NCS GROUP Chartered Accountants was founded in 2003 on the belief that good small-and-medium-sized businesses could grow more effectively with the benefit of financial accounting advice that was in the league of the Big Four accounting firms.

Founders Sharryn Carey-Nicholls and Andrew Nicholls also believed that their family business approach – highlighted by as much partner-client personal service as possible – and a dedication to research would be the way to deliver a great service relationship. 

“My wife Sharryn Carey-Nicholls and I founded the practice on July 1, 2003,” NCS Group Chartered Accountants director and CEO Andrew Nicholls said.

“We established the practice with a view that SMEs and professional individuals were missing out on true strategic financial advisory services,” he said. “This was mainly the domain of the Big Four accounting firms and perhaps some of the next level firms.

“Most sub-corporate businesses were simply dealing with their accountants on a form filling exercise – BAS, tax returns and financial statements. From day one, we have been fully involved with our clients in forecasting, risk management and strategic business decision making.

“We consider ourselves ‘boutique’ by design. Our feedback has always been, clients want access to partners and expertise within their accounting suppliers.

“We can’t provide that level of service with a large number of clients. Therefore, we tend to refuse more potential clients than we take on,” Mr Nicholls said.

“That’s not trying to be snobby. We are looking for clients whom we can partner with, respect our experience and advice and, likewise, will take advice from us in the future direction of our client’s business. We look to ourselves as partners with our clients – not merely compliance service providers.”

STRONG PEDIGREE

Prior to founding NCS, Sharryn Carey-Nicholls had previously worked for large and small chartered accounting firms in the tax advisory space. Husband Andrew Nicholls’ background encompassed large chartered accounting firms, trading and investment banks and management consulting firms. 

So both were well briefed in the demands of accounting for various sized business across many industries. Their hunch about the shape of a successful practice was verified in short time as the business grew strongly from its original base in Melbourne. Soon clients with Sydney offices were asking NCS to extend northwards – and that happened in the past year with a new office in Sydney.

NCS is now mid-way through an entry strategy into the Sydney market and, just like the Melbourne growth, results to date have exceeded expectations.

“We changed our branding during this period,” Mr Nicholls said. “This has provided a fresh new look to the practice as well. We are proud of being able to assist our clients in their financial objectives.”

In such a practice, giving staff freedom and leeway to meet client needs has been important – and it has also influenced NCS’s recent move to ‘Cloud’ technology.

“We provide a flexible work environment for our staff – we continue to successfully balance our staff’s private commitments with our firm’s requirements. This differentiates us from other firms which merely talk about flexibility,” Mr Nicholls said.

“A large number of our staff have encompassed return to work parents, which has been a successful strategy for us and worked really well with them.”

One ongoing challenge has been to find experienced staff willing to work in a small firm with a personal approach, rather than join the climb to the top of large firms.

“Finding experienced staff who wish to work in a small firm continues to be a challenge. It’s a frustration, the difficulty in recruiting appropriately experienced staff into a small practice like ours.”

The way NCS does business also places it in an unusual position when it comes to observing the challenges its clients face on a daily basis.

“We have noticed over the past few years, and we are becoming more aware of, the mental health aspects of some of our small business clients from time to time,” he said. “The link between mental health problems and financial difficulties results in business owners under enormous stress resulting from long hours, cash flow issues as well as copious amounts of paperwork.

“The nature of our advisory role means we maintain a very close working relationship with our clients. This means whilst not in a position – and nor do we intend – to diagnose and treat mental illness, we do find ourselves having more sensitive discussions with our clients with an aim to encourage those impacted to seek support or treatment from appropriately qualified mental health professionals.”

NEW WAYS FORWARD

NCS Group is continuing its general program of moving to an increased mix in its fee generation towards advisory services such as cash forecasting, budgeting, business finance for growth, and industry analysis.

In fact, research and development (R&D) opportunities continue to emerge for NCS.

