Top 5 Ways to Help Your Start-Up Succeed

Every new company starts with a mission

Every new company starts with a mission

The statistics are shocking. Start-up companies fail much more than they succeed. What can we do to turn the tide? How can we create a win? At ByDesign Technologies we have launched hundreds of start-up companies. We have seen many succeed for the short-term (3 years or less) and some for a longer period (3-6 years). But then there are the special companies. Those that are start-ups with longevity. What makes those companies special? I hope by sharing some of the knowledge we have gleaned over the last 15 years, it might help you if you are considering starting a business.

For your start-up company to be successful you must have the following:

#1 – Competence

Competence does not equal intellect. You and your team can be brilliant and yet not understand what needs to happen for your business to succeed. You and your team (if you have one) must have good planning skills. You must have good financial skills. Some people will get money from their investors and not spend it on the right things. You must have strong accounting and you must not be emotionally attached to the pricing of your wares. You have to understand the market and how to make it work for you. If you want your company to get off the ground and move, you or someone on your team should have an intrinsic understanding of finance. Ultimately the success of a company is dependent on what money comes in vs what money goes out.

#2 – Experience in Business Management

It is important to expand at a rate that you can manage. There is a saying, “Go big or go home.” While this applies to a few businesses, it does not apply to most. The companies that stick around and generate good profits are ones that take time to build the infrastructure needed to support great growth.

#3 – Knowledge of Inventory and Supply Chain Management

An intimate knowledge of your inventory, where it is coming from and how quickly it can be made is vital to your start-up success. If a product is a great hit, will you have the flexibility to produce it without a backlog? People don’t like to wait.  If a product stinks, will you be aware and be nimble enough to make changes without having a garage (or warehouse if you are lucky) full of inventory that won’t sell?

#4 – Good Relational Skills

When a business first starts, relationships are a key to success. Do you understand the needs of those buying your product? Do you listen to their feedback? Do you take it and use it to improve? What about other relationships? If stores are selling for you, it is vital to hear what they say about marketing your product. Businesses that listen well have a very high chance of success.

#5 – Tenacious Entrepreneurs and Understanding Families

Starting a business is not for the faint of heart. It is very hard work. It requires dedication and many long hours. If your family is not supportive of your venture, it is likely that you will not be able to invest the number of hours needed for success. You must understand that the business depends on you to run it. Your software is not going to run it, your employees are not going to run it, your inventory manager is not going to run it. It lives and dies with you. Tenacity is required for the business builder and an understanding family is a key to success. It is a sacrifice. You must decide if it is worth taking.

Every business starts with a dream. At ByDesign Technologies, we want to see our client’s dreams come true. We want every business that uses our products to become a company that soars.

 

ByDesign Technologies provides mission critical software to the direct sales industry. They have had the opportunity of working with many start-up clients and helping them grow into industry leaders.

2014 ByDesign Technologies Users Conference

bdtUserConf2014-037Our 2014 ByDesign Users Conference was a great day to welcome in 50 of our clients to ByDesign Technologies headquarters in Tampa. It was a day to celebrate companies that were just starting as well as those who had been in business for many years.  The valued clients traveled from as far away as California and the Dominican Republic to come and learn how they could get more out of their Freedom systems.

Our 2014 Conference started with a great dinner the night before at the historic Columbia Restaurant in Ybor City, Tampa.  Vendor Partner, The Connection, sponsored the dinner and the team was thrilled to showcase their partnership as well as enjoy the delicious Spanish food, from paella to flan, it was a delicious evening filled with great conversation and networking.

Excitement was in the air early the next morning, as the staff stood along the red carpeted walkway clapping and welcoming the clients in to a great day. Just as they are everyday, the clients were the VIP’s.  They were greeted with a great breakfast and the programming quickly began.

The day was packed full of information with as many as four speakers running at one time.Top areas of interest were J. Hilburn’s presentation on API’s, promotions and learning about the new Business Intelligence tool ByDesign launched at the conference.

