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Category Archives: 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.

 

Adding Value on Your Business

Adding value, or going the extra mile doesn’t usually mean you have to walk over hot coals for your customers.

And it doesn’t mean you have to give away profit either.

In most situations it’s the opposite.

All you have to do is the little things – the ‘little things’ that make a big difference to the CUSTOMER.

So don’t worry about giving away a lot of product, or a lot of times to ‘add value’ just use plain old good manners.

Let me give you an example.

I worked with a business that installed computer cabling. The size of a good order was about $50K to $250K worth of cabling.

The technicians that installed the cable were specialists and had a high degree of specialized knowledge. And they believed that they were doing a great service to their client by installing their cables.

But they got a lot of complaints… and do you know what for?

‘Trivial things’ as the technicians called it…

The customers were complaining about the dust, hand prints and foot prints left on their work desks.

You see the technicians usually had to get into the ceilings of the offices to lay the cables, and that meant standing on tables.

When the technicians got into the ceilings dust would start falling down onto the tables.

The ‘tables’ they had to stand on, and the ‘tables’ that collected all the dust were the customers work stations.

And the customers hated it.

The customers also complained that their computers had been moved.

Despite the regular complaints the technicians just laughed it off with a ‘get over it’ attitude.

And it cost the business thousands upon thousands over a number of years.

Their referral rate was nil, and they started losing long time customers.

And they couldn’t work it out.

To them it didn’t make sense.

After all they were doing highly specialized work that only highly trained people could do and the complaints were about ‘footprints’ and ‘dust’.

To them it didn’t make sense… but if you were the customer – how would you like it if someone came in and left ‘stuff’ all over your desk, moved your computer, and your ‘special’ things you have around it?

People get protective about their property.

And as a service to them, we need to respect their property.

So with some customer service training and some standard operating procedures we fixed the ‘problem’

Now the business cleans up after themselves and makes sure everything is left spotless.

Instead of stepping on desks – they have their own customized step ladders.

It’s the businesses way of ‘adding value’ and going the extra mile.

And it only cost a little bit of time, which of course was chargeable to the customer. And the customer was happy about paying it, because they were happy.

Here’s another example…

I have a graduate that cuts down oversized trees in people yards. When he’s cutting down trees sawdust flies everywhere… so he covers the flowers and garden with material to stop the sawdust flying into areas that the customers hates.

It’s my clients’ way of being unique and adding value.

Another client of mine services computers. And when they service the computer they clean it up so that it looks like new. The customer can’t tell what the technicians have done to the inside of the computer, but by making the outside look clean and spotless – like it was new, the customer thinks – ‘gee they must have done a great job’.

It’s the little things that add value and make you different.

There are numerous ways of adding value to your customers. And it doesn’t have to involve money – it usually just involves manners.

Treat people better than you’d expect to be treated.

That way you’ll add value, delight your customers – and you’ll grow your business successfully.

 

Great Things about The Stages of Change

Prochaska and DiClemente’s Transtheoretical Model of Change identifies five stages of change: precontemplation, contemplation, preparation, action, and maintenance.

The Precontemplation Stage (Not Currently Considering Change)

This stage could really be called “the precursor-to-change” stage. This is the stage when individuals may not even be thinking about becoming small business owners. In fact, in this stage, they may not even be aware that it would be beneficial for them to make a change, though other individuals around them may be thinking that they should. This stage’s motto is: Ignorance is bliss.

How to know if you are in The Precontemplation Stage:
1.You’re not really thinking about starting up a small business.
2.You are basically okay with how things are.
3.Others may be voicing their concerns about the hours you are keeping, the stress you seem to be under, or how much you need to take a vacation.

Those in this stage do not intend to take action within the next 6 months.

The Contemplation Stage (Thinking about Change and Researching Options)

In the Contemplation Stage, individuals are aware that a change is needed and they actually desire to make a change. Although they are seriously thinking about change, they have no clear plan of action because they are feeling ambivalent about change. This stage’s motto is: Just sitting on the fence waiting to see what will come along.

