Seventhman Blog

  1. Want to Innovate? Create Problems First

    "innovative culture"If you’re not creating enough problems, you’re not pushing your business towards ultimate success.  Would you agree?  Good leaders are great at solving problems, but strategic leaders don’t simply solve – they create problems that push people to the edge of their limits.. to the point that it empowers the entire organization to move forward.  Besides, if you come to think of all the greatest innovation in our history, whether accidentally or meticulously discovered, you’ll see that they have all been born out of a serious need to solve a problem.  Taking this into account, if you feel that your business is plunging towards stagnation, maybe all you need is a serious challenge.

    What Motivates You?

    Remember that very first time a brilliant idea hit you like some meteor crashing on your head?  Do you even recall what it feels like the very first time you opened your business?  How excited were you? Most important, do you still feel that excitement?  When I started my first venture, it felt like I’m on a very important mission to Mars, seriously.  I want to solve problems through the power of coding and technology.  As years passed by and the business grew, I have to admit how I love the status quo that rocking the boat feels like something totally out of the question.  I just can’t risk it,  given these tough economic times.  I believe most business owners can relate to my experience.  As the adage goes, ‘if you’re not part of the problem, you’re part of a solution’. If I were to rephrase it then, if you’re not creating a problem – you’re not creating a sustainable solution; you’re just waiting for things to magically form out of thin air.

    Disruptive Innovation Starts With Disrupting Your Mindset

    You’ve probably heard of the ‘Fail Fast’ concept and the idea behind it is to embrace failure as a journey to success.  Makes sense for some and for others, a hot topic for debate.  But why would you even risk failure when things are working just fine?  Suddenly, you start to scratch your head as you see this new competitor shining so bright it threatens the very existence of your business.  Your brand suddenly feels like a commodity, your bottom line is shrinking and your top people are disconnected with your company’s goals.  In fact, you’ve got more brainpower right now as you’re surrounded by A-level management and you begin to wonder why nobody’s speaking up each time you have a brainstorming session.  What’s the problem?  You.. or them?

    Building a Culture of Problem-Solvers

    You might agree with me or not: Entrepreneurs who are good at problem solving are best equipped in solving their customers’ pain points effectively.  In the era of rapid changes, creating an innovative culture is not a choice; it is a MUST if you want your business to thrive longer.  How can you adjust your expectations so you can motivate your people to take more risks.. with minimal damage?  How can you reposition your company in your industry?  The answer is simple: Stop Micromanaging.  Treat each team player as a decision maker and give them the tools to solve real problems. Get everyone involved in the planning process and you’d be amazed, after all these years, at all those awesome ideas shared and people are super-excited to add value to the table. It worked for me which I’m totally grateful for…and I’d say that passion trumps experience all the time.

    What are you waiting for then?  You won’t know unless you try…

     

     

  2. Do You Have a Million Dollar Software Idea?

    "software idea"You’ve got an idea. Great!  How do you know if it’s a good one?  There lies the problem among many who are wanting to build a viable software that will sell.  When great ideas are a dime a dozen, so the adage goes, it’s crucial for you to find that million dollar idea (as mentioned on this post from Forbes)  You may have a brilliant idea.. but you want to minimize the risk of getting your startup ready.  If you’re like one of the many who ended up with piles of ideas scribbled on a cocktail napkin, of concepts that never saw the light of day, you’re in for a treat.  I’m here to help you avoid this worst-case scenario where your idea crashes and burns.

    The Myth Busters of Idea Generation

    Just because you’re the boss doesn’t mean you’re always right.  Building your software idea from scratch will start with an awesome coding team.  While adopting the Agile concept of Intelligent Fast Failure where you fail smart, fail small and fail fast so you can succeed faster may help – you have to optimize your ego and take an objective stance in every stage of the software development process.  The key here is to listen to feedback and look at the numbers presented from all the data researched about your idea’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats.  In short, make that S.W.O.T. analysis count.  Don’t be tempted to mimic the best out there and play it safe.  If everyone’s doing it,  how can you even offer value to the table?  While no argument is right or wrong, you don’t have to disrupt just to innovate.  Most of the time, the most innovative applications of them all are the simplest to use.

    What is the Market Potential of Your Software Idea?

    It might be a shocker to you that majority of businesses fail within five years of starting up.  After all, you want to come up with a software that sells.  You may be on a bootstrapping mode right now and don’t have the time to do proper market research which can be costly.  The Good News?  You can always ask and collect feedback from social media sites – so long as you do it with style.  If you think that email marketing is dead, you might try to reconsider this option.  The trick here is to tie it up with a squeeze page or ‘launching soon’ page that will collect email signups before you even come up with the finished product.  You may even send exclusive invites.  Your job is not only to create anticipation about your product, but testing which approach will work best.  By the time you’re done, you have already built a list of customers on your wait list.  Or, you can always google trends and take down notes.

