Our New Site!

Hey, we really love blogging about our adventures on www.hundreddollarbusiness.wordpress.com!

But we also want to include things on our site, like our our video, and… maybe some other fun things we come up with. So we’re switching to our new domain at www.hundreddollarbusiness.com.

Thanks to the amazing tech support of local Utah blogger Ryan Byrd, we got the site up in a couple of hours this afternoon. Ryan’s blog is one of the most seriously entertaining & informative blogs in my feedreader, and his Green Paper Clip experiment was a pre-inspiration to the Hundred Dollar Business. 🙂

We also appreciate Ryan offering to host our site a few weeks ago… when you’re on a hundred dollar budget, everything helps!

The site doesn’t look that different (maybe we should have a contest, to see who will notice the changes!), but it definitely has more options than the regular WordPress blog… and well worth spending $9.20 on the domain, and using up 9.2% of our budget. 😉

Poke around a bit, see what’s new. Let us know if you see any bugs, so we can keep the site looking awesome.



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The Hundred Dollar Business Video

A big thanks to our friends Cammon & Lorri Randle at CopperRain! They did an excellent job interviewing & filming us, and have really provided a great way for us to share how The Hundred Dollar Business got started. 🙂

Cammon & Lorri found us through our friend Janet’s blog site, Newspapergrl, and offered to do a video for our project– which we really appreciate! And, that’s another evidence of how blogging & being connected to your network can bring wonderful opportunities.

We decided to put the video up on Revver, so it is available on the right sidebar on our new site, on every page, and also can be e-mailed with this link:


or shared via blog by going to that link and clicking “Grab code” under “Share this video with others”.

If you like the Hundred Dollar Business, and you want to let people know about our project through the video… well, we’re definitely not going to stop you! 🙂

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December 18: Leave The Binder In The Car

The Update

Hey! So, things are going better… Rachelle was at the kiosk this afternoon, and I vegged a bit & took care of small fires that have been adding up into big blazes. And I even managed to get a short nap. 😉

The Biggest Problem… The One You’re Letting Slide

Isn’t it amazing how quickly things go from just being small inconveniences to major problems when not attended to!
I think what I can most take from this is to not minimize any challenge and think that it’s “not a big deal”, even when it obviously is a big deal! If the same problems crop up day after day and just get pushed to the back burner… they just compound.

Yes, that’s common sense, but on the other hand, it’s the most dangerous kind of challenge to have– the one that’s being ignored. Even though it was just “small things” that got done today, getting them done feels gooooood.

The Understaffing Update

I’m appreciative of the encouraging comments, and have been working on getting the understaffing challenge eased.

Some friends passed around a volunteer signup sheet, so we do have a couple people coming in this week to help. Next week is looking a little scary with Rachelle heading home for Christmas, but you can bet I’m going to be working on solving that this week instead of waiting until we’re right in the middle of it. 😉

Leave The Binder In The Car

I had a couple of social work jobs right after I graduated from college, and in that intense working environment, I learned that I had to keep things separate from being at work and going home.

We had a binder with the information we were planning for our clients, workshops, their needs, and how we could help them. Sometimes I had appointments with clients after our office was already closed, so I still had my binder with me when I went home.

It was kind of silly, but I always made sure I left the binder in my car, instead of bringing it inside with me– in social work, it is too easy to be concerned for your clients all the time…

So anyway, that’s something that I’ve been forgetting to do throughout this project– to have some time that is not being consumed by work. One of the guest lecturers in my entrepreneurship class at BYU said that a new business will take everything you can give it… and more. We are finding that to be completely accurate!

It looks like we’ve been bombing Principle 6–“Keep It Balanced”, but we’ve got about 12 days left, so I’m guessing that if we can start finding ways to apply that concept, things will finish off well. 🙂

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December 17: Zero In On The Problem

Ok, so I wrote about how I’m struggling/the project is struggling because we’re working too hard & not resting enough.

So, I’m still not sure how to solve that, but I’ve at least come up with some ideas as to why it’s even a problem, which must be the first step to getting past it.