“Whilst we don’t practise in the R&D Incentives space, we have fantastic partners who assist our clients in this area,” Mr Nicholls said of the often complex Federal Government incentive programs for R&D. However, in its own area of R&D, NCS continues to evolve.

“Identifying and managing the various risks involved in running a business has always been a major part of our work,” Mr Nicholls said. “This continues to grow each year.

“We carefully manage the growth in our business each year. As I mentioned earlier, we established our practice with a view to providing partner access to all clients – which is a major complaint from our new clients about their previous accountant. Accordingly, our growth tends to come from providing additional services to existing clients. 

“We have had a specific strategy over the past year in increasing our practice in the Sydney market. With the assistance of the Leaders Network, our expansion into Sydney has been most satisfying. The support of members, experts and advisory board members has been enormous.

“We have been very successful in this respect, and this has led to many referral opportunities from our clients. We are always most grateful for client referrals as it is the ultimate compliment about the work we are doing for them.

“Referrals from existing clients demonstrate to us that we are doing something right.”

Another significant change that has worked immediately to assist in the mobility of NCS Group staff has been the move to the ‘Cloud’ – although the decision only came after exhaustive work on cyber security.

“After much thought and discussion over the past 12 months, we have moved all of our servers into the Cloud,” Mr Nicholls said.

“Given the amount of sensitive information we hold on behalf of clients, the decision making aspect was a very long process in terms of risk management – that is selecting the right provider – as well as ensuring we have an appropriate backup strategy in place.”

That effort was worth it, Mr Nicholls said, because of the real-time accessibility of referring to and working on files in various client locations.

“Cyber security is an increasing risk to all of us. So we continually update our staff with education on identifying and managing potential threats to our systems.”

AGILE APPROACH

NCS Group knows that its real value to clients is not in completing compliance tasks but in researching the business, finance and taxation environment and assisting clients to navigate them effectively.

In doing so, NCS directors and staff can also find themselves navigating mental health issues of small business owners – often recommending their clients seek professional help – and through NCS’s own strict cyber security regime can also help clients to be aware of cyber risk.

One area NCS cannot influence, but can help clients navigate, according to Mr Nicholls is “the current state of Federal and State Governments in terms of passing legislation quickly”.

“Governments keep meddling with existing superannuation and taxation legislation,” Mr Nicholls said. “This means there is a lot of uncertainty as individuals and businesses try to plan for the future.

“Leave super alone,” he said. Instead, Mr Nicholls advised, governments should “reduce the amount of tax legislation and associated compliance issues for all taxpayers. That’s the way to help small and medium business.”

NCS Group will ‘stick to the knitting’ of carefully managed growth over the next 12 months, “ensuring we maintain our promise of access to clients” according to Mr Nicholls.

And NCS Group will stay true to its original mission of providing true financial advisory services to the SME and professional individual sectors around the country.

“Our advice is typically forward looking whilst at the same time ‘painlessly’ looking after historical compliance matters,” Mr Nicholls said.

“Our mantra is ‘Respect for the Past, Focussed on the Future’. Today, our mission remains firm.”

 

About NCS Group Chartered Accountants 

NCS Group Chartered Accountants specialises in providing the type of well informed accounting and financial advice to small and medium businesses that major accounting practices provide, but in a personalised way.. The practice’s best-known brands are NCS and NCS-Nicholls, operating across the Accounting, Taxation and Finance sectors for businesses across a wide spectrum of industries.

NCS Group is led by Director-Principal Sharryn Carey-Nicholls and Director-CEO Andrew Nicholls. The company likes to describe its size and style as ‘boutique’.

www.ncs-group.com.au

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A NEW financial technology venture developed from Melbourne is providing a global solution for people who struggle with safe digital verification for financial transactions.

Digital verification is a legislated element of all financial transactions as institutions are required to comply with national and international know-your-customer (KYC) and anti-money-laundering laws (AML).

Named VaultID, the company is able to solve the most pressing of all financial problems in developing economies, where almost 2 billion people (the Unbanked) have no digital footprint to verify themselves and participate in the digital financial economy, performing such tasks that we take for granted like transferring money to family members.  

