Blogging from China: First Stop Shanghai

Shanghai: A city with 23 million people, overbuilt but still building. A city where minimum wage for a factory worker is $1.15/hour (approximately), not even enough to live off of.  A city where energy conservation is a priority as a think layer of smog drapes over the city like a blanket.  A city much akin to Chicago only 3 times the size of NYC.

The longer you look, the more entrenched you become in the oddities, extravegance, and lackluster of this place and its people.  Therein lies the opportunity.

As an invited guest of the Great Idea Summit and Delegate of China, I have the unique opportunity to share ideas on growing an entrepreneurial community and investing.  Its a rare glimpse into the business climate  and the opportunities in which this culture seeks.

It is my hope to share this incredible journey with you over the next 8 days….more to follow.

Sincerely,

JCG

The Tsunami Effect on Technology

While it may seem a distant tragedy, the global nature of contemporary business means that the earthquake off the coast of Japan and its attendant destruction very much impact us as consumers of technology that is manufactured in Japan. Believe it or not, that list is considerable. Endgaget’s intriguing post “Japanese quake will likely affect the global supply of gadgets” explores this topic. Reuters and The Wall Street Journal weigh in similarly.

It’s not merely the manufacture of components that is to be interrupted, but the supply of electricity to major markets in the country will be rationed; dramatic reduction in electricity production is a result of the explosions and attendant nuclear contamination of the Fukushima power plant. Gizmodo provides a synopsis of developments on this topic.

Consider how Libya, which ships just 3% of its oil to the United States, stands at the center of a crisis that we consumers can witness at the pump. Prices seem to increase daily.

And how about the crisis of faith with the safety of nuclear power? While the United States relies on nuclear for about a fifth of its own power production, countries like France and South Korea are more highly invested than even Japan. The manufacture and distribution of much more than technology is at risk.

We can minimize the inconvenience of a more expensive or even unavailable iPad 2, but the tumult of recent events – from freedom fighting to natural disasters – brings these issues to life.

While our access to technology may be highly interwoven with global issues, technology may also help connect uswith solutions. Telecom companies are offering free calls and texts to Japan from the United States. Even online gamers are joining in the effort.

Today, our thoughts and concerns are focused on Japan and the people suffering as a result of natural devastation. As was shown effective with Haiti, consider using your everyday technology to make a donation to organizations aiding in the recovery effort. Just be careful when you do so.

Entrepreneur Readiness?

Businesses start somewhere – more often driven by an entrepreneurial passion.  The transition from employee to entrepreneur is not for the faint of heart.  Statistically, many entrepreneurs fail.  According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2010 more than 96,000 companies closed its doors after an even more devastating loss of 400,000 companies in 2009.

Don’t let the numbers deter you from launching a new business venture, but rather assess your entrepreneurial readiness:

Insight: Have you thought your idea through?  Have you identified the value for what you propose for your customers? Have you researched your idea?

Ability: Analyze your personal and professional abilities.  How will your skills enable you to execute on your idea?

Risk: Are you making a calculated risk or a foolish one? Is the risk more than you can afford to take?

Endurance: Are you prepared physically and mentally to launch a new business?

True entrepreneurs will attest to the fact that if being in business for yourself was easy, everyone would do it.

Carl House Introduces a New Online Presence

Carl House, the event venue of the southeast, located between Atlanta and Athens, unveils a new online experience capturing the essence of the traditional antebellum-style home.  The new website is rich with content including photos and videos highlighting the breadth of event offerings at Carl House.

“When a bride walks the grounds at Carl House, there is an energy in the air, an atmosphere quite unique.  We wanted to create that experience online that allowed brides to set foot on the property virtually,” said BB Webb, owner, Carl House.  “We are committed to providing the best facility for events whether a wedding, corporate event, or special celebration.  The new website allows us to showcase all that we have to offer.”

Visitors to the new site are able to quickly navigate areas of the website to learn about hosting an event at Carl House.   The property tours and videos take users through the facility.  The information all allows visitors to plan an event down to the very last detail from food to floral arrangements.  The facility has received accolades including: Best Reception Site by AtlantaBridal.com; Best of Wedding Venues by The Knot Magazine; Best Place to have a Wedding by Gwinnet Magazine; and Bride’s Choice Award by WeddingWire.com.

“BB had an incredible vision when she built Carl House so it was important that we transferred that vision online. We put ourselves in the shoes of her customer,” said Julie Cropp Gareleck, managing partner, Junction Creative Solutions. “We greatly enjoyed working with BB and her amazing team at Carl House. We wish the team much success in the New Year!”

