Commercialising your Intellectual Property

Commercializing IP

Commercialization is the process of introducing a new product/service into the market. It means making an idea or concept into a real business opportunity. For example, you have a new business idea for a new tool to help with trades. In order to go through the commercialization process, you will need to undergo a process of market research, development, consultation, drawing up business, distributing, and marketing plans, prototyping, and protecting your intellectual property before you make it commercially available in the mass market.

Following are some general steps involved in the commercialization process:

1. Describing the Product or Service

A clear and concise description of the product/service is written in the first step. The description should be easily understood by a person who is unfamiliar with the concept and should demonstrate the benefits and features of the product/service.

2. Protecting Intellectual Property (IP)

Before you talk to others about your business idea, it is crucial that you protect it. You will need to find the method of IP protection that is the most suitable for your business and apply for it. It is important that you make sure that any third-party that is discussing your idea or product with you will not disclose confidential information.

3. Market Research

The next step is to research the market so that the market, competitors, and customers that the new product/service will face are identified. You will need to use a marketing plan to draw up your strategy so you can identify and reach your customers. It is also very important that you confirm that your product fills a need and has a competitive advantage. Furthermore, the product’s viability needs to be financially evaluated. You will need to include detailed financial projections and cost estimates in this plan. These estimates will be crucial as you look for money from banks or other sources to support the product/service production.

4. Identifying Commercialization Pathway

A plan for product development is also needed that includes how the product will be released to the public. Should the product technology be developed and produced by the technology owner, licensed to someone else, or sold to someone else to develop? You will have to make preliminary estimates of the market size as well as its willingness to accept the product. You will also need to determine the costs of the full development of the product. Your choice of licensing, assignment, manufacturing, or joint venture may have an impact on your future strategy. For instance, if you are thinking of using overseas manufacturers for your product’s production, you will need to identify the key issues such as freight and distribution, quality control, etc.

5. Refining the Product

Once your product is introduced for the first time, you may need to refine it. You will also want to protect the intellectual property involved in the development of the product, finalize its design, test the product, and add/improve any features to make the product more marketable.

6. Developing a Business Plan with a Commercialization Strategy

Additional resources may come in handy at this point in the commercialization process. You may need to consult a professional to acquire financing, develop company structure or business plan, or create a marketing plan for your product. You may determine that you need to finalize legal agreements and partnerships. Market and product testing are ongoing during this stage of the commercialization process.

7. Exploring Funding Options

Depending on the nature of your concept or product, key funding options that you may consider include:

  • Crowdfunding
  • Grants
  • Business loans
  • Other sources of financing such as investor groups.

8. Business Growth Opportunities

Assuming the product is well-accepted in the targeted market, you may want to develop your business to include the expansion or acquisition of manufacturing facilities, financial analysis, marketing and promotion, strategic partnerships and planning. You will need to reevaluate your resource needs and organizational structure. Assuming that your business is prospering and growing, it may be appropriate to pursue improved technology or new products. You may also need to add staff. As your business grows, you will need to continually evaluate what you need to take advantage of the opportunities you might encounter in the future.

Most of the things we take for granted nowadays begin at an inventor’s bench. Achieving such success is not easy but once an innovation yields desirable results on the market, it is well worth the effort required to get it there.

9 Ways To Get The Best From Your Staff

Running a company is not just about sales and profits but also about proper human resource management. When it comes to successful organization there is no task more important than developing a solid employee structure. Your employees are your most valuable asset and an integral and vital part of your business. Therefore, you should know how to get the best out of them.

Your staff must be motivated to do what they are required to do. Following are some ways in which you can get the best out of your staff:

1. Communication

Good business owners will always make sure that the communication between them and their employees remain open. A manager/leader who talks to staff on regular basis will always be respected more as opposed to the one who rarely communicates with his staff. The relationship between an employee and a business owner needs to be developed and cultivated over time. Ensuring good communication is the way to become a better leader.

2. Criticism

While criticizing your employees openly in front of others may give you a feeling of power or authority, it won’t do nothing for the self-esteem and credibility of the employees. Criticism should be constructive and it should be delivered in private and in such a way that your employees have a chance to respond.

3. Respect

Respect for your employees means acknowledging their presence, disregarding their status or position, realizing their personal worth, and accepting their individuality. You and your employees are still human. If you expect your staff to be like robots in carrying out every task, then you will soon realize that it’s a very poor method of management. Treating your staff right will result in your employees respecting you in return and getting motivated to perform the required tasks more efficiently.

