Category Archives: Business Essentials

Just Once: The Value of Trying Something New

How often do we do the same behaviors day in and day out? Do we take the same route to work? Do we do the same tasks in the same order ever day? Do we the same marketing activities year after year?

Of course we do! People are creatures of habit, and it is these habits, if perfected over time, that help us become productive and focused. Imagine having to do everything different for a day? It would be chaos.

What I have been trying to do the past several months is do something, one thing, that I have never done each week. It might be something as mundane as trying a food I’ve never had before, or it might be a more transformative experience.

About two months ago I joined the cast of “Inherit the Wind” at the Aloha Theater. In 47 years I had never felt the desire to act on stage. I was very comfortable seeing nearly every Aloha Performing Arts Company production over the years, when we traveled, we always tried to make theater part of our itinerary.

In the six weeks of rehearsals and three weeks of shows, I experienced a lot. I was not in my comfort zone until opening nights, so it was a challenge for me to figure out what I should be doing Demolition 2016 movie now

By stepping outside of my everyday routine, I was able to learn the following:

  1. The value of following instead of leading. As a company owner, all responsibility falls on me. I set the tone, plan the projects and guide the employees. As an actor (and not even a very important one to the play), I was able to observe how our director, producer, set designer, set builders and other in the play manage and coordinate others.
  2. The value of being unimportant. I don’t mean this in a bad way, but it was great to spend six weeks being, perhaps, the least important person on the stage. I enjoyed the time I spent watching others—the director, main characters—do the heavy lifting.
  3. The value of systems. Theater productions have definite stages: cold reading, blocking (movement), off-book (no script), dress rehearsal and daily “notes”. This iterative process, which told us what to focus on when was a good reminder that you need to break down tasks and focus on each element at a time.
  4. The value of feedback. A play has a lot of moving parts and a lot of egos. Some of the actors were doing their first play and others had been parts of numerous productions prior to ours. The director, of course, gave the most feedback, but every day there was subtle, and not so subtle coaching by the actors to the actors. The overwhelming majority of the comments were constructive.
  5. The value of being part of something bigger than yourself. It’s easy to live our lives in silos: work, family and friends. Becoming part of a play helped me to see how twenty-some people, working together, supporting each other could make for a show that was seen  and enjoyed by nearly 1,000 people.

My call to action is not to encourage everyone to try out for a theater production; instead, it is to encourage readers to try something new, something completely different.

Whether it is stand-up paddle boarding, dance lessons, visiting a church from a different faith, sign waving for a candidate you support or something else. It does not matter: try something new. Commit to doing it once!

UPDATE Ten Bold and Not So Bold Predictions for Kona, Hawaii

I reviewed a blog I had written at the beginning of the year—four months ago.Watch movie online The Transporter Refueled (2015)

Here is an update on my ten predictions for Kona, Hawaii 2016.

  1. Undersupply of affordable home: No progress
  2. Homelessness an issue with no progress: No progress
  3. Marijuana use with increase significantly: No licenses for dispensaries have been issued, so no change in availability. Sales will start in mid- to late July.
  4. NextEra purchase of Hawaiian Electric will not go through: Uncertain at this time
  5. The TMT will find a new home: They are looking elsewhere and the longer the State and DLNR drag their heals, the more likely we’ll see the TMT leave. Sad.
  6. High technology and innovative business will not see Hawaii as a place to invest: Unknown
  7. Mayor Kenoi will face criminal charges and no government ethics movement: Yes, filed in March; no change in ethics laws.
  8. New Ironman owner will test Kona’s commitment: Wrong, so far. The Ironman Foundation graciously gave $25,000 to the Queen’s Lei hiking/walking trail. Way to go Ironman!
  9. Queen K widening will continue: Yes! No major stoppages so far!
  10. County, State, and Federal agencies will offer poor solutions and responses to outbreaks and pests. I certainly got this wrong about the State’s response to the Dengue fever outbreak. While slow to get going, I was impressed by the door-to-door response. A response team visited my office (in an area with no mosquitoes) and my home (where there are mosquitoes). Well done!

