Archive for the ‘Business’ Category

History of the London Stock Exchange – Lotus Magma.

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Those of us who work full time and are involved in ventures or run side businesses may have experienced what I am about to talk about.

I have an acquaintance that runs a carpet cleaning business in addition to their day job. Colleagues of the day job, friends and family will of course approach them and ask for favourable discounts or ‘mates rates’. Most of the time this acquaintance will offer the discounts without question, however recently they have received some negative replies, even when the discounts are bordering on a break-even price.

“I’d be fine with ‘let me think about it and I’ll come back to you’ but to come back and say my prices are too high when they are lower than the competition is just not on….” they told me.

I have had a look at the pricing structure along with the competition, and I think this person is right to get annoyed. The original price was reasonable let alone the ‘mates rates’ and it got me thinking about my experiences.

To sum it up, I believe that my friend the carpet cleaner is not being seen as a carpet cleaner, but more of a dabbler.

I have gone through the same thing, only I am involved in so many ventures that people actually get confused with what I do as a day job (its e-discovery consulting in legal technologies if anyone is confused by the way). Overall it seems that unless you convey that you are actually qualified and experienced in your sideline business then people, even close friends and colleagues will not take you seriously.

But why is this the case?

This is where I usually get impatient and say because people can be narrow minded, and thanks to the mobile technology industry people no longer look further than their noses (because that is where their phones are), but acting with a little but more professionalism, I know this may not always be the case.

So when this happens to you, at what point do you reply with a not so subtle answer?

Well most will say that you should always reply well mannered and with a sense of professionalism, but I suppose it does depend on who you are talking to.

This is easier to convey to family members and daily colleagues, but people forget that what you are doing is more than a hobby, they forget about the overheads, your outgoings and that even with ‘mates rates’ a business needs to at least break even every time, even if there is no profit on that occasion. To be successful you need to avoid making a loss.

Now it is easy to pull up Facebook on your laptop and start typing a status update that will set people straight, however you have to look at the fact that as a result they may go elsewhere no matter how much of a discount you offer them.

If we look into this more deeply, a carpet cleaning business, will have more overheads than that of an online business. For example:

– Qualifications and Membership fees;
– Insurance;
– Chemicals;
– Equipment purchasing and maintenance;
– Fuel and a vehicle to get the equipment to the job; and
– Time!

Looking at the above realistically, do you think a bottle of wine will justify the time and effort it takes to clean a standard box room carpet? That is around 3-4 hours work alone and considering this business could be in line with full time work that is 25% of your weekend/rest days gone.

I was approached by a friend of a friend last year asking would I design, host and maintain a website. I looked at the details and quoted £110 which also included a discount for the lot bearing in mind that this was a car related website which could command a substantial amount of traffic depending on its target audience. They said it was too much and would I accept my car being professionally cleaned each year – I said no and if they went elsewhere they would probably be charged in the region of at least £350 – I may have also insinuated that I didn’t like being insulted – oopsie.

While we are on the subject of insulting responses, if a friend offers you ‘mates rates’ and they have said that it is the best they can do, then most of the time it is the best they can do. It is not nice to say things like “the discount is only £15, that’s not much!” Be thankful that you have a friend who is willing to offer a discount like that in the first place.

I won’t lie, it does bother me how much people want something for nothing nowadays like it is our deity given right, but when you walk into a supermarket, you have to pay for food. When you get on public transport you have to pay for the ride, when you seek any kind of service you have to pay for it – the only exception apart from discounted sales, or ‘mates rates’ is a grievance due to bad service.

Now while it is not really prudent to get wound up by a response, we need to look at this realistically and think before we speak. How would you feel if you put your heart and soul in to a business and then you were given responses like those above?

Not every tradesman is exceptional at what they do, but if they are your friend or acquaintance and you vouch for them, then surely they will not steer you wrong when offering you a service.

Here’s an oldie but a goodie, it is one that I have seen on many occasions and no matter where my career takes me I think I will always continue to see it time and time again.

When someone hasn’t learnt a piece of software, gadget, or new technology in general, do they blame themselves or the person who taught them?

Status Busy Now you may have guessed here that I am not referring to reading the instructions on how to use your iPad (do they have instructions?), my reference is more of the corporate sense. For example, if you work for a software house, technology company or in-house IT department.

For those of you who work in such environments you may have also experienced a person’s frustration when they want to use a new piece of software and feel that they have either not been trained properly or they just cannot grasp it, and this in addition to time restraints and general work-related stress often is a recipe for a disastrous outcome.

I was speaking to a friend the other day who had gone through something very similar recently. A lawyer had decided to use their company to provide some software to aid with one of their cases. The idea behind this software (without giving too many details away), was to save time as they had millions of documents to sift through – this is no exaggeration. However the lawyer had lost faith in the software because they just could not get to grips with it.

In this scenario we have to ask, was the cause of the problem due to inadequate training, or was it the lack of time dedicated by the lawyer to learn the software effectively, or was it a mixture of both?

In this case, I knew the full story and looking from the outside in, I would say that it was a bit of both. Knowing the software too, I don’t think the lawyer was pointed fully in the right direction, they could have been shown other functions that would have helped them further, but on the other hand, the lawyer was used to doing things a particular way and I think there was a lack of trust that an alternative way would have saved time.

It is a very difficult situation to be in, as whether it be an external client or someone in-house that you see most days, it is tricky to know whether anyone is to blame or perhaps everyone is at fault.

You have a person who is set in their ways and does not want to change even though it will hinder them, and as a results the frustration turns into panic which wastes more time when really if they had carried on down the path they were directed to do so in the first place, their work would be done by now….

OR there is the other situation where they have been guided the wrong way or perhaps not thoroughly enough. The instructions they have been given could have been catered better and then they become annoyed once they find this out, which again (and you guessed it), results in more wasted time.

I think there are a few good morals to this story though:

1) Even in a gadgetry world, people are still scared of technology;

2) If you see this situation happening, invite some outside eyes to help resolve it, you will find that this actually does save time; and

2) No matter how much you try and utilize time, try and plan ahead where possible. Everything may go swimmingly, but at the same time if you are dealing with technology you have to (and nearly everyone does not) account for technical problems, downtime and so on.

Glossy 3d blue hourglass no shadow

Even if it is a case of not willing to learn, lack of understanding, failure to teach, another key factor which always comes into play is good old communication. Communication is the key to most industries and I suppose we could easily say that if we communicate effectively then situations like the ones above do not happen – but I think we all know in reality they do no matter what we do – we just have to minimize the discomfort.

 

Why assumption is not always a good thing – Lotus Magma.

Why assumption is not always a good thing – Lotus Magma.