4. Empowerment

If you want your staff to perform well, then you must provide them with the expertise, training, tools, knowledge, and confidence so they can carry out the required work to a competent level. Employees who are not empowered to perform are likely to end up stressed out as there is no clear direction. As a result, their performance will suffer. As a business owner, it is your responsibility to make sure that all your employees are knowledgeable and confident to carry out their tasks.

5. Incentive

Every employee has deadlines or targets to meet. To get your staff to perform better, it is recommended that you put some incentives in place to reward effort and hard work. This will result in your employees exceeding the required targets.

6. Flexibility

When it comes to accommodating the needs of his staff, a good business owner should be flexible. Flexibility can become a great attribute which you can use to get the best out of your staff, as long as your employees do not abuse this.

Recognition

An employee must be recognized if he performs well, especially on a challenging or difficult task and where he has gone above and beyond what was expected of him. When consistent effort of an employee is not praised or recognized, it is discouraging and deflating for him. The employee will feel that there’s no point in putting more effort than his colleagues if the team leader is not going to acknowledge it.

8. Trust

A good leader/manager trusts his employees to carry out their duties without constant monitoring and supervision. As long as the staff does not betray this trust, the relationship between the employees and the manager will be productive. The staff must also trust the manager/team leader for their best interests and proactively find ways of further improving the relationship.

9. Care

The relationship between an employee and a manager should not be limited to just the working environment. It will not hurt to find out about your staff’s interests outside of work. You can use this to develop a personal connection with your employees. It will show that you are approachable and you care about your employees.

The Bottom Line

A motivated staff will be a productive staff. It is far better to have motivated, empowered, and happy employees than it is to have demoralized, unhappy, and bored employees. This goes far beyond how your staff perceives you. It encapsulates how they perform and how it will be perceived by people in general, both internally and externally.

Health and Safety in the Workplace

The Health and Safety at Work Act (HSWA) 2015 is a complicated piece of legislation that applies to various different circumstances throughout New Zealand. The act and all its related regulations were introduced to ensure highest level of protection for workers and others from workplace health and safety risks. These include the risks to both physical and mental health. So far, the act is reasonably practicable.

 

Why Was HSWA Introduced?

The HSWA was introduced due to degrading workplace injury stats. At the time its regulations started being written, New Zealand was seeing 70+ people die at work every year. 600-900 workers were dying due to work-related incidents a year and a massive 10% of workers were harmed annually. The goal of Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 is to see a 25% drop in these figures by 2020.

 

Who Does HSWA Make Responsible?

The regulations and laws introduced in HSWA target any ‘person conducting a business or undertaking’ (PCBU). These may include:

  • School principles
  • Self-employed people
  • Company directors
  • Property managers or landlords

 

What Do You Need to Know?

Without going into the individual laws under this act, following are some key things you need to know as a PCBU:

 

PCBUs Can Be Held Responsible of Care for Employees

Unless you haven’t heard, you probably already know by now that persons conducting a business or undertaking can now be held personally responsible in the event of a workplace injury. It has been well-publicized that the penalties for not taking this act seriously are severe. Organizations can be fined up to $600,000 and individuals can receive up to 5 years of jail time.

 

“Primary Duty of Care” Covers a Wide Variety of Issues

This is another important regulation under the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015. According to this regulation, employers and individuals are responsible for:

  • Providing a safe work environment without any risk of physical or mental health and safety.
  • Allowing for safe use and storage of substances and plant.
  • Maintaining a safe plant, structures, equipment, and work systems.
  • Monitoring of the health of workers (both physical and mental).
  • Monitoring the conditions at the workplace to prevent illness or injury as a result of workplace activities.
  • Providing information and training necessary to protect against workplace health incidents.
  • Providing the facilities that are necessary for wellbeing of the staff.

 

There is other related stuff. You should read the legislation for more details.

 

Building a Safety Culture in Your Business is Now More Crucial Than Ever

Managing the health and safety of workplace shouldn’t just be the responsibility of a few team leaders. This is because if someone gets injured, it has a ripple effect. Not only does it affect the worker, but also their family, co-workers, and the business. “Safety Culture” is not just a slogan, it means encouraging everyone to take control of safety. Whether it is through technology, training, or reporting, if everyone is part of the subject then there will be maximum visibility and a much better time.

New Year’s Resolutions for Your Business

As a business owner, the beginning of a new year is the best time to assess the state of your operations and determine what you can do to make your business even stronger moving forward.

Following are some new year’s resolutions to consider for your business:

1. Growth

Growth is probably the number one goal of every business. You need to be able to consistently increase sales if you want your business to grow. Take some time to review and understand how your business has changed since the end of the last year. Get professional advice from an accountant. They can help with financial planning to keep you on the right track.

