Category Business Entrepreneurship

Some definitions for the word entrepreneur

May 26, 2007 0 comments

'Entrepreneur' origin French, translated means 'goes -- between' or 'between -- taker' when applied to business (Collins, et al. 1964) otherwise 'contractor' someone who marshals the forces to fulfil opportunities in the marketplace and ventures (Gray and Smeltzer, 1989).

In the past, entrepreneurs were considered to be either 'robber barons' who exploited people for their own success, or 'captains of industry' who led the nation in the development of the economy (Myres, 1907).

Social and clinical psychologists have described entrepreneurs as 'jungle fighters' characterised by 'sadistic authoritarian tendencies, (Maccoby, 1976).

Negative connotations include manipulation, greed, avarice and grasping acquisitiveness (Collins, et al 1964)

Professor Brian Loasby defines an entrepreneur  'as someone who conceives of a new theory and introduces a new policy.'

To sum up,

An entrepreneur is someone who identifies an opportunity for gainful change and who accesses and mobilises resources to effect the change and thereby provides benefits to all the participants.

Posted by Lisa
Categories: Business Entrepreneurship

Entrepreneur test

May 26, 2007 0 comments

Questions that you need to take in considerations if you want to become an entrepreneur

What makes an entrepreneur?

Why are some people entrepreneurial and others not?

How can people become entrepreneurial?

What motivates entrepreneurs to strike out on their own and set up new business enterprises?

Is there a pattern of motives, values, and interests that can properly be identified as entrepreneurial?

How do their life path circumstances influence their entrepreneurial behaviour?

What stimulates the birth rate?

How do entrepreneurs settle their ideas?

Do entrepreneurs evaluate risks in start up?

    If so - in what way?

Do entrepreneurs test their ideas?

    If not - why not?

    If they do - How do they do it?

How are results analysed?

Do entrepreneurs consciously create strategies?

        If so -  How do they formulate them?

        How are they structured?

        How are they communicated?

        How are they evaluated?

Are the strategies proactive or mainly reactive?

How different are they from other leadership groups in our society?

Posted by Lisa
Categories: Business Entrepreneurship

Entrepreneurship and Venture Management

May 26, 2007 0 comments

1. Introduction

The skills needed to set up and start a business and those required for successfully running a business may not be the same. Entrepreneurs may have a need to modify their behaviour pattern to become good managers while good managers may need to introduce new attitudes to realise their entrepreneurial potential.

Entrepreneurs are not readily identifiable because they come in all shapes and sizes, age groups, social, economic and ethnic backgrounds as well as political spectrums. It is therefore important to define what is meant by the term 'entrepreneur'. It is therefore important to define what is meant by the term 'entrepreneur'. Gibb and Ritchie in their social development have described it as a trait, a view supported by Crosby. He believes it is something a person is born with. Carsrud maintains that given the right combination of circumstances anyone can learn to be an entrepreneur. Kets de Vries emphasises the formative role of social influences.

Managers can also be difficult to spot; they have been variously described as individuals who engage in planning, organising, directing, co-ordinating and controlling the actions and utilisation of individuals combined with other available resources. A basic definition of management purpose by Michael Armstrong is 'deciding what to do and then getting it done through the effective use of resources'.

2. Entrepreneurship

People are not born entrepreneurs, they may possess characteristics that are conducive to acting entrepreneurially under the right conditions, and when the emerging combinations of opportunities and threats offer the right conditions, the entrepreneur emerges and acts. Professor Alan Carsrud maintains that "entrepreneurship is more than just a trait, it is socially determined," and "situational determined." But more than that, entrepreneurs act because of the way they view situations and value conditions. They see combinations of opportunities where others see only threats and problems.  He states "entrepreneurial behaviours occur or are most prevalent in unstable socio-economic environments especially an organisations which are subject to rapid change, in situations where they are resource poor and where ultimately the entrepreneur is creating value."

Professor Brian Loasby defines an entrepreneur  'as someone who conceives of a new theory and introduces a new policy', he recognises that this is not the only definition, nor is it complete. Buchanan and Huczynski suggest "An entrepreneur is someone who introduces new technical and organisational solutions to old problems, an innovator who introduces new products, new processes, new organisational arrangements.  This may involve promoting change in the face of resistance from others, and, at risk to the time and money involved.

There is a consensus that entrepreneurs tend to be highly motivated individuals who have a vision of something different and are prepared to mobilise resources and spend time in pursuit of its realisation, often risking both.  They don't gamble, but take calculated risks to maximise advantage and achieve objectives.

3. Types of Entrepreneur

All entrepreneurs are not the same, Ray Bagby offers a typology of six entrepreneurial types:

  1. craftsman-inventor;
  2. psychodynamic;
  3. displaced socially marginal;
  4. innovative entrepreneur;
  5. dealmaker-destructive entrepreneur;
  6. scientist.

However they all have different value sets and motivators that influence their degree of commitment. Their abilities differ, as do levels of satisfaction.  It is therefore useful to classify entrepreneurs into two broad categories of commitment. For this reason Carsrud employed the terms "craftsman" and "opportunistic" entrepreneurs, Bag by uses "small business owner" and "entrepreneur" for the same purpose.

 

The classification of 'craftsman or small business owner' includes all those skills based individuals who employ their skills to work for themselves; small professional businesses or small family businesses who want to keep control and are happy with the level of return against effort expended; artists and craft workers who see no point in growth; all those who for a wide variety of reasons want to remain small.

The 'opportunistic entrepreneur' is driven by a different value set, and is:

    someone who sees an opportunity for development and growth and does something about it;

    who is prepared to mobilize resources to achieve a profitable return;

    whose profit need not take a monetary form but come in a variety of benefits, some of which may be short or long term, personal or political, and not always readily identifiable;

    neither do they need to own the business or organization or resources, as long as they can control them over the period of use.

These simplistic definitions provide a guide to entrepreneurial types, however they are not stable characteristics as they fluctuate in response to environmental and operational disturbances.

Posted by Lisa
Categories: Business Entrepreneurship

Venture Management

May 26, 2007 0 comments

Just because someone is an entrepreneur or acts in an entrepreneurial manner doesn't mean that they are necessarily a good manager. Managers are not born 'good managers', just as entrepreneurs are not born 'good entrepreneurs'. They may have natural abilities, but to be good at either they have to work at it.

From its inception the development and growth of an organization is dependent on the driving force of the person who champions the idea. The managerial style of the entrepreneur or entrepreneurial team, who set up the organization, will be reflected in its structure.

Management of a venture, company, division, requires more than just a vision, it requires a set of business and operational management skills to direct, monitor, and control all aspects of the organization.

A functional structure is required to set authority and responsibilities levels and provide a framework for decision making.

Entrepreneurs must possess these skills, or be prepared to learn them, or acquire them, if they are to be successful in the long term.

Posted by Lisa
Categories: Business Entrepreneurship

Characteristics of a Good Manager

May 26, 2007 0 comments

The way a manager gets things done is through people; the achievement of goals depends on the interactions of those people.

"Reciprocity and social exchange occurs in all business interactions. Any business exchange involves the reciprocation of tangible or intangible outcomes which are seen as valuable' Carsrud.

Managers need to understand the motivational factors governing the actions of others and provide reciprocal transactional benefits, because if they don't the exchange will cease.

A good manager must be able to perform the four basic management functions of

planning, organizing, motivating, and controlling.

The implied areas of excellence in performance of these functions include

  1. leadership qualities,
  2. decision-making techniques
  3. and the ability to communicate.

Managers should also possess

  1. the personal qualities;
  2. sense of responsibility; willingness to co-operate with others;
  3. demonstrate integrity and intelligence;
  4. be fair and just;
  5. a willingness to work hard; loyalty to the company;
  6. loyalty to the workforce.

Posted by Lisa
Categories: Business Entrepreneurship

Entrepreneurial Venture Management

May 26, 2007 0 comments

There is a tension between conventional management information and control systems and entrepreneurial management. Conventional management has a mission, a set of aims and objectives with defined rules, goals and budgets, all of which can be measured the degree of variance between actual outcomes and planned or forecast outcomes. This form of management is governed by grand designs protecting events and outcomes into the future.

Entrepreneurial management participates in trial and error. A kind of gamesmanship, where new ideas are introduced as experiments to find better products, better methods, greater customer satisfaction. This requires having systems with fast response rates linked to analysis methodologies to enable rapid recognition of desirable changes for adoption, and those undesirable changes to be eliminated.

An organization develops routines to match its operational requirements over time. On the other hand the ridged requirements of conventional management information and control systems demands routines to be agreed at the planning stage. Preplanned routines require grand designs and tremendous foresight to cover all eventualities. There is tendency to become bureaucratic and depend to a high degree on policing. Empirical evidence suggests that control by grand design is not always managed as planned, often associated documents find their way into filing cabinets or desk drawers to be pulled out when occasion demands, but otherwise remain untouched and ignored. The routines which do get followed are those which emerge out of everyday usage. Routines drift as new ideas are introduced, or people change roles, enter the organization or leave it. The routines are often forgotten through lack of demand and can get replaced by new routines invented by new people carrying out similar functions or roles.

Entrepreneurs need to develop a range of skills and perform a range of roles throughout the growth stages of the organizations development cycle.

Clark and Pratt developed a typology of Entrepreneurial/Administrative types where the differing roles and organizational skills seen to develop through four phases entitled: Champion; Tank Commander; Housekeeper; Lemon Squeezer.

Champion

This role is the one most associated with entrepreneurial activity. It is where the most excitement exists, where new ideas and challenges abound. Inventors operate mainly in this phase of development as they are often obsessed by their concepts and pursue experimental designs based on the outcomes of previous experiments. Visionaries who have invented or discovered new ideas are driven by their need to convince others of the new values and benefits of their ideas. The challenge of winning over others, gaining acceptance of new products or service packages stimulates their motivation. There is a strong need for success. The emphasis here is on doing things.

Tank Commander

This is where operational management is established, strategies conceived and combined into operational plans and procedures. Systems are designed and communications networks defined. Resources need to be identified and procurement initiated. Resource management, communication lines and targets setting are the features of this role. The emphasis is on doing the right things.

Housekeeper

In this role leader ensures that the agreed strategies are employed and systems operated. Efficiency is the order of the day. The housekeeper ensures that people follow the plans correctly and maintain the systems to ensure that they do what they said they would do. Budgetary control, management information and control systems are of major importance. The emphasis is on doing things right.

Lemon Squeezer

The role of the Lemon Squeezer is in optimization of resource allocation, and return on capital invested. The search is on for: improved productivity; reductions in waste; maximization of profitability; optimizing human resource allocation; identification of more profitable activities. The emphasis here is on ensuring effectiveness and efficiency.

Entrepreneurs need to learn how to make the role transition from champion right through to lemon squeezer. They need to recognise their current mode in relationship to emerging requirements. Organisations are not stable, new ideas for products, technologies, and markets emerge randomly while environmental disturbances create both opportunities and threats. Before championing new products or services entrepreneurs need to assess how they are likely to affect existing commitments as well as organisational functions. The biggest risks to entrepreneurs are in pursuing opportunities with insufficient or incapable resources. Scarce resources need to managed effectively to optimise results. Often the role of housekeeper is required to discipline the organisation and maintain budgetary control. Or in the lemon squeezer role to slim down the organisation, conserve resources and rationalise operations. The ability to make the transition between roles is an essential attribute.

Posted by Lisa
Categories: Business Entrepreneurship

Entrepreneurship and Venture Management Summary

May 26, 2007 0 comments

Entrepreneurs need to maintain the same enthusiasm for management as they do for their idea if their vision of something different is to be successfully achieved in the long term. They need to motivate their associates and provide them with a vision of the new order to help them through the transitional process. Entrepreneur and organization need to achieve harmony, where transactions between all players produce a win win situation. Venture management skills, like entrepreneurial skills, develop through training and experience.

Entrepreneurs need to recognize and manage the benefits that drive other members of the organization to ensure they receive adequate opportunity to achieve them. But above all they need to identify and manage customer-valued benefits and make them readily available by channeling the organizations energy towards complete customer satisfaction. If the business satisfies a customer-valued benefit, customers will be prepared to pay to receive it.

The ability to spot the opportunity presented by the unfulfilled customer valued need is the archetypal entrepreneurial skill.

Effectiveness and efficiency in mobilising resources, while motivating and leading others to achieve complete satisfaction of customer valued needs is the acme of managerial skill. The organisation requires both entrepreneurial and management skills, without the one the other may not be required.

Posted by Lisa
Categories: Business Entrepreneurship

Choosing your Business

May 26, 2007 0 comments

Questionarie

Factors which will influence your choices

You have to answer the following questions:

1) What are you good at?

2) Is there a market for your idea?

3) Will you enjoy doing it?

4) What are you prepared to put into the business?

5) How much money will be required to start up?

6) Are you prepared to share your business with others?

7) How much control are you prepared to give away?

 

Posted by Lisa
Categories: Business Entrepreneurship

Questionarie: Which business would be right for you?

May 27, 2007 0 comments

One way of establishing your opportunities for starting a business is to carry out a personal attribute analysis to identify how your characteristics could fit within a range of business types.

Check yourself against the following questions. Score the answer that says what you feel or comes closest to it. Be honest with yourself.

Are you a self-starter?

  • I do things on my own. Nobody has to tell me to get going.
  • If someone gets me started, I keep going all right.
  • Easy does it, I don't put myself out until I have to.

How do you feel about other people?

  • I like people. I can get along with just about anybody.
  • I have plenty of friends - I don't need anyone else.
  • Most people bug me.
  • I can get most people to go along when I start something.
  • I can give orders if someone tells me what we should do.
  • I let someone else get things moving. Then I go along if I feel like it.

Can you take responsibility?

  • I like to take charge of things and see them through.
  • I take over if I have to, but I'd rather let someone else be responsible.
  • There's always some eager beaver around wanting to show how smart they are.I say let them.

How good an organizer are you?

  • I like to have a plan before I start. I'm usually the one to get things lined up when the gang wants to do something.
  • I do all right unless things get too mixed up. Then I cop out.
  • You get all set and then something comes along and blows everything.So I just take things as they come.

How good a worker are you?

  • I can keep going as long as I need to. I don't mind working hard for something that I want
  • I'll work hard for a while, but when I've had enough, that's it!
  • I can't see that hard work gets you anywhere

Can you make decisions?

  • I can make up my mind in a hurry if I have to. It usually turns out OK, too
  • I can if I have plenty of time. If I have to make up my mind fast, I think later I should have decided the other way.
  • I don't like to be the one who has to decide things. I'd probably blow it.

Can people trust what you say?

  • You bet they can. I don't say things I don't mean.
  •     I try to be on the level most of the time, but sometimes I just say what's easiest.
  • What's the sweat if the other person doesn't know the difference?

Can you stick with it?

  • If I make up my mind to do something, I don't let anything stop me.
  • I usually finish what I start - if it doesn't get messed up.
  • If it doesn't go right away, I turn off.

(the questionnaire adapted from Gillian Clegg and Colin Barrow, 1984, How to Start and Run your own Business, Macmillan Press, London)

Posted by Lisa
Categories: Business Entrepreneurship

Essential "Soft Skills"

May 27, 2007 0 comments

John Welch, an author of The Entrepreneur's Master Planning Guide, concluded from his studies of the activities of entrepreneurs that they appear to have

the following characteristics:

  • good health
  • a basic need to control and direct, with freedom to act and choose courses of action (although no need to exert power over others)
  • self-confidence especially in the face of adversity, as long as he is in control; uncomfortable as a team member (a real maverick); a little increase in control generates a large increase in self-confidence
  • a relentless drive; high degree of achievement orientation
  • a comprehensive awareness of total environment
  • realistic; wants to measure results, personally verify data; his word is his bond; high sense of integrity superior conceptual ability; can see important relationships in seemingly confusing situations; quite clear in approach and in seeking alternatives
  • low need for status; status is achievement; wants to be where the action is objective approach to interpersonal relationships
  • sufficient emotional stability
  • attracted to challenge where the odds are "interesting," which may create the impression of a high risk taker, though this is not true

Posted by Lisa
Categories: Business Entrepreneurship

Identifying Personal Priorities

May 28, 2007 0 comments

First thing I suggest you to do is to:

Prioritise possible business areas against your own order of importance and create a table to identify ranking. The criteria used during this process will be entirely your own, for example these may include: low start up costs; would suit your life style; interesting work; easy to do; challenging market; good profit margins; revenge against previous employer; opportunity to travel; opportunity to meet new people; etc. There are many varieties of criteria, the above are just a few, which criteria are important to you?

Then:

Decide your most important criteria and place them in a list in order of importance. Next, for each of your chosen criteria apply a weighting factor of between 1 and 5. Now score each criteria by multiplying it by the weighting factor.

For example:

Andrew is studying for a MA (Hons) in Information Technology. He really enjoys designing software for business and multimedia applications and has just completed a training interactive toolkit project for a large electronics equipment manufacturer. The work involved site visits and team briefing meetings, which to his surprise, he really enjoyed. He also found that he got a buzz out of problem solving. To support his studies at university, Andrew not only had an internship acting as a programer, he also has undertaken a range of part time jobs, mainly in catering and bar work. Both he and his friend -potential biz partner enjoy working together while doing Professional IT consulting; and meanwhile both of them enjoy cooking and often organize student and other entertaining networking events. He wants to set up his own business so that he can be control. He owns a 'state of the art' computer and can raise a small amount of capital if he finds people interested in his ideas. He is not worried about unsociable hours as long as the money is good and he finds exciting learning new skills.

Andrew's Criteria Weighting factor
Good profit margins 5
Challenging Work 5
Low Start Up Costs 5
flexible hours 4
Meeting People 3
Variety of Work 2
No need to learn new skills 1

Since cash flow with good margins was important to Andrew, he allocated a weighting factor of 5, on the other hand the need to learn new skills didn't really worry him, so he allocated a weighting factor of one.

Posted by Lisa
Categories: Business Entrepreneurship

Scoring Business Ideas

May 28, 2007 0 comments

The process of selecting the most appropriate business idea can now be analysed. By scoring each idea against the chosen criteria, for example Andrew chose to investigate the possibilities of setting up three different ideas.

  1. Software Design House to design, build, implement and market software packages
  2. Internet Cafe, for people who are interested in using computers and accessing the Internet.
  3. Software Doctor, a service to business customers to select, install, upgrade and debug computer software.

Each idea was analysed to allocate points for each of the criteria and when multiplied by the weighting factor the following chart was produced.

Andrew's
Big Ideas
Scored
Software
Design
Internet
Cafe
Software
Doctor
Criteria Weigh-
ting
factor
Points Score Points Score Points Score
Good profit margins 5 5 25 4 20 5 25
Challenging Work 5 5 25 3 15 3 15
Low Start Up Costs 5 3 15 2 10 5 20
flexible hours 4 5 20 0 0 3 12
Meeting People 3 4 12 5 15 3 9
Variety of Work 2 5 10 2 4 4 8
No need to learn new skills 1 0 0 4 4 2 2
   

Total=

107

Total=

68

Total=

91

By totalling the rating point scores recorded against the criteria for each business idea a comparative Total Score can provide a focus for further development. The highest score indicates the idea that best meets Andrew's criteria.

This method can be used in the selection process to identify the business idea which is the closest match to individual preferences for further investigation. It does not guarantee success as the individual may have to trade off some personal preferences to meet market requirements - we often are asked to do things which are not at the top of our own priority list but are highly valued by others.

If you are still having difficulty in selecting your business idea for the Creativity Analysis coursework try analyzing yourself and generate your own BIG Ideas Scorecard.

