Tag: business database Australia


Business Growth Tips: How SMEs can realistically harness their data to increase sales

Can you as a SMEs compete with Corporate’s?  Here is a Guide on how increase your sales, have life balance and make more profits.

Use your Data to Increase SalesThe biggest difference between SMEs and Corporate’s  is that they generally have more people to give more smarts to using their data and leverage that they have to enable them to increase sales.
Learning how to realistically harness your data will lead you to increase sales that can bring you in excellent profits. I state this with specific experience.
I have created and assisted many building industry related company, from SME to corporate’s. What I write here is a guide for SME’s based these companies actual experience. Now, I won’t name the companies how have been less successful, but I will later name the company, that I know is successfully harnessing their data and really making it work for them to increase sales, profits and managing their business better.
About 5 years ago, I met 2 companies that created outdoor verandas, pergolas – that style of item for home owners. Through their introduction I then did work for Bluescope Steel. All 3 companies had data and all 3 companies were looking at leveraging their data. So what did they do, that made one company really stand out from the others that was not a corporate.

With the corporate company, Bluescope steel, their marketing division had decided to create a loyalty program to get builders to purchase more products from them. They used their data to increase sales with a loyalty program. This loyalty program planned to give some nice bonuses to the builders that repeat purchased from them. So a smart idea, that had, marketing people, sales people and finally IT people involved in preparing this process. Finally they had administration that managed and maintained the idea. So a lot of staff and money for a simple idea to be implemented. Rather hard for the average SME to challenge – or is it?
This blog is really a guide for SME’s so the 2 SMEs I refer to are real live companies. I will refer to them as SME1 and SME2. SME1 eventually went out of business, SME2 is growing and getting stronger every day in every way, from Sales, Quality, and Service and of course profits. I will review the main data groups that they collect.

Increase Sales with Accounting Data.

Both SME’s in the case used MYOB Premier. Both SMEs had the ability to refer and look at their data via the MS Office tools. So what was different. SME1. Used MYOB to record and store accounts. SME2. Used MYOB to record and store accounts – plus made the accounts and interactive part of his sales process. For example, the accounts directly linked to his sales database, and showed when a person paid, amount paid, values, costs of sales. Plus, if this client was a good client – they used this data to consider “on selling” other options to this client, and to get further referrals from this client. The ability to harness accounting data is not limited to MYOB, in fact, this same function I have used with Xero, Sage, and Quick Books.

Increase Sales with Referral Data

Both SME’s asked for referrals when with a client. SME1, wrote this down in his note book and when and if he could, he has someone attempt to follow these up. SME2, really harnessed their data again, they turned every single prospect into a micro sales person. They did this by sending every single prospect their own Business card sized referral card. This card the client could then give to friends as well as suggest referrals that were immediately entered into their personalized CRM that the manager over viewed and watched. Making sure that people were contacted in a timely manner and the valuable referrals were followed whilst the lead was “Hot”.

Increase Sales with Trade Show Data

Both clients also had exhibitions at trade shows. Both collected data. SME2 had his office staff call the referrals post the trade show, and attempt to set up appointments. He hoped that they got appointments from most of these people, but he had no idea how many he got, how many appointments he got or even how long after the show that these people were contacted. He had no idea how many he lost. SME2 however, entered all his leads immediately via his IPad, had his office staff contact them within a 48 hour period, and had sales people out to communicate. He made sure quotes were timely, and costed correctly. He had procedures and standards for every step of the way, and his reporting told him exactly which sales people were succeeding or not, and to make sure that he got the most out of his sales leads.

Increase Sales with Rectification Process (Complaints)

We all have them. The way we handle these situations shows the quality of the company. SME1 gave the manager the complaints to deal with directly. SME2, has a data based rectification process, that every call, review, call back, photos etc. is recorded. When this began there were a few cases to be cared for, however the open cases at my last check were zero, and it seemed that each case that was raised was less in quantity and less in time to resolution. Having a clear process that could be tracked was definitely working for SME2, plus it seemed from report review, quite a few referrals came out of the clients that did have a complaint that was quickly and appropriately resolved.

