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10 tips to help you come up with a great business idea

Whether simple or revolutionary, at the heart of any good business is a great idea.  Often times, arriving at these ideas is the real challenge in getting a business started.  So how do all these people find the inspiration to come up with that magical idea?   Here are some tips to help you out. Wake up your brain You can’t come up with an idea if you don’t get into the proper frame of mind.  Do whatever activity that gets you thinking.  It can be reading a book, taking a stroll, playing a game or simply hanging out at your favorite coffee shop.  The objective of this exercise is to get you relaxed and start getting your creative juices flowing.  Don’t force yourself into an idea thought!  That’s one way of ending up with less than stellar ideas. Know your limits What are your expertise and how does that relate to other fields?  What are your strengths and where do you think you’ll need more improvement?  Knowing your limits will help you focus on ideas that you can actually work-on.  You might come up with an idea that sounds great at first, but you won’t be able to follow-up on it because it really isn’t in an area of your expertise, or a topic that interests you.  Keep something with you where you can keep your ideas Inspiration may strike you at the oddest of places.  It is important that you are able to record your ideas so that you’ll never lose them. It can be a small notebook in your pocket, or perhaps a note-taking app in your mobile device.  Whatever it is, it’ll have to be always with you so that you can always capture those fleeting ideas. Be sensitive to problems around you Find out what’s bugging you about everything around you.  Often times, finding a problem and coming up with a solution to that problem is an excellent basis for creating your business.  Get your hands dirty and try working on different things and find the sore points in that process.   Find a niche Even with the wide variety of products and services in the market today, there are bound to be gaps.  Find these gaps and see how you can find solutions to bridge these gaps.  A great example of this was the iPhone.  While smartphones existed well before the iPhone, most of these aimed at the business user.  Steve Jobs created a smartphone for the common consumer, a niche many of the big players at the time missed and the rest is history. Seek inspiration around you The thing about great business ideas is that it works well with people.  Don’t hole-up into your own world trying to find the next best thing.  Talk to your family and friends and see what they’re up to.  Often times, you’ll be able to find ideas by reaching out to the people around you.  Think about what’s coming next Research and find out about trends in industries you are interested in.  This is especially useful if you are into technology.  The fast development pace of today’s technology world always opens up new opportunities to introduce something disruptive that people will need and want.  Have a goal Having a goal for yourself is a great way to find an idea to get to that goal.  They key here is to work backwards from that goal.  What do you need to do to reach your goal?  What kind of business do you need to enter into to reach that goal? Let your mind go wild Think big.  Sometimes, ideas that may seem outlandishly impossible at first actually makes perfect business sense when you look closer into it.  Thinking big opens up an opportunity for you to come up with a whole different genre that can be your big ticket to success.  Remember that there is no such thing as a completely original idea In today’s connected world, it is very rare to stumble across a completely new idea. All of the great ideas have evolved from iterations of other ideas so don't be discouraged if your find your idea building on something that is already been done. Just do it better. These are just some of the things that will help you get into a creative mood.  But remember, the most important thing is remain driven. Your list of ideas won’t be going anywhere if you do not maintain the motivation to do something about them.  A good idea, conviction and drive are your tickets to success.  

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5 Startup Ideas That Even College Dropouts Can Succeed With