    You Don’t Need Coding Skills to Start a Successful Business

    You might have heard a lot of debates on this topic online and there are those who will tell you that knowing every aspect of the software development stage is essential.  But here’s what they forgot to tell you – coding is both a science and art, where the very best of us have taken more than a decade of practicing our craft and yet, we’re learning something new each time.  Coming up with a good idea means making sure that there is a market for it, or else, you’re just be wasting time and money.  You might not agree with me here, but when business ideas fail –  it’s not really because the concept is bad, but the execution is.  Knowing who your customers are and solving their pain points should be your No. 1 priority. Your passion and commitment will be tested.

    There’s a good chance that you might fail.. and then, there’s a greater chance that you will succeed.  Do you need help getting there?  Let’s Talk!

     

     

     

  3. An Open Invitation to Innovate Processes, Not Products

    "innovation strategy"We can’t deny the impact of mobile and cloud technologies on how we work these days.  As flexibility becomes the new normal, organizations become more agile in making sure that everyone is productive, even in the changing nature of the work place.  Indeed, this ‘work anywhere’ mentality has empowered businesses, big or small, in North America and beyond.  With changing work styles comes an open invitation to innovate where collaboration is concerned.  What’s keeping us from building something better then?

    The Biggest Obstacle in the Tech World

    A global research conducted by Citrix shows that one in five small businesses in the US, Canada and Australia are achieving productivity gains of over 30% by allowing people to work whenever, wherever and however they choose.  Almost half agreed that social collaboration drives better results, and widespread accessibility to quality technology helps people and businesses collaborate better.  Still, there are plenty of room for improvement where the tech community is concerned… if only people will trust each other to come up with ideas that will help solve pain points where work is concerned.  Problem is, exposing your ideas in the open invites others to steal them.  To create healthy competition that will encourage innovative juices to flow is still a work-in-progress.. for the same reason we still see under-developed applications and intellectual property violations.

    Developing an Innovation Strategy that Works

    From the inception of the buzzword, everyone is out to ‘innovate’.  But most of the time, they often end up having an unclear vision on developing and executing an innovation strategy that works.  In the race to come up with the next big thing, many businesses are lost when it comes to their real purpose.  In the middle of the race, you start looking at your product/service as another ‘me too’ copy of the best thing out there.  Before you know it, what you invented becomes another book collecting dust on a shelf.  To come up with a bright idea shouldn’t only be something that you’re passionate about, but it must also be grounded in reality.  It must be adaptive.  You have to measure your success rate and minimize risks.  Think of possibilities as you connect the dots between ideas so you can come up with a fully-scalable solution..

    Emerging Technology vs. Disruptive Technology

    To Be, You Have to Become.  Confusing, I know.  What I meant here is that if you want to be a startup, you have to think and act like one.  For the same reason that you want to come up with consumer applications banking strongly on user experience, you have to become someone who can deliver just that – to come up with something that’s technologically feasible, business viable, and humanly desirable.  It won’t really matter if you’re working with emerging technology, of new and reliable ones.. or build something disruptive that will shift how people will collaborate in the new workplace.  What’s important is your commitment in making sure that you come up with something that will generate profit – because the survival of your business depends on it.

    Are you ready to come up with something innovative and useful this time?  I’m leaving you with this question.

     

     

     

  4. Business Automation: The Only Way to Move Forward

    "business automation"How many years have you been in business?  After all this time, have you optimized your processes to make sure you run things efficiently?  It might surprise you, but there’s a vast majority of entrepreneurs out there who are running their businesses.. the brick-and-mortar way.  I even know of someone who still keeps his inventory in pen and paper because it has been convenient all along.  I asked him if he might consider changing things to digital and there’s a puzzled look on his face as he replied: “Why should I even do that when this system worked for us all these years?”  I can only imagine if he starts automating some of these cycles, like the invoices and order shipment.. the time saved can be used for growing other aspects of the business.

    When Change is Inevitable

    While there is a fast migration of software applications, digital has become the new norm.  With big data getting bigger each day, those who haven’t made the switch are losing opportunities.  The rule is simple: Whatever your business is, you  must convert to digital.  It’s a smarter move to improve internal and external business processes, integrate systems, manage huge volumes of data – and modernize all applications pertaining to your enterprise.  This will not only save you valuable time, but it also helps improve your relationships with your customers.  Because it will be easier for them to contact you through various digital touch points, it will also push for a positive customer experience.. leading to a good word-of-mouth about your business and increasing your brand visibility on the Web.  The only hurdle to achieving this is your irrational fear of change.