Existing companies offering to verify consumers are failing both the consumer and the financial institutions in at least three ways, VaultID CEO Jason Edwards said.

First, these companies have not identified the fastest economically growing sector in APAC - the Unbanked.

Second, the existing banked consumer digital footprint is fading,

“Consumers have lost trust in verification platforms that involve third party data suppliers who hold and disclose outdated personal information without appropriate consent, so they are withholding their details,” Mr Edwards said.

Third, in-country and cross border legislative compliance has increased greatly over the last five years.

Mr Edwards said, “Enabling consumer verification supporting a financial transaction within a framework of personal data sovereignty, security and transparency is the new challenge that VaultID has solved.

"VaultID has been developed by some of Australia’s brightest fintech minds to solve this very real problem and has created myVault.”

VaultID technology includes optical character recognition (OCR) verification and facial recognition biometric verification built into a simple-to-use application called myVault. Built on this core, VaultID has added social and semi-official touch point (for example, post office) verification scoring, all of which adds up to a new non-traditional approach to creating a digital footprint owned by the consumer.

VaultID’s onboarding service for financial institutions is an API that links the institutions with the consumer through myVault and allows the institution access to the consumer verified score, if authorised to do so by the consumer. 

The VaultID institutional API is embedded in the company transactional customer onboarding web page. The consumer simply provides their email or mobile number to the webpage and they are then prompted in myVault for authorisation to pass on their verified score to the institution.

“Think of this part of the process as two factor authorisation similar to recovering a lost password with an SMS code," said Michael Peel VaultID CTO.  “Consumers have total control over whom they authorise access to myVault for verification purposes.”

HOW VAULTID WORKS

VaultID’s myVault application creates a financial digital footprint for the Unbanked driven by inbuilt services enabling a bank account, money cards (debit and credit), micro-loans, lending, online purchases and money transfers.

By applying personal biometric verification, and core financial services through the myVault application, VaultID provides the ability to create a ‘true’ real time and appropriate know-your-customer and anti-money-laundering (KYC/AML) profile.

Mr Edwards said, “Above all we leave the verification process in the hands of the consumer; myVault is about consumer ownership and trust.

“VaultID builds trust with consumers through the myVault account which ensures they, and only they, control the contents of their myVault

“VaultID brings a new level of consumer verification services to any company wanting to onboard new or existing customers and complete legislative compliance to an unprecedented level of accuracy,” Mr Edwards said.

 

THE VAULTID GO-TO-MARKET STRATEGY

The VaultID go to market strategy is simple: distributing its core technology through existing partnerships with unbanked service providers in such countries as Indonesia, Philippines, Vietnam, Sri Lanka, and East Timor reaching the Unbanked.

 

IPO PLANNED

Mr Edwards said the process is underway for an initial public offering (IPO) in the fourth quarter of 2019.

The milestones set have been for the myVault banking integrated app to launch in May-June, following on from the successful launch of its beta version in December last year. The blockchain-enabled platform is expected in August, 2019, and the IPO through the Australian Securities Exchange (ASX) in September.

Mr Edwards said, “We have also recently had it confirmed that East Timor has agreed to be a foundation client.

“Revenue in 2018 was $418,000 and the company delivered a net profit of $150,000,” he said.

VaultID is currently raising seed capital of $750,000 on a $3.5 million market valuation, with an estimated IPO/RTO raise of $5m on an $8m-$10m valuation. 

“We believe this Australian fintech innovation will help to solve a real and growing problem in national and international financial markets,” Mr Edwards said.

www.vaultid.com

 

About VaultID

VaultID is a financial technology company being launched to resolve vital issues of digital verification of ownership in financial transactions that exist in most developing economies.

VaultID’s main branded product is the app myVault. The company is planning an IPO on the ASX later this year. Leading Vault ID are CEO Jason Edwards, Chairman Jitto Arulampalam, CTO Michael Peel, and Cloud Infrastructure Manager Stephen Dendtler. VaultID is headquartered in Melbourne.

