Want to Start A Scalable Business? Here Are Some Ideas

 

You want to start a scalable business because you have huge aspirations. Unlike running the mom ‘n’ pop shops in your neighbourhood, you want more than a few loyal customers. You want to grow your company, reach new investors, and expand across the city, the country, and even the world.

A scalable business is a company capable of multiplying revenue without compromising the resulting profits. You’ll charge the same price per customer if you have 100 or if you have 100,000, and more clients doesn’t equal larger workload. That is a scalable business.

When your company is ready to scale, it’ll have a desirable product and an established business model. Not only will your friends and family think your ideas are great, but investors will come knocking as well.

So where do you begin? What exactly does this type of business look like? To get you started on your road to glory, here are a few examples of businesses proven to have scalable potential.

Software Companies

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Why are some of the biggest companies in the world based around software? Well, it’s because quality software can be replicated over and over again without excessive expenditure. A software startup with limited capital can build a minimum viable product (MVP) with budding potential and present it to the market and investors. Then over night, they can gain a huge following, or disappear with miniscule damages.

Whether your new company is based around a SaaS model or utilizes the cloud, building around a low-cost deliverable will help your scalability.

Take a quick look at the world’s largest software companies, Microsoft and Oracle. These two brands are churning out products that consumers don’t even know they are purchasing. Once the developed product is ready for the market, consumers can access it with a few clicks. No need to stock it on a shelf and no need to drive to a store and buy it.

When products need physical applications, such as the case of CD-ROMS, smart companies will outsource the operation without compromising the team’s time, efforts, and intellect. Scaling does not all happen internally. Sometimes your company will need help.

E-commerce

Online shopping is a worldwide phenomenon and it’s only growing. Unlike brick-and-mortar businesses, e-commerce has exceptional scalable capacity. While some shoppers are searching for a desired product, many are just browsing (window-shopping) hoping that something will catch their eyes. Here is where your company appears.

It’s true that products available online are also available in stores. So with that in mind, how can you possibly set your brand apart in this cramped market place?

The answer is trust. What do people hate about department stores? The cavernous warehouse sensation, the time-consuming journey through the wrong aisle, and the often-indignant customer service. A scalable e-commerce business must offer a solid product and a customer oriented business model to match.

Take the fashion startup Indochino for example. The formalwear company focuses solely on giving the modern men—who are often reluctant to get garment measured and tailored—an experience that is worthwhile and enjoyable.

In addition, successful e-commerce startups offer incentives that retail stores often omit. Coupons, discounts, and various other marketing strategies to gain loyalty are ways to turn your savings into new customers.

Social Network and Gamification

Perhaps it is too late to invent Facebook or Twitter, but your scalable startup can still connect people together in different ways.

Two prime examples of scalable businesses that leverage social media for success areFourSquare, a mobile app that learns what you like and suggest places for you to go, and OpenTable, a service that allows you to make dinner reservations quick and easy. Both of these applications fulfill that public demand to explore and evaluate, while providing a gamified element that encourages users to return.

Monotonous and stress-inducing problems seep into our lives constantly. If you can build a company that makes even one of those problems enjoyable (or even bearable), such as finding someone to help you clean your house, like TaskRabbit does, then you are on your way to creating something scalable.

Read more about business and payment on Control

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Flavour feud – Potato chips: Lay’s versus Miss Vickie’s

Photo illustration by Joel McCarthy

Originally published in The Other Press. May 5, 2015

There is nothing more frustrating than standing in the snack aisle, surveying the selection, getting overwhelmed, and breaking down in tears. We know how hard it is to make that tough decision. We want to help you pick the perfect snack. But everybody’s taste is different, so in this series we’ll carefully evaluate each flavour and offer our opinions. Take it or leave it, but you should really buy something soon or else you’ll start looking suspicious. In this edition, we’ll look at potato chips—Lay’s and Miss Vickie’s to be specific.

By Elliot Chan, Opinions Editor

Lay’s Classic: An almost perfect blank slate, Classic offers comfort and simplicity. A delightful crunch and a salty potato taste that is as authentic as McDonald’s French fries. I don’t always pick Lay’s Classic as chip of choice, but when I do, I don’t think I’ve ever been disappointed.

Lay’s Salt and Vinegar: This flavour proves to me that Lay’s has a pretty solid handle on subtle flavour. I’m not the biggest fan of vinegar. For some chips it’s too overwhelming for me, but Lay’s version is innocuous as long as you have a beverage close at hand.

Lay’s Ketchup: Perhaps the reason I enjoy Lay’s Ketchup so much is because of its exclusivity, since the flavour is not available in the US. But no, it’s good. Not every brand can deal with the fine taste of a familiar condiment, but Lay’s tried and it’s uniquely their own. Few chips can offer the same savory experience that Lay’s does with Ketchup.

