Day Five: Map Update

We have arrived safely at our first overnight in the greater Minneapolis area. Tomorrow we will drop the trailer off at a friends for the week and check into a hotel for FurryMigration later this week into the weekend.

We’re now more than half way to King of Prussia…

We did visit ValleyFair for a few hours this afternoon to take in the Corn Feast and enjoy so evening roller coaster action. Tomorrow we shall meet friends at the park and enjoy a day swimming, rides, and food…

Day Four: TFTD

Thoughts from the day by the traveling Fox…

Today was a shorter travel day as we’ve been cannonballing across the country to the tune of 1510.4 miles as of right now. We’ve visited six states including: Nevada, Arizona, Utah, Wyoming, South Dakota, and no Minnesota. Tomorrow we are heading up to the Biggest Ball of Twine in Minnesota. Later in the trip we will visit the biggest ball of twine in the USA. Tonight we are in Adrian, MN at a lovely camp ground enjoying a cocktail while pondering dinner.

Monday we are docking our camper at a co-worker’s place and my plan is to clean the shell and do some laundry while getting ready for FurryMigration – a fandom event in Minneapolis.

End of Day 3

We made it safely to South Dakota…

Tomorrow we make our way to Minnesota, with the Biggest Ball of Twine for Sunday.

Homemade Chicken Casserole and salad with homemade lemon vignette was dinner.

Day Three – Lunch Break

We took off from the Rawling KOA just before eight this morning. Now we’re taking a couple of hours to work and have a bite to eat.

Traveling By Map

Plan is to get to the KOA in Kadoka, SD this evening for our overnight and to try our hands at emptying the black and gray water tanks!

Day Two – Travel to Rawlings, Wyoming

After a press pot of coffee and some light office work we pulled up the steaks and started our journey north to Rawlings, Wyoming.

We fully endorse the KOA in Beaver, Utah. Clean facilities, level grounds.

One of the things we will be doing is moving the filter to the camper water hookup, bot the directly to the spigot – even though this is what many in the campground had done.

Day One – Beaver KOA

Fox here…

We loaded up our trailer over the last three days to get ready for this epic cross country journey. Our plan was to depart from Las Vegas at 2:00 today, but then disaster broke…literally. I broke a window because I didn’t close it before turning the trailer to fill the water tank. Luckily I have a very understanding spouse and have dealt with trade show emergencies in my past. A few phone calls, a new window purchased, installed, and we were under way by 3:05.

Our arrival to the KOA was greeted with rain, but we were able to quickly connect power, water, and disconnect from the truck.

Not feeling like cooking, we hit the Timberline Inn Restaurant for dinner. The pot roast is amazing and the pork isn’t too shabby either.

3.2% Beer is … interesting.

Tomorrow we’re working from the park then off to our next stop. Somewhere between B and C on the map.

Which TLD is Right for Me?

Reblogged from Andrew Rabbitt @ DNSimple

So you’ve decided to build your own website and are wondering which of the 286+ top level domains [TLDs] you should use. With so many options at your fingertips, the task of selecting one may seem daunting. You’ve been online and know that .COM, .NET, and .ORG are very popular. You’ve seen .EDU, and sometimes .BIZ and .INFO – but which TLD is right for your website?

Let’s talk about popular, new, special, and not-so-savory TLDs and how to choose your own.

.COM.NET, and .ORG

.COM was one of the first top level domains implemented back in January 1985. It’s original intention was for commercial entities, but today almost anyone can register a .COM domain. .COM is so ubiquitous that many people assume a website should end with .COM, and it’s typically the first TLD searched when registering a new TLD.

.COM made up 139 million of the 348.7 million domain registrations as of the fourth quarter of 2018 see report, and is by far the most popular TLD with almost 40% of the total domain market. The next leading registered domain for the same quarter was the country code TLD .CN (China) with 22.7 million registrations.

.NET is another TLD implemented back in January 1985. It was intended for internet companies. There are no restrictions on this domain, and it’s now a general purpose domain with a respectable 13.5 million registrations. Like .COM, anyone can register a .NET domain.

.ORG rounds out the initially available TLDs from January 1985. Of the big three, .ORG is the smallest with just over 10 million registrations. This TLD was intended for organizations and nonprofits, but – like .COM and .NET – has no restrictions. Anyone can register a .ORG domain.

Note: I excluded .GOV, .MIL, and .ARPA from this post, as they’re not available to the general public. However, these three were also part of the January 1985 TLD release.

You may gravitate to these, because they’re the oldest TLDs on the internet. But you have other options, some more popular than .NET and .ORG, others more exclusive. It’s 2019, and you can be successful with any TLD.