In today's Internet and tech-driven world there's one thing everyone knows very well about: you don't absolutely have to graduate from an expensive university to succeed in business and create a million-dollar company. Does this mean you need to drop out? Absolutely no! This simply means that we are here to give you 5 amazing startup ideas you are bound to succeed with. Go to college, learn everything, but keep in mind that business doesn't have to be too hard. Here are some of the most fun ideas you can start with. If the age of the internet has taught us anything, it's that you don't need to be a graduate of an expensive four-year school to find success. In fact, there are now more millionaires and billionaires in the world as a result of dropping out of school and pursuing their dreams than vice versa. This is especially true now in the age of artificial intelligence and automation. While many people are in school right now and will likely have to pay off years of debt after they graduate, they may ultimately find that whatever it is they went to school for is now a completely outsourced or automated process. With all of this in mind, today we are going to be taking a look at five different startup ideas that even college dropouts could succeed with. *This article is not focused to bash on the idea or concept of college, we simply wanted to create an engaging title while also relating it to how simple and effective some of these methods could actually be. This list has been inspired by the startup ideas from Oberlo, and we have simply picked a few of our favorites. Each is unique in their own way, while also focusing on a product or service that is currently in demand and has plenty of space to grow. 1. Smartwatches The smartwatch industry is expected to be valued at over $50 billion dollars by 2019. This leaves for a massive opportunity at being the source of information for all smartwatches and devices available for purchase. One could easily create a website or blog focused on providing audiences with the best smartwatch information possible. The monetisation methods here include everything from running Google AdSense, affiliate marketing through lead generation, and also teaming up with any smartwatch providers that want to get maximum exposure. 2. Dash Cams As technology continues to change everything in our daily lives, driving is also on the drawing board. However, it's not just in the ways you probably think. While self-driving cars are likely on the way for everything, there are still going to be accidents that are unavoidable. Dash cams are on the rise and are quickly being implemented in a number of cars today. The business model here is that there are several dash cams available through online marketplaces like Alibaba that could be rebranded and drop shipped to customers around the world. There is a massive demand for dash cams overseas, and a rapid increase in the United States and other countries as well. This market is ripe for anyone looking to take advantage of it and finding new and creative ways to reach their target audience. 3. Matcha Tea If you were to take a guess at the most popular drink in the world today, you would be right if you said water. However, if you said coffee at number two, then you would be wrong. The correct answer is tea. The number of sales for matcha tea is growing daily, along with the opportunities for business owners. This can be done through not only being a resource for information and creating tea review sites, but also by providing unique products and services in the process. Again, just like dash cams are available through sites like Alibaba, one could purchase and package up a wide range of teas and start their own dropshipping business while building up a loyal brand and customer base. If the idea of holding inventory isn't something of interest to you, there are also many tea affiliate programs that can pay you a commission for each customer you refer to their site. 4. Beard Oil Not every business or startup idea needs to generate billions or even millions of dollars to find success. Trendy topics and personal issues like having a beard also have the potential for a huge business as well. This is something we recently saw with ‘beard shave club’ and how they saw similar success in comparison to ‘dollar shave club.’ While they are slightly different in comparison, they both offer a service of value. The average person doesn't know much about beard oil or maintenance, but if you have a beard, you definitely do. Create a business around a niche audience while also serving them value and the best support possible, and you could end up finding yourself with a multi-million-dollar business in the process. 5. Pool Inflatables If you've been paying attention to what's been for sale on the shelves at your local shopping center recently, you probably have seen a wide range of pool inflatables available. The rapid and swift demand for new and creative pool inflatable seems to be the latest craze. This offers a lot of potential for anyone who is willing to put in the time to sync up with a manufacturer that can create pool inflatables that are unique to your audience as well. If this sounds like too much work for setting up a new business, the option is always there to drop ship through other websites or even build a resource website where you simply act as an affiliate marketer. The Opportunities are There. How Will You Take Advantage of them? Now that you've had the opportunity to read through some of the best ways to start making money online and even create a business of your own, it's time to take action. It's easy to look at the list above and think about what options you have, but if you aren't ready to make a difference in your life, then you likely won't find success in the process. There has never been a better opportunity than right now to pursue your dreams and take action. Through the use of the internet and the many opportunities that are offered today, you might be surprised at how successful you could actually be.