  • Marketing

Expanding your customer base is the key to your business growth. Implement various marketing strategies to create consistent promotion throughout 2019. Start the new year by updating your website and making it SEO friendly. If you don’t have a marketing expert on staff, 2019 may be the year to start looking for one.

  • Cashflow Management

Many businesses fail each year and running out of cash is usually one of the primary reasons. If your financial records are not up to date or if you don’t work with cashflow forecasts, then it will be really difficult for you to address cashflow problems. It is recommended that you create reliable cashflow forecasts so you can identify periods when your business risks running out of cash. Proper cashflow management will also allow you to avert a cashflow crisis before it’s too late.

  • Upgrade Your Technology and Workflows

You can’t expect your employees to reach their full potential if your firm is relying on legacy technology. Embracing new technologies such as collaboration platforms, cloud computing, etc. will allow you to streamline most of your business processes. It will also result in increased productivity as your employees will be able to access their critical documents and get their work done from any connected device.

2. Succession Plan

Now might be a good time to review, evaluate, and update your business plan to make sure it remains consistent with your business goals for both short-term and long-term future. It is highly recommended that you have a succession plan in place and operate the business to create value for the new leaders in your staff.

  • Training Staff

Make sure your staff is well-trained as it will lead to increased employee satisfaction and productivity. Take on apprentices and support employees to gain qualifications while working. When your employees have confidence in their ability, it’s a massive benefit to your company as a whole. Obviously, if your employees struggle to perform important tasks, they will be less productive. Therefore, employee training is very important.

3. Reviewing Health & Safety Policies

Health and safety in the workplace should always come first. If you act on improving the health and safety in the workplace, it will make the environment safe and ideal for your employees and will also ensure personal safety. It is recommended that you review your company’s health and safety policies, rules, and regulations. Know the rights of your employees and find out if your company is providing sufficient information on keeping employees safe in the workplace.

As an employer, it is your legal obligation to provide a safe working environment to your employees. Implementing the proper health and safety policies is a good start. Visit our health and safety blog to learn about New Zealand health and safety legislation and how you can implement the policies in your business.

4. Modernize Working Arrangements for Staff

Last but not least, annual reviews of employees should be a part of your business policy. Have open discussions with your staff. It will lead to clarification of expectations as well as better working relationships. Reviewing your role in employee relationships is also a good idea. Consider flexible working arrangements e.g. flexible hours, job sharing, working from home, etc. as a way to modernize working arrangements for your staff.

Final Word

Simply making new year’s resolutions and hoping they come true is not enough. In fact, only a small percentage of people actually keep their new year’s resolutions. The good news is, you are in control of your actions, so you have the ability to follow through on the new year’s resolutions for your business. Stick to the above-mentioned resolutions and your company will be in an even stronger position when next year rolls around.

 

Spinach are your specialist business brokerage. Give our friendly staff a call on 0800 774 622 today for advice on how we can help your business grow.

What to Consider When Employing Someone for the First Time

Employing and keeping the right people for your business can play a major role in achieving success. Hiring employees can be time-consuming and expensive, but it is very important that you do it right if you want to grow your business. If you get it right, then your staff can become your most valuable asset.

Following are some steps you should follow in order to make sure that you comply with New Zealand employment law during and after the hiring process.

1. Create a Clear Job Description

Make sure you are clear about the kind of person you want to hire, the amount you are willing to pay, and the skills they require. Keep an accurate record of each candidate throughout the hiring process, this includes their weaknesses, strengths, expectations, as well as interview notes. This information will be useful during the candidate selection process.

2. Employment Type

It’s important to consider which employment type you need. Each type of employment can mean different set of responsibilities for the employee.

Depending on certain requirements, you might consider employing a:

  • Permanent employee
  • Temporary employee
  • Causal employee
  • Apprentice or trainee
  • Contractor

3. Determine Who is Doing the Recruiting

There are many tasks involved in the recruitment process. These include:

  • Writing the job description
  • Advertising the job (both offline and online)
  • Communicating with potential candidates
  • Answering questions about your business and the job
  • Interviewing and evaluating applicants
  • Communicating with candidates that didn’t get the job

The recruitment process can take a lot of time which you may not have. So, it might be a good idea to outsource the recruiting job to someone in your team.

