Tag Archives: social media

Enterprise essentials #2 – 21 more tips from StartUp Saturday

It was the first day of September – a good time to be thinking about starting a business. We’re at the wonderful British Library Business and Intellectual Property Centre in central London for a StartUp Saturday business class led by Enterprise Nation founder Emma Jones. There’s an expectant buzz within the group of 30 aspiring business owners and, interestingly (to me at least), 75% are women; confirming my theory about women and entrepreneurship. It was a day that was rich in experience, of both Emma Jones and the participants, inspiring an intriguing array of start-up businesses at different stage in their development.

I’ve now been in business advice roles of various kinds for nearly two decades and I never stop learning – the following 21 insights, quotes and tips made it into my notebook…

  1. According to the Henley Business School, developing a ‘side hustle’ [a secondary business or job that brings in, or has the potential to bring in, extra income] applies to 25% of all adults, with the figures for employees rising to nearly 40%
  1. If you’re thinking of setting up a side hustle alongside your main employment… it’s a good idea to check what your contract says, informally check out company policy, and get advice from ACAS (the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service) if necessary
  1. Would-be entrepreneurs see a niche business as narrowing the potential market for the products or services on offer, creating a disadvantage. In practice, it deepens the market which can mean lower marketing costs and higher customer loyalty
  1. The secret to success in services such as photography, PR [public relations] and events is often to go for a niche part of the market. Hone in on deciding exactly who your business is for – photos for parents of new-born babies maybe
  1. It’s always worth re-quoting the cliché ‘There may be a gap in the market, but is there a market in the gap?’
  1. There are three broad sources for most business ideas: A gap in the market (no one else is doing it), a passion (I want to get paid for something I love), improvement (I can do it better)
  1. IMOFF – a mnemonic for the main elements of a business plan – Idea, Market, Operations, Finances, Friends
  1. 3 Bs to start-up and grow your business cost-effectively: beg, borrow, barter. And ‘surround yourself with experts’ when your business is young. Becoming ‘an expert’ yourself is good for profile-building
  1. Avoid ‘friends and family focus groups’ they’ll usually want to please you, rather than tell you the truth. But a face-to-face focus group, even with your most loyal customers, can often give you greater insights than a larger arms-length consultation
  1. When you can afford to… “Do what you do best and outsource the rest”. Carry out a simple cost-benefit analysis to see how you spend your time. What do you love (that generates income)  and how much time could you liberate if you outsourced what you don’t?
  1. Crowdfunding is an increasingly popular way to raise finance to start a business. And some are even launching campaigns for the profile-raising, rather than fundraising, potential. Family and friends are still the most popular source for start-up finance
  1. On business names… It’s best to have a name that is memorable and pronounceable. Your company, domain and trading names can be different [but some sort of association is helpful]
  1. While honesty should be at the heart of all your business dealings, at times it may be expedient to tell ‘future truths’. [Positivity without porkies?]
  1. 3 Cs to turn your passion into profit online – Content (around something you and others love) to build your Community (through social media) as the seedbed for Commercial development (jargon alert – monetization)
  1. Selling is very much a numbers game needing perseverance and patience. But doing even simple things to increase sales can make a difference because so few people [in small businesses] do so.
  1. People go to Pinterest to buy things (but can’t) which may explain why you can now buy on Instagram. Twitter and Facebook are not designed for sales (but Facebook ads work for small businesses)
  1. Twitter is useful for sharing your expertise, Facebook is social (for building your following), LinkedIn is good for business-to-business and ‘selling’ via Groups), YouTube can substantiate your business or build a business in its own right
  1. Measure what social media tools work best for your business, then focus on the one or two that are getting most engagement with your target audience
  1. Events can bring your contacts and (potential) customers together. “If you connect your contacts to each other, you connect them ever closer to you”
  1. DIY routes to making money. A commercial ‘how-to guide’ on YouTube is the entrepreneur’s dream – making money while you sleep. Putting on paid-for in-person training courses can both generate additional income and increase demand for your core services
  1. An ABC of plate spinning to keep you sane in business – Administration (having control – money in, money out) Business development (attracting new customers) Customer care (keeping your customers and building loyalty)

Further start-up support: www.enterprisenation.com  and www.princes-trust.org.uk/help-for-young-people/support-starting-business

The first 21 StartUp tips: https://enterpriseessentials.wordpress.com/2018/01/15/enterprise-essentials-21-tips-from-startup-2018/

My love affair with Twitter

In 2012, when I was new to Twitter, I was advised that the usual pattern of adoption, if that’s the way I wanted to go, would be along the lines of:

Denial – I don’t need it or want it – a waste of time

Curiosity – I wonder what they’re all talking about

Ah-ha! – I can see this could be fun

Obsession – I know it’s probably not the best use of my time, but…

Like breathing –  It’s a natural and welcome part of my daily life

14,000 tweets later, I feel it’s time to take stock and decide whether I’ve been wasting my time on Twitter for the past 6 years. I have no doubt my wife would have a three-letter-word answer to that – so I don’t need to ask her opinion.

As Valentine’s Day approaches I have to admit, I love Twitter. I feel I’m somewhere between the obsessional and like-breathing stages in my… I refuse to say ‘journey’ because I can’t stand the over-use and abuse of that word.  So, what’s behind the love affair?

