Take any decent business book or listen to any great business leader and they'll all tell you that one of the qualities that makes a successful business is its managers' ability to achieve great things with limited resources.
Given identical circumstances, great business leaders tend to stand out from ordinary business people in that they seem to have an amazing ability to find ways to achieve big things with limited resources.
For business leaders of the 21st century, this means being aware of (and making use of) a growing set of business resources that are available exclusively on the Internet. You can't buy and install them. You can only "rent" them from month-to-month. These business resources are being created as Internet services and they are available for anyone to use.
I call the companies that provide these types of services, "Internet Utilities Providers" or "IUPs" and its important to know about them. Here's why...
IUPs Open Up a World of Opportunities
As more and more businesses continue to tighten their purse-strings, chances are you've thought about how you might want to do some things differently so you can do more of what you get paid to do. The smart guys are expanding into new markets and looking to streamline uninteresting, but necessary, parts of their business. And they're achieving this by using IUPs.
Take Marketing for example. In efficiency-driven businesses, Marketing is very much seen as a cost of doing business. For these types of businesses, IUPs work because they are able to reduce the cost of doing marketing giving you the option of diverting left over funds into some other area of the business.
In other more entrepreneurial-style businesses, Marketing is seen as an investment, an opportunity to explore new markets, an opportunity to finely tune products and services for changing economic times. IUPs make absolute sense for these businesses because, in the marketing space at least, what they provide is a complete suite of tools to conduct low-cost, highly-effective marketing campaigns. More importantly, they give you the ability to make informed decisions without having to go through the process of "learning from experience".
Zoho.com and eventWax.com are providing businesses with niche services - designed and priced to grow as their clients do. By simply switching across and using their services, businesses can instantly eliminate the hidden-costs associated with maintaining software. The Return On Investment (ROI) from using IUPs starts getting into the '000% range because costs are so small.
Think about this. You come up with a business idea that you think shows real potential. You'd really like to try and get the business going but don't want to take unnecessary risks or incur a large expenditure up front. An IUP gives you the computing capabilities to get your business idea up and running, at virtually zero cost and in a fraction of the time. In the event that your business proves to be a winner and decent sales are now flowing, your ROI will be huge because your total dollar outlay is minimal.
How do you know if you need an IUP?
You may want to investigate using IUPs in your business if:
You feel that times are going to get tougher but there are parts of your business that you really can't afford not to do. IUPs let you continue to keep these going, at a fraction of the cost.
You're looking for ways to enhance what you currently offer with new and innovative products and services. IUPs let you quickly try new services, measure their success and learn what works and what doesn't quickly & inexpensively.
Use IUPs if you're interested in expanding into new markets and need to minimise the costs and respond nimbly to unexpected events.
You have an idea that you want to test without having to make a large investment, up front. Many IUPs let you start using their services with a free to use account, then as you grow or need more features you upgrade your account and pay accordingly. Usually they give you more tools than you're likely to ever get around to using. The idea here is that the quicker it is that they can help you grow, the quicker it'll be that they grow.
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