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View Full Version : Heard some unconventional, BRILLIANT BUSINESS ADVICE TONIGHT!


STL Cuts
10-06-2010, 11:43 PM
Ok, going to go ahead and apologize in advance as this is going to be a long post.

Tonight the college I go to hosted Blake Mycoskie, the founder/CEO of TOMS shoes. I'm not going to type out the whole story, but the foundation of TOMS shoes is "One for One". For every pair of shoes TOMS sells, they give away a pair to a child in desperate need in a foreign country.

This started simply as an idea in 2006, and this year they gave away their millionth pair of shoes. You can read more about their story here http://www.toms.com/blakes-bio

Blake mentioned at the end of his speech how the business world is an ever changing environment and it is getting harder and harder to differentiate your business, establish solid relationships with customers, etc. He also mentioned how giving back is something people want to be a part of.

Anyways, this got me to thinking, this guy is really on to something... This could potentially be a big Win Win for a young entrepreneur. I've always enjoyed giving back volunteering when I can, and I've always enjoyed business/entrepreneurship and everything to it.

Like I might have mentioned before I'm in college (junior) studying Finance and Entrepreneurship. I have always had the entrepreneurship "bug" if you know what I mean.

Here is my idea. I have done the feed the homeless in downtown STL (quite an environment by the way) and similar events like that before, but being an entreprenurial minded person I always was thinking of my own way I could start some way to give back to the community.

I have really good relationships with the entire business department at my high school as I took all the business classes offered and really enjoyed them as well. My idea is to set up a scholarship where I went to high school that awards a student the business faculty recognized as an excellent young entrepreneur.

Now the funds for this would be from my lawn business.

I'm thinking that the time of year where I make the best margins and in the fastest amount of time is aeration. Working all day 9-25, 9-26 with a helper, we grossed a little over $2,400. This was through existing customers and 1,000 doorhangers going out. My thinking is to possibly include something along the lines of "10% of the proceeds from the aeration service will go exclusively towards _________'s 2010 Entrepreneurship Scholarship at __________ High School" I think the response rate I would get would be MUCH higher than usual.

Or even incorporating a small % of income from the year to fulfill the scholarship fund. This might be a good way to differentiate myself from competition, particularly as many customer of mine are elderly and they talk talk talk talk talk to their friends all the time... Great potential word of mouth.

My end thought is that no matter what way I go about it, it is a win win for everyone. I think the return I would get by doing what I mentioned above (or any variations you all might offer) it will EASILY exceed the $250-$500 for the scholarship. Another benefit is that I enjoy giving back and would really enjoy helping out my former school.

Ok, so am I crazy? Let's hear your thoughts everyone.

Ric3077
10-07-2010, 12:18 AM
Sounds good go for it!

STL Cuts
10-07-2010, 10:24 AM
Nothing??? I thought for sure I would get a lot of responses with this...

Don't hold back guys

Mowing Freak
10-07-2010, 10:56 AM
Sounds alright, would talk with your accountant about taking that off your taxes or what you would need to do. You need to come up with some qualifications on how to win the scholarship money unless you just donate it to an already existing scholarship fund. I would suggest an account you can put extra money into in case you have a lean year or a lot more unexpected maintenance issues, then you will have money sitting there ready to absorb the hit so you wouldn't have to dip in your wallet so hard.

ShooterK2
10-07-2010, 12:51 PM
I like it! I do think you need a backup plan, as Mowing Freak mentioned, in case you don't earn enough just from the 10% of aerations, but I still like the idea. Even if it didn't generate much more than the scholarship money on top what you normally make in a year, it's still a great way to make a good name for yourself and your business, and meet new people (all of whom are potential customers.....) along the way.

Keep us posted on this please, should you pursue it. I'm interested.

Golfpro21
10-07-2010, 07:22 PM
good idea...nothing new but a good gracious idea........just make sure that if you start promoting this idea...that you actually give the money back, your name will be mush if for some reason you don't giv ethe funds to the scholarship...not saying you won't, but no matter what happens...your equipment dies and you got big repair bills etc etc, that money has to be given out.
Hope this plan is successful for you

fl-landscapes
10-07-2010, 08:42 PM
good idea...nothing new but a good gracious idea........just make sure that if you start promoting this idea...that you actually give the money back, your name will be mush if for some reason you don't giv ethe funds to the scholarship...not saying you won't, but no matter what happens...your equipment dies and you got big repair bills etc etc, that money has to be given out.
Hope this plan is successful for you

and you may go to jail.......I like the idea though a lot.

