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.

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.

Important Things to Know About Your Credit Profile

Credit score is something a lot of people tend to ignore. But knowing about it is very important because it is one of those things that eventually sneaks into your life and ruins all the fun. If you want a future with certain assets in it to make you comfortable and happy, such as a house, a car, money for your children to go to college, etc., you have to get a loan or invest in the fundamentals of your finances.

Knowing about your credit score is very important as it can be used to assess whether you can repay your loans, which you can then utilize to significantly improve your financial situation. All in all, your credit score may mean the difference between getting a loan or not.

What is a Credit Score?

Your credit score is an important piece of information that helps lenders when they are assessing creditworthiness for any kind of lending. It takes into consideration whether you are likely to repay the loan in full or pay your bills on time.

How Credit Score is Determined?

Credit-reporting agencies calculate and maintain your credit score. Higher credit score means better credit profile. Better credit profile has several benefits including lower interest rates charged by your money lender or creditor.

Your credit score is divided into several categories such as payment history, length of credit history, amount owed, new credit, types of credit debt used, etc. Different companies take different factors into consideration. Credit bureaus operating in New Zealand collect information to determine your credit score. They then provide this information to lenders that request it.

Bad Score? Bad News

You may already know that bad credit score can affect your ability to get more credit. What you may not know is that it can affect various other aspects of your life as well. For example, it may encourage a potential employer to inspect your past business habits more carefully and reassess hiring you. This is because bad credit score reflects poor reliability on your part as an employee.

Risk Indicators

There are some certain aspects of your lending behavior or credit history that may affect your credit score negatively. When your credit score is negatively affected, your credit risk to the lending company is increased, hence ultimately increasing your interest rates.

Following are some common risk indicators;

  • Not paying your installments and bills on time
  • Opening lots of new credit accounts in a very short time
  • Short-lived accounts
  • Defaulting on payments
  • A short credit history

How Do You Improve Your Credit Score?

If you have a bad credit score, don’t lose heart because there are some things you can do to improve your credit score over time. The first thing you should do is sort out your debts. If you are experiencing problems in meeting the requirements of loan repayment, find ways to get back into a regular payment cycle. By showing a clear record of repayment over a period of time, you can demonstrate (via repayment history) that you have reformed your credit behavior. Over time, your past credit problems will become less relevant and your recent payment patterns will become more relevant to your credit score.

It is important to remember that banks aren’t the only credit providers. Utility or telecommunication companies are also credit providers. This means you have to make sure that all of your bills are paid on time.

Tips and Facts

Following are some useful tips and facts regarding credit score:

  • If you are thinking about making a big purchase (house, car, etc.) for which you have to apply for loan, then it is recommended that you ask the lender for the type of credit score they use. By doing this, you will be able to determine how your credit score will affect this purchase as well as your future loans or purchases.
  • Different financial institutions and companies use different indicators to determine whether or not you will receive a loan. Some of the factors that may be taken into account include your age, income, lending history, net worth, employment history, etc. These factors are weighted differently in different companies.
  • If you are planning on getting married, then it is recommended that you look at each other’s credit scores so you can work out what you will both collectively owe, how to pay it off, as well as how your credit score will be factored into your budget.
  • If you have a feeling that your credit score may not be so great, keep in mind that you can always make a comeback. The first step is to evaluate your situation and find ways to get your finances in order.

At Spinach we want to help our clients get the best possible outcome for their loan applications and for their goals alike. If you would like to discuss this topic further and get an indication of where you would stand with our lenders, please do call us on 0800 SPINACH (0800 774622) or email info@spinach.co.nz

The Importance of Hiring a Great Accountant

Many business owners, particularly those who manage small businesses, ignore to see the importance of hiring an accountant. They only realize their importance in the following situations:

  • Renewal of business permits and licenses
  • Filing of audited financial statements and income tax returns, and
  • Government agencies audit

Oftentimes, they hire an accountant when its already too late. Hiring a great accountant has many benefits. Small business owners usually find it costly to maintain a retainer to do the tax preparation and bookkeeping for their business. But what they don’t usually know is that there are many monetary as well as non-monetary advantages of maintaining one. This article reviews the importance of hiring a great accountant in business, no matter how small it is. Following are some of the key benefits of hiring an accountant:

Organized Record of Financial Data

Most business owners want to focus their energy and time operating and growing their business. As such, often times their personal and business financial documents are mixed up. Having unorganized financial documents creates headaches and stress to business owners as they don’t know if they are profiting or losing. This is where the help of an accountant proves to be invaluable. A great accountant can help you maintain an organized record of filing of your business’ day to day financial records. This is generally known as bookkeeping. When the business has an organized and systemized record keeping of transactions, it saves the business owners time worrying about whether they are profiting or losing. Furthermore, they don’t have to worry about how to organize all the receipts they need to file and record.

