BAU 2009 – Architecture, Materials and Systems

I am currently in Munich to catch up with some of our Cadimage Tools partners during the BAU2009 Trade Show.

To say BAU is enormous is an understatement – BAU 2009 is being held at the Munich Trade Fair Center and covers all 16 Exhibition Halls.

Not surprisingly all the big names in Architectural Software were there. More surprising for me was the number of other CAD solutions on offer.

However, BAU is more than just software and IT though it is all about Building and simply the sheer quantity of building products – from mail boxes to car stacking systems – was mind blowing.

During the show I got a chance to catch up with some more Kiwi’s on the FrameCAD stand – it was really great to catch up with another New Zealand company taking architectural software to the world. FrameCAD were very pleased with the response they were getting from the show – not only from German companies but companies from Turkey, Poland, Romania, Iran… the list goes on.

2009 – A Year of Opportunities

Firstly Happy New Year!

I always find it quite refreshing to start a New Year – quite often things you never managed to complete the previous year don’t seem quite as important when you are full of new ideas after a break away!

Following on from my suggestions regarding Xero’s Top 5 Success and Survival Tips for 2009 I saw the following NZ Herald article reinforcing my thoughts that during tough times it is important to keep your eyes open for opportunities. Incidentally Greg helped my companies develop our business strategy and is constantly keeping me focused on achieving our goals.

Shortly I am off overseas again to see what opportunities I can turn into reality for 2009.

Top 5 Success and Survival Tips for 2009

With a New Year fast approaching and most economic news regarding 2009 being negative Xero have launched a great little thread on their blog.

Top 5 Success & Survival tips for 2009: tell us yours

There are so far only a couple of comments but I am sure over the next few days there will be lots of insightful advice.

My comment was:

Stay positive! I believe state of mind is all important. It certainly doesn’t trump all business advice in tough times but helps keep things in perspective.
Remember sometimes the best opportunities are available in tough times so don’t stop looking out for them.
Remember that business should be fun, why get out of bed if you don’t feel positive and full of energy!
On top of this remember to keep a constant eye on cash and expenses – but you should be doing that anyway!

While I appreciate being positive won’t make all the bad news go away it certainly helps. It also gives you perspective regarding all the tough decisions that may need to be made along the way.

Anyway, go add your comments now…

Internet Advertising

Running an Internet Based Business certainly has it’s challenges and marketing / attracting customers is at the top of my list.

Many people have the notion that because the Internet is so far reaching that you have a market place on your door step. What you have is access to a market place but you still need to be found!

Also, using Google Adwords is not a silver bullet marketing strategy for web based businesses – it is an important piece in the strategy but not the be all and end all.

Another piece of the puzzle could be Banner Ads, however the following article provides some very interesting light on that subject:

What If You Ran an Ad, and Nobody Saw It?

The interesting thing about the article is that I didn’t even notice that I wasn’t looking at the ads until I forced myself to look at the ads!

The other interesting and encouraging thing is that paid search ads do work so I’ll keep using Google Adwords as a part of my marketing strategy.

Xero at the London Apple Store

During my recent trip to the UK and Hungary I was able to fit in Xero’s presentation at the London Apple Store.

I had only been in the UK for 2 hours but decided it was the best way to catch up with Hamish and the team and see how things were going for Xero in the UK.

I have visited the Apple Store on numerous occassions but had never really appreciated how BIG it was till I had to find the presentation area towards the back of level 1.

I am continually amazed at what happens in an Apple Store – at one level it is basically a large, free, Mac based internet cafe. People check their email, update their Facebook and one guy was sorting himself a date on Polish Dating UK!

Anyway, back to the Xero presentation. Hamish and his team did a great overview and it was fantastic to see this NZ Company getting a great response and positive feedback to their innovative accounting software (who would have ever thought those two words would be used together!)

