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Thread: help to redefine my business

  1. #1
    just me duncan drennan's Avatar
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    help to redefine my business

    One of the things that happens over and over again is that companies miss the needs of their clients. I want to make sure that this doesn't happen to me!

    I need to make sure that my service,

    • Fulfils a need
    • Adds value to each of my customers lives
    • Is something that you would love to have (not something that is kinda nice every now and then)


    Obviously this is the desire of every business owner (hopefully), so let me tell you a bit more about what I do and then I would really appreciate your feedback.

    Engineer Simplicity is an electronics design company. My main business is to act as a design and consulting engineer for products and projects that require electronic design skills.

    I have a number of specialised skills (contact me for more specifics), but my biggest strength is in interfacing analogue signals to digital systems (or in other words, making real world signals into computer signals).

    I also just happen to be a really good engineer

    I don't want to have a half-hearted, vague service that is no different from anyone else because,

    • Nobody needs that
    • It is difficult to sell (who wants to buy vague?)
    • It can't be differentiated from the competition


    So here are a couple of questions that I'd like you to think about and give me some feedback on,

    1. Do you need (or may need in the future) the service that I am currently offering?
    2. Along the engineering and electronics line, what services do you (or might you) need?
    3. If you've had experience with engineering consultants and designers then what is the one thing that you would have changed?
    4. If you had an idea for an electronic product, or a need in your field for an electronic product, how would you go about investigating it?


    Your feedback on this is really important to me. Please be brutally honest, this is part of a process that I've been going through to evaluate and improve what I'm doing.

    Thanks for your time,
    [SIGPIC]Engineer Simplicity[/SIGPIC]
    Turn ideas into products | The Art of Engineering blog

  2. #2
    Platinum Member Marq's Avatar
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    Hi Duncan,

    I don't specifically require anything that you offer at this stage of my life. (Well other than a hot and cold running robot that can run my business, work 24/7, keep me out of trouble and does not ask for an increase every 5 minutes).

    My only thought, without knowing anything about your business, which comes through after reading your request is that you are maybe too general. Perhaps as a suggestion you look at specialising in something and target that particular market as a new beginning and then branch out at a later stage as that develops. You will have to come up with that market requirement yourself - I guess that's what you are looking for - a special "something" that people can really use.

    I find that people generally have to be told what they require rather than ask them. If you said to them - do you need this new electronic gizmo that I have developed to cut your toenails and it polishes your knees at the same time - they would have something to focus on and think...mmmm.

    But to ask them what their problem is, they tend to think...I've got a bending problem and can't touch my toes maybe I should get to the chiropracter or perhaps I should lose some weight or I think this couch looks good today. The last thing that is going to come up is - I should get to my electronic expert and get him to design and build me a wombat to solve my problem which is actually that my toenails are getting in the way of tying my shoelaces.

    My thoughts are that your skills could be used "consulting and developing" (used very loosly) for the larger corporation types who manufacture stuff that would require some sort of computer robotics type interface's. Thoughts that come up there are hospital type equipment, handicapped people stuff - prosthetics, one touch equipment that would do a whole lot of activities, wheelchairs etc and then the whitegoods market - things like these computer screens in fridges running the house. Security area - house automation, alarm stuff.......

    I don't know if this is being helpful...I am sure you have gone down this avenue - but like I said that was what came up for me when I read your post.

  3. #3
    Site Caretaker Dave A's Avatar
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    I've had to chew over this post/thread a bit. A question of seperating symptoms from problems. Even now I'm a little unsure of some subtleties, but for what it's worth:

    If I've got it right, you've only recently started "paddling your own boat". At this early stage it's easy to start over-analysing issues. In many ways the questions you ask are best answered by your customers, with some slight rephrasing:

    Why me (as opposed to someone else)?
    What did I do right?
    What could I have done better (so much better than "what did I do wrong")?
    Do you know anyone else who needs my services?

    Beware the paralysis of (self) analysis.

    If ultimately this is a search for potential customers, then here's a few questions you are best placed to answer:

    Who/what is my ideal customer?
    What are their needs?
    What are my solutions?
    Where do I find these ideal customers?
    How do I get in front of them to offer my solution?

    As Marq points out, most people are pretty awful at recognising problems - they are even worse at actively seeking outside assistance to solve them.

