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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:

StrategyDriven Tactical Execution Article
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Originality

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.

StrategyDriven Tactical Execution Article
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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 Marketing and Sales Article

Giving Your Business The Promotion It Needs

StrategyDriven Marketing and Sales Article
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When we start a business, we are often clueless to the types of promotion that it actually needs. In this day and age, we are living in a digital world. With this, most of the focus is on promotion via means that we can access through our computers, tablets and smartphones. This isn’t to say that that’s not a good idea – more than half of the world are connected to the internet, and it’s the biggest resource that we’ve ever had in our whole history which is open to getting ourselves out there and communicating with our target demographic. So are we missing other options?

Social Media

Although on the rise, social media is not utilised as much as it could or should be. This is a vital tool in business promotion, especially as certain platforms such as Facebook and Twitter have invested so much into making it compatible for businesses – especially small businesses. Their data analytics can prove to be such a useful tool when assessing who your posts are reaching, where in the world they’re reaching and how many people are actually seeing them. You can pay to promote the posts that you’re putting up so you could have the potential of reaching a global audience. You can’t get much better than that. Make sure that you are clued up on the rules of business for each platform that you are using – they are all very different in terms of how they are meant to be used. For example, if you put out one post a day on Facebook, this could be seen as being spammy. Put out one post a day on Twitter and it’ll be history and off people’s feeds in as little as 4 minutes.

Don’t Forget Tradition – Consider The Past

Just because this is the rise of the age of technology doesn’t mean that we solely have to rely on that in order to get our brand message seen. Think about all of the traditional methods that people used back when computers weren’t in wide circulation. Newspapers and magazines are still going round, as are leaflets. Places such as Blue Bee Printing are still able to provide customers with die-cut magnets to hand out for promotional purposes – bumper magnets are still in use, as when will people ever stop driving cars? Not any time soon, that’s for sure. The more that you think outside of the box and consider what people are still going to go for are ways that you can promote your business without really trying. Handing out little things for free such as key rings, mugs and other trinkets that people can utilise within their home with a little bit of company branding on it ensures that you will always be the first port of call should they need you for the particular thing that you can provide. Letting your customers spread the branding for you is one of the best things that you can do – and that they can unknowingly do for you.

StrategyDriven Entrepreneurship Article

Three Successful Entrepreneurs: The One Thing They’d Have Done Differently

It can be assumed that if you manage to make your business into a success, you made the right call at every point. You can look back over the road to your current position and feel happy, confident that everything went exactly as you planned it.

Except, that’s not necessarily the case.

One of the key traits of a successful entrepreneur is someone who understands what they have done correctly, yes. However, perhaps the most important ability is to understand what they have done wrong. To paraphrase an old quote; those who ignore history are doomed to repeat it.

For prospective entrepreneurs, learning the missteps of those who made their business flourish can provide invaluable insight. So, taken from three very different industries, let’s delve deeper into the one thing three very successful business owners wish they had done differently.

THE CRAFTY ONE

StrategyDriven Entrepreneurship Article
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Anna, 42, began her business completely by accident – and those are her words!

“I made a blanket for a friend of mine,” she explains. “They put a photo of it on Instagram, and it went sort of viral really – or as viral as a blanket can anyway! The home community really embraced it and my friend put me in touch with people who wanted to buy their own.”

Now in her second year of business, Anna’s company is flourishing and now employs three members of staff. “We work remotely,” she says, “they do a lot of the marketing side – that’s not really my thing. I like to make the blankets and I take some of the photos too. It’s definitely important to hire people you trust, who can do things that you can’t.”

So what does she wish she’d done differently?

“There was a time when I had so many orders that I couldn’t meet them all,” she reflects, with a tone of regret in her voice. “I ended up having the orders be late, and there were some angry customers as a result of it. The one piece of advice I’d give is that communication is everything,” she emphasizes the last point. “If you’re going to be late, tell people. I didn’t and some of those I was late with never bought from me again. It’s by far my biggest regret.”