During the CEO lunch sponsored by Meritus, incentive travel company DRP and Hard Rock Resorts gave away two 3 night stays as well as a cruise to our hard working executives.  This was an exciting time for our companies’ CEO’s!

Nothing was forgotten, from the networking break to the ToGo Boxes with snacks for the road, each portion of the day was crafted to provide the utmost value to our clients.Christina Hale with J. Hilburn stated, “It was so helpful to meet and connect with other clients. We were able to swap suggestions, ideas, previous challenges, etc.”

Ultimately, that is what we hoped for.  We wanted to create a day that would add value for the Freedom system, but ultimately, help our clients understand they are not alone.  The direct selling industry has a mighty voice if they can find it together.

 

 

ByDesign Hosts MLM and Party Plan Executives

MLM and Party Plan executives enjoy a Networking Dinner

MLM and Party Plan executives enjoy a Networking Dinner

Recently ByDesign Technologies, along with their partner The Connection, sponsored a networking dinner for MLM and Party Plan executives at the Historic Columbia Restaurant in Ybor City, Florida.  As executives arrived they were greeted by the amazing architecture of the Columbia.  The Columbia is Florida’s oldest restaurant and the world’s largest Spanish restaurant. It has been named one of the Top 25 Restaurants in Florida since 1967. Executives from as far away as California and the Dominican Republic attended the dinner.

The guests were served a buffet consisting of various Cuban/Spanish specialties including Paella, chicken, black beans and rice, vegetables and of course the classic 1905 salad.

The executives were entertained by Flamenco dancers who brought great excitement to the crowd with their rhythmic dances. Jim Bailey, Business Development Manager for ByDesign stated, “This was a fabulous opportunity for ByDesign to showcase Tampa and for our clients to get to know one another better in a casual but classy environment.”

The evening finished with flan and chocolate Godiva cake.  There was not a slice left. It was a fantastic opportunity for ByDesign’s MLM and Party Plan executives to get to know one another and enjoy a great meal.

20 Things Your Software Company Wishes You Knew

163745682Within the MLM and Party Plan business, your software plays an integral part.  It keeps track of almost everything you need to do.  It keeps track of your product, your individual business owners, your commissions and your reports plus a lot more.  With so much of your business tied to your software, it is understandable why you can get frustrated.  Here are some tips that can help your business and relationship grow.

  1. Treat your software vendor like an extension of your business, not a necessary evil
  2. Embrace us as Subject Matter Experts.  If we tell you something you are doing goes against conventional wisdom, understand we have seen a lot of companies fail and succeed and we want you to be in the latter category.
  3. Be aware of terminology conflicts and technical jargon.  If your software company uses “sponsor” or “placement” or “enroller” ask what they are referring too.
  4. Know your compensation plan inside and out.  You need to communicate it well with your reps and your software company.
  5. Share your company successes with your software vendor, too often we only get failing company calls.  We want to celebrate with you!
  6. Plan, Plan, Plan!  It costs a lot to NOT plan and our industry is notorious for announcing something on stage before even telling your own staff, let alone your software provider.
  7. Don’t make assumptions.
  8. Ensure expectations are agreed to and understood
  9. During the software selection process or while doing custom programming ask tough questions.  Make sure you fully understand what you’re getting.
  10. If you are buying off the shelf software understand that no package does EVERYTHING you think should be a part of the system
  11. Understand we are on your team.  If you succeed, we succeed.
  12. Time=Money
  13. If your business is going down the tubes, don’t blame the software.
  14. Know what you want before you call.  If you are unsure of what you want, state that upfront so that we can plan our schedule appropriately.
  15. Software will not run your business, you have to do that.
  16. Send gifts!  We are always excited to see and touch our client’s products. Gifts are a great motivator.
  17. Don’t call everything a bug.
  18. Don’t let your internal software people say, “That is easy, it is only two hours.”  While that may be the expected time, sometimes one little change can be connected to a lot of moving parts.
  19. Encouragement goes a long way before you need something.
  20. Expect a timeline.  Understand it probably will not be as fast as you want.