Posted by Lisa
Categories: Business Entrepreneurship

Sources of Ideas

May 28, 2007 0 comments

The Practice of Ideas: Identifying, Advocating and Making It Happen

  • Your education

  • Professional work based experience

  • Hobbies, leisure, adventures

  • Associating with friends, relations, business or social acquaintances who have ideas

  • Visiting trade fairs, exhibitions, conferences, craft fairs

  • Analysing other peoples successful ideas

  • Redesigning successful ideas to:

    (1) deliver to new markets;

    (2) adapt for alternative products or services

  • Researching published secondary sources of information:

    (1)patent applications;

    (2)innovations;

    (3) experimental and technological advances

  • Purchasing
    (1)intellectual property rights, licenses, franchises,
    (2) incomplete projects
    (3) from a shortage, or absence of supply, unobtainable personal requirement

  • Accessing sponsorship funding to carry out pure research

Posted by Lisa
Categories: Business Entrepreneurship

Nature and Purpose of Market Information Systems

May 28, 2007 0 comments

"Time spent on reconnaissance is seldom wasted"

Field Marshal Montgomery

"Know your enemy, know yourself and you can fight a hundred battles without disaster"

Sun Tzu

Developing an approach to research for a new business:

  1. What information will help make decision-making?
  2. What are we going to do with this information?
  3. How should we collect this information?
  4. What are we going to measure?
  5. How should we analyse the results?
  6. How much time should we spend on collecting the information?
  7. What decisions are we faced with?
  8. What is the potential cost of taking the wrong decision?
  9. What level of accuracy is required?
  10. How can we reduce risks during start-up?

Posted by Lisa
Categories: Business Entrepreneurship

Planning Market Research Surveys

May 28, 2007 0 comments

Define ideas before data collection

Begin by creating a broad picture of the topic which can then be reduced through a series of stages until a precise focus is achieved

Find out as much as possible about prospective customers:

  1. What are they likely to want?

  2. When will they want it?

  3. How will they want it?

  4. Where will they want it?

  5. How often will they want it?

  6. What are they prepared to exchange to get it?

  7. What service will they require?

  8. Where will they place priorities?

Posted by Lisa
Categories: Business Entrepreneurship

Designing for Competitive Advantage

May 28, 2007 0 comments

The product /service continuum

Successful designers must combine customer requirements within their design concept and identify the means of achieving production of the goods or service packages. Every organization will provide some form of service to its customers, therefore it is essential that the total service package be designed to take account of all the customers' requirements to ensure that there are no barriers to accessing or enjoying the benefits available through the total service package. The continuum created by the extremes of 'Pure Goods' and 'Pure Service' often leads to confusion as the characteristics of services are often more difficult to specify than the characteristics of goods. The latter can be defined by physical properties, dimensions, textures, colors, weight, form and function etc, also by durability and performance tests to predict reliability. Services on the other hand are defined in terms of expectations of the provision of a range of benefit packages to customers.

when the service available, insert Picture

Posted by Lisa
Categories: Business Entrepreneurship Product Innovation

Service characteristics

May 28, 2007 0 comments

Intangibility

Service characteristics include intangibility, inseparability, perishability, heterogeneity and ownership. Services are intangible in that they cannot be touched like goods. Precise standardisation is therefore difficult to establish, as services cannot be examined prior to purchase. The prospective customer can only rely on evidence of past performance; this will establish a range of expectations of the benefits to be received from the provider. When designing a service package it is essential to consider the range of customer valued benefits that would differentiate the venture from competing goods or service packages. The total customer experience must be considered by designers of 'Pure Goods' to identify ways of enhancing their total offering by including some form of intangible benefits. This means removing barriers to enable customers to access the goods, or to maximise performance, or maintain and extend productive life of the goods. Activities such as product information and demonstration, application advice, training, clear 'user friendly' manuals and parts lists, maintenance advice, user 'hot lines', rapid delivery, certified performance, just in time supply, quality assurance, all add to the range of intangible benefits which create expectations of excellence. (Palmer, 1994)

At the other extreme designers of 'Pure Services’ must identify ways to provide tangible evidence so those customers perceive that they will get, or have received, a valuable service. As perception of service quality is often objective as well as subjective the evidence may include the corporate identify, livery, presentation, premises, certification consumables etc. Service providers must therefore consider the customers' expectations of the total service package. (Berry et al, 1990)

Inseparability

Because it is difficult to separate the server from the service process the attitude, appearance, personality, ability and reliability of the server will combine during the service process and create customer perceptions concerning the quality of service. The server is often seen as the service and variations can occur between individuals performing similar tasks as well as by the same individual performing the same task at different times. This means that all members of the team should fully understand not only the mission of the business, but also the policies governing their behaviour to both customers and other members of staff. They need to understand and adhere to agreed operational procedures to ensure that the level of service that they provide is both effectively and efficiently performed consistently (Thomas, 1995).

Perishability

Service can only occur when the customer demands it. Services cannot be produced beforehand and then stored. Every service provision is different due to the combination of circumstances at that time. This means that service providers need to interpret situations then immediately act. Users of services tend to remember the bad elements long after the event while the feeling of satisfaction tends to decay rapidly (Peters and Austin, 1985).

Heterogeneity

The heterogeneity of service customers can present problems as it is not always possible to customise at will therefore it is often necessary to screen customer groups to focus on effective provision of service for a frame of characteristics. The wide range of characteristics of service customers are conditioned by their variety of backgrounds, status, origins, peer groups, personal environment, wealth, intelligence, disablement and understanding. This is further complicated by irrational behaviour that may be emotional, traumatised or just purely idiosyncratic. Against these conditions it is often difficult, or even impossible to achieve a standardised output. Even though standard systems exist, and are mandatory, staff may experience difficulties in presenting them consistently. The quality of service is determined completely by the individual who deals with the customer. Designers can condition customers' expectations by providing clear messages about the range of products and services offered by the business through advertising and promotion.

Ownership

Ownership, or the lack of it, is a basic difference between the provision of services and goods. Customers buying goods can keep them and use them, as they require. Service customers on the other hand may gain advantage from a service but never own it. Therefore the customer who buys goods will receive satisfaction through ownership while the customer of a service will gain satisfaction by accessing the use of the service at the required location, time and duration necessary (Palmer, 1994).

The characteristics throw up issues about empathy, assurance, reliability, cost effectiveness, responsiveness, competence, access, courtesy, communication, credibility, security, understanding and knowing the customer, and the provision of tangibles (Berry et al, 1990; Palmer, 1994)

Posted by Lisa
Categories: Business Entrepreneurship

Developing an Understanding of Customer Needs and Wants

May 28, 2007 0 comments

Design success depends entirely on how well the design meets the customer's requirements. This means that it is necessary to identify, and where possible, to establish and agree requirements with customers prior to the design process. For example we need to know: what design features are required; why they are wanted; what benefits are needed; what benefits are expected; which benefits are critical to the success of the product; what the performance criteria are; how performance will be measured; what values they are prepared to exchange; where they want the benefits; when they want the benefits; how often they will want them (Timmons et al 1987). There is a complexity of influences that need to be research to access both qualitative and quantitative data. The environmental influences may be grouped into social; political; economic; legal; technological factors. These may be further influenced by factors such as: culture; historical group norms, beliefs and values, behavior patterns, life styles, religion, politics etc.: sociological factors; social class structure, family and peer group pressures, fashion, stage in life: economic factors; level of disposable income, cost in relation to competing goods or services, perceived value etc. All of these will contribute to the individual’s psychological profile governing their view of how well new goods or service packages can satisfy their needs (Maslow 1954: Chisnall, 1994)

 

Shostack’s Molecular Model

In Adrian Palmer’s book on the ‘Principles of Services Marketing’ 1994 there is an adaptation of Shostack’s Molecular Model to demonstrate how an analysis of the tangible elements and intangible elements of a service experience can help focus on critical elements.

below will be a product development flowchart

Posted by Lisa
Categories: Business Entrepreneurship Product Innovation

Building the Start Up Team

May 28, 2007 0 comments

Content:

Self analysis

  • Identifying personal strengths and weaknesses
  • Questionnaire
  • Ownership and control issues
  • Characteristics of entrepreneurs
  • Business Ideas Generator

Key players

  • Who have or are involved in developing the business ideas
  • Who is critical to the success of the venture
  • Job definition and individual qualifications

Team building

  • Leadership
  • Attitude

Functional analysis

  • Team leading issues

Motivation

  • Locking key players into the business

Posted by Lisa
Categories: Business Entrepreneurship

Venture Design

May 28, 2007 0 comments

Introduction

service package design issues in venture creation and development

Entrepreneurs are often caught up in their enthusiasm to take advantage of what they perceive to be a marketing opportunity that they don't always analyse risk factors during the process of venture creation.

Because entrepreneurs' obsession, they often miss the need to develop a total service package, resulting in lost opportunities and customer dissatisfaction.

To avoid this, the entrepreneur should spend some time analysing the needs and expectations of potential clients; identifying the need to increase customers'expectations.

During business development and growth, the entrepreneur has to keep a finger on the pulse of the market.

This strategy means that management remains proactive, not only should it meet the customers changing needs, but also make it to be ahead of the competition because additional benefits and services are provided.

All businesses, whether rooted in manufacturing or service sectors, need to design their total service package and determin how the target customer groups are likely to perceive the benefits the firm has on offer.

Entrepreneurs should therefore examine the characteristics of total service package design to identify the key success factors that are likely to affect their customers perceptions and further choice of a provider.

Entrepreneurship and Small Business Start-up

During the 1980's entrepreneurship became fashionable and many people, who had previously not considered starting their own business, launched a venture for the first time. They felt that the time was right because they had an idea to exploit their talents.

On the contrary, there were many others, who just started out to explore alternatives due to desperation or corporate downsizing, and against an employment dependency.

In early 1990', though, not so many new small start ups were born because, according to numerous surveys, 'Loss of Market’ has become the major cause of business failure.

For a business to become successful and grow, there is a need for sufficient people to recognize the values to be gained through interacting with it, and exchange resources as a consequence. There is a need for people who has understands the target customers, their range of expectations and then how to meet or exceed these expectations.

The entrepreneur also needs to know how to manage the 'value chain'; how to combine his or her own resources with those available from suppliers -- at the right time, place and form; and how to maximize opportunities for customers to access the benefits on offer (Porter, 1985).

Many new ventures fail to recognize the value of this activity or don't manage it very well. This can result in stagnation or venture failure. The waste created by poorly designed ventures can effectively depress entrepreneurial activity and have dramatic consequences for the venturers, so that venture may lose money -- even not learning from the mistakes.

There is therefore a need for entrepreneurs to undertake 'customer needs assessment' and to match it to its value adding capabilities.

There is a need for the design of a unique service package that meets the customers' requirements so well that clients automatically recognize and accept what is being offered to them (Drucker, 1973; Peters and Austin, 1985).

Posted by Lisa
Categories: Business Entrepreneurship

Designing a Venture

May 28, 2007 0 comments

'The successful entrepreneur is one who first detects and seizes a profitable opportunity. He may not make a comprehensive market survey, but he'll know when to move boldly and quickly.' (Olm and Eddy 1985)

However, when entrepreneurs rush into the market they run the risk of contracting marketing myopia due to their obsession with the features and characteristics of their 'unique' idea (Levitt, 1960; Zimmerer and Scarborough, 1996). Often entrepreneurs guard their ideas and develop them in secret to prevent others from copying. All too often this leads to the production of new products and or services that have neither been analyzed or market tested. Conservative strategies founded on in-depth scientific research and analysis can stifle entrepreneurial flair and lead a form of operational paralysis that can slow down product design and development, often leading to production of staid, unexciting, but nevertheless highly reliable designs. Excessive research costs accrue from this strategy and deplete the entrepreneurs' resources before any real income can be generated. New products and services are often brought to the market after the wave of opportunity has passed (Lynch and Kordis, 1988). The tension between the extremes of these strategies can contribute largely to the entrepreneurs' dilemma and affect the attitudes of their key stakeholders.

It is often difficult for entrepreneurs to establish the extent to which research should be undertaken beforehand (Collins and Porras, 1996). Therefore the first model proposed in the this paper aims to enable entrepreneurs to focus their research by evaluating their ideas from a customer's perspective to articulate customer valued benefits into specific capability requirements. Analyzing product and service benefits against core customer drivers that are likely to generate customer attraction can reduce risks associated with new venture creation. This involves a matching process to determine the core 'state of felt deprivation' (Kotler 1967) responsible for initiating customer desire. The outcomes from such a process provide data for the identification of critical success factors and core criteria for assessing implications to product and service excellence, reliability and maintainability. This in turn leads to the identification of the critical success factors governing the development requirements for the capability of the supply chain to sustain competitive advantage.

The second model leads to the development of quality management strategies for growth of the venture by developing effective metrics in the form of score cards for continuous assessment activities. It builds on the concepts of total quality which aims to get everyone in the organization to do the right things for their customers by identifying the best way to do them to eliminate faults within the resource constraints of the venture. It then addresses the need to constantly improve and create innovation.

The design function is the heart of the process, however the heart cannot function alone, it requires the lifeblood of a steady stream of input from all other functions in the organization, especially from marketing and operations management (Oakland 1994). Innovation may originate from any number of sources such as marketing, technology, conceptual design, serendipity or pure research identifying a new form of technology or materials, or product and market research identifying opportunities and threats (Crawford 1994). Designers should consider magnetic attractions that will attract customers. These forces are rooted deep in the customers core needs and wants and influenced by the current state and degree of satisfaction of their physiological, safety, belongingness and love, esteem, and self actualization needs. Curiosity and aesthetics (Kotler and Armstrong, 1994; Maslow, 1954; Chisnall, 1994) may further motivate the intensity of attraction.

You can also check articles on the subjects "Designing for Competitive Advantage" and "Service Characteristics"

Posted by Lisa
Categories: Business Entrepreneurship

Motivation Theory

May 28, 2007 0 comments

There is a general consensus that it is difficult to produce a basic list of human needs which satisfy all a designers requirements, however two general categories may provide the core route for the development of specialist checklists. These are biogenic and psychogenic. Biogenic needs, also described as primary needs, contain the basic physiological needs which when unfulfilled create feelings of deprivation that tends to overwhelm and dominate the individual’s attention, these include: hunger, thirst, sleep, sex, exercise, cleanliness, health. During a state of felt deprivation, these needs can become obsessive, however once the need has been satisfied others needs emerge and become more important until the condition is experienced once more. For example food intake is required at intervals according to life style, should the interval be extended beyond the norm the sense of deprivation and desire for satisfaction will grow, should it progress beyond endurance any intake of food will be acceptable no matter how awful (Chisnall, 1985).

Here will be a picture of Biogenic and Psychogenic Model of States of Felt Deprivation

Psychogenic needs, emotional and psychological needs are complex human behavior needs which emanate through cultural, social, emotional, and intellectual interests. These needs will have a bearing on the way in which biogenic needs are satisfied; for example the food intake may be combined into a social event or a cultural occasion where aesthetic requirements play a significant role. (Chisnall 1985)

A convenient classification of psychogenic needs may be affection needs, ego-bolstering needs, ego-defensive needs (Bayton 1958). These needs may apply in combinations, however there is often one that is most dominant or 'prepotent'. For example, customers may buy a new car because they need transport, but their dominant need may be to display a powerful image and position in society by demonstrating their wealth and exclusivity. While another new car customer may purchase their transport to get them to work, or for reliability because their last form of transport kept failing, or for economic reasons such as increased fuel economy or to escape rising maintenance costs.

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Categories: Business Entrepreneurship

Consumers Perception for Product Evaluation

May 28, 2007 0 comments

Customers, or consumers, of goods and services are attracted to them by the ways in which their own needs might be satisfied. They perceive some form of utility that match their set of needs and provide the most satisfactory solution at the time. The ideal product or service may not exist; the one that comes closest may then match the consumers’ estimate of the overall capability to satisfy their needs at that time. (Kotler and Armstrong)

Designers should take the target customers need set into consideration early on so that risks can be estimated.

 As the project develops intelligence gathering will firm up data on perceptions and customer expectations for risk reduction or risk avoidance activities.

The main forces are likely to be perceptions of utility, value, and the satisfaction when measured against alternative designs. The risks identified here can then be assessed against the overall market intelligence and decisions reached with this knowledge in mind.

It may be that the new product will carry some risk, however the designer may choose to ignore the risk and combat it by some marketing strategy. Consumers often act irrationally, emotionally, and idiosyncratically, however much of this can be predicted with a little pre-planning to establish the current need set and the environmental factors likely to have a bearing on consumer values

Posted by Lisa
Categories: Business Entrepreneurship

Basic Design Cycle

May 28, 2007 0 comments

The basic design cycle is conceptualized in "Product Development Flowchart".

Note - here will be a link to flowchart, now is not available

It demonstrates the flow of ideas into an organization. Any of these sources may provide a fruitful product concept, however it is the designers’ task to pull the concept together. During the cycle the designer integrates knowledge and information to produce specifications that clearly define the product so that agreement can be reached with both customers and management. There is evidence to support the claim that customer requirements are paramount in this process, therefore it is imperative that designers find ways of getting close to customers (Peters and Austin).

Sometimes, however we don't deal with the consumer of products but work through a logistics chain of agents and distributors who may be highly influential in the decision-making chain. In this case there is a need to get beyond the immediate customer and find out about consumers requirements and motivators. The consumer valued benefit may appear to be of little consequence to agents in the logistics or supply chain, who may view the product as another product line, but if the consumer does not recognize value in the product then the supply chain will fail. It is therefore important to look at all the elements in the supply chain and design the product in such a way that everyone involved in the process adds value and receives valued benefits in return (Zimmer and Scarborough).

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Categories: Business Entrepreneurship

Current Custom and Practice

May 28, 2007 0 comments

Initial primary research has been carried out within a range of Small to Medium Enterprises (SMEs) to investigate the extent to which risk analysis is undertaken. Initial findings indicate that while senior managers, designers, engineers, and quality practitioners are all aware of or have experience in using risk analysis techniques, few attempts to employ formal applications during the development of new projects in product design. Risk assessment was mainly centered on financial and marketing.

There was however evidence to support the view that a number of techniques were employed following initial design and during product development.

The techniques fall into three general categories:

1. Financial risks

2. Operational issues

3. Product failure.

Financial risk analysis was mainly concentrated on cash flow and capital investment ratios based on projected market forecasts.

Operational risk analysis techniques were highly influenced by financial and quality issues.

Product failure risk analyzes were mainly concerned with the avoidance of failure, product reliability and the chain reactions of failure liability.

The route chosen relied on the industry sector and the criticality of failure, that is the degree of catastrophic failure, complexity, consequential loss, cost per product, etc. Smaller organizations tended to estimate the risk of personal loss associated with business failure, mainly developing sensitivity analysis based on 'What if?' modeling, once in production risk reduction programs included: prototype modeling; pre-production runs; matrix diagrams; check lists; cause and effect analysis; field tests; market tests.

SME's in highly technical field used a range of sophisticated techniques as part of contractual requirements these include: failure mode and effect analysis (FMEA); failure mode and effect and criticality analysis (FMECA); reliability engineering; environmental testing; functional testing; simulated life tests; destructive testing to meet contractual conditions. Electronics organizations used a mixture of approaches integrated with corporate clients, for example Quality Function Deployment (QFD); Product and Cycle-time Excellence (PACE) (Gehani, 1992; McGrath, 1992).

An analysis of thirty small firms for product design and development revealed that very few SME's consider risk analysis. They tended to be visionary types of firms in scientific or technology based businesses; few consider risks in terms of opportunity cost. There was a tendency to initially fund new projects from revenues, until cash flow difficulties emerged.

