Customizing Products and Services Presents Entrepreneurs a Great Way to Bootstrap a Business

We live in a world where mass production and scalability have enabled consumers around the world the opportunity to enjoy a wider range of Consumer Products and Services than ever before. Large scale production drives down prices. Items that were once luxuries are now within reach of masses of consumers on every continent.

Overwhelmingly the benefits of scale and industrialization are beneficial to society. Jobs, distribution opportunities, global trade and finance have all thrived in large part because of the benefits of a consumer driven world. The Benetton sweater or MAC cosmetic that is purchased in Denver is the same as a unit of either sold in Sydney.

There is a downside to mass production, a downside that presents opportunities for those seeking to position their enterprise successfully within the whirl of this hyper–competitive consumer marketplace. Most mass produced products are impersonal. They offer value, utility and uniform performance features. They do not, however, differentiate themselves significantly from competitors. This is where the creative and craft minded producers can maximize their offerings.

Hermes purses and scarves are famous, but simple examples of a Brand that has been built from scratch, painstakingly over time and by being extremely protective of distribution channels for their limited production, hand crafted products. Hermes controls the price and design of each unit produced with a discipline that borders on fanaticism. When a design becomes popular and demand soars, the family owned Company caps production far short of maximum sales potential. This is a classic example of a limited distribution strategy that serves to increase Hermes’ product desirability among discerning consumers.

Ferrari automobiles, Zegna menswear, Piaget watches, Tory Burch fashions and La Prairie Skin Care and Cosmetics are other examples of Brands that have created world-wide franchises by avoiding any taint of a mass production model. They sell service, customization and personalized product that elite customers demand. The strategy does not need to be limited to exclusive couture brands, however!

The Branding and Marketing Consulting firm that we manage utilizes many different forms of personalized service or customized product assembly to differentiate our clients. In order to be able to compete with behemoth, multi-national brands a new company must be able to identify their Unique Selling Proposition (USP). A better ingredient story or a better mousetrap design will not suffice.

Recently a prospective client approached us with a Perfume concept. The Fragrance world is huge and brutally competitive. The perfumer we met with was keen to commercialize a range of scents, mainly by utilizing generic top notes. We spent a good deal of time trying to define a USP that would differentiate her product, while creating a niche she could occupy. The final, agreed suggestion was to sell a value added personalized blending service with each offering customized, value added and unique to each client. There are a number of added special service features which insure that the Brand will be perceived as unique by her “alpha” clientele.

We have utilized one form or another of this strategy for Gourmet Food products, Toys, Cosmetics, Wellness regimens, Service Providers and many other client projects. An important feature of this strategy is the opportunity to bootstrap the product or service when limited resources are at hand. Local sales can be leveraged to regional sales and beyond. The enterprise can be grown at a pace that is more easily handled by thinly resourced entrepreneurs.

Red Bull, Snapple and Arizona Iced Tea did not start as national and international brands. They were bootstrapped. They found holes in saturated, developed marketplaces and they filled niches. This model is available to creative entrepreneurs who are driven to compete, but understand that they must deal from a different, smaller deck of cards.

by: Geoff Ficke

Geoff Ficke has been a serial entrepreneur for almost 50 years. As a small boy, earning his spending money doing odd jobs in the neighborhood, he learned the value of selling himself, offering service and value for money.

After putting himself through the University of Kentucky (B.A. Broadcast Journalism, 1969) and serving in the United States Marine Corp, Mr. Ficke commenced a career in the cosmetic industry. After rising to National Sales Manager for Vidal Sassoon Hair Care at age 28, he then launched a number of ventures, including Rubigo Cosmetics, Parfums Pierre Wulff Paris, Le Bain Couture and Fashion Fragrance.

Geoff Ficke and his consulting firm, Duquesa Marketing, has assisted businesses large and small, domestic and international, entrepreneurs, inventors and students in new product development, capital formation, licensing, marketing, sales and business plans and successful implementation of his customized strategies. He is a Senior Fellow at the Page Center for Entrepreneurial Studies, Business School, Miami University, Oxford, Ohio.

What Is the Present Value of a Perpetuity Formula and What Are Perpetuities?