ByDesign Technologies is headquartered in Tampa, Florida with offices in Utah and Singapore.  ByDesign’s mission is to empower direct sellers worldwide through industry expertise, innovative technology and unrivaled customer support. Their website is www.bydesign.com

Direct Selling Companies Look Forward to Back to School

backtoschoolIt is nearing the end of summer here in the US and for the direct selling industry that is an exciting time.  Summer is typically a very low season, especially for small companies.  The Direct Selling Association reports that approximately 86% of the workforce is women.  Some are full-time and some are part-time, but throw in summer, with kids and grandkids out of school and a good amount of that workforce takes off.  This is the challenge of having a company with a flexible workforce.  One of the benefits of being involved in direct selling is that you can choose your schedule.  It just so happens that most choose to downgrade their work time in summer, or just take it off completely.

Many direct selling companies are working hard to encourage their members to stay engaged during the summer.  They have conventions or offer special deals.  These special events keep the interest going and gives the representative the motivation they need to continue meeting and selling throughout the summer.

Many representatives don’t realize that though summer can be more challenging because of vacations,it is a great time to share your business.  People have a little more time in the summer and if you can incorporate the kids, they are all in.  Hire a neighborhood teenager to watch the kids, while you demonstrate your product.  There are many ways to get around the summer down time!  Social selling is about being social.  There is no better time to be social than summer!

As we move into the new school year, direct selling companies rejoice with parents!  We all love having the summer off, but we look forward to the regular schedule. Direct selling companies will focus on rolling out their fall catalogs and new lines and representatives are looking forward to the new products.  School time is exciting!  As a software vendor for the industry, ByDesign is looking forward to school time as well.  We get an influx of new projects and ideas.  We love looking at the new and creative products our clients have come out with.  It’s time for school!  Are you ready?!?

Tax Time for MLM, Party Plan and Direct Sellers

200171399-001As April 15th draws near we all get prepared for tax season.  If you are an MLM, PartyPlan or Direct Seller, you should know that you might qualify for a tax deduction.  For the millions of taxpayers who work at home, the IRS has simplified the Home Office Deduction.

If you use a part of your home for business, you may qualify to deduct expenses for the business use of your home.  The IRS states that there are 6 ways to determine if you qualify.  Take the time to review what they have to say here:  http://www.irs.gov/uac/Newsroom/Home-Office-Deduction:-a-Tax-Break-for-Those-Who-Work-from-Home

If you believe you qualify, the IRS has simplified the Home Office Deduction starting this year.  Home businesses can deduct up to $1500, based on $5 a square foot up to 300 square feet.  http://www.irs.gov/uac/Newsroom/Simplified-Option-for-Claiming-Home-Office-Deduction-Starting-This-Year

Take the time to check it out and discuss it with your accountant!  It might be worth some good money to you and it might save you a lot of time.  As we all know, time is money!!  Good luck!

New Year = New Attitude

Celebrate a New Attitude

Each day is a new day, but somehow as the New Year rolls around, we decide to improve ourselves.  Perhaps we want to lose weight, be better organized or spend more quality time with family.  Then something happens, we actually have to DO those things.  Our early morning workout plan is hard to do when we can’t get out of bed.  We look around the office and don’t know where to start and while quality time with family sounds great; it is just hard to find the time.    We might do great for 30 days, but what about 60 or 90?

In the mlm and party plan business those 30, 60 and 90 days are just as crucial as they are to someone committing to a new year’s resolution.  How do you get someone to stick to it?  Here are a few easy rules for sticking to a new business OR resolution.

Find a Friend

If you can find someone to stick with you, you have a much higher percentage than going it alone.  In business a mentor that has walked in your shoes offers a great amount of support and encouragement.

