Small business marketing, bees and common sense.

What have bees  got to do with small business marketing? Read on.

As a conservative opponent of big government, it is rare for me to find much with which to complement politicians or lawyers.

This week I saw two reports that give me hope that there is still some common sense to be found in North America. Both examples come from Florida, does that mean that the sunshine state is more enlightened than the others? Is it something to do with the weather or fresh orange juice? 

No idea but it is refreshing all the same.

Here are the details:

Marketing for bee keepers made easier

The authorities in Florida have noticed that the number of beekeepers in the state has increased from less than 1000 to over 2100 in the last few years. 50% of the new beekeepers are Baby Boomers – many no doubt needing to increase their retirement income with a home business.small business marketing

Bee keeping can be an interesting and enjoyable hobby that can also provide a useful income. Entry and operational costs are quite low, the basic skills needed to  look after a few hives are within the grasp of most reasonably intelligent and physically active seniors.

Until it comes to processing and selling the honey. 

This is where most small beekeepers ran into trouble before the change in licensing requirements. Up until recently, beekeepers could not sell honey that had not been processed in an approved kitchen or processing facility. The costs of meeting the requirements for a small operator with just a few hives would have been exorbitant.

Small operators were not able to sell their honey directly to consumers, their only alternative was to sell to a larger processor with licensed facilities.

Now that the rules have been changed, small operators can process and pack their honey in their domestic kitchens and sell the packed product at farmers markets or roadside stalls. There is a ceiling of $15000 a year for sales, beyond which approved facilities are required.

The state health authorities have recognised that because of its unique nature, honey does not support the growth of harmful bacteria and is one of the safest natural products. The ruling will also apply to certain other “cottage industry” type home produced food products

Many small businesses find dealing with red tape to be more difficult than competing in the market. This is certainly a case of common sense overcoming bureaucracy and a welcome victory for individual rights.

Court to decide if flashing lights at drivers is legal

For as long as I have been driving, I have had a problem with the police ticketing drivers for warning other drivers of speed traps.

If the purpose of speed traps is to stop motorists speeding, then surely, warning other motorists is helping to achieve that objective and should be encouraged.

However, the fact that police see it as illegal reinforces many people’s suspicion that the real purpose of speed traps is to generate revenue for local, provincial or federal government.

A  motorist in Florida, recently ticketed and fined $100 for flashing his lights to warn other motorists of a speed trap is suing the police for the return of his fine and $15000 damages. A judge has allowed the case to proceed on the basis that a court ruling in 2005 in that state found that it was quite legal for motorists to flash their lights to signal oncoming traffic. 

There is a possibility that this could turn into a class action suit costing the state millions, so it’s a brave decision by the judge and another example of common sense overcoming revenue-grabbing-at-all-costs thinking.

The outcome should be interesting and could at last decide whether traffic fines are seen as necessary for enforcement of traffic laws or another type of tax to generate revenue.

Wishing you success in all your endeavours.

Peter Wright

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