MOBILE PLATFORM – WHY SMALL BUSINESSES SHOULD USE IT

It is estimated that 70% of the Australian population view their emails on their mobile. This indicates that the majority of us use our mobile devices for communication, collaboration, viewing contents and research.

Reach Millions

The recent change in consumer behaviour has flattened the playing level field for small businesses and corporates alike for reaching millions of users via the mobile platform.

Anywhere, Anytime

Our customers are no longer sitting at home watching TV and reading the newspaper, instead they are out and about, travelling, working from remote locations and demanding that their files and contents should go with them wherever they are.

It has become critical for service providers, enterprise and small businesses to empower their staff and make applications and contents available anywhere anytime via mobile platforms.

Remote Workforce

Imagine your sales team having access to all the tools and information while they are on the road or talking to customers face to face and they are be able to view the current stock levels, issue invoices and post an order right there and then?

If your mobile app is integrated with your backend system your staff can enter data and send updates instantly without them needing to send document attachments via emails. This improves efficiency and saves time and cost.

Advertising and Marketing

In today’s digital world we reach out to our customers via a number of social and online channels, most small businesses have already discovered the power of newsletters and email marketing, however there are only a few of us who take advantage of the mobile platform.

With email and digital marketing there is no guarantee that your customer will read the email newsletter or your blog or visit your page to see the updates. With the mobile platform it is guaranteed that your customer will get the updates as it is works in a similar fashion to getting your notification updates for What’s App or Skype.

Mobile platform has lot to offer and we have only just scratched the surface, there is huge potential for small businesses to utilise this platform and get the competitive advantage.

YZM Technologies is a Perth based Software Company specialising in building custom software, databases and mobile apps and helping small businesses achieve better results by optimising business processes.

MEETUPS AND NETWORKING DO YOU REALLY LIKE IT

If you are a small business owner and don’t like meetups and networking you are missing out on opportunities for sure. What about if you are somebody who is a bit reserved and doesn’t have the outgoing personality like many around you?If we look around we find there are two types of personalities, there are those who can join a group conversation and start talking to everybody as if they are their childhood friends and then there are those who have the “odd one out” feeling when they join a group and feel either they don’t have anything to say or don’t know what to say.So what about if you are one of the second type of person? Here are few tips to help you out.Take somebody with you

If you are going to a networking event find a friend who can join you there, it is always easier to start the conversation with people you already know. Most of the time you will get introduced to others in a group and they will take the lead so just follow the conversation and enjoy the company.

Start smaller groups

Another tip is to start with a smaller and informal networking group where the atmosphere is causal and friendly, there are number of meetups available on meetup.com or you may ask around to find a causal and informal networking group to start your networking journey.

Get professional help

It may not be a bad idea to attend a seminar or a training event to help you build your confidence. There are number of experts including Paula Smith and Melinda Brennan who specialise in this field and will be happy to help you build your confidence and tweak the message you are trying to get across.

Hire a sales person

Another option to consider is to hire a causal sales person who can take care of the networking and PR responsibilities, they can join you in networking and client meetings. There are number of businesses who charge an hourly rate for hiring a sales professional on an on-demand basis.

Summary

No matter what type of business you are in, business networking plays a key role in getting new customers and getting the message across. Above are some the tips that can help you start your networking journey.

YZM Technologies
 is a Perth based Software Company specialising in building custom software, databases and mobile apps and helping small businesses achieve better results by optimising business processes.

CLIENT REPORTING A TEDIOUS BUT IMPORTANT TASK

A lot of us need to prepare client reports on a regular basis and we use spreadsheets and word documents to copy/paste paragraphs and photos and send them to each client manually?Or you are someone who spends most of their time managing complex financial spreadsheets and producing pretty reports and graphs for management meetings or sending it to clients?Have you ever considered automating this tedious and repetitive task?With the growing trend of mobile and cloud computing we now have access to better tools and technologies to help us out with these repetitive and tedious tasks. There are many off the shelf products that integrate with your CRM as well as the accounting package and produce complex reports and graphs with a few clicks.Another option to consider would be to custom build a reporting tool that can extract information from multiple sources including your inventory system, staff timesheets and various financial spreadsheet and combine them all in one place and generate pretty reports and graphs with a few clicks.

The additional benefit of using a custom build tool would be that you would be able to share it between your staff and clients. You may want to build a custom dashboard for each client and give them access to login and see all their reports online. This will take away the need for sending large Excel, Word and PDF files via emails.

I know you would be asking yourself how much it is going to cost to build a custom reporting tool? Well, it is true that custom software development is not a cheap exercise, however if you calculate how many hours you or your staff spend each week/month, you will soon realise that investing in a customised solution will pay off its cost very quickly.