MR-G
10-07-2010, 09:16 PM
First off let me say thank you to you, and everyone else out there who has helped with scholarships...my son is going to college due to a wonderful program...I love the idea of giving back to the community...but, there are a lot of good scholarships out there...granted theres plenty of room for many more....but what if you were to help a local family in need...or several??? thru local churches....you advertise in the sunday program at each church...the church's should have no problem donating the ad as well....with the way the economy is and how it has really affected some folks this could be way bigger than another scholarship fund at the moment....just a thought..keep us posted (now you have me thinking as well haha):usflag:or maybe give people a choice of where there % goes...they may end up wanting to do both....

STL Cuts
10-07-2010, 09:34 PM
Sounds alright, would talk with your accountant about taking that off your taxes or what you would need to do. You need to come up with some qualifications on how to win the scholarship money unless you just donate it to an already existing scholarship fund. I would suggest an account you can put extra money into in case you have a lean year or a lot more unexpected maintenance issues, then you will have money sitting there ready to absorb the hit so you wouldn't have to dip in your wallet so hard.

I like it! I do think you need a backup plan, as Mowing Freak mentioned, in case you don't earn enough just from the 10% of aerations, but I still like the idea. Even if it didn't generate much more than the scholarship money on top what you normally make in a year, it's still a great way to make a good name for yourself and your business, and meet new people (all of whom are potential customers.....) along the way.

Keep us posted on this please, should you pursue it. I'm interested.

Will do.

good idea...nothing new but a good gracious idea........just make sure that if you start promoting this idea...that you actually give the money back, your name will be mush if for some reason you don't giv ethe funds to the scholarship...not saying you won't, but no matter what happens...your equipment dies and you got big repair bills etc etc, that money has to be given out.
Hope this plan is successful for you

I'm a person of my word, and I see your point. I'm quite particular with my finances and for something like this I would simply set the money aside before it all even started possibly in some sort of low level money market or CD that would come due around the time I would want to use it. Out of sight, out of mind.

and you may go to jail.......I like the idea though a lot.

Jail???

First off let me say thank you to you, and everyone else out there who has helped with scholarships...my son is going to college due to a wonderful program...I love the idea of giving back to the community...but, there are a lot of good scholarships out there...granted theres plenty of room for many more....but what if you were to help a local family in need...or several??? thru local churches....you advertise in the sunday program at each church...the church's should have no problem donating the ad as well....with the way the economy is and how it has really affected some folks this could be way bigger than another scholarship fund at the moment....just a thought..keep us posted (now you have me thinking as well haha):usflag:or maybe give people a choice of where there % goes...they may end up wanting to do both....

You know the more I was thinking about this today, the more I was questioning if a scholarship was the best route. I like the idea of passing on some funds in the form of a scholarship, but a more sustainable effort might be something like you mentioned with helping people in need through churches. Ironically, I just landed my biggest account last week, and it is a church that I'm sure would be interested in the help.

I think that for this to be the best dollar for dollar return I would need to be supporting something that, assuming I primarily used this on the aeration flyer, that people would immediately recognize.

For example, I want the consumer to notice this line and automatically know what the organization is, so they would be more likely to call (I want to keep it to a local organization, just need to find one everyone recognizes and identifies with or go the scholarship route).

Another thing I thought of is do you think people will think I'm weird being a 20 year old college student establishing a scholarship?

Another spinoff I had of this was the idea of setting aside say 5% of sales in a month or something like that to whatever fund/cause I ended up going with.

Sorry if I'm a little all over the place, I'm kind of just typing everything that comes to mind hoping to get some insight to choose the best route.

STL Cuts
10-07-2010, 09:44 PM
Also, in case anyone is interested here are two short youtube clips that explain TOMS shoes. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kJ8c5QWsCRQ

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PTQsQUu1Ho8&feature=channel

topsites
10-07-2010, 09:48 PM
So let me get this straight...

You're trying to rake it in on the one hand while giving back with the other?


Will do.

I'm a person of my word, and I see your point. I'm quite particular with my finances and for something like this I would simply set the money aside before it all even started possibly in some sort of low level money market or CD that would come due around the time I would want to use it. Out of sight, out of mind.

