Son of Five Rivers Blog

For the advancement of Entrepreneurship, Sustainability & the Ecology of Everyday Life

This Site has Moved to SonOfFiveRivers.com

Click Here to Vist NEW Site: www.SonOfFiveRivers.com

I’ve been blogging for several months now and I’m glad to have recieved the feedback I have.  I’ve enjoyed the experince and for that reason I’ve decided to take blogging to another level.  I’ll be self hosting my blog and that means you’ll see a lot more creativity in the design, functionality and layout of the new blog.

Check it out: www.SONofFIVErivers.com

Cheers

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January 22, 2010 Posted by | 1, A Thought, Ads, Agriculture, Art, Blogging, Books, Brochure, Business, Business Cards, Business Development, Business Model, Carbon Credits, Clean Energy, Co-op, Community Economic Development (CED), Computer Networking, Construction, Creativity, Data Recovery, Definitions, Earth, Economics, Education, Electric Cars, Email, Entrepreneurship, Family, Finance, Geothermal, Government, Grants, Great Ideas, Green Roofs, Human Resources, Information Technology (I.T.), Inspiration, Investment, LEED, Life, Marketing, Micro Credit, Not for Profit, Open Source, Packaging, PDA's, Philanthropy, Photography, Politics, Power Piont, Products, Project Management, Quotes, Sales, Search Engine Optimization (SEO), Services, Social Enterprise, Social Media, Solar, Sustainability, Sustainable Community Development, Taxes, Venture Capital, Videos, War, Waste, Water, Website | Leave a comment

Changing Requirements

I had a professor named Hooks who spent 21 years working for NASA and helped design the first space shuttle (The Enterprise).  One thing she focused on was the importance of requirements gathering.  She spent 12.5 years doing requirements gathering for the enterprise alone.  She followed by sharing the point that if we waited until we knew everything  we needed to know to build something, we would never get started.  So there is always a fine balance with collecting to much information, for those people with this issues product lifecycle models can help understand the entire process.

Here are a few things I’ve seen and experienced with changing requirements:  Even with a thorough requirement definition effort, change is sometimes inevitable so put together a change management process:

  • Establish a Change Control Process
  • Develop standard forms for collecting requirement changes that include justification (2 reasons)
  • Develop procedures for a thorough impact assessment
  • A system to communicate approved changes quickly to the people who need to know
  • Implement a procedure to ensure all documents are updated when changes are approved.

2 Changes to Avoid:

  • Rush Changes:  “It’s just a little change”  (Any programmer will know right off that bat what this means…)
  • Deferred Changes:  Approving it today and doing it tomorrow

The Change Management Sanity Check: (The Criteria for change)

  • Is it broken? (If Yes = Fix it)
  • Is it illegal? (If Yes = Fix it)
  • Is it unethical or immortal? (If Yes = Fix it)
  • If No = Consider leaving it alone

*Just remember the cost of fixing an error goes up as development progresses.

January 21, 2010 Posted by | Business Model | , , | Leave a comment

Product Lifecycles & The Models

Here’s a quick snapshot of three types of Product Life Cycles:  Remember there are more similarities then differences  among the types of product lifecycles.

Waterfall Lifecycle (Good when you have a great deal of knowledge of your initial requirements, This is the most popular and you may just find that the rest are just a variation of this one.)

Spiral Lifecycle (Good when wanting to mature a technology and you know the requirements are going to evolve over time, this is a popular in software industry. )

Incremental Lifecycle (Good when you know you don’t have the fully resources  available in the get go and you know your project will make continual releases, this is also another popular in the software industry)

Incremental Lifecycle Diagram.  A textual description of this image is contained in the following paragraphs.

