Monday, January 31, 2011

Product Design For Everyday Items

We are proud to feature some new articles here on The Rural Stops blog site.  Today we feature an article from Anna Stenning.  We hope you like it.

Take a look around you and every single thing that you see will have been through the product design process. The process is a lot more complicated than you might think. Simply coming up with an idea and having somebody just make it is never that easy. 
Self proclaimed inventors have come up with myriad ideas over the years, all ones they thought would be great ideas. Some have taken off, some have been ahead of their time and been in need of refinement and many more have fallen by the way side.
There has also been some, lets say, unusual items developed from product design that have actually made it into production only to become objects of awe that anybody would bother to make them!
To begin with, an inventor would need to come up with an idea. This has to be something useable, marketable and saleable. It ideally needs to be either something unique or a better take on something already in existence. For example, the vacuum cleaner was a marvellous invention. 
It saved housewives untold amounts of time and energy cleaning floors.
Over the years, this technology has been developed further to create ever more effective vacuum cleaners until today when a recent invention bought us the robotic vacuum cleaner that you can just switch on and leave to do its thing.
The vacuum cleaner is, again, the ideal example for the next stage of the process. The idea needs to have a target audience, it needs to be needed. It can be a solution to a problem or an entirely new idea that serves a specific task.
Design solutions will follow. The initial idea will more than likely need adjustment to meet the needs of the consumer. It will need initial problems smoothing out from the look of the product to developing the technology to make the idea a working prototype and choosing the right materials.
Producing the prototype (the first working model) is next. Fabricating and manufacturing a new product is a lengthy and expensive part of the process. Machinery has to be reprogrammed and set up and mistakes will no doubt be made along the way.
When you finally have your prototype, you will begin the even longer process of marketing the product. People are innately suspicious of new products. They question whether they need it, whether the marketing spiel is all hype, whether it is worth the cost, whether or not there is a further market they can sell it on to in order to make money, all types of issues that you will need to get over. Will you be selling direct to individual customers or to a manufacturer who can then sell it for you?
This article is not meant to put you off from venturing down the road of product design but simply as a warning that the road is complicated. That said, if you have a great idea then go for it. It is the only way we ever get these great inventions that make our lives easier.

Anna Stenning is a budding inventor and knows the difficulties of the product designprocess. For more information please visit

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Small Town Blog.

Well I was born in a small town
And I live in a small town
Prob’ly die in a small town
Oh, those small – communities

All my friends are so small town
My parents live in a same small town
My job is so small town
Provides little opportunity – hey

If you don’t know by now this is the opening lyrics for the Small Town written and performed by John Mellencamp.  Even though this song is all about small town America it still hits home with me too.  A lot of what John sings about in this song is small town regardless what Country you live in.  I am proud of the small town that I was born and raised in and I think many other are too.   We have a special way of life, and we got to bring our kids up in a very special small town environment.  Now we can enjoy our kids doing the same for our grand kids.   And that is the reason for this blog that you are reading right now.  

We hope you enjoy the work that we have done so far and we hope that there is much more for you to read and enjoy in the future.  If you have any comments or ideas don’t be afraid to share them with us.  We would love to hear from you.   

Monday, January 24, 2011

Littletowns focus on Small Business

Just wanted to take a few minutes here to talk about something that we have just added to our website.  It’s a page that is dedicated to small business owners.  In particular we are focusing our energy on providing a place on the Littletowns website where you can go to get information that you need and want to run your small business.  So now you have even more reasons to join the Littletowns website and get your business added.  We want to provide small business in small towns with information that is quality.  As we grow the Littletowns site the small business page will grow to many pages with lots of valuable information. 

For example we have talked to some business owners that have dealt with Perth Community Futures in our area.  The service that PCF was able to provide some local businesses was beneficial for their growth.  After hearing a couple of stories we began to wonder if this service is available for every area in Ontario?  If it is then why don’t we provide you a spot to go and find out more about this?  That is exactly what we did.  Just check out our Small Business pages on the Littletowns website and you will find out more about this valuable tool for your business.

And this is just the start.  We will continue to post stories on The Rural Stops blog about small business information.  So take a few minutes to check out our site Littletowns .

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Rural Living and the World Wide Web.