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5 Steps To Motivate You To Chase Your Business Idea

Moving to different countries is a daunting process. Yet, it’s also an exciting opportunity to start fresh. It’s a clean slate to honor your dreams and live a life true to yourself and not what others expect of you. To live a big juicy life, leave a legacy and become the person you always knew were hiding deep inside you. Many dream of a new life overseas, but few succeed in making the transition from fantasy to reality. Even fewer people use this new life and environment as a springboard to chase their big dreams. It’s not easy to chase your dreams. You need passion, perseverance and self-belief. Over the past six years in Australia, I moved houses five times in 3 years. I lost my job and 457-work visa, and struggled to find a new job. I nearly had to leave the country before my permanent residency came through. I made a huge decision to leave my job to start my own marketing company three years ago and a bigger decision to follow my passion for inspiring people 2 years later. Each change, even the ones that were wanted, was difficult because taking risks means new beginnings and a few endings. When we decide to try something new and get out of our comfort zone, loss takes place. I have lost places, friendships, possessions and identities but I also gained new ones. I had many moments of doubt. What if I couldn’t find a job? What if it didn’t work out? Are you waiting for the right time? Until you’re ready, more settled in, until the kids go to school or until they leave home? "Taking a leap" sounds spontaneous. The truth is that many people who inspire us with their leaps prepared for months or years to make it happen, but all life-changing leaps start with making the decision to do it. Whatever your dream is — whether you’re halfway there or haven’t even started — here are some tangible steps you can take to make it a reality: Define Your Dream. Take time to define what you would like to have and do in life, and who you would like to be in life. Say your dream aloud and write it down. It makes it real and helps you commit to the idea and making it happen.  Choose Supportive People. You only need a few people who understand your pursuits, encourage you without resentment and who are living their own out-of-the-box lives. These family and friends will help you follow through because they want you to be happy. Lay The Groundwork. What stands between you and this dream? Make a list of what you need to do. Create an attainable goal instead of staying stuck in an overwhelming mess of what-ifs. Action steps will prod you into action and make your adventure happen. Now Is The Right Time. It’s never the perfect time whether you start a business, have kids or move countries. It’s easy to use one challenge or obstacle as an excuse when we’re scared. Trust yourself. If you want it badly enough you will find a way to make it happen. Ask For Help. Someone somewhere has probably done something similar to what you want to do. Find a mentor or a coach and connect with people. Ask them how they overcame their obstacles. Supportive people always lift each other higher. Have the courage to take the leap that will let you live a big juicy life and leave a legacy.  

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5 Tips On How To Choose a Business Idea That's Right

