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LETS GET DOWN TO BUSINESS.

Question :
Hi EveryoneWe are a digital business planning tool. As I am sure you know, planning is a key part of the road to recovery. Using a digital tool means you can plan remotely and it helps to create focus, direction and calm. It is also likely to reduce the significant issues that arise when SME’s borrow more and reactively allocate those funds, missing the opportunity to gain the maximum benefit.We are very lucky to have KPMG as our largest customer in NZ. Outside of NZ, our largest customer base is in the USA. Sales come from licence agreements with accounting firms who use Business Sorter to provide a business planning/continuity planning service to their clients, and direct sales from the free directories we are listed on. We also supply our tool free to NGOs and businesses in developing nations.We are bootstrapping and to date have focused on getting strong partnerships in place. We started to market our product on social media last month and several of our partners are working with us to promote Business Sorter to a wider audience in NZ and globally. What steps and relationships would you recommend we develop outside NZ to extend our global reach? Thank you.

Question submitted 11/04/20 @ 11:34am
Industry: Digital and Technology
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    Hi sally you are fortunate to have a good NZ base. To expand offshore I would suggest you focus on just the segment of the market where your product is likely to give customers the best payback. A narrow focus on just one type of customer as a first step and then expanding later is usually a more successful strategy than casting the net widely.
    If your target customers see a real need that’s the best approach. My experience also is that when times are difficult products that can increase revenue are more likely to be adopted than those that reduce cost so if you can demonstrate a revenue increase for a defined set of customers that’s where I would focus good luck and well done with what you have achieved to date.

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    Hi Sally, when I look at your product demo video it look suited to the SME market. John’s comments are right about finding the real pain point at this time, ideally revenue related, but could be cost. Perhaps the issue of business continuity or detailed action planning during COVID-19 at a freemium price point. In terms of International expansion, probably a partnership model would be fastest to get traction. Identify partners (banks, industry institutes/associations, SME education organisations) that have a common set of customers and work with them as a channel. The product looks simple to use and appears to systematise an objective setting and action tracking process.

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    Hi John

    That is a good point re: market segment. I also like your thoughts on revenue generation being more important a than cost saving. One of our main quotes is that businesses that plan are up to 30% more profitable. It’s based on 3 separate/unrelated pieces of research in the UK, USA and Australia, so it will be good to focus on that and the detail behind it. Many thanks for your time and thoughts.

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    Hi Gavin

    We have debated freemium and are about to offer that through a key partner relationship. We are undecided about Freemium in general so I do some more research and take it to my colleagues and have a further discussion.

    We do like the partnership model so thank you. KPMG have been great to work and accountants who think more commercially seem to be very happy with the various benefits of using the tool. Perhaps it is best to stick to what we know.

    Thanks for your comments re the product. Yes it takes quite a complex process and makes it simple and it is quite fun too (which I never found traditional planning to be). We love watching people who have never done planning create a great plan. It is also ideal for accountants and business advisers as they can add a lot of value by facilitating and participating. The structure means there is a level of consistency if you have people at different levels running the planning. It is also full of training and risk management prompts, which are always important but so key at the moment. Thank you for your ideas.

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    Kia ora Sally

    I agree with what has already been said but just wanted to add some insights that we are seeing within the Kiwi Landing Pad community currently.

    For many early stage businesses / startups the reality of not having had a robust plan is only just starting to settle in and even then developing a recovery plan / adjusting an exisiting plan currently is a massive mental jump for many founders and owners still processing the enormity of the change to the world and their markets.

    Many are reconfiguring their business assets in terms of the base elements of their company from the skills of the people to the base dynamics of their current market focus and trying to figure out how to fit that to another market or focus area not as aggressively hit by the C19 downturn.

    It feels to me like there is a good opportunity for a tool like Business sorter to help identify and “re sort” their current plan or build a new one but I think researching the elements of just a couple of markets/industries and trying to get some relevance/traction to them is key – you can’t boil the ocean.

    Many media channels are saturated with C19 “help” and discounted products and services so figuring out the cut through directly to those chosen industries/segments is key – as an example many industry associations and bodies are looking for tools to recommend to their members currently focussing on simplicity and rapid results from which to execute on.

    While they will potentially see your outreach via media and directories I’d recommend looking at a more targeted approach to influential members of that market / association with a simple, empathetic message and business offer that leaves them feeling like Business Sorter could be a valuable quick solution for them or those within their community.

    Remember in every downturn there are always companies and industry segments that are doing well – there is quite a good starter list to think about those here:

    https://www.stackline.com/news/top-100-gaining-top-100-declining-e-commerce-categories-march-2020

    Noho ora mai
    J

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    Morena John

    Thank you very much for your positive comments and thoughts, and the link.

    Yes, things are overwhelming for people, that is for sure. I am also seeing the impact of shock and rapid change, which for so many is paralyzing. Knowing we can make an impact for the better, I agree there is a risk of spreading ourselves too thinly in the hope of reaching as many businesses as possible and inadvertently missing making a difference to our own position, and to customers through a more targeted approach.

    I see how the timing, our product and more of an industry focus would work, particularly when we are aiming for global reach. Thank you, I am looking forward to working on that.

    That was very helpful and most appreciated.

    Nga mihi
    Sally

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    Hi Sally

    Just to follow-on from excellent suggestions from John and Gavin, a couple of other thoughts:
    – If you haven’t already engaged NZTE to help with your pursuit of overseas markets, I would recommend that to see how they can support you. If nothing else, that the the opportunity to revisit the NZTE ‘Export Essentials’, which are great resources to get you thinking about your market strategy: https://www.nzte.govt.nz/export-assistance/export-essentials-guides
    – As both John and Gavin say, FOCUS is key. It is a big world and you have scare resources. I would suggest refreshing your market assessment in the light of the impact COVID-19 (at least at a high level). Some industries will fare relatively well (utilities, healthcare, food retail) many others will not. That might change your sector/market industry market focus.
    – I would then be looking to update your first hand insight into the market opportunity, competitive environment in April 2020 and sales channels. Consider trade associations and folks in KEA, Kiwi Leadership Network USA to help gather information.

    If you are going to offer your product for free then make sure that you are using the opportunity to gather information about, and build a relationship with, someone that you can convert to a paying customer in the future.

    Be successful!
    Regards
    Chris Perfect

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    Hi Chris

    I am loving this site. It is so great to be able to ask a question and get feedback that is valuable. Thank you for taking the time to come back to me and for such great suggestions.

    I appreciate your thoughts on sectors and various networks. I will include them in our discussion re targets. I love opening new doors and having doors to open without having to come up with them all yourself is such a help/treat.

    To freemium, or not to freemium…that really is a big question and so different when you are digital and have data opportunities. I really like your point about being able to “convert to paid” and think we should start the conversation by working out how we would go about doing that before we debate the pros and cons of Freemium.

    Many thanks.
    Sally

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