Provided by Ardent Partners
Sales | Marketing | Advertising | Branding | Loyalty | Client Service | Logistics | Distribution
We’re in the business of supporting our Project clients. Sometimes with respect to a one-off contract, other times in respect to portfolios of projects. In addition to this, almost all clients who are funded will be project managed by Ardent; this is largely due to the funder seeking assurances.
Therefore, we’re often providing advice or connecting a client with a Partner to ensure the Project has the right image, uses the right tools, defines the right target markets, finds productive means of logistics and distribution, delivers customer service in excess of expectations and earns customer loyalty in the process.
Defined as the action or business of promoting products or services, including market research and advertising. Marketing is about preparing your product / service for the marketplace.
Marketing is the process of interesting potential clients / customers in your products and/or services. They key word is "process". Marketing involves researching, promoting, selling and distributing products and services.
The action or activities involved in your sale products and/or services. The physical exchange of a product or service for money (or other compensation).
This is different from the marketing, advertising or branding of your company, or its products / services.
A salesman is someone who sells products or services, thus generating sales.
Advertising is how you're spreading the word about your products / services to the marketplace. It is the action, activity (or profession) of placing adverts for commercial products or services targeted at a specific target market or audience.
Advertising has many forms (modus):
Print: Newspaper, magazines, brochures etc.
Broadcast: Television and radio.
Outdoor: Banners, flags, wraps.
Digital: Websites, apps, banners etc.
Branding is who you are. Branding is your strategy.
Branding is the impression you have on consumers, it allows your clients / customers to know what to expect from your business.
Advertising, customer service, promotional merchandise, reputation and image are all areas used to develop a brand.
A successful project company needs to understand and harness these tools to be successful.
A solid brand that may represent quality (that has garnered 4-5 star reviews) can be marketed through various forms of advertising to net an increase in sales.
A project may donate products or services for public relations goodwill and achieve a community brand as marketed via local newspaper with an advertisement that drives new consumer sales.
A term for the coordination of complex operations that could span multiple locations and involve many people, facilities, supplies, transportation and warehousing... in, from or destined for a variety of locations.
An example could be a car manufacturer. One model of vehicle could require 30,000 individual parts that could be made by 3,000 different suppliers in 30 different locations. The process of assembling all of those parts in one place at one time is one example of logistics.
The action of sharing among a number of recipients. The way in which something is shared among a group or spread over an area. The process of supplying goods to businesses that sell to consumers.
There are different strategies and channel models. A business involved in distribution would choose one most suitable.
A measure of commitment based on an obligation or, in consumer preferences, degree of satisfaction. A loyalty "program" is commonly offered by retailers as a way to attract and retain customers. They offer rewards, discounts or another special reward for returning.
It's a well known and respected fact that it's cheaper to retain an existing customer than rely on attracting only new customers. This is where customer service levels and strategy can often be key to long term success.
The act of taking care of the customer's needs by providing and delivering professional, helpful, high quality service - before, during and after the customer's requirements are met.
Customer service representatives help customers with complaints and questions, provide information, take orders and process returns. Occasionally viewed as having a sales-like role.
A successful project company needs to understand that a closed sale is not the end of the customer's experience, and there is a significant potential for further sales providing the customer's expectations were met or better yet - exceeded.
The after sales process will include varying roles where quality, speed, care, updates and expectations are very important. If the products or services are marketed as being 'high quality' there is a significant chance the customer will expect higher degrees of service and be less accepting of failures.
Consultancy | Advisory | Board Attendance | Management Contributions
Consultancy in general terms, includes all functions and is hireable on a temporary, permanent or consultative basis. All of our staff provide consultancy based on their specific areas of expertise. We provide board management for private project funding recipient companies who will host relevant members from our team on their board. In respect to our PPP program, we may host relevant Government members on a centralised board of a fit for purpose entity, which essentially oversees all related projects.We can provide specialist advisory to our clients, whether the requirements are industry or position specific.
Our partners and associates provide advisory to project clients and report back to our central project management office. We ensure that all projects are effectively managed, all options and decisions are communicated, planned and executed.
A professional practice or professional individual that gives expert advice within a particular field.
