Category Archives: Small Business

Business Team

Creating A Balanced Team

Let’s play a little mind game, OK? I want you to close your eyes and imagine only the following. You have answered an ad for help wanted. The ad was intriguing, the pay they offered was very competitive, but they never said what the job entailed. When you arrive at the interview, the person you are introduced to escorts you into a room with just an overhead light, a desk and a desk chair. The top of the desk is covered with piles of papers and folders, just in stacks.  Your instructions are simply to sort the piles. When you are done, you should have an idea what the job description should be.  The person exits the room and closes the door.

As you look at the papers you realize that there are everything from recipes on cards, to accounts payable receipts, clipped newspaper articles and stuffed folders without labels. Here’s the one and only question I want you to answer.  What is your instinctive methodology? In other words, do you start to make piles of all like items, a pile of recipes, a pile of folders, and a pile of newspaper clippings?  Or do you start to look at each piece and begin to put the puzzle together as they seem to relate?

Know the answer? Good. Then please read on.

There is no correct answer, by the way. If it seemed natural to you that you begin putting the like items in separate piles to begin the first phase of the task, you are most likely what is referred to as a “Container”.  If your initial impulse is to start piecing the puzzle together with investigating each piece of paper, you are referred to as an “Expander”.  What’s important here is that you need both Expanders and Containers to run a business.

The Containers are your organized, task oriented employees. They implement the ideas and plans of the Expanders. If you just have idea people, but no one to implement the ideas, you have creative chaos. If you only have those implementers, but no new ideas and strategies to be developed, then the ship runs smoothly, but it goes nowhere.

If you are a one man operation, it is of utmost importance that you understand whether you are mostly a Container or an Expander. If you recognize that you are an Expander, then you should begin to look for sub-contractors that will be your creative force. They come up with you ad campaigns, design your t-shirts, and handle your social media.  If you are the creative force, then sub-contract a bookkeeper, someone to come in once a month to do your filing, someone else to maintain the premises, so that your best energies are spent doing what you do best.

If you are now trying to expand your internal staff, this is even a more urgent exercise. Take the staff you currently have and put them through this same scenario. Let them tell you who they are, don’t just use your judgement of them from what you’ve seen so far.  Once you’ve identified the number of Expanders and Containers you have on staff, you have a better idea what to look for when adding to the team.  Maybe you have a position open that you recognize will need an Expander, but you already have too many Expanders on staff. It’s time to move your people around. Put the creative force behind the idea pool and the implementers in the “get it done” pool. Now what position do you have open?

It’s all about the balance. Consider it “Business Yin and Yang”.

Back to Grow

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Blairsville-Union County Wine Country

One of the things that makes us one of the best-kept secrets in the Southeast is our fabulous wineries. As an American Viticultural Area (AVA), our area has the same designation and soil quality as prestigious wine communities like Sonoma and Napa Valley. But it’s not just the soil that make Blairsville-Union County’s Wine Country so special, it’s also the hard work and attention to detail of the wineries in providing their guests with unique experiences as well as exceptional wine. Come and see for yourself…

Learn more about the wineries and distilleries in Blairsville-Union County here.

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Holiday Pilgrimage

Southern Tree Plantation Inc., a family run business located 5 miles south of Blairsville, is a 60 acre Christmas tree farm located in Union County. Southern Tree Plantation has been growing Christmas trees for over 30 years. During that time many attractions and additional activities have been added to the plantation. Wagon rides, farm animals, a children’s train ride, marshmallow roasting, maze, playground, crafts, and concessions are some of the attractions and activities available for the public to enjoy while cutting or choosing their Christmas trees.

Many families make their annual holiday pilgrimage to choose and cut their own trees at the farm. In addition to finding a Christmas tree, customers enjoy browsing through the “holiday barn,” listening to their favorite music enjoying the sights and sounds of the season while sipping some hot chocolate. The “holiday barn” was created out of an 80 year old chicken house. Families can be found roasting hot dogs and marshmallows, taking the wagon and train rides, playing in the playground and maze or enjoying a variety of other activities available. Even Santa Claus has been known to drop by the “holiday barn.”  

From its early roots as a business, the Christmas season is still the highlight and most popular time of year at the farm.  Families travel from many miles away to make or continue their holiday traditions at Southern Tree Plantation. Over the years, the Plantation has expanded its services beyond trees and holiday attraction. There are also facilities available for large events to be held on the farm – perfect for company picnics, birthday parties, reunions, weddings, and other events.

