The Most Important Things to Know Before Potty Training Boys

Is potty training boys harder than potty training girls?

Some say "Yes", I say "No, not really."

I only add the "not really" part because potty training boys properly requires a bit more preparation only because parents have to make a few more decisions before beginning (which I'll discuss below). But the basic approach is exactly the same for potty training boys and girls.

So, in spite of what you may have heard, the following "myths" are not true:

1. Boys are more stubborn and less motivated than girls, and therefore harder to potty train.
2. Potty training boys is a lot longer process than potty training girls.
3. Boys are less motivated and therefore less cooperative during potty training.
4. Boys can not be potty trained until they're three.

If you believe any of the above statements, the first thing you should do is erase them from your memory bank, because they're simply a bunch of hooey, and if you buy into any of them, you're doing your son and your Wallet a big disservice.

Therefore, let me set the record straight. If your son is a normal, healthy toddler he should be ready for potty training at about 18 months (average) although some boys are ready earlier or later – anywhere from 12 to 27 months.

Boys who are ready for potty training will often begin to imitate their fathers or brothers (it's as though they realize the differences in genders) and may even start to stand at the toilet like them (even if they have no idea what to do once there !). And once the potty training process begins, they may also ask to use the toilet like them. If so, go for it!
If your child wants to be like daddy or like his older brother and believers, by all means, then let him stand! Power struggles are big no-nos in the potty training world …

So, what is the biggest difference between potty training boys and potty training girls? In my opinion, the only significant variance between the two is that parents need to decide ahead of time if they'll train their sons to urinate standing up or sitting down, so they'll know what kind of equipment they'll need.

My advise? Teach boys to urinate and have bowel movements sitting down. Period. (By the way, The American Academy of Pediatrics supports this advice).

Here's why:

1. You'll need less equipment. You can begin training using a potty chair only – no need for stools, urinals, and the like.

2. They'll learn "potty basics" faster. Remember, your son is learning a brand new skill – one that requires his – and yours – complete concentration and cooperation. So, why complicate the process by introducing too many things at once? Once your son has learned to use the potty, the big learning curve is over and it's reliably easy to teach them to urinate standing up, when the time is right.

3. Potty chairs are much "friendlier" when children are sitting. Consider this … potty chairs are low to the ground (purposefully, so toddlers can get on and off them easily), less "weak," and have much smaller openings than traditional toilets. Therefore, when children pee standing up, there's likely to be a good deal of splashing. The alternative is a urinal for peeing, and a potty chair or toilet for poop; A toilet for both; Egypt a potty chair for both. If you choose to use a toilet, you'll need to make sure you have a step stool (so your son can get on and off the processed by himself) and should consider purchasing a seat reducer (or else there's a better than even chance That your son may be frightened by the large opening – a very common fear).

4. You'll have less mess. Just put, potty training boys standing up is just plain messy, because little boys are notoriously bad aims – even with the best of intentions – so you can expect lots of dribbling down the potty chair, on the seat, and yes, all over the Floors and walls. It just comes with the territory.

5. Potty chairs are more flexible. One of the very best things about potty chairs is their portability. That's right … you can load them up and bring them with you, and your son can pee pee or poop on the fly (no pun intended:>). Trust me, this will come in very, very handy during your potty training journey. For whatever reason, you'll find that your child suddenly has to pee (and I mean, "really, really bad.") At the most inopportune times and your portable potty chair will be a Godsend. Yes, little boys can urinate in a potty chair standing up, but you'll need to bring lots of wipes with you!

Please also keep in mind that regardless of whether you're potty training boys or girls, consistency is king (in fact this is one of the core principles of our potty training system)! So, please see to it that whichever method you use, it's reinforced by all of the other adults who come in regular contact with your son.

This is especially true if your son is enrolled in pre-school, day care or has a nanny or babysitter. In fact, some organizations have very specific rules regarding potty training – especially as it relates to potty training boys. Therefore, it's a good idea to check with your childcare providers beforehand, so you're all on the same page.

Once again, I hope my advice on potty training boys has been helpful and you'll take the time to check out my other potty training articles!

Shopping For Camping Chairs

If you have purchased camp chairs before, you know that you can find them almost anywhere: discount stores, sporting goods retailers, websites, even supermarkets and drug stores. As a result, you have probably never given much thought to where you should buy your next one.

On the other hand, would not you like to find the chair you really want and feel like you got the best price without running all over town or spending a bunch of time surfing the web? Assuming you know what you want, which of these many choices will give you the best deal? Let's take a look at each of these options.