Some of the processes and reports that are ideal candidate for automation

1)      Inspections and Job completion reporting

2)      Financial reporting and spreadsheets

3)      Project and task status reporting

Summary

There is no doubt that client reporting is one of the most important aspect of our jobs, it is a tedious and repetitive task that needs to done on daily, weekly, monthly and quarterly basis. If you are looking at achieving best results in your business you should look at investing in an off the shelf product or building your own reporting tool.

YZM Technologies is a Perth based Software Company specialising in building custom software, databases and mobile apps and helping small businesses achieve better results by optimising business processes.

JOB MANAGEMENT, YOU ARE NOT USING A SPREADSHEET, RIGHT ?

If you are in the service industry and have a few staff members, you could be a repair shop or a commercial cleaning service, a massage therapist or a building inspector, you need to manage bookings, staff availability, track hours and most importantly send invoices on time to get paid sooner.If you are using a spread sheet and an outlook calendar to track your bookings and staff appointments then please read on as there are more efficient ways to manage this.

Accounting Package Add-ons

The first option to consider would be to look for add-ons for your accounting package. If you are a traditional MYOB user then there are number of options available includingServiceM8 and Smart Jobs. These solutions come with a mobile app and integrate directly to MYOB for invoicing. Their price starts from 50c a job or $20/user/month.If you are using Xero as your accounting package, WorkflowMax is a popular choice for your job tracking, it has a very easy to use interface and also comes with a mobile app. Their price ranges from $25 for a single user to $199 for unlimited users.

Mobile Workforce Management Solutions

If you have 10+ mobile workforce staff then you may consider using a fully featured mobile workforce management software like Syncroteam, Fleetmatics Work andConnect2Field.These products efficiently manage mobile workers, simplify their processes and optimise their costs. In addition to that they offer scheduling assistant dispatching, tracking and reporting capabilities.If you are already using a customer relations management software like Zoho or Sugar CRM you may want to discuss integration options with your CRM specialist as these tools have built-in support for job management and tracking.

Custom Software

Ok, so you have looked around and none of the job management software suits your needs, some are too complex, require constant attention in keeping it up to date or may be it just simply does not fit with your process. This is exactly the same situation when you want to buy a house, you look around, and you might like a house but the house is may be too big or too small, has low ceilings or no storage and has no garden or too many trees. This is when you need to decide whether to compromise and get the best what is out there or build your own.In the software world it is called custom software development which can be built exactly the way you want it. It will fit your process and can be customised according to your requirements.

Summary

If you are a small business and want to take advantage of the digital revolution it is recommended to use one of the off the shelf products to optimise your processes, however if you are not happy with the feature set offered by these off the shelf products, you can look at building your custom software solution.YZM Technologies is a Perth based Software Company specialising in building custom software, databases and mobile apps and helping small businesses achieve better results by optimising business processes.

LOOKING FOR CUSTOMERS UNDER THE LAMP POST ?

We have heard the story of a person looking for his car keys under the lamp post and when a passer-by asked him about the location where he lost them, his answer was that he lost them somewhere else but he is searching here because there is light here.The fact is when we try to find our customers in places where we feel comfortable we never find them. The first question to ask would be, who are our customers? Where do they hang out? What do they wear and eat? Who do they meet and are friends with? When we know answers to these questions it will become easier to understand our target audience and find places where we can target them.

Service and Care

Not all of us are gardeners but all of us know that if someone wants to grow a fruit tree, they need to start with a healthy seed, take care of it, shelter it from the hot sun and cold winter, water it as often as required and wait patiently for month and years until it becomes a fully grown tree and starts to give fruit.It takes time and constant care before you will see customers walking through your door, the point to learn is that you need to start with a healthy seed which is your product and service, apply the right amount of water and shelter, which is your marketing and customer service and wait patiently and you will see the result in months and years to come.

Sell vs. Solve

Has the thought ever crossed your mind why we don’t get emails, newsletters, phone calls from doctors and medical practitioners? We don’t seem to see any TV or radio advertisements? They never seem to go out in networking events to find patients? Or send marketing material to everybody? Or send bonus medicines to attract patients? Offer buy one get one free promotions? Why not?They don’t do all these activities because they are not trying to sell their services and products instead they have made it clear to everybody that they are solving our problems, they are there to help and share their knowledge and experience and we all know where to find them.

We can apply a similar principle to our business and our product and services, instead of selling we can focus on solving a problem for our target audience. We go out and help people in areas where we have knowledge and experience and we will see what goes around, comes around.

