by guest blogger, Jackie Eldridge
The last thing I want to sound like is an advertisement for Facebook. (That’s my caveat for this post.)
I know I’ve said many times that Facebook and Google are taking over the world. Maybe I should say they’re changing the world instead. Despite all the push-back each giant receives regarding privacy, I believe the ability to share our lives to many usurps the threat of privacy. (Hmmm. There used to be a mega giant called the yellow pages who had all of our private information and published it in a book!! Then they distributed to everyone!! Hope this puts Facebook in perspective.)
My cousin Patrick and his partner Tabatha had their first child last week. Facebook kept me in the loop to the point that I almost felt like I was in Ohio with them. I read updates, enjoyed videos and chatted with family. Pretty amazing that technology can bring people together during a major life event. The photos and videos meant everything to me.
Then there’s my friend Lindsay. Her father has had stage IV cancer for a year now. I read her posts, and those of her siblings, as her dad transitioned from hospital to hospice. Reading the posts not only kept me connected, but I couldn’t help but feel that Facebook was serving a much larger purpose for Lindsay and her three siblings. They were posting their feelings, talking to God, praying, reminiscing, sharing photos—truly commemorating their lives with their father. This morning, when their dad passed, I read their posts and felt connected to them, and most of all, they were connected to each other. I cried for them. Today, on his death, I know his life was full—as full as a parent’s could be—because he, too, got to witness how his kids and grandkids expressed their feelings and love for him, with some thanks to Facebook. When a loved one is passing, we often break that stubborn dam of intimacy and flood them with last words and pent-up emotions. While I have no doubt that Linds and family did their share of “flooding” with their dad, I know that being able to emote on Facebook for the past three weeks has been a great release for them. And it’s made them a closer family.
Despite the privacy issues (that we need to constantly monitor) Facebook’s ability to bring people together during life’s milestones is a gift.
November 15, 2013 1 Comment
by Marc Joseph, reprinted from The Huffington Post
The partial government shutdown for 16 days caused some Americans to lose hope in our democratic way of life. If our elected officials can’t get along, what does that say about how the normal citizen can get along with their neighbors? If we can’t take care of ourselves and the basic functions of daily living, how can we even expect that we can take care of others?
Why is it acceptable to hurt so many people, most of who do not deserve it? Even though Congress postponed the inevitable with the recent passage of the funding of the government and raising the debt ceiling, both issues were just kicking the can down the road until January 15, 2014 for the budget and February 7, 2014 for the debt ceiling. Through all of this, the country forgot about the sequestration that started on March 1, 2013. As reported in the Washington Post, the impact of this sequester has become very harsh to those in our society in the most need. During this fiscal year, the effect on domestic programs is quite severe. Head Start will be cutting an additional 177,000 children from their program which helps young children from low-income families develop. President Johnson started this program as part of his War on Poverty back in 1965. Since then 30 million children have participated. In addition to the suffering we are inflicting on Head Start, 1.3 million fewer students will receive Title I education assistance, which distributes funding to schools with a high percentage of students from low-income families. This is another program that came out President Johnson’s War on Poverty and was renewed with President Bush’s “No Child Left Behind” Act in 2001. On top of all of this we are inflicting on our children, there will be 9,000 fewer special education staff in our classrooms and $291 million less for child-care subsidies for working families.
This no action on the sequestration not only affects kids, it is affecting other parts of our society. 760,000 fewer households will receive less heating and cooling assistance under the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program. $2 billion less is being sent to the National Institutes of Health which corresponds with 1,300 fewer research grants. And it goes on and on with what we are not doing.
We are approaching another holiday season, but it sure does not feel too festive after living through these 16 days of dysfunction. But the spirit of America seems to be alive even though our leaders can’t get along. The boots on the ground Americans are rising above the fray in Washington D.C. to help those who need help. WGGB in Springfield, MA reports the “Coats for Kids” campaign has begun to collect gently used coats to help families in need. The Salvation Army has been doing this campaign to help those who need it most for 33 years. WKRC in Cincinnati reports how local law enforcement officers are getting child seats into the hands of those who cannot afford them so all children will be safer on the roads of Southwest Ohio. The Coshocton Tribune reports about the “Rags to Riches Clothing Drive” where Ridgewood Elementary has taken the lead in helping to collect clothes for the underprivileged children in their town in Ohio.