In order to start a new business you need to decide on what kind of business you're starting in the first place. So your number one step is to choose small business ideas for you and narrow them down to the right one. But how exactly can you do it? Well, if you're wondering if there are particular tips and tricks for that... you're right. There are. Take a look at these 5 tips in how to choose a business idea that is just perfect for you. A week ago, I outlined some tips to help you get your creative juices flowing and come up with great new business ideas. You may have gotten one or maybe two in your head. However, some of you may have had a creative landslide of small business ideas and now need help in narrowing down these ideas to a more workable number and learn how to choose a business idea that will work. Why would you want to narrow down your small business ideas? Narrowing down your small business ideas to select a few gets you to a more realistic set that you can actually work on. The thing about ideas is that if you don’t put effort and time behind them, they won’t get you anywhere. Working on too many of them at the same time may leave you with half-baked products and services that your customers won’t like. Here are some ways to narrow down your list of small business ideas and find that special one. Choose which small business ideas are FUN It’s a concept I got back in school. FUN stands for Feasible, Useful and New. Which of your small business ideas do you think are attainable given the amount of time and resources at your hands? Of these, which are the most useful? Lastly, pick one that is new or a new way of implementing an old concept. Bounce these new business ideas around It helps to get another perspective when trying to evaluate which are the best new business ideas to select from. Share these small business ideas that you have with people you trust. These can be members of your family, like-minded friends or business partners. Listen to what they think about your new business ideas and discuss with them how your ideas can be improved upon. Being able to openly discuss your business ideas with others can help you realise which of your ideas won’t work and which are likely to become a hit. Weigh the pros and cons of your small business ideas Evaluate your small business ideas objectively. What are the things that put a value on your ideas?  What are the potential things that may add value to your business ideas? On the negative side, find out what factors may bring down the value of your idea. Also, list down the threats that may decrease the value of your idea further. These tests will help you have a bigger view on which is the best new business idea, how much work you may need to put into your idea and what sets it apart from the current offers in the market today. Which business ideas will people most likely spend money on? The goal of your business is to make profit, and you can’t make profit if people don’t spend money on your products and services. If you are thinking about how to choose a business idea, put yourself into your customer’s shoes and imagine, if you had 10, 100 or even 1000 dollars, which one of your particular business ideas would you spend that money on? Bring in your family and friends and ask them the same thing. This simple, small-scale market test will get you an initial idea of what business ideas may be profitable in the long run. Pick the one you are most passionate about If you had to pick one from all of your small business ideas, which one would you rather work on? Which one are you most passionate about? It is important for you to choose the small business ideas that resonate with you the most. Being passionate about something will allow you to stick through it even when times get tough. Also, your passion will shine through your employees and eventually, to your customers. These are just some of the many ways that can help you with the issue of how to choose a business idea. Remember, in relation to small business ideas, it’ll be better to pick a narrow, very specific niche. This will let you skirt around and address the gaps left by the big companies giving you a better chance at making your business flourish and grow. How would you choose the best one out of so many small business ideas?