Oh, but of course, your case is somehow different.

rain man
10-07-2010, 09:52 PM
....but what if you were to help a local family in need...or several??? thru local churches....you advertise in the sunday program at each church...the church's should have no problem donating the ad as well....with the way the economy is and how it has really affected some folks this could be way bigger than another scholarship fund at the moment....just a thought...

I like the sound of this idea.

STL Cuts
10-07-2010, 10:00 PM
So let me get this straight...

You're trying to rake it in on the one hand while giving back with the other?



Oh, but of course, your case is somehow different.
*trucewhiteflag*

I was wondering when I would get the first hater lol. This might be hard for you to grasp, but the idea is to simply contribute a portion of revenue to a good cause, whatever that may be.

Call me crazy, but I like the idea of being able to help others. It's amazing how much we, particularly people my age, take for granted all that we have that we don't even realize. It was an eye opener for me when I was a junior and senior in high school, I would go with a homeless ministry at this church to downtown STL to pass out hot meals, coats, socks, toiletries, etc.

You don't necessarily need to go to a 3rd world country like many mission trips do at church, simply go to a place like downtown STL in the winter time and you will see how bad some people are living. I could tell you some stories....

Regarding "raking it in", I was stating that people would want to be part of something that helps others out, so I think that everyone would win with an idea like this. I could contribute a portion to this cause, and I really think that this could provide the best ROI from a business stand point b/c I think that people would be more receptive to responding to one of the MANY ads they get if they recognize that they will be supporting a good cause by choosing my business (not saying this is my main motivation, just saying that from a business standpoint, it makes sense).

Clark Griswold
10-07-2010, 10:10 PM
These days my cause is ME & my family!

But if you can do it more power to you!

MR-G
10-07-2010, 10:31 PM
just be sure that you check with local laws and regs. make sure to obtain any permits, license ect if any....keep it legal and well documented...i believe what you are thinking of doing here is regulated and somewhat supervised in most areas....i could be wrong though.:usflag:

JimLewis
10-08-2010, 03:37 AM
Well, first off, congrats for thinking outside the box! It's that kind of thinking that is going to mean your success in the long term. Keep always doing that. Keep trying stuff you've never seen other LCOs try before. Half the reason our company has grown so much in the last 15 years is because I've gotten very innovative in certain things I do. Keep it up!

As for the idea, I think it's a decent idea. I don't think you'll get the big increase in the # of calls like you're expecting, though. Regardless, if you're willing to give up 10% to the cause, that's great!

As for making a name for yourself through this, I am not sure you're really going to accomplish that very much. I don't think this is a big enough gesture to really create the kind of wow you're looking for. I think some people will recognize it as a nice gesture and think well of you for a few moments. But I don't think this makes a long-term lasting impression on many people in your community. Quite honestly, most people will forget about it within 30 days. I've done a lot more magnanimous charity-like events over the 15 years I've been in business and have found that we usually get very little recognition for the things like this we do. 'Course I'm not advertising about it much. But still, I am not sure a little blurb about giving 10% back on a one-time flyer is really going to make you "stand out among the crowd" like you think it will.

I think there are some things you can do along these lines that would help you stand out. For instance, if a landscaping company hosted a "Extreme Landscape Makeover" contest. Make it a big event. Get a big local nursery to partner with you. Get some TV stations or radio stations or newspapers to partner with you and give you some free ad space. Leverage the relationship with the advertisers that the nursery uses. Advertise the event. Put a form in the local paper where people can write a 500 word essay on why they think someone they know deserves to win. Pretty soon you'll be getting free news coverage, especially the day of the event. Get the nursery to donate laborers. Talk your guys into donating their time. Have friends and family and church members donate their time. Show up with 20 workers, a bunch of new plants and trees, a load of bark mulch, and turn some needy persons yard into a beauty in one day and make sure to call the local news stations a day or two before. I guarantee you'd get some free news coverage that day! Make this an annual event for your company.

You want to get recognized for doing something awesome and giving back, that's a better way to do it.

RodneyK
10-08-2010, 09:04 AM
Not a hater, love giving back. In fact my wife and I started a scholarship a few years back and have given $1000 a year for the past few. It has been matched and added to by others.

Somewhere along the way I developed a dislike for advertising and marketing using this giveback method. If done improperly it is sleezy and cheesy. I think many people just see thru it also as advertising, not giving back.