Helping others who are struggling is a core American value that in every town across America has to get stronger with the lack of leadership out of Washington. Volunteering is great, but we are at a point that people will not survive unless all of us step in to help financially. We have all seen an image of the Great Depression in the 1930′s where America looked like a third world country and none of us have the desire to see that again in 2014. Most communities have The Salvation Army and The United Way where you can donate locally. Nationally the Children’s Defense Fund and Kids in Distressed Situations help get the funds where they are most needed. And at DollarDays on our Facebook page, we are giving away $5,000 in products to families in need.
NBC reported that 950 miles west of Capitol Hill, Marion, Iowa mothers have stepped in to help low income mothers who depend on the federally funded nutrition program for women, infants and children (WIC). They are handing out baby food, formula and cereal to those who used to rely on the government to help them. This scene needs to repeat itself in every city and town across America. We have to take care of each other now, because with the current chaos in Washington, we can’t count on our government to take care of those most in need.
November 12, 2013 No Comments
DollarDays has a huge arts and crafts customer base. With thousands of creative products and rare finds to choose from, our customers can get their craft fixes by logging in, browsing and buying. It’s that easy!
Because of our large following of crafters, we were selected to choose a question to ask a panel of professional crafters on the very popular DailyLounge.com’s live chat today. Our question was, “Being crafty, nuture or nature?” Hands down, the four panelists agreed it was a combination of each! We had fun being a part of their chat! View the chat here.
November 7, 2013 No Comments
First Place: $2,000 to Ashtabula County Animal Protective League
Second Place: $1,000 to Esther Mackey
Third Place: $500 to Do Good Dog Rescue
Please congratulate them on Facebook!
Each of these shelters won a $100 shopping spree:
Animal Welfare Assocation New Jersey
San Antonio Pets Alive
Little Mews Rescue NY
Paws Tinley Park
River Valley Animal Rescue
Pupz N Palz Rescue
Sherri’s Kitty Rehab/Critter Cradle Animal Sanctuary
James A. Brennan Memorial Humane Society
AZ Cactus Corgi Rescue
The Orphanage – Priceless Pets
Waldo’s Muttley Crew
Saved By A Whisker
Tired Dog Rescue
Our thanks to everyone who nominated a shelter. Wish we could help every one of them! If your nominated shelter won, be sure to let them know! We sent emails to the winners, but they could get caught in spam filters. Be sure to nominate a Family in Need for our November giveaway!
November 3, 2013 No Comments
by Hiroshi Mikitani, CEO, Rakuten Inc., from LinkedIn
Sometime today, you may take a break from your work and walk around the office. Perhaps you will talk to a colleague. What will you say? Will you complain about the boss? About the workload? About the weather?
That is common. But it’s not helpful. If you work in a big company, chances are this kind of complaining is what usually goes on in the hallways. But if you look at small companies – at venture start-ups – there is a different buzz in the halls. That’s the sound of conversation.
The best part about being an up-and-coming company was always having someone to play verbal “catch” with. Starting a company is an experiment of trial and error, and when something happens you always end up discussing it with those around you. When Rakuten was in its early stages, there were not many employees, and the office was small. It was as if we were playing verbal “catch” 24 hours a day, all year long. It is no exaggeration to say that Rakuten today was born out of the conversations of that period.
In bigger companies, that natural ongoing conversation may fall off. When that happens, the company loses a critical tool.
In the same way that pro baseball players use a game of catch to warm up and check their form, you can use conversation to verify whether your own way of thinking and judgment are correct or not.
Try raising an issue – “throwing a ball around” – with those nearest to you. People are strange creatures. In most instances, if you throw a ball to someone, they will throw it back. And from there you can start playing catch. This is much more constructive than just approaching other people to complain about your boss or coworkers, or to gossip. And more than just helping you to find a good conversation partner, it is fun.
