Tag: accede

 

Are you sure your business data is safe?

Or is it just what you have been told?
Photo of Data backing up to the cloud

If I had a $1000 for each business that told me its data was safe, and then I found out that it was not, I would be able to buy a new house – Truly.

So why is it that your IT person says they have a backup and they can restore a file and it is all fine, and I am telling you here, it is not?  It is because for those of you who use a Database e.g. MS SQL , MYSQL, Dataflex, Oracle etc. these are Multi User databases.

A multiuser database has a unique method of backing up.  Most of these databases create a specific backup file e.g. a BAK file.   These files are created even if someone has the database open and is using the data.  Now here is where things become even more interesting.  Some people have really Old versions of databases, and their Bak Files need to be restored in their own version of the database, which may only work on certain operating systems etc.

So how do you make sure you are safe?

Simply, ask your IT person to do a restore and give you access to your data as it was yesterday.  Check that entries you have made this morning are not there, and that you can access, add and edit your data from yesterday.  Once you have done this – you are then sure that your data is safe.

What if you don’t have time for this idea?

Well, you are running a bit of a risk, but give these instructions to your IT person, and ask them to tell you what invoice ABC which was entered yesterday is for.  If they have the same information that you do, then you know the restoration was a success.  If not, then do not consider that the restoration worked, and get someone involved that does know about this style of database backup to review and check your backups.

What else do you need to watch out for?

UPS (Uninterrupted Power Supply) are really necessary in Australia as we get such extreme heat, and regular power drop outs or interruptions.  So if you don’t know when you purchased your UPS, or if it is over 2 years old, it is time to get a new UPS.  They are no longer a huge investment, and frankly, if you don’t have laptops, you may want to have a couple of UPS’s so that you can keep your server and a terminal going during a power drop out.  These should really be replaced every about 2 years.

What about how long you could be down if the server is lost?

Cloud backups are great – until you need to get going in a hurry.  I know this personally and only too well. I really suggest you need a mix between local and cloud backup technology.  If you can restore local data and get up and going quickly, then you are only updating the changes that have happened since the last backup, and that means that you are not going to take a week to get your data back.  Getting data down from the cloud is generally faster than Up to the cloud, but even so, it could take days if you have a lot of data – and if that is the case, you can’t afford to wait days to get data back. So having a mix between the two is really necessary.

 

Remember – We only need a backup at the worst time.  Never are backups used when everything is going well – it is only necessary – just when you don’t need it.  So check that if you do need to use it – at least it will work.

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R and D Grants – how to make them work for your growth

As a SME who has been successful, employing people and gone through 3 decades of business in Adelaide Australia. I have found there are some really important facts that as a business one has to do.

grant-moneyThe logical items would be planning, cashflow, decisive, keep up sales and marketing, and keep ones eyes open. However there is more that is KEY – that is HOPE.

Adelaide in South Australia is known as the City of Churches, however, here in Adelaide, just by looking around one can see the lack of hope on every street. If one considers even recent history, one can see that countries and leaders have understood and harnessed hope. They have actually worked hard at showing belief in the ideas they promote and displayed belief that these ideas will bring a positive outcome to those who are affected by their decisions.

In fact even in our last State and Federal election our leaders should really do a review of the impact that hope had on the votes they received. People would rather vote for Hope that to continue on a same path if it is not the best. But if no hope is offered, better the devil you know that the devil you don’t.

So what does this all have to do with R and D grants? Simple. We as an IT firm, look and research ideas we are presented with. If the idea proves that a product would have commercial viability and we could produce this in a cost effective time, then we will strongly consider producing that product. This is because this brings us hope.

image from governmentsgrant.org

The HOPE with R and D, is that we could sell the product, it could be a great rise to fame and extra success.

However, as a business owner the problem was cashflow and income. This is where the grant comes in. Getting the grant was the next MAJOR hurdle. I had tried to get grants before, in fact paid people for advice and knowledge, only to find I had lost the money and energy I had invested. My solution was BDO. They worked on the grant with me for a set percentage. This was great. I paid nothing up front. Lost nothing if it did not come through, and they got paid and so did I. A great win/win.

So where has that lead me.

