StrategyDriven Tactical Execution Article

Making Your Way Through The Product Development Minefield

We all buy products on a day-to-day basis. We go into shops and see things on shelves that were created by other businesses. It’s likely you’ve seen things on shelves or seen a lack of things on shelves and wondered what it would be like to make your own product. Imagine walking through a store and seeing rows and rows filled with something you created.

This whole concept of developing a product has been around for centuries and remains a popular business model to this day. It’s popular because anyone can create a product, all you need is an idea to kick things into motion.

If this sounds like something that appeals to you, then you’re reading the right article. Throughout the course of this piece, we’ll take a look at some of the main concerns in product development. You’ll be faced with numerous little things that can go wrong or cause harm to your product. It’s your job to navigate through the entire process without stepping on any mines at all.

So, without further ado, here are some of the main things to think about when developing your product:

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Originality is very important when you’re developing a product. If you can’t make something that’s original, is there much point in creating anything at all? If a product is a copy of something else, then there will already be loads of the same product on the shelves, making it hard for you to get a share of the market as you compete with already established products. To be a successful entrepreneur you need to add some originality to your products so they’re set apart from the rest.

It’s important to note that you don’t have to come up with a completely new product idea. This is almost impossible as a lot of things have already been done. What you can do is take ideas from existing products and then put your own spin on them. For example, you may see something and think it would be a better product if it were designed in a certain way. This is you taking something, and making it original by changing key things about its design. This helps differentiate your product from the rest and gives your item something that others are missing.

Staying with this point on originality, you also have legal issues to think about too. If you directly copy things from others, you could be in trouble with their legal team. Some companies patent certain things and copyright the use of things too. So, if you copy this or use someone else’s product name/logo, you can get sued for a lot of money and have your product taken down.

Product Safety

One of the biggest mines you need to dodge revolves around product safety. As the creator of a product, it’s your responsibility to ensure you release something that’s safe for everyone to use. If this isn’t the case, then you will run into problems down the line. You may get away with releasing your product, but it could get flagged up by consumers for being unsafe. As a result, you will end up having to remove your product from shelves and stop selling it.

As you can imagine, this will set you back massively, and cause you to lose a lot of money. So, you must take all the steps possible to ensure your product is safe and can pass any safety test thrown at it. A lot of entrepreneurs are starting to use Failure Mode and Effects Analysis to help create their products. This is simply a method that helps you identify any failures with your product and fix them before you release it. It’s essential you don’t release an unsafe product as it will result in bad things for you and your company.

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Total Product Cost

Possibly the biggest concern will be the overall cost of your product. More to the point, just how much does it cost to make a single product? This plays a huge role going forward, as it determines how much you will sell your product for. You need to sell your product for more than it costs to make it if you want to earn a profit. Otherwise, you’ll just lose money every time you make your products.

How do you calculate the total product cost? Well, it means you have to add up all the different costs that occur during the development stage. This includes adding up how much it cost to purchase all the raw materials you used to put your product together. Then, you have to consider the labor costs too. Do you have employees or did you outsource some of the labor work? Either way, it will cost you money, and you need to add this to the total costs. Finally, add together all the overhead costs you incurred too. This is everything else that’s not included in the first two costs. For example, the cost of advertising and marketing your product.

You need to take all of these costs and look at how many products you managed to create, as well as how long it took to create them. This helps you establish the cost per unit of each product. In simple terms, it shows you how much each product cost to make. Now, you’re in a position to use this figure and work out how much you can afford to sell your products for. The reason the total product cost is important is that it can decide if your product is successful or not. If the cost is too high, then you’re forced to sell your product for a high price, which can put a lot of people off. You must work to keep costs as low as possible without compromising on the quality.

The world of product development can be a minefield. There are many things lurking unseen that can explode in your face at any moment. So, it’s crucial you prepare yourself for these things and ensure you navigate the minefield successfully. Then, you can release a great product that makes a lot of money.

StrategyDriven Tactical Execution Article

Cut Your Expenses Without Cutting Quality

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So hey, here’s a shocking newsflash for you: starting and running a business is expensive. And if your expenses aren’t being eclipsed by your profits, then your business isn’t going to last very long at all. This is why you need to ensure you’re not making mistakes when it comes to those expenses. Here are some of the smart ways that new business owners can start cutting expenses – without cutting quality.

First up: keep track of your business expenses!

You’re definitely going to have a hard time cutting your business expenses if you can barely remember how much you’re actually spending! Gathering the required data is the first step to improving many areas of business, and finances are definitely no exception.

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The mistake that a lot of new business owners make is that they underestimate the importance of all this. That, or they assume they can keep track of expenses – or do all the bookkeeping – by themselves. But when your business starts taking off a little and starts buying assets and making deals, then those costs are going to get a lot more difficult to track, and very quickly.

Don’t make the mistake of trying to do all of this without an accountant. Work with them to track your expenses in as detailed a way as possible. Only then will you know what areas are costing the most money and where you can start making some cuts.