To visit the new site, visit www.carlhouse.com.

About Carl House

Built in 1903, Carl House was the centerpiece and home to the owner of a large and thriving ornamental plant nursery. Its original Southern garden plan has been restored with the addition of an exquisite gazebo under which many of the best and most beautiful wedding ceremonies in the South have been held. This authentic piece of Georgia history is situated on four manicured acres that are surrounded by over 30 acres of the original pasture land property giving Carl House a plantation atmosphere with all the amenities and a luxury ballroom with covered porches.

Announcing Junction’s 2011 Entrepreneurial Series

Happy New Year from Junction Creative Solutions!

In 2011, Junction will offer an entrepreneurial blog series focused for entrepreneurs looking to start a new business.  Each month, Junction will discuss topics that span the start-up process from ideation to launch.   Throughout the series, we will highlight entrepreneurs who are moving through the process and the unique challenges they face.

Junction looks forward to sharing knowledge with the entrepreneurial community and the opportunity to learn from each other!

Junction Creative Solutions (Junction) Heeds Its Own Advice To React, Adapt, And Thrive To Create A More Sustainable Business

ATLANTA, GA: December 09, 2010 – Junction Creative Solutions (Junction), an Atlanta based strategic firm, faced the economic challenges head on to not only survive, but flourish.  By employing the same strategic principles applied to Junction clients, the firm achieved remarkable growth in an otherwise unpredictable business climate.

Junction attributes the success of the firm to hard work, a carefully executed strategic plan, and great clients.  “We’ve worked diligently to practice what we preach.  Strategic planning is an ongoing item on my ‘to-do’ list,” said Julie Gareleck, managing partner, Junction.   “More importantly we have amazing clients who reinforce our core principles of entrepreneurship, authenticity, integrity, and value.”

BB Webb, owner, Carl House, is one of those clients.  Junction applauds the efforts of Webb as she mitigates a dynamic industry to remain sustainable.

“Junction Creative has been a long desired ‘find’ to me and for my company.  Having sorted through all manner of organizations and people promising great service, on time and cost effective delivery and creativity to impress my most high standards, I had been entirely underwhelmed until meeting this crew of creative and savvy business folk,” comments Webb. “Headed by the entrepreneurial and visionary Julie Cropp Gareleck, her core of seasoned professionals understand the basis of running a good business, coupled with resources and talent to fit the many needs I have in the areas of marketing, promotion, design strategy, and implementation.  With that, I envision a marriage that will last throughout the years!”

2010 served as a pivotal year for Junction.  As the planning continues for 2011, the company looks to expand its presence, its portfolio, and its impact in the marketplace.

Junction Creative Solutions Educates Atlanta-Based Women Entrepreneurs On The Importance Of Strategy In Growing Sustainable Businesses

 ATLANTA, GA: November 18, 2010 – Junction Creative Solutions (Junction) participated in the “Ask the Experts Round-Table Discussion” hosted by StartUpChicks, a non-profit organization focused on connecting and inspiring entrepreneurial women.  Experts shared key insights from business planning to exit strategy with women business owners in the Atlanta region.

“We wanted to provide an opportunity for participants to ask questions related to challenges with launching, marketing, and sustaining new business ventures,” said Julie Gareleck, managing partner, Junction.  “It’s so critical to have a business plan or a roadmap to guide execution – strategically and successfully.

Gareleck shared lessons learned from her experiences in building the strategic firm from ground zero.  In 18 months, Junction has grown to a team of 9, in 3 locations (Atlanta, Central PA, and Costa Rica), with clients ranging from start-ups to Fortune 500 companies.  She stressed the importance of having a business plan, a living-breathing document that can be adapted as the company grows.

In addition to Gareleck, panelists included: Peter Rosen, HR Strategies & Solutions; Jackie Hutter , General Counsel and Chief IP Officer; Allison Siavage, Siavage Law Group; Kenji Kuramoto , AcuityCFO; Jody Fennell and Ella Dyer , Abundant Closet; and Lynn Scott and Lisa B. Dowling, Arnold Golden Gregory Law Firm.  Topics included:  IP, legal, finance, outsourcing, fundraising, branding, marketing, and strategic planning. 

“StartUpChicks is a great organization for women entrepreneurs.  Junction is a proud sponsor of the organization and its growing member base,” said Gareleck. “We hope the number of new businesses continue to rise, fueling the entrepreneurial environment in Atlanta.”