Success is measured in terms of return on investment in successful projects that means that while encouraging innovation the firm must evaluate ideas. There is a tension between these objectives, as most entrepreneurs don't want to be annoyed with evaluation. You can get over this by the fact that evaluation is conditional for funding. Often outside consultants are engaged to carry out some initial evaluation. On each occasion there is a tension between product development funds and working capital. An initial outline risk assessment is carried out and if successful a second evaluation process involving external consultants is undertaken to identify market needs, this often involves critical market research.

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Categories: Business Entrepreneurship

Service Concept

May 28, 2007 0 comments

Stated in terms of results produced for customers what are the elements of the service to be provided?

How are these elements expected to be perceived by:

  • The target market segment?
  • The market in general?
  • Employees?
  • Others?

What does this suggest in terms of the manner in which the service is:

  • Designed?
  • Delivered?
  • Marketed?

The Service Package or Product

  • Physical items or facilitating goods
  • Sensual benefits or explicit services
  • Psychological benefits or implicit services

Fitzsimmons, J. A. and Fitzsimmons, M.J. 1994. Service management for competitive advantage, McGraw - Hill

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Categories: Business Entrepreneurship

Creativity Presentation

May 28, 2007 0 comments

Presenting your new idea to the marketplace, creating a new business, or redefining an existing business to make it more successful

Select an idea of your own choice; then carry out an analysis of the idea to identify the core benefits and key success factors which are likely to attract customers and contribute to the overall success of the venture.

Concentrate on the total concept of the idea and how it will satisfy identified needs and wants of identified customers.

Your analysis of the business idea should be built on a detailed scientific research.

Prepare your presentaion to be suitable for a prospective investor. Do not forget it should be in easily understood and jargon free format.

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Categories: Business Entrepreneurship

Feasibility Plan

May 28, 2007 0 comments

a means of assessing the feasibility of a business venture to reduce the risks associated with start up and growth of a venture

Instruction:

Construct an outline business plan for your idea described in your 'Creativity Analysis'.

This will help you to construct later an effective plan for venture creation or regeneration. It will take you time to carry out necessary research. Your business plan should contain evidence of how you would identify and manage the critical success factors of the venture and manage risk factors during the start-up process, or redevelopment process of an existing business.

The marking scheme will reward well thought through submissions where there is sufficient evidence of understanding of how to research a venture.

The plan should demonstrate:

  • the way in which the venture could be established
  • the critical factors of each section
  • the risks and how these will be managed

Include information regarding how you would collect data, establish facts and project financial management information to ensure the viability of the project.

This document also may be required for presenting it to prospective investors.

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Categories: Business Entrepreneurship

The Role of Business Plans

May 28, 2007 0 comments

Introduction to business planning

Structure and content

Application

Arrange an interview with an entrepreneur of your own choice

Analyse key success factors and prepare a short summary of findings

Business Formation

Forms of business entities

Legal aspects

Evaluating franchising

Registrations

Building the team

Analyse own business idea and settle on a suitable legal format for the new or restructured business

Creating new ventures

Sources of ideas

Identifying core benefits

Matching capabilities

Design process

Protecting the idea

Select a business idea to suit your personal requirements for further investigation

Posted by Lisa
Categories: Business Entrepreneurship

Fundamentals of Marketing

May 31, 2007 0 comments

Concept of Marketing

The concept of marketing has been variously defined over the years; here are some explanations from leading practitioners and theorists in the field.

“Marketing is the management process for identifying, anticipating, and satisfying customer requirements profitably.”

Chartered Institute of Marketing

“If you are obsessed with attaining happiness you will never attain it. But if you focus on service to others, happiness will come immediately. It is the same with industry: if you are obsessed with looking for profits, you will never find them. But if you focus on satisfying the customer, you will gain everything.”

(Jose Lopez VW top executive cited by Jobber 1995)

Peter Drucker stated:

“Because the purpose of business is to create and keep customers, it has only two central functions – marketing and innovation. The basic function of marketing is to attract and retain customers at a profit.”

He went on to explain that the role of marketing is to identify customers requirements so well that when products and services are designed to meet these requirements and presented to the customers they automatically recognise and accept what is being offered. (Drucker 1973)

 

David Jobber stated that a modern marketing concept can be expressed as:

“The achievement of corporate goals through meeting and exceeding customer needs better than the competition.” (Jobber 1995)

Three conditions should be met:

  1. Customer orientation – Corporate activities are focused upon providing customer satisfaction.
  2. Integrated effort – all staff accept the responsibility for creating customer satisfaction.
  3. Goal achievement – The belief that corporate goals can be achieved through customer satisfaction.

Philip Kotler defines marketing as:

“A social and managerial process by which individuals and groups obtain what they need and want through creating and exchanging products and value with others.” This leads into the debate about needs, wants and demand, Where needs stem from a state of felt deprivation affected by the complexity of physical, social and individual motivational factors. Wants on the other hand are shaped by culture and individual personality and can be influenced by variety of choice. Demand is affected by the ability to exchange resources to obtain what is on offer i.e. buying power.

The debate moves on into the concepts of products and services where Kotler defines a product as:

“Anything that can be offered to market for attention, acquisition, use or consumption that might satisfy a want or need. It includes physical objects, services, persons, places, organizations and ideas.”

Services are defined as:

“Any activity or benefit that one party can offer to another which is essentially intangible and does not result in ownership of anything.”

Marketing Environment

In his book on Competitive Advantage (1985) Porter discusses the need for people to understand the competitive environment that affects every firm. The competitive forces of other firms causes turbulence within the market, however the other forces at play include; Supplier Power, Buyer Power, Threat of New Entrants, and the availability of Substitutes.

It could be argued that competitive offerings present the biggest threat and therefore there are needs to have effective marketing intelligence gathering and analysis systems.

Marketing Mix

The marketing mix described by Kotler (1999) is

“The set of controllable tactical marketing tools – product, price, place and promotion – that the firm blends to produce the response it wants in the target market.” It is useful, however to consider three more factors in this concept – physical evidence, process and people – as these will have a bearing on customer’s expectations and perceptions. For a discussion on expectation and perception theory see the work of Berry, Parasuraman and Zeithaml. They have developed a methodology for assessing customer’s responses to service offerings.

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Categories: Business Entrepreneurship Product Innovation Marketing

Perceptions of Risk

May 31, 2007 0 comments

The hazards, associated with product design and development, are many and complex. Some entrepreneurs tend to see risk as just another hurdle that must be coped with, extreme tendencies view risk as the gambling stake to be borne, while others see only researched probabilities to aid decision making. The measurement of risk before the event is the source of much debate, mainly because the majority of risks are perceived and not necessarily actual. When assessing risks, designers should accept this in mind to avoid over dependence on numerically based data; as there is a chance of promoting or validating misconceptions.

Sorting processes need to be employed to develop perspective and avoid over dependence on microscopic analysis. In short, there is a need to first be effective before developing efficiency, in that way the right direction can be discovered before committing valuable resources.

Missed and misconstrued perceptions of the consequences of decisions are of themselves a major, arguably the greatest, source of risk in decision making and any responsible decision maker will make every effort to obtain a complete and accurate perception of the risks faced before attempting to undertake an analysis and assessment'. (Ansell, 1992)

Thus, the purpose of risk analysis is the identification of all possible outcomes of decisions, whilst the estimation of probabilities and the size of the outcomes is the subject of risk assessment.

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Categories: Business Entrepreneurship Product Innovation

Product Innovation

May 31, 2007 0 comments

Business Strategy and Innovation

Outline

Markets, technologies and competitors; creating additional customer value; forms of competitive advantage

Generating and harnessing creativity; frameworks for innovation

Product Innovation Process

Designing for market needs; the product concept; the use of the Quality Function Deployment Tool; creating the product specification

Invention creation

Modelling the product development process; product design, manufacturing and market development

Implementing the product development process; teamwork and project management; learning and re-invention.

Posted by Lisa
Categories: Business Entrepreneurship Product Innovation

Gaining and Maintaining Competitive Advantage

May 31, 2007 0 comments

Key points

The seminal work of Michael Porter entitled “Gaining and Maintaining Competitive Advantage”

provides a model to help us understand the competitive environment affecting all firms.

 

picture will be added later

Sources of Innovation

According to Peter Drucker (1985) the majority of innovations are the result of concerted effort. There are of course exceptions to the rule that result from a flash of genius or serendipity but most innovations within entities originate from four areas:

  • Unexpected occurrences
  • Incongruities
  • Process needs
  • Industry and market changes

Unexpected occurrences

Examples were drawn from:

IBM designed accounting machines for banks, but banks didn’t buy them. Public libraries had money and did buy IBM’s machines.

The computer industry developed when businesses recognized that computers could be used for more than scientific purposes and could be adapted to payroll processing. Univac failed to recognize the opportunity but IBM did and adapted designed that led them into becoming industry leaders.

Ford Motors failure with the Edsel almost sunk the firm as the most highly researched model of its day did not meet customers requirements. Ford had to find a replacement quickly and imposed short deadlines on its design and manufacturing team. The result was the famous Mustang and Thunderbird models that were designed to meet the needs of the target customers life-styles.

 

Incongruities

Examples were drawn from:

Alcon Industries exploited an incongruity of medical technology used to treat eye cataracts. By developing a preservative for an enzyme that could dissolve the ligament that caused the problem Alcon were able to provide a new compound that could be stored. The resultant product grew in popularity and created a worldwide monopoly.

The development of ‘Roll-on’ ‘Roll-off’ ships and container vessels came about when ship builders realised that the major cost in shipping were incurred when ships were in port loading and unloading. This changed the thinking of designers who for the past 50 years had attempted to make bigger and more fuel efficient vessels to cut shipping costs. The shift in viewpoint and not technology was responsible for improving the economics of the shipping industry.

Process needs

Example was drawn from:

Federal Express and the core concept of the business being explained a switching process. Items for distribution are collected and delivered to a central sorting center and switched to carriers for redistribution. The speed of processing is critical as is the central switching operation.

Industry and market changes

Examples were drawn from:

The growth in direct services such as banking and insurance services and the growth of e-businesses.

External Sources

Sources of opportunity from outside entities can be found through:

  • Demographic changes
  • Changes in perception
  • New knowledge

Demographic changes

Changes in the population offer opportunities. For example the Americans have recognized the growth in the wealthy aged population who need and want labor saving equipment to suit their life-styles and failing health.

Changes in perception

Global improvements in the communications and media industries are constantly enlightening people and therefore changing their perceptions and expectations. Products that were acceptable 10 or 20 years ago are no longer acceptable for a whole range of reasons that are affected by personal attitudes through changing social acceptability.

New knowledge

New knowledge emerges all the time bringing with it both opportunities and threats.

External environmental factors

The external factors affecting all businesses must be analyzed to identify opportunities and threats. These factors are often known as PEST or SPELT factors the latter means.

Social, political, economic, legal, and technological factors.

When carrying out a SWOT analysis it is important to recognize that the Strengths and Weaknesses are internal to the business and therefore with the control of the business. While on the other hand Opportunities and Threats come from the environment and are therefore out with the control of the business. Innovation can emanate from an understanding of both.

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Categories: Business Entrepreneurship Product Innovation

Principles of Creativity

May 31, 2007 0 comments

Importance of creativity, psychology of creativity, serendipity.

The nature of incubation and illumination.

Bisocation and lateral thinking, idea generation and selection.

Innovative companies - recognising and exploiting opportunities

Suggested Readings

Baxter. M. 1995 ‘Product Design’, Chapman & Hall, London Chapter 4, pages 61 - 79

James Collins & Jerry Porras "Built to Last" Chapter 3

find new ways of making improvisations - go somewhere you wouldn’t otherwise

thinking about game-playing

Try to watch your friends and family members when they play quite elaborate games during holiday seasons - you will see how normally retiring people become enormously extrovert and funny.

The great thing about games is that they in some sense free you from being yourself: you are “allowed” forms of behavior that otherwise would be gratuitous, embarrassing or completely irrational.

You will find out how people are active in the improvisations if you apply the same idea for business

some motivational characteristics of a creative person:

 

  • a curious or inquiring mind;
  • an intellectual persistence;
  • a need for recognition for achievement;
  • a need for variety;
  • a need for autonomy;
  • a preference for complex order;
  • a tolerance of ambiguity;
  • a need for mastery of a problem;
  • an insatiability for intellectual ordering.

A creative person also needs to be able to look at a situation from different angles,

  • questioning assumptions,
  • imagining new situations,
  • changing relationships
  • or adding new elements into the situation (McWhinney, 1993; McFadzean, in press; McFadzean et al., in press).

There have been a number of lessons learnt by exploring other people’s creativity. These are:

  • There must be a desire to win or to reach a goal successfully.
  • There must be motivation, dedication and commitment to the work being studied.
  • The creative person tends to be self-confident, a risk taker or, at least, is prepared to fail.
  • The creative person has the ability to see relationships or make connections between different elements or situations.
  • There must be an ability to learn from mistakes or to get something positive from a failed project.
  • The creative person must be able to shift his or her paradigm of a given situation and view it from different angles.
  • The creative person must have the ability to conceptualise the problem or opportunity from a more novel perspective.
  • The creative person tends to have a single-minded vision of where he or she wants to go.
  • He or she must have a working style that involves both hard work and periods of relaxation so that incubation can occur.
  • Creativity can take place while working alone as well as working in groups.

Creativity is an important aspect of organisational life and it should be nurtured and allowed to grow.

Posted by Lisa
Categories: Business Entrepreneurship Product Innovation

Encourage Visioning

May 31, 2007 0 comments

Ensure participative safety

Employees can only be encouraged to think creatively if they are not afraid of criticism or punishment.

For example

If a project fails and the champion is in fear of losing his job then he will never take the risk of thinking creatively again.

Challenge Assumptions

Employees should be encouraged to challenge their assumptions and perceptions regarding procedures, products, services and processes

 

(Jones and McFadzean, 1997; McFadzean, 1996a).

In particular, they should examine procedures that

“have always been done that way”.

Encourage Visioning

Managers should encourage “visioning”

Creative thinkers look into the future and visualise where they would like to be in five or ten years time.

This can be applied to the company as a whole or to a department or section or to products, services, procedures and processes.

Climate of Excellence

Establish a climate of excellence

Creative ideas need to be implemented effectively in order to succeed.

Managers should ensure that employees are committed to achieving a first-rate performance.

This can be undertaken by developing achievable objectives (both as an organisation and as individuals) and by producing a strategy for fulfilling them.

Question Corporate Viewpoint

Employ people who do not seem to fit in (Jones and McFadzean, 1997). By upsetting the status quo, it encourages people to look at situations from different perspectives instead of a “corporate viewpoint”.

This may not necessarily be comfortable for management but it can help the company produce some excellent innovative ideas.

Facilitate Pet Projects

Allow people to spend time on their pet projects so they can be researched and developed (McFadzean, 1996b).

For example, the Post-It Note was developed by 3M because the company had allowed its inventor - Arthur Fry - to spend time working on the concept. 3M allows 15 percent of time to be spent on researching pet projects (Nayak and Ketteringham, 1991).

Senior Management Support

There must be senior management support for creativity and innovation (Jones and McFadzean, 1997).

Often, managers will articulate their support but will not enact it.

They must provide sufficient resources and training, encouragement for developing new ideas, time to work on pet projects and/or financial support.

Atmosphere of Enjoyment and Fun

Encourage an atmosphere of enjoyment and fun. Creative thought can be greatly enhanced if participants are enjoying themselves.

An appropriate atmosphere may be created by reducing distractions and enhancing relaxation

Creative Problem Solving Teams

Develop creative problem solving teams that can work together and develop trust for one another

Problem solving teams will be more effective if the participants have the same goals and are supported by a trained facilitator (Briggs and Nunamaker, 1996; Nelson and McFadzean, in press).

Group members who share goal congruence will work towards their objectives together rather than working with hidden agendas and conflicting interests, which will ultimately reduce the efficiency of the group.

Competent Facilitator

Groups will work more effectively together if supported by a competent facilitator.

The facilitator helps the group to reach its objectives and can help the group to look at the situation from different perspectives by using a variety of creative problem solving techniques (McFadzean and Nelson, 1998).

Posted by Lisa
Categories: Business Entrepreneurship Product Innovation

The lack of new ideas is the main constraint on innovation

May 31, 2007 0 comments

"The lack of new ideas is worrying. Unless companies can come up with new ideas they won't have any innovations to exploit in the future. Both companies and the Government need to do more to create the conditions in which creativity can flourish. It is timely that a new round of the Government's Foresight program has just got underway."

The other key constraints on innovation are problems finding finance and the amount of competition. The good news is that the cost of finance is less of a problem. For manufacturers international competition is becoming increasingly important, and although it is less of a problem for non-manufacturers they too are facing mounting competition from North America and the Asia Pacific.

Tips for successful business innovation in processes and products

  1. Create goal vision. Have business goals in your company and communicate them. Know how you want to position your company.
  2. Market savvy. Foresight is important - you need to know your marketplace and have an intimate understanding of your customer's needs today and tomorrow.
  3. Encourage creativity. Companies rely on employees for their future growth. Give employees time and support to exercise their own initiative - give some direction but encourage creative thinking. At technical employees have the blessing of the company to devote 15% of their time on projects of their own choosing.
  4. Empower employees. Provide support for developing employee's ideas, give a suitable degree of project ownership and then reward their successes.
  5. Encourage risk taking and understand failures. Innovation brings risks - as picking winners is never easy! The key is to spot the losers early because this reduces the financial and organizational risk. Turn a failure on its head to see if it might work in another setting.
  6. Support Implementation. Provide the resources (time, money, materials) to bring suitable ideas to fruition.
  7. Know how to fund a new idea. Research where to find money to fund new ideas and then secure it when needed. Let researchers apply for special grants, which provide the finance and resource for projects that cannot be supported through normal budgets.
  8. Protect your ideas. Evidence suggests that firms with an understanding of intellectual property rights have a better chance of maintaining a competitive edge and can maximize the returns of their innovation.
  9. Sometimes sharing is better. Recognize that not all ideas are within your scope alone. Finding the right partner externally can often bring about the best result.
  10. Be ready for change. When the right idea comes along the rewards can be substantial but you need to recognize that you may need to change the nature and shape of your business. Several times in its history whole new areas have opened up through innovation.

Posted by Lisa
Categories: Business Entrepreneurship Product Innovation

Risk Assessment

May 31, 2007 0 comments

The Concept of Risk

The hazards associated with product design and development are many and complex. Interviews conducted with entrepreneurs, product design teams, quality managers, general managers, enterprise agency staff and fund managers, revealed a broad interpretation of the word risk. For example entrepreneurs tend to see risk as just another hurdle which they must cope with, at the one extreme there are tendencies to view it as the gambling stake to be borne, while at the other extreme there are only researched probabilities to aid decision making. Attempts to define the word risk examine its origins, Arabic has the word risq while Latin provides the word risicum (Kedar, 1970). Arabic risq signifies 'anything that has been given to you [by God] and from which you draw profit' and has connotations of a fortuitous and favourable outcome. On the other hand the Latin risicum, originally referred to the 'challenge that a barrier reef presents to a sailor' with connotations of dangerous hazards and fortuitous outcomes (Ansell 1992). French use risqué with mainly negative but occasionally positive connotations as for example in 'qui ne risqué rien n'a rien' or 'nothing ventured nothing gained' whilst in common English usage the word risk has very definite negative associations as in 'run the risk of...' or 'at risk' meaning exposed to danger. (Ansell 1992) The Oxford Dictionary (1991) refers to '1. Chance of or of bad consequences, loss, etc., at risk, exposed to danger' and '2. Expose to chance of injury or loss; venture on, accept the chance of ..'

In common usage the meaning of the word risk includes: gamble - to take a chance on something or trust in luck; venture - to invest with exposure to loss or gain; endanger - expose rashly; danger - put in jeopardy, the state of being exposed to injury, pain, or loss. Collectively risk is used to describe the chance of occurrence of any undesirable outcome due to a decision or course of action. Gamblers tend to evaluate risk against reward, whilst to scientists the word risk is used to imply a measurement of the chance of an outcome, the size of the outcome or a combination of both.