The Why

1. We seriously underestimated the hours that the kiosk is required to be open during this month, and what that would be like as a reality (the mall was open 93 hours this week… and will be 107 hours this coming week. I’m not sure why I thought that would be do-able, but… turns out, it’s not.).

2. I seriously overestimated my personal capacity to be here.

3. Because we’ve been pushing ourselves, all of us are either highly stressed or sick. (Not good!)

4. I noticed last Monday that being “understaffed” was a problem, and have let an entire week go by without doing something proactive about it.
5. Going along with #3, sometimes people can’t make it in, and then we have less staff to work with.

6. I simply haven’t put the word out that we are struggling and need staff/volunteers. There are a lot of reasons for that, including:

  • It can be difficult to find volunteers, especially on short notice, during finals week in a college town, etc.
  • The unknown legal factors of having staff who aren’t being paid (if we were a non-profit, fine, but technically we’re a business?).
  • Not wanting to advertise that we’re “hiring”, because it is just an experiment (heck, we’re not even being paid!)
  • My assumption that people wouldn’t want to volunteer at a mall kiosk. (It is fun, just not when it’s marathon-style for one or two people).
  • It seems like since this is our project, we should just take care of it ourselves….?

7. I’m too independent for my own good, and I dislike asking others for help.

The Bottom Line

I think at the end of it all, the fact is, we haven’t solved the problem because… we haven’t tried to solve it directly. I can keep thinking it out, or, maybe I could just start coming up with some options for how to find some volunteers.

It is both amazing & frustrating that when we started the project, that we didn’t see any of the”impossible” factors as obstacles, and found ways to make things work… whereas now, because of the effects of fatigue, all that’s obvious is obstacles, in even the simplest challenges.

I read a great article about the health care community/professional nurses– highly applicable, because they typically are overworked, long shifts, etc. It was really interesting to see the connection between fatigue and error.

It will be even more interesting if we can apply principle #8 “Be Resourceful” and #9 “Get Around Obstacles”, and hopefully move past this problem so we can focus on finishing the project successfully.

Your suggestions are definitely welcome… 🙂


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December 16: From The Shadows of the Everlasting Kiosk

Mall Marathon

I just have to throw it out there– today, I survived a 17 hour shift. On a Saturday, at the mall, 9 days before Christmas.

Yeah… and I never want to have that experience again. I got here at 7 a.m., and around 2 p.m., was already beginning to feel a loss of identity. At 4 p.m., a RockStar was looking pretty good, although, since I have a moral stance against energy drinks, I somehow made it through without one. When I closed, I’ve never felt more happy.

I know there’s something wrong with doing a “mall marathon”, which I’m not applying my problem-solving skills to yet, because I’m really tired–I simply can’t figure it out. I think that is the biggest challenge that I’m facing right now in the project… which I’ll discuss more in the next post.
Visitors Aplenty

I saw 13 people I know today! Many others have stopped by as well during the past two weeks, which I really appreciate.

Today it was wonderful, spontaneous, and pretty evenly distributed throughout the day. I think it was some good kiosk karma, helping to make the marathon less of a burden.

Showing the kiosk is kind of like giving someone a tour of your first on-your-own apartment. You’re proud of it, even though it’s minimalistic (translation: ghetto).

Actually, by now, our displays are looking pret-ty good, and we’re bustling along. First kiosk and all. But we do have that “hey, this is our business!” pride going on, so if you do visit, watch out for that. 😉

Awesome New Products!

Our kiosk is called “Treats & Treasures,” and we’d been thinking that we needed more Christmas-y treats to add, but weren’t sure what or how to go about it. We had brainstormed & wanted to find chocolate pretzels, hot cocoa tins, cookie dough or do-it-yourself cookie decorating kits, Christmas taffy, etc.

So on Friday when I was at Nutty Guys, Nathan showed me some chocolate-caramel covered pretzels and tubs of Christmas caramels… and I was definitely happy. I hadn’t told him we were looking for those types of things, and I didn’t know he had access to them, either.

What a blessing to find the exact things we were wanting, without even looking for them! I am really grateful for things like that which have happened throughout this experiment!