How to know if you are in The Contemplation Stage:
1. You find yourself doing on-line research, and thinking about what it would be like to be a small business owner.
2. You seek out the perspective of others who have “been there, done that.”
3. You find yourself attracted to journal articles about entrepreneurship and small business ownership.

Those in this stage are considering taking action within the next 6 months.

The Preparation Stage (Ready for Change and Making Plans)

This stage of change is readily apparent by the amount of activity, decisions, and overt action that is taking place in preparation for a small business start up. This is a time of planning how and when the start up process will begin. This stage’s motto is: I think I can, I think I can, I think I can.

How to know if you are in The Preparation Stage:
1. Your small business start up coach has become your best friend.
2. Your white board is getting a daily workout as you look at every aspect of small business ownership.
3. You are regularly experiencing both excitement and fear.

Individuals in this stage are intending to take action within the next month.

The Action Stage (Making Change and Taking Charge)

This stage is characterized by a considerable amount of steady, forward movement. All the necessary paper work is filled out, business checking accounts opened, company name registered, business cards selected, web site developed, and strategic action plans mapped out. The motto for this stage is: Carpe Deum.

How to know if you are in The Action Stage:
1. You are in full-out action mode.
2. You’re spending most of your day focused on your new small business, and loving it.
3. You are committed to seeing your actions through.

Individuals in this stage are taking action.

The Maintenance Stage (Continuing Forward Movement toward Goal)

By this stage, individuals are firmly ensconced in the forward movement and momentum of launching their new small business. Continued commitment to sustaining the forward movement of their small business success is the goal of this stage. The motto of this stage is: Westward, ho!

How to know if you are in The Maintenance Stage:
1. Your business is running smoothly.
2. You have begun cycling back through the stages of change to further develop and expand the growth of your small business.
3. You are actively looking for new opportunities for change and growth.

Individuals in this stage are continuing momentum.

In Praise of Prochaska and DiClemente’s Transtheoretical Model of Change

As has been demonstrated, Prochaska and DiClemente’s Transtheoretical Model can be easily adapted to the stages of change that occur in small business start ups. Individuals considering whether or not they are ready to become small business owners need no longer be left with the question of “if.” Rather, they can easily find a clear answer to where they are along the change continuum. As a result, they themselves become powerful and effective agents for change. What’s more, they learn that change, while life-altering, can be life-affirming and life-enhancing.

 

Tasks A day for Small Business

Create An Action Plan

When you define what you want to achieve with your small business, spend some extra time to write down the steps you need to take. Make a blueprint which states exactly what you want to achieve, and what you have to do to reach your goals. Make it clear what is most important. In what order should it be done? What needs extra time or resources?

Instead of just having one definite deadline for your main goal, you need to create stop over goals. Make a schedule and set stop over goals at each state of progress. Write down an estimated arrival date at each stop over goal. By doing this ,you’ll break down your main goal into manageable easy to maintain steps.

Create Your Five A Day Plan Ahead

set aside 5-10 minutes at the end of each day. Have a look at your plan and decide what needs to be done to move you to the next stop over goal. What can you do tomorrow that will bring your small business closer to that next stop over goal?

Decide what you want to accomplish, and break it down into tasks, small tasks that can be completed in a couple of hours, or even minutes. It might be something as small and quick to do as, “Get a price list from supplier A.” Or it may be a bigger task such as “Write down all the benefits to cover on your sales page.” Whatever the task is, make sure you break it down far enough so you can complete it in a couple of hours, at most.

Time to start! Write down five tasks for tomorrow. Write down exactly what you need to do, what results you want to achieve, what resources you’ll need.

No Matter What, You Must Stick To Your Plan!

Tomorrow you must complete all five tasks. You can’t afford to let “emergencies” divert you from these all important business developing, goal achieving tasks. Don’t spend your day jumping from one emergency to another. Put your blinders on, and concentrate on your tasks, do it each and every day.