Increase Sales with Phone Data

SME1 had gone out of business before he could cost effectively consider using this technology. SME2 however had grown and now automatically integrates the phone call in data. So if the phone rings, the database immediately opens up that phone numbers client information. This is increasing their efficiency, personal service and giving the client a much better service than previously. Plus the manager now knows of all phone numbers of new prospects so sales and leads can’t be lost.

What’s new for SME2?

Well SME2 is discussing other tools that will harness their data. Only a week ago, we discussed more mobile version of data access to assist with QA, servicing, staged photos etc. The tool we reviewed was CRM-Map.com, as this is a google maps database interface tool that allows the storage of files and photos and is not operating system dependent.
So as you can see, SME2 really did harness their data to increase sales. SME1 has since closed his doors. So you are probably wanting to know who the SME2 is – the company I have discussed here is Utter Gutters.

Utter Gutters is a fabulous SA based company, with fantastic caring, diligent staff.  The management and growth of this company that I have been able to actively watch and participate in a small way as Accede Holdings Pty Ltd. The instigator of this growth, is not myself, but the owner of Utter Gutters. I have  been privileged to be a part of the team that has acted on his initiative, and been able to watch as he led his company to increase sales by harnessing their data.


How to deal with Office Setbacks?

setbacks 1Last night I was watching 3 Idiots for the first time and a line from the Bollywood movie got my attention. One character said, “Life is a race. If you don’t run fast, you’ll get trampled”. That line hit a nerve on me since at work we all feel like we are in a race. Most of us feel exhausted that sets us back to where our career should be. We must think of our career like a marathon instead of a sprint. For us to get going, we need to follow our passion, push ourselves to improve, and to have a clear mindset to anticipate upcoming setbacks at work.

Sometimes setbacks or curveballs are there to test your capabilities and maximize your full potential as an individual. You can never control what’s going to happen but you can always control how you will react to it. It’s either you see it as a difficulty or an opportunity to improve. Jeff Keller author of Attitude is Everything jot down the ways on how to deal with your setbacks at work:

  • setbacks 2This too shall pass – Setbacks are hurricanes in our life that is not meant to stay. They are just passing by so you don’t need to fret. Think of it as chance to improve just like champions do.
  • Don’t give up – Do whatever it takes to accomplish your goals and be successful. Accomplish it in ethical and legal bounds. Start saying getting there instead of are we there yet.
  • Surround yourself with positive people – Positivity is contagious so try to weed out people that you think drains your positive energy. Get close with positive people and never hesitate to give positive credits when it’s due.
  • Rewire your timetable – Baby steps is essential in achieving your goals. Don’t let yourself get overwhelmed with facts and tasks. Try to prioritize the goals from short term to long term so that you won’t get disappointed.
  • Act Fast – Pursuing your goals is just like striding a horse; if you fell you need to get up quickly. Remember that time is ticking out to dwell on your setback rather than doing whatever is necessary to succeed.

Let me add a few things that you might also consider in handling setbacks:


  • Reflect – Take a minute or day to get a perspective on what happened at work. Did you address the issues at work effectively? Have you done enough to help your team? What did you learn at today’s work? This will help you redefine your goals or even solutions in dealing your setbacks.
  • S.O.S. – Put your pride out of the door and asks help from others if you think you can’t do it. You can ask your close friends or colleagues for their advice, support, and perspective about your situation or goals.

Success is not all prestige but its more about hardwork and getting humbled by your experiences. What matters is not the bumpy road you take but how you surpass it to get in wherever you are right now. Setbacks, humiliations, embarrassments, and unfair treatment are always there to remind us that we are a working progress nevertheless a diamond in a rough.


This article is brought to you by Accede Holdings PTY LTD, the premiere database development solutions company in Australia.



Making the most out of Client-Staff Relationship

5c6e3604057235d6f905282b70bff640This is the stuff nightmares are made of – or at least this is how I feel right now. For those business owners who manage staff who sell the outcomes of their intellect, this is the hardest part of owning a business. I feel this is a total load balancing act and as the owner, I am a tight rope walker.

