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Ideas About Lasting Forests and Enterprises Presented by Giles to his Daughters: Just Imagine

Over the past 3-4 years I've been designing a business. I thought I might operate it. I attended small-business conferences, read, etc. The Dean of the College shared my ideas with University Development. They declined. The situation is not right for me. I'm too old; I do not have business experience; I am unsuitable (by several criteria) for business success. I do not have the same motivations that have made for success in many businesses. I may not be competitive enough. As one respected advisor said: I don't talk right; too much like a professor. I'm continuing to think about and to imagine things for the future...my brief future (maybe 1 second or up to about 35 years, only 10-15 of them being fruitful). My success criterion is (grossly and briefly) significant improvement in the wildland resources (especially, but not limited to wildlife). I see no way for that to happen except by new entrepreneurial action, at least one major new entrepreneurial system.

The situation: too many wildlife schools, too many students, too low quality universities, too little research money, too many competing for it, too few jobs for the graduates, no superior support for superior schools or programs, too many organizations competing for funds (with the organizations having a-political and meaningless agendas, high overhead charges, and employing non-degree holding staff). Agencies are losing support for hunting. Fishing funds stay stable. They are all limited by a tax-base economy mental paradigm (Federal excise taxes on guns and equipment support them at the $600 million level). They are a billion-dollar industry counting education and enforcement...ready to crash as hunting disappears. They (the agencies) now seek other public support but it comes at great cost and political strings. Billions are available within private non-profit or similar organizations (Nature Conservancy, Audubon, Natl. Wildlife Federation, Sierra Club, etc.). The bottom line related to my objective is that I perceive that the lands and waters of the world are not being managed much better now than they were 65 years ago when I was born.

The Extension Service claims that education will solve the problem...more of it done better. Superior education programs have come and gone in my 50 years of watching such programs, designing them, conducting tests of their effectiveness, and educating 4-H and other youth and adults and students. An almost daily dose to 2 superior girls has had little measurable success. Trying to work at the Salem cabin and 20 acres I learned that I did not need more education (and I am not being conceited or refusing to read or learn); I know more than I can use. I need time and money and contacts (experts to help me with the 50 things I know to do but cannot because I do not have the local knowledge...or because the scale of operation is so small I know it will be impractical). Example: I have $3000 of walnut wood standing and I'm ready to sell...It is still standing, growing, yes, but not at the rate that that invested would grow or that $500 spent on new walnut trees would grow or how its value would change if put in a $100 plastic-covered frame (a solar dryer).

Just imagine. (Always remember that ideas are like children or chicks; they can be killed easily or suppressed. Only after a little nurture it may be evident that may they need to be dispatched…or re-trained, fed, brought to their full potential, etc.). What if a company was formed (and we now have start-up funds of $5 - 10 thousand.) What if Anne managed the web site and all related to it - and Margaret managed the accounting and all related to it...both very broadly imagined. The present web site content is available. The company does whatever is necessary and interesting to make money and part of it goes to and is related to wildland improvements. The motivations for the staff are profits and fun and life interest. The topic is irrelevant. The results are meritorious. There is a big game to be won.

There are many ideas and that is all that the following amounts to...a bunch of ideas. Maybe they will stimulate or suggest others or more. "It probably wont work" is true but first we have to define it and works. I'll help if I can. For now, though, all I can do is share ideas. If none are any good for now, the people involved, etc...whatever the reasons's ok. Nothing ventured...makes Jack a dull boy...or something.

What if Ranging around the Region was used as a concept? Local advertisers would be solicited to advertise on the RRR web site (se attached note on RRR Program). Bikers, outdoor clothing, boats, Smith Mt lodges, parks, tourist places, etc, guns, picnic caters, guides, tour buses...all fairly local for the region. The region would be sold. Conventional ads ...50 at $500 each would pay $25,000. That's the starting salary for one person for sales work, visits, getting personally involved and setting up an accounting and marketing system. After that the larger ads may kick in with the world open because of the great diversity of the Ranging concept and the RRR Program. LL Bean, camping equipment, hiking shoes, special foods, clothing, guns, cameras, photo stuff, art supplies for painters, etc.

Direct sales from the web may be considered. However, it may be used only as a referral service.

Part of the repeated concepts within the book StrikingItRich.Com are emphasis on serving the customer, no major capital investment, separation of web work from the details of the business, use the web to advertise, use the web to inform (to gain trust and useful knowledge for the informed-buyer), use it as a brochure, use the phone so that there is a person on the other end, use it to lead to other things of interest (click to...), etc.

All of my thought was on low capital investment...working with people who already own land and love it and want more from it and need help. There are consulting foresters, etc. If there is money, superior staff can be hired. Any wildlife/wildland agency can be out-competed for the top graduates of any program in the country (or the top current employees).

I have a list of over 12 products that can be used as advertising or similar gimmicks (as scarves or hats were used by one successful web site in Striking It...). They will, themselves, I believe, produce income. Free advertising via the site will assure it; starting each as a separate enterprise is sure failure. Other ad media can be sold; the web site can contract for a percentage of the gross.