(This is the best picture I can find… I’m not  fan, but I hope it gives you snap shot)

January 21, 2010 Posted by | Business Model | , , , | Leave a comment

Business Process Modeling Tool (SAP Gravity on Google Wave)

This post shows how the BPM can be done more colloboratively with todays technology (iPhone, Google Wave),  and the ease of exporting data into your workstation for later execution

January 20, 2010 Posted by | Business, Business Model | , , , , | Leave a comment

Selling to Governments (Reasons of Failure)

I’m subscribed to Canada Export a newsletter released by the Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada, in it I came across the below article and thought it could be beneficial to those businesses trying to win government contract bids.  I had previously hosted a seminar around selling to the government which included presenters who were purchasers and buyers all the way from SAP to the Provincial Government. It covered some of the in’s and out’s of the bid process and I think this  article touches briefly on some of the issues businesses face.

………………….

An OOPS! sign

Too often, entrepreneurs spend thousands of dollars trying to win U.S. government contracts with no results. According to one expert, the reasons for failure come down to three common mistakes. Avoid them, she says, and increase your chances of success.

1. Entrepreneurs set unrealistic expectations.

“There is a myth out there that to win a government contract, all you have to do is follow the instructions,” says Judy Bradt, a former trade commissioner who is now Principal and CEO of Summit Insight, a firm that has guided over 5,000 clients to over $200 million in U.S. government contracts.
“Thousands of business owners have discovered that when they follow the instructions on websites like FedBizOpps [the U.S. federal government site that publishes opportunities], diligently hunt down bid notices and pump out proposals, the process does not usually reward their hard work” says Bradt. “They get frustrated by failures, especially when the contracts always seem wired for somebody else. Success takes a lot more than just writing proposals.”

The fix:

Companies that consistently win contracts research those opportunities a long time before competitions begin. They take the time to build relationships with buyers, influencers and partners. They adapt products or services for government buyers, and collaborate with those buyers to develop the specifications that will be published. They create targeted marketing campaigns and tactics to attract these new buyers, says Bradt.

This also applies if you’re a supplier or subcontractor to a bigger company that holds the prime contract with the government. Be sure that investment of time and money fits your risk threshold as well as your plans to grow your company.

Before your next proposal, understand every part of the government business development cycle that your competitors had to master to win their contracts. Decide if you’re ready for that investment. If so, then approach government contracts as a long-haul effort with your eyes wide open and your team ready to learn what winners have already figured out.

2. Businesses pursue opportunities on a shoestring budget.

“If your business is struggling, going after government contracts can hurt more than it helps,” says Bradt. Cash-flow horizons are longer in the public sector than in the private sector, both to develop business and to get paid for your work. Typically, government buyers are risk-averse and cautious about trying new vendors and ideas.

Runaway success in the first year is rare, says Bradt. Expect to spend 18 to 24 months investing money and time to develop relationships, find opportunities and partners, and prepare proposals before you turn a consistent profit. “Many managers rightly decide that it takes too much time and risk to develop a new market. And, unlike in the private sector, most government contracts don’t pay you up front. Unless you negotiate progress payments, you need enough funds to survive until after you do the work, invoice and get paid. That big contract can put you out of business.”

The fix:

First, explore alternate forms of financing. Your current line of credit is often not enough to pursue the contract, win it and finish the project. Even healthy companies are shocked to find that their bankers do not simply extend that line to finance a signed government contract. Asset-based financing is your cheapest money, but takes time to arrange. Alternative financing (aka “last-minute money”) is always more expensive and will evaporate your profits.

Bradt recommends that entrepreneurs forge a closer relationship with their banker. “If you’ve decided to pursue government contracts, and have revised your marketing budget to support that pursuit, review your access to working capital and financing. Then visit your banker to find out about financing options before you launch your campaign.”

3. Resist the temptation to use shotgun tactics.

“Too often, entrepreneurs go to FedBizOpps and pump out proposals for anything that appears relevant,” she says. The result is that most of their efforts are just as scattered and not much reaches the target. “If you go after everything, you might win something but most of your resources will be wasted and nobody has that kind of time and money to spare.”

The fix:

Focus. “When you want to win government contracts, you have to research and focus tightly to win,” says Bradt. Otherwise, you’ll go broke trying, she says. Savvy companies scope out the competition and possible partners in order to position themselves to win the projects that really fit them long before they put serious resources into pursuing those opportunities.