Problem – To give quality product at high profit margin – quality long term staff are the keys to success. You also need to employ those better than yourself whenever possible and certainly in specialty areas if you want a long term safe business.

The problem is to keep this kind of employee happy is always a challenge. This kind of employee needs challenge, but not too much and not too hard in respect to delivery times. They need to feel good about their work. They generally like to be part of a team, even if the part is only signs of appreciation and discussion. They need to be respected in all areas of their life by their employee.

Here is the problem. The client thinks they are always right and don’t give a damn about how they treat your staff – they can do what they want. In the end you can try to manage this, accept this and lose staff or walk away.

So how to manage this – these are my tips.

  1. 1403015865-5-tips-building-strong-relationships-clientsRemember going into an agreement is a 2 way streak. You can be offered a sale but you don’t have to accept the sale if you see signs that this business is an abusive business. It will probably only cost you in the end.
  2. There are times a good business has stress and will behave in what you may consider as unrealistic ways. This does not mean it is a bad business. There always needs to be give and take.
  3. Be clear about your expectations and demand a win/win relationship. However chose your timing in regards to demands.
  4. Protect your staff where ever possible from abusive clients, and don’t be afraid to stay – No. Sometimes you just have to.
  5. Finally remember – if you are busting your guts to fix an abusive situation consider letting go of it, and spending your time on a more productive option.
  6. Weigh up your approach. Sometimes the direct approach is necessary – but this is rare and you have a high chance that this approach will not end up in your favour – unless your desire is to end the relationship. It may be better to offer a win / win outcome.
  7. Choose your battle. Customers could write or say abusive things – this is purely the emotion related to the problem. Solve the problem – don’t go over the abuse. Deal with the abuse and decide how you want to deal with that as a separate matter. Don’t get the two mixed together.
  8. Ask your staff – if you have a company need that is above and beyond, and accept a No. But do not ask too often. Encourage a No, and accept this graciously without any stress or guilt being passed on.
  9. Be prepared to say Goodbye. 5% of your clients will bring you 95% of your profits and they take only 5% of your stress, whilst the other 95% of your stress only brings 5% profits. A customer who always brings stress – is just not worth it – Say Goodbye.

Clients can be abusive and not even know it. I see this all the time in programming.

Here are some examples and suggested ways of managing.

I asked for this, why isn’t it done? (never mind they only asked for it 5 minutes ago, and you have not had chance to make this change) Explain clearly, I understand you want this change. This change will take X time to programme and test. You can expect to get this back to yourself by..

I would like to meet with you at 9.30pm (the time of this request is 6.30pm, and you work a 9-5 day).Generally you can consider a once off with this request, but let it be known this is a once off.

So if you find this area a challenge as a manager – remember each experience must be handled uniquely and with wisdom. This wisdom you will gain with experience and reviewing of a situation. So if you lose, turn that into a win, by reviewing and gaining experience. If you Win – Double up, by reviewing and gaining experience.

Bottom line – bullying and harassment by any one, client, owner or staff is not acceptable. So don’t just accept it, take control and work out what you want to do and how you want to handle this matter.


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.


SQL versus NoSQL – The Battle of Database Management Systems

SQL-noSQLWith the enormous amount of data among us, it drastically changed the landscape of how we will store and process structured or unstructured information. This calls for an innovative approach to address the need for scalable and improved performance brought about by database management challenges.

We can’t deny the sudden emergence of SQL and other forms of relational databases to solve this issues but a new player comes with a much better options to offer – as they call it NoSQL. NoSQL offers aggregating oriented databases (Key-Value, Document and Column-family data models), graph databases and the Hadoop ecosystem, which is known as an open-source software framework for storage and large-scale processing of data-sets horizontally. The Hadoop ecosystems also do this processing of data in parallel to clusters of commodity hardware making database management systems running smoothly with minimal errors. We can say that somehow NoSQL addresses issues that relational databases can’t work with while offering a robust ecosystem and standards that matches the capabilities offered by relational databases such as SQL.