Miss Vickie’s Jalapeño: A staple food growing up, Miss Vickie’s Jalapenño ignites a sudden burst of nostalgia coupled with an innocuous zig. While it was the popular choice in my high school vending machine, I must say that I have grown out of it. The spicy jalapeño flavour is dull in comparison to Doritos. Once you leave high school, you realize that there is more out there than a bag of chips that makes you cough every third crunch.

Miss Vickie’s Salt and Vinegar: Not just simply salt and vinegar, but sea salt and malt vinegar—ohhh! If saltiness is what you want in chips, then S&V is your thing. It’s one step above Lay’s in flavour, which to me is too much. A few bites and I’m parched. If you pick S&V be sure to pair it with a chilled bottle of Coke.

Miss Vickie’s Sweet Chili and Sour Cream: A flavour uniquely Miss Vickie’s. An epic crunch takes away from the flavourful chip. The chip crumbles in your mouth and your tongue will do its best to savour the taste, but it doesn’t last. Nevertheless, it is a delightful choice for those caught in between decisions. It has a little of everything.

Verdict: There is just something special about Lay’s that’s simple and enjoyable without destroying your taste buds and churning up your stomach. Miss Vickie’s is a kaleidoscope of flavours, nothing wrong with that. But Lay’s is more of a microscope. They do the originals and secondary flavours right. Consistency is the key to a good chip.

By Eric Wilkins, Assistant Editor

Lay’s Classic: Easily the I-can’t-believe-that’s-what-you-got of chips. Seriously? Tasteless and poor consistency. It’s a lot like their former spokesman, Mark Messier, in the twilight of his career: super recognizable, but not that good.

Lay’s Salt and Vinegar: Everyone’s first relationship is an intense experience, and one that is often significantly less perfect in hindsight. Such was my time with this salty vixen. It was all fun and games when Lay’s S&V was my favourite growing up, but I’ve since come to notice the lack of substance. Always addicted to being as thin as possible, S&V never quite got the flavour-chip ratio right. Forever with a chip on its shoulder.

Lay’s Ketchup: I may have it out for Lay’s, but if there’s something they’ve got right, it’s their ketchup chips. I’m admittedly more of a mustard man—where are those eh?—however, credit is given where credit’s due. Few of the more unique flavours taste even remotely similar to what they’re supposed to and the majority of taste is in the suggestive packaging, but Lay’s Ketchup really hits it near the edge of the bottle. The only reason anyone should ever pick up a bag of Lay’s.

Miss Vickie’s Jalapeno: Short disclaimer before I proceed: anything even remotely spicy gets me sweating; however, I love spicy food. Miss Vickie’s Jalapeno? Not that spicy. Me? Very sweaty. An enjoyable chip that will have the average person indulging just a tad bit more than normal in their carbonated beverage of choice.

Miss Vickie’s Salt and Vinegar: How a chip should be. Strong flavour without beating you over the head with it. Crunchy without being brittle. And even the bag feels more quality. Chip game on fleek. My go-to after a long day of dealing with curmudgeonly people.

Miss Vickie’s Sweet Chili and Sour Cream: As mentioned in the section dealing with Lay’s Ketchup, companies often fail to get the flavour right for more obscure tastes—Vickie’s Sweet Chili and Sour Cream is one of those failures. However, by no means is this a bad chip. Inasmuch as my plebeian tongue has difficulty trying to discern what exactly is going on with this crunchy morsel, it is fully aware that it is a scrumptious confusion. Poor execution, but a fantastic mistake.

Verdict: Miss Vickie’s by a production-line mile. Both companies do alright in the flavour category, but a chip is nothing without the … chip. In this regard, Ms. Vickie’s easily trounces the competition. I’m not saying I’d like to change her title to “Mrs.” but Vickie’s is definitely my favourite chip.

Rotating goalies make 2015 playoff interesting

Andrew Hammond photo by Harry How

Young and veteran goalies trade off chances in net

By Elliot Chan, Opinions Editor
Formerly published in The Other Press. May 4, 2015

Twenty-four goalies entered play in the first round of the 2015 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs. With 75 per cent of the teams using more than one goalie, it makes competition ever more unpredictable. Goaltending has always been hailed as the defining factor when it comes to the playoffs. A goalie can steal a game and win a series all on his own. And this year quality goaltending remains an important ingredient for any team’s success.

While rotating goaltenders can get you to the finals—remember when the Philadelphia Flyers with Michael Leighton and Brian Boucher lost to the Chicago Blackhawks—it rarely wins you the championship. The script this year is a bit different though for a number of teams. The Ottawa Senators and the Vancouver Canucks earned playoff berths this year all because of the valiant play of their backup goalies. Sadly when it came down to crunch time, (i.e., a seven-game series) Andrew Hammond and Eddie Lack were unable to pull off any miracles.

