Monday, April 27, 2015
At this time I need people to be clear in what they need and give me all the information I need to be able to do the job. If you make a request of me that needs further clarification from me I'll probably send an email saying "I can't do this because..." and then your clarifying email will just go to the bottom of the list again.
Of I will just ignore your request. Just saying. I'm not being rude for the fun of it, just out of necessity. As it is, I'm not getting to everyone's demands so you have one chance...
Friday, April 24, 2015
From Friday April 23
One of the major challenges in running a service business is variability. Sure, peaks and troughs in demand are a problem, but variations in the product you provide cause real concerns for customers.
I have taken a skydiving rig on Jetstar before. It's not a safety issue. It's packed pretty densely and weighs 9kg. This time I was asked to put it on the scales just to tag it and was told that its 2kg too heavy.
What a pain. Removing a canopy from a skydiving rig and stashing it into my checked baggage - in the airport. Still, all that done I return to the desk where they reweigh my checked baggage (and hit me for $30) but don't weigh or tag my carry on baggage.
So in order to reduce the problem of variability a service company should think about people and processes. But then getting processes to work becomes an HR and system design thing.
So I have the pleasure of reassembling my rig tonight and also the flight is gonna be late into Sydney - that might cost me $400.
I'm not liking the sound of this Jetstar.
UPDATE: Last night I came back from Sydney with the rig as carry on with no qualms. And all the other passengers were carrying 15kilo bags. Variability, go figure.
Wednesday, April 22, 2015
Monday, April 20, 2015
I don't wanna overstate my credentials here. For sure I've been running Cullen Habel as a business for the last four years and I've managed to keep the mortgage paid and food on the table plus a few other luxuries. I'm blessed with a wife who manages money well and earns quite a bit too. Sure I've had to take some crappy jobs but mostly I've been lucky - it's essentially teaching and market research - and my clients have behaved well. And I've stayed in pretty safe business areas. Very lucky to be able to do that.
I'm not making my living from $200 invoices - they're a lot larger - but the bookkeeping has become a little more complex and I thought I might need to evolve from my spreadsheets to some software. My sister's advice was pretty straightforward - run for as long as you can with your simple systems because even the most basic accounting package is gonna cost you $$ - and then you've gotta learn how to use it. I think my sister knows what she's talking about.
Business startups that never stood a chance
And then my thoughts wandered to start up businesses I've seen that had a good idea but never had a chance as a long term plan. Because of the owner's mindset. To my thinking the biggest load of crap in a startup is:
"You have to spend money to make money"
Pffft. That misconception has buried more promising ideas than it has built. Sure, if your idea is a food truck the you have to get - well - a food truck. Yep, you have to spend that money. Stock, licenses, insurance, plant and equipment. Price of entry. But spending money is not the action that makes your business work - that comes from producing product and selling it for more than it cost you to make.
But back to my own example. I send about 60 invoices a year, I have very few raw materials or finished goods, no real manufacturing processes and I pay very few subcontractors. If I buy MYOB for that then - sure - I'm feeling like I'm getting real but really I'm just blowing $1000 on a feeling. Strangely enough - the food truck probably does need MYOB - for them it's more than a feeling.
The Beef Jerky example
My most stark example of this came from when I was selling packaging. A couple of families pulled together (I guess) about $50k of working capital and bought a tiny beef jerky business. They would've got a brand name, a dehydrator and some leftover packaging for about $15k. Then they called me, the packaging guy.
I thought something was up when I was asked to visit them at the "New Playford" - apparently that was a newly established luxury hotel in Adelaide - because they were on a "strategy retreat". Riiiight.
To set up new packaging was about $10k in Negatives and Plates and a first order on packaging would cost them $20k (due to minimum run sizes). Or they could put a high quality label over their existing packaging they had bought with the business. I didn't care either way. They went with the new art approach so promptly went off and started speaking to design companies before the business had returned them a cent. I understand how important good branding is, but in the beef jerky category? A mature market where the main volume is sold through supermarkets and the route trade is highly fragmented? That was always gonna be a hiding to nothing.
I'm the last person to criticise another for having a go - just that some actions are smarter than others. It's not how I would've done it.
But the dominant uncomfortable fact seems to remain. Don't spend money to feel like you're a businessperson. Starting a business is about MAKING money not spending it - that's what a business does.
But I had joined the Air Force cadets when I was 12 and that had concreted for me how important Anzac Day was. Through my teens we would have a few marches each year - one in Gawler the week before Anzac Day, and then the big one in town.
We'd meet at the Air Force Association in North Adelaide, and get our lollipop - the sign on a stick we'd march with for the particular squadron. I remember that one year I had "the flying shovels" - engineers who'd build runways. I didn't think it was cool at the time but I think it's bloody cool now. Thinking of the men who didn't even get to go to war made me remember this song:
I wonder if my grandfather (a bricklayer who built munitions factories during the war) had ever been given a white feather? How terrible would that be?
Anzac Day has always been big for me. I remember when I was in Cairns that I went to the dawn service there with dad. Yes, I'll probably go to the one at Picton this year.
Back in 2008 I walked the Kokoda track for interest and a personal challenge. Upon returning I said to a nice old guy who went there "gee you dug a lot of foxholes" and he went quiet. But not before he had retorted:
"Yeah we dug a bloody lot of graves too mate"
And he hated Anzac Day.
As I get older, I increasingly hold our military people in great awe. I get to quibble over my first world problems while they leave home and family and do what they're told. Whatever that is. I've recently met a guy whose job it was to walk in front of fighting units, scanning for improvised explosive devices. Joking about how the Afghan dust forms like a mud masque all over your body after a month. Another guy who gave me practical tips about how it's important to get the first shot off in a pistol fight, or to keep advancing in a knife fight. "You're gonna get cut, the important thing is to not get too badly hurt". Those are tips I probably will never need to use, in my comfortable little bubble.
Lest we forget.
Sunday, April 19, 2015
Saturday, April 18, 2015
UPDATE: I got well more than the 60 hits I thought I'd get after a day. I'm not chasing pageviews but a few people have said "Yeh I know that dude". Who would have guessed?
UPDATE: I think the best comment I got was on my FB page: "Freezy Fly essssooo leave the poor dude alone he is driving a car for minimum wage!! he doesn't skydive his life is already horrible why make it worse"and I think Freezy is right. These are minor issues in life.
I've noticed, recently, that I will get about 150 pageview in a really short space of time, and the views have come out of Russia, normally. I can only guess that it's some type of "content harvester" but it's a little creepy.
Is there any such thing as a "content harvester" or can anyone who knows the internet better than me let me in on the joke?
Friday, April 17, 2015
Tuesday, April 14, 2015
Monday, April 13, 2015
The person who thought the idea of servicescape conceived it as being made up of design factors, ambient factors and social factors. The Kent Town Hotel has done the first two very well, but the social factors just fell down. I'm in a PUB ffs!