    The Case of Business Automation Explored

    Are there repetitive tasks that will benefit from automating certain steps?  Imagine getting a call from client x and you have to retrace previous transactions your team had with this person.  You check your archives, flipping folders until you found the file.  After this interaction, you fill up details in the form like what the rest of these paper files look like.  How much time it took you to do just that?  Things would have been simpler and quicker if you can retrieve data by entering the person’s first and last name – wouldn’t it?

    If there’s one thing you need to know about computers and software, it’s this:  They do NOT define your business.  Instead, they complement it.  These eight reasons should be enough for you to consider automating your business processes:

    1.  Automation is a great shortcut for routine work.
    2.  You get to help the environment by getting rid of all ( or almost all ) of the paperwork in the office.
    3.  Having a bird’s eye view of your business is now possible so you can stay updated with progress at every level.
    4.  Tracking and managing project workflow is now easier, ensuring that you deliver quality product/service all the time.
    5.   Getting rid of double entry in most forms when you can access the same info in your computer
    6.   Having document templates and macros will help your employee work faster
    7.  File management is a breeze – helping you quickly access and store accurate data
    8.  You can minimize human error through smart programming that will send out an alert to your team when they haven’t correctly filled the form

    Automating One Bite at a Time

    The next time someone asks you how you can eat an elephant in one sitting, tell that person you will do so.. one bite at a time.  Likewise, check which department has the highest clutter that you would want to automate in your business.  For example, if you are offering yearly subscriptions, ask someone to design a system for you that will automatically generate a sales tickler based on renewal dates – so you can send timely reminders or promotional.  Without such a system, you would normally have to track this manually with a spreadsheet.  You have to discover what your pain points are so you can ask for solutions that will merge your workflow processes.  You may ask your existing systems to be modified or you can start from scratch.  No matter, keeping things simple while meeting the needs of your business makes for a win-win situation.

    Are you struggling to figure out how you can seamlessly migrate from manual to digital?  Just ask and I’ll do my best to give you an answer.

  5. In the Karma Economy, Giving is Good for Your Business

    "corporate philanthropy"Giving is good for your business, someone told me.  I have almost forgotten about this until I have read this post from ABC with these words: ” Corporate social responsibility programs have the potential to make a huge difference to society. ”  I believe that when most of us started doing business, we wanted to make something better in our big or small ways.  As we progress with growing our business, experience gives us a harsh lesson otherwise in this dog-eat-dog world.  We have forgotten that noble goal we have as we set out measuring ROI to make sure we make profit with the quickest turnaround time.  You may have achieved a few milestones.  Somewhere along that road, have you ever thought of giving back to the community in some way?

    In the Karma Economy, Giving is Good

    Last March, I have shared with you my thoughts on Employee Appreciation Day.  This time, I will take you to that feel-good factor, of giving where it counts.  Is it really a coincidence that top brands out there get ahead by being generous?  Let’s take out the spiritual aspect of things and just focus on Physics.  If you can recall, we’ve been taught that for every action, there’s an equal and opposite reaction.  If you have watched the movie, ‘Pay It Forward’.. you’ll know what I mean.  One good deed can affect change, no matter how you believe it or not.  Findings from Adam Grant’s new book, Give and Take, confirm the idea that those who rise on top may be those who give the most.

    Inside the Corporate Giving Strategy

    Let’s apply the principle of giving within your organization.  If you want to achieve your business goals, you must inspire loyalty first.  You can do this by giving to your bottom line.  Even when you’re working on a virtual setting, strive to create a community for your team and give each person an opportunity to grow.  You can do this by engaging your people in the development process and giving them the chance to try new ideas, something that’s outside their job responsibilities.  You’ll be surprised how ‘giving’ your people this initiative will initiate them into innovation.  This in turn saves you time and money because you have a productive team who’s happy to make things work.

    It’s All About Smart Giving…

    If giving is truly good, just where do you start?  The answer lies closely to your business – your workers and customers.  Your customers will feel so much better knowing that they have chosen a brand with a heart.  It validates their purchase and they may just stick with your business for the long run.  Just as always, it’s good to start picking a cause that you really believe in.  Find a local group or network with others for this meaningful venture.  You can even search for a cause related to your business.  You may also do research to make sure the organization is legit.  Whether it’s sponsorship, donation or volunteering your time – you have to be sincere in your commitment.

    Giving back doesn’t have to be complicated so long as it’s a cause that’s close to your heart.  It’s not about how you do it… What matters most is that you do and good deeds have their own way of going viral to your potential prospects and business partners.

    What do you care about?

  6. Achieving Your Business Goals in 3 Simple Steps

    "goal setting"Sometimes, I wonder.. if money isn’t everything, then, why are we in business in the first place?  If there’s one thing that sets apart a successful person from someone who’s not – it’s achieving goals.  Success can mean a lot of things to different people.  It can mean building a fortune or enjoying life with having just enough.  Whatever your purpose is, having long term goals is like the fuel to keep the fire of motivation burning as it helps you complete those short term goals.  This leaves you with a question then:  How can you achieve bigger goals and make a huge difference in this world?

