Commercial Currents Podcast: Business in Uncertain Times—La Nef Chocolate

We've been having so many great conversations with local small business owners, and we're always trying to think of ways to share them whenever we can. In our first mini-episode, we have a short, 10-minute conversation with Mandy and Dylan Metrano of La Nef Chocolate on Monhegan Island to talk about the ways in which they're pivoting right now, the challenges of running an exclusively e-commerce business on a remote island, and the importance of cultivating a community with their customers.

Commercial Currents: It's all about networks

Whether you're talking about your business, your community, or life in general, it's all about networks. Most small business owners feel isolated. Running a small business is something you take home with you and on vacations—it’s always in the back of your mind. Now, imagine running a business out on the water where there is rarely an opportunity to share questions, concerns, or ideas around what works for others in a non-competitive environment.

Commercial Currents: Business Systems–Part 1

Most small business owners are jugglers. How much can you keep in the air? How effective can you be if everything needs to come back to you? At some point and time, every business owner struggles with this mindset of “I need to do everything,” but this needs to change. Change is scary, but we hope that this next two-part series will help you think a bit beyond all the current priorities and emergencies you are facing.

Commercial Currents: Business Systems–Part 2

Last month we wrote in broad terms about managing the systems of your business. Specifically, we wanted you to track your time. As the management thinker Peter Drucker always stressed: “Until we can manage time, we can manage nothing else.” In order to do that, we must know where we are spending that time now. There is no such thing as good time or bad time. Time is the only thing we can’t get more of, so we’d better use it wisely.

Commercial Currents: Transplanted Partners and Island Entrepreneurs

What exactly is a transplanted partner, and what does it have to do with small business? We invented the term in response to the idea of a "trailing spouse," which is often used to describe a person who follows their partner to a new city or town because of a work assignment. This phenomenon frequently occurs in island communities—for example, when a schoolteacher moves to the island with their spouse.

Commercial Currents: The New Year—A Time to Reflect on Your Business

The New Year is a popular time for self-reflection. Many people make New Year’s resolutions around their health or well-being. They buy gym memberships, start new diets, or start flossing their teeth. The New Year is a great time to check in on the health of your business, as well as your body. Most of us here in Maine are heading into the slow time of year, so we finally have the time to take a step back and evaluate the big picture.

Commercial Currents: 6 Business Habits to Start in 2020

Since this month is full of New Year’s resolutions, Craig Olson and Claire Donnelly from the Island Institute's Small Business team put together a list of six business habits they would like to start—or break—in 2020.

Ticking the box or designing for meaningful change?

Equity. It’s a concept that many value but can struggle to put into practice. When it comes to the state of Maine’s efforts to develop strategies to aggressively respond to climate change, what does it look like to design with a commitment to equity and to meeting the needs of all Mainers at the center? While much of the world came to a screeching halt this spring, members of the Maine Climate Council’s working groups doubled down on their efforts to develop recommendations on how to reach the state’s climate goals.

Commercial Currents Podcast: Business in Uncertain Times—Black Stone Point Oysters LLC

As small business owners keep navigating the ever-changing landscape of how to safely do business in Maine, we continue to check in with them to hear how they are doing. In this episode, Peter Piconi, marine business specialist at the Island Institute, chats with Brendan Parsons of Black Stone Point Oysters LLC, about the potential economic impacts of running a tourism-dependent business and the importance of building networks with fellow oyster growers right now.

Commercial Currents: Building Business Resiliency

In Maine’s seasonal economy, many rely on what we like to think of as the three-legged stool of seasonal work: a mixture of summer, winter, and year-round employment—or small businesses that contract and expand as the season allows. A downturn in one means that we try to increase sales in another. One leg gets a little wobbly, and we strengthen the others. We never planned for all three legs to be swept out from under us. Now, resilience has taken on a whole new meaning. It’s now about adaptation for survival.