Let us help you plan your holiday pilgrimage and other activities while you are in town by contacting the Blairsville-Union County Chamber of Commerce at 706-745-5789 or stop by our Welcome Center at 129 Union County Recreation Road located within the Union County Community Center.

 

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Happy Hallo-weekend!

In less than a week, it’ll be Halloween! Here in Blairsville, there’ll be costumes, candy, tricks and treats for the whole family. We’ll be celebrating the season all weekend long with festivals and other fun events all over the area. Here’s just a glimpse of what’s going on this Halloween, and the weekend before, in Blairsville-Union County:

Haunted Hayride
Enjoy Joshua Dream Ranch’s Spook-Tacular Haunted Hayrides. Have a spooky fun time and help yourself to some gooey s’mores.
October 27, 28, & 31, 8:00 PM – 11:00 PM

Fall Festival at Vogel State Park
Celebrate Autumn at Vogel with Hayrides, a Cake Walk, Duck Race, Storytelling and more!
October 28, 12:00 PM – 7:00 PM

Downtown Blairsville Outdoor Movie Night                                                                                                Bring the family downtown for a free movie night featuring Disney’s Hocus Pocus. A costume contest will be held before the show.                                                                                                           October 31, 6:00 PM – 8 PM

Halloween on The Square
Games, costume contests, and lots of trick or treating.
October 31, 6:00 – 8:00 PM

There are lots of other fun events happening at some of the local wineries, restaurants, and other businesses this weekend. Since, this is just a small taste of all of the spooky happenings coming up, visit us online for a full listing of Fall Activities and Events happening this Halloween and Hallo-weekend!

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The Business of Making Memories

We were nine adults, sitting around the backyard fire pit, drinking real hot cocoa topped with fluffy marshmallows. As the late autumn breeze became chillier, the hostess left us to rustle up blankets for each of her guests. We threw them around ourselves and instinctively wrapped up in them like they were our cocoons.

Someone sighed and said “Oh, this reminds me of summer camp in Ohio on the shores of Lake Erie over 50 years ago.” For the next two hours we exchanged memories of our childhood camp experiences. Though we had raised a dozen children between us, not one of us mentioned the recollections we had of their experiences. Our own camp memoirs were so rich and tangible, even a half century later, we couldn’t stop sharing. Eventually the fire burned to just ambers and we regretfully ended our journey down memory lane.

When deciding to open a business here in Union County, you will ask yourself a myriad of questions. Can I make a living out of what I’m most passionate about? Is this something I think I can be absorbed about for the next several years?  Why would people choose to do business with me instead of who they’ve been doing business with in the past? Where can I open my business that is affordable and will draw the most traffic?

All of these are important considerations, yet one of the most important questions seldom gets asked. Will my business make memories for my customers? Because if their experience with you is memorable, they will continue to do business with you and they’ll share that experience with everyone. If your yarn shop is completely off the beaten path, but the alpaca, whose fleece are used to make your yarn, are available to your customers to pet and feed, they will drive miles for that experience. They’ll take pictures, post it on social media, most likely with a link to your FB page, and now they are using these memorable experiences as free marketing for your business.

I know, you are thinking, “I want to open a window washing business. How do I create a memorable experience for my customers?” All recollections don’t have to be pleasant. Taking before and after pictures of some of the worst windows, then sharing them in a “thank you for your business” card will be all they need. After the windows are clean, they might not remember what they looked like before. You can remind them how awful they were and now they can experience sunlight streaming freely through them, once again. They’ll also remember your effort to let them know how much you appreciate their business and will now have two extra business cards you taped on the back of the photos to use when referring you to their neighbors. If you are washing windows on the second or third floor, ask them to use your cell phone take a picture of you up on the ladder. Post this pic to their social media page and yours, thanking them for helping your business “reach new heights.”

The Blairsville-Union Chamber of Commerce offers great think tank sessions throughout the year, where local entrepreneurs, just like you, gather to discuss their ideas. Make us part of your journey to opening your business. Oh, and if your takeaway from this article has you dreaming about opening a camp just for adults here in the mountains, we bet you’d have great success.

Back to Dream

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Living for the Long Weekend

Everybody loves a good, long weekend! With Labor Day coming up, we thought we’d give you a roadmap for how to maximize your fun and relaxation right here in Blairsville-Union County! Just a couple of hours from major Southeastern hubs like Atlanta, Greenville, and Chattanooga, Blairsville is the perfect place to unplug and unwind for a few days. Let’s get started!