The Perception of Risk

The measurement of risk before the event is the source of much debate, mainly because the majority of risks are perceived and not necessarily actual. (Ansell 1992) When assessing risks designers should bear this in mind to avoid over reliance on numerically based data as there is a chance of promoting or validating misconceptions

Often complex formulae based on historical data are employed to project events and assess future risks. As much of risk assessment is subjective there is a real danger to found in placing high levels of reliance on mathematical models which convert subjective data into objective data. Thus providing credibility for spurious or incomplete data. Some ranging processes need to be employed to develop perspective and avoid over reliance on microscopic analysis. In short there is a need to first be effective before developing efficiency, in that way the right direction can be ascertained before committing valuable resources.

'Missed and misconstrued perceptions of the consequences of decisions are of themselves a major, arguably the greatest, source of risk in decision making and any responsible decision maker will make every effort to obtain a complete and accurate perception of the risks faced before attempting to undertake an analysis and assessment.' (Ansell 1992)

The purpose of risk analysis is the identification of all possible outcomes of decisions, whilst the estimation of probabilities and the size of the outcomes is the subject of risk assessment.

Model for Risk Assessment

This model examins risk from a producers viewpoint, the techniques from the first model prove data for consideration here. There is also a need to increase the intensity of investigation to include quality management, quality assurance and control techniques. The 'Feature to Benefit Score Card' provides data which is then assessed in the 'Design Rating Score Card' and Criticality Factors are then identified. These can then be prioritised using 'Pareto's Principle' otherwise known as the 80/20 rule where 80% of the value is normally to be found in 20% of the features of the product. By identifying the essential few features designers can then target effort to maximising satisfaction and risk reduction. The other 80% of features may then be managed to enhance the product and elevate customer satisfaction in an effort to delight the customer. Each Key Success Factor will have a fundamental bearing on implications for excellent production capabilities, attention to these factors will drive operations management towards continuous improvement initiatives and raise the organisations effectiveness, flexibility and efficiency.

The concept of Failure Mode and Effect Analysis (FMEA) can provide an intensive focus for risk assessment where a high degree of product integrity is required, and where the consequences of failure could be catastrophic such as in defence industries. Aircraft designers and manufacturers as well as the automotive industry find this technique highly effective in risk assessment and reduction. The American Department of Defense recognised the value of the technique and produced a Military Standard MIL-STD-1629 (SHIPS) 1 NOVEMBER 1974 later superseded by MIL-STD-1629A 24 NOVEMBER 1980 entitled 'Procedures for performing a Failure Mode, Effects and Criticality Analysis'. Service industries use the technique to identify good practice, often adopting manufacturing quality management techniques modified to suit service organisation requirements.

FMEA when employed at the design stage identifies possible shortcomings of the design of a product, service or process operating system to determine what could fail, where and what effect would be created so that corrective action can be initiated and problems avoided. Brainstorming is employed to identify all possible modes of failure and their related effects on performance. It is a factual analysis of the design which can enable numerical values to be assigned to help overcome subjective opinions. When the results of an FMEA are ranked in order of seriousness we can identify the CRITICAL modes (FMECA) so that action can be taken to reduce failure and avoid risk.

As FMEA aims to avoid failure occurring it should be carried out at the design stage of a product or service. As a communication tool it is useful throughout every level of an organisation to increase awareness of the consequences of operational procedures and is effective in product and service design development. It provides the analysis team with a valuable insight into issues which are normally outwith their normal range of interest, e.g. the effect of operational procedures on their downstream customers, likely consequential damages, sources of customer complaints, etc. and provides a valuable resource for analysing strengths and weaknesses, as well as sources of opportunities and threats for product or service development.

FMECA analysis steps of are:

  1. Assemble a team of 3 - 5 and elect a chairperson.
  2. Clearly state the product, service or process function to be analysed. It is essential that the scope of the analysis is clearly defined to avoid confusion.
  3. Brainstorm to generate a list all possible failure modes of the subject.
  4. Identify and list the effects that each mode of failure would create.
  5. Brainstorm to generate a list all the possible causes of each failure mode.
  6. Agree a numerical value of each failure mode on a scale from 1 to 10.

    P = probability of each failure (1 = low, 10 = high).

    S = seriousness or criticality of the failure (1 = low, 10 = high).

    D = difficulty of detecting the failure before the product or service is used

    by the consumer (1 = easy, 10 = very difficult).

  7. Calculate the product of the ratings, C = P x S x D
  8. This is known as the criticality index or risk priority number (RPN) for each failure mode. It indicates the relative priority of each mode in the failure prevention activities.

  9. List the RPNs according to severity in descending order.
  10. Create an action plan and estimate resource requirements, availability, and probability of completion.
  11. Agree an action plan and briefly state the corrective action required, by whom, where, when, and the expected completion date.

Posted by Lisa
Categories: Business Entrepreneurship Product Innovation

Introduction to Operations Management

May 31, 2007 0 comments

The Transformation Model

picture will be abailable later

IMPORTANCE OF OPERATIONS MANAGEMENT

1. PEOPLE

  • all of "DIRECT EMPLOYEES" are controlled by OM
  • Most of indirect employees are controlled by OM
  • high proportion of management is controlled by OM, ie., 70 - 80% of all employees

2. ASSETS

  • most fixed assets - plant, machinery, buildings
  • most current assets - raw materials, B.O.P.'s, W.I.P., finished goods, ie., 70 - 80% of all assets

3. EXPENDITURE

  • wages, salaries, machinery, plant etc.
  • 70 - 80% of all expenditure

THE ROLE OF THE OPERATIONS MANAGER

1) HEAD OF A COST CENTRE

  • Control of the major parts of an organizations' assets and expenditures.

2) LONG TERM PLANNING - STRATEGY

  • Long term development
  • Investment
  • Staffing

3) SHORT TERM PLANNING - TACTICS

  • Day to day production changes
  • Absenteeism
  • Breakdowns
  • "Firefighting"

4) MANAGEMENT OF TECHNOLOGY

  • Product technology
  • Process technology

5) MANAGEMENT OF PEOPLE

  • Training
  • Appraisal
  • Discipline
  • Counselling

KEY DECISION AREAS IN O.M.

Business Planning

  • What is the strategic plan?

Product Design

  • What service or product is provided?

Resource Planning

  • What labour, materials, plant, equipment, furniture and fittings are required?

Location and Layout

  • Where and how do we operate?

Job Design

 

  • How do people and technology work together?

Inventory Control

  • What stock levels and purchasing policies are required?

Operations Planning

  • How much output is required and when?

Materials Planning

  • How much input is required and when?

Scheduling and Controlling

  • How are people and equipment?

Quality Control

  • Are the internal and external standards being met?

Maintenance

  • Do output levels allow for adequate servicing?

Posted by Lisa
Categories: Business Entrepreneurship Operations Management

Guide for inventors on promoting ideas

June 1, 2007 0 comments

I do not want creative individuals to become unsuspecting victims of unscrupulous firms and be deprived of their limited resources in return for very little.

It includes the key questions inventors should ask before entering into a contract with a firm, from finding out the details of the total cost and all the steps involved in taking an idea through to production to asking for evidence of the firm's previous success rate.

Do you think you have a great idea for a new product or service? - You are not alone.

Every year thousands of people try to develop their ideas and commercially market them. Some people use the services of invention promotion firms to help evaluate, develop and market their idea. Contracting for the services of an invention promotion firm is no different from making any other major purchase. If you are interested in working with an invention promotion firm, before entering into a contract, the following common sense guidance may help you to avoid costly mistakes:

  • Do your homework - there is a considerable amount of free or low cost advice available, on issues such as patenting and other forms of intellectual property protection, which you may wish to consider first. A few of these sources or routes to information are suggested overleaf.
  • Do not disclose the details of your invention to anyone, including the promoter, without a prior confidentiality agreement - failure to do so could prevent you from obtaining intellectual property rights in the future.
  • Early in your discussion with a promotion firm, find out exactly what the different stages of the service are and the costs associated with each stage, from the "research" about your invention right through to the marketing and licensing.
  • Ask the firm to provide evidence that they have the necessary skills and expertise in the field of your interest to support the activities that they agree to carry out on your behalf.
  • Ask what success rate the firm has achieved in promoting inventions since it started offering its services, and find out whether references can be provided from recent clients.
  • Question claims and assurances that your invention will make money. Commercialisation of inventions is a risky business - no one can guarantee that your invention will be commercially successful.
  • Ask them for their rejection rate - the percentage of all ideas or inventions that the invention firm finds unacceptable at the first assessment stage. Not all ideas could be considered to be commercially viable and it should be expected that firms should have high rejection rates.
  • Find out whether the services advertised, e.g. the patent search and/or market assessment, will be carried out in the countries in which you would like to exploit your invention.
  • If the invention promotion firm claims to know, or have special access to, manufacturers who are likely to be interested in licensing your invention, or if they claim to represent manufacturers on the look-out for new product ideas - ask for proof.
  • If the firm offers the services of a 'patent agent' or 'patent attorney' ask if those people are registered. In the UK it is an offence to use such terms if you are not registered, a qualification which entails examination and practice experience.
  • If the firm offers search services to assess patent prospects make sure that the search is comprehensive and covers all published prior art. A patent must be new and if the idea is published anywhere in the world before filing then this will invalidate rights

If at the end of all this you are happy with the evidence and do wish to enter into a contract, ensure that it contains all the terms you agreed to -verbal and written- before you sign. If possible you should seek legal advice. And remember ... do not disclose the details of your invention to anyone, including the promoter, without a prior confidentiality agreement - failure to do so could prevent you from obtaining intellectual property rights in the future.

Posted by Lisa
Categories: Business Entrepreneurship Product Innovation

Unexpacted Opportunities

June 1, 2007 0 comments

Unexpected occurrences

Incongruities

  • Process needs
  • Industry and Market changes

Drucker suggests that there are three additional sources of opportunity to be found outside a company that affect its social and intellectual environment.

Demographic changes

Changes in perception

New knowledge

Social

changes in social attitudes brought about by cultural drift.

Political

these influences may be micro or macro or a combination

Economic

changes in levels of disposable income with market sectors or target groups.

Legal

changes in the law can open up new opportunities

Technological

ever increasing rates of change introduces new ways of doing things and impending obsolescence

forces people to rethink how they can get in front of the game

Posted by Lisa
Categories: Business Entrepreneurship Product Innovation

Product innovation frameworks for gaining competitive advantage

June 1, 2007 0 comments

You need critically analyse, evaluate and discuss development frameworks for product or process innovation that may be used by a business to gain competitive advantage.,/p>

Scenario:

You have joined the product development division. Marketing has suggested that there is an omission in their product range of equipment to meet the client needs. You and your team have to design a suitable product to fill the gap and has asked you to lead the development project.

Instruction:

Produce a project report for introducing the new product. Discuss how you would set about your investigation. Identify and critically analyse a suitable framework for innovation and demonstrate how it may be applied to create an innovative product to meet the needs of your clients.

Discuss how you would lead the team to innovate and investigate the product development process. Illustrate and justify the chosen methodological tools and techniques employed. Define and analyse the benefits that are likely to motivate favorable consumer behavior.

Posted by Lisa
Categories: Business Entrepreneurship Product Innovation

MANAGERIAL FUNCTIONS AND ROLES

June 1, 2007 0 comments

FUNCTIONS :

1. PLANNING

  • creating a framework for future decisions

2. ORGANIZING

  • getting the right resources together and developing an appropriate structure to divide up tasks

3. LEADING AND MOTIVATING

  • achieving tasks either individually or through delegation to others

4. CONTROLLING

  • maintaining performance levels by monitoring and evaluation
  • appraisal

MANAGERIAL ROLES :

(

Mintzberg, 1971) a manager's day - brevity, variety and fragmentation

1. Interpersonal roles

  • Figurehead
  • Leader
  • Liaison - external world

2. Information roles

  • Monitor
  • Disseminator
  • Spokesperson

3. Decisional roles

  • Entrepreneur - strategy
  • Disturbance handling
  • Resource allocator
  • Negotiator

MANAGERIAL ROLES (cont.)

Rosemary Stewart (1967)

1. Emissaries - (sales staff)

2. Writers - (a/c's and finance)

3. Discussers - (typical middle management)

4. Trouble shooters - (operations mgr.)

5. Committee persons - (local government. - education)

Future

Management terms:

1. End of traditions

2. Size - (small is better than larger)

3. Entrepreneurship and intrepreneurship

4. Firm becoming employee oriented

5. Trade unions - seats on the board

6. Middle management?

Issues :

Environment, EC Social Chapter, computer tech. and M.I.S., Human Resource Management

Quinn, 1990, Becoming A Master Manager

Director Role

  • Taking Initiative
  • Goal Setting
  • Delegating Effectively

Producer Role

  • Personal Productivity And Motivation
  • Motivating Others
  • Time And Stress Management

Coordinator Role

  • Planning
  • Organizing And Designing
  • Controlling

Monitor Role

  • Reducing Information Overload
  • Analysing Info With Critical Thinking
  • Presenting Info; Writing Effectively

Mentor Role

  • Understanding Yourself And Others
  • Interpersonal Communication
  • Developing Subordinates

Facilitator Role

  • Team Building
  • Participative Decision Making
  • Conflict Management

Innovator Role

  • Living With Change
  • Creative Thinking
  • Managing Change

Broker Role

  • Building And Maintaining A Power Base
  • Negotiating Agreement And Commitment
  • Presenting Ideas

Posted by Lisa
Categories: Business Entrepreneurship Operations Management

Authority, responsibility, accountability, span of control,

June 1, 2007 0 comments

Centralization and de-centralization.

Authority:

May be defined as a superior's capacity, on the basis of formal position to make decisions affecting subordinates. Authority requires a formal position, power does not. i.e.,

Institutionalized power.

We have been conditioned to accept authority-

Parents, school, any youth organization has a leader, a football or hockey team has a captain,

University - exam requirements.

Other factors of authority-

A. Expert knowledge, personal leadership.

B. The desire to avoid responsibility ie. It is easier to accept directions than give orders and accept the consequences of these orders.

Limits to authority: The law - speed limits; criminal and civil law, organizational rules and regulations

A leader can only take subordinates where they want to go.

Resistance to authority

Go-slows, sabotage, strikes, mutiny

Theory - Milgram studies 1974

Tried to find out the reasons why soldiers, who would normally be rational human beings, carried out acts of atrocity during times of war. Peer group pressure was found to be the main reason for these acts.

Remember that after the Nuremberg war trials of the Nazi leaders in the 1940's, it is not a defence for a soldier to say that he was following orders. It is up to the individual soldier's conscience to refuse to obey an order if he/she thinks that the order contravenes the Geneva Convention or human rights.

Brainwashing can account for some of these actions hence public disquiet about the activities of groups such as the Moonies.

Chain of command

The superior has authority over the subordinates. The subordinates have responsibility to the superior. There should be two-way communication between superior and subordinates. The chain is the official channel. The superior's communication is authoritative.

See picture when service available

If d wishes to communicate with g, the message has to be passed through c, b, a, e and f. In practice, adherence to a chain of command can never be complete as superiors who stick to a chain have no idea how their subordinates are performing. In a modern open-systems firm, people communicate by both horizontal and vertical chains of communication. (dotted lines)

Dangers of short-circuiting the chain.

If a subordinate is given a job to do by his/her supervisor, the subordinate will carry out the task if it is in the normal run of the day's business. However, if the M.D. comes down to the shopfloor and tells the subordinate directly to stop doing the present task and start on something new as it is required urgently, where does that leave the supervisor?

Common courtesy, at least, should tell the M.D. to ask the foreman to carry out the urgent task. Apart from anything else, the supervisor would know which is the best subordinate to be put on that task and which would cause the minimum inconvenience.

Span of control

See diagrams when service available

 

One manager cannot control 1000 employees directly. Conversely, too small a span gives overly close supervision. There have been various studies as to the effectiveness of either a "tall" hierarchy or a "flat" hierarchy. No firm conclusion was reached as in so many cases it depends on the individual organization's culture and structure.

Responsibility and authority

See diagram when service available

Responsibility

Authority should flow down and responsibility is passed up. Problems can arise when authority is not correctly delegated. This misses out on possible staff training and development.

Centralization

Like division of work, centralization belongs to the natural order of things. The appropriate degree of centralization, however, will vary with a particular concern, so that it is a matter of debate and analysis which will decide on the organizational format.

Can be effective if carried out in an efficient manner

De-centralization

Occurs when delegation is used extensively throughout an organization i.e., each division of a firm becomes a profit centre.

Advantages:

  • managers are highly motivated as they are on a share of the profits.
  • decisions can be made quickly without recourse to H.Q.

Disadvantages

  • mistakes can be costly
  • personnel may not be capable of responsibility
  • duplication of some functions

Conclusions

Authority is established by a number of different factors such as the general culture, rewards and penalties, belief in the organization's purpose, expertise, personal leadership and the desire of some to avoid responsibility.

Posted by Lisa
Categories: Business Entrepreneurship Operations Management

Integration and Co-ordination of Functions

June 1, 2007 0 comments

Achieved by satisfying Organizational and Personal goals.

Represented by:

1. Organizational Factors

Structures

Goals

Achievement of Organizational purpose

2. Human Factors

Achievement of Self-Maintenance and Growth

Achievement of Social Satisfaction

Internal Organizational structures.

INDIVIDUAL, GROUP, ORGANIZATIONAL, INTERNAL AND EXTERNAL FACTORS AFFECTING MOTIVATION AND PRODUCTIVITY

A) INDIVIDUAL

THEORIES - CONTENT

schema will be available later

Content theories offer a perspective on the relative value that people place upon various rewards.

Assumption:

1. Needs are both physiological and psychological in origin

2. Managers have the facility to alter rewards to suit individual preferences - thereby satisfying individual needs (doesn’t work in practice)

This theory could be criticised as being cosy middle class as people will deprive themselves of the most basic needs if they have a powerful enough internal motive to succeed.

McLelland (1961) had a more sensible theory in that individuals had need for:

1. achievement

2. affiliation

3. power

Only one of these tends to motivate at the one time

(See also Maslow, Herzberg and Vroom)

GROUP

Group relations focus on the interaction within and between groups and the stable arrangements that result from such interactions.

PSYCHOLOGICAL GROUP

A psychological group is any number of people who

  • interact with one another
  • are psychologically aware of each other, and
  • perceive themselves to be a group

CHARACTERISTICS OF PSYCHOLOGICAL GROUPS

1. A minimum of two people

2. A shared communication network

3. A shared sense of collective identities

4. Shared goals

5. Group structure

Management Ideas

Open System, schema will be available later

Contingency, schema will be available later

Communication - Formal Channels, schema will be available later

Chain of Command, schema will be available later

The superior has authority over the subordinates. The subordinates have responsibility to the superior. There should be two-way communication between the superior and subordinates. The chain is the official channel. The superior’s communication is authoritative

If Manager A wishes to communicate formally with Staff Member B, the Manager should communicate in the first instance with Manager B who is the superior of Staff Member B. In modern open-systems firms, people communicate by both horizontal and vertical chains of command

Dangers of short-circuiting the chain

If a subordinate is given a job to do by her/his supervisor, the subordinate will carry out the task if it is in the normal run of the day’s business. However, if the M.D comes down to the shopfloor and tells the subordinate directly to stop doing the present task and start on something new as it is required urgently, where does that leave the supervisor?

Common courtesy at least should tell the M.D. to ask the supervisor to allocate somebody to carry out the urgent task. Apart from anything else, the supervisor would know which is the best subordinate to put on that task and which would cause the minimum inconvenience.

