Week 5 in my startup journey and things are hotting up…
On-track for launch
I’m pleasantly surprised to say that I am still on-track for my launch date of September 10th! I always expected this to move and it may well still, but my fingers are crossed that the 10th will be the day the real fun starts!
The kindness of people
I’ve been amazed at the willingness of people to help me over the past 5 weeks. From expert tax advice to simple things like sourcing paper for stationary, I’ve been inundated with helpful offers from people with no ulterior motive other than being kind. What goes around comes around and I’m sure I’ll be able to help others in the future. A lot of this help has come from my online network and mainly via Twitter. Taking the time to build relations via social media is a no-brainer for anyone starting a business.
A deluge of junk mail
On the other hand, I’ve had a serious amount of junk mail from office supply companies, accountants, window cleaners(!), training companies etc etc all of which I am assuming have found my address via Companies House. Such a waste of paper! Of course, I am recycling it. Direct mail has zero effect on me, perhaps this is due to my largely digital persuasion, but I just find it more of an irritant than anything else.
Does the world still need business cards? Unfortunately, I think it does and will continue to do so for a number of years. When I get a card, I input the details into my Mac contacts and then recycle the actual piece of card. I was recently speaking at an event and handed my card to a lady who used an iPhone app to scan the details and then handed me my rectangular tree-based product back. Until apps that allow us to bump phones and swap details are the norm, then I think we do have to carry cards. They can make a great statement and I spent a fair amount of time working with my designer to come up with a visual I ‘m happy with. I’ve ordered my cards on moo.com, a great service, if you want a 10% discount, use this link.
One of the biggest challenges of my startup journey so far has been defining exactly what the overall proposition my business offers/will offer. In case you didn’t know, I’m launching a digital marketing and communications consultancy. The very word ‘consultancy’ alludes to a service, however is it wise to build everything around a service basis?
Product and Service?
After much scribbling, thinking and a little bit of swearing, I’ve decided that my proposition will be split over services and products. The services will be based upon consulting, i.e. a business buying my time and access to my experience and expertise. This may never result in the actual provision of a ‘product’ as such. The other side of the coin are the products. These will be ‘off the shelf’ products that solve a particular need or appeal to those that perhaps don’t need full-on consultation style support. It may be a tricky balance to maintain, but I see no harm in testing this model out.
I’ve not even properly launched the business yet, so to think about a time where I may wish to sell it is crazy I know (I may never of course!), but it is wise to think about the value of the business to a potential suitor. If I build the business on the services, i.e. my brain, then will it ever be attractive? Afterall, my brain is not for sale, I like having it in my head. However, if I create a careful balance of the two and build some brilliant products, then those properties are saleable.
In the grand scheme of things, four weeks is nothing, however a lot can happen in that time and it certainly has for me. Time can slip away and I’ve been trying to take stock of what I am managing to achieve within certain time periods and bursts of focus. I’m keeping a day by day tracker of the time I’m spending on the numerous tasks required in order to get this show on the road and have found that a great help in maintaining sharp focus.
Site Taking Shape
I was presented with the flat visuals for my site yesterday and they blew me away! My designer has really captured the brief and I’m going to be proud to put the site out there as the face of my business. These things can take serious amounts of time to get right and I have to say I’ve been very lucky. I’ve been writing briefs for a long time which does help.
Week four of my startup journey is upon me and I hardly slept a wink last night! I’m not a great sleeper but in the past couple of years I’ve managed to switch my brain off at bedtime. Last night was different…
A Million Miles Per Hour
Every little thing I need to do this week was flying round and round my brain. A lot of it was driven by excitement and the urge to just get going. I hardly slept and the funny thing is, I don’t feel shattered today (that may kick in later!). I’m not sure how to stop it happening again but in a way it was useful as it helped me prioritise my work for the week. Pros and cons to a buzzy head!
Week 3 is all but over and it has been a real education…
Admin Admin Admin
Admin is a word that nobody really likes. It rarely involves anything fun. This week I have been through some pretty important admin – registering my business for tax, VAT and as an employer. All vital tasks that did take up some serious time. Worth noting that the online HMRC system (UK) is clunky as hell and will frustrate you. There is a blend of online forms and paper forms that have to be completed in order to finalise everything. God forbid you have to phone them for any clarity – I was passed around departments and each person sounded so disinterested. Working for the man will do that to you. Once all was completed I did have a sense of accomplishment. All major admin complete! Now back to the exciting stuff…
I really enjoyed the Lean Startup book by Eric Ries. This is a great interview from Techcrunch with Eric gives some great insight in to the Lean concept. Enjoy! You can buy the Lean Startup on Amazon here.
You can follow My Startup Diary on Twitter for tweets about startup, tech, marketing and more…
Yesterday, I tackled a lot of the admin fundamentals of getting my business off the ground – things like VAT registration etc. One of said tasks was to find a bank that would be a nice match for my needs as a new business owner. I took my query to Twitter and perhaps a little optimistically expected one of the banks to respond. In fact, knowing social media and how financial service organisations are really struggling to get to grips with it, it was highly optimistic!
Happy Monday folks. I’ve never dreaded Mondays, mainly due to the fact that I love what I do for a living, but the past two Mondays have seen me jumping out of bed with some serious energy and a will to really get the week started with a bang. Since I marched in to the startup world, I’ve found myself waking up earlier than ever with my head buzzing in anticipation of the day ahead.
That feeling of knowing that everything I do in a day is working towards building a business that will bring to life my ideas and ambitions is one that is hard to describe. If you could can it, you would be a zillionaire in no time. It is a different mindset to the one that I had when I was employed. It must be that feeling that pushes entrepreneurs forward when things are tough Does it ever fade? I guess I’ll find out.
So week two in my new life as a entreprenuer is coming to an end and it has been another mind blowing 5 days!
What is my proposition?
Setting up a ‘digital marketing and communications consultancy’ is all fair and well, but what does that actually mean and what will I offer? That is the question that I have been overcoming this week and after lots of relecting on what I can do very well and what I perhaps need to develop further in, I have managed to write a solid list of the services that my (name to be revealed soon) consultancy will offer. I found writing a few lines about each service in a way that a leyman could understand really helped define the exact type of work I will be carrying out. So the services are sorted. What’s next? Pricing, that’s what.
I’ve reached the end of my first week setting up my digital marketing and communications consultancy. Everything has been a little bit accelerated after the agency I was working for kindly allowed me to cut my notice period short. I announced my breaking from employment via Twitter that day and within hours I had people contacting me wishing to (potentially) use my services. The fire that gave me in my belly was huge! This week has been a mixture of nailing down the name of my business, getting tech sorted, meeting with potential clients and writing of proposals. It is hard to describe the feeling when I wake up every morning knowing that everything I do that day is going towards building my own business. I’ve always wanted to do this and now that I am starting out, I have to say it feels very natural.
The Name Game
The toughest task so far has been naming the business. Every name I came up with already existed. I wanted something that would sum up the digital world, make an impact and of course be memorable. It then came to me as I was reading a book – the title of which really appealed, I thought there was no way it would be free. I thought wrong and it was. I’m keeping that underwraps for now. The company is now officialy registered, I did it online with Companies House and it fely bloomin’ great!