I was wrong about a few things—Dengue fever response by the State, and, perhaps Ironman. I was right about our mayor’s indictment, the Queen K widening (so far) and I suspect that I will be right about Hawaiian Electric and the TMT, though in my heart I believe both are these can be good for Hawaii.

The big issues moving into summer and fall will, of course, be the elections. We’ll have a new major and a new U.S. president, with most of the other offices seeing no change. Would I like to predict the outcome of these? Nope!

Maintaining Civility in Business: Agreeing to Disagree

I was hanging out with four business owners the other day, just sitting on a lanai and sharing thoughts about the challenges of doing business in Hawaii. One topic we discussed was clients and customers with whom we have conflict.

We all readily admitted that our employees and we do make mistakes and it our responsibility to remedy those situations quickly.

We then discussed what we do with clients with whom we have significant and what appear to be intractable issues. We all agreed that the adage that the “customer is always right” is an over-simplistic and often misguided way to deal with customer service issues. It might work in a fast food restaurant, but it not a great policy for more complex situations.

Dialogue is important, and it can almost always result in a satisfactory resolution. That said if you find yourself saying the same thing over and over and you hear the customer saying the same thing over and over, you have reached a point of impasse.


At Kona Impact, we have a simple way of dealing with the clients that we have reached a point where further talk is not productive.

Here’s what we do:

  1. Maintain civility at all times. No name calling or threats. Just focus on the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. No need to get personal. It is, after all, only business.
  2. Seek a constructive end. If there is a way to split the differences (even if we take a loss), we’ll take it.
  3. Follow the law, even if the client doesn’t. We have MBA coursework on business law and have a very good understand of contract law. Unfortunately, many novice entrepreneurs lack this understanding. A client disregarding contract law does not make it right for us to do the same.
  4. Keep a naughty and nice list—just like Santa. Kona Impact has a list of five past clients that are to be denied services or products. These past clients have been egregious in their conduct, and we see no value in helping them in the future. One very well-known restaurateur we know in Kona said his life and business got much better when he told a handful of curmudgeons they should find a new place to eat. You have no legal, moral or ethical responsibility to keep bad clients or customers.
  5. No retaliation! We find fake and disingenuous online reviews to be very distasteful (and probably libelous). We do not want to feel better by trying to bring someone or their business down. If a client does us bad, we need to move on, not look back and behave professionally.
  6. Move on. There is no need to dwell on what was. Business is about creating a future.

We accept that we can see the same thing and disagree with a client about the outcome and meaning. Just as much as we feel we are right, our client probably feels the same way, with equal fervor. We do not have to have the client see our point of view, and he or she is welcome to disagree. That’s fine. That life.

We like to say: “We disagree. We accept that you disagree, too. That doesn’t mean we need to be disagreeable.” Simple. Civil. Forward-looking.

Kona Impact | 329-6077


Five Reasons Businesses in Hawaii is Do Poorly

Kona Impact works with hundreds of businesses a year and has worked with thousands of businesses since its inception ten years ago. We have seen tremendous successes, some moderate successes and, of course, several failures. In this blog we love to share our observations how to create and grow sustainable businesses in Hawaii. Here are some of our observations why businesses do poorly in Hawaii.