Posted by Lisa
Categories: Business Entrepreneurship Operations Management

POWER

June 1, 2007 0 comments

ORGANIZATION AND MANAGEMENT THEORIES

Power is a relatively new addition to the subject of organizational behaviour within the past 20 years.

An understanding of power is fundamental to the larger understanding of group behavior

Three types of power :

a) INTERPERSONAL

b) SITUATIONAL

c) STRUCTURAL

a) INTERPERSONAL

  • Power needs only to be potential, it does not need to be exercised to maintain its results.
  • However, compliance with certain requests should not always be considered as the result of yielding power.

C.I. BARNARD identified this as The Zone of Indifference ie complying with a request to close the door.

There are four sources of interpersonal power:

1. Position or hierarchical, ie a manager

2. Personal - leadership qualities

3. Expert - unique knowledge

4. Opportunity - John Major

The above sources of power can be used in either of two Modes of Influence

HARD modes based on compulsion or reward

  • Problem - as a threat has been made, it has to be policed to be effective - can lead to counter-threat.
  • Advantage - tends to be more effective

SOFT mode based on warning or advice

Uses persuasion - requires credibility to carry it out - based on how persuasive you are.

b) SITUATIONAL

Hierarchical source of power:

  • This is the power a person holds because of their position or rank in an organization., i.e. manager, chairman, supervisor etc.

Power can depend upon the span of control ie how many people you control.

Other types of situational power:

Dependency - the greater "A"'s power over "B", the greater the dependency "B" has on "A"

Uncertainty - typified by maintenance engineers in a matrix type of organization. Can get conflicting orders from two different bosses.

Group - power in coalitions, trade unions, students, worker groups and professionals.

Power is a continual battle as others are seeking to improve theirs.

c) STRUCTURAL

Delegation of power

  • This is the official giving away of power and can be the hardest thing for a manager to do

Barriers to delegation:

  • military and civil servants - tight, centralised, formal ranking structure
  • education - de-centralised
  • level and training of employees

Psychological - manger might not be able to delegate, on an ego trip, does nor wish to lose power

Advantages of delegation

  • development of subordinates
  • relief of certain time consuming work

De-centralisation

This occurs when the Head Office of a firm decides that branch offices or factories can make their own decisions on purchasing, labour policies, financial budgets, production etc.

Advantages

  • develops managerial ability
  • develops profit centres
  • profit centre managers are highly motivated as results are in plain sight
  • can make quick decisions without recourse to HQ

Disadvantages

  • Centralisation can encourage economy of operation i.e. de-centralisation might cost the group of companies more.
  • Costly mistakes can be made because of lack of control.
  • Lower level personnel may lack capacity t deal with decisions
  • Care must be taken with security in financial departments.
  • Can lead to duplication of efforts

Posted by Lisa
Categories: Business Entrepreneurship Operations Management

Managing change

June 1, 2007 0 comments

"Every organization has to prepare for the abandonment of everything it does"

Peter Drucker

Change must be "top-down" implemented

"Change agent or team" must be appointed

Three factors in managing change:

  • The type of situation
  • The type of change
  • The type of leadership

1. The Type of Situation:

a) anticipating

 

b) re-active

 

c) crisis

 

2. The Type of Change:

a) the WHAT do we change to improve our disturbing situation?

b) the HOW change ( how shall we do it?)

3. The Type of Leadership

Four leadership styles to manage change - one to be decided on

a) Telling - orders and instructs

b) Selling - provides directions and explains

c) Involving - involves everybody in decisions

d) Delegating - asks people to work on the problem

CRISIS

REQUIRES A COMPLETELY DIFFERENT LEADERSHIP APPROACH - UNILATERAL - MADE AT THE TOP.

The rules are:

1. Decide, inform -SHOW confidence (you know what you are doing - remember - panic is very infectious)

2. Push for quick results (success will lead to success)

3. Communicate so that everything is as clear as possible. Communication is the key success factor in this situation. The leader must send the right signals in the right way so that people understand how they can help.

FORCES CAUSING CHANGE

Internal

  • firm's long and short term plans,
  • improved efficiency,
  • improved cost effectiveness,
  • competition for budgets,
  • expansion,
  • availability of new products,
  • administrative changes

External

  • economic change in society,
  • compliance with government regulations,
  • public pressure,
  • competition from rivals

Posted by Lisa
Categories: Business Entrepreneurship Operations Management

Basic principles of marketing

June 1, 2007 0 comments

the relevance of marketing to a variety of industries and types of organizations, including small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs)

The Scope and Concept of Marketing

The nature of marketing and the contemporary marketing concept. The origins and development of the marketing concept. The concept of the marketing mix. The relationship of marketing to other functional areas of the business. Societal marketing and consumerism. The nature of social marketing. The application of marketing to non-profit organizations.

Introduction to the Marketing Mix

Product definitions, levels and dimensions

Price role and importance

Promotion nature and role of the promotional mix

Place concept of the distribution channel, alternative channel structures

Inter-relationships between elements of the marketing mix.

Market Segmentation

Concept and rationale. Bases for segmentation in consumer and organisational markets. Criteria for viable segments. Selecting target markets and positioning products. Alternative market coverage strategies.

Buying-Behaviour Analysis

Characteristics of the consumer market. Nature of the consumer buying decision. Psychological and sociological influences on consumer buying behaviour. Models of consumer buying behaviour. Types and characteristics of organisational markets. The organisational buying decision process. Nature and role of the buying centre. Influences on organisational buying behaviour. Comparisons between consumer and organisational buying behavior.

What is marketing?

How are needs satisfied?

What are the functions of marketing?

Who carries out these marketing functions?

 

What is marketing?

Marketing is providing the goods and services when and where they are required to satisfy customer needs or wants (Wisner 1996, p.3).

Core Concepts

Needs – A human need is a state of felt deprivation of some basic satisfaction

Wants – Desires for satisfaction of a particular something

Demands – Wants for specific products that are backed up by an ability to pay

Products – Anything offered to someone to satisfy a need or want

Exchange/Transaction – The act of obtaining a desired product from someone by offering something in return

Consumer sovereignty – in market economies the consumer is ‘king’ by choosing the products that will be made

 

How are needs satisfied?

Utility is the ability of a product to satisfy a need/want

Form utility – physical characteristics of a product that provide satisfaction

Time utility – ability of a good to be available when needed

Place utility – ability of a good to be available when needed

Possession utility – ability of a good to be owned or acquired

Quality and variety – ability of a good to meet human need

 

How has marketing evolved?

Production age – period of heavy demand yet short supply

Selling age – period of over production and excess inventories

Marketing age – period of increased competition and selective demand

 

How does marketing affect our lives?

Effects everyone, marketing is everywhere – billboards, t.v., radio, trucks and magazines are a few examples.

 

What is the marketing concept?

Directing business efforts towards total customer satisfaction

Product quality and customer services

Team effort

 

What are the functions of marketing?

Buying and Selling – primary tasks of marketers

Transportation and Storage – have product available when needed

Standardisation and Grading – standardise products and test quality

Credit – set sensible prices and establish terms of sale

Communication – diffuse ideas to customers and team members

Market Research – learn from research to gauge effectiveness of advertising

 

Who carries out these marketing functions?

Internal

Marketing departments

External (because firms may lack resources or expertise)

Advertising firm – plan and create promotional activities

Public Relations firm – concerned with image of the firm

Market Research firm – conduct surveys to test effectiveness of promotions

Marketing Intermediaries – assure delivery of the product between customer and producer

Posted by Lisa
Categories: Business Entrepreneurship Marketing

Knowledge Management

June 26, 2007 0 comments

OVERVIEW

Developing effective ways of utilizing knowledge is now increasingly important in organizations to offset competitive disadvantages and to exploit latent corporate ‘know-how’ to its fullest potential.

"Knowledge is power" has been a central premise to organizations - power to: create and retain customers, Analise corporate information and apply it analytically to changing circumstances, develop and distribute products, and to predict market behavior and plan for it strategically, etc. Knowledge Management (KM) provides a framework for organizations to think about their resident knowledge and to relate it to a wide range of business goals and objectives.

Knowledge Management is the way that organizations create, capture and re-use knowledge to achieve organizational objectives. KM is the next stage in the evolution of organizational transformation strategies. It is emerging as the missing element of popular management strategies such as TQM, BPR, CPI, Learning Organization, Best Practices, etc. Efforts to implement these gn; knowledge and learning: KM strategy: knowledge management best practice; virtual enterprising; anstrategies brought about the realization that a knowledge perspective is a requirement for competing in the next century. Knowledge Management may have different meaning depending on whether the perspective is coming from Operations, Organizational Development, Information Technology, but a business perspective is emerging from the commercial world where KM solutions are sought most vigorously.

AIMS

To introduce Knowledge Management concepts in an organizational context e.g. the knowledge economy; the management of intellectual capital, knowledge and decision making; knowledge and business processes; implicit, informal and tacit knowledge; knowledge management and organizational design; knowledge and learning: KM strategy: knowledge management best practice; virtual enterprising; and cultural transformations.

OBJECTIVES

  • provide frameworks for understanding KM from various perspectives, e.g. operations corporate culture, Information Management, Information Technology (IT)
  • use appropriate methods and frameworks to leverage organizational knowledge to engender the learning organization
  • delineate and measure the knowledge intensity of organizational processes
  • understand the costs and benefits of KM and to justify projects
  • manage and implement KM solutions to organizational and business problems
  • understand the enabling technologies for managing knowledge
  • explore the need for practical approaches to cultural transformation
  • develop a KM strategy for managing knowledge and organizational learning
  • Topics

    1. The evolution of the knowledge-based organization: evolution and precursors of the knowledge society, service sector emergence, discovery and production of knowledge

    2. The concept of knowledge: definition of KM, knowledge categories, knowledge market value, corporate know-how, making tacit knowledge explicit

    3. Managing intellectual capital in organizations: developing and managing ‘know-how’ e.g. customers, suppliers, competitors, markets, etc.

    4. Knowledge Management and organizational design: knowledge management and BPR, self adaptive systems, knowledge ecology, the knowledge-creating company

    5. Knowledge and organizational learning: knowledge and learning cycles, knowledge sharing, learning organization strategies

    6. Knowledge Management technologies: IT infrastructures, evolution of the cyborg, knowledge management technology architectures

    7. E-Business and Corporate Re-invention: coming of the global village, the medium and the message, business electronic relationships, e-strategies and technologies

    8. Creating a Knowledge Management strategy: generating strategic KM options, operationalization KM solutions

    9. Towards an enterprise knowledge management perspective: AI and KM, enterprise resource planning, customer relationships, IT service management

    10. Knowledge working: roles and responsibilities, leadership, team-building

    11. Knowledge Management and cultural transformations: ecology of knowledge, models of change

    12. Contemporary and future issues in Knowledge Management: is KM a discipline?

Posted by Lisa
Categories: Business Entrepreneurship Knowledge Management

Developing and Managing Know-How in Organizations.

June 27, 2007 0 comments

Objectives and outcomes

  • develop knowledge for use in organizations
  • understand knowledge and workflow as a process
  • appreciate a system of profound knowledge as a way of thinking
  • understand the relationship between information, knowledge and processes
  • appreciate people as intellectual assets
  • derive a suitable definition of Knowledge Management

1.1 The Context of Knowledge Management

Knowledge Management is around for sometime: many organizations are now considering it as their number one priority. In a survey by The Harris Research Center for KPMG, only 2% or respondents considered it a fad, while 43% said they already had KM initiatives in place, and 10% said it had actually transformed their business.

Hoverer, in reality

 

  • lack of KM can be costly
  • most companies are not fully exploiting the technology infrastructure
  • most companies currently have the wrong priorities
  • many organizations are unsure about how to derive a KM strategy
  • some organizations are too lean to exploit the full potential of KM
  • KM does deliver expected benefits

There are some definitional problems about the nature of KM. The current situation, however, indicates a growing knowledge economy, i.e. brain power rather than brawn. KPMG, for example, reckon that nearly 60% of all workers are ‘knowledge workers’, and that 80% of all new jobs are in the information-intensive sector of the economy. Knowledge is the new currency of the economy, becoming the primary basis of exchange and wealth creation.

Posted by Lisa
Categories: Business Entrepreneurship Knowledge Management

What is Knowledge Management

June 27, 2007 0 comments

A summaries of various descriptions of knowledge management.

 


"An Open Discussion of Knowledge Management",Brian (Bo)Newman, 1991:

Knowledge Management is the collection of processes that govern the creation, dissemination, and utilization of knowledge. In one form or another, knowledge management has been around for a very long time. Practitioners have included philosophers, priests, teachers, politicians, scribes, Liberians, etc.

So if Knowledge Management is such an ageless and broad topic what role does it serve in today's Information Age? These processes exist whether we acknowledge them or not and they have a profound effect on the decisions we make and the actions we take, both of which are enabled by knowledge of some type. If this is the case, and we agree that many of our decisions and actions have profound and long lasting effects, it makes sense to recognize and understand the processes that effect or actions and decision and, where possible, take steps to improve the quality these processes and in turn improve the quality of those actions and decisions for which we are responsible?

Knowledge management is not a, "a technology thing" or a, "computer thing" If we accept the premise that knowledge management is concerned with the entire process of discovery and creation of knowledge, dissemination of knowledge , and the utilization of knowledge then we are strongly driven to accept that knowledge management is much more than a "technology thing" and that elements of it exist in each of our jobs.

 


Dr. Arthur J. Murray provides the following Knowledge Management Argot

  • Argot: The vocabulary used by a particular group, usually an underworld group.
  • Corporate Knowledge: The collective body of experience and understanding of an organization's processes for managing both planned and unplanned situations.
  • Corporate Knowledge Management: The process whereby knowledge seekers are linked with knowledge sources, and knowledge is transferred.
  • Corporate Knowledge Server:
  • Epistemology: The study of the nature and foundations of knowledge.
  • Etymology: The study of the history of change of a linguistic expression.
  • Knowledge: A set of models describing various properties and behaviors within a domain.
  • Morphology: The study of patterns and structure of word formations in language.
  • Ontology: The study of relationships that give rise to meaning of expressions.
  • Taxonomy: A framework for the classification and arrangement of objects (used to build a classification hierarchy).

Thomas Bertels provides the following definition of Knowledge Management

Knowledge management is the management of the organization towards the continuous renewal of the organizational knowledge base - this means e.g. creation of supportive organizational structures, facilitation of organizational members, putting IT-instruments with emphasis on teamwork and diffusion of knowledge (as e.g. groupware) into place.

As I am a very practical person I am focused rather more on the practical aspects, how we can improve the reality.

 


Maarten Sierhuis provides the following definition of Knowledge Management and supporting concepts.

Knowledge Management (KM): This is, as the word implies, the ability to manage "knowledge". We are all familiar with the term Information Management. This term came about when people realized that information is a resource that can and needs to be managed to be useful in an organization. From this, the ideas of Information Analysis and Information Planning came about. Organizations are now starting to look at "knowledge" as a resource as well. This means that we need ways for managing the knowledge in an organization. We can use techniques and methods that were developed as part of Knowledge Technology to analyze the knowledge sources in an organization. Using these techniques we can perform Knowledge Analysis and Knowledge Planning.

Knowledge Analysis (KA): In Knowledge Analysis we model a knowledge source in such a way that we can analyze its usefulness, its weaknesses and its appropriateness within the organization. Knowledge Analysis is a necessary step for the ability to manage knowledge. Within Knowledge Analysis we can use knowledge modeling and knowledge acquisition techniques.

Knowledge Planning (KP): When an organization has a grip on its knowledge (i.e. has performed Knowledge Analysis), it will be able to plan for the future. An organization will now be able to develop a multi-year knowledge plan that defines how the organization will develop its knowledge resources, either by training its human agents, or by developing knowledge-based systems to support the human agents, or by other means that allow the organization to stay competitive.

Knowledge Technology (KT): This is, as the word already implies, the (application of) techniques and methods from the field of AI, or to be more specific, the field of knowledge-based systems. KT has been around for quite some time, and most people know about the application of KT in the form of expert systems, and decision support systems. Techniques and methods to design these kind of systems are well known; The best known methodology for building knowledge-based systems is CommonKADS (formerly known as KADS).

Computer Supported Work Systems (CSWS): This is a formal and informal (human) activity system, within an organization where the (human) agents are supported by computer systems. The application of Knowledge Technology is very helpful in such work systems, although definitely *not* the only important factor in the analysis and design, nor in the effectiveness of the activity system.

 


Denham Grey offers the following views on knowledge and knowledge management:

What is knowledge?

Knowledge is the full utilization of information and data, coupled with the potential of people's skills, competencies, ideas, intuitions, commitments and motivations.

In today's economy, knowledge is people, money, leverage, learning, flexibility, power, and competitive advantage. Knowledge is more relevant to sustained business than capital, labor or land. Nevertheless, it remains the most neglected asset. It is more than justified true belief and is essential for action, performance and adaption. Knowledge provides the ability to respond to novel situations.

A holistic view considers knowledge to be present in ideas, judgments, talents, root causes, relationships, perspectives and concepts. Knowledge is stored in the individual brain or encoded in organizational processes, documents, products, services, facilities and systems.

Knowledge is the basis for, and the driver of, our post-industrial economy. Knowledge is the result of learning which provides the only sustainable competitive advantage. Knowledge is the next paradigm shift in computing following data processing 1945-1965 and information management 1966-1995. Knowledge is action, focused innovation, pooled expertise, special relationships and alliances. Knowledge is value-added behavior and activities. For knowledge to be of value it must be focused, current, tested and shared.

 

What is Knowledge Management?

Knowledge management is an audit of "intellectual assets" that highlights unique sources, critical functions and potential bottlenecks which hinder knowledge flows to the point of use. It protects intellectual assets from decay, seeks opportunities to enhance decisions, services and products through adding intelligence, increasing value and providing flexibility.

Knowledge management complements and enhances other organizational initiatives such as total quality management (TQM), business process re-engineering (BPR) and organizational learning, providing a new and urgent focus to sustain competitive position.

 

Why should you apply Knowledge Management?

To serve customers well and remain in business companies must: reduce their cycle times, operate with minimum fixed assets and overhead (people, inventory and facilities), shorten product development time, improve customer service, empower employees, innovate and deliver high quality products, enhance flexibility and adaption, capture information, create knowledge, share and learn.

None of this is possible without a continual focus on the creation, updating, availability, quality and use of knowledge by all employees and teams, at work and in the marketplace.


Robert Taylor summarized his views on Knowledge Management by saying:

The vital importance of knowledge in business has always been recognized but, up until now, organizations haven't felt able to manage it because they understood neither the problems and the opportunities nor the strategies and solutions. This picture is gradually changing as models, methods, tools and techniques for effective knowledge management are becoming available and as organizations realize the importance of knowledge and thinking to their capacity to adapt to the changing world.



Karl M. Wiig provides us with the following:

Knowledge -- the insights, understandings, and practical know-how that we all possess -- is the fundamental resource that allows us to function intelligently. Over time, considerable knowledge is also transformed to other manifestations -- such as books, technology, practices, and traditions -- within organizations of all kinds and in society in general. These transformations result in cumulated expertise and, when used appropriately, increased effectiveness. Knowledge is one, if not THE, principal factor that makes personal, organizational, and societal intelligent behavior possible.

Given the importance of knowledge in virtually all areas of daily and commercial life, two knowledge-related aspects are vital for viability and success at any level:

1. Knowledge assets -- to be applied or exploited -- must be nurtured, preserved, and used to the largest extent possible by both individuals and organizations.

2. Knowledge-related processes -- to create, build, compile, organize, transform, transfer, pool, apply, and safeguard knowledge -- must be carefully and explicitly managed in all affected areas.