October 30, 2013 No Comments
by Guest blogger, Chuck Vance, President, MaskMail.com
Do you know if your employees are stealing from you or, if a manager is sexually harassing one of his/her subordinates or, if you have an employee who is about to “go postal” at your business or, if you have people using illegal drugs while driving company vehicles?
Most business owners and managers would probably respond: “Of course, I talk to my employees and they talk to me, so I pretty much know what is going on. Besides, we are like family.”
Unfortunately, experts and statistics would tell you that that is your perception and not the reality. Let’s just take one category of what you don’t know, and it is the one that probably everyone thinks of first—- employee theft.
The FBI calls employee theft “the fastest growing crime in America” and adds that this trend is having a devastating effect on small businesses. The U. S. Chamber of Commerce estimates that 75% of employees steal from the workplace and that most do so repeatedly. The Department of Commerce estimates that employee theft of cash, property, and merchandise may cost American businesses as much as $50 billion per year. That sounds like a lot, but consider if one of your trusted employees is taking just one pack of cigarettes per day (5 days per week), at your store—you lose, (in revenues), between $2,000 and $3,000, per year.
The average annual loss suffered by small businesses (fewer than 100 people) is $200,000, which is significantly higher than the average loss in any other category, including the largest businesses. Would you be surprised to know that it is estimated that about one third of all corporate bankruptcies are “directly” caused by employee theft? What if you had that $200,000, (or even part of it), back in the business? Could it have kept you out of bankruptcy?
You may be thinking, “That can’t be true; why would there be greater losses in a smaller business, where you know the people better, than in a larger company?” Let’s look at the factors that make small businesses especially vulnerable to employee theft and fraud. For one, small businesses generally have more limited resources to devote toward crime detection—they are busy focusing on trying to keep the doors open. When they do spend time and effort on theft deterrence, they think about protecting their company from external theft, not internal theft. In addition, small companies often include employees with multiple responsibilities (people known in baseball as “utility players”), who are not closely supervised. This provides them a greater opportunity to commit and conceal illegal activities. Furthermore, the family-like atmosphere of many small businesses may, believe it or not, lead to higher rates of employee theft—because owners of such businesses place too much faith in the belief that familiarity breeds honesty—which is not true.
And remember, thus far we are only talking about employee theft.
How about sexual harassment? Would it surprise you to know that in a recent survey taken of 782 U.S. workers that 31% of the females revealed that they had been sexually harassed at work—43% of those were harassed by a supervisor? The Business Forum estimates that over $20 billion is spent each year by businesses for litigation—and that does not include settlements or judgments.
There are other issues such as workplace violence, discrimination, alcohol or drugs in the workplace, and many more.
So, if we realize that we probably have problems in our business that we are not aware of, how do we find out about them? Do we meet collectively, or even privately, with our employees and say, “Come on, tell me what you know?” How effective do you think that that would be? Most people will not step forward with negative information for a number of reasons:
They don’t want to be branded as “snitches” and they don’t want to be ostracized, ridiculed, or perhaps retaliated against by their peers, or even supervisors. They don’t think that their information is important enough to pass along and they don’t believe that management truly wants them to report issues—and make waves.
If these are their concerns, how do we assuage them? How can we get them to provide information to you that could, if unreported, harm the company and its bottom line?
There are anonymous reporting systems which are the proven, most cost effective methods to find out what is going on in your company. A program is established for your employees to anonymously report information without fear of retaliation. This is a program that you can establish, endorse and publicize to your employees, vendors, contractors and even customers— because YOU DO CARE, and, YOU DO WANT TO HEAR FROM THEM!
But should that anonymous e-mail and/or phone line go to someone within the company? If you were reporting that your boss was sexually harassing his secretary or that your office manager was taking free trips from vendors, would you e-mail or phone a tip to someone within the company and hope that your voice, or e-mail address, wouldn’t be recognized? Or, would you be concerned that you would be identified and that overtly, or covertly, you would be punished for reporting?
