So you’ve decided to set up your own business, you’ve had enough of working for ‘The Man’ or you’ve had enough of ‘The Man’ slamming the door in your face in countless interviews, no matter what the reason is, congratulations. Now comes the hard work, it isn’t going to be easy, you might have spent the last few years watching your boss swan off early for rounds of gold or rock up in his Bentley but he wasn’t always like that. To begin with it’s going to be lots of late nights, lots of sleepless nights and lots of worrying about money but it’s going to be fun.
You can have the best idea in the world, you can be the most talented person doing what you’re doing or you can be the cheapest but if people don’t know about you then how are you ever going to prove it? How exactly do you get your name out there?
Before you do anything you need a brand to push, whether you’re going to be handing out business cards, marketing a website or attending networking events you need more than just a vague idea for a business.
Spend some time coming up with a brand identity, company name, company colours, tag lines, logos all need to be created before you even start marketing. Get yourself some colouring pens and lots of paper and play for a few hours, it’s great fun and you should have something productive to show at the end of it.
You can’t go door to door handing out your colour drawings; you need to get them converted into something resembling a professional brand identity. Ask around your friends and family, someone, somewhere always knows someone who can do web design. Get yourself a basic website designed, it doesn’t have to be award winning state of the art but these days the website is an extension of the business card. If people can’t remember your phone number or want to look up an address most people are going to head straight to Google.
No matter what you’re doing someone is bound to be looking for it online, whether it’s a shoe repair shop in Worcester or financial advice in Manchester Google is the go to place for business information. There are lots of ways of marketing your business online, from search engine optimisation, to pay per click to email marketing to social media. The bad news is, employing a professional to do these services can get expensive for a start-up, the good news is you can learn to do it yourself, it can be very time consuming but it’s a useful skill to have.
You’re not going to get all your business leads online, face to face is always more effective anyway. No matter what your new business is about you need to take it to your target audience and don’t be afraid to think outside the box. If you’re a B2C look at where your customers hang out, if you’re starting a cake business approach the local large offices and ask if you can go round with a selection at 11:00 each day. Shout about your new business to everyone who will listen, you may lose a few friends on Facebook but you’d be surprised how much business you get because your old university friends passed your details onto their colleague etc.
The Three Fold Rule
When it comes to running you own business you time needs to be split into three even segments. One third of your time needs to go on growing your business, going out and finding your new customers whether it’s through marketing, cold calling or knocking on doors. The next third needs to go on looking after your existing customers and making sure they’re happy. Going above and beyond the call of duty and delivering that extra service will keep them coming back. The final third of your time needs to go on looking after your business itself. It’s essential the books and the admin are ticking along and you don’t build up a backlog. As your business progresses the idea is that you can scale back the time you spend looking for new business as you’ll have plenty with the customers you already have.