Category Archives: Diary Entries

My Thoughts on Business After One Startup Year

Well, Velocity Digital is one today! I can’t believe it! I’ve worked with some amazing clients and partners over the past 12 months, and I have to thank each and every one of them! My quick thoughts on my first year in business and some tips:

  • I’ve learned more in one year that I have in the rest of my career combined
  • Pricing is hard, very, very hard
  • There are people out there that want you to fail
  • But the majority will be rooting for you
  • It is ok to make mistakes (I’ve not made many, but the key thing is being able to fix them)
  • Clients love a no-bulls*** approach and they should be prepared to be on the end of ‘spade is a spade’ approach. This works both ways!
  • Getting paid can be a drag, but professional invoices help!
  • You need to be prepared to shift your business functions in order to meet demand – Velocity is now quite different to my initial vision
  • If you expect praise, forget it, and never seek it
  • Always be ready to learn from your clients
  • Learn you client’s industry inside out, if you don’t you’ll struggle to offer the best solutions
  • Often the best projects are the ones you thought you’d get no satisfaction from
  • It isn’t all about satisfaction
  • It is the best choice I’ve made. The ability to do things your way without influence from above (not god!) is amazing

Just a slice of my thoughts! I had a party today, check out the wild, behind-the-scenes footage in the video below:

You can find out more about Velocity Digital here or read my latest social media, digital and content marketing posts here – Follow @mike_mcgrail


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New year, new business, new enthusiasm.

Happy new year!

2012 came and went in a bit of blur. Aside from becoming a Dad for the first time, turning 30 and also becoming an uncle, I started my first business, Velocity Digital. I started final planning in August and after taking time to sort our my proposition, pricing etc etc, I launched in September.

Where’s my head at?

Business has been very good and I’ve been working on some fantastic projects with some great clients. Financially, things have been comfortable and that has allowed to really focus my energy on high quality output. With 2013 now upon us, I’m striving to maintain and build on the early momentum. I would like extend the business to have 1-2 employees over the next 6-9 months, but I won’t be rushing in, as stability will be key. I recently won a client in Paris, France, meaning I’m operating on an international level, which is very nice indeed. Things are good and I’ll be working very hard to keep them that way.

I apologise for the short post, but want to wish you all the best for business in 2013!

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Diary of a new entrepreneur – 19.10.2012

The last time you heard from me, I had just launched my business (Velocity Digital) and was bursting with excitement at being able to show the world what I do. That was about 6 weeks ago and my introduction to the business world has been incredibly interesting so far!

Putting yourself out there

My business is knowledge based – people pay me for my knowledge, experience and advice. By starting my consultancy, I’ve told the world that I believe I can make a big difference to the fortunes of their business. That fact means that I have been treated in a much different manner to what I have been used to. When I worked for agencies in the past, I was a representative of that agency, the client (or prospective client) was assessing not only me, but the whole package. Now, everything falls on me, and I’ve immediately noticed a positive change in the way people interact and deal with me. They are much more open to criticism, doing things differently and taking a step back from being so entrenched in their business and looking at it from a fresh perspective. I’d like to think that is because as things stand, its only me and they are only putting their faith in me, not a wider team or organisation. Putting myself out there like this has been a real test of my knowledge and the way I deal with people and so far, I think I’m doing pretty well (even if I do say so myself).

Winning work Vs lowering fees

As I spoke about in week two, I spent a long time working out my pricing for my consultation time and also some ‘off the shelf’ products. I produced a list for my own use and it has been invaluable so far. I have been flexible in my pricing, this has been fruitful in many ways, but I have always ensured that I stick to a minimum. I feel my services are worth a certain amount and to go below that makes a mockery of that. I’ve also not won work due to what people have seen as high prices. That is fine and will happen forever I am sure! I want to ensure that I am not lowering prices to unsustainable levels just to win work – this does not benefit my business and in the long-run, it actually doesn’t benefit the client in the long-run.

I’ve got 99 problems but accounting ain’t one

I’d like to give a hat-tip to a couple of tools I’ve been using to help me run things smoothly…

The first is Free Agent – this online accounting software is so easy to use and is highly intuitive. From invoicing to expenses, I’ve found it a major help.

Next is Toggl – this is a simple web and mobile based app that let’s you measure the time you are spending on project work. So easy to use and the reports are easy to digest.

That’s all folks! You can find out more about Velocity Digital here or read my latest social media, digital and content marketing posts here


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That Launch Feeling

Well my first ever business went live yesterday. The feeling of seeing it sitting there on the web was amazing. Its taken 8 weeks to get to this point (fairly fast I think!) and the past week has been a tough one due to hosting issues. We had to launch the site via tethering on my iPhone as our hosts ( decided to block our IP addresses for no apparent reason. Anyway, the site is live and has had some great feedback and that my friends, is all that matters.

I was nervous in the lead up to launch, a lot of work has gone into the site and the proposition and to put it out there for all to see was fairy daunting. Natural I guess!

I do intend to keep this diary updated – it’s a great way for me to keep track of my journey and thoughts and it would appear that a few people actually enjoy reading it, which is rather nice.

In the meantime, you can visit the Velocity Digital site, read the blog, follow Velocity on Twitter and join in on Facebook too. Or you can chose to do none of those. It is entirely up to you.

Do you like the Velocity ninja star? All Velocity Digital branding and site design/build was handled by corporatePRM.

You can follow My Startup Blog on Twitter for tweets about startup, tech, marketing and more…

You can follow me on Twitter too. I tweet about social media, digital comms, technology and a tonne of other stuff…


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Diary of a new entrepreneur – Week 6 (10.09.12)

Week 6 and the launch has stuttered a little…

This Service is Delayed…

Today was supposed to be the day that I revealed my business to the world. Unfortunately, there will be no such unveiling as there is still work to do on the site. We are trying to do something pretty nifty to do with responsiveness of the site to mobile devices etc and it is proving a little troublesome, however, it will not defeat my super-clever developer and all will be well! I expect that I will be able to fully launch at some point this week, if not early next.

It Has to be Perfect

The thought of ‘going live’ without the site being absolutely spot-on makes me throw up a little in my mouth. There is nothing worse than a false start, especially with such important ‘shop fronts’ as websites. Perfection can be a dangerous beast, as when do we know if it has actually been reached? When I searched Google for ‘the strive for perfection’, it returned an article with this quote from Sir Henry Royce:

“Strive for perfection in everything you do.
Take the best that exists and make it better.
When it does not exist. Design it.”

Sounds easy, right?

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Diary of a new entrepreneur – Week 5 (31.08.12)

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.

Business cards

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, a great service, if you want a 10% discount, use this link.

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Diary of a new entrepreneur – Week 4 (24.08.12)

Four weeks. Wow…

Time Flies!

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.

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Diary of a new entrepreneur – Week 3 (17.08.12)

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…

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Diary of a new entrepreneur – week two (August 2012)

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.

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Diary of a new entrepreneur – week one (August 2012)

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!

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