Ph: 1300 249 070. E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 

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VICTORIA-BASED startup eHatsystems Pty Ltd is leading the way in the new sector of ‘industrial strength wearables’ with its unique eHat product.

The eHat is worn by staff on job sites to communicate through video and sound in a live link with supervisors and expert instructors. 

By using the eHat, staff have their hands free to conduct work while advisors watch the process and provide advice utilising the common vision and sound link.

This real time interactivity offers a common vision of the job at hand and improves safety, according to eHatsystems inventor and founder, Terry Lancaster.

“This improves the quality of the job, speeds up decision-making and avoids unnecessary re-work costs,” Mr Lancaster said.

“With the eHatsystems platform, we want to empower field workers and will change the way they work with the inclusion of augmented and artificial intelligent systems.”

The eHatsystems operational space is part of a new industry being called Industrial Strength Wearables, Mr Lancaster said.

“We have a specific interest in using this class of wearable in the application of knowledge transfer services,” he said.

“The problem we are solving is brought about because of increasing skill shortages.This problem is well documented as an emerging one and is already having an effect on productivity.

“This is particularly true for ‘in-field’ operations. A job cannot be completed due to lack of specialist knowledge; a completed field job does not meet quality expectations; or, a job in the field takes longer to complete than it should,” Mr Lancaster said. 

“The resultant costs are enormous: extended repair and maintenance downtime, dispatch of senior technicians or experts, missed opportunities for junior staff to learn on-the-job, and sometimes, unfortunately, accidents.”

The eHat solution to this problem allows field staff  to communicate with a ‘live’ link, hands-free with supervisors and experts, at the work face. It allows both parties to engage interactively and safely with a common vision of the job at hand.

“This improves the quality of the job, speeds up decision-making and avoids unnecessary re-work costs,” eHatsystems acting general manager Benjamin Jacobs said.

“With the eHatsystems platform, we want to empower field workers and will change the way they work with the inclusion of augmented and artificial intelligent systems.”

Mr Jacobs said the eHat was a certified, lightweight and balanced hard hat with integrated video camera, lights, headphones, microphones, batteries and a control panel, 

The eHat communicates through a dedicated smartphone app and is embedded in a private cloud-based network that enables live streaming of video and audio over thousands of kilometres.

“Knowledge transfer is therefore made easy,” Mr Jacobs said. “We intend to produce another model, which will be developed with all the smartphone facilities built-in.”

As an application developed within the Internet of Things (IoT), Mr Jacobs said the value of the eHatsystems offering was enhanced further by services generated from storing job information, visual analysis and environmental server data.

Examples of such services include video recording and analysis, the transmission of documents, as well as alerts for workers.

In the future, he said, eHat would be used to provide ‘augmented visual assistance (AVA).

“Eventually, we believe an eHat wearer will receive live instructions from an intelligent machine in the cloud through visual analysis and storage data techniques,” Mr Jabobs said.

“We are an Australian startup company in process of commercialisation of its product and with the help of further investment, will have an international product very soon,” he said.

The eHatsystems team is an executive member of the 2018 Victorian Leaders group, part of the International Leaders organisation that is helping to develop Australia’s next generation of leading companies.. 

www.ehatsystems.com.au

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NEVER ignore a letter of demand (LOD) – no matter whether it has a basis in fact or not. That is sage advice from Whitbread Insurance Brokers to business leaders who, otherwise, may find themselves embroiled in a costly and protracted legal defence.

Whitbread claims teams have seen unfortunate repercussions from many businesses reacting to LODs – also known as a solicitor’s letter – either too late or in poorly informed ways.

That’s why Whitbread has developed a four-step strategy that it advises business leaders to take when they receive a letter of demand: don’t ignore a letter of demand; notify appropriate parties immediately; do not respond to the letter personally and do not admit liability; and finally, do not pay the demand. 