4. The Recruitment Process

Following are some steps to follow if you manage the recruitment process yourself:

  • Advertising the job
  • Evaluating the applications
  • Conducting interviews and reference checking
  • Selecting the best candidate

5. Make Sure Each Employee Has an IRD Number

Every employee you hire must have an Inland Revenue number. Also known as an IRD number, this number is used by Inland Revenue to identify and categorize employees for tax purposes. You also need an IRD number as an employer. Anyone can apply for this online.

6. Hiring People from Overseas

If you are considering to hire workers from overseas, then you must make sure they have the correct type of visa and they are allowed to work in New Zealand.

Overseas workers may include:

  • Refugees
  • People on a working holiday
  • International students
  • Workers with trade or professional qualifications

7. Sign the Employment Agreement

Once you have selected the best candidates, it is time to give them a written employment agreement that is specific to the type of the employees. It should include all the agreed conditions. Make sure that the employees have signed the agreement before they start working.

8. Help Your Employees Get Started

Your new employees may not understand everything unless you help them out. Apart from providing all the job-related information your new employees need to learn, you should also make sure they know their pay and tax details are accurate. Talk to your tax agent, accountant, or Inland Revenue to make sure you understand your obligations and get everything right.

9. Understand the Rights of Your Employees

Your new employees should make your life easier. But it is normal for the workload to increase when they first begin. This is because they are still coming up-to-speed with everything. During that time, you must not forget about the rights of your employees.

New Zealand law sets out minimum entitlements and rights for all employees, whether it is included in their employment agreement or not. Make sure your employment agreement doesn’t provide for less than the minimum rights.

Following are the basic rights for your employees:

  • Minimum pay
  • Paid time off
  • Setting an employee’s minimum rights
  • Sick leave
  • Public holidays
  • Bereavement leave
  • Making sure they are not unfairly discriminated against
  • An employee’s right to refuse to do work due to safety reasons

10. Be Clear About Your Company’s Goals and Expectations

Whether you have hired one new employee or many, it is important that you define and agree on what is expected of them from their first day. You should be clear about this during the interview process.

Final Word

Your employees are your firm’s most valuable asset. Good people are hard to find and hiring can be expensive and time consuming. Whether you are hiring one employee or many, it is important to follow the above-mentioned steps. If you get it right, then you will ensure that you hire the right people.

 

As always, Spinach care about the health and success of your business. If you need to discuss financing for your business, do call us on 0800 SPINACH or 0800 774622 and one of our lending specialists will be glad to help.

Flexible Working Arrangements for Your Staff

The term ‘flexible work’ covers a wide variety of arrangements and can be customized to suit each employee’s needs. Some common examples include:

  • Working from home
  • Working within different time frames, e.g. starting and finishing early
  • Working part-time or a different number of hours
  • Taking additional unpaid leave
  • Purchasing additional leave
  • Job-sharing

The demand for flexible work is increasing in New Zealand nowadays. Factors such as advancement in technology mean that workplaces that embrace flexible working will have a significant advantage in attracting and retaining staff.

Employer Obligations

Under the Employment Relations Amendment Act (2014), employers have a legal obligation to provide a way for their employees to request a flexible working arrangement. The law applies to any part-time or full-time employee, for any reason, and at any phase of their employment lifecycle. There are a limited number of reasons employers can decline flexible working arrangement request, such as an inability to reorganize work or recruit additional staff.

Acknowledging a Request

It is very important for an employer to acknowledge that the request is received. Acknowledging a request can be really helpful in case there has been a delay in the request reaching the employer.

If Some Information is Missing

If an application of flexible working arrangement has some information missing, then the employer must inform the employee what they have missed and ask them to resend the request when it is complete. As an employer, you should let the employee know that you don’t need to respond to their request until the necessary information is received.

Deal with a Request As Soon As Possible

When you receive a flexible working request from one of your employees, it is highly recommended that you deal with it as soon as possible. Don’t delay more than one month as this amount of time is sufficient for you to assess the impact of this arrangement on your business and make a decision. It is also recommended that you respond in writing.

Meet to Discuss

The best way for you and your employee to understand each other’s position and find a solution that works for both of you is to discuss the request face-to-face. It will give you a chance to discuss the requested flexible working arrangement in detail and consider how it could fit with you (as an employer), the business, employee, and other workers. Try to be as flexible as possible during the meeting.

Things You Can Do to Get the Most from the Meeting

As an employer, here are some things you can do to get the most from the meeting:

  • Draft an agenda or make a list of the issues you want to discuss at the meeting, for example if you are already aware that you can grant the request, you may want to discuss a start date that you deem suitable before formally accepting the request.
  • As mentioned before, you should try to be as flexible as possible. Think about other working arrangements that you would be willing to consider or if you would consider another trial or start date.
  • If you have asked another party to join the meeting, then do let your employee know beforehand.
  • Discuss with your other employees if they would want to cover any extra hours that may be created due to the flexible working arrangement with a certain employee.
  • Familiarize yourself with various types of flexible working arrangements that are available.
  • Involve external expertise if you think that it would be helpful.