Free websites offer extraordinary amounts of federal contract market intelligence. Look into USAspending.gov, Central Contractor Registration, GSA Advantage, and Schedule Sales Query. These are all good sources if you’re testing the waters and not ready for a big investment yet.

Looking ahead

U.S. federal contract spending in 2009 topped a record $550 billion. And Bradt expects 2010 to look much the same. “The U.S. government has set a goal of spending 70% of the stimulus money by fall of 2010. Twelve months out, almost 47% had been allocated for specific purposes. Of that, only 16% has been spent. That means there’s a very stimulating year ahead—if you’re developing opportunities long before the competition begins.”

For more information, visit the Canadian Trade Commissioner Service in the United States.

January 16, 2010 Posted by | Business, Business Development, Great Ideas, Investment, Marketing, Sales, Services | , , , | Leave a comment

Retro & Vintage Design

So I woke up pretty early this morning (5:30am) and thought lets work on a project that I’ve been postponing for a while…  So I collected some vintage and retro art design for this long overdue project and thought some people might find it inspiring.   I enjoy the branding side of business and I think this look can help a business stand out by giving it a unique and distinct flavor.

As an individual whos all about requirements gathering I find it very difficult to sit with a designer and just explain what I need.  I’ve about diagrams, charts, brief statements, pictures etc. So this collection should help me with that process and also provide me with a single place to store all these pictures.  Hope its useful for whatever you need it for, enjoy!

Some of these pics came came from http://www.smashingmagazine.com, an online magazine dedicated to designers and developers.

  • illustrations from old posters, movies, newspapers, CDs, vinyls, ads;Movie in Retro and Vintage In Modern Web Design
  • old-style typography (e.g. Roman typefaces);Class in Retro and Vintage In Modern Web Design
  • script fonts and handwriting;Script in Retro and Vintage In Modern Web Design
  • old radio devices;Radio in Retro and Vintage In Modern Web Design
  • old TV devices;Tv in Retro and Vintage In Modern Web Design
  • old cars;Car2 in Retro and Vintage In Modern Web Design
  • old packaging;Package in Retro and Vintage In Modern Web Design
  • old photos;Photos in Retro and Vintage In Modern Web Design
  • vibrant rainbow colors (high contrast, neon-style);Rainbow in Retro and Vintage In Modern Web Design
  • torn, used paper with stains (often yellowish paper);Paper in Retro and Vintage In Modern Web Design
  • dark, dirty colors (brown, dark red, dark blue) and textures (e.g. paper);Dark in Retro and Vintage In Modern Web Design
  • scrapbooks;Scrap in Retro and Vintage In Modern Web Design
  • pop-art elements (see also Pop Art Is Alive: Classics and Modern Artworks);Popart in Retro and Vintage In Modern Web Design
  • retro illustrations;Posters in Retro and Vintage In Modern Web Design
  • old-style signs;Hire in Retro and Vintage In Modern Web Design
  • vintage and retro are often combined with a hand-drawing style and grunge style.