The Apple Store presents a somewhat difficult environment as it is hard to determine exactly how many of the people in the presentation area are there for the presentation and how many just are using it as seat and some timeout in an otherwise chaotic environment!

All I know is that Hamish believed the event to be a great succcess and is likely to do it again in the near future.

For any of you running a small business I definitely recommend Xero – currently available in NZ, the UK and soon AUS!

Business Planning – Make the Time!

Over the last three months the directors of The Cadimage Group have invested significant time into reviewing and renewing our business strategy.

While the cost of doing this, both in $ and time, is significant I can’t recommend it more highly.

As a small business owner there is the constant trap of getting caught in the busy’ness of business. As I have heard many times you have to “work on you business not in your business.”

To help us with this process we used Helen and Greg Cross of Cross Ventures. They bring an immense amount of knowledge and experience to the table and effectively we “chewed the fat” for a couple of days talking about our business and where it could go. Helen then put together a comprehensive overview of where we are and where we want to go along with a great financial model.

Having undertaken this process I found a huge amount of clarity in what we are doing and when attending the Morgo conference I found it easy to talk about what we do and where we are going.

I was pleasantly surprised to also be congratulated by a number of people for actually taking the plunge and investing in our strategic plan. To me, having completed the exercise it seems so logical to have done it, but again it is easy to get caught in the day to day running of your business and failing to come up for air and see where you are going.

Helen and Greg provide an awesome service and are there to check up on us as we move along our path so it is now time to start implementing and constantly reviewing.

On reflection my only regret is not doing this sooner!

Morgo 08 – Segways and Jetpacks

I was fortunate to be invited to Morgo 08 an extremely rewarding experience where I was able to rub shoulders (network) with some of NZ’s best entreprenuers along with invisted guests from around the globe.

Jenny Morel, the founder of No8 Ventures and the Morgo concept, in a pre-event article in Unlimited magazine explained that she is always a little nervous in the lead up to Morgo and that she uses the noise level at the first networking dinner to determine if the event will be successful. Well the noise at ALL meals was almost deafening and I certainly sum up the overall event as a wonderful success.

Glenn Martin’s presentation regarding his recently released Jetpack was an amazing example of someone who has put his life into an idea. It was just a pity his jet pac was still stuck in the USA somewhere.

As always, the Segways proved popular and there was more than a little NZ/Aussie competitiveness when Scott Farquhar from Atlassian got up and going.

Photo courtesy of Morgo 08
Photo courtesy of Morgo 08

One of the main ‘rules’ at Morgo is “that everything that is discussed at Morgo stays at Morgo” This allows everyone to get a huge amount of value by being confident they can share commercially sensitive information in a forum where ideas can be explored freely and everyone has valuable input to offer.

That said, there have been a number of items published recently that follow on from the Morgo Conference:

Tech investor plans $100m fund to give start-ups a lift

Kiwi enterprise must graduate from bronze to gold

The National Business Review, Friday 5 September. By Mark Peart
Page 8.

Putting a rocket under the economy

The National Business Review, Friday 5 September. By Mark Peart
Page 8.

Jetpack looks to military for takeoff

The National Business Review, Friday 5 September. By Mark Peart
Page 7.

NZTE – Export Grant

Today I received confirmation that Cadimage Solutions have received  the NZTE Enterprise Development Grant – Market Develpoment for a second year.

This grant matches our Marketing Spending $ for $ (up to a limit) and is helps us develop our Cadimage Tools export business.

Running an online business and attraching customers is a challenging exercise. Having the support NZTE allows us to travel and meet customers and partners worldwide.

In the 8 months of this year we have already doubled last years sales and this can be directly attributed to the support with have received from NZTE.

Applying for a Grant of this nature is a challenge in itself which is why we used Helen Cross of Cross Ventures. For a small success fee Helen takes care of the entire application process and makes the process a breeze.

If you are New Zealand Export business make sure you maximise your investment by partnering with NZTE.