your questions on business start up

I always try and end any subject by giving some edited insight into the questions/comments you lovely readers have sent my way. Don’t be afraid to get in touch should you have any burning questions.

I’m a start up with no money at all, how can I generate business?

Slowly is the answer. I was exactly like you when I started up, and seemingly small expenses like websites and business cards were big costs to me. Coming from Yorkshire I am a cheapskate by nature but one thing I have learnt is that often when you pay cheap you pay twice! The cheapest option is most often not the best, and so my advice to you would be to build up money to the point where you can afford these things. The key thing is to focus on getting work in and as long as you have a phone/the internet that should be possible. Even without a website in many cases. I would advise you to phone some target businesses, explain that you are just starting up and plan it so that when that first job comes in you’ll be able to devote most of that fee to helping you set up costs.

I disagree that branding/looking good is unimportant, a lot of start-ups have awful marketing which slows their growth!

That is true, and there are also some established companies making millions of pounds with a crap looking website! I don’t disagree that having a solid brand is important to build trust and familiarity in your market but in your first steps as a business/entrepreneur it’s not your prime concern. Getting work in comes before anything and there are plenty of decent templates that will suffice for the first year or so. I always used to make website tweaks etc over the Christmas period when it was a bit quieter. Any young business needs to understand what its focus is and young entrepreneurs in particular seem to care too much about branding.

Oliver, you say that ego/arrogance comes back to bite new entrepreneurs, but I see companies boasting in the papers/online all the time? Can you elaborate further?

You make yourself look naive by flaunting your early successes as though “you’ve made it” and this is an easy way to quickly gain a bad reputation. By talking loudly and name dropping clients you’re more likely to get your clients stolen then impress anyone. There’s this weird idea that people have that this will get people talking about them or that they are disrupting the industry. No, you’re just showing everyone your cards. The difference between something promotional and something arrogant is that anything promotional has to be backed up where as arrogance is most often found out to be hot air and now your branded a bullshit artist.

©2020 Oliver Gwynne

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