However, it was interesting seeing the veterans step in to salvage the series. Number one goalies Craig Anderson of the Senators and Ryan Miller of the Canucks, ended up starting their respective game six elimination games. One might believe that if the coaches were to start their number ones initially the result might have been different, however, with such stellar performances from the rookies and sophomore goaltenders the fans might have been outraged to see that. Hindsight is only so useful in hockey.

The result was perhaps inevitable. You need your number one goalie to perform like a number one goalie if you want to win the Stanley Cup. If you bet on your number two, it’s a huge gamble. There are exceptions of course. In 2006 Cam Ward of the Carolina Hurricanes came in to replace Martin Gerber early in the playoffs to lead the Hurricanes to the championship.

Teams with sound goaltending like New York Rangers, Anaheim Ducks, and Montreal Canadiens are the undeniable favourites this year. Having consistency on the backend does more for a team than build confidence. With solid goaltending, a team can intimidate the opposition. In a sense, with a goalie as consistent as Carey Price or Henrik Lundqvist, opponents are down a point before the game even begins.

Of the teams that have advanced to the second round, the Calgary Flames and the Chicago Blackhawks are the two most notable teams that have succeeded with a rotating goalie strategy. While it has worked so far, if one goalie does not step forward and take the sole responsibility—have reliable performance day after day—then they will surely be eliminated. The Blackhawks are facing the Minnesota Wild with Devan Dubnyk, who has really come into form since escaping Edmonton. It’s hard to bet against the experience of the Blackhawks, but going with the theme, inconsistent goaltending may end up being their downfall.

5 Things We Should Know About Mobile Payment

 Originally published on Control. Feb 18, 2015

Consumer habits have changed significantly in the past few years. The market must recognize the driving force of mobile and web payment. Paying customers are demanding ease and seamlessness more than ever, and lengthy processes will ultimately lead to your company’s demise.

The Paperless Trend

Crumpled piece of paper

The shift from paper to digital is happening in many forms, but one clear instance is in payment. According to Aite Group, in 2013 digital payments accounted for almost half of all bills paid in the United States. The reason is clear: Why bother with the hassle of writing a cheque and mailing it when you can get those nasty bills off your shoulders quickly.

Millennials prefer online payment. Even though they own chequebooks, they rarely use them.

The Consumer Mindset

Lego customers making purchases

The payment processing industry is currently the fifth fastest growing sector in the United States and there is a lot of room for growth. However, marketers must remember that consumers aren’t making payments for the sake of making payments. They want to buy a new shirt, reserve tickets to a concert, or book a flight for vacation. Accessing their funds is just something that occurs in the back of their mind and companies should not interfere with that.

Consumers are looking for the next easy-to-use platform. Be it Stripe, PayPal, Apple Pay, or even SnapChat, those making purchases favor companies capable of integrating payment unobtrusively.

The Brave New World

Don’t hesitate to make a change if the end goal is to make the product better and easier to use. The shift from credit cards to mobile payment wasn’t the swiftest transition in history, but it happened. Take a look at Starbucks cards and their payment app. If you are an avid coffee drinker there’s little reason not to buy into it. Tech-savvy users aren’t afraid to make payments in different ways. Nevertheless, the processes only work if the company has something of value to reel the consumers in with.

There is no fear, there just needs to be a reason.

The Learning Curve

Man with iPhone

Customer education is one common criticism for companies integrating new technology into a campaign or overall structure. Not every customer will be a tech-savvy and technical person, so support is often appreciated. Look at the mobile banking industry for example. For years, mobile banking had been available, however, only 10% [according to ath Power Consulting] of users were advised to access their finances through their devices rather than visiting a brick-and-mortar bank.

A little helping hand at the start can ease your consumers into the mobile payment process. Studies have shown that the little extra steps early on payoff in customer loyalty.

The Universal Mobile Payment Method

Are we overloading consumers with payment options? Perhaps. But keep in mind, most services are exclusive to certain devices or individual accounts. Apple Pay users can only use Apple products to make transactions. PayPal merchants can only accept payments from PayPal users with the app.

If we are going to pick a universal mobile payment method we have to highlight CurrentC, developed by The Merchant Customer Exchange. Over 110,000 retailersincluding Best Buy and Walmart are already equipped with the POS hardware and connected to the network. In addition, the app will use tokenized data to complete transactions, instead of the traditional card data, albeit the service so far has been considered “clunky”. Mutually beneficial partnerships, and not coercion, will be the key to developing a successful universal mobile payment method.

We are a long ways away from crowning any payment method as the universal choice. At the moment it’s coming down to the customer’s priority and lifestyle, and that is how it should remain.