Ample Accommodations
There is a wide variety of options when it comes to staying in Blairsville, from traditional hotels and camping options to resorts and cabins. Whether you want a rugged outdoor weekend of “roughing it” or a luxury experience complete with wine tastings and spa days, we’ve got you covered!

Explore The Greater Outdoors
Get outside and do something fun! Blairsville has more outdoor activities to offer than we have time to talk about, including hiking, exploring Brasstown Bald (Georgia’s Highest Peak), horseback riding, making a splash in our amazing lakes, playing in some of the best parks in the South (including Vogel State Park), and so much more. There is truly something for everyone to explore, from families, to couples, group trips, and beyond! Learn more about all of the outdoor fun you can have in Blairsville-Union County here.

Eat Better in Blairsville
We aren’t your typical little mountain town with two restaurants that both close at 6pm. Dining options here include some of the best Barbecue and Southern cooking you can find, but our thriving food scene also includes Cuban cuisine, Seafood, Italian, American, Greek, farm to table, and much more! If you like to eat, you’ll never want to leave. Find a complete listing of restaurants in the area here.

Celebrate with Us
There’s always something going on in Blairsville-Union County, with fun festivals and special events happening all year long – like the Mountain Heritage Festival happening over Labor Day weekend. Check out our Festivals and Events pages for the latest scoop on what is happening and where.

What are you waiting for? Stop by visitblairsvillega.com/tourism to start planning your trip to Blairsville-Union County today!

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Blairsville Has You 100% Covered for the Eclipse

On Monday, August 21st, a once in a lifetime experience will occur in the US. For the first time in 99 years, a Total Solar Eclipse will be crossing the country from central Oregon through South Carolina in a 70-mile-wide path. Fortunately for us, Blairsville is in the path of totality and we will experience 1 minute and 58 seconds of totality! Don’t settle for less than 100% coverage for this incredible lunar experience!

We’ll be celebrating this incredible event all over Blairsville-Union County leading up to the eclipse, with several viewing parties and other events that will be taking place on August 21. Here’s just a taste of what we have in store (you can find the totality of our eclipse events here).

Sunday, August 20th

Astronomy Night
3 – 4 pm, Union County Fine Arts Center
Admission is $3 per person or $1 with a Union County School ID.

Learn about the Total Solar Eclipse and everything you will experience during the totality. Astronomer David Hearn will be providing a well-rounded overview to educate and prepare you for the Eclipse.

Event sponsored by North Georgia Technical College, Blairsville-Union County Chamber of Commerce, and UC Schools.

Monday, August 21st

Meeks Moon Party
11:00 AM – 4:00 PM, Meeks Park

Spend the day at Meeks Park with your friends and family. Bring your chairs or blankets. Food trucks will be onsite for your dining pleasure.  

Sponsored by Habitat for Humanity of Towns/Union, Union County Recreation Department, and the Blairsville-Union County Chamber of Commerce.  

Viewing @ The IP
11:00 AM – 4:00 PM EDT, Blairsville Industrial Park

Enjoy a clear unobstructed view of the sky surrounded by stunning mountains. The Viewing at the IP will feature plenty of parking, food trucks, music and a perfect location to enjoy this once in a lifetime event! Bring your chairs/blankets.

Sponsored by the Union County Rotary Club and the Blairsville-Union County Chamber of Commerce.

Totality Tailgate
11:00 AM – 4:00 PM EDT, Union County Schools Fine Arts Center

Join your friends and neighbors for a viewing party at the Union County Fine Arts Center. This is a fun way to experience this once in a lifetime event with your community! Bring your chairs/blankets or tailgate from your vehicle. Food trucks will be available for your dining pleasure.

Sponsored by United Community Bank Junior Board, Blairsville-Union County Chamber of Commerce, and UC Schools.

Have a boat? Lake Nottely, with its 4,180-acres will be an ideal place to enjoy the eclipse. Three marinas, which will all host events, will have boats and jet skis available to rent. With ¾ of our county protected by US Forest Service land, almost every location you can find in Blairsville-Union County offers wide open spaces for viewing with a stunning mountain backdrop.

The Blairsville Eclipse Experience is presented by North Georgia Technical College – Blairsville Campus in partnership with the Blairsville-Union County Chamber of Commerce. To learn more about the eclipse and to locate viewing parties and other local events, visit the official Blairsville Eclipse Experience website. Blairsville Eclipse Experience safety glasses and commemorative t-shirts are available at the Blairsville-Union County Chamber of Commerce. Glasses are $2 each and shirts start at $13.