    Once you can identify the client, clearly define their problem and have the solution, you have already differentiated yourself from 99.9% of the "competition".

    Come to think of it - if you can get two out of three, your pretty well ahead of the pack too.
    The trouble with opportunity is it normally comes dressed up as work.

  4. #4
    just me duncan drennan's Avatar
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    Dave, you're quite right - I have only recently started "paddling my own boat" as you so succinctly put it.

    The problem is that I did not do a very good job of planning the details before I decided to go paddling up the creek and I've found that the paddle is more of a figment of my imagination.

    I started off with the idea to complete a product I'd been working on and survive on consulting work in the interim. Now after two house moves in the last four months (firstly a move down to Cape Town and then after 3 months the move into our own home) I've finally had a chance to sit down and do some soul searching. There was something that I read that triggered me to sit down and evaluate things.

    Basically the concept from my reading material was to "leverage your strengths." This made me stop and consider what I was doing. Firstly the product I was working on was more an IT project rather than an engineering one. I'm reasonably good at it, but I'm a great engineer.

    So I sat down and started to look at what I was offering from a consulting perspective, and what my strengths were. My original consulting proposition was even more vague. I realised I needed to hone this into a saleable proposition.

    Right now I only have one client and that is my previous employer. Reality check for me - I'm heading for disaster unless I sort this out quickly. I wouldn't say this is so much of an analysis paralysis situation - rather a wake up call for myself to get focussed.

    As you mentioned, this is ultimately a search for potential customers. To find potential customers I first need to offer something that people see value in. I know that my skills as a designer can be put to good use, what I haven't figured out completely yet is,

    • How to turn my skills into a strong value proposition
    • Answers for all your questions


    Thus my current situation, and the process that I'm going through. I know I've made mistakes so far, the question is how quickly I can correct them and move forward.

    I've had quite a bit of valuable input from people and I really appreciate what you've offered me in this regard. Thanks.
    [SIGPIC]Engineer Simplicity[/SIGPIC]
    Turn ideas into products | The Art of Engineering blog

  5. #5
    Site Caretaker Dave A's Avatar
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    OK. Profile your previous employer. Identify businesses with similar profiles (i.r.o your value add) and start knocking on doors.

    I think the key is to keep moving, be in circulation, cover ground. When I started up, I was either doing work or looking for work during the day. Then I'd do my thinking at night....

    Each night I'd refine my plan and build a list of activities for the next day. Then the next day I'd switch off the thinking cap (and with it the fear) and brainlessly kill that list.

    Think some. Do some. 'Till you find what works. Perfection is arrived at in a lot of little steps, not one big leap.

    To reduce the "vagueness" list specific projects you have already done and maybe specific stuff you can do (that you're aware of right now). People can see "Well, he's done that, can do that - he should be able to do this".

    You're bright. Maybe you've figured this out already. If so, maybe this is just reinforcement (and a pointer or two for anybody else out there).
    The trouble with opportunity is it normally comes dressed up as work.

  6. #6
    just me duncan drennan's Avatar
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    Thanks Dave, I'll keep that in mind.
    [SIGPIC]Engineer Simplicity[/SIGPIC]
    Turn ideas into products | The Art of Engineering blog

  7. #7
    Site Caretaker Dave A's Avatar
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    A quick thought here (and one I did not want to raise before I got a little more information):

    How many accountants have an accountancy business? Many use their accountancy skills, but in a business that is in another line of work.
    Last edited by Dave A; 28-Jul-06 at 08:14 AM.
    The trouble with opportunity is it normally comes dressed up as work.

  8. #8
    Platinum Member Marq's Avatar
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    You seem to have more info on this and a reason for asking?

  9. #9
    Site Caretaker Dave A's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Marq
    You seem to have more info on this and a reason for asking?
    I guess private messaging was invented for a reason.
    The trouble with opportunity is it normally comes dressed up as work.

  10. #10
    Platinum Member Marq's Avatar
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    My guess is that most accountants get into positions in Corporates, see that their accounting training has stood them in good stead for the business world and move on - to either their own concerns or into the top management fields. With regard to this thread it probably means they focused onto specifics.

    After all Accounting is boring stuff.

    So to have a stab at answering your question - my guess 65% are doing something in the business world with only indirect links to their accounting expertise.

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