Far more effective, both from a quantity and quality of reported information, is for businesses to use a professional vendor, with a qualified and trained staff, as a 24/7 conduit between the employees, and them. Having a third party between the reporter and management, (with rapid transmission of the report), gives the reporter the confidence to fully and frankly report without being identified.
Also, businesses can tailor the questions that they would like the vendor to ask a reporter and require that the vendor support many different languages so that reporters will feel comfortable communicating in their native language. In fact, because the communication through the vendor is anonymous, the vendor can facilitate an open dialogue between the reporter and the company, increasing the comfort level of the reporter and the likelihood that an incident will be reported.
Business owners and managers can ask follow-up questions through the vendor to gain additional insight and further their investigation.
So, is the anonymous reporting program, with submissions by e-mail or voice mail, monitored and relayed by trained professionals around the clock, 365 days of the year, in almost any language, expensive?
Surprisingly, no. And such a program is easy to incorporate into your business. At the program’s inception there is a small, one time, start-up fee to get your company set up in the vendor’s software. Then your business and your employees are provided with posters (to be placed in strategic areas around the workplace), wallet size cards (giving URL for the reporting website and the toll free number). You, as the boss, designate who you want to receive the reports. After the start-up charge, you have a very reasonable monthly fee (based usually on the number of employees that you have in the company). That rate remains the same through-out the term of the agreement, no matter how many reports and responses you have each month. The start-up charge and monthly fee could easily be recouped by your company just by detecting and correcting one issue (e.g., someone stealing from you). The deterrent effect alone of such a program will probably save you enough money to more than offset the expenditure.
As an added bonus, an anonymous reporting system also qualifies as one of the reporting methods mandated by the Sarbanes-Oxley (SOX) Act of 2002. In fact, some insurance companies have given premium discounts to businesses that utilize an anonymous reporting system. So, both the government and insurance companies must believe that such a program is an effective deterrent, and an effective self-policing tool.
Sound easy? That’s because it is. You go about doing what you do best for your company. When issues are reported, depending on their nature and seriousness, you resolve them knowing that you probably caught them early, before they became a more expensive and endemic problem.
So, as we’ve shown, you really can’t know everything that is going on in your company, no matter how small or large it might be. Then why not find an excellent vendor and enroll your company in an anonymous reporting program? Companies that have, see positive results. Their employees feel good that they have a way of communicating with management and reporting issues, even making minor suggestions, or voicing complaints—without revealing their identity. Management knows that by having a reliable, effective method to anonymously receive reports, they will probably get an early “heads up” about issues that they would otherwise not see or hear of. Even contractors, vendors, and customers will feel good because they know they are doing business with a company that has an effective tool for dealing with inappropriate behaviors.
So, don’t you think that it is time for you to enroll your business in an anonymous reporting program so that you’ll never have to say, “I wish that someone would have told us about that!”?
October 21, 2013 No Comments
If you know anything at all about DollarDays, then you know we always like to help others in need. And we love to hear about others doing the same and thought we’d share a story of a customer who is devoted to helping others.
Pinelake Church, with several locations in Mississippi, is helping people in Punjab, India who are in need. Teams from Pinelake Church travel to India and offer a Compassion Kit that is a good-sized box filled with practical living items like soap, toothpaste, t-shirts and other basic items. The Kit is a gift that also shares the story of Jesus and gives the opportunity for a person to begin their own story of knowing Jesus.
DollarDays feels fortunate to be Pinelake Church’s wholesale connection for the contents of the Compassion Kits. It’s projects like these that make us feel like we are making a difference too.
Keep up the good work, Pinelake Church!
October 9, 2013 No Comments
by Marc Joseph
Auctions have been an integral piece of the Internet since the beginning. AuctionWeb (which became eBay) was founded in San Jose, California in 1995 by French born Iranian-American computer programmer Pierre Omidyar. One of the first items sold on AuctionWeb was a broken laser pointer. When Pierre called the buyer to ask why he bought a broken product, the buyer told him he was a collector of broken laser pointers. This answer helped reinforce the idea that the Internet was made up of lots of little niches of interest and a robust auction site could bring them all together.
