John is passionate about living intentionally and making a positive impact on our culture. The South Jersey native was raised “Southern style” on sweet tea, southern gospel/bluegrass music and motorsports. After he graduated from Belmont University in Nashville, John began his professional career on Music Row working with some of the most talented artists in country music.
John has decades of hands-on experience in event and brand marketing, public relations, social media, sponsorships, and content creation, and his desire to train and encourage others in their efforts led to his work with Purple Monkey Garage, where he is busy “fixing businesses and repairing lives.”
John and his wife homeschool their two children.
In business, profit partners can be extremely valuable. The idea is to support each other’s business by referring new customers to one another in an effort to help each side thrive.
For example, let’s say you own a restaurant and become profit partners with a commercial cleaner. You trust the cleaner enough that you recommend their services to others in your personal and professional network. You are willing to support them and make an effort to help build their business. In return, the cleaner promotes your restaurant with their clients and even hosts their annual staff party at your place.
This same concept can work in homeschooling as well. For example, you determine that science is not a subject you feel confident in teaching your children. A homeschool mom within your local network loves science, studied it in college and used to work in the lab of a chemical company. The two of you decide that she will teach your kids along with hers the subject of science, including fun educational lab projects. You love organizing educational field trips, so in return, you agree to include the other mom’s kids in your field trip planning. As a result, both families benefit from the assistance and interests of each parent.
Both business and homeschooling can be overwhelming. We should never feel that we have to be an expert in all areas. Take a look at your network and partner with those who have expertise in areas you do not. There is a ton of value in helping each other thrive.
As the legendary Zig Ziglar used to teach, “You will get all you want in life, if you help enough other people get what they want.” I encourage you to give it a try.
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As parents and homeschoolers, we too fall victim to the assumption that we should teach and raise our children to get good grades, go to college and then get a good job. However, none of us should automatically follow that path without intentional consideration and planning centered around the interests and personalities of our children.
Let’s look at a few key aspects about college. First, the statistics related to kids leaving their faith once entering college is stifling and should make any parent hesitate and reconsider. According to Campus Renewal, their recent studies indicated that up to 70% of students leave their faith during the first year transitioning into college. Wow! Now, your first thought might be that of Proverbs 22:6 “Train up a child in the way he should go and even when he is old he will not depart from it.” A powerful reminder of our role as parents and full of truth. However, should we consciously put our children in that environment knowing these statistics?
Two, college is not cheap and as a result, loan debt has become a BIG problem. According to a recent article in Forbes, students graduating college in 2016 owed an average of $37,172 for school loans. That’s a difficult way to start life as a self-sustaining “grown up” looking to successfully contribute to their community. Of the $21 trillion U.S. debt, over $1.4 trillion of it is related to school loan debt.
Third, a college degree does not automatically lead to a good paying job. The average starting salary for new college grads has increased slightly to just under $50K a year. However, as good as that may sound, once we understand the Practical Poverty Level taught by Josh Tolley in his powerful book, “Evangelpreneur,” we know that average starting salary is not encouraging news.
Rather than putting all the focus on traditional college, an alternative route to post high-school education that often gets overlooked is trade school. Learning a skilled trade can offer opportunities in becoming an electrician, carpenter, plumber, welder, aircraft mechanic, HVAC tech, dental hygienist among a variety of other well-paying and fulfilling careers. Many of these paths often surpass the starting salaries of jobs taken by those graduating with four-year degrees.
For homeschool families, these skilled trades can be explored at a young age and the process can be incorporated into your daily schooling routine. Perhaps a family member, friend or local businessperson in your community would be willing to teach the skill or offer an apprenticeship to a young man or woman interested in learning their trade.
At the end of the day, as parents, we need to realize that one size does not fit all when it comes to higher education. Just because the masses go down one road does not mean we all need to follow. Understand your child’s personality and value their interests. Allow them to explore different paths. You just never know, it could lead to an amazing career.