Knowledge must be managed effectively to ensure that the basic objectives for existence are attained to the greatest extent possible. Knowledge management in organizations must be considered from three perspectives with different horizons and purposes:

1. Business Perspective -- focusing on why, where, and to what extent the organization must invest in or exploit knowledge. Strategies, products and services, alliances, acquisitions, or divestments should be considered from knowledge-related points of view.

2. Management Perspective -- focusing on determining, organizing, directing, facilitating, and monitoring knowledge-related practices and activities required to achieve the desired business strategies and objectives.

3. Hands-On Operational Perspective -- focusing on applying the expertise to conduct explicit knowledge-related work and tasks.

Historically, knowledge has always been managed, at least implicitly. However, effective and active knowledge management requires new perspectives and techniques and touches on almost all facets of an organization. We need to develop a new discipline and prepare a cadre of knowledge professionals with a blend of expertise that we have not previously seen. This is our challenge!"

 


Donna Bible provides us with the following view:

I think that a lot of businesses are overwhelmed by the information explosion in the last several years. Information specialists should seize this time to assist their company's in managing this information overload. The problem is made even more complex by the rapid transition in company personnel which has recently affected lot of organizations. At CTC we are contracted to do many projects, and remembering who has done what is not always possible. The learning process that people undergo once they enter this company all too often leaves with them. Oftentimes a person leaves and takes an entire storehouse of knowledge about their job with them. If a company could somehow capture a part of that person's experience, then the reciprocal relationship between employee and employer would truly be effected once that person left or was placed on another project. Knowledge management is the attempt to secure the experience as well as the work product the individuals who comprise a corporation.

 


Bob Hallsworth, I believe

  • That Knowledge should be just that Not just Information and not just Data!
  • That it should be available from wherever it is needed, to all those authorized to receive it. (Given mainly Commercial / Intellectual Property Rights)
  • That both Input and Output must be simple.
  • That it should only be entered once - and then kept up to date *and* relevant to the enterprise.
  • That the language should be simple and appropriate.
  • That the Information should always support the Learning Organization
  • That the customer probably hasn't fully thought through all the aspects of developing a Knowledge Strategy - Its implications if they do, and Its implications if they don't.

R. Gregory Wenig provides the following views on knowledge and knowledge management:

Knowledge Management (for the organization): -- consists of activities focused on the organization gaining knowledge from its own experience and from the experience of others, and on the judicious application of that knowledge to fulfill the mission of the organization. These activities are executed by marrying technology, organizational structures, and cognitive based strategies to raise the yield of existing knowledge and produce new knowledge. Critical in this endeavor is the enhancement of the cognitive system (organization, human, computer, or joint human-computer system) in acquiring, storing and utilizing knowledge for learning, problem solving, and decision making.

 

Knowledge: -- Currently, there is no consensus on what knowledge is. Over the millennia, the dominant philosophies of each age have added their own definition of knowledge to the list. The definition that I have found most useful when building systems is as follows: knowledge is understandings the cognitive system possesses. It is a construct that is not directly observable. It is specific to and not residing outside the cognitive system that created it. Information, NOT knowledge, is communicated among cognitive systems. A cognitive system can be a human, a group, an organization, a computer, or some combination.

 


Knowledge Management is not easy to define. Let me try to do it from a metalevel according to what people in this field are doing. There seem to be two tracks of activities - and two levels.

Track KM = Management of Information. Researchers and practitioners in this field have their education in computer and/or information science. They are involved in construction of information management systems, AI, re engineering, group ware etc. To them knowledge = Objects that can be identified and handled in information systems.

Track KM = Management of People. Researchers and practitioners in this field have their education in philosophy, psychology, sociology or business/management. They are primarily involved in assessing, changing and improving human individual skills and/or behavior. To them knowledge = Processes, a complex set of dynamic skills, knowhow etc, that is constantly changing. Level: Individual Perspective. The focus in research and practice is on the individual.

Level: Individual Perspective. The focus in research and practice is on the individual.

Level: Organizational Perspective.The focus in research and practice is on the organization. 


Posted by Lisa
Categories: Business Entrepreneurship Knowledge Management

Generating Business Ideas

June 27, 2007 0 comments

Another way of finding out about yourself is to carry out an analysis of your ideas.

Create a analysis chart by first listing your personal attribute talents, skills, interests and hobbies, then translate each to develop a group of possible business areas.

For example:

Business Ideas Generator (BIG)

Talents/skills/
interests/hobbies
Possible Business Ideas
Programming Software Development, IT consulting
Musical music store; recording studio; entertainment agency; musical instruments; sound/venue consultancy; musical scores
Artistic illustrator services; graphic design agency; artists supplies; picture framers; interior design studio
Cooking caterers services; sandwich bar; restaurant; fast food take away; home freezer supplies
Legal Legal Consulting, Law Offices
Word processing word processing agency; small business service; dissertation and manuscript production; script writing
Travel travel agency, courier service, tour operator, distribution logistics, events management

Posted by Lisa
Categories: Business Entrepreneurship

Strategic Management of Change

July 19, 2007 0 comments

http://lh6.google.com/LisaSmirnoff/RtpCpLKXroI/AAAAAAAACaY/Ukmrscsyahs/thai.jpg?imgmax=512

AIMS:

  • To give an overview of the many, frequently disagreeing, schools of thought in strategic management and to develop the ability to critically reflect on theories as well as to combine them flexibly for practical analysis.
  • To enable readers to develop a deep understanding of the concepts, techniques and practices associated with the development of strategic change in organizations.

OUTCOMES:

Readers will be able to:

  1. recognize the diversity of approaches to issues in strategic management
  2. develop effective organizational and environmental analyzes
  3. advise on approaches to the crafting of creative strategies at the business and corporate level
  4. evaluate the assumptions underlying different approaches to the management of strategic change
  5. analyze the problems of bringing about significant strategic and organizational change.

SYLLABUS

Approaches to Strategic Management:

Introduction to the different approaches to strategic management: ontological and epistemological assumptions. Deliberate or emergent, profit maximization and pluralistic approaches, prescriptive or classical, evolutionary or environmental, processional and systemic or cultural.

Organizational Environment:

Organizational purpose, stakeholder expectations and organizational culture. Auditing resources and capabilities, comparative analysis, value chain and core competence analysis, financial and portfolio analyzes. Understanding the nature of the external environment: simple static conditions, dynamic or complex. The role of planning and control at the strategic level: cybernetics, the law of requisite variety, systems dynamics, chaos theory and complexity science. Macro -environmental analysis. Industry and competitor analysis. Scenario planning.

Choice at the Business and Corporate level:

Strategic Choice: Generic Strategies: Cost advantage: sources of cost advantage. Differentiation: drivers of differentiation. Focus strategies. Resource based strategies and core competence. Industry context; industry evolution versus industry creation. The growth of the multi-business organization; strategic choice at the corporate level: portfolio management versus competence and related perspectives. Growth strategies: acquisition and diversification. Networks, alliances, partnerships and joint ventures.

Analyzing Strategic Change:

Models of organizational change: planned versus contextual accounts; top down versus bottom up approaches. Metaphorical analysis and its limitations. Understanding organizational culture. Flux and transformation in organizations.

Producing and Managing Change in Organizations:

Measuring Organizational Performance. Organizational configurations and structures, strength & weaknesses of structural changes. Producing organizational culture change. Benchmarking, Total Quality Management, Business Process Engineering, Strategic Leadership; ordinary and extraordinary management. The role of power and politics in strategy formulation. Organizational learning and learning organizations.

Supportive reading

de Wit, B & Meyer, R, (1998), Strategy Process, Content & Context. 2nd Ed, West.

Mintzberg H, Ahlstrand, B. & Lampei, J., (1998) Strategy Safari: "A guided tour through the wilds of strategic management". Prentice Hall.

Stacey, R, (2000), Strategic Management & Organizational Dynamics, Pitman, London.

Posted by lisa
Categories: Business Entrepreneurship Operations Management

Cultural Aspects in International Business

July 20, 2007 0 comments

http://lh5.google.com/LisaSmirnoff/Ri2EODF_0XI/AAAAAAAAAnE/yeimbQ43_QQ/100_4348.JPG?imgmax=512

In today’s increasingly globalized business environment, it is not only efficiencies that companies have to be concerned with. Increasingly, measures of effectiveness are most important, dealing as they do with such behavioral aspects of organizations as innovation, sharing good practice and learning in a complex international system. It follows that, in considering international business processes, the human factor is a vital element of the system, for example, in negotiations, managing international workforces and managing in new international organizational forms.

“People are increasingly having to interact, negotiate and compromise with people from different cultures. The potential for management frustration, costly misunderstandings and even business failures increases significantly when dealing with people whose values, beliefs, customs and first language are different from your own. However, when understood and successfully managed, differences in culture can lead to innovative business practices and sustainable sources of competitive advantage.”

Lisa Hoecklin, 1994

These values, beliefs, customs and language all form part of national culture. Culture is therefore one of the fundamental areas of international business and we will meet aspects of culture in a number of settings throughout this course. As we have seen, international firms by definition have to operate in different cultures and this factor can add a good deal of complexity to the process of management, so much so that Peter Drucker has argued that the fundamental bases of management are insufficient in managing across borders.

International managers plan, direct, organize and control just like any other manager but the context in which they discharge their duties is much more complex than if they were managing purely domestic activities. For this reason, multinational management should be culturally sensitive in its business practices and should learn to bridge the cultural gap that exists between its methods of management and business and those of the host country. In making these adjustments, management must be aware that cultures vary and are learned, and that cultures influence behavior.

One shall meet a good many research issues related to culture -- issues which are often complex and detailed. It is necessary to develop an understanding of cultural effects in managing internationally putting one's emphasis on practical, applied issues.

You may have discovered the importance of culture through study. In International Marketing, cultural differences significantly affect marketing strategies, promotion, distribution channels and communications, for instance.

Posted by lisa
Categories: Business Entrepreneurship International Management Culture

Cultural Differences on Marketing Functions

July 20, 2007 0 comments

http://lh6.google.com/LisaSmirnoff/Ri2EFTF_0TI/AAAAAAAAAmk/qY3Y4bTXNQY/100_4343.JPG?imgmax=512

Take a few minutes to pause and reflect on the potential impact of cultural differences on marketing functions. You might consider problems with advertising, communications and market research, for example.

If a firm is to succeed in local markets and/or produce goods in another country, it is necessary to know more about that country, its particular tastes and demands and, of course, how the workforce can be managed effectively. There is a rich litany of failure in this area, ranging from botched advertising campaigns, poor working relationships with colleagues overseas and failed negotiations. Thus the stakes are high and failure in these areas can be very expensive, not only in monetary terms but also threatening the standing of the company in particular markets.

Mismanagement of cultural differences can also cause frustration on the part of otherwise very capable managers, with the attendant threat to the firm that they may take their knowledge and expertise elsewhere. When successfully managed, cultural differences can be a potent competitive weapon as well as delivering increased profitability. Thinking about this competitive element reveals some obvious areas of contributory competences vis-a-vis competitors. If your organization can manage negotiations, international complexity and alliances more effectively than competitors, it may be more successful.

Why is this important in a business setting? Well, I do not think that anyone would argue that international products are not on the increase.

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Taking a blank sheet of paper and giving yourself about twenty minutes, note down the country of origin for (a) your clothes and (b) a selection of the contents of your flat or house. How many of these were produced (1) in your country by domestic firms (2) in your country by foreign owed firms and (c) imported? You should find that many products originate abroad or are produced in your country by foreign firms.

Does this matter and why?

In our daily lives, we take much of what represents our domestic culture for granted; after all, we live with it every day. It is so much part of that daily existence that people quite often find it very difficult to define their own culture, as we shall see later. It can be defined much more easily in a comparative way, by denoting differences between cultures. When we travel abroad, it is the cultural DIFFERENCES that we notice most. The differences that we do notice are quite often surface things - it is only when we get to know people more intimately that we begin to learn about the more deep-seated aspects of their culture. Surface differences are often presented in the form of stereotypes but true cultural understanding goes much deeper than this.

Many people consider cultural issues to be important only to businesses engaged in selling or manufacturing in foreign markets, i.e. an outward internationalization of the firm. However, this view is rather restrictive, as many organizations (and individual consumers) now purchase goods and services outside their home country (so-called inward internationalization). So even if your firm serves only your country’s market, there may still be a need to learn about other cultures, if only to manage negotiations on price and supply.

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Aim

This material is an introduction to critical issues related to culture and their practical application in a series of international business situations.

Outcomes

  1. Outline the main elements of culture and the effect of values, beliefs and attitudes on behavior among different people
  2. Contrast Hofstede's five dimensions of cultural differences and explain how cultural differences affect international management
  3. Evaluate the impact of cultural differences on selected elements of management behavior in multicultural environments
  4. Explain the impact of culture on negotiating processes and practices.
  5. Examine the cultural dimensions of various management activities involved when working abroad and in setting up and operating strategic alliances.

Posted by lisa
Categories: Business Entrepreneurship International Management Culture

LEGAL PRODUCTION CHECKLIST

August 27, 2007 0 comments

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FORMATION OF PRODUCTION ENTITY

  • Form corporate entity with Sec. of State
  • Become signatory to WGA/DGA/SAG/Teamsters agreements
  • Trademark search for co.

CHAIN OF TITLE

  • Obtain copyright & title reports
  • MPAA title registration

LITERARY PROPERTY

  • Option/Purchase agreement
  • Register Short Form Option/Purchase with Copyright Office
  • Register story synopsis with WGA and Copyright Office if original story Writers agreement
  • Register Short Form Assignment with Copyright Office Obtain publisher waiver/privacy release Register screenplay with WGA and Copyright Office if work -made-for-hire

PRODUCTION AGREEMENTS

  • Producers agreement
  • Directors agreement
  • Actors agreements (weekly & daily players, including stunts;
  • Personal release form for street extras (must be non-SAG(have no lines)
  • Crew deal memos
  • Obtain deForest report
  • Location agreement
  • Poster/property licenses

INSURANCE

  • Obtain production & negative insurance Obtain workers compensation insurance
  • Obtain completion bond

POSTPRODUCTION

  • Submit screen and paid ad credits to WGA/DGA
  • Obtain E&O insurance
  • Obtain MPAA rating
  • Lab access letter
  • Prepare music cue sheets
  • Prepare continuity script
  • Clip license
  • Novelization agreement
  • Merchandising (toys, comic books, clothes, etc.)
  • Register film with Copyright Office

MUSIC

  • Music Supervisor agreement
  • Composer agreement
  • Synch/Master Use Licenses
  • Soundtrack agreement Obtain music publisher or

Publish music yourself + form dba of production co. + domestic (join ASCAP or BMI) + foreign (sub-license out)

Posted by lisa
Categories: Business Entrepreneurship Legal Agreements

AGREEMENT/LICENSE FORM INDEX

August 27, 2007 0 comments

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AGREEMENT/LICENSE PRE-PRODUCTION

PRODUCTION

POSTPRODUCTION

  • Clip license
  • Still license
  • Novelization agreement
  • Synch/Master Use license
  • Music Supervisor agreement
  • Composer agreement
  • Soundtrack agreement
  • Lab access letter
  • Cassette loan agreement
  • Print loan agreement

FOREIGN DISTRIBUTION

  • AFMA form
  • Output agreement

Posted by lisa
Categories: Business Entrepreneurship Legal Agreements

Design specifications - why demand a design document and avoid coding on the fly

February 10, 2008 0 comments

The first step in delivering a great application is creating a solid design specification document.

Without a complete, unambiguous design specification document, you could be setting yourself up for costly rewrites.

Developers prefer to work with design documents that include sample screen shots, detailed descriptions of each function, database layouts, and report layouts. If there are not enough details it should be a policy to respond in writing with a breathtaking number of questions.

Writing a design specification is more of an art, something to be learned, more than something that can be taught. It is a struggle to come up with one document that fits the needs of both the developers and the business people. Keep in mind that the whole design document the business people won’t understand it all.

That is why there is a need to create two design documents: a broad-based description for the business people and a detailed document for the developers. Some developers want as many details as possible. Others want a broad-based design spec. They just want to know what functions the application needs to perform, and they like to fill in the details themselves.

First, we need to start off the document with a high-level description of the functional design: Basically, here’s what the application is going to do. When the business people sign off on that general description, a second file should be created which will have more details, if necessary, for the developers, and ask for their buy-in.

The extra details aren’t always necessary if the developer has been involved in the process since the initial discussions. Getting the developer involved early on gives him a feel for the business people’s needs and scope of the project from the beginning.

You also want to avoid situations where the developer comes back to a project lead and says, ‘You should have asked me before you told the customer we could do this!’

Developer/PM - Do's and Dont's

  • Do not get bogged down in the details.
  • Put together a great design specification to provide the road map for the process.
  • Meet with development team regularly. Let them know you’re following up on their issues.
  • Keep the design specification document updated.
  • But don’t jump in and try to do everything yourself.
  • Customer sign-offs are a must

Customer/Business People

The external customer has to sign design specification indicating they agree to everything in the document, and there are two reasons for that.

One is to cover your [bases], which is always important. Two, if you sign something, you’re going to read it. I don’t know how many times I’ve handed a design document to a customer who says, ‘Oh yeah, that looks good.’ Then you deliver the application and the customer says, ‘Where’d that come from?’ You say, 'It’s right here in the document,' and the customer says, ‘Well, I never read that thing!’

I think that a great design specification document should be extremely detailed -- down to the level of what each function does and what result is expected after each action.

Details required for QA testing

Quality assurance team should meet with the developers and review the first draft of the design document, line by line.

A detailed design spec can make life easier for everyone involved in quality assurance. For starters, it’s easier to write a test plan from a good design spec. That, in turn, makes the testing easier, particularly if the person doing the testing isn’t the one who wrote the test plan.

Posted by lisa
Categories: Business Entrepreneurship

Social networking and Knowledge Management (KM)

February 10, 2008 0 comments

Ten biggest problems with most existing Social Software tools:

  1. Inflexible, tedious information architecture ("Why is entering this field mandatory?")
  2. Profile poverty ("This tells me absolutely nothing of value about this person")
  3. No separation between What I Have and What I Need personas (the information about you I care about depends on whether I am 'buying' or 'selling' -- even classified ads 'get' this)
  4. Lack of harvesting capability ("Why do I have to enter this again?")
  5. Populated just-in-case instead of canvassed just-in-time ("Oh, sorry, I no longer work there" and "Oops, sorry, I'm married now")
  6. The most needed people have the least time and motivation to participate
  7. Over-engineered and unintuitive
  8. Lack of scalability and resilience: Centralized instead of peer-to-peer (when it gets too big or goes down, you're out of luck)
  9. Socially awkward ("I'm not going to tell someone I've never met that!")
  10. Low signal-to-noise ratio because of dysfunctional information behaviors (blockages, disconnects, lack of trust) -- these need to be accommodated by Social Software tools, instead of ignored

Once we get these problems solved, Social Networking is poised for tremendous growth, and because its value proposition is so compelling, might just be the application that attracts the 80% of the population still on the other side of the digital divide.

Value Propositions:

  • Find, contact & contract with people more effectively,
  • Tap the wisdom of crowds (close info gaps, improve quality of decisions and accuracy of predictions, improve business processes, assess causalities),
  • Facilitate virtual collaboration,
  • Improve the context & understandability of information
  • Understand why things are the way they are
  • Improve K-worker effectiveness

Strategy:

Stories and conversations automatically canvassed from shared personal repositories for learning and discovery

Content Format:

Graphic & multimedia, organized by application (ontology)

Model:

Connect, canvass, synthesize (Just in Time)

Why did we largely fail to achieve the first-generation KM value propositions?:

  • We set unreasonably high expectations
  • We over-relied on voluntary user contributions to repositories
  • The content we harvested was largely context-poor
  • The Tragedy of the Commons (no one took pride of ownership in shared repositories

We allowed technology companies to co-opt the term KM for software, to the point many companies started to think that is all KM was about ("which KM solution software should we buy?")

focusing on aggregating contributed content and 'integrated solutions', instead of on connection to people and on their knowledge in context in simple, intuitive, stand-alone apps.