As eBay grew, so did the fees that were charged the sellers (those listing products). EBay generates revenues from all kinds of fees. There are fees to list a product. There are fees when the products sell and optional marketing fees to sell products. To the long time sellers on eBay, the increase of fees over the years has become quite disheartening. So out of this frustration, several alternative auction sites sprang up.
The auction site DollarDays sees as the fairest site for both buyers and sellers is http://dollardays.com/landing/auction . Sellers pay only $8 a month and they get a free storefront and can list up to 8,000 products. Sellers don’t have to worry about any other hidden charges. This site seems the best way to move overstocks, shelf pulls, leftovers and end of season inventory. Hundreds of thousands of interesting products from coins to collectibles help drive committed buyers to this site.
As a seller, the other way to move your products through Internet sales is to get involved in marketplaces. Online ecommerce marketplaces are sites where the platform of a site containing sellers products, is provided by third parties and transactions are processed by these third party marketplace operators. Some of the most well-known include Amazon, Newegg and Rakuten (previously known as buy.com) If you own your own products, all you need to do is contact these sites directly and add your products. These sites take a percentage of all sales, so make sure you have built enough margins into your pricing to cover these expenses. If you don’t own your own goods and want to sell on these sites, become involved in a drop shipping program which is a technique where you do not keep the inventory in stock, but transfer customer orders and shipment details to a company like a manufacturer or wholesaler who stocks the goods and ships directly to your customer. I obviously recommend our drop shipping program at http://www.dollardays.com/aboutus/dropship.htm
Don’t kid yourself. Both listing and selling products for auctions and marketplaces takes work. The philosophy of “build it and they will come” does not work on the Internet. You need to have the right products, at the right price at the right time and then find the right venue that has the right amount of customers shopping for your goods. The easiest way today to see if you have the right products at the right price is to throw them up on http://dollardays.com/landing/auction . At $8 a month, how can you go wrong and if it does not work, just shut it down…but if it does work, laugh all the way to the bank as you think about how much those poor sellers on eBay are paying just to get their sales!
October 7, 2013 No Comments
By Marc Jospeh
reprinted from The Huffington Post
The effort in the recent Colorado floods shows our rescue missions for animals have come a long way since the pet loss disaster caused by Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans where people would not evacuate for fear of leaving their pets. CBS reported that some helicopters rescuing people in the Colorado flooding carried more dogs, cats and fish than people. Rescuers, using zip lines to evacuate people over the enlarged raging rivers, also risked their lives to make sure the animal members of the families were safe. The National Guard took the posture that including the pets in the rescue helped convince reluctant residents to leave their homes. Once the pets were on dry ground, the Red Cross shelters had water bowls, on-site kennels and other supplies so the already anxious evacuees would not have to be separated from their pets.
If we can rally around a disaster to ensure our four legged companions are safe, why can’t we do the same in our day in day out regular life? You have an ex-marine in Glennie, MI accused of torturing 5 dogs and 6 horses. In August we had the second largest dog fighting raid in US history affecting 372 dogs in Alabama, Mississippi, Texas and Georgia. These dogs ranged in age between a few days and 12 years old; and were left to suffer in life-threatening heat with no visible fresh water or food, while some were tethered by chains and cables to cinder blocks and car tires. And then you have an animal control officer in Long Island facing multiple charges because he had 850 snakes in his house and garage. When does our morality of the sacredness of kindness in life kick in?
There are success stories. In Monticello, KY, 80 dogs were rescued from a puppy mill. The Brown County Animal Center, near Cincinnati, was going to have to euthanize 8 dogs at the end of the week, so they started a campaign for adoptions and 10 dogs were adopted in time. But in all reality there are just not enough success stories to brag about.