Whitbread Insurance claims team manager Renee Cassidy said a decisive approach to letters of demand is vital.

“If a third party believes you or your business is responsible for personal injury or damage, and they decide to seek compensation, your company will likely receive a letter of demand,” Ms Cassidy said.

“No matter how far-fetched a claim may appear, whether you believe it happened or not, an LOD is never something to ignore.

“Also known as a solicitor letter, a letter of demand is a formal notice demanding that the person to whom the letter is addressed perform an alleged legal obligation, such as rectifying some identified problem, paying a sum of money, or acting on a contractual commitment,” Ms Cassidy said.

“Most demand letters will include a deadline for action, and are often used to prompt payment, avoiding expensive litigation.”

Ms Cassidy said the legal definition of a demand letter, according to the Duhaime.org  Legal Dictionary, stated it often “contains a ‘threat’ that if not adhered to, the next communication between the parties will be through a court of law in the form of formal legal action”.

“Essentially an LOD is a demand of payment for damages or injury arising from an event involving the person or entity to whom the letter is addressed,” she said. These days, the demand can come in many forms including e-mail, a phone call or even a conversation in person.

“Your business may receive an LOD if another party alleges your business is legally responsible for third party injury or property damage; or compensation is sought.

“In today’s litigious society, the number of claims for property damage and personal injury have grown significantly. It’s important to note that even if an alleged claim appears ridiculous or unfounded at first glance, an LOD is something you must take seriously.

“If your company fails to address the issue early, the case could end up in court, where legal expenses can quickly escalate into tens of thousands of dollars – even if you’re not at fault.”

Ms Cassidy said Whitbread had developed four key steps business leaders should take when confronted by LODs:

1. Don’t ignore a Letter of Demand

“Under no circumstances should you ignore an LOD. Ignoring even the most preposterous LOD could see your legal situation escalate. We have seen even the most outrageous claims awarded with damages. For example: Damages sought for a torn jacket. An individual walked past an insured’s fence, and tore his jacket on a raised nail. This person then proceeded to send a LOD to our client claiming $80 to replace the jacket. Our client didn’t believe they were responsible for the costs and ignored the LOD.

“Unfortunately as the LOD was not addressed or reported in the first instance, the case went to court. The claimant was subsequently awarded with $1,200 in damages which our client was required to pay, along with the associated legal expenses incurred by both parties.

“Often we find that those who receive a LOD sit tight hoping it will disappear, but generally ignoring a LOD only acts to intensify the problem. If the issue is not dealt with, your business will likely be issued with formal legal action where the case may end up in court. As demonstrated above, this can make the initial issue a substantially bigger than it ever needed to be.”

If a case does go to court, a number of preventable consequences may arise such as:

Legal costs – a court case will inevitably incur legal expenses and should the judge rule against your business’s case, you may also be required to pay the legal expenses of the third party.

Excessive damages awarded – damages awarded against your business in court could be far greater than if the case was settled out of court (eg. the torn jacket case).

Mental angst – involvement in a court case could cause anxiety for business owner(s).

Reputational damage – court cases can sometimes result in unwanted publicity, leading to reputational damage to your brand.

Limited insurance coverage – your public liability insurer may not cover the damages and legal expenses in full, particularly if there is a delay in notifying the matter to the insurer. In the insurer’s eyes, the huge costs associated with a case being heard in court could have been avoided, or significantly lessened if an LOD was dealt with when initially received. A suitable settlement for the demand could have been negotiated, circumventing the need to go to court. Based on a scenario like this, many insurers would not pay a business’s liability claim in full, because legal expenses could have been avoided. Insurers in general are unlikely to accept any avoidable legal costs.

2. Notify appropriate parties immediately.

Whitbread Insurance brokers always recommend businesses inform their insurance broker, and public liability insurer, as soon as a LOD is received. Benefits of early notification are:

(a) The insurer will take the situation off your hands. Once your business notifies your Public Liability insurer or insurance broker, the insurer will generally take care of the whole issue from the start on your behalf. This removes the need for your direct involvement in the dispute. The insurer will: Review the LOD and advise on next steps to take; and, if required, engage legal representation to protect your interests, and liaise with the other party and their legal team who are seeking damages.

