Monday, 19 September 2016

The 5 key things I've learned about my startup this year

It has been quite a journey for anyone that has followed my blog from the beginning. You might remember that I stared looking to open a tradition estate agency in my local town in England when all of this began. Things have changed a lot and I have made different plans along the way. That is how it works for many startups and the way that a business forms can change quite dramatically as time goes by.

My plans for an estate agency slowed and then stopped by the local market, the way that I tried other things to bring in an income and by the rise of the online-only estate agent. It is strange how things work out. I started writing my blogs and my books to generate an income that would help me in the early days of my estate agency but it never worked out that way.

I now write for a living - some things for myself and some things for other people. I now have a ghostwriting business and a content writing business.

Here are the five things that I have learned about my startup business this year-

5 - Keep all your accounts up to date
This wasn't like me at all. I just started putting receipts away in a folder as time went by and eventually I had this big pile that I needed to sort out. Add to this all the online receipts and invoices and I didn't know where to start. What should have been a few minutes a week at mist keeping on top of everything ended up being a bit of a mess with money going into different accounts (bank account, PayPal account, business bank account) then took my wife and I hours to get back under control. I advise all of you to set up an accounting system and set aside some regular time to keep it in check.

4 - Look for free resources
I started the writing business with an idea in my head and not much else. I wanted to write for myself and for others but I just didn't know how to make a business of it,. There are free resources if you know how to look in the right places. In the early days I used-
  • Citizens Advice Bureau to ask questions about setting up the business
  • Tax Assist to give me advice on my basic early accounts
  • Many online resources to gain inspiration for my business and explore new ideas
  • The Answer Bank to fire off some questions and hope for helpful answers
Just look and you will find.If you are unsure then a Google search will usually find you the right resources to investigate.

3 - Think about how you will fund your business
For the core of my business I have been fortunate. I haven't needed a great deal of money to be able to sit here and type away in exchange for cash. But for many companies the cash to start the business and to live on is something that is a big headache. There are different ways of raising finance and you can consider-

  • Crowdfunding platforms such as Kickstarter
  • Borrowing from your bank
  • Borrowing from friends and family
  • Using your savings
I have looked at writing a novel and I would need to get some funding for the research and development of the novel plus some money to live on while I was writing it. Kickstarter was something that I tried to raise money through and I will return to it again in the future.

2 - Join a networking group
I started writing for online freelance websites and although they were a great place to start I wanted to move on to working with people locally. This meant building local connections where I didn't really have any. The local BNI was a great place to join and meet local businesses that might need my services or know of someone that does.

I highly recommend BNI as a way to make local connections and move your business forward. It has been a great start for me as I strive to meet local people and get my work known in my region. Check out a BNI group near you and see what it might be able to do for your business.

1 - Don't be afraid to adapt
I started out with the idea of becoming an estate agent and here I am as a writer. That is adaptability if ever I saw it! Don't ever close your eyes to the other possibilities that are out there. I started writing so I had something that would provide me with a supplementary income when I was working in my own estate agents. It has grown from there to the point where I have 10 books published in may name, many others in the name of my clients and I write other content such as blogs and websites for people.

If I had just been blinkered to look only at estate agency then I would not have seen this opportunity. Keep your eyes open for other opportunities and keep your wits about you. You never know what might be around the next corner.

Tuesday, 6 September 2016

The top 5 ways a startup can stop failure from happening

It's a sad fact of business that many startups fail in the first year. The pressures on a new business and startup owner are great and if you don't get things right from the start them you run the risk of adding to these statistics. But it isn't all gloom and doom. There are things that you can do to become a startup success. Here is our guide to the top 5 ways a startup can stop failure from happening-


The biggest skill for any startup business is that of communication.You need to be able to talk to your customers, the market and your suppliers in many ways over the course of that important first year. Although you may not always feel like it there is so much that can happen through effective and constant communication. Get on the phone to your contacts and let them know what is going on. The more you communicate then the more you will get in return.

Get the right help

It can be easy to think that you have to save costs at every turn when you have just started up your own business. It is true that you don't want to spend frivolously but you don't want to cut everything out of your budget. There are certain areas where professional help will really get you on the move and make sure that you don't end up in trouble further down the line. These might include-

  • accountants
  • solicitors
  • marketing consultants
  • web developers
  • financial advice
It is wise to get the right help to fire up your startup and get it moving in the right direction.

Search for customers every day

No matter how busy you are today you need to stop and think about how busy you will be in the future. One of my old managers used to say that you need to "feed yourself" every day with new business for the future. You want to know that you will have enough work tomorrow, next week and next month so take that little bit of time every day to connect with a customer, follow up a prospect and get that next piece of work in. The success of your business depends on it.

Marketing matters

You need to keep up your profile in the early days of your business to become established. Too many startup businesses just see what is in front of them and this is a dangerous tactic. When you just start out then you are not known to the vast majority of your target market. The only way to reach out to these potential customers is to keep your marketing efforts high. Social media, your website, your blog and other more direct marketing will all keep you in focus. The more you reach out to your market then the more likely you are to receive business in return.

Keep up your standards

It can be easy when things are not going right at times in the first year to change what you are doing. Although you want to react to the demands of your customers what you don't want to do is drop the standards of your work. You set up your startup with a vision of how you were doing to do things and that vision is really important when you want to stand out from the competition.

Our number one tip is to keep on plugging away with the high standards you have set yourself. This way your customers will see the quality, return and tell their friends. Tat is the way to grow a business.

Sunday, 4 September 2016

AGWAMO will capture your precious moments forever

I love to feature up and coming entrepreneurs in my blog. Today I have the privilege to showcase a company that is set up on talent and enthusiasm.

AGWAMO are a company that offers photographic services in the Madison, Wisconsin area. They are a family-run business of young and vibrant photographers that really capture the essence of their subject and bring it to life. They have a real connection to the world and people in and around where they live and you can see this shine through in their portfolio.

They produce high-quality photographs for many different purposes, including-
  •          Portraits
  •          Group photography
  •          Event photography
  •          Promotional photography
  •          Images or commercial use
  •          Videos for events or promotional campaigns

Whatever your photographic needs in the Great Lakes area (or further afield) then AGWAMO can really set you apart with stunning images. When you really want to capture a moment in time there is nothing like a photograph. To have a professionally taken photo to look back on for years to come is a real treat.

AGWAMO are a group of three young people from the same family that share an ability and passion for photography and getting the best images for their customers. Get in touch with them today and see how they can capture the moments that are precious to you.