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Startup branding and PR

Should you hire an agency to do your branding?

In a word, yes. There are many things that you can very capably do yourself, do in-house with your... read more

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Leanne O'Sullivan Founder & Creator at Summit School
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Jef LippiattOwner at Startup Chucktown
The branding is definitely an important aspect that most business owner's do not fully grasp or understand. I think the creative agency also needs to educate the business owner on why the branding is so important and how to correctly implement it not just hand it over to them.
The fact that the potential value of a brand is rarely considered during its development is another failing of the DIY methodology. Your brand’s value (as well as its associated IP) may one day need fund your retirement, or form the basis of a national franchise.Every brand must be devoid of fatal impediments that restrict your capacity to grow regionally, diversify into new market revenue streams or simply attract investment capital. Your enterprises brand represents its potential value and is what every business owner works each day to create and sustain.I always emphasise that a genuine commercial brand must never include any content that appears on an envelope addressed personally to the business owner. There are very few legitimate exceptions to this rule.
Questions

best way to launch my dental surgery business

* Tips to have a good business plan * Guidance to negotiate good commercial lease. * Suggestion to... read more

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Just wanting peoples perspective if they have donated their time / equipment for a charity?

I have donated time and equipment for 3 separate charities. Each time it has left a very sour taste... read more

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Questions

If you saw a business name "balance personal finance consulting" what would you assume they do?

Just throwing an idea around. read more

Steve OsborneOwner at Smarthinking
I would assume the firm dealt primarily with helping Mums & Dads, young singles and those on limited budgets with budgeting, crisis financial management and getting out of debt.I might also expect basic help for low/small budget first time investors with getting into the share or property markets. I would not expect a firm with this name to be operating with high nett worth individuals.
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Questions

Have you considered engaging an Advisory Board member or a Corporate Mentor?

Advisory Board Members or Corporate Mentors are increasingly used in startups and/or growth... read more

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Neil Steggall Partner at Wardour Capital Partners
Kirsty FoxPrincipal at Spitfire Solutions
I think it is a good idea. I think every business can benefit from an "Advisory Board". Probably the bigger question is who to have on your board. A mentor is an excellent starting point, and you need an "outsider" who can look at the business dispassionately.
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Startup branding and PR

It's okay to make mistakes with your brand

Songkran in Thailand is New Year and it is celebrated every April. Songkran comes from the Sanskrit... read more

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Lauren Clemett Director at Ultimate Business Propellor
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Jef LippiattOwner at Startup Chucktown
Some very insightful thoughts to consider.
Questions

Are there differences between Chinese internet companies and the Silicon Valley model for internet companies?

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Questions

Do you see the value in AMAs?

Otherwise known as "Ask Me Anything"s. For those unfamiliar, experts or other prominent individuals... read more

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Yee Trinh Co-founder at SavvySME
Jef LippiattOwner at Startup Chucktown
I think Steven has a good point about live Q&A sessions at the end of a panel discussion or presentation. However, I would argue that AMA's online are very successful and even celebrated. Everyone from celebrities to presidential candidates and others have done them on the online community Reddit.I think if the person is presenting a unique perspective or is someone that has lots of following it can be a very interesting thing to participate in either actively or passively.I really enjoyed being part of the SavvySME AMA's the last time they happened. I also enjoyed participating in the AMAs of others.
Steven FreemanOwner at Evolved Sound
This is popular at traditional business events when you have a panel of experts in front of the audience. I feel the value of this is stronger with a captive audience in the traditional world rather than online.
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Questions

What is your number one concern using the Cloud?

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Business ideas and monetising new concepts

This VR Company Wants to Add Missile Explosions and Race Cars to Your Workout

Home Latest Top 50 How To Lists Events Subscribe 1 min read...read more

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Questions

As first time entrepreneurs, what part of the process are people often completely blind to?