(b) Expert advice from the start. Your insurer will know the best way to settle the claim, that is, whether it will be more beneficial to settle a claim out of court or not. They will be aware of win/loss trends in court for similar cases, and are in a position to make an informed decision on how to achieve the best and least costly outcome for the claim.

(c) Settlement out of court. The insurer will likely seek to settle the claim as soon as possible to avoid formal court proceedings. Early LOD notification to your public liability insurer can also give the insurer the opportunity to look at alternative ways to resolve the LOD, or share the cost of the damages with another party. In the torn jacket case for example, the home and contents insurer of the person seeking damages could have paid the claim.

(d) Legal expenses covered by insurance. Public liability insurance can cover your legal expenses associated with the claim for damages, up to the limit defined in the policy.

“Don’t be discouraged from reporting a potential claim to your insurance broker or public liability insurer,” Ms Cassidy said. “It is to your benefit to report early, even if the claim doesn’t progress.”

3. Do not respond to the letter personally and do not admit liability.

Instead of responding to the LOD, you need to inform your public liability insurer or insurance broker. The insurer will determine whether there is any negligence attached to the claim on your behalf. There in fact may be no legitimate claim, in which case they will work to have the matter dismissed. The insurer will then respond to the letter appropriately on your behalf.

You should never admit liability (fault) for the incident associated with the LOD. This could leave you open to legal action for damages, and prejudice the insurer’s position. It could be almost impossible to argue your case if guilt has already been admitted.

4. Do not pay the demand.

If your business receives an LOD, refer it to the insurer who will take control on your behalf. Paying the demand could be interpreted as an admission of guilt, leaving you vulnerable to further legal action. There are other things to consider:

Employees: If an employee suffers an injury on your premises you would typically refer the case to the relevant Work Cover authority. The structure around Work Cover differs between the various Australian states and territories – for advice on this, ask your insurance broker.

Products liability: A public liability policy does not cover claims relating to a specific product you may have sold or manufactured, which could result in a liability claim if third party damage or injury is caused by its use or consumption. To protect against events of this nature, a products liability insurance policy is necessary. This coverage differs from a public liability policy.

Public and products liability insurance is designed to protect you and your business from significant costs associated with legal action as a result of your actual or alleged negligence that has caused third party property damage or personal injury, whilst acting in the course of your business,” Whitbread’s Victorian Leaders facilitator, Holger Schnabel said.

“To help ensure your public liability insurance policy responds effectively, if you receive an LOD, we recommend following the four key steps.”

Whitbread Insurance Brokers is an Industry Expert with Victorian Leaders, the organisation helping to develop the next generation of leading businesses in Victoria.

www.vicleaders.com.au

www.whitbread.com.au

 

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  • This Whitbread insight article is not intended to be advice and you should not rely on it as a substitute for any form of advice. Contact Whitbread Associates Pty Ltd ABN 69 005 490 228 Licence Number: 229092 trading as Whitbread Insurance Brokers for further information or refer to the website.

THE growing sophistication of business security systems has driven the transformation of Victorian company Centec Security Group to both meet current demand and better equip companies for the future.

Centec Security Group managing director Peter Hinton said integrated security systems played a vital role in areas as diverse as energy efficiency and employee safety for progressive modern businesses.

“Many times I have been asked ‘are you the alarm guy?’ In years long gone by the answer to this would have been yes,” Mr Hinton said. 

“Although we still use the three systems we have traditionally used (alarm, access control and CCTV) these days with continual development and integration into third party devices we find ourselves being more of a technology company rather than just an electronic security company,” he said.

One of the biggest changes has been the development of closed circuit television (CCTV) to not only protect premises from external threats, but also as a way of enhancing a business’s workplace health and safety systems.