Companies and organizations as such are facing a big decision of choosing which to choose among the two. However, we can determine what solution to use to solve the problem through knowing the capabilities and weaknesses of each tool.

Here are our top choices to answer the problems of data organization. We dissected them for you to further understand which solution is best for your business:


  1. Relational Databases are based on a fixed schema in which data is stored in rows and columns of tables in normal fashion so that when someone accesses it, they will provide ACID properties for database transactions. SQL (Structured Query Language) is mostly used to interact with the stored data. It is due to the fact that SQL is an adopted standard by RDBMS vendors and it allows portable use of applications and skills.

This approach solves the problems of dynamic structured data. Dynamic data is interconnected to the context of each other. Over the years, data relationships became vital as the data itself so the role of relational database is to traverse relationships using joins. A join is a search key to use in another table which can be improved by indexing the other keys. The downsides however of this approach is slower data manipulation (add, edit, and delete functions).

  1. just-say-nosqlHadoop Databases is an open-source framework for storing and processing large-scale data that is set in parallel horizontally. Specifically designed to scale clusters of machines while doing local computation and storage. Data is loaded or attached to the Hadoop Distributed File System or HDFS that is designed to handle large clusters of commodity servers. This system accepts data in any format regardless of their schema as queries and batch read operations can then be executed against these data sets.

 This system is manufactured to scale out data horizontally using MapReduce technology that splits up the problem and send it to servers for them to process it in parallel. The results derived from each servers are aggregated and then get resolved as compute and storage functions co-exist in the same server. Technically-speaking, Hadoop is not considered a database system as it does not support transactional processing unlike relational databases.


The Verdict:

Both of them offers great evolution and solution as far as data management is concern. Both of them are best at keeping data storage and retrieval optimized and smooth-operating. It’s hard to distinguish who will be at par because both of them are superb. Let the developer decide which one to use as it will always depends on the situation and need of the business. Both SQL and NoSQL databases can improve their capabilities by offloading the ingress, processing and egress of large volumes of data to Hadoop, allowing them to focus on their true capabilities and use case.



Government and Politics – the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

Government and Politics is a fact of life. But here in Australia are they a saint to us or a Demon? Well, I think they are a bit of both.

Politics in this context is all parties, elected or not, federal, state or local. The political party in office I am referring to as Government in this document.

In short I see both good and bad – and it relates to our actual set up.

To begin with, let’s start on the demon side and end with the saint side.

The biggest demon is that unlike a parent or business making decisions for the best long term outcome, Government and politics are based on an election period – e.g. 4 years. So often either the wrong or not the best decision is made, to fit this situation. Coupled with this, is that one government may start an initiative only to have the next government kit it out – and all the cost, setup etc. is lost.

To put this simply, I have international host sons. They come to me – each and every one with a reason for coming to Australia. Some clearly have been sent here because they need alternative teaching, parenting or even experiences to bring them back to a good level in their home country and family life. However, I have to state – that right now, I am faced with a home problem, if I was to fix this problem long term – I would take a specific course of action, but to fix the problem short term – so that I have a quality of life, I am taking another course of action. This is in fact is the core issue facing our government.

My son, who studies Politics at ANU was last night (almost middle of the night – of course, he is a uni student) discussing the carbon exchange option that Liberals have dumped. He was weighing up the good and bad of this. In short – the scheme is good. The reason for not proceeding, is that this needs to be adopted internationally (basically by all countries), and it needs clear guidelines for judging the credits and debits in respect to carbon, plus insurance of etc. In the ideal world, Australia would agree to this, and every company including the government would need to buy and sell carbon credits. However being an overly nurturing government, our government wants to do all the buying and selling for us – or this is how it is currently set up. But not all the rules are clearly established. So instead – it is dropped in total, until all the minor issues have been sorted out.

au govIf our government wants to do this correctly – it should set up the infrastructure that every business has to buy and sell the carbon credits. Then as a country it would legislate that this should happen. But our overly mothering government wants to do it all for us, and just give us a bill to pay. This of course increases the cost to manage this, plus liabilities. But most importantly it increases our dependence on our government and our complacency. In a time when we should not be complacent e.g. with Carbon, why do this – well that’s the demon – it is easier.