Don't start mixing up your business advertising/marketing with giving back. My advice is to work hard and give back quietly. Take the time you would spend setting all this stuff up and go do some work instead. Take the money from that work and give that back. Just my thoughts...

BTW, I think Mr. Lewis above has some great thoughts and ideas...

fl-landscapes
10-08-2010, 10:51 AM
Will do.



I'm a person of my word, and I see your point. I'm quite particular with my finances and for something like this I would simply set the money aside before it all even started possibly in some sort of low level money market or CD that would come due around the time I would want to use it. Out of sight, out of mind.



Jail???



You know the more I was thinking about this today, the more I was questioning if a scholarship was the best route. I like the idea of passing on some funds in the form of a scholarship, but a more sustainable effort might be something like you mentioned with helping people in need through churches. Ironically, I just landed my biggest account last week, and it is a church that I'm sure would be interested in the help.

I think that for this to be the best dollar for dollar return I would need to be supporting something that, assuming I primarily used this on the aeration flyer, that people would immediately recognize.

For example, I want the consumer to notice this line and automatically know what the organization is, so they would be more likely to call (I want to keep it to a local organization, just need to find one everyone recognizes and identifies with or go the scholarship route).

Another thing I thought of is do you think people will think I'm weird being a 20 year old college student establishing a scholarship?

Another spinoff I had of this was the idea of setting aside say 5% of sales in a month or something like that to whatever fund/cause I ended up going with.

Sorry if I'm a little all over the place, I'm kind of just typing everything that comes to mind hoping to get some insight to choose the best route.

read my post, I was quoting the post before mine about being sure ALL the money goes to the charity and not in your pocket, I also said I liked the idea a lot. I was just saying things like this happen and if the money ends up somewhere other than the advertised charity, YES there could be big consequences.

MOturkey
10-08-2010, 10:56 AM
You sound like a very good person. Kudos to you. That said, speaking personally, I would never hire a service, or buy a product, simply because they were donating a portion to a cause, any cause. I'm way too cynical for that, I'm afraid.

Now, if I saw somewhere where you donated money to, or volunteered for, a charity or cause that I supported or sympathized with, it might make me put you on the short list if I was ever in need of your goods or services, but in all honesty, if someone said they were going to donate 10% of my fee to a charity, I'd just be thinking, well, they could be charging 10% less, which would help out MY favorite charity, myself. :)

MarcSmith
10-08-2010, 11:22 AM
I don't thinks toms is using the charitable shoes as a marketing campaign... your thing with the door hangers and such sound more like a marketing "gimmick" but thast juts me.

however, if I have a choice of two products and one opened states that proceeds go to charity...I'd buy that product first...

oh and Toms shoes... 50+ bucks for a pair of canvas shoes... more then enough profit margin to donate 2 pairs of shoes for every one purchases and still have money left over...

STL Cuts
10-08-2010, 11:46 AM
Well, first off, congrats for thinking outside the box! It's that kind of thinking that is going to mean your success in the long term. Keep always doing that. Keep trying stuff you've never seen other LCOs try before. Half the reason our company has grown so much in the last 15 years is because I've gotten very innovative in certain things I do. Keep it up!

As for the idea, I think it's a decent idea. I don't think you'll get the big increase in the # of calls like you're expecting, though. Regardless, if you're willing to give up 10% to the cause, that's great!

As for making a name for yourself through this, I am not sure you're really going to accomplish that very much. I don't think this is a big enough gesture to really create the kind of wow you're looking for. I think some people will recognize it as a nice gesture and think well of you for a few moments. But I don't think this makes a long-term lasting impression on many people in your community. Quite honestly, most people will forget about it within 30 days. I've done a lot more magnanimous charity-like events over the 15 years I've been in business and have found that we usually get very little recognition for the things like this we do. 'Course I'm not advertising about it much. But still, I am not sure a little blurb about giving 10% back on a one-time flyer is really going to make you "stand out among the crowd" like you think it will.

I think there are some things you can do along these lines that would help you stand out. For instance, if a landscaping company hosted a "Extreme Landscape Makeover" contest. Make it a big event. Get a big local nursery to partner with you. Get some TV stations or radio stations or newspapers to partner with you and give you some free ad space. Leverage the relationship with the advertisers that the nursery uses. Advertise the event. Put a form in the local paper where people can write a 500 word essay on why they think someone they know deserves to win. Pretty soon you'll be getting free news coverage, especially the day of the event. Get the nursery to donate laborers. Talk your guys into donating their time. Have friends and family and church members donate their time. Show up with 20 workers, a bunch of new plants and trees, a load of bark mulch, and turn some needy persons yard into a beauty in one day and make sure to call the local news stations a day or two before. I guarantee you'd get some free news coverage that day! Make this an annual event for your company.