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7 things you need to consider if you are a full time employee that wants to start a side business

I have to say that being a "dabbler" has armed me with a whole lot of experiences when it comes to balancing a side business and a full time job. I spend a lot of my spare time creating and experimenting with different business ideas and concepts - it just keeps me occupied. I might go as far as to say that I've sunk thousands and thousands of dollars into business ideas that I've thought up during "bathroom" time or heated conversations with friends. Through all these experimental projects, I've learn about importing from China through Alibaba , creating a website from scratch, hiring and managing outsourced labour as well as sharpened up my design skills and learning about new apps and tools .  Despite having not made my million dollars yet, I do not regret the money I've spent, because I've learnt and grown just as much. I guess this is the kind of attitude you need to keep going on your entrepreneurial journey.  If you are really seriously about turning your side job into a serious business there are a few things that you must be prepared to accept: 1. You will have no social life  If you are really serious about packing in a growing side business, you will need to dedicate a large majority of your spare time to it. This includes evenings and weekends. As a result, you will discover that your social life may have to be put on hold for a while. Your close friends that support you will totally understand, and you can use in between times to fit in social gatherings. This brings me to my next point. 2. Make the time and schedule it in like you would an important meeting The first step to taking the plunge is being able to be disciplined enough to set aside time for your business, and make this a non-negotiable event, even if the commitment is to yourself. It's a lot easier to commit to something where other people depend on you, when it comes to your own business, no one is there giving you a guilt trip for not following through, so it's very easy to push it back for other commitments like dinner with friends or a social event.  When I'm asked when I'm free and I'm pursuing a project I will count the project evening times as "not free time" and commit to other engagements at other times. I've met with lots of wantrepreneurs that ask me for help with bringing their idea to life, and they weren't even able to commit to one night a week to work on their "dream business" because they had "yoga" or "had to meet up with a friend". If this is your current attitude, don't even consider starting your venture. 3. Work smart, outsource Unless you are in an isolated niche which no one has thought about before, which I doubt, since I swear everything has been thought of, chances are you'll be competing with someone that may be doing it as their full time venture. This means that they have the capacity to spend up to 40+ hours a week working on their business while you can most likely squeeze in a maximum or 20-30 hours (or risk burnout). That means you need to work smarter and hire extra support.  The benefit of having a full time income while hopefully your competitor is living off their credit card or instant noodles, is that you can afford to hire an extra pair of hands. And I advise you not to skimp on this part, as it helps massively. Outsourcing all the repetitive and menial admin work can be a huge life saver and keep your sanity and passion for your business alive. Trying to do all of it yourself and you can end up massively burnt out and frustrated. 4. Learn and grow Learning and reading can also save you hours of time. You can make mistakes yourself or fast track your success by learning from others. Spending a few hours reading a book can help you avoid weeks of rework by following a dud tactic.  I also find that reading entrepreneurial and business motivation books also motivate me to keep going. When no one around you understands you, having read through someone that has been there and done that and came out the other end helps you stay focused and inspires you to keep going.  The book that I recommend to you is 4 hour workweek by Tim Ferris. It's a best seller for a reason, it's not only inspirational, motivational and entertaining. It's hugely practical for those that want to work smarter with less time and obviously run a company in 4 hours or less. 5. Moderation is key The thing that makes small businesses produce great products and exceptional personalised service is their passion for what they are doing. When that dies, so does the competitive advantage many small businesses have over their large powerhouse competitors.  The key to keeping the passion alive is to stick to a sustainable schedule. I learnt from this the hard way, forming incredibly bad habits such as working from 7-pm till 9pm having a 1 hour nap till 10pm that will keep me working till 3am in the morning before I collapse and sleep 5 hours to go to work in the morning.  After 3 months of this, it resulted in a very overworked and uninspired entrepreneur and also resulted in me putting the breaks on the project in order for me to re-gain my sanity. Don't do it, no matter how tempting it is, and trust me - it's tempting. 6. Work in synergy Since the practical lot of us are not prepared to give up a stable income to chase our dreams it does not mean that where you derive your income from has to be that different to the side business you want to start. Why not consider finding a job in an industry that you want your business to operate in. Not only will you gain experience that you will need to run your business,  you may meet invaluable contacts along the way that could help you grow.   Even if you have to take a pay-cut consider it getting paid to learn :) In addition what you learn from your side business can also make you a more efficient employee, because the skills align. Blogging on my site wengie.com helps me become a better digital marketer for SavvySME and vice versa since I'm thinking about the same issues all the time, just applying it to different topic areas.  My freelance blogging and writing experience has also allowed me to get guest posting spots on more recognised publications as well for SavvySME, so it all helps. Forward thinking companies recognise the benefits of their employees having some synergistic personal projects. 7. Know your legal and tax implications I'm not an expert on this topic but we have some great members on this site that can help you out with this. One such question and answer is this one: What are the tax implications for an employee starting a business part-time whilst still being employed full time?  If you have any other questions all you need to do is ask a question and our friendly accountants and lawyers are more than happy to answer.   For those of you that have successfully turned your "side business" into a real business I'd love you to share your story with us by writing your own article, and for those of you working on one right now I'd love for you to share your views in the comments section below. To get cracking on your social media, don't forget to join our January blog challenge by simply blogging. To create a new blog post simple use this create new article link when you are logged in. 