Summary

Understand your target audience and find them where you have lost them, offer service and care and be patient with achieving results and most of all don’t just sell but instead focus on solving a real problem.

YZM Technologies is a Perth based Software Company specialising in building custom software, databases and mobile apps and helping small businesses achieve better results by optimising business processes.

DRIVING FAST – NO HELMET – WOHOO !!

Yes, it is fun driving a motor bike without a helmet but as we all know when things go wrong it will really hurt but would you agree if I say most of us actually do the same in our daily lives? You may say NO, I don’t do that… let me try to prove it.Working with our computer and having no backup strategy in place is the same as driving fast without a helmet. When things go wrong it really hurts and while most of us still give luck a chance some of us are not that lucky and for those it is very painful when the hard disk starts to make strange noises.With storage being cheap as chips there is no reason to be worried about the cost and here are few tips that can help you decide what type of backup you need and what options are available.
Free File Backup

Most of us would have heard of Dropbox, it offers 2GB free storage but why limit yourself to 2GB? Take advantage of Google and Microsoft’s 15 GB free storage offer with One Drive andGoogle Drive The best way to utilise this space is to make a habit of saving your files in these folders instead of your local My Document folder. With this approach you will not only have a copy of your files when your hard disk dies but you can also access these files from any device or even online via your browser.

Image Backup

With file backup one of the disadvantages is that you can only backup your files not the programs you have installed on your computer. When switching to a new computer it takes long time to install all the software that was previously installed on your computer and the biggest pain is to keep track of all the product keys and activation that needs to be redone. To avoid all these hassles and glide through the switching phase one should look at using the image backup technique which takes a backup of everything on your hard disk including operating system and all the programs.Some of the popular software recommended by Lee Sanders from Computer Consultant Professionals are Macrium Reflect, Runtime DriveImage and Paragon Backup. He recommends using this backup technique for peace of mind.

Network Backup

The image backup produces large files which need to be stored somewhere. If you are a home based business then an external USB drive with 500 GB or more space is recommended. However if you are a small business then it is recommended to install a NAS (network attached storage). Some of the popular brands are Synology, Western Digital and Seagate.

Online Backup

Another option is to use an online service like CrashPlan or Carbonite . These are two online backup services that take all your files including complete hard disk image (if you choose to) and store on local storage (USB drive or NAS) and in the Cloud. There is an annual subscription fee involved for these services.

Summary

I have heard somebody saying act while you can because when things start to go pear shaped it is already too late.

YZM Technologies
 is a Perth based Software Company specialising in building custom software, databases and mobile apps and helping small businesses achieve better results by optimising business processes.

SHOULD I SAY NO OR SAY OK

We find ourselves in this situation quite often when a customer calls for a quote – as a business owner we are obliged to serve every call we receive even though we may guess the caller is just shopping around or a competitor and wants to get an idea how much we charge for the same product or service.Every job is different and there is no fixed formula, however most of us go with the material + time combination and work out the price by the adding up the material cost and hourly rate.When the customer gets the price his reaction often is “But I can get cheaper somewhere else” or “This is way too much and/or doesn’t fit within our budget” and so on.  At this point in time we find ourselves in a tricky situation and we need to ask ourselves whether we should say “Sorry but this is the best I can do” or should we say “Ok I will match the price” and give a discount or revisit the quote?Every business is different and most of us learn this with experience. It also depends on the type of work or service we provide. The following are a few tips we can use to decide whether to say “No” or “Ok”

1- Future referral

It is important to gauge whether the caller is an important lead or it can be used as a reference point for sales and marketing. If the caller has a wide network or represents a networking group or an organisation where we would like to get our foot in the door, we should definitely consider giving a discount.

2- Time of the year

We all have targets and need to meet the quarterly or yearly deadlines, so if you find yourself in a situation where you are little short of meeting a sales target for the financial year then it is worth giving a discount and finishing high in the books.

3- Location

Location is another important aspect. If your are operating in an area and want to expand to another location and the caller is from the new location then it is a good opportunity to expand your reach and give a discount to secure the job.

4- Risks

One should always calculate the odds for the job, for example material shortage, location, weather and other external aspects, caller personality, past experience etc. If the job poses a great risk then it might be worthwhile not to get involved.

There are plenty of other points to consider when quoting, however above are just few quick tips to help you out.

YZM Technologies is a Perth based Software Company specialising in building custom software, databases and mobile apps and helping small businesses achieve better results by optimising business processes.

I’VE GOT AN IDEA – WHAT DO I DO?

