I’m still relatively new to the corporate environment, and after the last decade or so of running a small business – I’m accustomed to hustling all day to get things done. One of the things that I continue to wonder is, ‘how do large businesses even make any money?’. I don’t ask the question because I am actually confused as to how – but rather because I see so much waste and repeated work that it still shocks me as to how much they actually make in profits.
I am a small player on a large field in Oracle – and in fact, I’m not even an employee, I’m a contractor. But I love making things better and easier to use. If a piece of software has shortcuts then I’ll find them. If there’s a way to automate my job then I’ll want to do it. If there’s a process that can be made better then you want to watch out because I’m going to make it better.
Standardisation is a way to make things a bit faster, a bit better, a bit easier for people to understand. That’s why processes and systems exist. However there’s one thing that a lot of people find hard – and that’s URLs. Especially at Oracle where I’m currently contracting there are (as my kids would say) a zillion billion dillion googolplex of URLs and software and places to remember.
So I made Orclr.com
It’s a URL shortener – but more to the point it’s a URL standardiser. Pop in a URL, give it a customised name, and out comes a customised, easy to read URL. Using it, I can customise where projects are just by remembering the job name of the project. Because it’s private and fresh – I don’t have to work out names that are available.
Now anyone can create standardised URLs for sharing across projects, across websites, across software. Shorter and easier to read – no need to have a billion bookmarks, or navigate through the very many clicks that are wasting time each day.
Hopefully it can go a small way to helping people in their jobs, and helping reduce wasted time.
If you work hard, you’ll make it in the end.
This is a hugely popular sentiment online. With entrepreneurism on the up and up, and running a startup being one of the coolest things out there, people continue to latch on to this sentiment for what I think comes across as either a boast that they’re working hard, or an attempt to create a self fulfilling prophecy. If I just work myself to the bone, if I don’t give up, if I just work a little harder – then I’ll make it. Work sets you free.
This idea that success is guaranteed with hard work, seems to me to be the rich person’s hubris, a deceit. Rich enough to start something that can fail, but not living in reality – working hard never guarantees success. So many people have failed over the years and worked extremely hard in the process.
“Believe in yourself, and the rest will fall into place. Have faith in your own abilities, work hard, and there is nothing you cannot accomplish.”
Work hard yes – of course. Work is good, work is worth doing properly. But don’t think that for one minute success is just down to hard work.
Understand your audience, match what you have with what they want. Surely this isn’t that hard of a concept to work with. It feels like a pretty solid piece of advice, especially if you think about the fact that people buy things that they want.
So why is it that so many marketing managers spend so little time working to understand their audience?
Make it blue – I like blue.
So much time is spent on the business side only thinking about the product itself, or even worse divorcing the marketing from the product. It’s not even that people think about the customer. It’s about what the marketing manager likes, colours, words, pictures, personal interest takes a much bigger role than the interests of the customer.
With my seed funding and more product available I chuffed off to buy myself four more boxes of seeds.
We got home shortly after and had a few boxes on the floor. My daughter in her excitement emptied the boxes all over the house – I was almost as excited so a little disappointed that I didn’t get to do it first ;)
We spent the afternoon counting the packets and came up with a total 6899 packets of seeds. Enough for… for something. I still wasn’t entirely sure what I’d do.
I did have an idea though, I thought of my favourite bargain site in Australia – OzBargain. They’re an absolute bunch of cheapskates (let the reader understand this is a compliment of the highest order) and I was sure it would come in handy at some point. More about that soon.
The first thing I wanted to do was assess what my opportunity looked like. I had an inkling that it was a pretty good result. Originally I had purchased 60 packets for $6. Then I had completed my purchase of 5 full boxes of seeds for $200 – with 6899 packets of seeds each pack had cost me about 3 cents.
Always keen to understand what it would have cost me at the shops, I headed up to the local supermarket and found that they were about $3.50 per pack, or $4 for some. So I had a genuine opportunity on my hands – worth around $24k retail. Yes!
I immediately realised I could work this into an offering that would match up perfectly with the ‘needs’ of the biggest pile of cheapskates in Australia.