Jef LippiattOwner at Startup Chucktown
I will speak specifically to tech startups and app startups. When launching into these segments many entrepreneurs get totally enamored with the highlight reel of all the media outlets. They truly believe that in months they'll be the next Facebook.Now, I'm not trying to squash dreams, because being bold and audacious is important. However, don't throw out common sense. Starting any type of business is exciting, but there is a definite lack of media coverage on the "daily grind" of operating and selling. Why? It isn't very sexy and it doesn't inspire (or rather, the media companies don't think it will).This is the very same reason you hardly hear about failures of largely funded entrepreneurs. The media doesn't want to cover that (it is deemed dismal). However, if positioned correctly there are many lessons to be learned from the failures and struggles of others. I dare people to live vicariously to reduce the pitfalls that happen to them on their business journey.
HUNTER LEONARDFOUNDER AND CEO at BLUE FROG MARKETING PTY LTD
I've benchmarked over 1000 SME businesses in regards to their marketing attitudes and behaviours asking over 50 questions of each business. So i'll confine my comments to marketing and strategy. The absolute number 1 is lack of research. Entrepreneurs by their nature are courageous, risk takers, and innovative. They expect others to see their ideas as brilliant and that "sell themself" - we found that less than 15% of SME business owners had done sufficient research of their market, competition or their product prior to launch. They spent money and time on product development, on fitting our their offices or warehouses, on branding and websites. But they rarely invest enough time in truly understanding the dynamics of their market, their competition and importantly what strategic positioning they are going to adopt in the market.
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Questions

Have you worked with a mentor?

If you have worked with a mentor, great! But I want details. Was working with a mentor a successful... read more

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Jef Lippiatt Owner at Startup Chucktown
HUNTER LEONARDFOUNDER AND CEO at BLUE FROG MARKETING PTY LTD
Yes, I've worked with a mentor on a couple of occasions. Once many years ago I asked a colleague to be my presentation mentor and he would attend my seminars and presentations and then give me feedback at the end of each one. This was a fantastic experience as he was able to pinpoint some key positives and negatives about my style and delivery and I improved as a result.More recently, I asked one of my clients to put on a different hat and mentor me on preparation of investment documents for a new business I'm working on. This was also a great experience, and one of his comments led to a focussing of our business idea to the point where I'm now far more passionate about the idea because I found a really nice social enterprise angle to the business that I hadn't expected and wouldn't have found if he had mentioned that one thing.In summary, definitely recommend having a mentor, particularly if there is a very defined outcome you're looking for.
Felicity LawOwner at FelicityLaw.com.au
Hi Jef, I too have worked with and as a mentor.Unlike a traditional Business Coach, the mentors that I have worked with cut through the 'guided-self-sourced-solutions framework', and speak frankly about the reality of the business world, life, and everything in between. Honesty is at the core of an effective mentor / mentee relationship and like most intimate relationships where fears, dreams, and personal thoughts are disclosed, it may take time to find the right fit.Some of the best mentors I have worked with are professionals I respect, admire, and lead by example. The mentoring happens organically as a result of their leadership, approachability, and authenticity. As a result of my own experiences with being mentored and providing mentoring, I am a strong advocate.Good luck and let me know if you have any more questions I can help with.
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Questions

For those of you who make products, do you prefer improving on existing ones or developing new ones?

In terms of both value to your customers, and costs to your company, which do you prefer doing? read more

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Phil Khor Founder at SavvySME
Brad Lyons at Rodcha
I would have to say both. I spend a lot of time when it comes to research and development. One project that I have been a part of over the years is called detectivedesk.comOngoing development is required in this industry and the main reason most companies are walking away from competitors is because the competitors don't spend time on research and development.The result of R&D means we are developing new products and improving our existing products all the time. This results in more and more clients wanting to use our products. In the data industry R&D is very important. While improving products is critical it is equally important to consistently develop new products. The industry demands it and as long as we keep improving and developing new products out competitors are not able to keep up. As soon as we stop! someone else will see the gap and take over the industry. Some of the databases and CRM's I have developed are direct products of R&D. They wouldn't exist otherwise. Basically, every industry I am in I spend a lot of time on R&D. When you play with large datasets, the more time you spend on R&D the more advancements you contribute to the industry and the more you contribute the more people notice you.On the other hand, if you believe a product is broken or you believe there could be future issues then you should start on developing a new product. That doesn't mean you stop production or R&D. When it comes to software, applying updates and patches can only last so long. It is much better to take a step back and start coding from scratch. I was involved in a project were the client wanted to develop an entirely new CRM. The old CRM was great however was always being patched and didn't have the ability to grow and adapt with the business. In this case the solution was to start from scratch, while one team was dedicated to maintaining the old system another team was involved in developing the new system. Once the new system was ready it was put through beta testing and once that was completed it was rolled out in stages. A slow release in some cases is the best option. So, improve the old or develop new? Both. If you believe there is a potential issue with one of your current products, start from scratch while maintaining the current product. Identify the issues, test alternative ways and run simulations to test under pressure. All part of R&D. That is what I love about business, R&D, always looking to improve and create new ways of doing things.
Steve MainOwner at Onesystem
I am very fortunate to be in a position to do both and love these opportunities. A tweak here and there, a quick fix, customise to help a client solve a problem, bolt on an addition function and of course build a new one. Its a balancing act, to ensure short term achievements align with long term strategies and sometimes acknowledging that the limitations require a new train of thought.Tonight I have worked on both, a new small application (in this case building a new application has been quicker and more cost effective) and a customisation of a larger application (small customisation to enhance the user experience and grow with the business). Tonight I am not sure I can choose what I preferred, both equally have been very rewarding.Steve
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Questions

