Thank Goodness for Skype

One thing we’re hoping for in 2015 is to grow our logistics software business beyond North America. There are certainly enough inquiries coming in – the trick is how to capitalize on them. In the past two months alone, we’ve been talking to people in East Africa, West Africa, Middle East, Europe, and India, all places we’re interested in doing business with. The Trade Commissioner Services of the Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development are working with us with “feet on the ground” advice wherever possible.

One of these days, we’re going to have to start taking trips to some of these places. In the meanwhile, Skype seems to be the answer. Early morning calls for us, late afternoon calls for them.

Exciting times.

Execution of Sales Plans Involves “Targets”, not “Projections”

Mike Hatfield and I were at it again this past weekend – the final day of our “thenextphase” workshop on raising capital. This time we covered “Execution” – defining your targets and how to achieve them.

A proper plan, we were told, does not contain projections; it contains targets that we feel are achievable, plus a set of assumptions that must be met in order for these targets to be met. You must also have a set of activities to go along with the numbers.

It is important that we have a way to test the assumptions, because the execution consists of not only trying to hit the target, but also to test out the assumptions. As we gain experience in the real world, these assumptions are validated or disproved, and the plan amended.

The ultimate goal is to have a well-defined sales process that has steps saying “if you do ‘this’, then ‘this’ will happen.” It is predictable.

Christmas Daddies Raises More Than $420,000

Christmas Daddies on Saturday raised over $420,000 for needy families in Atlantic Canada. Nicom has been a corporate sponsor for over 15 years, donating its time and talents to the web site and online electronic payment gateway for donations. It is something we are proud of, and we are proud of our employees who make this happen.

This year, special thanks go out to Mike Hatfield and Ryan Grant for making this a possibility. It is critical that these technologies run flawlessly throughout the telethon. It is a huge responsibility, one they take very seriously.

Phones “Smart” Except for Making Calls

My smartphone is smarter than me, and it was rubbing it my face over the weekend. Firstly, in Nova Scotia I now have to use 10-digit dialing even for local calls, 11 digits (including “1”) for long distance calls, and 12-digits (including “9 to get out”) when I am calling from the office, except of course only 11 digits from the office for local calls (including the “9” but not the “1”) or when I’m calling from the office using my smartphone, which used to be able to figure it all out from 7 digits but now needs 10 or 11 but never 12.

But I’m not stupid, I usually get it right after three tries. All I have to remember is “where am I?”, “what phone am I using?”, and “where is the person I am calling?”. I’m working on a flowchart to make it easier.

So I did finally get the call out and left my smartphone phone number with their voice mail. Except I had left my phone on the charger and stepped out when they called back . When I returned, my smartphone cheerily let me know I had voice mail, so I went to the phone app to retrieve it.

Only my “Voice Mail” icon had disappeared.

It was as gone as the Hamilton Tigercats. There was an icon for me to call home, one to call my wife on her cell, and one to call my daughter, all with a single tap. (Except the last time I tried any of those, the call didn’t go through because I had the wrong number of digits. Sheesh!) But the spot for retrieving voice mail with a single tap was empty. I tried restarting the phone app. Nothing. I tried restarting the phone. No joy there either. I finally appealed to our office administrator who told me how to retrieve voice mail from an ordinary phone. (For you youngins, “ordinary” means one that is attached to a wall via a wire, and does nothing other than phone calls.)

After three tries, I finally reached the voice mail system and was able to retrieve my message, and after three tries was able to respond to it.

Who knew using the phone could be so hard? I finally did find out how to reinstate my voice-mail icon. It was buried deep in my “options”, which I could swear I never touched. But who would believe me. I probably did get rid of it inadvertently one day trying to tap 10 or 11 or 12 digits correctly and hopping all over the place with my fingers and thumbs.

These devices are great for texting and getting football scores, but they could make phone calling a bit easier. After all, they are called “phones”.