The fourth quarter of the year is when we celebrate all kinds of holidays that reinforce our commitment to each other. We also should be taking care of the cats and dogs that are not as fortunate to have secure homes. We can help those suffering in Colorado from people to animals. Here is a link that lists many of the agencies and foundations responding to the flood victims. Also, Global Animal is taking donations to help rescue animals from the Colorado flooding. And if you actually want to volunteer to help all animals in all cities, The Humane Society has a wonderful program to join their animal rescue team where you can help save animals who are the victims of illegal animal cruelty and natural disasters. At DollarDays on our Facebook page, we are giving away $5,000 in products to animal shelters, so make sure you nominate your favorite shelter that can use our help.
In 2012 according to Statistic Brain, there were a little over 5,000 animal shelters in the USA. Five million animals entered these shelters and 3.5 million were euthanized. This affected 60% of the dogs and 70% of the cats. Fifteen percent of the dogs and 2% of the cats were returned to their owners. Taxpayers pay $2 Billion annually to round up, house and dispose of homeless animals. Sixty three percent of US homes have a companion animal, which is 70 million homes. All of these numbers are mind boggling. Yet, we only think about these poor victims when there is a flood in Colorado or a dog fighting raid in Alabama. Since the majority of us are pet owners and pet lovers, these blameless animals that need our help every day should be at the top of our minds. Helping to support animals in need is the core of our decency. These innocent animals give us much happiness; let’s do everything we can to eliminate their pain and suffering and get them into loving homes.
October 7, 2013 No Comments
by Marc Joseph
You have just opened your business and you are very proud. Only 10% of entrepreneurs who say they want to go into business for themselves actually have the guts to follow through and open the business. There are all kinds of reasons why the 90% don’t make it to the goal line. The number one reason is they can’t secure the funding.
Cash to open businesses usually comes from several different sources. Self-funding is the most common. You may have been working overtime in your current job or had a couple of jobs to stash away a few bucks. You may have been able to save money in a 401K and felt it was time to put it to better use. At one time before this great recession, many people had equity in their homes to borrow against.
Using the credit on your credit cards is another scarier way to raise cash. Borrowing from family or friends is also used frequently. If there is any way to avoid using either one of these methods, for your long term sanity, please circumvent them. Credit card interest rates will haunt you for years to come and a relative you can’t pay back will haunt you for the rest of your life.
Getting a loan from your local bank plays out well in movies, but in today’s world where so many banks went under during the great recession, actually getting a bank to show an interest in what you do is another long shot.
In the headlines we read about these successful venture capital groups financing all these large companies, but in reality you really don’t see them on Main Street America. Many communities do have Angel Investors, which are usually people who have made it big and are looking to help out other entrepreneurs. Like the TV Show “Shark Tank”, they usually want a nice chunk of your business for the funding.
But I regress talking about all the financial reasons why entrepreneurs can’t get started. If your business is open now, you have figured out how to fund it. The key is once you are up and running, how do you keep the cash flow going so you can continue to keep the lights on and buy products to sell? Ideally, every business should establish a line of credit with their local bank to help with the seasonality of the ups and downs of sales ebbs. But most businesses have the same problem when they were trying to get funding to open in the first place – banks just aren’t as generous as they once were.
That is one reason why DollarDays worked so hard to establish a strategic partnership with First Bankcard to help offer credit through the new DollarDays Business Edition Visa card to the 23 million small business owners throughout the country. Having a credit card like this enables businesses to better manage their cash flow throughout the year and rewards the businesses for all of their purchases. Small businesses can now earn reward points on all of their DollarDays purchases, as well as earn three points for each dollar spent on certain types of qualifying business expenses important to small businesses. The rewards points can be redeemed as cash back as a credit to the account, for travel, merchandise or gift cards. Here is a link to this valuable financial solution.
Funding your business from the beginning through the day in day out sales has always been the most challenging part of running a business. Just look at the issues our government has been trying to overcome the last several years; and if we ran our business like they do, we would all be out of business. If you have deep enough personal pockets to pay your bills during the lean times; than more power to you. But since most of us don’t have this luxury; finding the right partners to fund you during the down times is crucial to long term success.
October 7, 2013 No Comments