We learn about the importance of money from a pretty young age. Whether the lessons come from our parents when we’re young (“money doesn’t grow on trees!”) or when we get old enough to make purchase decisions and realize how much money it really takes to get things we need, want, and desire. As homeschoolers, it is our responsibility to transfer this wisdom to our kids, and while “money doesn’t grow on trees” is a start, raising financially literate, faithful stewards is the goal.
When it comes to business, money plays a vital role. Without it, just like in our personal lives, we are unable to purchase things we need to move our businesses forward. The need for money can range from product inventory, office equipment, machines for manufacturing, or funds for a marketing campaign.
Most of the lessons we have been taught regarding money revolve around banks. Banks were established in this country back in 1791 and are usually housed in large, robust buildings that exude a powerful mystique about them. These institutions tend to make us feel confident that the banks will keep our money safe due to the fact they are FDIC insured, but did you know banks only have 1-2% in reserves to cover deposits? That means, if the banks really were to go under, they are roughly 98% short on covering the loss. Is it just me or could that be a problem?
We are taught that our money grows when we utilize bank products. Is that true? What is the current interest rate offered by a bank savings account these days? Somewhere under 2% as of this writing. So, with inflation being around 10% rather than the 3-4% we’re usually told, that means our money is losing between 4% and 8% of its value in this scenario – and the longer we save, the more we lose! Even the magic of compounding interest can’t beat this sad reality. That just doesn’t sound like a good idea. Well, at least we can rely on banks for loans when we need to make a large purchase or to adjust cash flow in our business. Unfortunately, that’s not a great option either as 50% of bank loan applications get denied.
Here’s the reality, once we deposit our money into a commercial bank, we no longer own that money. Wait! What? That’s right, at the moment we deposit our money into a commercial bank we become a creditor to the bank. Our deposit turns into a short-term unsecured loan to the bank. Then, because of fractional lending, every dollar deposited into a bank tends to get loaned out twelve times. What? The only logical definition for that is making money out of nothing.
Before you completely come unglued, there is another option for storing your money where none of these challenges exist. It’s an option that’s actually existed for many years, but has not been readily available. It offers control over your money, avoids market volatility, provides a financial legacy for your family and allows you to earn interest on your money while you use it.
Just like education options for our children, we are trained to think within a particular box (traditional school) and it takes a great deal of effort to see what lies outside that box (homeschool). Teaching our kids financial freedom and controlling our money falls into that same scenario. We have been trained to fully rely on the banking system to store and grow our money. Once we learn there is another way, it opens up a world of new possibilities for our families and businesses.
To learn more, contact John Robinson at Purple Monkey Garage at 704-870-7318.
While homeschooling provides numerous tangible benefits, the opportunity to build a family business together and to teach business, management, entrepreneurship, work ethic, and good stewardship to our children provides immediate and long-lasting benefits that are hard to beat. After teaching our kids how to live in light of eternity and in relation to the God of creation, teaching them how to thrive (not just survive) in this world may be our most important job. Every subject should be taught in light of God’s word, with an eternal and a temporal perspective, and applied to real life. For example, when math is taught as a nebulous theory of numbers working together to make bigger or smaller numbers it is worthless. When math is taught as giving insight into an ordered universe, created by a God of order it becomes divine. When it is taught as the key to managing a household (basic math, algebra), to building and creating (geometry), to engineering (geometry, trigonometry, calculous), to managing a business (accounting), to teaching your own children, it becomes practical. Business, by it’s very nature is practical and divine. God has given a wealth of instruction on the subject in the Bible, and our failure to understand these principals directly affects our daily standard of living.
As we teach our children business and as we build our own businesses, one of our first considerations should be branding. Branding is integral to marketing and advertising (separate, but related fields), and even the most sound businesses are guaranteed failure if they do not master marketing and advertising. A business that fails to establish a brand fails! A quick side note: anyone who thinks that the unnamed fruit stand at farmer’s market, which has a hand-painted sign that says “fruit”, or the lemonade stand on the corner doesn’t have a brand doesn’t understand branding.
