Is now the time to start my own business?

Is now the time to start my own business?

With so much time to think, and so much potential uncertainty, we here at HDK Marketing have noticed an upsurge in enquiries from people who are keen to turn the COVID issue into an opportunity – and start their own business. However, it can be hard to find good, solid, reliable advice that takes you from the very beginning, and launch, to how to sustain your company. Here we would like to offer our advice…

How do I actually start a business?

“Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.” (Confucius/unknown). Whoever wrote this quote, had it exactly right. Working for a company you don’t like, for a boss you don’t respect, in an industry you don’t value, can be difficult. If this is you, perhaps you should ask yourself if you have chosen the right job – and if not, what would it be? One of our clients who has always worked in industry has recently told us he wants to be a chef, another, who currently works in education wants to be a Fitness Instructor. The best start you can give to your new adventure is to choose what you love, what will make all the worries about paying bills, staff, corporation tax and insurance worthwhile. Once done, turn to Google.

What will I need?

In short you will need:
1. A company name. This should clearly identify what you do. Whilst it might amuse YOU to call your dog grooming business “Wuffle and Puffle”, will clients know what you do, and be able to find you? “Midland Dog Groomers” may be a better option in this instance. Companies House is the go-to for this.

2. A “domain” name. (Website address) Once purchased this means you will be able to build a website. We firmly recommend that you do this at the same time as choosing a company name so that the two match up. When looking to build a website, we advise that you seek professional help. Yes, the internet is stuffed with companies telling you to build your own, but what good will they be if Google can never find them because you have no SEO? What if you have written poor (even inappropriate) content or your photography is so ‘heavy’ that it will make your site impossible to navigate? They might also harbour hidden costs and monthly fees, so do be cautious and remember the old adage “Buy cheap, buy twice”!

3. A logo. Think for a moment of logos you can immediately identify. Costa? McDonalds? Apple? Microsoft? What do they all have in common? They are strong, simple and clean. By this we mean they send out an uncomplicated message and are instantly recognisable – so much so that they are imprinted on your brain. Whilst you may not be able to equal these giants of industry, use them as a benchmark. Also consider how your logo will appear on mobile devices as well as laptops, merchandise, publicity, social media, A-frames and bus stops, to name but a few! *** You may also consider a ‘strap line’ here. This should be a few words which enhance your brand, such as Loreal’s “You’re worth it”, Tesco’s “Every little helps”, and finally Nike’s “Just do it”.*** You will note that HDK Marketing’s strap line is “Our business is to build yours”.

4. Social identity. Have a long hard think about which social media(s) will suit your product or services and create your profile. This should be clear to understand and focus upon what you provide that will fulfil and enhance your buyer’s world. Give just enough information for credibility, but do not be self-indulgent – it’s about them, not YOU.

5. A bank account. One of our new start-ups has tried to argue that a business bank account will charge a monthly fee, (highly likely) so they will continue to use their personal account. We disagree, and have highlighted two issues immediately:
a. How unprofessional does this look? How does this affect you and your business credibility? Are you a company that people will be happy sending money to? By doing this you will be risking permanent damage to your brand, from which you may never recover.
b. Google will struggle to align the two, so your ability to be ‘found’ on searches will be greatly affected.

6. A strategy. The 4 Pillars of Marketing are Product, Price, Place and Promotion. Pre-start you will need to explore each one in detail. For example, put yourself through a Dragon’s Den experience for ‘Product’, and work out how you would ‘pitch’ your business to a stranger in two sentences or less. If you can’t, you will need to re-assess your purpose. This will dictate your launch.

7. Launch. From Promotion (above) you should know where you will be unveiling your business, which medium you will bet suit your marketplace. Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Instagram are all valid, as is radio, TV, leaflets and an ‘open day’. Treat yourself to a good, honest think about this, talk it through with family and friends, consider a build up to your launch to create interest – then go for it!

8. Once you have started trading, ensure you maintain a balance between contacting existing clients and shopping for new ones. Both may be achievable via Mail Chimp (a medium for email campaigns) but you must comply with GDPR. Also, Google thrives on fresh content, so at no point must your website go ‘dormant’. You should refresh photos, messages, information and, ideally write regular blogs to keep it alive. This will help raise your Google standing.

9. SEO. Search Engine Optimisation. This is how people find you on searches on ‘engines’ such as Google, and everyone wants to be on page one – did you ever get as far as page nine when looking for a dog groomer? Large corporations will spend a fortune on SEO by employing experts to embed ‘key words’ into their web pages and messages, but it can be done on a variety of scales, and not cost as much as you think/fear!

10. Ensure you have a clear GDPR policy. This is not negotiable and we will not deal with any company who does not incorporate this crucial document in their company structure, as it is a data safeguard enforceable by the Information Commissioner’s Office.

In Summary

It’s very difficult to start a business with no investment, so, you need to work out just how much this ambition is worth. We often get calls from people saying “I have no budget but I need some marketing”. Whilst we will give some free advice, naturally we need to pay our bills too! However, we are always keen to meet our client’s budgets, and maximise the help we can offer to them.
BBC Article here