My company Accede is still creating specific boutique databases for businesses. We have also created to date 3 products

We are currently working on 2 fronts. Marketing and Sales. Plus product improvements and new prospective products.

R and D does work. The trick is not only creating the product and getting over problems, but also working out how to take this to the next level and sell or market these products. I hope that soon our government assists SME’s with this next step.

Cate Schafing is a successful Australian business woman in the IT field serving as CEO of Accede Holdings Pty. Ltd. makers of Ezymeetz, ICE and Virtual Gym. She develops innovative new technological products as a programmer and entrepreneur. In gratitude for her success her company supports NFP’s by donating $5000 per month in programming time for NFP’s requesting work.

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Super + Tax + Paperwork increase = ABUSE

As a business owner and employer of 32 years experience in South Australia, I am angry and tired of being abused by our Governments. For 32 years, I have done the right thing by staff, government and the Australian people and what is the outcome ABUSE!!!  Even worse than this, there is one set of rules for us and one for the Government – that’s just not fair – so much for a “Fair Go Mate”!!!

The business vacancy signs increase as does unemployment. Why can’t our government or our business advocates hear us? Not only do they refuse to hear us, if their own reports force them to see, they change the rules so the reports don’t show them the facts , e.g. unemployment figures.

Here are some examples of ABUSE by our Government on the Australian People

Payroll Tax

This tax is placed on a business that employs too many people. However, the Government does not have to pay Payroll tax, and they often compete and quote against business for contracts.

This is giving government an Unfair advantage and a false costing, when comparing Private enterprise to Government.

But what a stupid tax.

Superannuation.

Brought about because the PAYG that we employees pay, is being abused.

Originally PAYG or payroll tax, was paid to the government for 2 reasons. Running the Government and to provide a pension in our retirement.

So what now, we will increase the retirement age, and make people be self funded, whilst we increase the PAYG tax.

Totally abusive and Unfair.

Plus to add to the nightmare, as a business each person has a right to chose their own fund and we must oblige this – Funny – the government does not offer the same rights to Government employees – Why – probably too hard!

FAIR WORK ACT – IS UNFAIR and NAIVE

Fact, living in SA is cheaper than the same lifestyle and life in Sydney. E.g. to live the same distance from the city, with the same food, etc. costs more in Sydney than in Adelaide. So in the past our pay rates, reflected this. Oh! But that was considered unfair!! So now we have the Fair Work Act, and we pay all people all over Australia the same rate. So when Cities smaller than Melbourne and Sydney could get jobs because of our labor rate, we no longer can. This the end effect is chaos. We are overburdening Sydney and Melbourne and losing all our talented youth to there. We are closing businesses. Those that remain open are getting less work and doing with less staff or less profits. This is non Sustainable. What brilliant legal team thought this through. Here in SA we face an election were all are promising to create new jobs (this statement in itself is a joke), but without removing this act and getting really fair – how can this be sustainable.

PAPERWORK INCREASE

Many employers are 50+ years old. They have been raised without a computer, and learnt computing post school. 60% of those employed are employed via small business owners. These people often struggle with fulfilling the extra demands of Government. For example. 20 years ago, a business paid, and reported annually is Payroll related tax, its Income tax, and its financial situation. Today, we do monthly or quarterly paperwork on pays and Income. Plus annual reports. What does this mean, more paperwork, or accounting, higher accounting costs. Here is the real bug bear. 20 years ago, we paid in arrears by between 2 to 18 months. E.g. after the end of the financial year, it would be due with our company reporting. Now we not only pay each month, but we even pay predicatively in advance on our Income Tax. How abusive is that!. Pay even before we make the income – and too bad if you have a loss, you wait and the Government in the mean time enjoys your money. Plus if you are late, you get huge interest fees.

APPRENTICESHIPS

The other night on TV, an audience complained that Businesses aren’t fair when it comes to apprenticeships. I used to employ apprentices and post graduates – but no longer. It just does not pay – thanks to the Fair work Act. The reasons are simple, the unskilled unexperienced worker does not perform anywhere near the same level as a skilled worker – but we have to pay them a rate that does not relate to performance but a fair work rate. E.g. a skilled worker may get $30 per hour full time, the unskilled worker gets $22 per hour, but needs the support of the skilled worker to do his or her work. So you save $8 per hour, but it costs you about $10 per hour to support, so you are losing $2 per hour to employ an apprentice. The schemes the Government offer don’t financially cover the costs. Our government is really not being fair to our youth, and only either a foolish businessman or a businessman with personal reasons would take on an apprentice.