What do you think of when you hear the word brand or branding? A company logo or a tagline of sorts? How about this… what do you think of when you hear the word “apple?” Chances are good your first thought is not a piece of fruit but instead, you think of the tech company and maker of the iPhone. Why is that? Truth be told, they have spent millions of dollars so that you would not think of the fruit. What other worlds come to mind when you think of the company Apple? Maybe lattes, expensive, virus-free, cutting edge?
A brand is an expression of your company’s beliefs. It is not a logo, tagline or slogan. A brand captures the heart of what your company is about, what you represent. Everything you do that’s connected to your company should run through your “brand filter.” Everything from where and how you advertise, how you market the products or services within the brand and even what it is the brand offers. Everything circles back to how it reflects on the brand.
For instance, if you pull up to a restaurant and see “reservations suggested” you automatically generate an expectation about that establishment and assume that the meal will cost more than $10. At the same time, your expectations for the quality of food and service rise as well. It’s all a reflection of the brand for that restaurant.
Proper branding tends to be one of the most expensive elements of business and the importance of it is often overlooked by business owners and entrepreneurs. When a company is sold, the contract will include a paragraph or two about the product or service. However, when it comes to the brand, there may be two or three pages on how to protect the brand.
When done well, a brand can take on a life of its own. For instance, if you have a cold and stuffy nose, you may ask for a “Kleenex.” Everyone knows what you really need is a tissue, but the brand is so powerful, you call the item by a brand name.
If you cut your finger, you usually ask for a “Band-Aid.” Technically, you need an adhesive bandage, but who says that?
In some regions of the country, usually the South, when you ask for a Coke the waiter/waitress will ask what kind since all soda is considered a Coke. That’s a brand.
Another way to know when a company has done a good job on branding is when the public will spend their own money or make an effort to promote the brand for free. How often to you see people wearing a hat with “YETI” or “Ford” or “Costa?” How about decals on the back of their vehicle – “NASCAR,” “Glock,” or a favorite sports team?
A brand is what your business is, the product or service just happens to be what you do today to build that brand. If you keep it that way, you can be fluid. For instance, do not put what you do in the name of the company. For example, if “Bob’s Plumbing” ever wanted to add roofing or pressure washing to his services as a result of a chance in the economy or personal desire, it will take more time, money and effort for him to adjust the brand image that has already been established. It’s more challenging for Bob to pivot with “plumbing” in the name. A better name to use would be “Bob’s Home Solutions.” He would then have the flexibility to add additional services without completely changing the brand.
Think about Google. That wasn’t even a word 20 years ago. Now it’s used a verb. Google is not only a search engine but they are now providing smart phones and other products with no pivoting issues. If Apple wanted to start making smart cars next week, it would fit their brand since they did not go the route of Apple Computer Systems.
So, keep these concepts in mind when you are branding your business and when you are teaching branding to your kids, and remember, whether it be the name you choose for your homeschool, a co-op, a blog or even your personal brand, a brand is an expression of core beliefs.
Our society has changed dramatically in so many ways. One of the most obvious changes in recent years is the creation and use of social media. Just a few years ago, many words that are now common place either did not exist or had very different meanings. For example, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, posting, tweeting, content, engagement, chat, SEO, AdWords, followers, likes, links, etc. These terms and actions have allowed us to connect with individuals, groups, businesses and long-lost friends. We are connected in so many new ways, but has it all really made us more social? That’s an entirely different conversation…
Many homeschool families are taking advantage of the freedom that comes with homeschooling to create successful small businesses, and from a family business perspective, social media offers benefits that few other tools can claim. Social Media offers powerful new ways to get exposure for a brand, service, product, and the families and personalities behind those brands. It is very unique and something that when done well, offers a powerful tool for entrepreneurs, brands and small business owners. However, we need to be very careful not to use social media platforms as a crutch or an excuse to be lazy. The various platforms that we now have access to are not a quick fix or an excuse to stop marketing. While these channels help with customer retention and relationship building, they can sometimes disappoint when relied on to generate new business.
With that said, how can we use social media to our advantage in business? Here are our top 5 tips to help your family business get the most out of social media:
1) You Can’t Be Everywhere At Once – as you know, there are numerous platforms to consider – Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, Reddit, Snapchat, YouTube, Pinterest, Google+. You need to determine where your audience lives and which channels will benefit you and your business the most. If you try to master them all, you will drive yourself insane and you will not accomplish anything beneficial.