11 in Retro and Vintage In Modern Web Design

Custom Design

44 in Retro and Vintage In Modern Web Design

Big Rig Design

28 in Retro and Vintage In Modern Web Design

AdaptD.com

8 in Retro and Vintage In Modern Web Design

FortySeven Media

47 in Retro and Vintage In Modern Web Design

Jeffrey Sarmiento

1 in Retro and Vintage In Modern Web Design

Klassiker in Acryl

48 in Retro and Vintage In Modern Web Design

Level2D.com

43 in Retro and Vintage In Modern Web Design

Rob Across America

45 in Retro and Vintage In Modern Web Design

Slabovia.tv

31 in Retro and Vintage In Modern Web Design

Dallas Advertising Agency

23 in Retro and Vintage In Modern Web Design

Sensi Soft

40 in Retro and Vintage In Modern Web Design

mediaBOOM

27 in Retro and Vintage In Modern Web Design

The New York Moon

3 in Retro and Vintage In Modern Web Design

~ The Statement ~ The Official Blog of The Old State

4 in Retro and Vintage In Modern Web Design

MacTarnahan’s Brewing Company

2 in Retro and Vintage In Modern Web Design

ISO50 – The Visual Work of Scott Hansen

5 in Retro and Vintage In Modern Web Design

Tricycle Terror

6 in Retro and Vintage In Modern Web Design

Charlies Loan

7 in Retro and Vintage In Modern Web Design

Small Stone Recordings

10 in Retro and Vintage In Modern Web Design

Big Cartel

12 in Retro and Vintage In Modern Web Design

The Ernest Hemingway Collection

15 in Retro and Vintage In Modern Web Design

jrojr.com

16 in Retro and Vintage In Modern Web Design

Five Cent Stand – Bitter Kiss

18 in Retro and Vintage In Modern Web Design

Tennessee Vacation

22 in Retro and Vintage In Modern Web Design

Prahba

25 in Retro and Vintage In Modern Web Design

Thigpen Designs

30 in Retro and Vintage In Modern Web Design

Team Mongolmania

32 in Retro and Vintage In Modern Web Design

tomatic

33 in Retro and Vintage In Modern Web Design

The Superest

34 in Retro and Vintage In Modern Web Design

Red&Blu Winter ‘08-’09

35 in Retro and Vintage In Modern Web Design

Lataka

37 in Retro and Vintage In Modern Web Design

Booreiland

41 in Retro and Vintage In Modern Web Design

Fuelhaus

42 in Retro and Vintage In Modern Web Design

intensify.org

46 in Retro and Vintage In Modern Web Design

Mister-Aero

49 in Retro and Vintage In Modern Web Design

The Dollar Dreadful Family Library

50 in Retro and Vintage In Modern Web Design

Creating Passionate Users

54 in Retro and Vintage In Modern Web Design

Dennis Jones Artwork

55 in Retro and Vintage In Modern Web Design

Capitol Media

56 in Retro and Vintage In Modern Web Design

One Horse Shy

57 in Retro and Vintage In Modern Web Design

The Lippincott

58 in Retro and Vintage In Modern Web Design

BlackMoon Development

59 in Retro and Vintage In Modern Web Design

Sourcebits TangledDecals

61 in Retro and Vintage In Modern Web Design

FOWA Miami

62 in Retro and Vintage In Modern Web Design

Bestial design

63 in Retro and Vintage In Modern Web Design

The First Twenty

64 in Retro and Vintage In Modern Web Design

The Blizzards

65 in Retro and Vintage In Modern Web Design

Thuiven

66 in Retro and Vintage In Modern Web Design

Internet Zillionaire

53 in Retro and Vintage In Modern Web Design

Renaissance-Designs

Timoni.org

52 in Retro and Vintage In Modern Web Design

Theocacao

51 in Retro and Vintage In Modern Web Design

January 15, 2010 Posted by | Ads, Art, Brochure, Business Cards, Creativity, Marketing, Packaging, Photography, Products, Sales, Website | | Leave a comment

They went to Jail, I wrote a Letter!

So here’s the story, at the UN Climate Summit last month in Copenhagen.  A group of four managed to get into a dinner party where world leaders were dining with the Queen of Denmark and they held up a banner demanding they take action against global warming.  I’m a Greenpeace member, so I while these people went to jail I sent the letter below when the Executive Director Kumi Naidoo reached out and asked its members.

To:
Stephen Harper, Prime Minister of Canada
Barack Obama, President of the United States
Kevin Rudd, Prime Minister of Australia
José Manuel Barroso, President of the European Commission
Faced with the unique opportunity to stop climate change in Copenhagen, world leaders offered instead an historic failure.  In sharp contrast, we and the world’s environment, hunger, and justice groups are mobilizing the largest movement civil society has ever witnessed, to demand a fair, ambitious, legally binding climate treaty.
I stand in solidarity with those who have taken non-violent direct action or committed peaceful acts of civil disobedience to demand climate justice. That includes the four Greenpeace activists who were detained without trial in Denmark for holding up banners at a head of state dinner. I have contributed to their action by supporting Greenpeace — financially, morally, or in my day to day life.  If the response of governments to the threat of climate change is going to be preventive detention of those likely to support or commit acts of civil disobedience, count me among the 15 million people you may need to round up.
I urge you to recognise that civil disobedience to demand action against so grave a threat is an act of community service.
Yours faithfully,
*********

Update:

The four activists have been released.