Financial Analysis

A business accountant analyzes the input and output of the business, including operation costs, revenue, and invested capital and then comes up with executable strategies to make sure that the business remains profitable. He/she also advises proprietors on the business’ feasibility as well as further trends.

Reporting

An accountant prepares financial reports for the business within the required time. They complete accurate financial reports. These reports play an important role in decision making about the business’ various operations. Apart from this, the reports also serve an interactive purpose for internal as well as external audits.

Supervisory and Managerial Role

The role of accountants in every business is extremely important as they utilize their knowledge, skills, and expertise to keep the organization staffed by working on mechanisms of suitable hiring and management of staff. On the monitoring and supervisory aspect, accountants come up with systems capable of monitoring inputs as well as financial reports handling in the business.

Businesses that hire the services of a great accountant generally enjoy the following benefits:

  • Well-kept and organized information.
  • Rapid growth due to enhanced financial credibility, management, and strategies.
  • A lot of free time to invest further.
  • No disputes with employees as payments and terms are duly served.

Save Time to Focus on Business Growth

It can be quite time consuming to keep track of your business financial data, recording, as well as filling it, particularly if you are not used to it. With the help of an accountant, you can save a lot of your time to focus on the growth of your business rather than worrying about keeping an organized accounting record and tax deadlines.

Save Money

The possibility of future penalties is high if you don’t have an accountant. There is also the risk of interest on government reports that are incorrectly filed. With the help of an experienced accountant, you can save cost on these future charges and penalties of correcting your tax returns and accounting books on time.

Peace of Mind

The last but not least benefit of hiring a great accountant is that you will have peace of mind.  When you have a skilled accountant who efficiently does the tax compliance and record keeping, you don’t need to worry about someone coming to your business to do Audit. With the help of an accountant, you can be confident that you have the records to show that you are complying with all of the accounting and government reportorial requirements.

Final Word

Accounting is a very important aspect of any business, no matter whether it is a small business or a large enterprise. As a business owner, your top priority is to keep your accounting in proper order. If you have trouble maintaining the accounts yourself, then it is highly recommended that you hire an account to handle the accounting aspects of your business. Not only will this give you peace of mind, but you will also have more time to perform other tasks to run your business efficiently.

The Benefits of Having a Great Business Mentor on Your Side

There are a very few successful people that are truly “self-made”. Mostly every success story is linked to someone that helped the person along the way. Although this is not always the case, most of the time the person that helped was a mentor. Understanding the benefits of having a great business mentor is something you need to think about.

Basically, a business mentor is an individual who is there for you to guide you in the right direction. He/she gives you direction through their experience and listens to your ideas. Mentors have years of experience in the field and they have gone through the problems that most new business owners will go through. They share that experience with you so you don’t have to go through those problems. In this way, a mentor can help save you a lot of time, money, and frustration.

Following are some benefits of having a great business mentor:

Expert Advice

The best thing about having a great business mentor that has experience in your industry is that they can give you a more reliable, specific advice. Because of their years of experience, they know the issues that you are facing, and how to deal with those issues in a quick and efficient way. The important thing to remember is that you are getting a sound advice. The mentor’s job is not about telling you what to do. They can simply offer advice on the basis of what they know, and what they have been through in the past. Every situation is different, so it is up to you to decide how to deal with each situation based on what you know as well as the advice that your mentor gives you.

A Different Perspective

Another benefit of having a business mentor is that they can act as a sounding board for your ideas. Your mentor can offer a different perspective that might help you to adjust or clarify those ideas so that you can present them to others. Apart from this, your mentor can also act as a sounding board as you try to determine what the best reaction is to a certain situation that you are currently facing. You may be in a position to deal with a difficult employee, and your business mentor can hear how you want to handle the situation. Your mentor will be able to play “devil’s advocate” to make sure that you are fully prepared before you meet with that employee.

Connections

Since your business mentor has years of experience in your industry, they are likely to have many connections within the industry as well. As your business grows and develops, your mentor may be able to introduce you to people that you wouldn’t be able to meet otherwise. Those connections could lead to promotions and/or opportunities that may not be available to your competitors. As a business owner, your connections are extremely important to the life of your business. Those connections become the suppliers or customers that will help your business to be profitable.

