Using Technology for a Start-Up essay

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Business

List 3 strategic goals that Ted had for his bike business: Ted intended from the start to rent, sell and repair bicycles to riders who used the picturesque Washington & Old Dominion Trail. By renting, selling and repairing bicycles in a key location for the use of bicycles Ted expected to establish a market where there was none in the beginning.

Hence, a main strategic goal was to create a market for this business. Knowing that the trails that connect with the Washington & Old Dominion (W&OD) lure outdoors activities and recreationalists would bring customers who perhaps don't have bicycles -- or were visitors from out of the area who owned bicycles but didn't have them on their visit -- his first strategic goal was to establish a market. There is nothing in the narrative about Ted and his business that suggests that he needed to compete with other bicycle shops and rental businesses in his area; hence he was not trying to strengthen his market share against other similar businesses, but, as explained above, his strategic goal was simply create a market for the business in a strategically located area near popular trails.

Secondly he expected, as a reasonable strategic goal, would be to use a SWOT analysis (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats) to identify what money he would need (in a variety of scenarios) (Burris, 2012). Obviously his goal is to strengthen his financial resources -- i.e., make a profit to first pay back the money he borrowed and later to invest the capital he achieved from the sales and rentals of his bicycles in order to establish more shops providing the same services in other communities in that region. Investing his own modest savings along with a loan of $4,000 was a wise move on his part because the Washington D.C. And Virginia area is highly urban, very busy as far as tourism and business, and people who enjoy the out-of-doors are known to seek out those pastoral escapes from the noise, the pollution, and the hectic urban traffic in those two sprawling cities.

A third goal was to use his expertise and technical knowledge to offer bicycle repairs and tune-ups. Although he has the knowledge needed to repair bicycles he clearly had a goal of training employees to conduct the business, to repair and sell bicycles, and to rent the bicycles to customers with customer-centric values and friendly consumer attitudes.

TWO: What are 5 different types or categories of information Ted needed and why were they vital to him? First, of course Ted needed to know roughly what price he should charge for rentals, based on the cost of his overhead. He had to research what the cost of renting the building would be and overall what he costs would be to start this business. What was it going to cost him monthly before he rented or sold or repaired one bicycle? This was a pivotal category of information.

Secondly, Ted needed to know if sufficient numbers of locals and visitors would have a reason to be in the area where he located the business. Hence, he figured that with enough food and drink facilities (restaurants, bars, and other related establishments) he could be assured that people would be coming to the area. Location, location, location, is what real estate professionals and developers use as a mantra and that was important to Ted.

Thirdly, he needed to be certain that the W&OD trail was busy enough to lure people who might wish to use a bicycle to enjoy the trail; not everyone who likes the out-of-doors rides a bicycle, but some research had to be done to figure what percentage of the trail users (he could get raw numbers on usage from local government agencies) would be interested in riding a bicycle. A fourth consideration was how much mark-up he would have to do to make selling bicycles profitable. And a fifth consideration would be what employee costs would be and how much he would need to pay employees to get top talent on board.

THREE: Three business processes Ted likely uses and how a technology solution could help each of the three. First, Ted needed to decide exactly what he wanted to do. He needed to give deep thought to the development of his business concept. Secondly, since you never start up a business without a business plan, Ted needed to create a business plan specific to his idea and concept. Without a business plan, you "lack focus, overspend, and struggle to deal with the curveballs that starting and running a business throws" (Beesley, 2012). The third process of course was securing the necessary capital in order to get the business off the ground. The technology solution is to build a website, which will help him drive traffic to his business through social media (Ted needs to understand how to have his business come up early on any Google search). Through the website he also conducts the research on the market for what he does, who else is doing this, what challenges have other start-ups faced when launching a similar operation.

FOUR: Two additional ways Ted can use the Internet. One, Ted needs to develop a "customer service and customer satisfaction" software application that uses information that every customer provides (bplans.com). Every customer's email address is logged into that application and the customer is sent a form to provide brief (and easy to use) feedback on the quality of experience that customer had. Two, he needs to establish a strategic online relationship with all his vendors, credit card companies, shippers and other merchants related to the business of selling, renting, and repairing bicycles.

FIVE: What could a supply chain management (SCM) system do for his business? By using a supply chain management approach Ted could be made aware of the cost and the flow of materials, and the storage of materials as it relates to his inventory. His goods of course are bicycles and bicycle parts, and apparel that goes along with riding a bicycle in various kinds of weather. What do customers require and how can he design a system that provides all the services and goods that a customer needs? The helmets that bicycle riders wear, for example, are part of the supply chain; the other bicycle-related products must be kept in Ted's inventory. The upstream and downstream movement of Ted's needed products -- and the services he offers -- should be meticulously controlled by SCM software, that Ted will probably need training in order to use its functionality properly. By keeping close track of all the functions of his business (through SCM), Ted can simply input his inventory and his needs into the software and where he stands at any moment in terms of needed supplies (and availability from his vendors) is right there on his computer screen.

SIX: How could Ted combine the information he gets from customers with those who buy through his website -- into a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system? Ted could combine his sales and marketing (from both his brick and mortar sales and online sales) into one smooth software system. Emails automatically are sent out to potential customers who use Ted's social media efforts. The three things he can do with CRM: a) he can "streamline sales" by not getting hung-up on the details; b) offer live chat; and c) provide links to his other stores with tourist and services information automatically provided to the online customer (InfusionSoft).

SEVEN: How can Ted increase repair work and rentals using technology? Old Dominion Trail Bikes should first of all provide all employees with smartphones, which allow instant texting, emails, and access to the Internet. Internal communication is vital to Ted's three stores and any questions or concerns…[continue]

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