When starting up my small business I thought I had it all sorted, at least it was in my mind. I had covered the bases that I believed were needed; choosing the right sector and then making sure I had the right levels of insurance for myself and my small amount of employees. However, there were many learning curves along the way, especially in this tough economic climate. As I was starting up I made three mistakes that I have since gone on a mission to help others to avoid, especially those within the marketing sector. Here are my tips to try and avoid the same failings and have a brighter future.
Make sure you have the right financial advice and assistance.
One this that I truly believed was that I could keep track of the financial side of setting up a business; after all it is small and not one where millions of pounds are going to be exchanged. I truly believed that by sticking to simply watching the paperwork I would be perfectly fine by the end of the financial year. Unfortunately for me, it is certainly not this simple and trying to keep track of everything all at once can be exhausting and get you into financial trouble.
You may think because your business is new and small, you don’t want/need to spend the money on a dedicated accountant. This is the assessment that I made anyway. My business operates entirely online, so I didn’t have any products to buy and sell etc – it was all a virtual outlet. However with mounting costs that I couldn’t keep up with and my private assets tied into the business I made the decision to search for an accountant in my local area – I mean all you have to do is search for accountants in Manchester and you will see how much help there is available. By doing this I had saved myself hundreds of pounds and managed to climb out of the debt I had gotten into.
Make sure your marketing plan is as cost effective as it is for your clients
Whether you are creating a business for SEO, social or even more traditional forms of marketing such as print advertising, you will have written a clean and concise marketing plan for your clients. This was where I had started, writing a plan of who to approach, when to approach them. I offer development, user experience and social marketing to my clients and I had it all planned out with ease. Then came the realisation that I had not put any thought into my own marketing plan….a problem that I have read about time and time again.
I had considered large campaigns, Facebook advertising, mail outs and the use of certain software to aid me in linking building to my brand new website. All of which are great, but I had completely overlooked the cost of each of these. If you have run a PPC campaign you will know that the debts can spiral quickly into a real problem. Eventually I had to step back and look at the amount of time I was spending on others sites in comparison to my own.
Know your target market inside and out
We all go in with grand hopes that someone will see you and you will be the next big thing, however if you haven’t pinned down the people that will be your custom base you are going to fall apart pretty quickly. I had decided early on to look at small businesses within the ecommerce sector as this was where my background lay. What I hadn’t seen clearly is the budgetary side of this. I was approaching boutiques, suppliers..I looked at B2B and B2C and I though the more I contacted the more likely I was to win clients. However sometimes you have to look at quality over quantity. There is a trust that has to be built within your target market…if too broad you can appear desperate to win bids….too small and people may not see your worth. I decided to narrow my target market purely to B2C at first, establish and market base and then expand again. This was of course after I realised that however many pitches I send out, without a confident client base of previous works, people will consider you as spammers until you can build up their trust.