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Telecommuting is the way

There are loads of benefits to having your employees physically there in the office with you, no doubt. But when you that’s a requirement to run your business with the model you’ve chosen to use, then you have to introduce so many expenses.

The costs of running a business are often so high because you have to account for all those employees! The biggest expense in this area, of course, is the total cost of labour in the form of employee salaries. But there are loads of other costs to consider. For one, you need to ensure that you have an office big enough to house the employees. You also need to consider utilities – electricity and water usage.

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There are also problems of time. How many times have you seen employees – or even yourself! – show up late due to commuting problems? And time is money, after all. The key could be to have workers telecommute, i.e. work from home. This is easier than ever with cloud computing and portable technology. Telecommuting has also been found in many studies to increase productivity – which means that you’re getting more bang for your buck when it comes to paying those salaries!

Proper inventory and supply management

Your business is going to have to buy a lot of things. If you’re an office, then you’ll have to buy loads of stationery, furniture, food, all that sort of stuff. If you’re in construction, then you’ll need to acquire equipment and permits. Regardless of your specific field, there are always going to be things you need to bring into the business.

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All of these things need to be sourced, investigated, and purchased (sometimes via auction!) at the best possible price. You need to ensure that you get the most quality from the inventory and supplies that you’re procuring. Tracking orders, shipments, and invoices is also required. If all of this is done wrong, it can get very expensive – and without the quality to support how much you ended up purchasing.

Mistakes in this area will cost your business a lot. Even the smaller mistakes eventually build up over time and reveal themselves to cost a lot in total over the course of a year or so. When business owners are having a hard time finding out precisely where they’re losing money, the fault is often found in bad supply management. This is why you should put a focus on find a supply (or procurement) manager that is highly experienced. Companies like Portfolio procurement can help you find who you’re looking for.

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Hiring the right people

If an employee isn’t very productive or simply isn’t very good at their job, then you’re losing money. A lot of business owners don’t see it this way, even though they’re not happy with the situation. They don’t think of employees in terms of an investment, or an asset.

To some extent, maybe we can be thankful for that. It’s nice to be seen as, y’know, a human being instead of an asset or an investment! Still, this is the world of business and finance, and sometimes you need to abstract the human element to gauge just how well something is working. And if an employee simply isn’t doing their job all that well, then you’re not really getting what you paid for, right?

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One of the ways this can be tackled is by improving training when new employees begin. But a lot of business owners prefer non-formal methods of training; being guided by a fellow employee, for example. And if you do currently have employees that aren’t pulling their weight, then you need to have a word with them about their performance. The better the feedback you give, the more the employee will take on board. Hopefully, this will result in much stronger performance in future!

But perhaps the best way to ensure that costs are saved to the greatest extent is to hire the right people in the first place. You may wonder how such a thing is possible – can’t you only really tell how well someone will work once they’re on the job? The problem here is that business owners aren’t always as discerning as they should be. Especially if they’ve set themselves a date by which they need to have an employee.

Unless things are extremely urgent, you should be willing to take your time. Don’t fill that vacancy until you’ve found the best damn employee you possibly can. This can sometimes cost more when it comes to actual search methods, and you may feel that the empty position is, in itself, a loss of potential earnings. But in the long run, the expenses connected to that employee will seem better spent – and will really be worth it. This is one of the most underrated methods of reducing business expenses – by hiring the right people to boost your profits!

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Reduce the Risks in Your Workplace Right Now

There are so many risks and dangers present in the workplace. As the owner of the company, it’s up to you to minimise them. It’s so easy to just coast along and tell yourself that everything’s fine and dandy. But sooner or later, your lack of safety precautions will catch up with you, and those risks will start to have a real impact on your employees and your business. Here are some great ways in which you can reduce the risks in your workplace right now.

Have Someone Oversee Safety Practices Each Day

Rather than leaving safety and security responsibilities up to each person as they carry out their work, why not hire a person to oversee all of those safety practices? They will then be solely responsible for all of the safety issues in the workplace. It will take a load off the mind of your other employees, and you will know exactly who to go to when there is a safety problem. Each day, they will be able to focus on this and nothing else. Although it will mean spending a bit more money on staffing, it’s something that could really be worthwhile.

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Set Rules for the Use of Any Dangerous Machinery

If there is any potentially dangerous machinery in your workplace, you should ensure there is a clear set of rules in place for using it. Everyone should know exactly what to do and what not to do when they are using machinery that poses them a threat. They should be kitted out with the right personal protective equipment. And you can even get lanyards for dangerous roles. These snap off easily so that they don’t get caught in any machinery that is being used by an employee. Make the rules readily available, and offer extra training too if necessary.

Clear the Floor

The floor is where the majority of the dangers lie in waiting in the workplace. Many people don’t take blocked walkways and cluttered floor space anywhere nearly as seriously as they should. If you want to make sure that the floor is clear at all times, survey it each week and look for things that could be hazardous. For example, things shouldn’t be stacked up too high near to where people do their work. When that’s the case, a fall could result in someone getting hurt. And fire escapes definitely need to be kept 100% clear at all times.