I’ll post pictures of the caramels & pretzels– when I get home, because…

The Mall’s Wireless Internet… An Art & Science

The internet here is seriously finicky! I’ve actually put scotch tape on the kiosk desk, plotting the exact coordinates where my laptop has to sit in order to catch the wireless network.

If more than two people walk by the kiosk, the network cuts off. That I know this, I’m sure, is a reflection on my pseudo-geek status.

Upcoming Carnival…

And finally, get ready for our blog carnival announcement, later this evening or tomorrow… That’s all I’m going to say about that. 😉 From the shadows of the everlasting kiosk… goodnight!

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December 15: Halfway There!

Is It The 15th Already?

So… we’re at the halfway mark. Only 15 more days of The Hundred Dollar Business, and each day is just as valuable as when we started, maybe even more so. I think really, that the limited time is more difficult than the limited budget. There are so many more things I would do, if I had more time!

(And, I realize I’m already spending a grossly workaholic-ish amount of time on the project, anyway. I’m looking forward to Christmas Day… and of course, my vacation in January!)

Today was a great day. I’m not sure why. Maybe that sounds odd, but it has been particularly beastly the last few days, and that today was even keel, is refreshing.

Nutty Guys & Warehouses

At any rate, I was able to stop by Granite Publishing & Distribution to pick up more Christmas picture books, and I also went up to the Nutty Guys warehouse in West Valley City, UT. That was fun! I wish I’d taken a camera up with me– they have this fabulous warehouse with so many things going on!

It’s an operations-guru’s dream, to see all of the processes & systems that are organized in a setting like that. I asked them if I could have a tour sometime. I’m sure they get that a lot. 😉

(For the record, I also want a tour of a U.S. Post Office sometime. That has to be one of the most processed & efficient operations ever.)

Out of curiousity, anyone ever had several hundred pounds of nuts and nut trays in your car? I’ve delivered magazines for Schooled Magazine before, back when I was doing freelance writing, and afterwards, my car smelled like a print shop. After getting the Nutty Guys stuff yesterday, my car could double as a PB & J sandwich factory. 😉

Stocking Up

So, after the mall closed down for the night, Kelly & I restocked our products for Saturday. Last week, we did really well on the weekend, and we are hoping & planning for amazing sales over this weekend, as well.
When I was getting the boxes from my car, I felt like a stock girl/night crew/truck driver type. I pulled my car up to the loading dock, grabbed a wheely cart, and piled it up with the boxes of books & nuts. (By the way, it was snowing…)

Then I pushed the cart through the mall’s secret maintenance hallways– it’s fun to read “Authorized Personnel Only!” and realize… I am authorized! At one point, there were some double doors, which opened to the inside of the doorway, and it was really interesting getting the cart through there.

Of course, as I was pushing this huge load of inventory through the mall, I was getting some bemused looks from other mall employees & lagging customers. I guess I just don’t have the warehouse look down yet. I’m going to have to work on that. 😉

Our Awesome Vendors!

It was great to visit with our vendors today. Seriously, we totally lucked out with the products we were able to get, as well as how diligent our vendors are.

Interestingly, we just assumed that our products would sell, which seems like one of those assumptions that entrepreneurs make and don’t factor in when calculating risk & projections. When I weighed the lease with the need to sell products, I never considered “what if these products don’t sell?”

Which is probably a good thing, because then our approach has been “what do we need to do so that these products will be extremely marketable” rather than “my products aren’t selling & there’s nothing I can do about it.”

Well– stick around! More adventures to come. 😉

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December 14: Becoming Stingy, Failing My Class, & Return of The Treo!!

I just realized I haven’t been writing as many anecdotes lately, which is definitely one of the highlights of being in the experiment– the random nature of it all. So here goes.

Becoming Stingy

Rachelle and I decided to beef up our display with a winter-ish theme. It all sounded great until after closing the kiosk at 11:30 p.m., we realized that nothing was open except Wal-Mart. (I know… “quality items for a display” and “the Springville, Utah Wal-Mart” aren’t exactly synonymous.)