Follow a Plan

Many companies offer plans to follow.  These are offered for your good!  Use them!  So many of us think we know better.  Have you ever tried to put something together without the manual?  You may have done it, but you probably would have done it better with it.  Read it, use it and let it help you!!

If You Fall, Get Back Up

It is easy to say things are too hard and walk away.  Winners stick with it.  They fail, they learn and then they try again.  Just because you failed to make calls one day or ate too many cookies doesn’t mean that you can’t change your pattern tomorrow.  Don’t believe your self-doubt self.  You can do it.

 

Take the challenge, you can do it!  Start and then start again.

Leadership Lesssons from the Caterpillar Game

As a child in the church youth group, we used to play a game called Caterpillar.  Everyone would line up with their hands on the shoulder of the person in front of them.  The leader would then run like crazy, twisting and turning, trying to get people to let go.  Some great leadership lessons can be learned from that game.

Stay Close to Your Leader

The closer you are to the leader, the better you are able to anticipate their next move and stay with them.  The first five people holding on to the leader rarely got thrown off.  They were able to stay connected.

Communication is Key

If you are the leader and are planning to make any change, communication is what will save your team.  If you were leading the caterpillar game and shouted, turning left, everyone would be able to follow you.  If you make quick turns in policy or procedure and don’t tell anyone, don’t be surprised if you find them on the floor.

Pay Attention to Who You Follow

Sometimes when I was playing the game, I would be behind someone who would just let go. They were not committed to the goal.  If the person leading you is not committed, they will let you fall.  Sometimes in the party plan, mlm or direct selling world, we might get someone who has pulled us into the business but is not leading us.  If that is the case, find out who their sponsor is.  Move up the chain until you find a leader that helps you stay connected.

Keeping everyone connected is the goal of any healthy organization.  It is also a challenge for all healthy organizations.  Healthy organizations are growing and must constantly keep in mind that the chain behind them is getting longer.  This requires an increased commitment to leadership communication and encouraging their team to listen and follow the right person.

How a Leader Handles a Flat Tire

I travel the interstate a lot and have had my share of flat tires as well as being surrounded by others who have had flats.  There are different kinds of flat tires; the slow leak, tread shred, and the full tire fall-out.  Below, I will address flats and how to handle those as a leader.

First, let’s address the slow leak. Within an organization, the slow leak is the hardest to detect.  Typically, it is the person on your team who is slowly withdrawing into themselves and is no longer engaged. The leader must be actively aware of everyone in their organization.  Truckers and Airlines inspect their vehicles every trip looking for leaks and damage.  As leaders, we must do the same. If we forget and get busy with our daily activities, the slow leak can turn into a flat that hurts our organization very quickly.

Second, tread shred is a major problem.  Drive any interstate system in America and will see pieces of tire on the side of the road.  An outer layer of tread has fallen off the vehicle but the good news is there is still another layer. Unfortunately, if you are behind this vehicle, you are going to get hit with tread.   I relate this to the teammate who unloads on you.  You are minding your business and going through your day and Ka-boom!  You are hit with tread shred.   As a leader how you handle this problem, sets the tone for your entire organization.  My suggestion is to pull the person aside and speak with them privately.   Sometimes, people don’t even know they unloaded on someone.  We all have bad days.   Try to figure out what caused the problem (are there issues at home, is work too stressful) and get them patched up and back on the road.  You might have to address the person who got hit as well.  Tread shred is tough, but if everyone is open, you will be able to move on rather quickly.

Full tire fall out is a tough one.  About six months ago, I was driving down the interstate and a tire came completely off the vehicle in front of me, bounced, hit my hood and rolled over the top of my vehicle.  Clearly, this situation caused lots of swerving and an immediate stop.  (Thankfully in my situation, no one was hurt).  This is the most dangerous type of tire failure for a vehicle and your organization.  This is not an issue with the tire but with the components that make the tire move.  There are times, when situations outside of your area will cause a slow down or even a stop.  No one wants to bring their project to a halt but these areas must be addressed.  Again, I think it goes back to being vigilant and watching for clues.  If we are paying attention, we notice the bumps, the squeaks and the hints that things are not going well.  If we address issues early on, we are able to circumvent serious issues that will derail our projects and plans.