I have Twitter to thank for introducing me to Men’s Sheds and Repair Cafés – in the same week around five years ago. Both have made a massive and positive difference to my life in the real, rather than the virtual, world. I am the first to admit that most of the ‘best ideas’ I’ve developed in recent years have their origins in the Twittersphere. I am regularly inspired by the creativity and humanity of so many people out there – it gives me hope for the future (just as the nastiness that is undoubtedly out there also gives me cause for despair).

Despite the ongoing romance, I feel in control – both limiting the messages I choose to see and the amount of time I spend viewing and, when I want to, responding to tweets. I ignore the etiquette of following people that follow me – I’m quite selective about the people I follow (I flirted with Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt but he was making me ill). I have a personal rule to follow no more than 50% of the number following me, so I get to see a reasonable range of tweets from those I do follow.

Like breathing, being part of Twitter is a daily pastime. Unlike breathing I can live without it – and do so when on holiday – and my mobile phone (much to the annoyance of some members of my family). For me, Twitter is a major source of news, comment and analysis and, for my paid job helping young people start businesses, it’s an essential tool for helping me to accumulate a steady stream of free business start-up resources that I drip-feed to over 150 young people every fortnight.

I personally regret the increase to allow tweets of up to 280 characters. As someone in marketing for 40 years, I liked the greater discipline to write clearly and concisely imposed by the old 140-character limit. But the new limit does potentially facilitate more meaningful exchanges. I’ve recently been party to an interesting conversation with similarly-minded people on the portrayal of older people in the media (and what we ‘should or shouldn’t’ be able to do as we grow older).

Finally, who follows me and how others respond to my own tweets, retweets and comments on others are, in my view, a real and meaningful barometer of what ideas and views (mine and those of others) strike a chord within the part of the Twittersphere I choose to inhabit. The fairly instant feedback is something that, after a 40-year career in communications, I value or, dare I say it, love.

See this wordsmith’s blog on the power of the Tweet  https://prism-clarity.com/2017/12/finding-story-part-3

www.facebook.com/TheRepairShed  www.facebook.com/RoystonRepairCafe

Trade secrets – social media isn’t free publicity

What they don’t tell you about starting a business

Social media is amazing – it has turned us all into publishers with an audience for our words that is potentially worldwide. It has considerably levelled the playing field for business start-ups of all sizes wanting to establish their online presence and, hopefully, to build a following of supporters and potential customers.

The ease of going online and getting out there may deceive users into thinking the whole process is easy and free of costs to the would-be business. Don’t be deceived – if you’re thinking like a business rather than a user of social media, you need to cost your time online and make sure it’s well spent.  You’ll need to invest some of your time to find out which social media communication channels do the job you want them to. You need to set marketing objectives and be able to measure the effectiveness of your online efforts to achieve them – and then focus your time accordingly.

On the cost side, also be aware of the damage you can do to your professional and personal reputation if you get your online presence wrong. It may be a cliché, but remember “A happy customer tells a friend; an unhappy one tells the world.” And, through social media, they’ll do it much, much faster!

For other Trade Secrets in this series, go to https://enterpriseessentials.wordpress.com/category/trade-secrets/

My top tip for live tweeting – don’t do it

No live tweeting

It all started with an invitation on Twitter to share my top tips for live-tweeting. I had only the one. I can’t see any value in having people tweeting comments and photos from a public event as it happens, unless it really is news, and even then…

Don’t get me wrong, I’m a twitter convert – it’s changed my life almost entirely for the better – but I’m proud of the fact that all 5,300+ tweets I’ve sent over the past couple of years have come from a PC. My mobile phone is too old to tweet, so I couldn’t ‘live tweet’ from an event even if I wanted to. So I can’t, but I won’t.

I admit I haven’t asked others about this but, when I’ve been presenting, the sight of people playing with their phones is off-putting, bordering on insulting. I don’t know whether they’re tweeting and, if so, whether it relates to anything I’m saying. My self-pride prevents me from acknowledging they might be so thoroughly bored that they’re e-mailing their friends to arrange a trip to the pub.

Eye contact is so important if you’re presenting to a live audience which makes the loss of it so unnerving. I don’t particularly like the nodding dog type on the front row, but that’s much preferable to ‘The Voice-like’ grip of live tweeting where your audience might as well be sitting with their backs to you on swivel chairs for all the positive body language they’re communicating.

And if presenters suspect tweeters are even half listening to what they have to say (I don’t believe anyone – apart from a UN interpreter maybe – can really listen to one person while communicating with another) will they start to speak in 140 character sound-bites?

As someone who has also been on the receiving end of a torrent of tweets from different people at the same event, I’m equally against live tweeting as a recipient. If the incoming photos and quotes from the speakers were useful that might justify all the time and effort (of me reading, as well as the twits tweeting) but in my experience they don’t. The different messages are often repeated, re-tweeted and dis-jointed, the photos are next to useless. I certainly don’t feel I’m part of the event or wish I was there!

So what’s the point? Can anyone explain what effective live-tweeting looks like and what it’s meant to achieve?

In the meantime, I’m off to blow the dust off my Buzzword Bingo Kit. Now there’s some really worthwhile low-tech audience participation…

For less grumpy guidance on using Twitter before, during, and after events, try  http://www.charitydigitalnews.co.uk/2014/02/19/top-tips-for-charities-live-tweeting-an-event/  and http://www.seee.co.uk/blog/how-to-tweet-your-way-to-event-success/