 About StartupChicks

StartupChicks was founded in February of 2009 when the founder, Jen Bonnett, noted the extreme dearth in women attending various local entrepreneurial events. The company has grown from its original five founding members to a membership of over 500 and has hosted numerous educational and social events for its members.  The StartUpChicks mission is to connect entrepreneurial women and to grow, inspire and educate women on entrepreneurship as a career/life choice.

Atlanta Based Motion Stability Introduces the Launch of a New Brand Strategy and Website

ATLANTA, GA: October 28, 2010 — Motion Stability, a leading physical therapy and rehabilitation center headquartered in Atlanta, GA, introduces a new brand strategy and website.  Motion Stability, a practice committed to excellence, offers a user-friendly online experience to educate and inform patients.

“We stress the importance of our multi-dimensional approach for evaluating and treating pain to our clients.  We wanted the site to include the latest research and relevant information helpful to understanding how to restore performance and resolve pain,” said Brian Yee, owner, Motion Stability.  “As well, we want our clients to continually have access to our team and our research.”

The website is designed with the customer in mind, allowing visitors to quickly navigate areas of the website to learn about current and upcoming trends in research, articles, patient information, educational courses, and community involvement.

“We believe in Brian Yee’s vision for Motion Stability.  He has created a thriving and sustainable business with a unique combination of industry knowledge, experience, and customer-focus,” said Julie Cropp Gareleck, Junction Creative Solutions. “We greatly enjoyed working with Brian and his amazing team at Motion Stability. We wish the team much success with their practice and their new website!”

To visit the new site, visit www.motionstability.com.

About Motion Stability

Motion Stability opened its doors in 2006 as a rehabilitation organization for clinical excellence, evidence-based research and professional course training.  With over 10 years of experience working with a continuum of patients – from acute to chronic pain to elite level athletes in the PGA Tour, NFL, USTA, NBA, and Olympics – – Brian Yee, owner, established one of the leading physical therapy and rehabilitation centers in Atlanta, GA.  The team at Motion Stability shares passion, diverse talent, and a drive for providing the best level of care for injuries as well as comprehensive strategies for resolving pain and dysfunction.  The therapists provide education, tools, and resources to insure that patients are able to maintain good health and prevent future injury.

Connecting to Kinect?

Video games continue to evolve with the newest release of Microsoft’s new controller-less gaming & entertainment system called  Kinect for XBOX 360. It’s safe to say that we have come a long way since 1975 when Atari was introduced.

It’s another new development in the gaming experience putting the control into the hands of the user, literally.  Instead of traditional gamepads or keyboards, users connect with arm movements, waves, voice commands, facial recognition, and video chat.  Kinectimals, a virtual pet simulator game, mimics the movements such as spinning and jumping. (As incredulous as it sounds, we even tested in on a 2-year old. It was a success.)

Although cutting-edge, we did see a few unique issues with the user interface.  Selecting items on the screen requires that a user places a hand over the item for an average of 10 seconds.  If you move within that timeframe, the timer resets….this has the potential to create frustration especially with the younger and less impatient, older user groups.  And a few other reviews worth checking out:

http://www.tweaktown.com/news/17458/kinect_xbox_360_accessory_hacked_to_work_with_windows_7_pcs/

http://www.product-reviews.net/2010/11/08/xbox-360-kinect-vs-ps3-move-consumer-choices-during-black-friday-2010/

Regardless, this just might be the future of UI.  For now, it’s just a fun new toy to play with!

Trends in Talent Acquisition

Small business is on the rise, taking shape a new generation of entrepreneurs.  The Small Business Administration (SBA) reported that an estimated 27.5 million small businesses operated in the US in 2009 creating more than 65% of net new jobs. The statistics account for the number of opportunities but not always the opportunity cost of identifying new employees.  Trends indicate that entrepreneurs are looking to family and friends to fill those coveted roles.

Laura Pretrecca, USA Today writer, shares findings in her article, “Hiring family or friends to work for you can be boon or bust.”

Whether you agree or disagree with employing family and friends, hiring strategies are a key component to creating a sustainable and effective workforce.  The same rules should apply to family and friends as it would to a candidate you identify during the recruiting process:

1.  Define position goals/objectives

2.  Outline key measurements for achieving those goals/objectives

3.  Empower employee to take ownership for the successes/failures

4.  Hold the employee accountable

We would like to hear from you.  How have you successfully or unsuccessfully recruited new candidates, family members, or friends?