A separate foundation can be created if needed but one advisor says the paper work etc. is excessive annually. Good can be done without this, but some contributors need a tax break...so it can be arranged through Va Tech or a new foundation deal set up to assure low overhead. The recent stock-market gains and the large number of elderly suggest the great potentials for Virginians to contribute to Virginia and future Virginians (rather than dump funds and land elsewhere).

Just imagine...a growing web site that just does advertising, sells banners for wildland related stuff. Companies get a benefit, a percentage is tax deductible, schools and students get benefits etc. and you 2 get a business to operate from 2 separate places with occasional visits at company expense.

Beyond this the potentials are for multiple, connected sites...

Memorials -- Serve undertakers to create memorials and honoraria for the dead...bronze plaques placed in a special woodland place. Books to be written about bears, birds, fish, plants to honor the interest of the dead or to honor some loved person (the boss, etc.)...donations put to a good cause with lasting benefits to the person and to others as well. It can be advertising for them, will help them get on-line, and may create a new line for their business. Funerals on line may be as much a growth industry as weddings on line (as in Strike It...). The combined funeral parlor with a web site to see caskets, etc. while at the place, as well as a contact from the web to the physical site may be a winner. Bud's interest in the columbarium might be exploited.

GPS -- The global positioning satellite has not yet begun to be fully exploited. Advertising for these guys seems reasonable. Electronics experts seem likely to be able to assist in using it (maybe with a laptop) to tell everything in the world about a place, to analyze a tract for a realtor, to describe the history of an area (self-guided tours for museums with funding and connections to the collections).

Staff -- I have a design for a walking stick that will do about 25 things. It has a hollow handle and marks on it for all sorts of measures, etc. Getting it manufactured locally seems like a good project, then sold, marketed, etc. via the web seems like an expansion for the region but "made famous in the X Region" seems like an ok marketing device.

Newsletter -- Conventional newsletters are usually profitable. One on the web will probably break even, but then that's not bad when you can sell ads and promote your own products and gain hits, and become more credible/trustworthy, and get out the word about the people employing your sub-contractors for forestry, soils, wildflowers, etc.

BirdHouses -- As a youth I picked up bent nails from carpenters, straightened them, and built stuff in the back yard. There was no money. I did a paper route because that was what boys who wanted money did. I could not spell idea. What if a youth(s) or someone had $100 to buy a table, saw, hammer, and nails and built bird houses and sold them locally, then expanded and sold them at reasonable rates via the web. They can be sold at 50% less than Wal-Mart and be better. Locally they can be supported (annual cleaning, fence post, and bird food sales as an addition) for extra funds; maybe contract work can be developed in cities elsewhere.) One grad student made it big out of the back of an old van...selling birdseed. Expand to bird feeders. Expand to researched seed (most is wasted, birds don't like it, etc.) with deals with feed/seed suppliers; customize the seed mix for the client for the desired birds (like mixing ground coffee at Krogers).

The Outfit -- I've met with Dr. Joanne Bollen of the clothing dept at Tech many times. She was an advisor to L.L. Bean and has a few clothing patents. We've discussed the idea of an outdoor clothing testing center and a seal of approval that out organization would carefully hand out. I'll show that write-up later. Maybe there is the well-dressed outdoors person for the region. Maybe advertisers would pay well if their garment or equipment was displayed as the stuff to wear. I imagine a web-map image where a person clicks on any part of the garment and the dealer's address and ordering info appears.

The Tour -- Guides, maps, food, insect problems, etc. all produced for the person for a price...a personalized tour guide from the web site for a price. Pay and get a password to download. Gain access to names and addresses of guides (who pay to get on your list.)

Catered Hikes -- Guides provide catered hikes with all food, equipment, and entertainment at stops. These are on private land. The landowner gets funds, trails are maintained, wood is sold, and money is made on small tracts (like ours) because of the cooperative, collective activity and financial basis ... with website advertising, both locally and beyond.

Smith Mt. Lake -- A sub-region specialty with news, ads, fishing spots, studies, land sales, fishing lure and boat sales, scuba gear, unique boat construction and sales, GPS promotion, cooperative work, safety and security, land management, water conditions, watershed news. The lake people need the web, generally. They would be hot for equipment sales and well as web work that is local and personal for the lake. Improved management of that lake and area is not a bad idea...or a small job. Ms. Ann Cosby may be a very strong contact. Bill and Susan may be of help. Edith may help sponsor a person to help get it started, maybe as a memorial.

I get running with the resource ideas but none of it makes any sense without a superior web site and a business structure and someone to get it started. There is always room for innovation but for many businesses, just getting started is impossible.

There are some incredible starting conditions here that few companies have:

My existing web site that can be improved and managed within 6 months

a concept beyond maximizing profits, a venture for the right reasons.

Just imagine.

Dad 1- 2 - 1999


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Last revision January 17, 2000.