McNiven’s Meanderings 5-12-17

Jonathan McNiven

Well folks, I’m happy to return and report on what we’ve been working on for the last three months and the benchmark that we have now achieved.

However, before I do that, I want to recognize this time of year when graduation time is on the radar and congratulate all the graduating seniors for the accomplishment in their life. I remember my days graduating from Huntley Project High School in 1997 (yes, I know it was a long time ago). I thought that was a big milestone in my life, and it was at that time. It took me some years to go out into the real world and experience reality in order to appreciate the importance of going back to college to eventually finish two associate degrees and then transfer to Arizona State University to finish my four year Bachelor’s degree. However, I’ve found that I don’t stop learning

Nowadays, my education is applying what I’ve learned before to make my business, family and life better for me and those I now associate with. The only way I learned how to get out of poverty was by the education I received. It wasn’t easy but it was worth it and only helped me gain confidence in the next thing I set out to accomplish.

Just to prove that point of the importance of an education, my wife and I just finished a business self-reliance class provided by my church that we took together in order to help us analyze our business, needs, services and how best do what we do better. The class was 13 weeks long and we had weekly assignments, goals and opportunities to grow together. The reason behind it was to help become more self-reliant, balance work, family and life all in one. I’m happy to report we finished it and that we will receive a certificate of business entrepreneurship from the LDS Business College as well as a self-reliance certificate of completion. The classes weren’t necessarily easy but prepared us for the next thing, like the senior graduation issues and such.

On that note, I want to take the opportunity to thank all the parents, businesses and entities that stepped up to the plate to sponsor our graduating seniors from the area schools. We also have another special edition of YCN coming next week as well due to the amount of graduating seniors and we couldn’t get all the schools in one publication.

Anyways, thank you for all those who continue to support these long standing special editions as we could have never been able to publish these pages without the advertisers, sponsors and financial support. In addition, my staff and I have been working on these special editions for weeks so it just goes to show that success takes time.

Speaking of success, as you probably read on the front page of our paper this week, we are finally happy to return and report that one of our goals this year was to go after the legal advertising contract provided by the City of Billings. This is noteworthy for a number of reasons.

Firstly, the City of Billings has never awarded a contract to a business that is outside of the City limits in regards to their legal advertising (to the best of my knowledge), even though that was not a requirement.

Secondly, this is the first time (to my knowledge) that Yellowstone County News has been awarded the City of Billings contract ever. As for the county, YCN has had that contract, but it has been awhile. Thirdly, we also have another goal to increase our subscriptions.

In fact, my goal is to double our number. I know it’s a hefty goal, but if we never write down our goals and try to plan on how to accomplish them, then it’s just a dream. Since we landed the legal advertising contract Monday night, we’ve already had new businesses subscribe to get our paper. We’ve already had a business request to have their ad in our paper because of it. So this is also a means to an end that we are in pursuit.

We had to take a lot of time to find out the process, prices that are being quoted, and analyze what it would take to complete and submit a successful bid. We had to do our work. We had to check our competitors and see what is being done already. We had to analyze if this was something we could add value to. (I don’t think the City Council understands what added value we will offer but I hope we can demonstrate that during the year). Then we had to create that infrastructure and groundwork with staff, production, and distribution to pull it all off. In the end, we were successful and humbled by the success. Now the real work begins but I’m confident about the transition.

Here’s my own assessment of what the City Council just did Monday night. They just sent a strong message to Billings residents, contractors, and anyone else who wants to do business with them that “they are open for business.” Our example of submitting the legal ad bid is proof in the pudding that they are willing to give the opportunity to anyone or business if you can meet the requirements, prove that you can do the job well and show value for what is requested.

As for those concerned and those not sure about our service, capabilities and capacity to do a better job than what is being done before, I only am glad that we’ve been given the opportunity to now prove it.

Until then, we’re humbled and grateful for the opportunity.

See you in the paper (and here online)


Subscribe to the Yellowstone County News and get Jonathan’s column each time he writes in the weekly newspaper.  Jonathan meanders from politics to business and another other topic that he thinks needs some focus.  Jonathan (and his wife Tana) are the owners and publishers of the Yellowstone County News, based in Yellowstone County Montana in the town of Huntley. For more info about Jonathan, click here.