2) Provide Value – there are “rules” that tend to change every few months as to the best practices for each social platform. At the end of the day, you want to provide your audience great value and consider them when posting content. As an example, for your personal Facebook page, most of your friends and family want to read mostly about you, your family, and your personal activities. Keep business posts somewhat limited. Once or twice a week is sufficient. If you insist on pushing a product or service, you may see a decline in your followers. A personal Facebook page is not where that audience wants to be sold to. Consider starting a fan page or business page instead. With that said, you can offer content that shows you are an expert in specific areas. For instance, if you are a real estate broker, rather than posting your listings, post articles that you have written or links to those written by others on how to stage a home or 5 tips on home inspections.
3) Be Consistent – when followers, or potential new customers, visit your social channels, they need to see current content. Therefore, decide on a schedule that allows you to post regularly. There are analytics available that can show you ideal times for posting so you will generate the highest levels of engagement and “industry standards” for how many times a day you should post. Until you can offer solid and consistent content, do not get too caught up in those stats.
4) Use Video – To help get your content noticed and to obtain a higher level of engagement from your audience, video is a key. I’m not talking highly produced video and scripts. The camera on your smart phone will get the job done. The video needs to match your brand, product and personality. You can talk to your audience on camera or you can narrate off camera while shooting an event or describing a product. Get creative with it.
5) When it Really Matters, Use Paid Posts – By now, you have probably heard that the powers who control the various platforms constantly change the algorithms which effects how your audience sees your messages in their news feed. One way to be sure your posts are getting out there is to “boost” them or pay for them to reach people. It used to be that all your “normal” posts (known as “organic”) would reach all your followers, now it doesn’t work that way. One good thing about paid posts is you can pick specifically who sees the post. You can pick age, regions, states, gender, etc. Keep in mind, you have probably seen these posts from others in your own feed. How many of those posts have you clicked on? How many of those “promoted” products have you purchased? Have any of those posts annoyed you because you have no interest in being bothered by a “digital ad” rather than a normal message? I suggest you limit the use of your paid posts to very important and/or special content. You can’t afford to waste the money or have a negative impact on your audience.
So, there you go. Simple, right? Social media is a moving target. Do not expect to become an expert over night. Just remember to try it at some level, be consistent and offer value. Oh, and you’re allowed to have some fun with it, too!
One of the great benefits of homeschooling is that it allows families to work together and it allows students to learn valuable business and life skills in the process. In fact, Schoolhouse Rocked is very much the business of HOMESCHOOL FAMILIES. God is using these homeschool families to do great work in His name!
Because we know how many homeschool families run home businesses, farms, craft businesses, and even growing companies, we have partnered with Purple Monkey Garage to bring you excellent, practical business and entrepreneurship articles. Josh Tolley is a nationally syndicated radio host, author, and founder of Purple Monkey Garage, where their mechanics are busy “Fixing Businesses and Repairing Lives.”
If you own a small business, one of the most important responsibilities you have is generating business. In an effort to do just that, you need to promote your product or service.
There are a variety of ways to promote a business. Some methods are more creative than others. Most can be categorized under two main headings: marketing and advertising. We’ve all heard those terms thousands of times, but do we really know what they mean? Are they the same or different? Does it really matter? Do they both produce the same results? Can we expect a return on investment from both?
Let’s take a quick pop-quiz… look at the items below and determine if they are marketing or advertising:
Billboard along the interstate
Facebook page, Twitter & Instagram posts
Bi-monthly ad in a local newspaper
Promoted Facebook posts
Digital banners on various websites
What do you think…are these examples of marketing or advertising? Well, before we get to the answer, let’s define what marketing and advertising are so we know for sure.
Marketing is the action of finding your target buyer and giving them the experience of your product or service.
How about advertising? What is advertising really? Advertising is exposing your brand. It’s really that simple.