Do you consider it worthwhile to create a prototype?

What steps did you take before going into production, did you create a prototype first? if so, did... read more

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Phil Khor Founder at SavvySME
Wei Yew Teoh
In short, I think in most cases creating a prototype is a great idea!I believe the benefits to name a few are:Develop a greater understanding of your product;It provides you insight on where to go next, aspects to improve, features to highlight;It provides you information on better time management;Designs and ideas always tell a different story when its still on the back of a paper napkin, until you finally start to develop it.
Jef LippiattOwner at Startup Chucktown
Phil,Great question. As a designer fully believe and promote building prototypes first. This is an ingrained part of my learning (aside from knowledge of the Lean Startup). Prototyping doesn't have to be a confusing process, so let me go into some of the benefits of prototyping.Prototypes Help:Early Exploration - They do this because depending on your end product, you can start with a doodle on a napkin with several notes. Prototypes can also be build from cardboard, clay, or other easy to work materials. By taking several passes (or iterating) on your concept you can easily create several variations instead of 1 final product.Comparatively Low Cost - Prototypes being built from the materials mentioned above are inexpensive compared to materials that may be used for the final product. Using lower cost materials means that you can again make several variations without spending a lot of money up front (this process doesn't have a required "minimum purchase order").Refine Your Understanding - When you first start out with the end goal of making a product, prototyping through multiple variations will help reveal any short comings or areas to improve the product further. Use this knowledge to your advantage.Test and Test Again - Put these prototypes in front of potential customers multiple times over several of your prototype variations. This is a great time to get feedback before you end up spending too much of your overall budget.There is obviously many more benefits of prototyping but these are some of the most beneficial. I highly recommend the process to everyone that has never tried it. I welcome more questions and discussion on this topic.
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Questions

Apart from a good idea, what would you need for successful product development?

What steps have you, or would you follow when trying to develop your own product?  read more