  1. Bad cost assumptions. Rent, fuel, shipping, materials, labor, taxes and regulatory compliance are higher in Hawaii than almost all locations in the U.S. When you start a business in Hawaii, gather all your anticipated costs, multiple by 20-30% and you might be close. Failure to understand costs dooms a lot of businesses, as costs are the most salient and direct input into what you will charge your customers.
  2. Mainland concepts. Just because an idea is popular on the Mainland, does not necessarily mean it will be so in Hawaii. Our work and leisure habits are certainly different. We typically see multi-generational households, and many of our communities can be quite insular. We tend to drive much less (except commuters on Oahu), and our culinary preferences are very eclectic.
  3. Lack of community integration. Whenever a new business opens in Kona, people talk. Whose business is that? Do you know him/her? Have you been there? We call this the “coconut wireless,” which basically means that a lot of business comes from referrals from acquaintances. Joining a paddling club, theater production, sports team, service club, business networking club or faith community helps to foster connections. These connections are essential to getting your business known.
  4. No marketing plan. “Build it and they will come” is the worst business strategy ever. At the very least, you need a solid website and coherent set of graphics for your business. Add to that signage on your business and vehicles, some online advertising and perhaps print, radio or television advertising. Without a solid plan, you are doomed to failure. Work with professionals for this, as they are many aspects of marketing have emerged in the past 5-10 years that can be game changers for companies.
  5. Lack of effort. I find myself working many Saturdays, and almost without exception, I see three other cars in an otherwise empty parking lot: the owners of the three businesses adjacent to mine. They are there because they love what they do, but they also know that being successful at business requires working harder and smarter than your competitors. If you don’t want to work night and day, work for someone else. It’s much easier!

We always tell new clients that if we had everything figured out we’d be sipping margaritas on our yacht. We don’t. We do know, however, that business success is tough, though not unattainable. Hard work, good ideas, solid planning and a bit of luck are all part of the equation.

Kona Impact | 808-329-6077

One Day Banners in Kailua-Kona? Yes, we can!

We had a new client come in the other day and asked us about the turnaround time on our banners. We answered that it takes one or two days to have them in hand after design approval. She then told us that she went to one place in Hilo, where she lives, and two places in Kailua-Kona and they all had one-week turnaround. She needed the banner in two days.

Here’s why the turnaround time is different between Kona Impact and other providers.

At Kona Impact, we do a few things that allow us one-day turnaround on many sign projects:trailer movie Race 2016

  1. We make all of our banners here, with our in-house printers.
  2. We carry a huge amount of inventory, which means we seldom have to wait for supplies.
  3. We do all the maintenance on our machines, so we seldom have down time.
  4. We have staggered shifts, which means someone is usually here around 7 am (though we’re not officially open) and, if needed, we have people who will stay late into the evening to get the project done. We can print 12 hours a day (or more)!
  5. We also have a graphic designer on staff, so you can work interactively and quickly to get your design done.

The places you see with one-week turnaround are most likely brokering your banner, which means they send the project off-island, wait for it to return, and charge you a markup on their cost. There are three downsides to this: 1) most of the money you spend leaves the island and does not support the local economy, 2) you have to wait at least a week, and 3) if there are quality issues, you have to wait another week to get a new banner, or you just take what you can get.

In the past month we have printed over 600 sq ft of banners, 450 sq ft of foam core and over 75 sq ft of signage—all with a turnaround time of a few days, and in the case of a company that needed 72 sq ft of labels, contour cut, we completed the job in six hours, saving the business hundreds of dollars in rush fees, shipping costs, and travel.

Kona Impact provides banners, foam core, building signs, vehicle graphics, cut vinyl, store graphics (and more) to Kailua-Kona, Waikoloa, Waimea, Keauhou and other communities on Hawaii Island. Give us a call at 808-329-6077 for you wide format and sign printing needs!

Kona Impact

kona impact sign making inventory

Short-Run Labels: Kona Impact Saves the Day!

New employees of one of our clients came to us about 24 hours ago. They have a manufactured product that needed to be labelled in Honolulu 12 hours from when I write this. The labels need to be at the airport to be overnighted, so the whole turnaround times needed to be about a day. We received the final files at noon today, so the turnaround time had to be less than six hours.Watch Full Movie Online Streaming Online and Download

The had two plans: 1) hope that they could get same-day printing on the Mainland and hope (perhaps pray) that the Mainland printer could get everything to Honolulu overnight. There are too many variables, and many places for this plan to fail; 2) Plan B was to have things printed by us and hop a plan to Honolulu to deliver if the turnaround time was too long.