BUILDING SUCCESS

StrategyDriven Entrepreneurship Article
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“I knew from the moment I started working as a bricklayer that I wanted more,” Michael, who is 58 and has owned his company for 22 years, “it just wasn’t good enough for me.”

To try and pursue his idea of working for himself, Michael went back to school. “It was tough,” he says, “I’d been earning a steady income for a few years by the time I went back. I had to juggle that job and the course, which messed my life up for awhile. I needed business qualifications, though, and that was the only way to get them.”

By the time Michael was in his early thirties, he had some business acumen and managed to convince a bank manager to take a risk on him. “I got a startup loan,” he explains, “I think the guy liked me. Doesn’t work like that anymore, but back then, you could convince someone to take a shot. Thankfully he did, and now I employ about 20 staff permanently and another extra 10 laborers over summer. I’ve been lucky.”

So what does he consider his biggest mistake?

“Not being quick enough to adapt,” he admits. “Being an older guy, I got a bit stuck in my ways about a decade ago and lost some business because of it. I was really resistant to things like laser surveillance and Turbo Sockets. It was slowing construction projects down, especially when I was doing renovations and speed was of the essence. The solutions were there – I just didn’t want them,” he laments. “I was convinced the ‘old way’ was the best way,” Tony continues. “I shouldn’t have done it. Move with the times. The annoying thing is that when I did, I realized how much easier those kind of gadgets can make life – what an idiot,” he rolls his eyes at his former self. “Now I’m the first one jumping in when there’s some new gadget I can play with. Customers don’t respect you if you don’t innovate.”

So don’t be afraid to adapt to changing times? “Absolutely,” he concurs. “Times change. If you don’t change with them, you’re done for.”

THE STYLED EYE

StrategyDriven Entrepreneurship Article
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Melody, who is now 30, has run her personal style consultancy for three years after a slow start. “I’m no more qualified now for anything than when I left school at 18,” she admits. “I didn’t even have relevant experience!”

She works for herself, though took on a secretary in January. An accountant does her annual tax returns, but the rest is up to her. “My biggest mistake is thinking that wasn’t possible,” she explains. “I was involved in a business in the same industry for a few years. I hated it, but I was so scared to try and go it alone.”

So how did she manage it? “I saved everything I could,” she recalls. “It wasn’t quick – it took me about a year to get all the cash I needed. I had to forgo my social life for awhile, which was tricky, and I got delayed as I took three months out when I had my daughter.”

Nevertheless, she managed to build up “about six months’” worth of expenses in savings. “With that behind me,” she continues, “I quit the company and cashed out my shares. They weren’t worth a lot, but it was a jumping off point. Then I started marketing myself as an individual to clients. About 40% chose to come with me, which is more than I ever dreamed.”

Establishment didn’t come quickly for Melody though; it wasn’t until her third year – the most recent – she turned a profit she could live on. “I’m okay now,” she says, “I got into some debt and had to double down and work hard, but it’s clear and all is looking good. I’m booked up for the next three months anyway! If I had my time again, I’d definitely take the jump to working by myself much faster – I’d be so much further along by now if I’d done that.”

Hopefully there’s some lessons from this trio of entrepreneurs’ that you can take into your own adventures in business!

StrategyDriven Entrepreneurship Article

Furnishing An Office On A Budget

StrategyDriven Entrepreneurship Article
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Moving into an office can be expensive, especially if you’re having to buy all the furnishings for the first time. Tables, chairs, computers and other machinery can all add up. For those on a budget, here are a few tips for furnishing that office on the cheap without it looking cheap.

Get equipment on lease

You can often save money on expensive machinery by hiring it instead of buying it. This can be particularly useful for industrial equipment that you rarely use, or machinery that you may only need on a temporary basis. Rental companies can also often provide the most high tech equipment – equipment that would often be far too expensive to buy.