Let's start with the least reasonably sources. Without you spot something in their weekly ads or happen to see the perfect chair when you are there shopping for other things, places like pharmacies, supermarkets and office supply stores (Yep … I've seen camping chairs there!) Are not going To have what you are looking for. You may get lucky, but these retailers should not be your first choice.

Shopping for camp chairs online looks like the easiest route. You can sit in the comfort of your home and browse through different websites while keeping your other eye on the ballgame. What could be simpler?

Unfortunately, it is pretty rare to find the best camping chair prices online. Generally speaking, you will find better deals in brick-and-mortar stores. Even the discount chain websites usually do not feature their least-expensive chairs … you have to get in the car and go look for those in person. On top of all that, you will probably have to pay for shipping, and then wait to have the chair delivered.

So, shopping for a camping chair online may not be the best plan, but it can save you time in researching the different types of chairs available.

The big discount chains often seem like the obvious place to look for a camp chair. They emphasize low prices, and they will indeed beat out the other retailers much of the time.

On the other hand, there selection is not always that good. You may not find more than four or five choices, none of which may suit your needs. Remember, these stores sell everything from groceries to dresses to HD TVs, so they will only allot so much space, sometimes one aisle, to camping equipment, and only a small portion of that to chairs. Still, if you just want a cheap, basic camping chair, these are not bad places to look out.

Your best bet for finding a camp chair, however, is probably one of the sporting goods or outdoor gear chains. These retailers will give a lot more space to camping chairs … sometimes more than one aisle. This means a lot of choices, so you can find exactly what you want.

Not only that, but because these retailers know how easy it is for you to just pick up a cheap chair at a discount store, they are almost always running sales that will save you a few bucks. Finally, if you have questions about a chair, the staff at one of these stores will probably be able to answer it. That beats the heck out of a blank look and a shrug.

After reviewing these options, you should be able to find the camping chair you want with less hassle and at the price you want. Take a look at your local discount store if you already have to go there for something else. Otherwise, you will save the most time and effort by heading over to the sporting goods place. Happy shopping!

Lessons Learned From An E-Commerce Adventure

It is better to have tried and failed than never to have tried at all; and even more important to learn from your mistakes.

That is what I keep telling myself after having invested the time and cash equivalent to a Harvard MBA in an e-commerce start-up that has stalled and is winding down. Not a happy prospect in light of all the media pre-occupation with e-commerce success stories and the young millionaires watching their IPOs rocket into cyberspace. But the headlines ignore the more frequent stories of new e-commerce businesses that do not hit the stock market jackpot. Many of them either settle into a low-key niche or exhaust their resources and fold.

This is the story of an Internet venture that did not make the headlines, but offers some useful insights for entrepreneurs evaluating their own initiatives. The lessons learned are applicable to your own new venture or to an investment in someone else’s.

In mid-1998 we launched a new company called nxtNet (www.nxtnet.com) with the slogan … “taking you to the next level on the Internet”.

My partner and I both had prior successful entrepreneurial experience in computer products and wanted to start a new venture together. We decided to develop a business that would catch the next wave of e-commerce services for mid-sized companies seeking to do business on the Internet. After long discussions, searches for a unique service offering, and many draft business plans, we developed a market strategy and then chose Intershop Communications as our software development platform. This product had the advantages of being suitable for single or multiple online storefronts, and offered a flexible, economic and comprehensive solution. We committed to the product, staffing, facilities and equipment to start training and development immediately. The two of us provided the time and cash required to get started.

By October 1998, we had an initial product with application as an online storefront for an associated computer business. At the same time, we realized that the application had wide appeal to other computer dealers and could be sold as a multi-user database service and e-commerce resource. We had developed a consolidated catalogue of 85,000 computer products from multiple distributor product databases that allowed rapid search and comparison for product information, pricing, and current sources. Users could access the catalogue from the Internet and find a product by manufacturer, category, and part number, key word or price range and immediately see the alternate sources and prices with links to more technical information, preferred dealer pricing and actual stock levels. Additional features allowed the catalogue to be customized so that any computer reseller could present the database as his own online storefront. This option offered all the search and product information features to his customers, but showed only retail pricing and enabled the online ordering process.

The product offering quickly received positive feedback and strong indications of support from all the participants – resellers, distributors, and manufacturers. It was a comprehensive, powerful, and effective tool for buying and selling at all levels within the Canadian computer distribution channel. Resellers recognized the value in an online resource to save time and effort. Distributors and manufacturers saw the opportunity to promote their products, and major publishers in the industry wanted to offer complementary online services to their subscribers and advertisers. How could we fail with all this enthusiasm and support?

