It’s not easy, but be bold, brave and be consistent and you will get there!
You’ve taken the plunge and have made your labour of love – your new career. You’ve ditched the day job and the office politics to concentrate on your passion, but you’ve also foregone the security of a monthly pay packet, office hours and a pension – so how do you make, what up until now, has been a full-time hobby into a proper job which will earn you a salary? Getting off to a good start is vital. Our top ten tips will help you get your new business off the ground in no time at all:
It’s all in a Name
You’ve spent years plotting your escape from the office nine to five so you can make your hobby or passion a full-time dream but now it’s come to the crunch you’re not quite sure what to call yourself. You can’t promote or market your business without a name and it needs to be something you’re comfortable with, fits your brand and is something people remember. If you’re not sure, brainstorm with the people you trust, or test it out on your social media first.
Do’s- check Companies House- you don’t want a name that is too common but also check out similar companies on Start.biz it’s a clever tool to search. Check if the domain name and all social accounts are available. Having the same social name on all platforms is a real bonus.
Don’ts – Back yourself into a corner with a name. If it is too specific it leaves you no room to grow and adapt.
We don’t mean a 300-page dossier that would give War and Peace a run for its money. We mean having a tangible plan with your vision, mission and aims, together in one place which will set out what your objectives are, how you’re going to achieve them and how you’re going to finance it. A business plan is no good if it’s that technical it would send your nearest and dearest to sleep or it just gathers dust sitting on your bookshelf. It needs to be a working document that you can refer back to, update as the business grows and helps keep you focused and on track.
Let’s be honest with Insta and all the other socials changing the way we market ourselves; branding is even more important if we want to stand out from the crowd. You want your name and your products to be instantly recognisable, you want them to be liked, shared and commented on. The only way to do that is to get your branding and marketing right. Remember too that branding isn’t just the logo on your signage or business cards, it’s everything from the way you set your stall out, to the products you sell, and the way you treat your customers to your tone of voice on social. If your business is going to succeed your branding has to be on-point from the off.
Do’s – spend a little money of getting someone to professionally create you a high resolution logo and social images. Get some great images of your work- this can be with a phone but do so with caution.
Don’t- visit a logo site to create something as it will not last the test of time and is likely to look unprofessional.
Personal Survival Budget
How can you set yourself sales targets if you don’t know how much you need to earn to live? We’re not just talking mortgage, gas bill, car loans and childcare costs we’re talking everything – from how much you spend on Christmas presents to your monthly cut and colour Before you launch any business you really need to work out exactly how much you need to bring home a month in order to survive.
Then work backwards. What do you need to survive — therefore how much stock do I need to sell and it can help guide product prices too.
If there’s one thing you need to get right – it’s your socials. That’s a blog all in itself. We’re all vying for attention on-line. You and your products need to stand out from the crowd to get noticed in such an overcrowded marketplace and your socials will help you do that.
Set up your accounts, whether its Insta, Pinterest or Facebook, we strongly recommend they are the same name on all platforms. Then come up with a social media plan of what you’re going to post and when and how you’re going to manage your content. Then
make sure try to stick to it! It’s tough and if you have been unrealistic in your plan it will show.
Here’s some more tips on social media in one of our future blogs so keep an eye out. ‘Are you Instagram ready?’ and ‘Help with Instagram’.
Do’s – be consistent and authentic. Sell your story, people like to buy from people and your audience will want to know.
Don’t – if it is a business account, there is no need to share your tea on the IG grid. Story posts are for the more informal but your grid should be about the good photo arrangement it is your shop window.
Do some research to find out what business insurance you need and shop about for the most competitive quotes. Often this gets missed when you’re setting up but it’s vitally important. There are different kinds of business insurance so before you buy look into exactly what cover you need, whether it’s public liability, product liability, business property or professional indemnity. It can be a bit of a minefield so do your research and if in doubt ask an insurance expert or broker before you part with your well-earned cash.
We can recommend Getcoverly.com as they work really well with small businesses and their team are easy to contact.
There’s that age-old adage – people buy off people but how they can buy off you if they don’t know you exist? If you’re starting out in business – get your name and product out there and one great way as well as using social is to join forces with others and meet people and collaborate.
Creative businesses benefit from the social aspect of going to meet ups/networking events. Events like Creatival are just awesome run by Helen at the Creative Business Network, she holds meet ups in Exeter, as do we here in the North, Boss Babes Brunch in and around Liverpool and Simply Great Britain are also another company to look out for.
Ask customers to share their pictures of your products on-line, get them to give you Google reviews, or share your product reviews on socials. What’s the first thing you do before booking a holiday or trying a new restaurant – if you’re like most of us you’ll check out the reviews? If you get great ones, your reputation will grow and you’re more likely to get more customers as a result. Simples.
If you have friends or family who run their own business, get advice. There’s no point in reinventing the wheel here – ask them what lessons they learnt, is there anything they would have done differently, have they got any advice you could learn from? There are also lots of places you can go to to get business start-up advice, including your local Chamber of Commerce. They’ll have courses you can go to, networking events you can attend and advice on grants and funding you could potentially apply for.
For creatives, obviously use our blogs but also websites like Mollie Makes and Folksy have great content about getting started and selling. Leona from Indie-Roller is also a really great person to listen to.
Do’s – listen to what people have to say but their opinions are not facts.
Managing your finances is really important. You can’t possibly know how much you can invest in the business, or what targets to set yourself if you don’t know what you’ve got coming in or going out. There is software you can use like QuickBooks or Xero but often a simple excel spreadsheet is all you need. An appointment with a good accountant right at the start of your business journey is definitely worth the time and the money. Don’t forget you may also need to speak to your bank about a business account. Shop around though, some banks offer better deals than others for businesses.
If there’s something you’d like to read about or you have an idea for a future Pedddle blog please contact us here at [email protected]