Elevator Pitch is a regular feature on Lifehacker where we profile startups and new companies and pick their brains for entrepreneurial advice. This week, we're talking with Dan Fairbairn, managing director of cloud technology solutions provider Ocius Digital.
In 128 words or less, explain your business idea.
Why 128 words? We tailor solutions to meet the needs of every client to minimise their administrative overheads and ensure success. Xero Accounting has become the go to product for start ups and small business, and the amount of ways that small businesses can harness technology for their operations is truly astounding.
Seeing a gap in the market for cloud based SMALL business solutions, I took my experience with Xero Accounting and associated business software and started Ocius Digital. Far too many small businesses struggle through no fault of the owner, but instead held back by their process and software. If small business flourishes, we believe that so does the economy in a larger part.
Will you really cut off the 129th word?
What strategies are you using to grow and finance your idea?
We use an approach in our marketing which is to inform the market as much as possible and as freely as possible. There is a lot of misinformation in the market, and in addition small businesses are very time poor. We intentionally make ourselves and our employees as accessible as possible to both clients and prospects. We always allow anyone to drop in any time into our office and catch up one on one.
We have been bootstrapped from day one, and this hasn't particularly held us back because of the size of opportunity and growth in our market. That said, we'll always welcome investment discussions from the right sources, and have had clients and partners ask us about licensing and investment.
What's the biggest challenge facing your business?
Scaling any small business is difficult, and especially with only a small number of staff. We have had to fight many larger companies, and also a potential perceived notion that we can't honour our work because we are a smaller company. In addition, being small and in a very fast paced industry we have had to be systemised and nimble in order to move quickly.
The above difficulties have actually been used to our advantage in some cases, as customers are often surprised how well we can do our work given our size, which is a lesson to them int he advantages of systemising and being able to work from anywhere.
In addition, I'm excited to see recent legislation changes and desperately hope that Australia can become a real hub for tech talent!
How do you differentiate your business from your competitors?
A lot of people, and especially in the area that we work in, will try and cookie cutter solutions in order to sell into multiple clients in the same area. Having worked in small business and now set one up, every business is different and we bloody love talking to small businesses about what they do!
I like to think that we are knowledgable in our market, and the best partner for a company to choose, but whilst still being able to have a laugh and take on everything required for our work. In addition, our market is one which is booming in small business in Australia.
What one phone, tablet or PC application could you not live without?
Just to appear like every other tech start up - Slack!! This genuinely has changed everything about how we operate. Web leads funnel through to channels, project updates are all centralised, our invoicing and web payments automatically notify staff, and we send stupid funny pictures to each other!
What's the best piece of business advice you've ever received?
If you think it's expensive to hire a professional, wait until you hire an amateur. That's something we profess to people almost every day in one way or another.
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