In our rush to achieve illusory cost savings and productivity improvements from first-generation KM, we failed to take into account very human 'information behaviors' that impede the sharing of knowledge and collaboration.

Posted by lisa
Categories: Business Entrepreneurship Knowledge Management

Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs. Why is it important?

April 28, 2008 0 comments

Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs is an excellent model for understanding human motivation

His Hierarchy of Needs offers a blue print for understanding people around you. Understanding motivation can enable you to strengthen your relations, work more effectively with business associates, become more capable parent, and facilitate possible change in any group.

Maslow's work and ideas extend far beyond the Hierarchy of Needs.

Maslow's concept of self-actualization relates directly to the present day challenges and opportunities for employers and organizations - to provide real meaning, purpose and true personal development for their employees. For life - not just for work.

Maslow saw these issues fifty years ago: the fact that employees have a basic human need and a right to strive for self-actualization, just as much as the corporate directors and owners do.

Increasingly, the successful organizations and employers will be those who genuinely care about, understand, encourage and enable their people's personal growth towards self-actualization - way beyond traditional work-related training and development, and of course way beyond old-style X-Theory management autocracy, which still forms the basis of much organized employment today.

The best modern employers and organizations are beginning to learn at last: that sustainable success is built on a serious and compassionate commitment to helping people identify, pursue and reach their own personal unique potential.

When people grow as people, they automatically become more effective and valuable as employees.

In fact virtually all personal growth, whether in a hobby, a special talent or interest, or a new experience, produces new skills, attributes, behaviors and wisdom that is directly transferable to any sort of job role.

Posted by lisa
Categories: Business Entrepreneurship Marketing Managers, Employers, Leaders - Creative Approach

How to Fund a Startup

October 23, 2008 0 comments

Venture funding works like gears. A typical startup goes through several rounds of funding, and at each round you want to take just enough money to reach the speed where you can shift into the next gear.

Few startups get it quite right. Many are underfunded. A few are overfunded, which is like trying to start driving in third gear.

I think it would help founders to understand funding better—not just the mechanics of it, but what investors are thinking. I was surprised recently when I realized that all the worst problems we faced in our startup were due not to competitors, but investors. Dealing with competitors was easy by comparison.

I don't mean to suggest that our investors were nothing but a drag on us. They were helpful in negotiating deals, for example. I mean more that conflicts with investors are particularly nasty. Competitors punch you in the jaw, but investors have you by the balls.

Apparently our situation was not unusual. And if trouble with investors is one of the biggest threats to a startup, managing them is one of the most important skills founders need to learn.

Posted by lisa
Categories: Business Entrepreneurship

Funding start up - family and freinds

October 24, 2008 0 comments

The advantage of raising money from friends and family is that they're easy to find. You already know them. There are three main disadvantages: you mix together your business and personal life; they will probably not be as well connected as angels or venture firms; and they may not be accredited investors, which could complicate your life later.

Posted by lisa
Categories: Business Entrepreneurship

Business Entrepreneurship

August 27, 2011 0 comments

Business Entrepreneurship

I start my blogging writing about the entrepreneurial experience. While I write LisaConsulting in hopes of giving entrepreneurs a view into the venture process. Further, I am hopeful that more entrepreneurs will begin to share their experiences. And I look forward to continuing to write my thoughts on hiring, finance, management and the like topics.

In Business Entrepreneurship part of the blog you will find the following topics:

  1. Introduction to Entrepreneurship
  2. The characteristics of entrepreneurship; routes to entrepreneurship, self-assessment, entrepreneurial career paths.
  3. Factors of success and failure in venture management; the role of business plans and the start up process
  4. Developing new ventures
  5. Creating, identifying and evaluating new venture opportunities; fundamentals of market research; concept and role of the marketing function; marketing mix, market analysis and segmentation; identifying competitive advantage.
  6. Developing a business approach
  7. Feasibility studies and risk reduction; start-ups, acquisitions and franchising.
  8. Leadership and motivation; vision and objectives; resources and relationships, both internal and external; sustainable business development.
  9. Building business plans
  10. Clarifying the enterprise; setting measurable targets; writing the business plan as a management tool.

Posted by Lisa
Categories: Business Entrepreneurship

Tech startup emerged from Los Angeles

January 11, 2012 0 comments

Los Angeles is a unique technology market but is not and will never be Silicon Valley and here is why this is happening.

Many of Los Angeles based companies quietly and reliably turned out growing revenues and profits

Los Angeles entrepreneurs are not particularly worried or fixated on emulating or eclipsing the Valley.

L.A. is riding this same wave of startup creation. The startup scene here is vibrant and growing. We’ve had a number of success stories over the years (Overture, CitySearch, LowerMyBills, eHarmony) and there many up-and-coming startups being built right now (see James Hritz’s answer for a great list). L.A. has a developing network of startup funding (super angels like Paige Craig, angel groups like Tech Coast Angels, VCs like GRP and Rustic Canyon). We have conferences and networking events (Twiistup, Startups Uncensored, Los Angeles Venture Assoc.), mentorship programs (Launchpad LA), and top-notch universities (CalTech, UCLA, USC). We also have the second largest metro area in the country, providing access to a large market, labor force, and office space.

LA infrastructure is developing nicely to support a healthy technology ecosystem. Expect more and more startup successes to sprout out of SoCal over just a few years to come.

Advertising Networks. I would say [ex Google] SoCal is dominant. Socal has Specific Media, Adconion, Rubicon, Adly, Reach Local, Valueclick / Fastclick

Long tail content. Again LA is a solid player. Demand Media stands out. But LegalZoom, DocStoc are doing great in niches. We don't have Yelp, of course.

Ecommerce. Was a major force circa 2005 with Pricegrabber, Shopzilla, etc... Now showing force with Hautelook, Shoedazzle. No Gilt Groupe or Groupon, but more of a force than the Bay Area.

Gaming. We don't have Zynga, but we have EA and Activision. And now, Playdom.

Social. Let's not forget MySpace was king up until 2 years ago.

Los Angeles has a highest concentration of small businesses and entrepreneurs in comparison with any other city in US. There are real businesses who will pay you for automating their business processes, and you can create a hybrid startups with no need of investment money. I believe the reason why it is so hard to find technical talent to hire because Los Angeles environment attracts tech people with entrepreneurial spirit who does not want to work for a large company or startup where the obligations to stockholders exist. If they are not in charge, then what the point to make successful business for someone else when they can create a nice lifestyle business that pays much better and where they can have their clients as prospective strategic partners if they decide to grow it on another level.

Los Angeles talent successfully dwells in cash-driven economy, not equity-driven economy.

There is another reason. It's hard to get talented tech people to your startup when you can't pay enough for them to afford the lifestyle. I believe that people in Los Angeles has much higher standards of living then in North California.

I believe that Los Angeles entrepreneurs will outsmart Silicon valley and it is not a matter of when this happens, not if this happens.

The LA business community not as close knit and is very well networked within itself, but is not as open to new people as the SF community.

LA technology companies seem to be clustered around the less profitable consumer internet and entertainment space than Silicon Valley and that may explain why there is less early angel activity in LA.

To me, personally it is much better to do business in Los Angeles. You do not need investment to start your tech company and you can eventually build your own products having consumer market ready to tell their stories about their needs and wants. I think Silicon Valley is good for kids form college that they can work for real startup and learn how to do their own business and build reputation, or if you can partner with some rock-star developer who just made a name and there are a line of investors waiting to invest. I think many people does not appreciate and see opportunities what Los Angeles offers.

Posted by Lisa
Categories: Business Entrepreneurship

Doing Business in Los Angeles

January 12, 2012 0 comments

If you are looking for ways to fund you technical startup, you need to understand that Los Angeles is missing two things: "an active, well organized, full life-cycle of tech-focused capital" and acceptance that Los Angeles is a huge tech hub.

Los Angeles has plenty of successful entrepreneurs with interesting startup ideas that work. There are plenty of wealthy people who are looking for ways to invest their money. The problem with Los Angeles investors that they are not tech oriented, they probably made plenty of money having a restaurant or other non-tech business and are more open to invest a few million into film production then tech startup. That is why Los Angels in undercapitalized taking into considerations opportunities there.

LA is a great city and has no shortage of talent, ideas or industries to target locally. It is an ad/media/content mecca, and a tremendous region for fashion, gaming, software, aerospace/defense, financial services and much more.

My opinion is that Los Angeles needs to be rediscovered by tech investors. Meanwhile we have plenty of work to do getting partners who need business automation and programming and design services.

Posted by Lisa
Categories: Business Entrepreneurship

Ideas to raise value of social networking

January 12, 2012 0 comments

Social networking and dating sites ideas are still in fashion. People spend enormous amounts of time there, playing games, talking with each other. It seems to me there is not much value, but more of a sort of addition.

What can be beneficial to us:

Some people need a baby-sitter and they can ask someone to babysit their kid in exchange for the same service. There could be a tracking system of favors created. You can see and track the most humble friends and who are the givers.

The same approach can be used for helping with the class, programming assignment, offering a ride from the airport.

People have different needs and it is easy to track who cares more of your wants and needs

TI got these ideas reading kraynov.com.

Posted by Lisa
Categories: Business Entrepreneurship

Mobile Marketing. Purpose of Mobile Websites & Native Applications

January 26, 2012 0 comments

Marketers are gravitating to mobile

Mobile marketing works for any type of business. Organizations and commercial entities - brands, agencies, marketers, non-profits, enterprises and individuals - with products, services, and offerings they want to deliver to the market.

All types of marketing practices can be applied to mobile.

Mobile marketing is one of the most engaging forms of marketing because people carry their phones whenever they go.

Today, many users are amazed by mobile applications that designed to do everything from simply looking like zippo lighter, to recognizing songs on the radio, recommending restaurants in the immediate area, buying stuff, reading news, conducting banking transactions.

If you do not have a mobile website for mobile users, your first impression could be your last. Having a mobile website is absolutely crucial to your business. The customer is quickly able to find a phone number, store locator, hours of operation, sales links. A user can browse your sales items, call your store, find exactly what he or she needs. A user think: "Great. I'll be back!" in fact, that user will go back regularly.

Purpose of Mobile Website

A traditional website is a destination for all your company information from products to job offerings. Mobile website has a specific purpose in mind because people are not going to surf via hundreds of pages and links to find task oriented information they need.

You need to build mobile apps if you want to advance your mobile marketing strategy. It is good to have mobile sites, but having mobile apps is even more crucial.

Marpasoft LLC builds native apps for iPhone, ipad2 and android. You need to have a budget. You would not go house-or-car-hunting without a budget in mind. The same is true when you hire an agency. Some agencies require 50% upfront, MarpaSoft LLC asks for weekly payments based on hourly commitments.

You need to keep in mind that your app is as good as your requirements and as your business grow and you get feedback from your customers, you will need some changes to your initial app. This will again require some investment, and you can spend more money than you originally planned to.

Posted by Lisa
Categories: Business Entrepreneurship

Mobile Code of Conduct

January 26, 2012 0 comments

You need to create a mobile code of conduct for use of your applications.

A Statement of Intend

Your and your community's goals are to engage our customers through the mobile channel in a safe, easy, consumer-friendly way, do they can interact with your brand.

Engage Users and Protect their Data

You need to insure that consumers interact with your brand on a voluntary basis and in a highly secure environment using state-of-art encryption and security protocols to protect against inadequate disclosures, misappropriation, and external attacks.

You ned to specify what code of conduct you expect form your users and the community

  • Your users should behave in a polite manner at all times
  • Users should not post anything obscene, offensive, discriminatory, pornographic, defamatory, liable to incite racial hatred, in breach of confidentiality or privacy, which may cause annoyance or inconvenience to others, is harmful, tortuous, which encourages or constitutes conduct that would be deemed a criminal offense, is considered illegal, or that promotes physical harm or injury against any group or individual.
  • No User will defame, abuse, harass, stalk, threaten or otherwise violate the legal rights of any other community User or Owner

Posted by Lisa
Categories: Business Entrepreneurship

Importance of Mobile Social Media Marketing

January 26, 2012 0 comments

Social media mobile marketing is all about successfully encouraging your customers to participate in your marketing programs by communicating with your customers about your products and services via comments and content. Nature of mobile phones allows users to participate more conveniently because they can make contributions anytime anywhere. The future of mobile phones is sound because you can integrate mobile technology into your brand and community and engage your customers with your dialogue and better offerings.

Integrating mobile with your social media strategy

Most of people do not carry their computers around all day. Often people access the web via their smartphones. You need to create a social media strategy so your audience are drawn together to interact with your brand through their smartphones, build common interests and your brand community.

Posted by Lisa
Categories: Business Entrepreneurship

Validating the Idea of Writing a Software for the Digital Video Surveillance

November 16, 2013 0 comments

Our idea was to create a product for Digital Video Surveillance. we already built a software for real time broadcasting in Erlang and we could use it for real time digital video surveillance. We created a prototype and bought 20 dollar none-expensive camera, so we can do a Video Surveillance. Idea sounds interesting, and I decided to question people if they buy the product.

Video surveillance is needed in many industries.

In casinos, where the threat of criminal activity is as high as the stakes at the card table, it's important that facilities are properly monitored. The flow of people and money is constant, upping the risk of incident. But with the proper surveillance such worries are stifled, and the thrill and enjoyment of the gaming experience prevails.

Construction industry also needs a good surveillance. Fact is, over 500 pieces of construction equipment go missing each week in the United States. Bad news is only 10-15% is ever recovered. On top of that staggering number is material theft, especially copper. Construction site theft has been increasing by 10% every year since 1996 with no signs of slowing down. Due to this staggering fact, insurance companies are actively denying claims made in regard to construction site property.

The same goes for concerts and large events, museums, hospitals, hotels and motels, social clubs and even residential homes.

We were thinking that because we will provide non-expensive subscription service, - and host the video stream in a datacenter so data is never lost. I decided to talk to as many people as possible to find what people think about this business.

Digital Video Is Better then VHS

It was easy to prove that Digital Video Is Better then VHS.

Here are some whys.

The main advantages of digital recording are maintenance-free operation for longer periods of time and increased stream resolution. Consider a 24 hours time lapse VCR, which does the job in most cases. Every 24 hours, one has to change the tape, or program the VCR to automatically start over when the tape reaches the end. Time-lapse VCRs that record hundreds of hours on a tape - they just do not record every fraction of a second, but merely one image at every x seconds. If recording is not triggered by motion detectors, one can fail to catch the very important moment on tape. In another words, in order to record continuously (say 30 frames per second), there is only so much a tape can take. Digital technologies increase the storage ten or even hundred fold: a 60Gb hard drive stores live video for a week.

A thief can steal the tape if they find it.

  • Old technology is being face out.
  • Law recording resolutions and slow recording speed
  • It is hard for searching a specific incident because it is time consuming.
  • There is limited availability for parts and support.
  • It requires constant tape changing and maintenance
  • There is no remote reviewing capability from home or office.
  • You also need to storage tons of video tapes. Still people use it heavily.

Sample Questionnaires

I prepared several a questionnaires targeted to various industries:

Here is one example:

  1. What do you consider to be your biggest security threat?

  2. Have you ever wished you could have caught an incident on tape?

  3. Do you feel that your neighborhood contributes to your security?
  4. 
What kind of security systems do you currently have in place?

  5. Do you have extended or all-day hours?
  6. 
Do you think that stores open during the "graveyard shift" (12 AM - 8 AM) may be more susceptible to robbery and other crimes?
Have you ever had problems with robberies or employee theft?

  7. Can your cashier easily see all elements of the store from the cash register?

Pricing Ideas

For basic 4 camera digital video recording system for a small retail and office type business, people spend $4,500.00 plus installation. Medium, large and proprietary businesses spend proportionally more based on their individual security needs. And our idea was much more affordable - about 100 bucks for equipment and 20 bucks for the subscriptions.

Next post will be about how I was consulting interviews and results for analysis of the market.

Posted by lisa
Categories: Business Entrepreneurship

Creative Marketing Research

November 16, 2013 0 comments

Executive Summary

Video surveillance makes good business sense and is a necessary tool in today’s vulnerable business environment. Digital video provides not only security but an easy- to-use management tool. Just think of each camera as a dedicated employee, who works 24 hours a day without taking a coffee break, vacation or sick day. Most of all, your electronic employee has a memory that does not forget, is accurate and provides a true return on investment.

The effective use of digital video surveillance equipment can reduce liability & workers’ compensation premiums, fraudulent insurance claims, and may assist in the prevention and apprehension of dishonest employees and customers. Today’s technology also provides the ability to watch your business remotely from home or other locations.

There are numerous types of cameras and digital video recorders to fit various applications. Entrance/exit cameras, cash register/counter cameras, interior cameras, exterior cameras and digital recorders are the basic components of a digital video surveillance system.

Our research is focused on finding out what digital video surveillance products are used on today’s market, what features are missing and if we propose a new product of the market what features they expect and what will be the cost.

Background Information

At MarpaSoft LLC, we were thinking to introduce our new product (let us call it MarpaSoft Digital Security) to enter digital security surveillance market.

Key technology:

Web Development, Django/Python/Erlang/PostgreSQL, Online Broadcasting, Offsite Backups.

Problems:

  • How to position its products
  • How to differentiate from competitors
  • Find our what kind of our services are most needed for the market and our customers

Objectives:

  • Find our potential customers' emotional connections to security cameras
  • Find our main pain points with existing solutions on the market
  • The research findings will be used by the company to craft their future marketing message.

Benefits of Going Digital

High Resolution

The resolution and speed of frame capture settings on your digital video is critical in the successful capture of digital video evidence. Without the great looking video you see on your monitor will not be what is actually recorded.

ONLINE REAL TIME DIGITAL SURVEILLANCE

You do not need to have your equipment on site where it can be damaged or stolen in case of the accident. We can provide hosting for all your backups and real time video. We believe that the business community will maximize the Return On Investment using online digital surveillance systems.

Business Facts

  1. Construction Industry: Over 500 pieces of construction equipment go missing each week in the United States. Bad news is only 10-15% is ever recovered. On top of that staggering number is material theft, especially copper. Construction site theft has been increasing by 10% every year since 1996 with no signs of slowing down. Due to this staggering fact, insurance companies are actively denying claims made in regard to construction site property.
  2. Bar & Restaurant Industry: Statistics report 85% of all Bar and Restaurant robberies are inside jobs. Keep an eye on employee activity with our Bar and Restaurant Surveillance Systems. Bar and Restaurant Security Cameras are being installed in Bar and Restaurants across America. They are giving owners and customers an excellent sense of security. Security Systems can now interface with your cash register or POS system which records and displays all transaction data to the recorded image.
  3. Day Care Childcare: Childcare centers are perfect for video surveillance. With the number of working parents increasing, childcare is becoming an essential part of early education. A video surveillance system at your day care or childcare center can help keep children safe and provide parents with peace of mind. Online Real Time Digital Sureillance services: will keep children safe, provide parents with valuable information how their kids doing at the center, keep employers safe.
  4. High School: High Schools today face gang violence, drug activities and other societal problems that threaten both the students and their ability to learn. Our services are giving Students, Teachers and Parents an excellent sense of security. High School Security Cameras have also proved to halt violence before it starts as they catch bully activities, gang visits and drug testing. High School administrators have access to what is going on in and around classrooms. Teachers believe the use of High School Surveillance in classrooms helps improve behavior and even raise test scores!

