There’s a lot of news around today. Everywhere we look someone has an opinion about how everyone else is doing and some of those opinions are from smart people who’ve really thought about what they say. But does it matter to you?
You can compare your business with those on the stock market. Some are doing very badly but better than their competitors, others have had to make changes but as a result they can become hugely profitable in the future.
If your business has taken a hit in the last 6 or 12 months, take a look at what is affecting it and make some decisions and a plan for change in the future. When you make a plan for the future you can forecast and look at how much money you could be earning you might become quite positive. It’s really a simple case of putting some figures together in Microsoft Excel for the coming year. You can always base it on lasts years figures and make an adjustment for current circumstances.
The most interesting thing about creating a forecast is you can then look at it regularly, focus on it and develop a desire for success. That desire and the knowledge that what you earn depends on what you can do for other people can make you perform better than the overall market. Why not give it a try.Read More
The proliferation of the Internet and its ability to connect people from every country has been evident in the political unrest in the middle east in recent news, but it is also causing a massive shift in employment for work that can be completed at home. In Australia we have very strict wage rates and conditions that unions have fought to improve and maintain but tasks like graphic design, building websites, creating apps and programming can be performed from home. That means it can be performed in anyone’s home, in any country and it has greatly empowered the concept of crowd-sourcing for these tasks.
The downside for Australian workers is that they are now competing for certain tasks with workers who would be thrilled to earn several hundred dollars per month, let alone per week (or per day for some workers).
I had the pleasure of hearing DesignCrowd pitch for funding at a SydStart event in Sydney in early 2011 and since then I’ve also come to use a similar site, 99Designs. After using these services you start to realise the game changing potential. Rather than spend a lot of time and money getting YOUR designer to give you a couple examples, you can have hundreds of designers presenting their ideas. Best of all, they all want your feedback and suggestions so that they can create something even more to your liking.
After using both these services with various clients I pondered the future for this type of service for the investors in the businesses, the designers and the customers and here are my observations:
- The investors receive a commission for each competition and will need to find different models to earn more revenue to satisfy their investment desires. These companies may become print or website brokers.
- Each competition provides a connection between a company and a designer and once the connection is established the customers wants good artwork and must pay their new designer to do it. How much do they pay. Many designers then try to charge a “developed country” rate.
- How often will a designer “tender” for work by submitting designs if they don’t win any “competitions”.
- Some customers will get put off by bad design submissions and the need to spell out exactly what they are looking for and may stop using this type of service.
One of the projects I worked with last year gave us 133 design submissions for a total of only $295 which is less than $2.22 per entry so needless to say we were thrilled with the outcome.
We did find that DesignCrowd appeared to have more people you could contact if you had a question or an issue, the only way we could successfully contact 99Designs was via Twitter. Here are a couple other reviews about these sites that may interest you.
Needless to say, with 100% money-back guarantees, there’s no reason not to give it a go yourself:Read More
In my involvement with virion the business voip people who provide cloud based telephony I have come into contact with a lot of new cloud based technology but this news release at the beginning of the week from Google really got my interest.
As a Google Apps user I love the fact that I can simply jump on any computer connected to the internet and handle my email. I can also quickly find customer information using our contact relationship management system (CRM) and check support tickets for important updates for customer. This news release from Google shows how everyone can get the benefits of their Microsoft Office software with the benefit of having them all in a central location available from any computer with Internet access.
This is a real benefit because most people still use Microsoft Office but want the benefit of accessing their files no matter where they are. Cloud based access is also becoming an easy alternative to backing your important information up.Read More
A lot of the services you need as a small business can be completed remotely, take for example your bookkeeping. I have recently come into contact with a group of virtual assistants who can help with most aspects of managing a business, but the person who really stood out is Wendy Field based in Balmain. She is a certified MYOB consultant with experience with several online accounting programs and she provides online consulting for business owners who need help with their business. Wendy’s personnel have the skills to outsource your accounts department to the point of providing you with a virtual phone number and answering calls in your company name to handle accounts inquiries.
Other services which can be outsources to a virtual assistant include typing and creating professional documents using programs like Microsoft Word, website design and blog editing using programs like WordPress and of course receiving telephone calls and outbound telesales projects. If you know someone who is interested in finding this type of work they can register with EzyLearn for their Remote Contractor service.
If you are interested in seeking the help of a virtual assistant please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with the job/work specifications and we’ll send it along to our virtual assistant contacts to see if they can help. I am currently working on a project with virion voip phone systems to help provide Australian businesses save money on their telephone costs.Read More
Being a Microsoft Windows user most of my computer life I reveled in the lower price, more applications and better support from friends, business colleagues and local businesses who had skills to help me. The iPhone however was such a compelling story because of it’s beautiful touch interface and the innovative concept of a ridiculous number of applications for it. I was using an HP iPaq at the time (which ran Windows mobile) and searching for a device that was easier to use and at the same time had all the features I was looking for (phone, watch, calendar, text messages and camera). I hadn’t joined the bandwagon with the iPod and was listening to CD’s but I saw them everywhere and thought, “I should get one of those”. The iPhone seemed to have everything I wanted, plus the iPod functionality and if I needed more (like email and web browsing) those features were available so I made the purchase on a plan with Optus.