January 12, 2010 Posted by | Carbon Credits, Clean Energy, Community Economic Development (CED), Government, Great Ideas, Inspiration, Life, Politics, Social Media, Sustainability, War | , , | Leave a comment

An Old- Fasion Approach

An Amish Entrepreneur’s Old-Fashioned Approach

Without electricity, a car, or a cell phone, Amos Miller turned his dad’s Pennsylvania farm into a $1.8 million national food retailer

I hope you enjoy this story its by  David Gumpert of Business Week and he’s made me think on a few occasions… Anyhow here’s a little bit about David, he’s a journalist who blogs regularly about the business of health and has written a number of books about small business and entrepreneurship, including Burn Your Business Plan! His latest book is, The Raw Milk Revolution: Behind America’s Emerging Battle Over Food Rights.  Now Enjoy!

Imagine trying to build a national food retailing business based on mail order, far-flung distributors, and trade shows—without using the Internet. No e-mail newsletters or Web site for taking orders and handling complaints, no Facebook fans, or Google (GOOG) ads, or Twitter following.

That’s not all. Imagine doing it without using cell phones or computers. No BlackBerry for expediting orders. No CRM software for segmenting customer lists. Absolutely no texting.

Let your imagination go a little further and picture doing it without driving a car or without using electricity. No quick trips to the post office to ship orders, and no fax machine, scanner, or copier.

Remarkable Anomaly

This is the world of Miller Farm, a Pennsylvania food producer that has grown to $1.8 million in annual sales from less than half that four years ago. The farm is so busy it’s turning away orders from food cooperatives around the country.

But data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture suggest what an anomaly Miller Farm is.

While farming is undergoing a renaissance of sorts, with more than 300,000 new farms started from 2002 to 2007, accounting for nearly 2 million small farms, making a good living is becoming tougher. The USDA in its 2007 census said the number of small farms with $100,000 to $250,000 annual sales (its highest revenue range for small farms) declined 7%.

Horse-and-Buggy Ways

The driving force behind this anomaly is 32-year-old Amos Miller. He’s not growing his business bereft of so many modern conveniences out of some sense of purity or to prove a point, but rather because he is Amish. As part of their religious beliefs, the Amish turn their backs on modern-day conveniences and are highly visible in the areas of Pennsylvania and Wisconsin where most live, notable for their dark clothing and their horses and buggies, which compete with cars and trucks on local roads. They avoid even having their photos taken, which is why we can’t include a photo of Miller and his family.

Located in Bird-in-Hand, Pa., Miller Farm was started by Amos’ father, Jacob. Amos says he and his dad concluded in 2000, based on conversations they had with customers and representatives of organizations that promote nutrient-dense foods, that interest was about to grow significantly. The two of them focused on expanding the farm’s product line, so they now offer 31 products, from grassfed beef (including not only various steak cuts, but marrow bones, ox tail, and tallow) to milk-fed pork, pastured chicken (including chickens not fed any soy), and 16 varieties of cultured veggies (including fermented ketchup, cabbage juice, and tomato salsa).

The interest in such foods has helped drive the rapid growth of farmer’s markets, private buyers clubs, cooperatives, and community supported agriculture (known as CSAs, whereby consumers commit to buying a particular producer’s foods for a season or ongoing). Once popular mainly for vegetables, CSAs now exist for meat and even for fish.

Quest for Nutrient Density

“It used to be that organic was all the rage,” says Dan Kittredge, executive director of the Real Food Campaign, which is part of advocacy group Re-Mineralize the Earth. “Now everyone has organic.” Nutrient-dense food is the new rage and gives “the advantage back” to small farmers who leverage the notion that certain foods, such as fermented vegetables, grass-fed beef, and pastured chickens, are more nutritious than conventionally produced products and may help consumers strengthen their immune systems. “There is money to be made here,” he says.