Anyway, the funny thing is that we do have about $60 left in “the budget”, and we couldn’t really decide how much to use on the display. The value of a dollar has become just ridiculously expensive to me– to spend $20 for a display seemed like a fat waste of cash. Because really, when you scale it down like that, anything you spend is crucial.

As we walked through the store looking at things, we were like… “$2.77? You do realize that is 2.77% of our total budget?” With the mindset like that, we  just couldn’t bring ourselves to buying anything. We were looking for blue & silver winter-looking snowman-ish things, and though we found quite a few… it seemed like selling out to actually spend money.

So when I was driving home, I kept thinking, “Man! I’ve got to know someone who has that kind of stuff that we could borrow, some excess Christmas looking deco in their house.” Then I walked into my apartment, which frankly, I haven’t seen much of for the last few weeks, and realized that all my decorations– jars, flowers, candlesticks, etc. are blue & silver.

Yep. So it’s The Hundred Dollar Business budget, all the way!

Failing My Entrepreneurship Class

So, my Entrepreneurship Lecture class at BYU this semester? I think I’m actually going to fail it. I went to all the classes & lectures, and the extra required events, but with working at the other startup plus everything else, and now this project, things like “deadlines for a one page paper” haven’t made it to the top of my task-list.

The sad thing is, I’ve blogged about all of the events and lectures I went to. I wish I could just turn in a blog post for credit.  Maybe I’ll try enacting the “Negotiate Win-Win Situations” principle– I spaced the 5 p.m. “late” deadline tonight.

Somehow, it all seems fitting, though. “I failed my entrepreneurship class because I was starting a business.” 😉

Return of The Treo

…Do you own anything worth more than ten bucks? Just get insurance on it. It is the best investment of $5/month you can make!

After the Treo was stolen, I called Verizon to have the line suspended, so the hooligan(s) that nabbed it wouldn’t be able to run up the bill. I’m sad that the customer service rep didn’t tell me that if I had insurance, it would be replaced the next day– as I’ve spent the last 6 days miserable in a communication-less void.

But even after someone told me to check if I had insurance, I held off. I can’t figure it out–I think my reasoning was “I’m too busy to take care of a dumb thing like my phone being stolen.” And yet, it created big problems for me in trying to make all kinds of arrangements for the kiosk, my employee situation, vendors, etc.

Though, the best news ever is that I did finally call in the theft, and they are sending me a new one! It’s already being shipped, and is coming in later tomorrow afternoon! How cool is that!
Ye Basic Summary

Honestly– I’ve been getting burned out of being at the kiosk. For a gag, we made “I Heart My Kiosk” shirts on Cafepress.com… and the last few days, nothing could be further from the truth. Oh! And someone told Rachelle that they would invite her to some activity, but she’s in a relationship… with a kiosk. (Which made us laugh!)

I guess the challenge is that the mall is open 7 days/week, we’re grossly understaffed (which, I still haven’t figured out how to solve), and with the holiday hours being extended (from 7 or 8 a.m. to 10 or 11 p.m.)… it’s just looooong.

As well, I’m trying to juggle the following ideas:

1. Don’t work in your business, work on your business.

2. Don’t hire (or spend money) until you really need to.

3. My personal belief that I *can’t* hire anyone (or ask them to help out a lot) unless I feel confident that I can either pay them (best case scenario) or provide value for their time, and I’m not sure how to provide that yet.

4. Don’t “buy yourself a job”. (Erika Wilde, from StopDirt.com, shared this one with my class a few weeks ago. She was considering buying a franchise, but realized that the ROI for the time managing the business would be marginal).

Anyway, for me to not have time to step away to plan & act on attracting local customers or revamping our product & display, presents an opportunity cost I don’t like to have. I know that the kiosk’s capacity for revenue is really limited, and I want to maximize the time we have. Only 17 days left. Sigh.

So, there are some anecdotes and random thoughts. It really is an adventure. Right now it’s the middle of the marathon, so we need to keep trucking, and move past the setup/operations phase, and into the revenue/growth stage.

If it goes well, that should be the most exciting stage! 😉

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