So, now that we have defined the two, let’s take another look at the pop-quiz above. Do all these items allow the target buyer to experience the product or service? No, they do not. Therefore, all the items listed above are examples of advertising. They all expose the brand through different avenues but none of them actually allow a potential customer to experience the product or service directly.
Here are a few examples of ways a current and/or potential customer can experience your product or service:
A tire company hosts a driving event where dealers drive on the tires and compare them to competitive brands.
A drink brand offers free samples to shoppers in the grocery store.
A plumber hosts a demonstration at a home show where he shows attendees how to repair a small pipe leak. Attendees are challenged to try it themselves.
A local dentist speaks at a Rotary meeting where he explains the latest technology in teeth cleaning.
All of these examples offer customers a chance to experience a product or get to know the personality of the person offering a service. There is much more interaction with these examples than there are with the advertising examples. Remember, marketing is about the experience. Marketing also provides an opportunity to measure your return on investment more accurately than most advertising. It’s a challenge to determine how many sales are directly connected to a billboard along the interstate. However, you can measure how many drinks you sold at the store during the time you shared the free samples.
The reality is, anyone who has a business should spend 50% of their time and effort related to marketing. The administration, product development, invoicing, staff training, sales, etc. should not equal more than 50% of your time and energy so you can spend the additional 50% on marketing.
One last thing to think about when it comes to advertising. Times have changed in a very dramatic way as it relates to the effectiveness of advertising. Take the DVR for instance. Besides recording your favorite shows or games, what do we all love about the DVR? We can skip the commercials!
Are you familiar with Pandora music service? How do they make money? Your first assumption is probably advertising. That is only partially correct. Their main revenue is generated by memberships that allow the listener access to ad-free music.
We now live in a time where the public is willing to spend their hard-earned money to avoid your advertising. On many occasions, ads make us mad. Think about your initial reaction to online pop-up ads. Do you actually click on them and say, “Oh, that’s awesome! Even though you just completely interrupted me and invaded my space, I’ll buy your product now.” No, most of us get upset and now have a negative opinion of that company. Something to think about…
So, back to the original question in the headline. I hope you now have a clearer understanding of what marketing and advertising is and how they do indeed differ from each other.
In our current fast paced society, we make what seems to be very significant advances daily. Whether it’s the development of autonomous cars, the advancements in modern medicine or the redirection of buying habits from brick and mortar stores to online. It’s mind blowing what we can do with the talents God has given us.
On the flip side, we also see widespread evidence that the basic skills in life are getting lost within the massive world of advancement. The skills needed to run a household or a small business just don’t seem to be a priority these days. For example, a college student opens a checking account after leaving home and stumbles through their checkbook never really knowing how to balance it. A young entrepreneur has the opportunity to present her business concept to a room of investors. Since she never participated in speech class or learned to speak in front of large groups of people, she freezes with fear and peppers her presentation with a massive amount of “ums” and “has”. A neighbor’s yearly yard sale produces half the revenue hoped for because they didn’t have the confidence to negotiate the value of their family treasures. Or one we can all relate to, a cashier at the grocery store struggles to return the proper amount of change after the register malfunctions and doesn’t show the exact amount of change owed.
What do all these scenarios have in common? Our education system. Most public schools no longer teach the basic skills necessary to make life a little less stressful. Skills like how to handle personal finances, public speaking, negotiating, or counting change. Perhaps these skills are overlooked because our society has become so advanced. Reliant on electronics to assist us or to provide quick answers, we no longer need to think. The reality is, these basic skills are vital to succeeding in life and in business.
It’s eye opening when we hear stories like those mentioned above. Or worse, we hear that a college student must ask a friend where to place the stamp on an envelope or a professional athlete must take a class on how to sign his name because he was never taught cursive in school.
As homeschool parents, we have a great opportunity to change this trend. We can incorporate these basic life skills into our curriculum and daily routines. Learning these various lessons doesn’t have seem like a chore or end up being a dreadful experience for our kids. We have the flexibility to make it fun and have some of life’s basic skills become habit before our children realize it. Whether it’s through co-ops, board games or real-life experiences, let’s not forget to teach the basics. It will make a difference.