Asked by:
Yee Trinh Co-founder at SavvySME
Jef LippiattOwner at Startup Chucktown
Yee,I think this is a question that can help a lot of people forward in their journey.Flush Out The Idea - For an idea to become more than something in your head or doodled down on a napkin you need to expand on it. How? The easy way to do this is write down short clear thoughts and then categorize them into groups (e.g. Product, Target Audience, Price, Sales Channels, etc.). You can and should iterate on this process multiple times over the period of several days or weeks depending on the complexities of the underlying idea.Test Quickly & Inexpensively - You need to validate that your idea is worth pursuing with your time, energy and money before getting too attached to it. How? By using inexpensive or free tools to test your assumptions. You could quickly craft up a survey using Google Forms, Survey Monkey or other related tools to put one or several different surveys together. To ensure the surveys serve your purpose decide are you trying for "breadth" of answers (quantity) or "depth" of answers (quality). I don't recommend trying to do both in one survey. After you determine that, use your connections within your physical network or across social networks to share your survey with the type of customers you are hoping to connect with (don't just blast this and have anyone and everyone answer - doing so will dilute the strength of the collected information).Review Results - After collecting the desired number of survey responses, pour over the data without being quick to make judgments. Remember that you need to be open and connected with your potential customers. Do not disregard their feedback as uneducated, incorrect or invalid, or you will do so at your own peril. If your potential customers clearly need something else or want something slightly different, adjust your idea based on this feedback to better connect with your potential customers.Now You Need To Build - This is the time where you need to put together an early version of your product. If you are a baker start working kinks out of the recipe, if a furniture maker build a scale model, if software maker create a paper or low fidelity prototype.How? You need to be judicious with what you put into this version of the product. Ask yourself, "If I don't include this, will customers still get value?" If yes, leave the feature out, if no put a rough version of the feature into the design. Review each decision against the feedback you previously received. Is rough version ready to be put in front of potential customers? No, but you will do it anyway. It is counter-intuitive to test something that isn't "polished" or "finished" but it helps you iterate and adjust to feedback before you get so far along in the process you can't afford to later. Iterate Again - Take that initial round of feedback on your rough version and start building the next slightly better version of your product. How? Did you notice users not using a feature or not liking a feature? Pull it out. Don't try to rationalize leaving it in, the customers have spoken (you can always try the feature out again in a future version). Remember, if you don't include everything the customers want in the next version it is okay. Measure putting something in whether that would still be value without including it.This of course has quite an alignment to the Lean Startup Methodology by Eric Ries, however, I do have some of my own liberties coming from a background of Product Design. I've also spent several months on putting documentation and forms and interactive forms together to put this process to a time table. However, it is not quite ready for public consumption. I will say, stay to relatively short blocks of time. If at any point your potential customers or your research proves an idea to be unsustainable for a business, go back to the drawing board and start on another idea.Above all remember the process to continuously iterate and improve your offering, even once you have successfully launched and are making money. Comfort and complacency never lead to future growth or innovation.
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Questions

What are some good business ideas for a partner/spouse team?

What business ideas might be best suitable for a team of two consisting of spouses or partners?... read more

Asked by:
Yee Trinh Co-founder at SavvySME
Jef LippiattOwner at Startup Chucktown
Well, I can't answer this from a personal perspective yet (although my wife may get pulled into helping with my ventures at some point).First, it is important to keep separate actions and attitudes. At work you must fill your role and do your part, but you can't take any attitudes from that into the personal relationship (at least not long term). At work they may be your equal, superior or subordinate, but at home you are equals and must treat each other as such.From business that I know spouses have gone into:Creative AgenciesRestaurantsLaw Firms Retail (specifically boutiques)Why do I think the above types of businesses work for partners? Typically because the are more traditional small businesses (they aren't trying to be the next internet juggernaut at least from the ones I'm aware of). The roles they have are either equal or complementary.Example 1 (Law Firm)Husband is a Business Lawyer, Wife is a Family LawyerExample 2 (Creative Agency)Wife runs business operations, Husband is a designerExample 3 (Restaurant)Husband cooks, Wife manages
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Assembling mentors, advisors and board members

Women outnumber men on LaunchVic advisory board

While the global tech space has long beenread more

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Onwards and upwards

How to Not Be a Jerk if Your Business Fails

If your business venture fails, how would you cope? It depends of course on details and... read more

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Lina BarfootEditor at SavvySME
Well said!
Jef LippiattOwner at Startup Chucktown
I think one of the most important things to do is try to learn from the experience. As long as you can evaluate and understand what led to the failure, how it could have been different (if at all) and what you would do differently if you were to relaunch the same business with your new perspective you'll serve your future self very well. You must take pride in the journey and not always put all your satisfaction in a positive outcome. Learn along the way. Pass the knowledge of previous failures along to other aspiring business owners to keep them from making the same mistakes. Surround yourself with business owners that have had more success and pick their brains.
Onwards and upwards

Failing Forward

Failure, it sucks. It feels, well embarrassing - because everyone around you are full time... read more

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Lina BarfootEditor at SavvySME
SO many good points here! I love that James Joyce quote as well, endless wisdom in the catalogues of that man.
Bootstrapping

Adelaide entrepreneurs encouraged to apply for Venture Catalyst seed funding program

Adelaide entrepreneurs are being called on to apply for the Venture Catalyst seed funding program,...read more

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