After a few minutes of talking, the conversation changed.

Can you have these done tomorrow? Yes, we said.

What about cutting? We can contour cut. This means we can cut to any shape you have, we said.

What about artwork? Get it to me in the morning and the job will be ready same-day, we replied.

We can even use a thicker vinyl, which will greatly facilitate application, we added.

The light bulbs went off, and everyone took a deep breath and smiled.

It’s now six hours after we received the final artwork, and our client is on his way to our office to pick up several hundred product labels. He gets to go home tonight, instead of spending several hundred dollars for a flight and hotel room in Honolulu, and we get to take some small amount of pride in helping his business.

A few side notes: 1) We did not charge a rush fee and never do. We are honored to have the business, and if we can accommodate a job, we do. 2) We take client confidentiality very seriously, so there is no name, and some non-essential details have been changed.

We specialize in quick turnaround on product labels for local clients. Our capabilities include full-color printing on vinyl, with or without lamination. Labels can be contour cut to any shape.

We serve West Hawaii, with clients from North Kohala to North and South Kona. We are located in Kailua-Kona. Call for your label or sticker design or printing needs: 808-329-6077.

Kona Impact

Ways to Work Effectively with Your Hawaii Sign Provider

We complete approximately 35 sign projects a week. Those 25 sign projects probably come from 20 clients, so it’s fair to say that we deal with a lot of people and projects every week. The overwhelming majority are stress-free. Some, however, present challenges to our clients and us. After ten years in business, here’s what we’d like to share with people looking for signage with Kona Impact.

hawaii sign company

  1. Plan ahead! We usually complete signs in a few days AFTER design approval. The design stage takes time, and each revision pushes back the completion date of the sign. If you want a banner in your hand on Friday, it’s best to begin the conversation at least a week early. We are happy to do same and next-day turnaround on projects, but that is not always possible.
  2. Know measurements before you call. The variables for a sign project cost are size, materials, design time and production time. It all starts with size, so if you want a price quote on a window graphic, we need to know the size first.
  3. Let us help you with materials decisions. We often have new clients come in and want a sign made of wood covered in printed vinyl. This is a horrible idea, as wood expands, contracts, warps, absorbs water and is not a flat surface. We want your sign to last a long time, and your substrate (the backing material) is a key element, so talk to us about aluminum, PVC or glass.
  4. To be installed or to self-install? Some of our materials like see-through window coverings are very forgiving for self-installation. Others, like cut vinyl or traditional printed and laminated vinyl are much harder to self-install. We are happy to let you self-install, but our experience tells us that self-installation seldom results in a professional-looking sign.
  5. Temporary or semi-permanent. We like to say there are no permanent signs…anywhere! If you want to save some money consider lesser quality materials like coroplast (corrugated plastic) or even foam core for interior signage. Banners are inexpensive and make a good temporary sign. That said, if you are planning on using the sign for months or years, consider going for higher quality and longer lasting materials.
  6. Respect the designer’s time and judgment. No business can survive on an all-you-want model for design time. The Kona Impact sign designers have been doing this for years, and we are good at making things look good. Excessive nit-picking and changes on changes are often counter-productive.
  7. Ask for a price quote. At Kona Impact we have a pricing sheet for signs and are happy to give you a price quote. We don’t like surprises, and we are certain our clients do not either!
  8. Tell friends if you are happy with your sign; tell us if you are not. We really want our customers to be satisfied with the results, and if not, we want the opportunity to make it right.

Kona Impact is a sign shop located in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii. We work with clients for South Point to Hawi and Hilo to Kona. We make the following: real estate signs, banners, vehicle graphics/lettering, store displays, a-frames, building signs and much more! Give us a call at 329-6077 to discuss your sign project.