While the potential for success clearly existed, everybody had the same questions and reservations – “Who is there now?” “How many are using it?” and “I don’t want to pay until it’s bigger”.

Reasonable objections we thought, so we added features and content for free. We promoted the product with free trials and low cost subscriptions for reseller access. Then we coaxed, persuaded, sold hard, and made deals. The “contra” became the standard for obtaining press coverage, free ads, mailing lists and promotion in exchange for free participation and future consideration. Activity on the Web site and catalogue grew to 3000 visitors per month with over 800 subscribers and the distributor list increased from three to twelve.

But revenue remained near zero as most reseller subscribers declined to pay for the service. Reasons were “it should be free – let the advertisers pay”, “I don’t use it enough”, “there are lower cost options”, or “we built our own solution”. The audience did not grow fast enough even after we offered it for free, to satisfy the advertisers and content providers. Without persistent and conspicuous sales and marketing efforts, all the participants quickly lost interest. Meanwhile the costs of database maintenance, ongoing development, site hosting, Internet access, sales, marketing, and administration were increasing.

Clearly the old entrepreneurial model of controlling costs and growing revenue was not going to apply. We had to realign our profile to show how zero revenue and high initial costs could still lead to significant investment returns like other well-known Internet ventures. So from early 1999 we started an aggressive search for financing, estimating our requirements at $500,000 to $1,500,000 over the next two years before achieving positive cash flow. More business plans, spreadsheets, and glossy presentations to demonstrate future valuations up to $20 million, even $40 million.

We knocked on many doors, from banks to government agencies, from angel investors to venture capital, from stock promoters to business consultants, and again received lots of encouragement, but no financing. So the founding partners were faced with a continuing cash drain, no relief in sight, and the limits of their own resources rapidly approaching. It was time to put the project on hold. Strategic partners or investors might still be developed to proceed with the project, but the ongoing expenditures were stopped in late 1999.

So what are the lessons learned? We already knew that nothing ventured, nothing gained. We now also knew that big successes in the new economy require big investments. Entrepreneurs may start small, but large investments will be required from new sources to achieve significant success. And no one will put significant money into a venture unless it is the only remaining requirement.

The concept, product, development, marketing and staffing all have to be in place before an investor will provide the final ingredient – his cash. Exceptions are likely only where the management team has already succeeded in the same arena, or the investor himself can deliver the missing elements, such as customers or management skills. No investor is going to take the chance that the entrepreneur with a good concept or product will also be able to deliver the required management and marketing skills to succeed, after he has the cash.

Next time we will know better. And there are side benefits from this expensive learning experience. I can now admit that with the knowledge gained through our association with Intershop Communications, I was confident enough to make an investment in their stock on the German Neue Markt at 65 Euros last year. It went over 400 Euros last month and is still rising with their rapid growth and the prospect of a NASDAQ listing this year. Almost enough to recover my investment in nxtNet.

So the most important lesson is that education in the new economy is essential, and not free, but it can lead to success outside the original plan. Learn, be aware, and be aggressively opportunistic.

Advertising Your Products and Services on Cars

Marketers have a massive problem trying to cut through the advertising 'clutter.' Without a customer is looking for something specific, they switch off and avoid adverts, they change the channel during television intermissions, skip pages in magazines to get past the ads and talk through advertising breaks on the radio.

Ideas are constantly implemented to overcome this, some work, some do not and some simply irritate the audience who are not interested at all. But some of the best ones are transported out by portraying the message exactly where the interested customer will be.

A lot of people can not avoid driving. There is no much more to do on the road than look at other cars. These creates an opportunity. There are a lot of firms nowdays that arrange to have cars covering in advertising graphics. The car owners are paid a small amount to do so. The owners themselves are free to choose what company's graphics their vehicle is covered in.

For the advertiser the key advantage is that the cars will be seen driving around, stuck in traffic, in car parks and spaces. They in effect become a constantly moving billboard banner. This is a way of reaching people who may be awkward difficult to contact in any other way.

The vehicle graphics are applied with a convenient plastic wrap, which means they can be changed very easily. The drivers are also chosen by the kind of places they go, so it is quite straightforward for an advertise to recognize who will be best to reach their specific target market. For example a golf club manufacturer would be very comfortable to advert on a driver who played golf and parked their car in their local club's car park twice a week.

Car adverts need to be short and sweet. Often the audience will only have a few seconds to see the ad as the vehicle drives by. The right kind of driver is extremely important to find your specific advertising audience. Also if possible a driver who likes your products or service is a good idea, since they are more likely to talk to their friends and family about it and further promote it themselves.