Thursday, November 26, 2009

There's Still Time!

Yes - that is definitely very encouraging to hear from a fellow entrepreneur who is further down the road than I am.

I'm 2 years into building my business to take over the world (really, think big right?) and it's great to hear that other entrepreneurs have struggled along the same path. In fact, the main idea of the session was that there's still time for entrepreneurs who are just starting out - it takes time to build great companies.

So here's some context for this post: I attended the Vancouver Enterprise Forum event 2 days ago and the speaker for the event was Mike McDerment (CEO and Co-founder of FreshBooks).

There were a couple things that stuck with me from his talk since some of those points are especially relevant to me right now.

1) Rebranding made a huge difference for their sales. They used to be called 2ndsite. Mike himself admitted that the name didn't do anything to differentiate themselves.

here's a reflection point for your own brand...if you told somebody your company name, would they know what you do for a living and does the brand name differentiate you from the other providers of the same product/service?

The reason I ask for both of these things is that if your company is PLUMBING COMPANY, it really doesn't differentiate you from the other plumbers. How are people supposed to refer you to others?

"Hey I know this PLUMBING COMPANY does great work." Do you think the potential customers can find you easily online with a name like that? It will have more results returned as when you look up Michael Jackson on Google.

2) Do you need Venture Capital? It made me think about my own business model. We've been on the lookout for funding and were actually pretty close to signing with angel investors in the past. Here's the thing, PeerFX is labor-intensive and actually does not require a huge capital investment up front. Even if we were to grow, the speed of growth would be dictated by sales coming in. Ie. More sales = need for more salespeople, customer service, servers, etc.

This means that we will be able to survive with a constant influx of operational capital support from the government, friends and family rounds, etc. Some up front cost that we will incur are marketing costs to get the word out, but we find that as start ups, the best way to grow is through word of mouth. These customers usually bring recurring transactions, which is what is needed to keep a business afloat.

Reflection point: Do you own a product/service that generates recurring sales? Ie. Do you sell refrigerators, where people buy one every three years? Or do you sell online software, where people pay a fee to use it every month? (of course another factor here is the durability of the product, where refrigerators is a durable product...)

How would that drive your customer service? For monthly recurring sales, it's likely that you will have to spend time getting in touch with your customers every month to make sure they know you're still around (you always, always want to be top of mind).

Anyway, there are more things I learned from the event but that's all for now - will continue this tomorrow. Stay tuned.

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