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Back to School 2017

The first day of school is approaching fast in Blairsville-Union County, which presents new challenges and opportunities for both families and businesses. While many parents welcome the return to a “normal” schedule and a consistent routine for their children, others lament the loss of a more open schedule that allows for fun trips and activities. For businesses, depending on the type of business, it can mean the beginning or the end of a busy season and – with the return of extra-curricular activities like sports and band – increasingly hectic schedules for both employers and employees. 

With all of this in mind, it’s important to remember to be patient with not only our kids, but also our colleagues and co-workers. Let’s cherish the time that we have with our families and make the most of opportunities to interact with our kids in between school and practices and lessons and all of the other things that go on during this busy season. There are also opportunities for some businesses to get creative with their customer base, like a back to school parent “pick-me-up” discount at coffee shops or “school night meal deals” for restaurants. There are lots of ways for your family and business to hit the ground running this school year!

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Local Wineries & Distilleries

For those who enjoy the occasional drink, the kind that’s a bit stronger than good ole’ sweet tea, there are a number of fantastic wineries and distilleries in the Blairsville-Union County area. Establishments like these are uniquely suited to thrive here, as our area was recently named an American Viticultural Area (AVA) – a distinction carried by regions like Napa Valley and Sonoma. Most of the vineyards frequently host fun events and live music, so there’s plenty to do while you visit. From whiskey with deep roots in the area’s history to luxury vineyards & resorts with European flare, there’s something to suit everyone’s tastes. Here are a few of the vineyards and distilleries close by:

Granddaddy Mimms Moonshine Distillery
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Odom Springs Vineyards
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Paradise Hills
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Hightower Creek
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Crane Creek
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Learn more about the wineries & distilleries in Blairsville-Union County here.

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Preparing for Social Media Lift-Off, Part 1

You are just a few days away from opening your business, and the punch list seems to grow. It’s late at night, and you can’t sleep. You rise, grab a hot cup of tea, and open up your laptop. It just dawned on you that you need a Facebook page for your business.

Though it is never too late to take such action, you can certainly take steps to avoid this situation.

Let’s rewind the scenario.

The calendar indicates that your scheduled launch date is in three months. Your business plans are just starting to take shape. It’s 6am on Saturday morning, you’ve risen early and the kids are still in bed. The hour is peaceful and quiet, except in your head. The clattering of ideas for preparing for your business adventure is making such a racket. You decide to open your laptop and prepare to begin executing your marketing plan by taking the first bite of the social media elephant.

This morning you are going to focus on which platforms of social media you are going to use to market your business and create your brand. Let’s start by looking at local businesses and seeing where they are having the most success.

The little country store out near the state park has nearly 7500 followers on Facebook. How is that possible? They post something nearly every day, not necessarily about their business, but by their business. They typically post three videos a month, and they average 1500 views each.

Impressive.

You are not opening a country store, but you are launching a service business, one with several competitors in the tri state area. You now search them on Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest and YouTube. You look for the following:

  • How many followers do they have?
  • What are they posting about?
  • Are their posts mostly internal (company-based) news, blog posts and articles; mostly external news, blog posts and articles; or a mix of both?
  • What’s their brand voice?
  • How often do they post?
  • How many likes/comments/shares do they get per post?
  • Do they run any polls, contests or fun games with their brand?

Today you’ve done your research, and you can now decide which social media platforms you want to set up on before your launch in 3 months.

Saturday morning, one month later.

Now it’s time to design your guidelines for your social media do’s and don’ts. As you grow, you won’t have time to be the only one posting for your business. This is the time to iron out what your plan is and how it is to be executed, so you are prepared to hand it off when the time comes. Your social media helper will be able to follow the method to secure your branding in the ways that you have intended.

Begin designing your guidelines by asking these questions.

  • Does your brand refer to itself as “we” or “I”?
  • Are any words off-limits?
  • Does your brand have a political leaning? How comfortable is your company with offending followers of a different political leaning?
  • Will you respond to comments and how often? We can’t impress on you enough how important this decision is when you begin the social media marketing journey. How do you respond to reviews, even negative ones? What tone will you use to address negative comments? (There will be haters. It’s a public forum after all.) Are you apologetic, is your policy to address or ignore? Just as importantly, how quickly will you pledge to respond to positive remarks and reviews?
  • If your social media account were a person, what would he or she do for fun? How would he or she talk? What wisdom do they want to impart? Do they have a pet or another animate object that can be the business mascot?

Here at Blairsville-Union County Chamber of commerce, we analyze our social media impact every single day. We look forward to sharing your business with our followers. Stay tuned for Part #2 of our preparation list. Are you getting excited about making your dream come true?

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