First of all, what is the ordinary meaning of “perpetuity?” It simply means “forever.” So in finance, what do we mean by this same concept? Well, imagine I gave you a piece of paper or certificate, and that paper promised that I would pay you a fixed amount every year, forever. That piece of paper is called a “perpetuity.” Simple! How is it different from, say, a promissory note? It isn’t. We can say it’s a special type of promissory note which lasts forever, with regular payments every year (or every month or other time period).

Now the question is… if I tried to sell you this piece of paper, how much would you be willing to pay for it? If I said… buy this piece of paper for only $100, and I’ll give you $2 for the rest of your life, forever. Would you buy it? It sounds like a great deal, doesn’t it? After all, you just pay once, and then you’ll get money from me forever!

But think about it another way too… Let’s say the bank’s interest is 5% per year. If you put the same $100 in the bank and left it there forever, how much would you get every year, forever? You’ll get $5 per year! ($5 is 5% of $100). Much more than the $2 per year you would get from me if you buy my piece of paper above for $100! So, are you still willing to pay me $100 to get $2 per year forever? Or, would you rather use the same $100 to deposit in the bank, and get a much higher $5 per year instead?

Of course, you’ll prefer to put your money in the bank! However, you might still be willing to buy my piece of paper or perpetuity if I lower the price. How much should I lower it to make it worth your money? $80? $60? $40? Naturally, we can’t simply use our feelings to guess the right price. So how do we find the exact amount? For this, we use the Present Value of a Perpetuity Formula. With this, you will find that the “fair value” in this case is $40. The simplest formula, which assumes consistent annual cash flows, looks like this.
*Fair value = $40 means that if you pay any more than that, you’re getting a sour deal… you’ll be in a better situation putting your money in the bank.

What is the logic behind this “fair value”? We go back to the IRR concept. At the fair value of $40, the IRR of our perpetuity is exactly the same as the interest rate of your bank deposit. Meaning: $40 earning $2/year will have an IRR of 5%. A bank deposit of $100 earning $5 per year will also have an IRR of 5%; thus making the returns the same or “fair.”

6 Present Ideas For Valentine’s Day For Men

1 – Canvas Prints

Canvas prints are high quality items that make superb pieces of wall art that can be hung in any room of the home. Bespoke sizes and dimensions mean that canvas prints can be created to fit any space on the wall and they can also be created to match any budget that you might be working to. Pick a romantic picture of the two of you together in order to create a stunning personalised Valentines gift. Add your message of love to the rear of the canvas too in order to make it even more personal and heartfelt.

2 – Montage Prints

If you’re struggling to choose a single picture or you want to include a series of pictures from the last year then a photo montage could be the solution for you. Pick your favourite pictures and have a professional montage created for you before printing it to canvas or any of the other high quality photo gifts that are available.

3 – Custom Laptop Bags for men

Various styles of bag can be created using photos and text too. Handbags and makeup bags make incredible Valentines Gifts for ladies while carry alls, wash bags, and custom laptop bags are ideally suited as present ideas for Valentines Day for men. Use your favourite picture, add text, or include the montage you have had design for you.

4 – Personalised Calendars for men

The personalised calendar is a good gift idea if you want to include a larger number of pictures without creating a montage. Pick a picture and title to add to the front cover, choose twelve monthly pictures and add captions for each of the images. The Valentines photo calendar uses February as the start month and the quality of the gift means that it will be enjoyed for many years to come and not just for the next twelve months.

5 – Photo Puzzles

Photo puzzles are not only great looking and unique but are fun too. A picture is first printed on durable and robust board before being cut into the shapes of a jigsaw. You can design the presentation tin to include the finished picture as well or include a different message that lets the recipient know that they need to finish the puzzle in order to see get the message.

6 – Photo Cushions

Photo cushions are comfortable and practical as well as romantic and good looking. Use a single picture for the front and pick a colour for the back or for a little extra, use the same picture or a second picture on the reverse of the cushion. A special Valentines Day cushion includes a love heart design inside which your chosen picture is printed. The whole items is finished beautifully with a heart shaped zipper in keeping with Valentines Day.