The next group of popular TLDs are country code TLDs – ccTLDs. The Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) has assigned a trustee for each ccTLD. That trustee is responsible for the policies and operation of the domain. Some ccTLDs have restrictions you should be aware of prior to registration. Examples of these restrictions include, but are not limited to:

  • Residency requirements for .EU domains
  • Can’t use names of cities in France in .FR domains
  • Must be a resident or have a company based in Japan for .JP domains

Some ccTLDs have gained support outside of the residents of their specific country. The .IO (British Indian Ocean Territory) domain, for example, is heavily used by tech innovators and startups. This ccTDLD offers a tech savvy, two character TLD that means something to many programming communities – I/O: Input/Output. Another ccTLD that’s open to everyone is the .ME (Montenegro) domain, which is typically used for personal pages.

Some popular generic top level domains, gTLDs, are targeted at specific groups of users:

  • .APP for applications
  • .DEV for developers
  • .BANK for financial institutions1
  • .INSURANCE for insurance companies1
  • .BLOG for blog sites
  • .PAGE for personal and informational pages
  • .INFO for informational pages
  • .PIZZA for pizza joints
  • .WORKS for our amazing comics howhttps.works and howhttp.works
  • .XYZ for everyone

Unpopular TLDs

While I would never tell anyone which TLDs to avoid, the below TLDs have been associated with SPAM and other shady dealings. According to Symantec, these domains are suspicious due to their use by hackers and scammers. While I won’t say you should avoid them, I will say you should do some research into them before committing.

  • .COUNTRY
  • .STREAM
  • .DOWNLOAD
  • .XIN
  • .GDN

Conclusion

At the end of the day the choice is yours. Some TLDs, like many ccTLDs, .BANK and .INSURANCE have restrictions. Unless you meet the requirements, it’s best to stick to more easily acquired TLDs.

Whether it’s a .IO, .APP, or .PAGE, DNSimple can help you buy your domain, connect it to your content, and operate it through records management. With over 286 domains to choose from, the opportunities are almost limitless. Visit DNSimple’s List of TLDS today to register your domain.

  1. Both the .BANK and .INSURANCE domains have special requirements. Information on these regulated TLDs can be found at fTLD Registry Services Inc 2

Sales and Marketing Go Hand-In-Hand

Be it either a one dollar product or a million dollar product, a healthy sales pipeline is key to the success of any sales person. Since 1999 I have worked in the fields of personal protection equipment, book publishing and distribution, food safety analytical test kits, data deduplication appliances, medical laboratory software, domain name services solutions, and consulting services. Over the years I have learned that focused and targeted marketing efforts can result in actionable leads for the sales team to convert to new business, thus growing revenue. This short blog post is going to focus on several marketing campaigns I was involved in that resulted in an increase in sales for my teams.

Back in my Bacou-Dalloz days I was tasked with increasing revenue for their emergency eyewash line. Emergency Eyewash is a product that is mandated by the Code of Federal Regulations – 29 CFR 1910.151(c) and acceptable equipment defined in ANSI Z358.1. The regulations state that works in areas where eyewash is required must be able to activate such devices within ten seconds of the hazard and the device must provide a minimum of fifteen minutes of washing capability per incident. 

While not all eyewash is made the same, all must meet the performance guidelines of ANSI Z358.1. This means that the products either need to be price sensitive or truly innovative in order to grow sales in a well-defined market where OSHA often dictates placement and companies are forced to install the products. 

Our solution was to target owners and corporate level team members of prospective clients with a laser focused campaign reminding them of the regulation and outlining the features of our truly innovative portable eyewash stations. We did this through the use of a rather expensive at the time promotion. We targeted 10,000 business owners and safety officers with a talking greeting card that, upon opening, said “If your workers can’t reach an eyewash station by the end of this ten second message you are in violation of emergency eyewash regulations.” Along with the card was an offer for a free plant evaluation and details about our eyewash stations.

This campaign was incredibly successful. To send over 10,000 cards at roughly seven dollars each (printing, postage, and handling) was a huge line item on the budget and one of the most expensive non-trade show campaigns we had done in emergency eyewash at the time, but it paid for itself in increased revenue and new business.

This campaign put actionable leads into the queue of the entire eyewash salesforce.

When I moved from protecting people to protecting the global food supply we again used laser focused marketing to target the right customers with truly innovative products. Very similar to emergency eyewash, mycotoxin testing is a regulated industry with the USDA and FDA mandating the testing of foodstuffs and establishing action levels for the various mycotoxins. The AlfaTest® Mycotoxin Testing System has been on the market for decades and is the industry leader when it comes to screening for this carcinogenic fungal byproduct. 

The goal of marketing is to provide sales with actionable leads in relevant industries. We accomplished this by attending industry events where food growers and food processors attend to make decisions. We also joined industry organizations relevant to the food and feed industry.

By leveraging trade shows and organizational memberships marketing was able to supply sales with a constant stream of actionable leads. 