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How to make closing a sale easier than ever

The dos and don’ts when offering your services to potential clients I’ve been looking for a great marketing consultant for a little while. The last two I met with didn’t work out. The conversations went well, but somehow at the end when they presented their service offering to me -- I immediately knew they weren’t the right fit. I politely told them I needed to think about it. I wasn’t lying, it’s just that I was 99%, not 100% sure they were the right fit. I didn’t think about it too much more until recently while I was helping some clients create products and packages in their business that would enable them to increase the average fee per client. My clients had the basic packages done which was great, and then it struck me that they had no idea HOW TO PRESENT it to their clients. This meant that at least one of these things inevitably happened at every sales meeting: They had to justify why their packages cost as much as they did (even though they were great value!) Potential clients would leave meetings with a lot of questions on how it would work and/or whether or not it was the right fit for them. Potential clients would ask to be sent a brochure or something they could take home. And then it hit me. That’s the experience I was getting with the marketing consultants I’d been speaking with.  It wasn’t necessarily that we weren’t the right fit, it’s just that the way they offered their services to me didn’t give me the experience that I was making the right choice in deciding to work with them! So many service providers are losing sales because of this challenge right at the end. In the Licence to Bill 12 Step Sales Process, each step is equally important. The offer process takes up 3 out of the 12 steps - meaning that it's a significant part of the process.  I’m going to share with you the basic idea so you can stop losing potential clients who would actually be a fit to work with you. When I do, you’ll realise it’s not about “closing the sale” as many sales people talk about. Rather, it’s about giving clients confidence and certainty. The “trusted formula” principle You’re all experts at what you do, and you’ve probably got a lot of experience doing it. That’s why so many of you say things in your bio like “I’ve got in excess of X years experience” or “I started in this industry X years ago”. But clients don’t really buy years of experience. Rather, they buy into what the years of experience have taught you. That is, they want to know “is there a tried and tested way of doing things that will help people like me create the outcome I want?” And most of you could answer YES to that question. Think about all the clients you’ve worked with through the years of experience you’ve had. There is a way you’re doing things that help clients achieve specific outcomes. The only thing you haven’t got is documentation on how you do it. And that’s exactly what clients want. This is the secret to a great offer process – the “trusted formula”. Think about the purchase you make – take baby formula, for example. You buy the brand with the trusted formula to help your child’s growth and development. Or just think more generally – would you buy from someone who tells they’ll fix your problems by seeing how they go, or from someone who has a 5 step process for solving your problem? Imagine if you could present your services to your clients in a way that showcases your trusted formula, created by simply putting onto paper everything that’s in your head.  By doing this, your clients will: Better understand what it is you’re proposing to do for them; Have confidence that you know what you’re doing; and Remember more of what you said about the service – when you help someone understand and give them confidence, the brain likes it! Actions for you to implement Choose one service that many clients buy Document the steps you take to help clients get the result they want Turn it into a simple “trusted formula” you can easily explain to clients – use the 30 second test (can I explain it in 30 seconds or less?)

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How to validate your crazy business ideas for under $100

  Am I crazy or creative? Everyone has thought of a great idea for a product/service, and you're probably reading this right now because you have something in your mind right now. Your "eureka" moments have probably happened in the most unlikely of places such as in the shower or while you're on the toilet (I won't judge). Most of my ideas ironically come from my tendency to be extremely lazy. Take my idea for an automatic apple peeler, this was born because I was too lazy to keep peeling apples myself.  These little fantasies occur often but the hardest part is knowing whether this idea is worth pursing and turning into a business. Apart from asking your family and friends who will either tell you you're crazy for the sake of it because they want you to go to university and become an account/doctor/lawyer (cue various professional occupations) or support you no matter how stupid you are, where else do you go to confirm of your idea really is marketable - especially if your target market are aliens from mars that enjoy toffee? Never fear! You can now validate your idea for under $100 and with very little technical skills required.  Your prayers have been answered  The answer is Facebook - yes the thing that wastes your day from doing productive things is also the answer to your wildest dreams. For under $100, I've been able to work out whether my idea has been valuable, and once I've established that - what angle to best market it from.  The beauty of marketing on Facebook is that you are able to target the exact people you feel will buy your product. After that you can see from their behaviour whether they would be interested in it. The best thing about behavioural validation is that there is no bias from people wanting to say yes to you because they are polite, you've essentially cut through the crap and have a chance at getting your real answer.  So, how the freak do I do that? So what do you do? You simple set up a Facebook page with details of your business, or a simple one page website and run your Facebook ads with a message that sells your product. You don't actually NEED a product you just sell your IDEA, and then you target this message to green aliens in mars that like toffee. After that, you just sit back and wait, I like to play computer games while I do this :). After a few days of waiting you can start to see which messages get the most clicks if you get clicks at all. If no one clicks - I think you're idea will take a but more effort to sell. If you get tonnes of clicks then you are onto a winner, and you may have quite a few people expecting to use your product already. The Facebook ad reports given you a very good idea on the clicks and actions. If you get a click through rate of 0.02% it's generally pretty promising. Any less and you may need to think of the way you are wording it and refine your message again. This may be daunting to you, but if you do a little search there are so many resources that teach you how to create a Facebook page and create your own ads. I'd love to hear your crazy business ideas that you have had in the comments section below:

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Lessons business can learn from manufacturers