OFF SHORE WORK

We are told to buy Australian – why then does our Government buy off shore, when the same if not better solutions are here and available locally.Why – because of cost, and the cost is high because of labour. This is just so unfair.

SOLUTION

Well our government has given us the only solution. Employ contractors or Virtual assistants. This is the harsh outcome of all these demands. For some business people, it is just too hard, and they are just giving up. I still however have hope, that our government will wake up and start caring for its people, and bring back some true fairness for employers and employees. Maybe someone in the government might even read this blog and think about bringing in some changes that will assist all of us.

 

Cate Schafing is a successful Australian business woman in the IT field serving as CEO of Accede Holdings Pty. Ltd. makers of Ezymeetz, ICE and Virtual Gym. She develops innovative new technological products as a programmer and entrepreneur. In gratitude for her success her company supports NFP’s by donating $5000 per month in programming time for NFP’s requesting work.

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Product Development

Product development is something I have a lot of experience in. I have gone through this with stress, frustration, hope and exhaustion. I have developed products for myself, for others and in partnership. The products I have developed have been both physical and non physical (e.g. Software and Web based products).

Products can be developed for a few reasons

  • To solve an existing or potential problem
  • To on sell and make profit

img-zunaidProducts we create to solve an existing or potential problem, we find generally have little or no difficulty in achieving and within a budget and timeframe.

Products we create to on sell and make a profit, we find very difficult to achieve to goal of making a good profit in a timely manner. However, it is this product that leads to the hopeful “pot of gold”. So if you are looking at developing a product – here is a check list of things to do FIRST.

  1. Check your product concept out, with the market. This could be done in a range of ways, e.g. Market research by a company, or by yourself.  Check out potential competitors – and really look into this. So often you start and think you have No competition, but later you find that in fact you have heaps of competition. For example, our Ezymeetz, we reviewed the market place before beginning, found that there was a definite niche and need, and no one had a product that did not affect the computer registry and could run without specific hardware. So we had an edge – but was this enough – No.
  2. Plan, with a living plan. So have a budget, time, marketing and sales plan. Make sure you stay on top and don’t just put this plan in the cupboard – keep it in front of you. This is much easier than it sounds. Ezymeetz has had to go through so many upgrades to hit all the market needs, that the plan has adjusted so much, it does not look anything like the initial plan.
  3. Marketing and Sales are not the same thing. Whilst one needs to have marketing and it is totally essential with a new product. One still needs sales to support the marketing and to get the product out there. This may even mean giving away free sites.
  4. Be Logical – there is a time to quit and a time to keep pushing. Be clear to yourself where you are, and what you are prepared to do, to get the product out. Over the years, I have developed a few products but from each failure, I have learnt. I have learnt how to do this in a leaner way. I have learnt about marketing. In fact I have enjoyed the journey, but in the end, this is a business and one needs to be logical about it. I have seen people lose their family, their homes, and even their lives over a product. Keep perspective. Have pointers and rules. Know your own limits.
  5. Don’t be afraid of Success. So often people fail because they are afraid to succeed. So don’t be afraid of success, and remember to win the war you have to win many battles. This is also part of product development.
  6. Hurdles can be opportunities. I have invested a lot of time and money in a product called the Virtual Gym, then the GFC hit. Discretionary spending was lost. Businesses were afraid to invest. So did I give up, no, I took this as an opportunity. I realised that even though discretionary spending was done, businesses in general needed a better and more economic way to run their businesses, and the Virtual Portal we had developed was a prospective solution. So we prepared and began Ezymeetz. We also found that our Government would give support to us, for the R and D we had done in this amazing new technology.
  7. Balance. As some product development is long term – you need to keep all areas of your life in balance and perspective. It is no good to achieve the goal of a great successful product, and reap the financial and emotional success if you can’t enjoy it due to other problems.

So if you are a budding entrepreneur, consider these points, and I hope it saves you some of the learning curve I have gone through.