Our "consultancy" is provided as expert advice from the firm, given by individual experts who are approved consultants or individual experts who work for an approved Partner, Associate or Affiliate.
It is the inclusion of experts that are assigned seats on behalf of and in lieu of shareholders, allocations are generally based on an amount of seats to share parcels (or %).
The better qualified and experienced a Board member is, the better its outcomes (theoretically). Based upon past lessons learned and knowledge that a lesser educated person would bring to the table.
A Board that is formed by two parties coming together to create an entity for purpose, a Joint Venture with an objective.
The parties may decide between each other all important facets and functions. I.e. How many shares, how many seats and who is to occupy them. Ardent may set up or co-found that entity.
A structure. It may be a company, a Trust or a Foundation. It may be privately held, state owned or a Joint Venture / PPP between both the private and the public.
Established for a purpose:
- A company (By Constitution) has Directors and Shareholders, aims to profit and limits liability to the value of capital/shares.
- A Trust (by Deed) has Trustees and Beneficiaries, where Trustees manage and administer i.e. carry out the business to the Beneficiaries benefit.
- A Foundation is a non-profit corporation or charitable Trust. It's either private or a grant-making public charity.
Project Planning | Documentation | Process Management | CRM Systems
Clients can often become very busy with an idea, and it takes discipline to create and follow plans. Sometimes a client will not know where to start, what software to use, how to use certain systems or measure the results. A project should be properly planned, executed, monitored and controlled from start to finish.
Therefore, it’s important that we specify how important documentation is from the very start, especially if there is a goal of obtaining project funding in the near future. We understand and we’re here to assist in a project as an advisor, project manager, systems integrator and/or general business context.
This depends entirely on the project requirements and type of projects being carried out.
From a Project Management perspective, there are many systems available and they range in cost, application and power.
If a Client has specific needs that require management, it's often best to custom design and create that system. We have a Partner who specialises in this.
There are many software packages and templates available online, and most are suitable. You may see here under "Resources" templates that we've provided for guidance purposes.
An advanced team would utilise a mix of Project Management software, business document templates and model their presentation on prior successful projects methods.
Please see the "Documentation" and "Resource" sections within this website for information specific to what we require.
You are then welcome to submit a form and attach your Executive Summary for an initial assessment.
A Client may be interested in commissioning Ardent or similar firms to organise processes and requirements to suit a project company or standalone project development. Similarly, with the functioning of Project Management, there are various phases where a Client may do what they can to a point and contract professionals thereafter. Budget and Schedule are key considerations.
Accounting | Auditing | Budgeting | Reporting | Financial Systems
If you’re like most project clients, you aren’t a great fan of accounting. However, it’s absolutely vital that all transactions are budgeted, recorded and in the case of funded projects – audited. A good set of accounts provides past event accuracy and that can be matched against a budget or forecast to plot trends and results.
We are happy to advise our clients in respect to which accounting software may best suit their business as well as advise where a certain system may need to be used. I.e. sometimes a funder will request project clients use particular packages that better enable them to monitor progress at arms length.
We are affiliated with Xero Accounting, a globally acclaimed cloud based program that originated out of New Zealand - a success story. They operate a monthly subscription model and their target application is SME business.
We also utilise a custom solution within Binder, our own proprietary system; and we can provide solutions from other firms with respect to better meeting certain larger or more specific requirements. I.e. payroll for over 5,000 staff.
That's great! You will be able to explain where you've come from and what you've achieved, who's a part of the company, it's level of debt and repayment terms, total sales and where, total returns and why. etc.
In such circumstances you may not need our advice, unless you seek funding for another project as run by your existing organisation. Then we may advise and assist on how your team can apply and what to generally expect.
This is a common issue, especially with "bootstrapped entrepreneurs" and "mad inventors"... We understand. However, you still need to address the elephant in the room.
You need to make an effort, whether it's Xero or a spreadsheet, you need to accurately describe your position and this is specifically addressed during a project funding application process.
We recommend plotting a timeframe of key events and notes to include in your documentation. This may be the best way to address many other missing items. I.e. explanations as to why years have passed and you still "appear" to be standing still. Show us what's hidden, what you attempted even if it did not result in an accomplishment of public recognition.