PROCEDURES AND RESEARCH METHODS USED

I have conducted two ZMELT interviews, 4 in-depth and informational interviews with the Head of Security at Hollywood and Highland Parking structure, Sal Hernandez, a parking security at Wilshire and Nomandie building, Adrian, a taxi driver, Ivan, and a friend who lives in a large residential estate in Los Angeles that costing over 5M.

I also conducted an Internet research what is available on the market, small and large players, their products and services.

Interviews about Surveillance Systems

The First Interview

The first interview took place at Hollywood & Highland Parking location. The head of security, Sal, was answering questions. Sal previously worked as a police officer and detective and had extensive experience with various surveillance systems. He currently works for Andrews International and their symbol of protection is eagle. They currently use AMHouse surveillance system. His company was employed by owner of the building who made a selection of system.

Andrews International (AI), headquartered in Los Angeles, California, is a full service provider of security and risk mitigation services; and the largest private, American-owned full-service security provider in the United States. The firm's portfolio of services includes uniformed security, consulting and investigations, personal protection, asset protection, special event security, disaster and emergency response, and specialized training services nationally & internationally.

Sal said that usually the owners of big locations are selecting the systems they want to work. The market is very competitive and there are plenty of products on the market. He also was working with other digital surveillance providers such as North Star and West Co.

He was talking about the expectations from surveillance systems. Usually people consider spending from 10,000 and up for the installation. But they look for the warranty and expect that equipment will be changed if damaged or outdated and they expect non expensive upgrades of new technology.

They expect to have very high quality of cameras and equipment, because they need to recognize all faces and numbers of vehicles.

He said that there are not many accidents on the location.

Sal says that he also is called to be a consultant for large events. He decides where to set cameras. He said that cameras that go around, sometimes cannot catch everything and it is very important to find the correct places where cameras should be. He said that he is very happy to work with current provider AM House, as well as North Star and West Co, because these companies provide best customer service. The customer service is the most important in this business.

Sal suggested me to contact police offices and firms that conduct investigations because they have limited budgets and they would not expect to spend as much money, and rather pay on monthly basis.

Sal uses home surveillance systems for his houses, and mostly buys whatever current on the market. He said there are even more choices for home surveillance systems then for large businesses. He prefers to install everything himself, as he cannot imagine that it will be complicated. Sal did not let me to record anything as he said security business is a very sensitive field. He agreed to be interviewed because this was for the class.

Second Interview

Second Interview was conducted at a big parking structure at Wilshire and Normandie. The name of security guard is Adrian. Adrian works for the company for 8 months. The name of security company is ABM security. They are using Shindler Surveillance. He said that the building had power outage recently and they needed to use generators. He said that the system was very expensive to install, and they pay monthly for the service and they have three engineers at the location at all times because the system requires constant maintenance. Adrian said that engineers needed to stay overtime when there was power outage. So he could not tell me their monthly spendings. He is sure that it does not mater how expensive system will be, they just need a quality and a good service. He said that the systems are protecting only public areas, corridors, elevators, parking, and what is going on streets around the building. The offices have their own security surveillance systems. He said that he recently caught a person stealing a purse and he told me that it was amazing because the thief was on every camera around the building, so security caught him at the other end of the building.

Adrian was asked if he would use security surveillance at home. He said that he does not need to because his other and sister are mostly at home. He would not imagine why he would need a system when a house is protected at all times.

I asked what are the most important images for him that he can associate with security. He said a car, in the first place, the house, in the second place and the girlfriend. All these images make him secure.

Third Interview

The Third Interview was with a taxi driver, Ivan. He works at nights. Most of his trips are going through dangerous areas of Los Angeles. When I asked a question, How secure it is to drive at night? Ivan said he takes chances. Ivan considers Alvarado, East Los Angeles, South Central, Pomona and certain areas in Down Town as dangerous areas and he can tell stories about violence in these areas. Though, Ivan said that there are not so much stealing in taxi. Maybe one time a year, someone takes money from his pockets or gives him a fake dollar bill. Taxi cab travels to high crime neighborhoods. Ivan driver intoxicated passengers all the time.

Ivan and his taxi partner should get a new car with surveillance camera and a good partition. Ivan does not know what system he will get, and his partner has knowledge about it. Ivan said that they need to turn on surveillance system only when they work, and other times taxi stays at secured location with surveillance system.

Fourth Interview

I interviewed a friend who lives in a large house and expensive house in Los Angeles.

A few years ago they installed digital surveillance. Renan said that they turn it off and he even has hard time to remember if they had a need to use it.

Renan says that there are people at home: a cook, a maid at daytime, and a maid at night time, and a gardener, so there is somebody at home all the time; in his opinion, there is no need to record anything. He does not want to know if someone among his staff steals something like food or clothing. He wants to believe that people are honest. The house have a bank next door, so bank probably takes care of surveillance and records a large part of the street around the house.

Interview Five

An attorney, 35 years old, lives in Santa Monica.

He thinks about the security like a child under the blanket: warm, comfortable, secure, protected. This image could be used for advertisement to targeted segment.

He does not like the fact that most video cameras he used have low resolution images, and it is hard to see anything.

He does not like the idea about surveillance, because it is like "big brother watching", government based, but he said it "makes me powerful when I watch other people."

Interview Six

31-year old male Fashion Stylist, lives in Larchmont,Los Angeles. He thinks that security cameras make people want to stay away and makes people feel less welcome.

FINDINGS AND CONCLUSIONS

Survey results show us that people usually are reluctant to talk about security cameras because they feel this information is very sensitive. People in a local bank even did not want to answer any questions.

Homeowners prefer to instal cameras on their own, and they do not mind to use DVR surveillance systems. They are willing to buy expensive cameras and they mostly focused on quality of the images. There will be very hard to make a sale. Businesses who produce cameras can benefit form selling to the homeowners.

The enterprise security systems can be sold directly to the owners of the large commercial real estates because the buying decision is made by the owners or the board of directors. Most of businesses they create product around 4-5 corporate clients. The good part is that these people do not care about the cost, but they are looking for trust and long term relations. They hardly ever change providers.

It makes it very hard to find such clients to be able to sell.

Also when we conducted research, it is obvious that clients expect warranty and liability of equipment. We are in the software business, so in order to provide all services beyond customers’ expectations, we need to have a hardware partners, so clients can replace equipment within 24 hours or sooner.

People really do not care about online backups, and they are more concerned about security that nobody else had access to their footage. We did not interview the owners who hired security companies, but I guess the answer will be different because backups at the datacenter will have all backups if it will be break-and-entry.

We need to conduct more research about needs for online digital surveillance needs in smaller sectors, such as public schools, kindergartens and private detective agencies. There might be a need for a non-expensive surveillance cameras in bad neighborhoods, liquor stores, restaurants, - but these clients will have the most problems and the less ability to pay for the services.

There maybe a need for usage of online real time broadcasting technology for recordings of surveys and focus groups. But we need to make a detailed researches in all closely related areas prior making decisions about introducing a new product to the market.

RECOMMENDATIONS AND PRACTICAL APPLICATIONS

The survey has shown that people are pretty much happy with the solutions they are currently using.

The video surveillance business includes a lot of decisions to make: how to place cameras if locations are large and have a lot of hidden areas. Some people are using specialists just to do this work. The business requires a lot of customer service. Some people prefer to pay for the installations if the installation will be complex. When we were looking into the security business, we did not realize how large is the business and what are customer expectations.

Security business also closely related to local police departments and city permits. It is probably easier to find local police department as a client and start from there. Also it is evident that if we want to be in this industry, we need to find private detective company or private security company who will partner with us: we provide surveillance packages and they apply their knowledge and services.

This business is hard because people have conflicting emotions about security and surveillance. People afraid that cameras can be easily destroyed and complicated to install. It can be too many things to consider for creating of a first product line.

Posted by lisa
Categories: Business Entrepreneurship

For Those Interested to Enter Security Surveillance Market

November 16, 2013 0 comments

You can see three of my previous posts about Entering Security Surveillance Market.

We definitely can be your technology partner.

Whether an entrepreneur, an industry professional with leads and ability to organize sales, or a company who is producing non-expensive IP cameras.

Our technology can be used not only for video surveillance, but for software for focus groups and real time broadcasting for conferences and VIP events.

We have a working prototype, so we can show how the video surveillance can be conducted. We take care of datacenter and storage.

If you are experienced online marketer or a sales person, you also can become a strategic partner. We can create subscription services and discuss with you options how to advertise.

We are not ready to work on the business plan for investors, as I tried to see if we can have enough clients to cover development expenses, and it is not as simple. It may be expensive to market this product to masses and even start with a smaller segment.

We can provide software and services, - and we can take care of design and creating collateral.

Tell me if you are interested in our technology, and we can sell you a perpetual license and arrange service retainer contract, so our code will shine for your customers.

Posted by Lisa
Categories: Business Entrepreneurship

Steps Involved in Developing a New Business

November 16, 2013 0 comments

A few days ago I was offered to prepare the presentation on entrepreneurship and why Los Angeles to be a better place of doing business.

While brainstorming how to combine most valuable of my experiences in my speech, I decided to make sure I prepare several presentations, because it may easily happen that most of the people in the room will be looking to start a business now or in near future, or even better already started and need to hear about somebody trying and doing the same.

I think the most important is to have an elevator speech that successfully describes your business. I am struggle with this myself. The successful elevator speech can be developed later into executive summary. This is the first step into developing and delivering impressive investor presentation. Here I want to mention you need to conduct an extensive research - both competitor analysis and their pricing strategy and detailed consumer market research that will help you to prove a business concept.

Every Investor wants to know

Even most investors are daydreaming to hear new Facebook coming, but realistically you need to know right away that people can buy your products or services. Most companies fail because they do not do their homework, they have this perfect idea, and later they may realize that investments are gone, but their clients were not willing to pay the price.

Nowadays there are new ways to fund our projects, and if the project is community related the best step is to do crowd funding; if your product is business to business or business oriented, it is better to bootstrap it with your clients and have a prototype ready before you go to ask for money.

Elevator speech

I want to talk here in this post of the elements of elevator speech and what it takes to create a right approach.

Elements of a Pitch

(adapted from Conor Neill)

  1. Description of the problem you solve
  2. The individuals or groups that will benefit
  3. The specific product or service you deliver
  4. How you differ from competitors and substitutes
  5. How you will make money
  6. What resources you require (money, time, support, expertise)

Enumerate the Steps Involved in Developing a new Business

Here is an interesting article about those steps Summary of Survey of 650 startups

One of the steps to be successful is to constantly learn and apply your knowledge to make more money:

"Founders that learn are more successful: Startups that have helpful mentors, track metrics effectively, and learn from startup thought leaders raise 7x more money and have 3.5x better user growth."

Here is another fact:

"The right mentors significantly influence a company's performance and ability to raise money. "

Innovation

Innovation is a very important factor to success: but today you need to know as much as you can not just about your business, but about technologies available that only technical person can help you with to translate your requirements into products with innovation. Most people overlook importance of technical founders.

Here is how you can innovate

  1. New Product or Product Quality
  2. New Method of Production
  3. New Market
  4. Conquest of Raw Material
  5. New Kind of Organization

(adapted form Schumpeter)

Pitch your idea to 12 strangers

In conclusion, in order to be successful, the very first thing you need to start is to pitch your business idea to 12 strangers, I would suggest that at least 4 of those people will be professionals form the industry to which you are going to sell). Track their responses, including the questions they ask, and prepare report.

Sometimes you can analyze the consumers and the industry by just talking to a small segment.

Here is a good example how my partner validated idea for writing software for Digital Video Surveillance and the problems we uncovered during our research phase. We had a software we previously delivered for real time broadcasting in Erlang, so we just bought non-expencive IP camera ($20) and very non-expensive computer ($60 bucks, - today there are plenty of other hardware such us www.raspberrypi.org for as low as $25.00. It worked perfectly and even the resolution was good.

Validating the idea of writing a software for Digital Video Surveillance

You also can read about

Creative Marketing Research for Digital Video Surveillance

or become our strategic partner

to enter Security Surveillance Marketplace.

Posted by lisa
Categories: Business Entrepreneurship Product Innovation Marketing Video Surveillance Software

MarpaSoft Mobile Practice Management for plastic and eye surgeons, medical spa managers and aesthetic medical practitioners

November 16, 2013 0 comments

We are in a process of launching a platform for creating native iPhone and iPad applications for several industry segments.

We have a client who is a celebrity plastic surgeons and we created for him a website and helped with SEO and online marketing. The challenge is that he is constantly busy to test our solutions. If you want to have a free prototype of iPhone applications, you can contact me, and you will have one.

Here is basic market research why we think that this product will sell well.

Here what you need to know about medical applications:

Problem #1

More than 20,000 mobile apps available to have patients to do everything. Only 21 apps approved by US Food and Drug Administration that set standards for safety, operability, privacy and content, but most of them haven’t undergone independent third party review. So far, doctors have been in no rush to recommend apps for patients. One reason: the off-putting number of titles. Concerns about app quality and authority holds doctors back. Doctors are not incentivized to use current apps.

Not a single app helps doctors to do their jobs better. And this is what we intent to do with our product offering.

Problem #2

Patient Portals Grow but Still have Problems

There are number of secure websites through which patients can access electronic health records, appointment schedules, test results and current medication. Portals would ideally allow patients to update contact information and patient histories, pay bills, request prescription refills, and communicate with providers via secure email. Granting patients online access to all of this would, it is thought, lead to better quality and coordination of care and lower costs. That hasn’t worked out this way!

One problem is lack of interoperability. A patient may belong to several portals -- an insurer's, a pharmacy's, a provider's, and a hospital's -- each with different data about the patient's health, but none can share that information with the others. Portals are limited and aren't user-friendly. "It's not enough just to have a portal," says Monique Levy, vice president of research for Manhattan Research. "A portal must be well run." Doctors also not happy with current CRM offerings.

Solution

We are not planning yet to create a large portal, but our applications will serve as a portal and connect doctor and his patients and prospects via mobile applications.

We create high quality mobile apps that enhance doctor/patient relationships and help doctors to do better job of monitoring patients.

Inspire practice changing trends where doctors start to “prescribe” their licensed apps to patients and prospects.

Our Mantra

Increase quality of life for physicians and their patients and let doctors do their jobs easier

Market Size

Plastic surgery has $13Bl revenue with 5% growth and medical spa market makes 2.6 Bl with 14% of growth every year.

There are no companies with a dominant market share in the plastic surgery, dental, dermatology, and medical spa software. Nexttech.com is the largest player. Their price for CRM is $600 per months, they have 18,000 accounts, but doctors are not happy because software is lacking features and integration and a company does not want to do any new features. There is also an market opportunity.

Demand for plastic surgery and medical spa has been on the rise thanks to factors including the aging population, favorable public perception and technological advances. More people will need tools that will help them manage their businesses.

Competition

Mobile Apps - Today iPhone app will cost $15,000 if you hire a developer. There are number of iPhone and mobile providers that offer cheaper self-service solutions where doctors will need to set their apps themselves. This is not what busy doctors want, they rather let a company to manage the system and even to eventually update content.

Biggest player who creates just mobile applications - is mobileroadie.com - their pricing is too high for customers - they charge from $8,000 for creating a basic application. They also charge monthly $99 per month for iPhone and Android apps and $299 for iPad app.

Our pricing will be about $2,000 for building the application, and 50 dollars monthly for hosting client's application. We will both provide self-service mobile application platform and manage this service for the client. 


Social Media

Doctors and patients are flocking on Social Media. Social media Websites for doctors, patients, and medical researchers are exploding in popularity. Members use smartphones, tablets, or desktop computers to securely connect with nearly any US physician and collaborate on patient care or find the right medical expert for a patient.

The other competitor of ours is bigcommerce.com - the company provides ecommerce template website and mobile website, but they do not offer native mobile applications like we do. They also provide marketing tools that most of the plastic surgeons whom we interview are using it. They charge 24.95 per month for MVP and the max price is $299.95. We are planning to introduce template websites as well, and we can find ways to structure pricing policy better.

CRM - Nexttech.com provides patient management sofware for plastic surgeons and all functions are following HIPPA compliant standards. We build our system following HIPPA compliance and we can offer easier to use software.

There are other competitors - Patientnow.com and carecloud.com who provide practice management for cosmetic surgery, dermatology.

An avarage price for CRM is $600 per months, and a largest player has 18,000 doctors using it, but doctors are not happy because it is lacking features and integration and a company does not want to improve the offering. There is also a further market opportunity for us.

Business Model

Today we are looking for strategic partners and sales and plastic surgeons and medical spa practitioners who want to be first testers will get their applications for free with one year hosting in return for the reviews and feedback and referrals.

Bootstraping model starting with real world. Each account will generate 1,200 intiation fee + $30 a month. 1200+360=1560.

8 sales people can make 10 calls a day and get through to a prospect. There are 240 working days per year. Each successful sale brings $1560 per year.

5% of sales calls will convert within 3 months.

10 calls per/day x 240 days/year x 5% success rate x $1560/sale x 8 sales people = 10/1 x 240/1 x 5% x 1560/1 x 8 = $1,497,600.00


Recurring revenue 2st year - 10/1x 240 x 5% x 360 x 8 = 345,600

Sales people will make = 10/1 x 240/1x 5% x 500/1x 8 =480,000


We pay sales people $500 per sale, so based on projections each sales will make $60,000. 
We have a tolerant group of customers (3 plastic surgeons) who are willing to be guinea pigs

How We Generate Revenue

  • Continue selling and building mobile apps
  • Recurring income, $360 dollars per app per year
  • Transaction income - $1 dollar will be charged for each in-app purchase
  • Advertising income - when we will have over 200 apps with large numbers of downloads

Marketing & Sales

  • Recurring revenue
  • Word-of-mouth advertisement
  • PR via connections with newspapers
  • Presentations at local meetups and industry conferences

Management Team

Lisa Smirnova - CEO, 22 years of management consulting and business management experience. Handles of the responsibility of dozen of employees, great attention to detail.

Andrii Kurinnyi - VP of Technlogy, off-scale programming talent created a number of successful software products. A lead programmer with over 10 years of experience developing successful software, managing technical products, developing and leading teams. Andrew has advanced degree in math and computer science from a prestigious university in Ukraine. He also has degree in Business Administration with concentration in Finance and Marketing Certificate from UCLA Extension. Andrew does both front end and back end. Andrew has extreme enthusiasm for creating something new.

Advisors

Dr. Roy Kim - celebrity plastic surgeon, well respected in the industry, gives a lot of presentations; knows what features are missing from current software plastic surgeons use and how to advertise and sell to other doctors

Nadine Curias - PhD in Marketing and Advertising Managed all advertising, communications and promotional programs resulting in new product introductions and increased consumer, brand and corporate awareness. Managed multiple advertising accounts including Sheba, Caesars World, Park Place Entertainment, Taisho Pharmaceuticals.

Peter Kraus, - Sales Consultant; teaches at UCLA Extension

Our Employees

Anatolii Kucheruck - PostreSQL guru (since 1996) and he also programs in Django/Python (3 years) and Objective C (6 months). He supports applications, and works on system administration and database development, automates software as a service.

Olya Drobitko - Creative Director

Current Status, Next Steps & Demo

MarpaSoft LLC is Los Angeles agency specializing in creative design, custom web and iOS application development.For over 4 years, we help companies create better websites, services and online products.

We have launched over 120 native iPhone apps

We take the best shot with a prototype, immediately get it to the market, and iterate quickly

We are currently looking for plastic surgery offices and medical spas to offer free prototypes in iPhone and validating business ideas.

Please, contact us if you have a business propositions, have comment, want to know more. The market is growing and if you are good at sales, you will find an excellent opportunity.

Posted by lisa
Categories: Business Entrepreneurship