 

Cate Schafing is a successful Australian business woman in the IT field serving as CEO of Accede Holdings Pty. Ltd. makers of Ezymeetz, ICE and Virtual Gym. She develops innovative new technological products as a programmer and entrepreneur. In gratitude for her success her company supports NFP’s by donating $5000 per month in programming time for NFP’s requesting work.

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Tips on how a small business can improve Cashflow

urlCash flow is the blood of small business. Without it, you go out of business. It doesn’t matter how good you are, how great your products are and even how great your customers and staff are. Cash flow is the essential item to staying in business.

So your business is cash poor and you need to know how to survive. Here are the rules that I have been able to use in bad times and to keep my business operational through thick and thin for 30 years.

  • Weed out your clients. 10% of your clients bring you 90% of your profits. Look after the 10% very well. Get more of them. Encourage the 90% of time wasteful clients to either go to other suppliers or become part of the 10%, so you can get more of the 10% clients. When all your clients are bringing you good profit, you won’t have a cash flow problem. Plus you will be able to ride the loss of a good client or a depression.
  • Don’t offer more than you really can. If you need to have 7 day terms, then state it. Think outside the box. For example, you are a hair dresser and you notice you clients are either being lost or not coming as often. Their reason – their disposable cash is less than ever before. Well you need to help them to help you. Offer a weekly payment that means that each week, they pay $X towards their regular hair appointment. End result, they have a solution to their limited disposable income. You have a regular cash flow and client. Everyone wins. So think outside the box.
  • Don’t forget to ask for payment. So often, people have huge trade debtors and poor cash flow. If they asked for payment, then the cash flow would be resolved. As an example, one of my clients (a local Government Body) – who are average with payment terms, if followed – I decided not to follow up the payment. This invoice took over 5 months to be paid and was lost over 4 times. So follow up your payments.
  • Don’t be afraid to lessen your account terms. E.g. from 30 days to 7 days, with the odd formal exception. If you look around – all of our facilities have changed account terms to 7 days. This goes for phones, power, water and credit card payments. Some are even less.

 

  • Lower your costs. Look hard at what you spend money on, and lower your outgoings. This can be as simple as shopping around, to cancelling some not really needed items. Or even considering different forms of services, e.g. Virtual Assistants.
  • Never stop giving back. I have found that volunteering and supporting the community has an odd way of coming back and supporting you. If you give, you do seem to get. It may be by a new client, or a referral, or purely it gives you the positive feeling when things feel bad.
  • Finally – Keep Control. Don’t just hope it will get better on its own. Face it, plan and execute. Don’t waste energy on worrying. Face the facts – look at the best and the worst.
  1. Plan for what you want.
  2. Expect to achieve what you want.
  3. Execute your plan.

It never fails, and if you get another stone on your path, go back to face facts again. Even if the fact is closing the business as it is. It does not mean you are out of business, it just may mean you are going to do business in a different way.

I also found it helpful to have someone to chat to, that understands, listens and when asked, can give you useful honest feedback. In the end though, you have to decide and act.

I hope these points have given you some ideas. Remember, after the hard times come the good times. Work through a bad cash flow and you have a winning solution to keep on getting bigger and better.

 

Cate Schafing is a successful Australian business woman in the IT field serving as CEO of Accede Holdings Pty. Ltd. makers of Ezymeetz, ICE and Virtual Gym. She develops innovative new technological products as a programmer and entrepreneur. In gratitude for her success her company supports NFP’s by donating $5000 per month in programming time for NFP’s requesting work.

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How MYOB Can be an Easy Timesaving Tool

selectExploreSampleCompany.96.RGBMYOB is a great value accounting package. However for most of us, accounting is the way of recording the financial transaction although it really does very little to increase sales.

When selling, we are generally looking at 2 options:

1. Selling more to existing clients.

2. Getting new clients.

Due to this fact, most of us end up double entering data. We keep some combination of accounting software, including a database, excel spread sheets, a website, MYOB and for some of us a freight system. This means we could re-keying the same information up to 4 times.

