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Monthly Archives: March 2017

Start Thriving Business

The first step to creating a thriving business is preparing an operational manual that will ensure that your business can survive any hurdle including business growth, owner absenteeism and even owner death. Most business owners never stop to consider what might happen if they were injured, sick or worse. By taking a precautionary role in your business and considering things such as: “What if it happened to me?”; “What if my spouse, child or parent was sick tomorrow – could I dedicate the time to their recovery?”

These are all things we think we won’t have to worry about, but what if? Step back for a minute and think about how your business would change if you needed to take the time to dedicate to a personal problem. Perhaps in the short term it wouldn’t change much, but what about if you needed to step back for an extended period of time? What would happen then?

The success of many of today’s small businesses hinges on the expertise and skills of the owner. What happens to the business though should the owner become ill or die? In many cases a family member steps in out of a feeling of obligation, but often they lack the skills necessary to allow the business to truly thrive. They don’t have the same dedication, determination or passion to see the business succeed as you did. In many cases, a promise to maintain a family business is made with the thought of “I won’t ever have to worry about that” in the back of the family member’s mind. After all, no one thinks it will ever happen to them.

By creating an operational manual that outlines every faucet of your business operations including pertinent company information and a full description of how daily tasks are carried out, your business could easily continue uninterrupted without fear things were not being handled in the same manner you, as business owner, would expect. Family members could easily hire someone to handle the business operations with your Operations Manual with the confidence of knowing things were being handled as you would handle them.

Step back for a minute and think about what it means for you to truly create a thriving business. Just like plants need essential tools to survive, so does your business. The ingredients may be different but providing them is no less important. Plants need water, sun and dirt in order to grow vigorously and healthily. Your business needs a successful team leader, a needed product or service and a plan in order to be successful and profitable. Most businesses only have two of those important ingredients and are missing the most important ingredient. If you leave instructions for watering your plants, shouldn’t you leave instructions for running your business?

 

Create Online Small Business

First and foremost, you should have a web site to promote your business. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy; it could even be a one-page site that describes your product offerings. The important thing is to have a site that lets potential customers know what you can do for them, and more importantly, where they can find you. When you build your site, make sure to list your address, phone number and email address.

If you’re not ready to pay for full-blown web hosting and hire a designer to create your site for you, there are other options at your disposal. Many portals are now offering free or low-cost site hosting and blogs. For as little as $10 a month, you can have a site with your own domain name (i.e. YourCompany.com). This is an easy and inexpensive way to dip your toe into online marketing.

The next thing you should do is make sure your company is listed in the major online yellow page business directories. Most of these directories provide a mechanism for submitting your business for free. The information here will be very similar to what you’d put on your own site.

Just like their offline counterparts, the online yellow pages offer many upgrades to improve the visibility of your company and drive more business to you. These upgrades range from enhanced listings and a more prominent display to full-blown search marketing program designed to help you grow your business.

The important thing to remember is if you’re not listed in the directories or visible online, your customers won’t be able to find you and will end up going to your competition.

 

Have An Idea For A New Electronic Product

Many great product ideas were turned into fully functional electronic devices but never made their way successfully to the marketplace because the product was not easy to use, the target market or niche market where the product could be sold successfully was not accurately identified or targeted, the product advertising was not successful, an unattractive or non-identifiable name was applied to the product, the product pricing was too expensive, the product was provided in unattractive packaging, the product as manufactured was unreliable, or the wrong sales distribution model was chosen. There are a lot of minefields to dance in before you have a successful product that meets or exceeds your sales expectations.

Initially you must identify the following to determine if your product idea is valid:

– who would buy this new product?
– how much would they be willing to pay for it ?
– can you produce the product and make the required profit margins at the anticipated sales price?
– how do you get the product in front of the customers so that they can buy the product?
– can you provide warranty and service functions for the product?
– will your design require product compliance testing for any applicable FCC or UL regulations?
– will the product have to meet RoHS requirements (such as lead-free for components and soldering) for overseas (European Union, China, Japan, Korea, etc.) and domestic (California) markets?
– would this product infringe on any existing patents?

To answer the above questions, you should document your product idea in the form of a product specification document that describes which systems that the product could interface with. It should also identify all of the various functions the product should perform, describe how the product should be packaged esthetically and physically for size and shape, and define how the device will be powered. The product specification document should also describe how the user would interface with the product, such as by an equipped keypad, pushbuttons, a rotary dial switch, touchscreen, by an external link to a personal computer, PDA, or one of the newer sophisticated cell phones. You must also consider how the unit will display information to the user with options including an LCD character display, light emitting diodes or LEDs either singly or in an array, a graphics capable display in monochrome or color, or by audible tones.

Once the initial product specification document is completed, a marketing study should be initiated that identifies the optimum target market or market niche, and the product’s preferable name choices, including a primary name choice and some alternate name choices. The marketing study should provide options for selling the product both directly and through sales distribution, including who would actually stock, sell, and support the product in each scenario. The marketing study should also include the product’s anticipated pricing range such as the anticipated MSRP or manufacturers suggested retail price at the upper end and the discounted pricing where you would really be able to sell large quantities of the product at different volume levels and different margin levels at the lower end.

When the marketing study is completed, it should be reviewed against the original product specification document and changes made as required to either or both documents to fully identify the product requirements. Once this review is completed, the electronics and mechanical packaging design processes can begin, based on the parameters established by the review of the product specification document and the results of the marketing study. In order to optimize the design, the product designers must know what functions the product should perform, what the product should look like, and how much the product should cost to be manufactured and packaged ready for sale. Product logo designs and product labeling requirements should also be identified as they can have an impact on the physical package designs and the overall appearance of the product.

With this information available, you are now prepared to either design the product yourself; utilize other internal resources to design the product, or to contract the design activities with an outside source. You will need access to the following functional skill sets to have your idea turned into a working product:

– electronics hardware designer(s) with the analog and/or digital design expertise required for your design idea application
– printed circuit board layout designer with an applicable pcb CAD package
– a software designer with the required programming expertise and software tools
– a mechanical packaging specialist
– an electronics assembly resource to populate the printed circuit boards, to solder the components to the boards, and to assemble the finished prototype product

Even if all of these resources are available within your own company, they may not be available to you in the timeframe your product introduction requires due to scheduling conflicts with other internal projects. This is the point in the project where it can make economic and scheduling sense to make use of the resources from outside entities. Sometimes all of these resources can be outsourced from an electronics manufacturing service provider or EMS, or you may find an engineering resource to provide the initial design services and an EMS to assemble the product. Be sure to have an appropriate Non-Disclosure Agreement in place with any and all parties that are involved in this process to protect your intellectual property.