After using my iPhone for a couple of month and getting used to its slinky navigation I was compelled to share what I had learnt with those around me and found that I had become an Apple Adopter. They managed to combine all the features I was looking for in a device with a sexy design and effortless, natural navigation. I started to see why millions of people before me loved their Macs and wouldn’t change them for the world. I then heard through the Apple-vine of this great new device called an iPad, a sleek modern computer with most of the features that I wanted in a computer but that I could take with me and show everyone just like I would a hand of cards. But then I started reading the reviews, watching the product launches and reading the financial press about how successful Apple had become and about the new products other companies came up with to try and catch up to the lead of Apple’s I’s and I noticed Google.
Google of course wasn’t hard to notice, but they started to do things for free for me and other people (who were slightly nerdish) who were willing to do some exploring and trying something new. They came out with Google Chrome Internet Browser and after using Internet Explorer from Microsoft it was and still is a dream. From launching the program to navigating to multiple websites I found a web browser that was much faster, offered handy features (like a great find feature when you are looking at a long webpage) and solidified an image that I was starting to form about the search giant. Best of all for Google is that I feel like I am ready to try something new again and it might start with the Google Android mobile phone. Why? Because the old iPhone is getting a little old in the tooth and I have spent hours just trying to update it to the latest version of it’s operating system, version 4.0.
Now, I’m not a laggard when it comes to using computers, and although I am not a programmer, I find the whole experience of waiting for hours for my iPhone to be backed up and it never succeeding, cancelling the backup and iTunes telling me it’s cancelling the Sync and the desire to simply upgrade the operating system not worth the time it is taking. You might not think it’s a big issue, leave it running and do something else, but I remember that if I wanted to do something on Windows I could simply copy files across from one computer to another, get everything in the right place and I could use everything on the new computer. Did I mention that I am trying to do these things on a 3 year old laptop running Windows Vista? When I think of how open files are on Windows and how easy it was to get around it, I understood why a completely proprietary system like Apple is unattractive. I can now also understand why some software programmers are starting to shy away from Apple and their iDevices. Here are some comments from other people who are experiencing the same problems with Apples latest operating system OS 4.0.
Then I read about the Google Adroid operating system for mobile phones with a similar interface to the iPhone yet open source. This means that any hardware manufacturer can use it to create a better phone and focus on improving the hardware and it reminded me about BETA movies and the original computer wars involving Apple and Microsoft. Microsoft won the original war because they teamed up with hundreds of companies who made devices that used their operating system and it became a game of economics, a game where more people could participate, learn, share and earn and in the end it made computing cheaper and more accessible for the masses. I believe that Google is the new Microsoft and that their open source mentality when it comes to Android will give them something that will be hard for Apple to compete with, hardware manufacturers support.
On a final note, I’ve also noticed that accessing data on my iPhone has become painfully slow at times. It can take ages to access a website or use Google Maps and the only company I can blame for that is Optus. Their plans have traditionally been cheap but if it’s data that you want and you want it to be reliable I believe that Telstra is the only real choice at this stage. I hope that the new demand for SmartPhones will not only bring prices down but also increase the availability.Read More
On my whirlwind tour of CeBIT in Darling Harbour today I came across some great people who started an online accounting solutions business that offers some great tools for small businesses. They use the best model I know of for getting businesses to love their technology: Give the base product away for free and when people get used to it and like it they can pay if they want to use all the features. It’s the way that most successful online services are offered.
SAASU is an accounting solutions that’s based in the cloud which means the datafile is accessible to you and anyone you choose to have access to it (like your accountant) no matter where you are. SAASU are even developing an iPhone application so you can invoice from your smartphone when you are on the run. The best feature about these accounting programs is not that you can use them from anywhere (because you are usually in the office when you do your accounts) but because you can give other people access to your accounting file at the same time you are using it. The best way of describing this benefit is come end of year when you need to give your MYOB accounting company file to your accountant for them to make journal entries and adjustments. During this time you can’t make changes to the file otherwise you’ll have two different files in two different locations! arrgh!
I mentioned a New Zealand based public company called Xero in a post I wrote about how companies offer their products as trials for people who want to get to know the product (Xero unlimited free trial). I’ve also been watching their share price by the way (and it’s shot up when MYOB’s founder, Craig Winkler invested in them). Well, SAASU have gone a step further; They are offering a consultants version of their software (up to 20 invoices per month) for free… forever. This way you can get started for free and continue in a small way without the extra overhead of accounting software costs. But best of all their pricing for those companies who want to use more features is much better than Xero’s. Their beginner package is $25 per month for unlimited transactions, which is the same price that Xero charge for their consultants package (5 transactions a month!) and you can see their list of features at this link: SAASU Online Accounting pricing. To see the less attractive Xero pricing, visit Xero Pricing Plans.
Either way you look at it, it’s great to finally have an alternative to MYOB with more features and flexible pay by the month pricing.Read More