At the core of business improvement is how you can do more with, and get the most from, existing resources. Manufacturers do this well because their approach focuses on maximising output in the most efficient way possible. Here are some common sense concepts, transferrable to any company, used by manufacturers to constantly and successfully improve their business. The manufacturing industry is responsible for most of the consumables we use in everyday life. These consumables undergo a manufacturing process that is aimed at ultimate efficiency – specifically geared towards delivering cost, flexibility, quality and/or time benefits to the customer. It has only been recently that non-manufacturing businesses have caught on to the way manufacturers approach their businesses, realising the valuable lessons that can be learned from this logical, but relatively easy approach.  Manufacturers look at their businesses as a series of processes, which is not only exclusive to the assembly line, but to other processes such as finance, marketing and HR. Manufacturers are very good at examining these processes and identifying areas for improvement, usually through skills, systems or technology solutions. Skills  This is not only about the qualifications required to do a job, but the skills that are required to deliver value to the customer. Problem-solving, staff management and leadership are skills that are critical to ensuring efficiency in a manufacturing setting.  Systems  Systems are the convergence of skills and technology to ensure a process is repeatable and geared towards high productivity.  Technology  How a company sources and uses technology can contribute greatly to a competitive advantage, reducing labour costs, increasing output and improving high-end skills development. Manufacturers typically use two proven approaches for process improvement. These are a constraints-based analysis and a waste reduction approach. Manufacturers use a constraints-based analysis to search for the main constraints hindering process efficiency within the business. It is based on the notion that a process can only move as fast as its slowest constraint. This approach sometimes requires a shift in thinking because the initial instinct is often to ‘break’ the constraint by adding resources, when the issue may be that the constraint is not actually operating at optimum efficiency because of the activities before or after the constraint. This approach is good for teamwork as it encourages teams to work together to identify how a process can be improved and empowers those involved to continue to improve the process. Another way a manufacturer looks at their business is in terms of waste. Many non-manufacturers would only look at waste in the context of what gets thrown away, but manufacturers also consider waste in terms of lost time, effort, cash flow and opportunity. You can minimise or eliminate waste by educating employees about what to look for – do a relatively simple Waste Hunt – and potentially use technology to put a lean system solution in place. Once again – a combination of skills, systems and technologies solutions are the core elements to achieving a solution. Any company that implements such improvements successfully will soon start to see a competitive advantage emerge because the internal machinery within the business is running more smoothly. While these three elements are important, there are two additional elements that will grow the business – networking and opportunities – and are activities external to the organisation. By our definition, networking is more than attending business events. Networking is the broadening of relationships and collaboration activities to look at ways in which you can offer more value to customers. In terms of what a manufacturer would regard as networking, this may be through partnering with researchers, better supply chain relationships, or working with others to identify niche product offerings. Remember, the ultimate goal is to offer something that your customer values. Opportunities and networking leverage each other. Opportunities are usually generated through the act of networking which then generates further networking and collaborative relationships. Additionally, the opportunity and networking process is vital in checking the pulse for where your industry is headed in the future. If you have not done it already, get a profile on Linkedin and start interacting with others through groups or sharing information. It is the best starting point for anyone wanting to connect with others professionally. Chambers of commerce generally provide good networking forums too. Successful manufacturers are very open to collaborating with other companies on opportunities that complement their capabilities. We see this when manufacturers team up to bid on specific projects. Project owners look at this favourably too because it demonstrates that the participants can, and are, willing to work with others. Another successful example is when groups of companies come together to solve a particular problem that affects all within the industry. The ‘cluster’ approach has the benefits of driving innovation, encouraging new business opportunities and increasing productivity of those participating in the cluster. Above all, the networking and opportunity elements should be introducing the company to new relationships and new possibilities for growing the business. By adopting a manufacturer’s approach and implementing these five elements, businesses are able to gear themselves better for growth and in doing so, are less affected by forces out of their control. For example, many struggling businesses often look to government support or hope for an upswing in the economy as the stimulus to improving their business and it is these businesses that will continue to struggle. Those that spend time working on the five core elements are ones that will develop a viable business in the long-term.

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