Food safety, at the time, was a very print centric market. This meant that a well thought out advertising campaign could also educate possible users and generate additional sales leads. Working with the team we came up with an all-inclusive media plan that targeted the global food production and distribution supply where mycotoxin testing is critical.

In the end the efforts of marketing kept a steady stream of leads in the sales pipeline and allowed for growth of the product line even in an economic downturn. 

While consulting for a data deduplication company, before the word deduplication was common, we needed a way to reach possible customers to convert them to users. At the time everything was migrating to virtual tape libraries as cost for spinning disk was dropping to the point where it was competitive with magnetic tape. Virtual tape libraries with data deduplication, in theory, could put petabytes of data in a single storage array. 

The goal of marketing was to penetrate new market segments including healthcare and education. This was the mid-2000s and email marketing was all the rage. So to email marketing we turned to generate leads.

It worked and eventually the company was acquired by a large disk manufacturer.

This caused me to move to medical laboratory software – an area where tradeshows, events, and print advertising have maintained healthy sales pipelines for over 40 years. The marketing team sought out shows that focused on each major product line: anatomic pathology, clinical pathology, blood banking, molecular pathology, dermatopathology, cytology, etc. Events in these industries brought qualified leads to the table. One event in particular, AMP, brought leads that became sales for me personally. 

To summarize, every marketing department needs to find a strategy that works for the products for which they speak. Be it emergency eyewash and food safety where regulations guide purchase decisions to data deduplication where cost per byte stored is a factor or medical laboratory software were lab specific features and workflows rule the day; marketing must work with sales to establish and maintain a healthy sales pipeline. 


The Case for Business Insurance

If you own a home and carry a mortgage, chances are you have homeowners insurance. If you own a car and are licensed in any of the United States, except New Hampshire and Virginia, you must have automotive insurance. If you are a renter it’s a good idea to have renters insurance. Many people have either personal or employer-provided life insurance. In most cases, when issues happen, be it an automotive collision or a tree through the roof of a house, insurance is there to help recover costs and repair the damage. 

I own a home, own vehicles, get sick, and will eventually die. I also own a small business. I have homeowners insurance, car insurance, health insurance, a life insurance policy, and business insurance.

Every business owner should consider insuring their business, especially if it is a sole proprietorship or small company with few employees. A sole proprietor is the business and bears all the financial responsibility of the business – profit and loss. There are several types of policies that small businesses should consider.  

  • Professional Liability Insurance: Protects the business in the case of a lawsuit while performing services, even if no mistakes were made. Generally, these policies cover alleged negligence, defense costs, libel or slander, copyright infringement, independent contractors, claims and damages.
  • Commercial General Liability Insurance: Protects your business from another person or business’s claims of bodily injury, associated medical costs, and damage to property. These policies typically cover bodily injury, damage to third party property, advertising injury, electronic data liability, medical expenses, defense costs, and actions of full time and temporary staff.
  • Property Insurance: Protects your business assets including furniture and equipment as well as inventory and revenue.
  • Workmen’s Compensation Insurance: Protects the business by providing wage replacement and medical benefits to employees injured on the job usually in exchange for mandatory relinquishment of the employee’s right to sue.

We have a combo policy for our small business called a Business Owners Policy which includes General Liability, Property Liability, and Indemnity insurance. Specifically our policy covers:

  • Business Income: If something happens beyond our control that impacts our cash flow we can file a claim for that lost revenue.
  • Employee Dishonesty: If a member of our team causes financial harm, we can recover that through our insurance.
  • Medical expenses for injuries sustained while conducting business (1,000,000 per incident).
  • Personal and Advertising Injury (Slander and Libel).
  • Inventory and Operational Property (at our location and in transit, such as when we travel to conventions and events).
  • Damages to spaces other than our primary location where we conduct business, such as a hotel or exhibit hall where we are attending a trade show or event.
  • Employment / Fiduciary Liability back to 2012.
  • Building: While we have homeowners insurance, and operate out of our home, that policy will not cover our business – most will not. This policy protects our home against any claims resulting from our business operations.
  • Business Personal Property: Computers, Shelves, Displays, etc…
  • Electronic Data Processing: Our website. If our site goes down and causes us to lose revenue we can file a claim to recover not only the site but the sales lost during the outage.
  • Sudden Equipment Breakdown
  • Fine Arts: all the artwork we have commissioned over the years is insured at replacement cost.
  • Business Record.
  • Damage caused by sewer or drain backups.
  • Acts of Terrorism.

It’s a pretty extensive policy and only costs less than $100.00 per month. In my opinion, it is a good use of business capital. Any of the above would be far more damaging to the business than the deductible.

I would not drive my car without insurance. I will not operate my business without insurance. I hope never to have to make another claim against our policy, but I know that it’s there if I do.

If you are looking for a small business policy, contact me and I’ll put you in touch with our insurance agent.