Entrepreneurship: Response to Midlands Biz Blog

At Riley Communications, we are avid readers of MidlandsBiz.com, so much so that we have come to expect the prompt 6:01 a.m. delivery of the latest Midlands Business news every morning to our Blackberries (and one iPhone) just as regularly as our morning coffee. The latest e-mail newsletter edition featured a less routine, but still enjoyable element: a new blog from creator Alan Cooper.

The blog focused on something our office is entirely based on: entrepreneurship. Our own company, as well as our office-fellow Human Resource Dynamics, began as an entrepreneurial endeavor. Among other aspects of going out on a limb with a new business, Alan points out  “44% of new startups are created by people between the ages of 18 and 34.  To me, that says that the majority of new creations are made by people over the age of 34 and that it’s never too late.” A solid truth, considering Human Resource Dynamics founder JoAnn Moss started her firm as a second career. But don’t forget the fresher entrepreneurs out there are still fierce — Riley Communications was born in this young, yet experienced brain.

No matter what age entrepreneurs may be, though, Alan insists there are two types: “the ‘caught between a rock and a hard place’ entrepreneur, and the serial entrepreneur.  The former start their own businesses out of necessity or because they never again want to put their fate in someone else’s hands. The latter do it because it is in their DNA.  They have never worked for someone else a day in their life.”

Now that we can attest to — some of the best businesses are formed in response to some of the worst. Most inspiring of all, though, is that Alan, despite his attempts to appear squeamish about branching out into a new business, is a die-hard entrepreneur. After getting fired from his own family’s business (proving that job security is a dreaded myth), Alan pushed himself out of the nest and actually flew!

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Ode to Snuggie: Re-Inventing the Robe With Advertising

We’ve all seen it. We’ve all cursed it, ridiculed it and since forgotten it. But the infamous Snuggie commercials tell an interesting story about marketing and advertising: sometimes an entire product is “invented” on the assumption of our pliability as consumers, our inability to see through sheer marketing and our immediate buy-reaction when infomercials create a new need for us.

Not so fast, Snuggie. You didn’t fool us. Even the least savvy couch potato knows what Youtube videographers call “instructions for putting a robe on backwards” is not ingenious, not new and above all not a necessity. Your monk-like blankets scream “join the cult!” rather than “sit outside at winter sporting events and inside cold houses in style.”

But wait — these things are actually selling. And beating competitors in the same exact market. The “slanket” was the original blanket with sleeves, like the Snuggie in almost every way, except for one fatal flaw. Either the lack of persistence or persuasiveness in their advertising and marketing left their sales slumping. When products as silly as Snuggies and slankets can make it big, you know marketing and ad campaigns are truly effective, transcending both the ridiculous nature of the product and convincing consumers it is truly a must-buy. So, in truth, we have to hand it to Snuggie, a testament to the mystery of marketing!