“Now we all know the primary purpose of CCTV is to capture and record images, but for business owners there are now added benefits to these systems,” Mr Hinton said. 

“Occupational health and safety (OH&S) has become a major part of business practice over the last decade. CCTV systems can help business owners not only manage their staff, but have footage should an incident occur, limiting their liability.

“Cameras are now helping many sectors of society,” Mr Hinton said. “CCTV images are helping police in their investigations and councils are implementing street schemes using wireless mesh networks to help keep our streets safe.”

Another fascinating use of CCTV is in tracking and managing customer flows and behaviour, obtaining data about customer buying patterns which has never been available before.

“Retail stores are using people counting to see how many people come into their store and heat mapping to see where they spend their time while in store,” Mr Hinton said. “All of this helps the marketing departments in terms of store set up and product placement.

“Thermal cameras are being used for anything from wide area perimeter protection, fire detection, plant management, employee management to horse care in stables.”

Although the primary function of business security systems remains, there are increasing variations on how access and alarm technologies can be applied to benefit businesses in other ways – even to help save money.

“These systems are now integrated and can be used as a very powerful platform to manage and secure business premises,” Mr Hinton said. “Utility costs keep going up and up.

“If your alarm system is on, that means there is nobody in your building. So why would you leave your lighting, air conditioning and non-essential power on or leave it up to your employees to switch them off?

“With third party integration we can simply turn off all these system when the alarm is turned on. In the event of an alarm we can switch on lighting to further deter intruders.”

Mr Hinton said access control could also be used to track employees and restrict their movements.

“And we can also download this information into payroll systems,” Mr Hinton said.

“Science fiction movies used to show finger print and retinal scanners opening doors … and people would sit there and imagine the day that these would become science fact. That day is today.

“As you can see technology is quickly advancing and helping business owners manage theirs.”

www.centec.com.au

 

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START-UP businesses looking to follow the ‘Lean Start-up’ approach currently favoured by Silicon Valley should pause and think it through carefully, advises Australian start-up specialist Evan Shellshear.

In Dr Shellshear’s experience, the Lean Start-up imperative may be more of a hindrance than a help to many Australian early-stage businesses. In fact, he has identified three specific situations in which the Lean Start-up approach works against a fledgling business. 

“We’ve all heard about the Lean Start-up and how it’s transformed Silicon Valley and the start-up world,” Dr Shellshear said. He is the CEO of Simultek, where he works with start-up businesses in all phases.

“However, as you would expect, it turns out the Lean Start-up process is not a perfect fit for everyone.

“The Lean Start-up approach to product and service development is all about discovering what your business assumptions are and testing the assumptions with experiments,” Dr Shellshear said.

“You create a hypothesis, run a test and then use the result of that test to improve your product or service and then keep iterating using the learnings to improve.”

Dr Shellshear’s research has identified three cases in which the lean methodology should not be used: when people’s lives depend on your product; when other people rely on your product to build theirs; and, as he put it, “when there are simply no hypotheses to test”. He is an Australian innovation thought leader and has recently published a best-selling book on Amazon: Innovation Tools.

“The problem with the Lean Start-up is like all new management trends: it gets hyped to the point of hyperbole and people try it in the wrong situations and become disillusioned,” Dr Shellshear said.

“Choosing the right service and product development model is unfortunately something you only get one shot at, so you’ll want to make sure the first iteration is correct …

“Before blindly using a lean methodology, ask yourself first, is lean right for you?” 

 

WHEN TO AVOID LEAN START-UP METHODOLOGY

When people’s lives depend on your product. “You don’t want to bring a product out on the market to test a hypothesis if people can be fatally injured due testing it,” Dr Shellshear said.

When other people rely on your product to build theirs. “Constantly iterating on a product which people rely on will mean that they will stop relying on it.”

When there are simply no hypotheses to test. “If you know the market conditions, the demand for your service and/or are simply providing a commodity, then get it out there and don’t waste time,” Dr Shellshear urged.

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PO Box 2144
MANSFIELD QLD 4122