Emotional Support

You may be alone as a business owner, but your entrepreneurial journey doesn’t have to be isolated. Your business mentor can fill the gaps by offering emotional support. This is one of the most critical roles of a great business mentor. As your grow in your business as well as in your personal life, it is helpful to have someone who can ask you the difficult questions regarding how you are doing as a person. They can question you on whether you are making time for your family, how you are treating others, and most importantly, how you are doing ethically.

Developing Confidence

Restoring enthusiasm and confidence on the part of the business owner is the endgame of business mentoring. By encouraging, teaching, and assisting, a mentor can turn a burnt-out business owner into a fireball of productivity. As a business owner, when you realize that your business is not a ball and chain which requires 60 hours of your time every week but a vehicle that can significantly improve your own life and develop real equity, you will become far more productive.

These are just a few of the key benefits of having a great business mentor. But you should keep in mind that nothing is guaranteed. You still need to work hard in order to make sure that your business is successful. However, with an experienced business mentor by your side, your probability of success will certainly increase tenfold.

Admin Ideas to Improve The Efficiency of Your Small Business

As a small business owner, you don’t have any time to waste. There are a million things on your mind and a million things to do, and simply not enough hours in the day. But you can relieve some of that pressure, increase efficiency, and maybe save some time by implementing some key time management techniques.

Following are some admin ideas and tips that will help you save time and increase your small business management efficiency:

1. Always Have a Daily Plan

While living by a plan may not exactly seem glamorous as a small business owner, it is one of the best ways to be efficient and stay on top of everything. It is recommended that you start out your day listing down your goals and plan accordingly, and then prioritize those goals. You won’t find yourself wasting as much time when you have got things down on a list with a specific plan to follow.

2. Delegate

Admitting that they cannot do everything themselves is probably one of the most difficult things for small business owners. While it may be a bit scary to give up control and rely on others, it is a necessity. Learning what and how to delegate can be a great time-saver and helps your business to be relatively more efficient. And delegating does not only work for tasks, when it comes to putting together strategies and answering some of the important questions you face as a small business owner, you can ask other people to help you out.

3. Prioritize

There are lots of tasks that go into managing a small business, but not all of them require the same amount or level of attention. Every business is difficult and focuses on different areas. For instance, a brick and mortar store may decide to prioritize sales and advertising strategies while an online business should probably expect to prioritize social media use and article writing since the owner has to gain website traffic as well as build credibility. What’s important is that the priorities of a business be detailed out and clear to everyone involved.

The key to successful prioritization is being able to differentiate between tasks that are urgent and non-urgent as well as important and non-important tasks. The tasks that have a tangible impact on your business’ success are important tasks, while urgent tasks are those that have an impending, firm deadline, with consequences if that deadline is missed.

4. Automate

Technology is an amazing thing. Small business owners these days are extremely lucky that they live in an era in which modern technologies and innovations that can help them manage their businesses more easily are popping up on a regular basis. Automation of certain tasks can help drastically reduce the time and effort required. For example, by switching to online scheduling, you can reduce the time it takes you to schedule your staff by up to 80%. Not to mention, you also get rid of your pen-and-paper schedules and spreadsheets. Nowadays, there’s probably a software solution that can help you simplify just about any business process, from running your payroll to posting on social media.

5. Outsource

The idea behind outsourcing is pretty simple. Take a task that you don’t have time to do or don’t want to do and pay someone else to do it. Outsourcing is an excellent way to offload some of your administrative burden and often have the task carried out by a professional more quickly and proficiently as opposed to handling it in-house. While it’s not always quite as straightforward or simple as that, outsourcing is still one of the best ways to reduce your workload and free up valuable time which you can then spend elsewhere. To proceed, first identify what business tasks you want to outsource. Then, start to identify potential agencies, contractors, or service providers to take on the work you would like to outsource.

6. Ease Up on the Meetings

If you schedule a lot of meetings with your staff, then ask yourself how important they really are. The time spent preparing for the meeting, holding it, and then responding to various questions afterwards can add up fast. That’s why it is recommended that you only stick to important meetings.

 

While dealing with administrative burden can be quite challenging, regardless of whether or not it’s a small business, it is by no means an impossible challenge. A few small changes in how you think about and tackle your small business administrative tasks can make a huge difference to your efficiency and productivity, leaving you more energy and time to focus on growing and improving your business.