Learn to share

There may be some items that you can share. Having multiple printers could be a waste of money if you don’t have to print things off often. Similarly, not everyone may need a phone by their desk. If your office is open plan and people aren’t calling every minute of the day, having a few phones dotted about the place may be all you need. Consider also buying long desks that allow multiple people to share, rather than individual desks for each person. Encouraging a more communal feel could be beneficial in many social businesses.

Look for online deals

You can often find online promotions on office furniture if you’re looking in the right places. There are many sites such as DontPayFull.com that sell coupons to be used on tech or furniture. It’s worth also keeping an eye on social media for office furniture businesses doing competitions or promotions.

Second-hand furniture can also be worth looking into. You can often find ex-business owners on the likes of Gumtree.com trying to flog office desks and other equipment that they no longer need. When buying second-hand items online, always make sure that they supply detailed information on the condition as well as pictures. If you can meet up in person first, this might allow you to check the condition for yourself first – useful with expensive industrial equipment or heavy furniture.

Hit the sales

Various times of the year are brilliant for buying new office equipment. If you’re looking for computers or electronics, Cyber Monday usually has some great deals. The January Sales is also prime time to save money on equipment – the demand is very low during this period as companies are just recovering from Christmas, and so office furniture companies have to compete hard against one another to get sales.

Go paperless

Going paperless isn’t just good for the environment, it saves costs. Sharing everything digitally will prevent the need to buy a printer and all the other costs that come with it. Less printing also means less need for storage such as filing cabinets and shelves. Everything from handbooks to contracts can be made digital. You can even sign documents digitally nowadays using the DocuSign app. Trial this out to see if it works for your business.

StrategyDriven Marketing and Sales Article

7 Reasons Your Website Conversion Rate Is Low

We often hear about the importance of website traffic. SEO and marketing companies often promise to multiply their clients’ traffic by huge amounts. But, in reality, traffic means nothing if your website users don’t turn into customers. In fact, if you are getting tons of traffic, but users are simply visiting your website and then leaving, it is something to be very alarmed about. It means that there is something wrong with your website, and this is why your conversion rate is low. Are you making one of the following mistakes?

StrategyDriven Marketing and Sales Article
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  1. You are attracting the wrong audience – Often, conversion rates suffer when you are attracting the wrong audience to your website. This occurs when you are targeting the wrong keywords, posting content on unrelated websites, and generating content that does not appeal to your target market.
  2. Your content is uninspiring – The importance of interesting, original, engaging and informative content cannot be ignored. Getting users to your website is one thing, but you need to keep them there, and the only way to do that is with inspiring content that encourages them to engage. Take a look at this blog post for more information on creating content that converts.
  3. Your website lacks consistency – Your internal CTAs and external campaigns set specific expectations, and your sign up pages and landing pages need to deliver on these expectations. Message inconsistency is a huge problem that will result in people looking for a business that is more reliable.
  4. You aren’t tracking current website performance – This is one of the biggest mistakes business owners make today. How are you ever going to boost the performance of your website if you don’t know how it is performing at present? With expert analytics and reporting for your small business website, you will be able to determine where you are going wrong, enabling you to make the necessary improvements that will boost your conversion rate.
  5. Your calls to action are vague – In simple terms, if you don’t tell your website users the steps they should take, they aren’t going to take them. You could design the best home page in the world, but if it doesn’t lead anywhere, the bounce rate is still going to be high. Your calls to action need to be clear and specific to what the user is looking for.
  6. You don’t use persuasive language – The chances are you are going to need to be persuasive, unless you have an offer that is completely irresistible. You need to address the problems that your target audience experience, and paint a picture of what they can expect once they have purchased your product or taken advantage of your service.
  7. Your product or service is ill-defined – Lastly, one of the main reasons why conversion rates are high is when a firm’s product or service is not defined effectively. You may have an incredible product or service to offer, but if you aren’t doing it justice in terms of the description, no one is going to be interested. Write the description from the customer’s perspective; think about what matters to them most.