  Kona Impact | 329-6077

The Three Worst Business Decisions Kona Impact Has Made

Kona Impact is almost ten years old. We’ve seen the best of times when the stock market and real estate markets propelled an immense growth in business and personal wealth, and we’ve seen the worst of times when clients had a hard time surviving and were existing month-to-month. All of those swings in the economy, however, are beyond the control of most small and medium-sized businesses; that is, we zig when the economy zigs and we zag when it zags.

good and bad decisions

There are many things that we do control. These day-to-day decisions can have a huge impact on our business results. Here are three mistakes we’ve made at Kona Impact. We would like to think we won’t make the same mistakes again.

  1. Going into businesses areas that are saturated. When we started Kona Impact, we thought that commercial photography and videography might be lucrative extensions of our offerings. Had we thought it through more, we would have realized that the Kona market is saturated with photographers, many with very high skill sets. We also did not understand the level of demand, so within six months, we realized that we would have to fight extremely hard for a very small piece of pie—a recipe for a failed business—so we quickly stopped these services.
  2. Trying to create demand through buying equipment. We purchased about $20,000 in specialized equipment when we started with the belief that by sheer force of will, we would be able to develop a market. We were, of course, dead wrong: the market did not exist, nor would it exist in a reasonable timeframe. Technology will seldom create a market that does not exist, and, in the end, today’s tech is yesterday’s news, so, in itself, it is not a wise foundation for business.
  3. Wrong-sizing our office space. Until about a year ago, we were in an office space on a busy intersection in Kona. We thought that the roadside visibility was essential, so we sacrificed space and good work area for visibility. This was a good strategy our first few years, but when we moved into sign making and wide format printing, we should have moved to a bigger space that accommodated our new and growing parts of our business. With a business-to-business model, we should have moved much quicker away from a space that was more retail and general office us.

Fortunately, we have made many more good decisions than bad decision, or we would not be here after nearly ten years. The expensive mistakes certainly sting a bit to this day, and the more strategic day-to-day mistakes about operations and products just become part of what we know and try to avoid in the future.

Kona Impact | 808-329-6077

“Forward” as a Guiding Principle for Business..and a Great Motto, too!

I started up my tablet this morning and was greeted by “Lenovo – For Those Who Work” on the splash screen. Ok, not a bad motto, but on my tablet, which I use to watch a lot of Netflix videos, it seemed a bit contrived and restricting.

Nike’s “Just Do It” seems to be a near-perfect motto or slogan for Nike’s products. It’s just three words; it’s a command; “It” can be anything to anybody, and together the three words are a great call to action and focus on the major impediment to change—all thought and no action. “Eat Fresh,” Subway’s slogan is equally good.Watch Jarhead 3 : The Siege (2016) Full Movie Online Streaming Online and Download

I grew up in Wisconsin, where the state motto is “Forward.” I’ve always liked it for a number of reasons. It’s progressive and future-focused. At the same time, it gives direction and is in opposition to “backward,” which most would agree, is a horrible way of being or looking at government or life.

For Kona Impact, I would probably go with “Business Forward” for our motto. We don’t make a lot of consumer sales, and we hope that our products and services propel businesses into a better future. Not terribly unique, I’m certain, but it does capture the essence of what we try to do: move businesses forward, to the future.

A few years ago we had a client that was in a particularly combative mood. She was struggling to get a part of her business going, and she thought we were to blame. She called and immediately started saying we had referred her to the wrong provider for what she needed—the final piece puzzle we needed to complete the project. It was one of those hold-the-phone-away-from-your-ears-while-someone-rants calls. It was very uncomfortable for me, but, alas, that’s all part of business and project management. I’ve been working in design and published for 25 years, so I have pretty thick skin.

At Kona Impact, we knew the solution to her problem, and we knew we were powerless to get the final piece for her. She had to call the provider, which is something we told her numerous times. There was nothing we could do, and we communicated this weeks prior. The key to moving forward was entirely up to her.