I recently started to search online for all things small town, rural town, small town business and maybe a couple hundred more ways to search Google.  What I found was some real interesting reading.  I wanted to take a few minutes to share some of my findings so that you can enjoy them too.

I stumbled upon this site when I did a search for small town business.  The article that I originally read was called “Small Business Ideas and Inspiration for A Small Town”.  As with anything there is no real magic solution to starting a business regardless if you are in small town Ontario or if you are in the big city.  Basically this article goes on to tell you about some success stories and some things to keep in mind before you start a business in rural areas.  If you have ever considered quitting that 9 to 5 grind and moving to the country to start a small business then you need to read this article.  This link will take you directly there.

One of the other things that I found out when I was on this site was the many different aspects that are covered.  There are stories about starting your own online business with links that will take you to videos and online training.  What about country d├ęcor?  What do you need to put in your house to make it more country feeling?  Well have no fear there is even a link on the goodbye city life site for this.  And it doesn’t stop there.  Links for country cooking, country crafts, country gardens and even a link for raising children.  Needless to say this site is a wealth of information.  I only hope that the city folk don’t read this and find out how good we have it our here in the country.  

I thought that was our big secret!!!

Friday, January 14, 2011

St Jacobs Ontario

Today we wanted to take a few minutes to talk about the town of St Jacobs.  Although this town is close to the City of Waterloo it still maintains its small town appeal.  The Mennonite heritage is strong in St Jacobs and horse and buggies are seen daily trotting down the main street.  Many gift shops and boutiques dot the streets and you will be charmed by all the stores in the area.  

In looking into the history of St Jacobs we found this interesting information on the Wikipedia web site: Officially named in 1852, St. Jacobs was first known as "Jakobstettel" which means "Jacob's Village". The St. was added to the name simply to make it sound more pleasing and the pluralization was in honor of the combined efforts of Jacob C. Snider (1791-1865) and his son, Jacob C. Snider Jr. (1822-1857), founders of the Village. The younger Jacob lost his life in the Desjardins Canal train disaster at age 35.   Needless to say St Jacobs is truly a town with some rich history that dates back a long way.

Today St Jacobs is known for its shopping experiences, variety of market outlets and old order Mennonites that still call this town home today.   You don’t have to look to far when you are dining out either.  Many restaurants are in the area and believe me when I say you better come hungry because your plate will be full regardless what you order.  

The town feature is just one aspect of what we do at Littletowns.  Our goal is to promote the small businesses and small towns that will make up Littletowns.  Check out our spotlight pages to see more.  In the mean time help support small business owners in the area by visiting our blog and our website.   

Monday, January 10, 2011

2011 Brings Changes for Littletowns.

Well here we go again.   Another new year and another outlook on what this year will have in store.  Along with the winter and the new snow in my neck of the woods you will also notice some new things happening at Littletowns.  The year 2010 was a busy one for me.  I created Littletowns back in 2003 and I still have a strong interest in helping out the small town business owners.  So needless to say the desire to make Littletowns successful is still present.  But with the New Year comes some new changes.  

Littletowns has always been a one man show until this year.  Beginning in 2011 my wife Janice is taking over the day to day operation of the Littletowns business.  Janice is moving in to keep all the communication flowing and make sure that everything is up and running all the time.  You will also notice that Janice will be way more aggressive in the promotion and launch of blog articles, advertising and marketing needed to make Littletowns the household name that we think it can be. 

The Blog
You will notice that this blog is brand new.  We are calling the blog “The Rural Stop” so that we have a really small town flavor.  There will be contributions and updates on a regular basis to the blog so keep an eye opened to see what is coming next.  We also plan on promoting small businesses right here on this blog.  There will be features on some of the businesses, some of the towns and articles about small business success stories.  There will also be contributions from other bloggers with tips on keeping your small business strong.

The Website
You will notice that we have rolled out a new website in 2011.  This site is completely redesigned and we feature a number of new things.  You will also notice that it is cleaner and easier to navigate.  We wanted to give you a site that was not overwhelming so that you felt like coming back again and again.  Our site will feature spotlight sections and directories of small towns and small business.  Drop by the site and see for yourself what Littletowns is doing in 2011.

So Happy New Year and here’s to some big changes for the 2011 calendar year.  We hope you like them.