We live in a digital world surrounded by intelligent devices, sensors and mini robots that make our life easier and take away the pain of repetitive and boring day to day tasks.It’s not surprising that our mind always looks for those areas where we can make our life even easier and more interesting. This means every now and then we have light bulb moment, bing!! Yes, if this can be done it will save so much time or make so many people happy. An idea is born.When an idea is born we get all excited but unfortunately most of us stop right there, soon a good idea becomes too hard followed by not so cool and then washes away from our memory.
For those who want to go a step further, here are few tips

1.  Market Research

Most of the time our idea is not unique, this means a product or service is already available in the market. The first thing we should do is to hit Google, see if somebody else had a similar idea, collect info from as many sources as possible and see if this idea is unique or at least not overcrowded with products and services.

2.  Validate the idea

If the idea has got legs and there is a market for it, then it is the time to find customers who will buy this product. This is called idea validation. This is the most important part of the puzzle, if not done correctly, it will cost you time and money down the track.

3.  Find resources/ a partner

Now is the time to get serious and do something about your idea, you need to find some time, some investment, most likely it will be your saving and if you are not a domain expert for your idea, find a partner or friend who can share the dream and complement your skillset.

4.  MVP (minimum viable product)

This is where a lot of first timers get it wrong, when building a product or service, they waste valuable time and resources on not so important things i.e. logos, colour scheme, letter head etc. The goal should be to get a usable product with less features out of the door as soon as possible and get market feedback.

5.  Be Patient and Be Realistic

The first few weeks and months will be hard, people who were excited before the idea was developed may not so excited anymore, it may seem like nobody wants the product or service. This is where one needs to be patient, collect market feedback and improve the product. Getting an idea to market is not that hard however, to make it successful requires long term commitment.

YZM Technologies is a Perth based Software Company specialising in building custom software, databases and mobile apps and helping small businesses achieve better results by optimising business processes.

SMALL BUSINESS AND SEO – DO IT YOURSELF

There were the days when small business didn’t need to have any online presence, a website or a facebook page, google+ or a twitter account.  But with growing consumer demand all traditional small businesses including coffee shops, hair dressers or accountants need to have decent presence on these channels. If the business is not presented well in the online market it is losing potential customers.We take our own example – we hear about a good restaurant and the first thing we do we hit Google and see what comes up, we look at the location, menu choice, prices and most importantly reviews and ratings by other customers.This shows that a small business with an online presence needs to make it a common practise to maintain their reputation, it is similar to a big sign board in front of the shop, if not present customers will walk right past and will not know about the business.The question is what are the simple things we can do to improve our presence online? The following few tips are not a complete marketing strategy but will be a good start:1. Google PlacesThe first thing one should consider is to register your business location with Google places. This will help customers find the business location on Google maps.

2. Social Media

If you haven’t already done it, you should consider creating all popular media accounts like facebook, google+, twitter and Linked in and create a page for your business, it is free and very easy to set up.

3. Back Links

If you have a website consider adding a blog section and post a blog at least once a week about a topic that interest your customers and copy that link to your all social media accounts.  Alternatively you can post it on your facebook page or Linked in page and tweet about it.

Most importantly, increase your social and professional network, your facebook friends, Linked in contacts and tweet followers.

YZM Technologies is a Perth based software company specialising in building custom software, databases and mobile apps and helping small businesses achieve better results by optimising business processes.

SHOULD I USE CRM FOR MY BUSINESS? – ABSOLUTELY

For all small business owners who love their Excel work book and use it for everything from maintaining the customer information, contact details, accounts, inventories, quotes and follow-ups it probably sounds a little strange that Excel is actually not the right tool for it.Imagine you need to run an advertising campaign and you want to send out a newsletter to all your customers. You can do it via your Outlook and use mail merge but what about if you want to know whether or not your customers opened your email? And clicked on a link provided in your newsletter? Also more importantly if someone wants to opt out from your email marketing campaign?This is where a CRM (Customer Relationship Management) system comes in handy, if configured correctly it will automate most of the tedious and time consuming tasks and better still it will give you insight into your marketing campaign.In addition to that CRM manages your leads, contacts, activities, follow ups and acts as a single source of truth when it comes to customer management. Once you link your emails to your CRM it will automatically record all correspondence between you and your customer, this means you don’t need to make folders in Outlook to keep track of correspondence.

What about cost? Well, with the recent adoption of Cloud based solutions we have a great choice and the flexibility to find a solution that best meets our needs. Starting from just $12/month Zoho CRM and Capsule CRM are the best options for any small business owner. If you want advanced functionality and automisation then Microsoft Dynamics for $65/month might be worth a look.

If your business requires integration with an existing system or custom workflow that is not supported by CRM, we will be happy to help you. At YZM Technologies we build custom software, web applications, mobile apps and we develop custom integrators.