And making money is what Miller Farm is doing. “I can’t meet all the demand,” says Amos Miller. He relies on additional supplies of product from his brother, John, who “grows the produce that we ferment and process here,” and from three other neighboring Amish and Mennonite farmers.

What distinguishes Miller Farm from others, such as celebrity farmer Joel Salatin’s farm in Virginia, which has helped popularize nutrient-dense foods, is that Miller has gone national—and done it without modern conveniences. His main concessions to modern life are a generator for refrigeration to cool certain foods and a landline telephone (717-556-0672) to take orders from distributors and mail-order customers. He also relies on FedEx (FDX) for shipping orders to customers.

Courting the Foodies

To market his wares and network, Miller regularly attends events popular with foodie types. At the annual conference of the Weston A.Price Foundation, held in November at a hotel outside Chicago, he and several other Amish manned a large table in the exhibitor area, selling large jars of fermented veggies, maple syrup, and homemade spelt noodles.In December, at a conference in St.Paul, Minn., of sustainable farmers and their customers put on by Acres USA, Miller’s offerings were a little different: at breakfast time, slices of dense grain bread slathered in butter and honey; and at lunch, plates of bread with homemade liverwurst and salami.

How did he get all that food to the conferences if he doesn’t drive? He rented a refrigerated truck and hired a non-Amish neighbor to drive it. He stored the food in dozens of coolers with refrigerant chemical blocks.

“He’s a hustler,” says Pete Kennedy, president of the Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund, who mans a booth near Miller’s at the Weston A. Price Foundation conference.

The Blessings of Dirt

The conferences bring in not only direct revenues but also customers from around the country. For instance, many of the attendees at the Weston A. Price Foundation conference are involved with food cooperatives back home that are seeking the kinds of foods Miller’s farm produces. The orders pour in from individual consumers the old-fashioned way—via snail mail, as well as via the farm’s conventional telephone line. The farm receives regular orders from food cooperatives as far away as Florida and California.

While he says he’s proud of the fact that “we’re making a lot of money,” Miller notes that elders in his church worry about the growth. “They discourage us getting too big,” he notes, in part because they don’t want Amish farmers to be tempted by the marvels of modern technology. “As long as we don’t rely on computers and electronics, they’re okay.”

Miller says he doesn’t get frustrated by not having modern conveniences. In fact, when he’s at trade shows, he usually can’t wait to get back home. “The city is a pretty sterile environment,” he says. “But if I did it once a month, I’d get lost, I’d forget what it’s like to get dirty.”

January 11, 2010 Posted by | Business, Creativity, Great Ideas | , , | 1 Comment

A Man Who Rescued a Million Yiddish Books

So I cam across this book about 4-5 years ago and it just captivated me.   Sikhs and Jews have a lot in common and this story tells a tall tale.   Click on the Video Link to know what I mean.

The Book: Outwitting History: The Amazing Adventures of a Man Who Rescued a Million Yiddish Books

Product Details

Author: Aaron Lansky

The Website: http://yiddishbookcenter.org/

Video: http://yiddishbookcenter.org/vid/ABridgeofBooks.html

So why I am I curious about Yeddish Books?

My Dad and I have been talking about these particular issues for about 5 years and finally I took a baby step and spent part of my new years eve volunteering with an amazing and inspiring group of people from my book club.   We spent time showing youth and the sikh community at large a new website that was launched to perserve Sikh litrature and history.  The project is called the Panjab Digital Library (http://www.panjabdigilib.org).

This particular demo was held at a sikh temple (Gurdwara) in Surrey,  I decided to bow out of my volunteer obligations a little early as I wanted to spend the new year  with my family who were at Gurdwara closer to home.

January 8, 2010 Posted by | Blogging, Creativity, Great Ideas, Sustainable Community Development | , , , | Leave a comment

Internet Marketing – Vidoes

For those of you who use Traffic Geyser: http://www.trafficgeyser.com

As your primary source of online internet marketing ($97 a month) you can try the below links.  They are cheaper but remember they are not as good as Traffic Geyser.

http://www.tubemogul.com/

http://heyspread.com/

December 15, 2009 Posted by | Business | | 1 Comment