A leader handles flat tires (in all their many forms) by being alert, constantly and consciously checking the known systems and being on the lookout for impending danger.  Following these suggestions won’t always lead to an easy drive to success, but will guide you there faster and safer than if you ignore them.

Mobile for MLM, Direct Sales and Party Plans

Mobile is a Necessity

The Direct Sales Industry has seen a number of different training and communication methods with their sales force, over the years.  These methods have reamined consistent with the technology changes by keeping the sales material up to date and in a format that is most easily used by their field, for example:

•             Printed Materials – Printed materials have been around since the early stages of Direct Sales and are still a popular format for delivering sales tools and marketing materials to consultants.

•             Tapes and CDs – Audio has been around for decades in Direct Sales, starting with audio tapes and being replaced by audio CDs.  This format is still extremely popular for training audios and sales tools, especially internationally.

•             DVDs – DVD’s are a popular choice for  product, opportunity and training videos.

•             Email – Once email was widely adopted, mass email blasts quickly became an efficient way for Direct Sales companies and leaders to communicate with the entire field or downline at one time.

  • Texting-texting is used in a similar format as email as a way to update the field

•             Internet – With high interest sites like YouTube and Twitter, along with the high adoption of broadband connectivity, Internet distribution of content has become extremely common.

  • Social Media sites like Facebook, Pinterest and Google+ have created a new form of media as well

 

When looking at sales tools, one of the keys to high adoption and usage throughout the sales force is the ease of accessing content.  This has kept printed sales tools extremely popular, as it’s something consultants can give out to friends and associates that are interested in their product or opportunity.

A drawback to print media, CDs, and DVDs is the cost associated with updating content.  Given the fast-paced nature of our industry, consultants are likely to continue to distribute outdated content after its expiration date.  Many companies encourage the consultants to purchase catalogues and this cost can cause be a deterrent.

Email is a great way to deliver time-sensitive and important messages, but you can no longer be sure that your message is being received.  With the rising challenges of bloated inboxes, spam filters, and ISP blacklisting, clicking the send button can be challenging.

As internet video has become easily accessible, companies have been able to quickly publish new content.  This has allowed for a faster rate of communication with the consultant and the potential consumer.

Mobile has been a game changer for our industry. The mobile platform combines real time access to information with simple ease of use, making it an appealing tool for direct sellers.

According to PewInternet ‘s 2011 study (http://pewinternet.org/Reports/2011/Smartphones.aspx)   85% of Americans now have cell phones and 42% of those are smartphones.  Considering the demographic of direct sellers (entrepreneurial business owners); these statistics are likely much higher in our industry.

Direct Selling should Capitalize on mobile in the following ways:

•             Training and Presentations – A consultant can have all of the company’s training and presentations in thier mobile phone or tablet, anywhere, anytime.   If a consultant runs into an acquaintance and they start talking about business, they can share their informational videos directly from their mobile device.

•             Access to Back Office – Consultants can access to their back office throught their mobile device.  This helps keep them informed while they are on the go.

•             Keeping Consultants Engaged – With text messaging and push notifications consultants are notified instantly on their mobile device when a person in their downline ranks up, or when action needs to be taken in their business!

•             Order Entry -Consultants can take orders anywhere

 

The uses can be specific to your company.  When companies started a long time ago, there were some that thought they could do it without a catalogue.  Some companies today still believe they can succeed without mobile access.  Direct Selling companies will soon be required by their consultants to have mobile.  It is quickly progressing to a place where it is not an option.

ByDesign Technologies was the first direct sales provider to have a mobile app for the industry.  They have taken the desires of the field and made it reality.