Flexible Working Arrangement Trial

A flexible working arrangement trial can be really beneficial as it can offer you a chance to test the arrangement and see if it works for you, your employee, other employees, and the business in general. For instance, your employee may not be sure whether he/she wants to make a permanent change to his/her flexible working arrangement. At the same time, you as an employer, may be concerned about how the proposed working arrangement may affect your business operations and your other staff.

Put it in Writing

It is always a good idea to put the arrangement in writing, no matter how informal it may be. By doing so, you will be making sure that both you and your employee are clear about the start and end dates of the flexible working arrangement.

Flexible working has many benefits, such as increased job satisfaction, increased employee productivity, reducing the chance of burnout, etc. Businesses nowadays should see flexible work as an option for all employees.

5 Key Points For Preparing a Winning Business Plan

Preparing a Business Plan

Your business plan is your ultimate decision-making tool. Without it, you are more likely to struggle to achieve your goals. A clear and concise business plan is your way to show your staff, your investors, and your bank that you know what you are doing. Anyone you approach for money will expect to see your business plan and without it, you won’t be getting any money because everyone knows that investing in a rudderless business is simply too risky. That’s why you must take certain things into consideration to make sure your business plan is effective.

Following are some tips that will help you when preparing a business plan:

1. Be Clear on What You Want to Achieve

Ask yourself what you want to achieve and what your company stands for. Think of everything you would want a potential employee, customer, partner, or investor to know about it. This include the following:

  • Vision Statement: Create a short and aspirational vision statement. It should be realistic. You should take your time to get it right.
  • Unique Selling Proposition: This includes the reasons why you believe that the customers will come to you instead of your competitors.
  • Target Market Identification: Although you would want to expand your customer base as much as possible, it pays to have a clear picture of the target market as it will make it easier for you to communicate with them.
  • Explanation of Products/Services: Make sure the explanation is in line with your Unique Selling Proposition and meets the needs of your target market.
  • Goals: List your goals. They should be measurable, realistic, and consistent with your financial plan.

2. Set Out the Details

The next step is to see how your vision will work. Specify what your business structure is and who will help you bring your vision to life. Following are some others things you should include:

  • Structure and History: Outlines the background of your business and introduce key people like managers, employees, investors, and partners.
  • Analysis of Competitors: Do a complete analysis of the competitive landscape, including information on the characteristics and size of the target market, industry, as well as your competitors’ strengths and weaknesses.
  • Business Assets: Identify what you have as well as what you need, including plant and equipment, premises, intellectual property, information systems, insurance and licenses.
  • SWOT Analysis: Identify the strengths and weaknesses of your idea along with potential opportunities and threats.
  • Goals and Milestones: Set out your key business goals for the period covered by the plan along with different milestones you want to reach. Make sure your goals are realistic and measurable.
  • Financial Forecasts: List your capital requirements and start-up costs as well as your projected cash flow, loss and profit, break-even analysis, and balance sheet forecasts.
  • Business Strategies: These should include sales, marketing, and customer retention strategies.

We recommend that you use Stats NZ’s Data for Business website in order to find useful business statistics and tools.

3. Keep it Short and Easy to Understand

When writing a business plan, make sure to keep it realistic, short, and easy to understand. It is important to consider that someone reading your business plan in the future might not be familiar with jargon or more technical terms. That’s why we recommend you write the business plan in plain English. It is also recommended that you do your research and provide evidence to support your conclusions (if possible) and include an action plan.

4. Review and Make Necessary Changes

After the above steps, you are finally ready to review your work and finalize the summary. Carefully review the business plan and make sure it presents a compelling and cohesive picture of your business in a professional format. After that, take the most important component of each section and use them to create an engaging executive summary. Your goal here is to create the summary that draws the reader into the rest of your business plan.

5. Put the Plan to Work

Once your business plan is ready, treat it as a guide to running your business. Keep in mind that business plans are dynamic documents which means that you should adjust your business plan as your business develops. If the circumstances and goals change, update the plan. The Stats NZ website has some great tools and information to get your business started.

 

As always, Spinach believe in business, and we are inspired by goals of growth. We want to be part of your success. To get us on board, please call us on 0800 SPINACH (0800 774 622) or email us info@spinach.co.nz