Legal | Contracts | Human Resources | Intellectual Property
Every project needs these services, whether they were aware before now or not. Some will already have their own lawyer but most will not have an HR manager or even staff contract. If your project is developing a new and innovative product, you may also need some guidance on where and how to register your I.P / trademark.
When a client is a new business to the world, as a start-up, the initial teams relevant qualifications and experience really matters. However, where a project may be lacking, we may fill that void. We may partner or offer advice or make a referral to one of our partners. Either way, we are dedicated to supporting our clients.
We will always recommend a lawyer for any contractual requirements you may have, particularly if they are special or custom or unique. However, you may not need a lawyer for many useful and standardised contract applications.
We would advise you following a formal consult. It's impossible to provide a 'one size fits all' recommendation here.
Small project companies generally do not need an HR manager. However, for the companies we support for funding, that require in excess of USD$5 million, we will request that an HR manager is effectively employed.
This depends on many factors. A choice is legally dynamic, so you must ensure formal and informed advice is provided prior to making a decision.
If you've developed a product, it would make sense to check to see if anyone else has had this same idea and prior registered a patent. If not, then it is your choice - run the chance or file a patent.
Ensure formal and informed advice is provided prior to making a decision.
A Trademark is to essentially prevent another party copying your logo and/or slogan. For image, marketing, recognition and intangible value, this is also a reasonably important consideration to make.
Project Funding or in some cases, Project Financing
At present, we only offer via our primary consultant and Associate, Aegis Porter (UAE), an option for equity funding. Our Associate prefers to align rewards and risks with their clients. However, we’re working to build additional relationships (partnerships, associations or affiliations) to provide clients with further options.
Therefore, if you’re a project company that exists already or are just starting out, and you see the value in partner equity based funding with the Ardent team and our partners, we welcome you to prepare an initial form submission and let us know who you are and what you have.
It is when a funder is prepared to take a punt on your team, your venture, your products, your vision and invest money in exchange for shares.
It is an equitable exchange, capital now and over time per an agreement in exchange for shares in the project company. There are no guarantees that the project company will make money and return a dividend. Therefore the investor takes all the risk in backing your project.
A common term for the sale of shares, money in exchange for shares. This sounds very similar to equity funding. However, the difference is significant.
Equity finance appreciates the value of the shares (or stock) at the time of sale and therefore would ordinarily require them to be publicly tradable / resell-able.
Equity funding is a risk determined value paid for shares in a venture that may be privately owned with no trade history or value comparison.
This is when a lender agrees to advance your project capital in the form of debt, with interest accruing at an agreed rate over an agreed period of time, often in monthly instalments. Such agreements usually require collateral well in excess of the amount being borrowed.
Debt is an expense that is paid or deducted before a company posts a net profit or loss. This means creditors (you owe them) would receive their money before shareholders (who wait for a fair performance based return).
Bootstrapping to ask Friends, Family, Founders and other Foolhardy investors.
Whilst this is often encouraged, appearing on private and government websites as classic advice. No one should ignore the risk /impact a failure to deliver would have on your life and the lives of those you borrowed off or the constraints of a founder partner on later business vision and/or performance.
These four F's are in a special category, usually they are the only parties who will finance a random start up venture and demonstrate the earliest levels of faith in "you" without collateral.
Company and Asset Protection | Structuring
For many start-up projects that have not yet ventured down the path of funding, we are happy to assist in your establishment in the regions we operate. In addition, it’s possible that incorporated project companies are not adequately setup or suitable for a later funding proposal alteration to their existing structure.
Providing such advice is a service we offer and in many cases, Ardent or one of our partners can support additional requirements on a case by case basis i.e. the project company may require a local Director, a local Secretary and/or a local office address in order to properly establish. We consider the later a “resource”.
The election of a structure may be any (establishment) arrangement from one entity to a group of entities, associated or on purpose, not associated... to best suit the project company's objectives and the purpose of the entity.
An executed legal structure that specifically accommodates and separates assets from other functions of a company, similar to the concept of a Trust.
When assets reside in company B, a petition to liquidate company A would not see assets in company B counted. They are separate legal entities. However, there are exceptions and likely implications with respect to funding and the analysis of value for entrepreneurs who haven't sought firm advice.
