing to take back customers from your online counterpart.
Why do people shop online? They say it’s convenience but it’s not. Convenience is the ability to make a quick run down the street and buy something today. To have the product in your hands today–not two days from now, provided it’s not stolen from your front porch.
So why do people shop online and not in your store? Two reasons. One; an online shop tells them the product they are looking for is in stock, no one wants to come up empty handed. Two; online stores communicate & recommend twelve other related products that should also be purchased, so the consumer buys three or four things, not just one.
You want to fight the Amazons of the world but don’t know how. If you don’t get on the physical internet you’re not using the advantage your business already has and you’re missing out on the greatest business growth opportunity ever.
Do you want to take back your customers? If so then start treating them better. No one will buy a product they don’t know you have so educate buyers using the physical internet and highlight 10x the number of products an old sign or end cap ever could. Secondly, the physical internet allows you to display related products and sell more items to each customer, just like online.
After you level the playing field with better in store communication to sell more products and services, your customers will take notice and begin shopping with you first, thus avoiding the hassle of two day delivery.
The physical internet via the iBuyLocal.TV Network is the here and now, no waiting for the future, the future is now. Communication is the foundation of growth and fast communication is the foundation of fast growth. Final communication is the keystone that makes the physical internet possible. Physical internet by the iBuyLocal.TV Network is that final communication and the keystone to your future success.
Ultimately the physical internet will be larger than the digital internet, therefore the opportunity to your business on the physical internet will be greater as well. Do not miss the boat.
The digital internet is ‘relatively‘ shiny and new and therefore has the world’s attention. However, if we believe we are at the end of growth then we are doomed to repeat the same mistake I made when I closed one of the first internet stores ever because I thought the growth period was over.
Amazon started online but they are smart enough to see the coming of the physical internet, which is why Amazon has been focused on building and buying bricks & mortar physical locations. They pay billions each year to predict the future and their billions in research is telling them to invest now in physical store locations to be part of the new physical internet.
With your location already built you are ahead of the curve of where Amazon wants to be. According to Nielsen Research, if you did nothing else, adding the physical internet to your business will increase your sales by 33%.
My company mission statement goes beyond helping businesses one at a time and focuses on growing entire communities, cities and towns via the iBuyLocal.TV Network.
Every plug n play installation today adds one more node to the physical internet running throughout your community.
While the physical internet communicates products & services to your customers while they are near your store, the iBuyLocal.TV Network adds the opportunity for you to trade advertising with related businesses within your town. You advertise for them and they advertise for you. Pizza and sports. Insurance and auto sales. Restaurants and everyone. The whole is greater than the sum of the parts.
The list of symbiotic relationships is endless. Basically 99% of everyone is not your direct competitor. Third party endorsement from another business where your potential customer is already spending money nearly guarantees they will spend money with you. Without doing research, without checking prices, and without checking your competitors…their customers will come to you and gladly spend their money.
So why is the world telling us to spend our hard earned money to advertise online when our customers live right here in town? Ignorance perhaps. Some have suggested to me that its simply a ruse to distract you and take your money.
You can be sure of one thing though, the amount of money you’d need to spend to create an online voice loud enough to be heard over eight billion other voices is substantial. To me its also wasteful and inefficient considering your customers live within 5 miles of you and number in the thousands, not billions.
Fun fact: 63% of the Millennials you are supposed to be speaking to online are using Ad Blockers.
By now you understand my true mission here is much larger than any single product sale. It is an amalgamation of everything I’ve learned professionally and personally over decades with an ultimate purpose of growing community and growing the ‘Think Local | Shop Local | Buy Local | Be Local‘ movement nationwide.
Small business employs 87% of our workforce and if we allow small business to die our entire economy will collapse. There is a saying that small business built this country and that it’s the backbone of the economy. I believe this to be true and I will do everything in my power to ensure small business success continues into our future.
Will you join us in promoting the ‘Think Local | Shop Local | Buy Local | Be Local‘ movement across this continent?