Small-business owners, what are you doing to stand out from the crowd? Each week, we focus on an entrepreneur who has lessons to share that we think will resonate with other small-business owners.
Matt Miller, founder of rugged tablet PC maker MobileDemand, answers our questions:
What are you doing to stand out from the crowd?
Our public relations office could tell you that our tablet PCs can get bumped and dropped, left in a car in the blazing Arizona sun and withstand beer-cooler temperatures. However, to prove MobileDemand products’ resiliency — and stand out among competitors like Toshiba and Panasonic — we’ve put our PCs to the test in Internet videos. We’ve strapped our tablets to vehicles in Las Vegas with Swiss bungee cords and driven through car washes. We’ve also placed them in paint shakers and used them to pound in nails (while the devices were running). Within days of posting the videos on YouTube, they gained traction with a couple of tech blogs and logged about 12,000 to 15,000 hits.
What’s the best part about running your own business?
As a business owner, I’m able to implement my ideas faster. It’s freeing to do what I think is best.
What’s the biggest challenge of running your own business?
In today’s economic climate, especially, an ongoing challenge for us is keeping sales rolling in. While spending money on marketing can help bring in business, it’s hard to justify the expenditure when we’re fighting to keep employees on the payroll.
Name: Matt Miller
Business: MobileDemand, a rugged tablet personal computer maker.
Location: Hiawatha, Iowa
Year founded: 2003
Number of employees: 10
Web address: ruggedtabletpc.com
What’s the biggest hurdle you’ve overcome?
Hiring salespeople who are aligned with our company goals and objectives. Our hiring process was never very formal. As such, we took on employees who weren’t a good fit. However, now we’re working with a recruiting firm which is helping us find, interview and hire qualified workers.
What’s the biggest mistake you’ve made?
Waiting too long to add to our product line. Instead of surpassing our competitors’ product offerings, we are playing catch-up in certain areas. We should have focused on product innovations more a year or two ago.
What’s the best business advice you can offer?
Always think creatively. It’s refreshing for customers and it can even save you money.
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