At that time, her focus was purely on looking backward. She wanted to rant, and we were her (misplaced) target. I really wanted to interrupt and say, “This is the way forward. Do this and you’ll be done.” I also wanted to add, “Your rant is not constructive and is not based on the truth.” Fortunately, I bit my tongue and didn’t say the second thought in my mind! I just listened, explained the way forward and tried valiantly to end the conversation. I estimate that in the ten minutes she spent complaining to us, she could have had her issue solved if she called the 3rd party provider.

moving forward

My point is that looking backward is an inherently faulty way to run a business. For certain, learn from mistakes and successes, but forward is the only direction to move. Get caught up in what was, and you’ll never focus on the most important: what will be!

The next time you’re ready to start the blame game, ask yourself what outcome you anticipate. Will you really move your business forward, or do you just want someone to listen to your frustrations? If you just want to rant, reconsider, and focus on the more positive and future-focused outcome.

 Kona Impact | 808-329-6077

Working with a Sign Shop: Know What You Are Buying

The other day my 10-year-old daughter asked me what a “bait and switch” is. I told her it is when you are led to believe you would receive one thing and at the end, you might receive something of lesser quality or value. It’s trickery, I told her.

At Kona Impact, we never want our customers to feel like they were going to get one thing and receive another. It’s bad for the client and the business. Over the past ten years, we have had very few times, perhaps two, when we’ve had to deal with the accusation of a bait and switch or just a customer asking for something we did not include in the sale.


We make great efforts to be very forthright and transparent to avoid surprises—for our clients and us.

Here are a few things ask your sign company when purchases a product:

  1. Are design costs included? Sign shops will often separate design/setup costs from the cost of materials and the production costs. For an intricate sign design, the design costs will exceed the cost of materials and production. At Kona Impact, we usually include “basic design” in the sign cost for banners or simple signs, but if you want something that will take a lot of design time, that’s extra.
  2. Can I have the sign design file? If you pay separately for design, we will gladly give you a pdf or jpeg of what we have done. If you have not paid for design time, ask if you can buy the design afterward.
  3. What is the material? Is this material suitable for my intended use? Discuss this in depth before you order!
  4. How long will the sign last? This to a sign professional is like asking how long a marriage will last! There are many variables: use, location, material, orientation to the sun, environmental wear, and so on. Most signs are printed on vinyl should have a 5-10 year expected life (or more), but one facing South next to the ocean will likely have less, and one facing north at a higher elevation in the shade will likely have more.
  5. Will the sign be ready to mount? Yes, but if you want holes in the sign, you need to be very specific about the locations. The standard real estate sign is 24” x 18”, but mounting poles and brackets might be two to six inches in. If you want the holes drilled, most sign shops, including Kona Impact will drill them for you, but we need to know where.
  6. Is installation included? Installation might double the cost of a sign, so be sure to ask. I should not be assumed.
  7. Can I self-install? For most small signs, we highly recommend self-installing, because our time to drive to your location, install and then return are costs we need to recoup.
  8. Do I need a permit? We do not advise on County of Hawaii permitting. The sign and construction codes are on the County’s website; read and decide what you want to do.
  9. Does it include mounting hardware? We can certainly provide mounting hardware, but you can save a lot of money by going to the hardware store—the same one we would go to—to get you stainless screws, washers and brackets.
  10. Is there a warranty? Every sign shop, including Kona Impact, wants your signs to last a long time. That said, where and how a sign is mounted are huge factors in the life of a sign. As such, we give broad guidelines—based on our product manufacturers’ information—for the life of signs, but we do not warranty anything once it leaves our shop. That said, if material fails prematurely—and it does on occasion—we want to hear from our clients, as we will do our best to make it right.

Everyone likes to believe they are getting what they think they are paying for. In our experience, most issues come from a misunderstanding or lack of clarity at the initial stages of the project. At Kona Impact, we try to go through all the eleven points above at the quote price stage, as we know nobody likes surprises—us or our clients.

If you are looking for signage on Hawaii Island, give us a call. We are happy to help!

Kona Impact 74-5599 Luhia Street, E-7, Kailiua-Kona, Hawaii

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