You want to get recognized for doing something awesome and giving back, that's a better way to do it.


Not a hater, love giving back. In fact my wife and I started a scholarship a few years back and have given $1000 a year for the past few. It has been matched and added to by others.

Somewhere along the way I developed a dislike for advertising and marketing using this giveback method. If done improperly it is sleezy and cheesy. I think many people just see thru it also as advertising, not giving back.
Don't start mixing up your business advertising/marketing with giving back. My advice is to work hard and give back quietly. Take the time you would spend setting all this stuff up and go do some work instead. Take the money from that work and give that back. Just my thoughts...

BTW, I think Mr. Lewis above has some great thoughts and ideas...

I think you and Mr. Lewis make some good points. I really don't even advertise anymore b/c I primarily do mowing and can't really handle anymore with college which is why I was thinking to do this with a one time service such as aeration. You're right though, it is a fine line for not coming across as sleezy and cheesy.

read my post, I was quoting the post before mine about being sure ALL the money goes to the charity and not in your pocket, I also said I liked the idea a lot. I was just saying things like this happen and if the money ends up somewhere other than the advertised charity, YES there could be big consequences.

Gotcha.

You sound like a very good person. Kudos to you. That said, speaking personally, I would never hire a service, or buy a product, simply because they were donating a portion to a cause, any cause. I'm way too cynical for that, I'm afraid.

Now, if I saw somewhere where you donated money to, or volunteered for, a charity or cause that I supported or sympathized with, it might make me put you on the short list if I was ever in need of your goods or services, but in all honesty, if someone said they were going to donate 10% of my fee to a charity, I'd just be thinking, well, they could be charging 10% less, which would help out MY favorite charity, myself. :)

My thinking is that if I incorporate this into the aeration flyer. Now I'm not planning on making it front line and center, I think it might have a place towards the bottom where it might not stand out as much, but people will still see it. Basically, I don't want people to think that I'm using it as my source to obtain their business, but it wouldn't hurt to have towards the bottom where still visible, but not front line and center.

I don't thinks toms is using the charitable shoes as a marketing campaign... your thing with the door hangers and such sound more like a marketing "gimmick" but thast juts me.

however, if I have a choice of two products and one opened states that proceeds go to charity...I'd buy that product first...

oh and Toms shoes... 50+ bucks for a pair of canvas shoes... more then enough profit margin to donate 2 pairs of shoes for every one purchases and still have money left over...

Thanks for the responses. Right now this is an idea, it definitely needs some fine tuning which everyone's posts have helped me think about.

facework84
12-02-2011, 01:03 AM
curious if you tried the idea and how it worked
bump.

ralph02813
12-02-2011, 07:27 AM
STL Cuts, if you approach me and told me where the extra money was going I would tell you to take it off my bill i have no loyality to the university I spent just over 6 years at.

Find a program that you like and that is very targeted that you could cut a check at the end of the year to. Personally, a gift to help folks out should not be an advertizing gimmic. For advertizing find a place in the community that needs to be taken care - cut the grass plant flowers and or bushes - the put up a little sign, maintianed by STL

TurnGreen1
12-02-2011, 01:21 PM
STL Cuts, This is not the correct forum to be posting this idea on. You are speaking to majority business owners who's main focus is to think of themselves. Non of them can give you an honest response to how your idea would work in your communuty. Simply due to the fact none of them have an idea on how you have established yourself in your own community and what may come of it. Giving back is always a good idea and will always have a long term positive effect. You have a good concept that would just need some fine tuning. There have been some good idea's posted, I personally would really pay attention to what is going on in your community and where the needs are. If you can help with those needs you will be remembered. I have done similar events and offers as you are talking about and have excellent success. My focus was to find passionate people that strive hard for their cause. A really good start would be to find local business groups and offer an opportunity for them to participate with your idea and help you mold it. You will get some to join you and others to pass it up.

JimLewis
12-02-2011, 03:50 PM
THIS IS AN OLD THREAD GUYS!

No need to reply to the original post. I think it's an old issue at this point. Facework was just bumping up an old thread to see how the story turned out.


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