MYOB recognised this and have timesaving solutions. One solution is that they have MYOB ODBC and MYOB Developers. Accede is one of these developers. In addition to this, they offer add on solutions for businesses. Find out more at both:
1. www.myob.com.au/addons/
2. www.accede.com.au/our-services/myob-database-development-integration/

Star Track Express, also has an automatic interface between databases and MYOB and Star Track. So without even making a call – your freight can be collected.

These timesaving options mean that the following is possible.

WEB ORDERING MODEL

A client enters an order in your web.

You bring this to your local database and import to MYOB when you are ready to invoice and transfer to your freight system when ready. A business who does this, is using this timesaving technique and making headlines in the world of online sales Oz Trampolines, and is based in Geelong – Victoria. Oz Trampolines has been able to use this extra time to give better price options, support, product choice and options. A real leader in Trampoline sales in Australia.

Another option is a CRM MODEL

You Enter your data into your Call Centre area, follow the CRM Progress of your client, transfer the invoice to MYOB when ready to invoice and dispatch with your freight system. This model also allows auto reminders from your database to resell to existing clients. A business offering the CRM solution is Utter Gutters. By using these options, Utter Gutters has established a business that is devoted, with more staff to support consumers, provide installation and frequently update their Q&A, bringing them into a leader position in their market.

WHAT IF I DON’T USE MYOB?

MYOB is popular but not the only financial accounting system. The same options are used in most accounting solutions. What you need to ask your accounting package people is “Do you offer an ODBC import facility?”  It is very rare that this is not an available option today. If the answer is yes, then the above options are available to you – today.

The end result is YES, you can do this with as little as NO data entry or single data entry. Wasting time and money in administration today is really wasted money. Use your company time to give you better results, not to do tasks that can be automated. Your company, by working smarter, not harder can become known for its support, innovation & customer service.

 

Cate Schafing is a successful Australian business woman in the IT field serving as CEO of Accede Holdings Pty. Ltd. makers of Ezymeetz, ICE and Virtual Gym. She develops innovative new technological products as a programmer and entrepreneur. In gratitude for her success her company supports NFP’s by donating $5000 per month in programming time for NFP’s requesting work.

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Have Databases Helped or Hindered Life Balance

database-design-developmentAfter 30 years of writing databases, employing programmers and owning a software company, I question if databases actually help or hinder our lives. Today, data is power. Those who have access to data and can use data information to get an advantage, can take a pivotal position in the choices of their lives.

Using data well could mean working less hours, and using the time for other interests, hobbies or family. It could also mean doing more work and achieving more goals. Using data well can also give a business or company leadership in decision making – because the facts that they can weigh up, are far more accurate.

With the advantages of data control, also comes higher demands. More demands have come from government, consumers, employees and users.

Each of these points, offer both positive and negative aspects – however, the question remains: Has data improved our life balance?

Quality of life has definitely improved in the last 50 years in relation to health, hours of work, workplace environments, and learning. Information and access to information has also brought with it many other issues, divorce, single parenting, depression, stress and a huge line of similar problems.

I believe in the most part that work life balance is actually up to us as individuals. Databases have given us knowledge. This knowledge has both advantages and disadvantages.

I am going to weigh up database information to Santa Claus to help you see my opinion.

Remember as a child, you believed in Father Christmas but, then when you were still fairly young, you were told he was not real. The advantage of believing was that you believed someone watched over you, cared for you, gave your gifts and encouraged you to do your best. Knowing that Father Christmas was not real led you to be more aware of what your parents did and sacrificed for you, and made you responsible for yourself. However at 16, I decided that Santa Claus (St Nicholas Claus) was real and that his spirit still brings Christmas to many people, but that I had to be responsible, and I am thankful that I had loving, supporting parents.

In short – I used my knowledge to make a life choice that would bring me balance. I believe databases give knowledge – the quality of the knowledge is totally dependent on the quality of the data. However what we do with this knowledge really is the answer to life balance. It is our choices that bring life balance, and we can make better choices if we have better databases. However the decision is ours.

 

Cate Schafing is a successful Australian business woman in the IT field serving as CEO of Accede Holdings Pty. Ltd. makers of Ezymeetz, ICE and Virtual Gym. She develops innovative new technological products as a programmer and entrepreneur. In gratitude for her success her company supports NFP’s by donating $5000 per month in programming time for NFP’s requesting work.

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