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Case Study – Setting up Efficiency Ecosystem with 20$ investment

I got a call a couple of days ago from my friend Mina Vrhovec. Recently she started a company that is involved with selling tourist arrangements and seles of membership cards that offer discounts to the members. I liked the idea a lot, but while listening about her business and the way it operates I noticed a couple of great flaws and I gave them some top notch advice, considering that they are operating on low budget.

Whole company consists of 7 people, that are divided in a 3 groups:

  • Business 2 business sales – 3 persons
  • Retail sale – 3 persons
  • Web presence team – 2 persons

Company is ran on shoe string budget, that derives from their immediate income and from their personal resources. They are leveraging Mina’s huge network and their youthful enthusiasm. So far they were operating pretty much old fashioned, writing down their clients on a piece of paper or in separate documents and than compiling it all together in one database that was located on Mina’s personal computer. Communication with retail clients was conducted door to door, by sales team. While communication with business was conducted via phone’s and meetings. They had a lot of meetings and a couple of problems with people who were working on the website. Here are the solutions that I offered them.  First of all, I told Mina to link Google Apps to their website. Within Google Apps than they had to appoint business email address to each of participants to increase participation. Inside of the Google apps, they allowed sharing of contacts and grouping them in 3 categories:

  • team members
  • retail clients
  • business partners

Consistent email will help in company branding, since web address linked with email would help them enhance brand awareness and will allow Mina to have control over company communication in single place. It will also ease her the process of issuing new email addresses and managing their content. For company computers I recommended using Linux as operating system, with Google Chrome as their main browser. For managing meetings and scheduling events I recommended using Google Calendar.

One of their biggest expenses, that basically came out of their pocket was actually the communication. In order to leverage the greatest asset of communication I recommended them one of the local phone packages for small teams, where team members can communicate free of charge among themselves. One of the greatest assets of that plan was that they will get cheap Android powered phones, that will sync seamlessly with their new Google accounts. The foundation of their work would be Google Docs, where they will be able to collaborate in real time and won’t have to worry about the duplicate documents. Everything will be stored in one place as opposed to being scattered around multiple offline documents.

Reason why I recommended Google Cloud is the low budget of the company, and information gathered aren’t that much of a problem. And in case some of the team members get hacked, Mina can always revoke access rights of the users in few simple clicks. Now their main program will be Google Spreadsheets where they will conduct CRM activity and keep all of the contact information of the clients and partners. Sales representatives will be able to gather information right “on the field” into Google docs, through Google Docs application on their Android phones. This will allow them massive advantage over their competitors, because the data will be collected in real time and will diminish the repetition of same tasks and will prevent sales reps to have additional work when they get home.

Now for the web presence team I had other great free solutions. I issued them a task of creating simple WordPress website, where they will empower it with their design skills and ease of use. WordPress is free platform, which is fairly easy to setup. I recommended them cheap local hosting for the SEO purposes. Than gave them instructions to integrate Google sites for personal organization and pull all the informations from Google Docs, Google Contacts and Google Calendar into one place.  Next word of advice was to connect the website with Facebook and Twitter through simple WordPress automatically installed plugins. This will help them leverage their CRM and merge it with the data that they have collected through their offline efforts. Each person / business partner will contain links to their Twitter and Facebook addresses along with their email addresses.

For the purposes of communication with retail clients, I recommended using Mail Chimp, free mailing list manager, that helps you send out newsletters up to 2000 subscribers and 12 000 emails per month. For promotion purposes I recommended Google Adwords and Facebook ads to target their potential clients. Price of running this setup for your business would look something like this:

  • 10 – 120 $ for 1 year of shared hosting
  • 10 $ for domain name (this is required in order to setup Google Apps, linked to your domain)
  • Minimal fee for applying for grouped phones
  • 100 – 150 $ per person for cheap Android powered phones (+minimal contract) (In Mina’s case this cost was paid by team members who wanted to buy new cell phones)
  • Advertising fee
This is the first post that will talk about Mina’s business. In next couple of articles we will cover how her team handles CRM while using Google docs and leveraging social media and how they will be setting goals and tracking performance.  What are your opinions? How would you start a business on a shoe string budget? Your thoughts are welcome in the comments.
Brian Djordjevic
About The Author

Brian Dordevic

Bojan is Marketing Strategic Planner with a passion for all things digital. Feel free to follow him on Twitter or schedule a consultation call with him.

6 responses to “Case Study – Setting up Efficiency Ecosystem with 20$ investment

  1. Hey Bojan, thanks for pointing me to this post. I really like it. 

    Knowing the background of how stuff works over there (guessing Mina is in SER), I would skip Adwords and go for Facebook ads only instead. I think it will have much bigger ROI. 

    I was hoping they would get free phones with the phone packages over there, but it is probably different for business group plans. 

    The only other things I am not sure why (cause I never used it) is Linux. 

    These are only the things I would do differently, all the others are perfect and on the spot. I am sure they will have a big impact on the business. 

    1. Linux is free and does run Google Chrome, all the rest of the things they can do within browser itself. It’s giving the same end result, as opposed to paying 100 euros per Windows licence

  2. Wow I can’t believe that business was operating like 1995. Good thing they are switching over to computers and software.

    From an economical standpoint, Linux makes sense (it’s free). It’s been a while since I’ve used it (I remember using Redhat in 2005 for the last time) so I’m sure the OS has gone a long way in terms of compatibility and usability. Back then, I wouldn’t recommend it. Today, I wouldn’t know.Personally I’m also a big fan of Google Apps. Their suite is awesome. 

    1. They are just starting up, I helped them with the tech part.

      Linux rocks nowadays, they have slick UI and it’s more stable than Windows. Unfortunately it has slightly higher battery consumption, which doesn’t lead it to being most useful laptop operating system.

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

  3. Bojan,

    Great tips…wordpress is definitely  a great platform to use..The great thing about wordpress is there are many widgets available as well as new updates..In the past wordpress was only a blogging platform but nowadays businesses and individuals can do anything with the platform…Creating an E-Commerce website and easy customer check out system wasn’t easy in the past, but wordpress make it very simple…

    Thanks for sharing..

    Cheers,
    Nabil

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