If they drop it until it is a signed matter of fact with all the rules etc. in place, then great for business and business and those employed see the government as a hero. If they collect the tax and pay it those in credit e.g. the Amazon forests etc. then who is going to elect them next time? So the bottom line – is that Liberals in this decision have elected to go with the demon.

Now what about the saint? Well in many ways our government is saintly. It supports disabled, homeless, health, education, infrastructure the list goes on. We might complain, but really our government is supporting so much. However the demon part of this is complacency by individuals. Our wonderful saintly government won’t let us starve or go without. So we don’t have to do things, like insure, work etc.

In simple terms, our government are tight rope walkers. The rope is that of make the best decision for our country within their limited election criteria. So whatever your political lean, realise in the end, your party will be limited when they get in power, if they wish to stay in power. You just have to hope that they will make the best possible decision for you and your country.


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.


How to Deal with Family Members in Business

2.0.1Family and business. What a huge topic. We have all heard these statements:

  • Family Business
  • Family and business just don’t mix
  • It is business not personal.

Well all of the above have a place, but the facts are, a lot of us run businesses, have families, and want to help our families, and this may mean giving them a start in our own business. Or you may in fact be running a family business. So what I want to go over here are some rules to surviving this process.

Rule No 1. Don’t Get Personal.

We have heard the rule it is business, not personal. But the statement really should be – if criticizing, don’t get personal. This should apply to everyone and in fact everything. The moment we get personal, we lose credibility and objectivity. Being family this is not easy. One needs to turn off personal issues, the morning breakfast, an argument etc. and purely focus on the function you are attempting to resolve at business.

Rule No 2. Leave your personal issues at home.

Now we state this rule to staff, however when it is our own family at work, it seems this rule is not so easy to follow. However, it is even more important for us to follow this, as we set the example to all our staff.

Rule No 3. Say Thank you.

As bosses, we often forget to say thank you. To our staff and especially to our family staff. Thank you mean a lot, to all of us. Including staff saying thank you to the boss. So often this little bit of polite culture has been missed. Let us bring this back as new fashionable standard. A good thank you can really brighten your day.

Family-BusinessRule No 4. Your office should appear as a business reflection.

Why do family businesses leave the old settee at work, or the broken printer, and take the good one home. Why not let your customers see that you are doing well, so that they want to invest in you. Why make your office a 2nd grade home. Make it a first grade place that your clients would feel great about. Remember “WYSIWYG” What you see is what you get – most clients use this standard and reflect the business appearance in this manner.

Rule No 5. Keep your business out of certain private space areas.

Initially when my husband Henry and I met, we met as associates, then became business partners, and finally we married. However we found that we brought into our marital private space business, and soon we were swamped. To the point, that our personal relationship strained, our business relationship hit the GFC, and we had no space. So we brought about the rule of Business talk only in the front room. This meant that we did not bring business on to the other party without asking, and we showed Respect.

Final Rule RESPECT.

This is imperative. Always show respect to your own family members. WE generally do this with non-family members, and then forget – because they are family. If anything, this should be the other way around. Realize how great it is to work together, cherish the fact you can, and respect each other.

So with that all said – you should now be able to work, live and play as a family.


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.


Carbon Tax – A Real Option or Additional Expense?

This morning, I read another article from our government about Carbon Tax. In short, I believe that what was presented some years ago by the Labour Government of Australia, was really nothing short of a new tax dressed up. But in the end all the monies were going in one big pot and it was up to the Government to distribute. I listen to the Liberal ideas, and I believe that they are trying to find a solution that will encourage business, and still be responsible.

Is there another Option? YES!!!

carbon-taxJust before the earthquake that devastated Christchurch NZ, I was working with an insurance company, who with the financial and intellectual backup of Zurich and Lloyds of London, had come up with another idea, that they wanted to test, and if it worked, bring this to the next world wide summit.