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Be Proactive, Not Reactive

This is a good general rule to follow when it comes to safety in the workplace. When you are reactive rather than proactive, you will end up not taking extra steps to improve safety until you’re prompted to by something going wrong. That’s far from the ideal situation to be in because it means that you didn’t take risks as seriously as you should have done in the first place. Assess your workplace and carry out risk assessments to spot problems before, not after, they result in someone getting hurt. It’s a sensible and safe approach to take.

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Will You Take These Services up on Their Offers?

In order to stay ahead of the competition your business must utilise the best options offered to it. In this day and age, there are a whole host of companies and services at your disposal to make use of in order to make sure you’re getting the best assistance and the best value for money. Maybe it’s time you took a look at some of the services below and how they can help your business succeed, better their area and field, and how they too can better your wallet.

Virtual receptionists are an example of just how much technology has killed, or begun to kill, the professions of old. VRs take it upon themselves to simply answer calls, but do so in a manner that could make the need for a receptionist a thing of the past. They mean a call is never missed; they retain the ‘unique-ness’ of your business by answering and responding in a way that you tell them to; they are open 24/7 which can mean you are perceived as being ‘open’ 24/4 by any ringing customers; and they are cheap — some offering their services for a mere quarter of what you’d pay a receptionist per month. Also, advances in cleaning and hygiene services have improved two-fold. Also, with janitorial services offering an effective clean and hygiene levels that blow a quick vac and polish out of the water, the need for an in-house janitor or cleaning team may be over. But are there cons to utilising such services?

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A big one is that they could take a job off of someone who has done it for years and proved themself to be extremely loyal. It could be tough for you to get rid of a trusted employee in order to replace them with a service, but it’s your business, and you must do what’s best for it. if a service offers much more, for the same or even less of the price, then it’s a no brainer.

Something else that joins the whole host of things that have been killed by technology is the need for cold, hard cash. Merchant Services, a type of bank account that allows businesses to accept payments in a multiple of technology driven ways, means that trips to the bank for coins and notes may soon become a redundant exercise. With the pace of change in the U.S. payment market showing that over the past five years the credit card has proved itself to be the generally preferred method of payment, merchant services are ones that must be optimised if a business owner wishes to retain custom. This means you should have a card reader and atm machine on site at all times so that you are able to take a customer’s payment when they don’t have notes or spare shrapnel on their person.

So, there you have it. A few modern day services that are on offer to you, the business of owners of today. It’s now up to you whether you take them up on their offers.

It Doesn’t Have To Be Taxing: Simplifying Your Business Tasks

Think of everything you have to do in your day as a business owner. Think of the mass of tasks and work you have to perform. Think of the systems you rely on.

When you stump it all together like that, running a business seems like hard work! And it is. There is no doubt about that whatsoever.

Now, technology moves at such a fast pace in the modern age. If you want your business to succeed, you’re going to have to build a good relationship with tech and understand exactly how it all works. You’re going to have to appreciate that your gadgets and computers are going to be outdated. You’re going to have to adapt to thrive and the future is now.

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Now, let’s return to the beginning. If you are adapting so your business can thrive, you’ve still got heaps of tasks to complete. It is now time to knit everything together and see how we can simplify your business tasks.

Let’s talk money first. Accounting software like Sage accounting online is going to save you a lot of headaches. Not only can you keep yourself in the know with your finances with some simple data entry, but it’s also going to be automated and can save you the hassle of replicating invoices and calculating your tax. What does this mean? Well, it means you can spend more time on your actual job than counting coins!

What more is there to know about money? Well, payment is crucial! Sites like Paypal can offer you a cloud-based payment solution that automatically exchanges payments into a currency of your choice – meaning you’re not the one heading to the exchange! This is an amazing solution whether or not you have a lot of overseas customers.

With accounting and currency exchange out of the way, there are already two heavy tasks dealt with. Now, it’s time to talk communication.

Basecamp is an amazing software package that can do it all for you. Basecamp’s Campfire organizes your internal communication and projects in a single dedicated place. The advantages of this are too often underestimated and having a single platform for multiple, yet linked, subject matter (like work) is a brilliant way to increase the productivity of your staff. The campfire app within Basecamp allows you to communicate instantly, like an old school instant messenger app, and in-real time and you can even link to work. This cuts a number of steps out the process and allows your workflow to be centralized with a single piece of software. There are no more messy and long email chains between staff members. Instead, Basecamp offers topic based message boards, instant chat tools, to-do-lists, staff check-ins and instant work reports. Not only can you simplify your staff’s communication process, but you can get everything moving forward in the same direction.

Communication, work flow, accounting and payment – four huge tasks have been broken down and simplified with technology – find out what else you can simplify and launch your business forwards.