Tag: business tips

 

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.

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Traits of a Not-So Average Entrepreneur

image from pixabay

image from pixabay

In this modern time of creating a potential business empire, hardwork is not enough for entrepreneurial success. Most of the time, it requires a centered mind and a handful of skill set to establish your business. Let us focus on what traits entrepreneurs should possess to make him extraordinary among others:

 

  • Go-Getter in almost Everything Every entrepreneur should be enthusiastic to accept and take challenges. It is essential that they balance their optimism and their perception of any risks involving a certain project or decision. They must also be rational in making decisions and mitigating tasks to their subordinates.

 

  • Determined to Go for their Business goals Business owners must emphasize their goals not only for this year but for also 5 to 10 years prior. They must also align their employees with their perspective goals. In addition, entrepreneurs must not only possess a tremendous work ethic but also not a quitter. He/she should see failures as stepping stones for improvement and not a roadblock of failure. With these traits, they not only overcome obstacles, but also inspire others to work further.

 

  • Creative in Finding Solution and Information for Business Growth An entrepreneur must be a visionary, one that knows the trends and how to use it to his advantage. They must acquire in-depth information that will make their business grow or stable. Lastly, they must explore options and solutions to solve their problem. As the old idiom goes, Leave no stone unturned.

 

  • Confident and Independent As a businessperson, they should know how to present their selves well in public. They should have that confidence that they can build their brand well and initiate new trends among competition. They also can communicate well their vision and ideas efficiently. Apart from that, they are proactive, can multi-task, and possess a strong sense of responsibility among their subordinates.

 

  • Builder of Harmonious Relationship in the Workplace What entrepreneurs should understand is the art of making your people work with you, not for you. Their employees must feel confident and secure working in your organization. They must feel that you, as a business owner are open, positive, and socially aware.

 

Building a business not only requires entrepreneurs technical, marketing, and accounting skills. Most importantly, they must highlight their exceptional talent and traits in order to inspire others and work with them to achieve success.

 

We at Accede Holdings provide the best in accounting and database management technology for business owners in Australia and around the world. For over 30 years, we have created over 600 business applications in every business industry. You can attest that your certain business requirements and needs be met by our experienced pool of developers and coders. Call us today for a free quote at (08) 8363 5699.

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Life Lessons I Learned in Renewing the Business

As a Christian, I am currently in the period we call Lent. Lent for me is a time of year that I review, repent and then begin renewal. While I was studying in my Lenten study group last night, I noticed that what we studied had a great similarity to the circle of life.

renewWhen I considered the idea of a circle of life, and how this circle of life in a micro sense is a circle of my Christian life, I really began to appreciate the need to Die/Renew oneself, and how energizing this is.

I also realised the necessity for routine and ritual in this process.

In our own lives, we are born, we grow, and we review our lives and repent or try to do better. We often as people do major sacrifices to start a new form of life, e.g. being a parent generally means the end of a single and sometimes selfish life.

So this circle really has a lot of ways it can be applied in our lives.

As a director I know I am responsible for my business, and to make sure I give it the care and attention, I generally consider that business to be that of a helpless child, one I have to care for, protect, watch out for, and help to develop. With this mindset, I wondered what applying the circle of life idea would have on my business.

 

Check, Fix, and Renew…

If I review my business on an annual basis, work out what I need to repent/ fix/ rectify and then renew my business. I will naturally bring about the death of out of date routines and bring about new goals and ways of growth. This new birth would need to be done with some form of recognition and acceptance by staff. It would also have to be a regular event. By doing this process, I would be bringing new life to my business.

 

In business, Energy = Income

annual-report-61851_640Up until now, bringing about energy and life in a business can really be either by the staff one employs, irregular ideas or promotions, or an external reason that brings about a surge in the company or forces a change.

The concept of me making this happen on a regular way, and having control to bring about energy and new life in the company never really occurred to me in this fashion. I can see that this will be far less stress than any past ideas I have considered.

So as this is my first week in Lent I plan to use this week to Review. Next Week I will consider how I can repent, then the best way to put the past to death and bring about the New Accede.

 

Wish me good luck!

For those of you, who like me are working through your own Lenten circle of Life I send blessings.

 

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 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.

 

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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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