From Where I Sit – Build It and They Will Come

In the movie Field of Dreams (1989) we heard “build it and they will come.” And in fact, baseball legends did come. Those words have come to mean an act of faith.

If only they were true in the world of commerce. It doesn’t matter whether the venture is the traditional bricks and mortar type or of the virtual form, the challenge is to get the word out. As a confirmation of my insanity or just because it worked out that way, I’ve got two ventures I’m trying to promote simultaneously.

My e-commerce website has been in the works since December 2005. I purchased a Stores Online internet package including website licenses, hosting fees, a real-time merchant account, and assorted marketing help, like links creation and site optimization. My deal includes access to a coaching hotline, a two-day workshop in Salt Lake City and a dedicated coach who calls me weekly. My site is published and “lookin’ good,” if I do say so myself. The trick is to convert clicks into customers. Search engine positioning on the first page of Google and Yahoo is the current challenge. I’m also trusting the market research I did, prior to deciding on a product, a price point and a supplier, led to sound decisions.

While it’s true I’ve come a long way, baby, there is still much I don’t know. Did I mention entrepreneurship is not for the faint of heart?

My second, equally important and risky venture is Heart Works Studio Gallery & Gift Shop. Housed in a former portable school classroom, it is located on our farm near Andrew about a one-hour drive from Edmonton. The studio offers gallery space for my paintings, eclectic giftware and a workshop setting. The studio just opened in May. The focus is the growing agri-tourism trade. My target market is urban professional types with disposable income, people with an appreciation for the arts and personal development, and those individuals looking for a rural experience. My first bus tours are booked. Yee-haw! The trick is to convert lookers into buyers.

Workshops are bundled in an “all-inclusive” package with the fee being inclusive of instruction, associated supplies and one home-cooked meal. I’m trying to appeal to the frazzled woman who wants to nurture herself with a fun day of learning in a rural setting without having to run all over town buying supplies and packing a bag lunch. Workshops focus on art, writing and personal development topics. The workshop titles include “Heart Art,” “Aged to Perfection,” “Calling all Foodies,” “Write for Your Life,” and more. George Boelcke, as guest facilitator, will present a “Colors” workshop outlining the four personality types. Normally open only to organized groups and corporations, this is a great chance for other people to acquire the tools and insights into their own behaviour and that of others.

Perhaps this notice at a farm implement parts counter says it best, “Doing a good job is like wetting your pants in a dark suit. It gives you a warm feeling, but nobody notices.” Getting noticed is job one from where I sit.

Robinson, P. (Director) (1989). Field of Dreams [digital video disk]. Gordon Company.

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