Here is the plan in simple terms.

A Carbon Monitoring company monitors the carbon credit and or debit points of a company/country/location. These points are floated on what is similar to a stock exchange. Those with credit points, needed to insure this asset, and they could offer their credits on the carbon stock exchange for those with Debits to purchase. In the end, each debit company, had to purchase the equivalent credit points to cover their debits. This model meant the following

  • It would be economic to keep the rainforests.
  • National parks would gain an income by caring for their credit assets
  • Farmers could build wind and crop breaks with trees and sell the credits off these areas, bringing in another income stream to their business.
  • Those that abuse the carbon (get lots of Debits) pay for the credits.
  • Wind farms create credits and have an income stream over their electrical inputs.
  • Alternative energy can still be sourced.
  • Costs are fairly shared in all industries.

FeaturedImageThis could be done just in Australia and this would be our carbon answer. This could also be a model for the world, and we could once again lead the way. Why don’t we? We have the skill, the ability, and expertise. Plus this is a real working answer to the carbon issue. We would be showing a tangible action, not just a money collecting action.

How is this afforded? Like with any stock exchange, each buy and sell has a % commission payable. This is still financially based, but really very, very fair. It creates employment, it is a new industry and if we do this right, we could lead the world and really get our plan out there. If we only succeed in a limited sense, at least our carbon plan is real and is showing a true action to the financial input.


Every time we get a new tax, I am reminded of the viable industry that was totally ruined by Government when they brought on board work cover. Instead of just making rules, and making sure these were enforced, they created work cover. What has this meant? Less coverage, bit financial burden to the government, and 1000’s of jobs lost. When will they learn?

Let business do business and let our Government Govern. I don’t care if this is Labour, Liberal or Greens. Even with the NBN, other countries put in rules, our country the government tax us and put in a NBN. It does not make sense.

Let business do business and let Government Govern!


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.


Should Companies risk everything to get Investors?

investingOver the 30 years of business, there have been good times and bad. I have questioned what I am doing, made course changes, made good decisions and bad. One of the areas I have questioned has been investors? I have also spent a lot of time reviewing this option, attending course and building knowledge. The reason I am documenting my answer to this question is to save time for future business owners.

This is the end result of this question. The question is totally personal and life dependent. Investors however are not necessarily financial investors, they may be knowledge, experience, even partnerships of a commercial relationship. However what is important, is that the journey to deciding this for your business, is where the value lies.

As you review your options, clean up your own business documentation, clarify your position even if just mentally, you will realize your own worth, and even if you wish to have an investor(s).

The question often relates to the reason you have begun to consider having investors. For most people this is often related to financial reasons, and what one often finds, is getting people to invest financially is a long and often not as rewarding as one would hope. Most investors, end up being people looking to sell their skills or knowledge for a piece of the action, without any risk. Also investors are expecting quite a fast turnaround on their financial investment – and almost guaranteed.

invest rightIn simple terms if 100 businesses seek financial investment, less than 1% will result in a satisfactory investment as most businesses when it gets to the facts are not being realistic.

If however you find your skills lacking then investors are a brilliant idea. Especially if the investor is also prepared to take on the risk of giving their skills and knowledge. But the key here is the investor taking on the risk with you. I have found in this area, that many potential investors don’t even have the skills and experience that you will find that you have, once you get your own information and knowledge clear.

So if you are considering this question – my suggestion is take the journey. It is in the journey that you will gain the wealth. Don’t pay someone to take the journey for you – I have done this and lost 25K – so there is 25K worth of paid experience – it is not worth it. If you want to get someone to take the journey – select people on success fee basis – there are many people prepared to do this. The biggest advantage of taking the journey yourself, is the knowledge, experience and people you will meet on the journey. These people you will quickly sift through as being either greatly useful or a total waste of time. You will work out better options for your business. This may change your course, give alternatives you never considered, or even how to do this yourself, without losing value in your product.

Enjoy your journey!


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.