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…

Student Award Season

It’s that time of year again when academia celebrates another year of study and dishes out a number of prizes to students.

This year Graphisoft New Zealand have become the Principle Sponsor of the NZIA Graphisoft Student Design Awards – for this year and the next 3 years.

This sponsorship represents a sizable investment for a company of Graphisoft New Zealand’s size but I am sure we have made more than a few students happy.

Two nights ago we had the major Prize Giving where 4 students from each of Auckland University, Unitec and Wellington University competed to win a $5,000 cash prize along with an overseas trip.

Last night we handed out $10,000 in prizes to 16 students from across the first four years of study at the Unitex ScALA.

Tonight we do the same at the Auckland University School of Architecture and Planning.

Of all the Sponsorship, Advertising and Marketing we undertake, this exercise will be the hardest to quantify from a success/return point of view, but I can easily see that the money is going in a deserving direction.

I was never a good enough Architecture Student to come close to winning prizes of this nature – probably why I moved more into the technology side of Architecture. However, that said I know the money will be well received – even if some or all of it is spent on alcohol – and I am pleased Graphisoft has been able to support the New Zealand Student Community in this way.

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.

I’m moving to Australia…

Actually I’m not but when I first heard about the following topic I simply couldn’t believe the state of our nation.

As I am sure many of you do as well, I love a great shower! Or more accurately I detest a weak shower.

To hear about the proposed changes that will place limits on the flow rate of showers just seems that as a country we are continually focussing on small details and not big issues.

I can understand the need to conserve water and electricity etc but making allowable shower flow rates a law is one step too far!

You can read about the proposal in the NZ Herald.

The following comment in the article certainly sums up my thoughts:

“Does this Government have a mandate to mess around with our lives to this degree?” one blogger wrote. “We can’t smack our kids, now we can’t bathe them as we see fit either?”

I have heard some other intereasting thoughts/ideas regarding Sustainability based on experiences during my recent trip to ArchiCAD University in the UK. I will share those in another post soon.

iPredict – NZ Predictions Market

With the two major news topics in NZ currently the Financial Market Turmoil and the upcoming NZ General Election the following website is of particular interest.

iPredict is New Zealands first real money predictions market. At a time when everyone is debating whether the current market should be left to sort itself out (as general theory suggests it would) or should be bailed out it interesting to observe what is, from my point of view, a new type of market.

Prediction Markets have actually been around since 1988 and harness the wisdom of crowds.

Like a stock market, stocks can be bought and traded and based on this trading a price for a predication is established that represents the crowds wisdom.

The majority of the current ‘stocks’ on iPredict deal with our upcoming election. Even if you don’t want to become a trader it does provide some interesting insight.

Research shows that Prediction Markets have a very high success rate and from an election point of view the reasoning for this is:

Prediction markets beat political polling for two reasons. First, they ask the right question. Pollsters ask who you will vote for. Prediction markets ask who is going to win. Second, prediction market traders put money where their mouths are, so it pays to do a little homework.

iPredict is owned by Victoria Link Ltd, itself wholly owned by Victoria University of Wellington, and the Institute for the Study of Competition and Regulation (ISCR), also in Wellington. Our primary purpose is academic research.

While iPredict allows traders to make money I have found it just as interesting to monitor the stocks without actually yet purchasing.

Check out the website for more information and to sign up if you are keen to trade!

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!

Great Coffee and Old Friends in London

Like most Kiwi’s I appreciate a good coffee which leads to one of my pet hates regarding travelling! There are very few places that make a coffee as well as my local cafe Bar Italia, Takapuna.

Having been in London for the last few days I made it my mission to hunt out Flat White a kiwi-run coffee shop in Soho – winner Independent Coffee Bar of the Year in the UK 2007 – Project Cafe07.

So there I was standing in line waiting to order a long awaited Latte and low and behold, in Soho, London I am standing behind William Tozer, an old friend from my days studying Architecture at Auckland University.

What a coincidence! William was recently featured in Architecture NZ as after having completed his studies he has been practicing Architecture in London for the last 12 years. Having read the article, I had thought I should look him up if I got the chance!

During the short wait for my coffee William and I caught up on 12 years!

The coffee and the catch up were both superb and I strongly recommend all Kiwi Coffee Lovers in London to make a visit to Flat White – you never know who you may bump into!

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!

Google Chrome – Create application shortcuts…

Google’s new browser Chrome was released today and while I haven’t had a great deal of time to put it through it’s paces I have certainly found it fast and like some of it’s features.

While traditional applications still exist there are an ever increasing number of web applications available.

Google Chrome provides a nice feature to allow you to Create application shortcuts…

This allows you to browse to a web application – take Xero for example – and have a short cut produced for your Desktop, Quick Launch Bar or Start menu.

Once the short-cut has been created you now simply click it to launch the application in a browser window without all the browser interface (address bar, bookmarks etc)

All good!