    Success: Journey or Destination?

    If success is having worthy ideals that motivate you to progress towards these goals, it would be right to say that achievement is a journey to realizing more.  You simply don’t stop.  In fact, it is our innate nature to discover new territories and conquer the unknown.  This challenge is what drives the human spirit, to push oneself to the edge and learn new things.  This week, I have been in a state of introspection as I ponder on those far-fetched ideas that sounded odd, unrealistic.. until someone dared to make that giant leap.  But then, new inventions don’t always drive innovation.  In fact, last week’s #custserv chat had swerved into the topic of the iWatch and it was fun to read people’s comments on the subject.  Is this idea too ambitious.. or downright absurd?  We’ll have to see.  For now, we have to ask ourselves if we can turn our vision into action.

    What Do You Want to Achieve?

    This is the only question you have to answer.  It doesn’t matter what timeframe you’ve set for yourself.  This year, you can’t simply row your boat in every possible direction.  You have to focus.  You need to steer your way to progress and be strong enough to:

    1. Acknowledge

    Talk to your team and to your customers.  You have to face reality and assess the current state of your business.  This is the only way you can find ways to improve what needs fixing and amplify what’s already working.

    2.  Be Very Specific

    You need to sit this one down and think of your goals – short term and long term.  What exactly would you like to achieve next week, month, in a quarter or in a year?  The key here is to reach those shorter-term goals to help you move towards achieving those longer-term goals.

    3.   Divide and Conquer

    Divide those huge goals into smaller ones and you may even assign small teams to work on it.  Here’s where you gather ideas and collaborate with each team on the baby steps needed to achieve these goals.  Identify strengths and weaknesses, as well as opportunities and threats about the steps you are about to make and when you do – never be afraid to test it.  You may fail and it’s totally fine; it’s part of the whole learning process.

    It all comes down to balance then.  Set your goals too high and you may simply lose hope if you fail.  Set it too easy and you will become complacent.  It is your confidence, energy and drive that will help build a momentum around your vision so you can gain the results you want in the shortest time possible.

    In the meantime, celebrate those baby successes as you journey along the path to realizing those bigger goals.

     

  7. Are You Spending More Time on Bad Customers?

    "bad customers"There’s an argument that bad salespeople lead to bad customers, if ever you’re wondering why you are attracting the wrong type of market to your business.  Perhaps, there is truth to this statement because when customers are made to focus on the pricing and features of your product, they end up not getting interested in the value you provide.  This is why they will continue to focus on price alone and if you’re running your business on a freemium model, the greatest challenge is how to convert them into paying subscribers.  If you want to be a highly productive entrepreneur this year, I’d say it’s time to be honest in getting rid of the bad apples – for good.

    Does Social Media Empower Bad Behavior?

    There are many tales of brand-bashing last year that made me wonder how social media is creating a new bad when it comes to customer experience.  We’ve seen angry mobs take on a brand on social networks, spreading bad news like some digital wild fire.  There are many trolls who will add fuel to the fire and there’s just no sense of guilt since they’re bullying a brand, not a person.  It’s so easy to post a bad review under anonymity or a fake profile, those who do don’t feel any accountability over their actions.  The boundary between freedom of speech and online bullying is yet to be defined…

    The Customer is Always Right.. Not Really

    I hate to break it to you, but this fallacy is what’s draining the life out of your team. Truth is, there’s such a thing as bad customers and they are:

    1. The deadbeat client who won’t pay their invoices on time, for whatever reasons
    2. The stingy customer who will always ask you to cut corners and make changes until you run out of business
    3. The freeloader who will only stick with you if you provide everything for free for the longest time running
    4. The terrorizing client who will use fear to get what s/he wants ( and get on everyone’s nerves as well )
    5. That rude customer who loves to throw in the f-bombs and swear words you don’t really want to hear
    6. That customer with constantly changing needs, who expect full service treatment on a tight budget
    7. Those frequent complainers who connive to get some form of compensation from you – from full refunds to big discounts
    8. The nit-pickers who will constantly check on you, expecting you to work like a seamless machine 24/7
    9. The needy customer who will ask for endless advice and lots of attention
    10. and those who simply do nothing.. after all the time, free advice, discounts and extra mile you have thrown in

    Here’s the good news:  You can rehabilitate these bad eggs.  Most customers aren’t that bad, just ill-educated on the value that your business provides.  Persuading troublesome customers to become good ones can be a tough job and it’s your call to convert them into believers.

    My Advice:  Know when it’s the right time to push away those who drag your business down.. so you can cultivate the right relationship and inspire loyalty instead.

    Good Luck!