We define resources as any asset that we can essentially control, allocate or distribute, instruct, move, trade, hold, draw, convert or function for a purpose we define.
Our staff, any assets we own or manage inclusive of buildings or more specifically office rooms are all resources. We can allocate a resource to a client for a set period of time and a set price.
With respect to the former "what are resources"... let's look here at "what are services" and summarise.
Services are often what a resource may provide, but not always. A service may be provided by a Partner or an Associate who we do not control.
A consultation on your project may be held in a meeting space we control. The consult is the service and the meeting room is the resource.
Technology | Systems | Hardware | Software | Web
Although many common business types have features that can be found in a variety of system choices, every business is inherently different, particularly in our space where we deal with innovation – innovative new projects, new ideas, new methods, outside of the box features and requirements. Off-the-shelf software will typically cost monthly and based on the amount of users, even if the software only does half of what you need it to. Mixing a variety of different software present many further issues from the porting of data, security, update conflicts, legacy systems lack of support, updates training and more.
Systems refer to the means in which a business connects its I.T and collects data that can be stored, manipulated and analysed. Common terms are CRM - Client Relationship Management and CMS - Content Management System.
It's important that every business has a system and that it works exactly how you need it to, for productivity, customer service, tracking, referencing, plotting results and trends. Basically, without a system a business is flying blind.
Whilst there are off-the-shelf options that may do half of what you seek, or via a combination of systems, you may achieve something that works 'for now', we highly recommend planning, designing and custom engineering ONE system that does all you need to do.
That ensures you control your own system, you choose your security, you design exactly how it shall look, feel and function, and whatever new function or process you need is available.
Whilst custom software can be costly and can take time to build, it can also increase productivity and eliminate monthly 'user license' fees.
Typical off-the-shelf software can cost anywhere between $30 and $30,000 per month depending on the platform, the amount of users and subscribed additional packages.
Versus a custom solution that may cost somewhere between $3,000 and $3m depending on the level of complexity. It is fair to note that some different monthly costs may be applicable i.e. server/space lease and whether you choose a maintenance contract.
All businesses / project companies should, at the absolute least, have a domain name, a website and email. The cost can vary depending on the requirements. Requirements should be driven by what the business needs to achieve from it.
On average: a professional website will cost $3,000 upfront and $30 monthly. A domain will cost $50 per year. Email will cost about $5 per mailbox, per month. Enterprise level solutions change requirements and costs significantly. We are able to consult and design all appropriate IT requirements for our clients.
Resource Sharing | Cost Reduction | Training
As a Project Management centric business, we manage resources on a daily basis and we’re happy to share some of those resources with our Partners, Associates and Clients. The type of resource, length of time and budget are factors to consider. We will always strive to present options that best accommodate, streamline and simplify at a below market price. Training on our systems can be arranged with your relationship manager in single or group sessions depending on what’s necessary. Organising of training modules, videography, cartoon and sketch style explainer videos are also fun and can be fit for purpose i.e. for use on a website or within a training program. Many services can be sourced, facilitated and/or arranged.
It is where we host a resource for an expanded and intended use, that may be assigned or booked, that may save a partner or client money, that may better suit or be easier to arrange than other singular resources.
When a partner, client or project specifically decides they need a resource, they may check with us for requirements and availability. They may easily arrange the resource without having to research obtaining what they need elsewhere.
- Office space with facilities for a small project development team working in the region for two months.
- A board room for a meeting where most participants are not local, or where the local office does not have the space.
- Staff: A Finance specialist, an HR manager, a trainer or a business coach, a project manager or an entire team. A difficult task for most.
- A computer or laptop for two weeks due to a client/partners computer breaking down. Too hard to find one for rent.
- A driver/vehicle available for a three day stop-over where the partner/client has a booked itinerary and doesn't know about local transport.
We provide training on Binder, our own custom software. We have many roles to cater for, inclusive of business development, project management, asset management and cash management. Each component is specialised and controlled by access levels.
We can organise specialist trainers, business coaches, experts for unique or specialist Q&A and we can assist in the creation of training material for your website or H.R. training program. Such services may only be available to existing partners/clients and not to the general public.