7 steps to business start up – introduction

Seven steps to heaven (or at least starting your business)…

Tarr Steps from above

This is my view on what you need to do to start up a business, I’ve been to many seminars, workshops etc and read a lot of books about starting a business and you many different view this is mine. I’m not saying it’s perfect or exhaustive but it should give you a good basis to work from. It assumes that you already know what you are going to do and is biased towards sole traders but should be applicable to everybody starting out on their own

1. Get organised
Keep receipts (mileage, all expenses, income etc) and keep them organised by month. Create a simple cost (spending) revenue (income) spreadsheet.

2. Get legal
Register with HMRC for National Insurance, even if you are still working as well

3. Get free advice
There’s loads of it out there, even if some of it is worth what you pay for it!

4. Get a domain

paul@jonesthepainter.co.uk is better than pauljones1984@hotmail.com

5. Get a bank account
Keep your business money separate

6. Get your IT sorted
You don’t need to spend a fortune but do back things up!

7. Get yourself known
You can have the best business in town but if nobody knows about it…

These are my ideas; you may think of more, that some don’t apply or that they’re not in the right order. Think of it as a list to get you thinking.

I take no responsibility for any actions you may take based on this list!

To be continued…


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Business card

I’ve finally got around to sorting out a business card. I could have gone for a simple text only card, with maybe a small logo. However that leaves a large area of white space, so as my other business, and my hobby, is photography I thought I’d add an image To make it look good and more importantly hopefully different and memorable.

Tarr Steps business card

In the future when I need more cards I’ll change the image, you never know they could become collectable, well maybe not.

For the geographically interested the location is Tarr Stepps, Exmoor (UK) early evening in September.
For the photographers; Canon 50D with an EF24mm lens, 2 sec at f20, ISO400 (should be lower) using a combination of ND8 and ND4 filters , with tripod in the river! A little bit of post production to bring out the green of the trees.
For the full image go to http://www.flickr.com/photos/country_photo/8147924115/
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Headshots for fun or profit?


When you meet somebody you have about 30 seconds to make a good first impression, but what about on-line? When you interact via social networks the first thing people will look at is your “avatar” (headshot) and whether they admit it or not they will form an initial impression of you. So what should your headshot say about you? Ultimately you want people to feel that they can engage with you. Your headshot needs to show you as professional, friendly and open, quite a lot to ask of a few thousand pixels.

These are some common sense guidelines;

  • Above all else your image needs to be well lit, in focus and clear. With today’s digital cameras, phones etc this shouldn’t be too difficult.
  • Your image needs to be recognisably you! However tempting it is to use a 10 year old photo don’t, also make sure you can be seen so avoid dark glasses, fancy dress etc. Remember as well if you change your appearance, e.g. start/stop wearing glasses, change your hair colour, grow a beard or just get older update your image.
  • If you use different images for different networks make sure they are similar, don’t be blonde in one and brunette in another. Some people will advise using the same image for all networks, personally I think a bit of variety is good.
  • A simple pose of body at a, small, angle to the camera, head looking into it, against a plain background works best. Try to avoid it looking like a police photo fit or a bad passport photo.

A couple of things to really avoid;

  • Using a Webcam, this includes Skype, they normally produce an awful image, the camera is pointing up your nose and you’re trying to squint down at the screen, typically with a light behind you.
  • Going too professional it looks like you’re trying too hard to make an impression.
  • Having a blank where the image should be, it just looks like you don’t care.
  • Avoid al all costs cartoons, images of toys, buildings, other people etc. This may be OK for forums but not professional networking.

I could have raked up a set of examples from LinkedIn or whatever but as I don’t fancy going to court over libel I didn’t. However here’s a related example, like many of us I’ve worked for organisations with a photo I.D. normally produced by being stood up against a wall by facilities and snapped with a small camera. This wasn’t good enough for a couple of senior managers, one of whom had an obvious studio portrait, styled hair, studio lighting etc on her their I.D. card and the other a picture from when they received a PHd complete with cap and gown. They were both equally ridiculed.

Oh and the images at the top, all avatars I’ve used, or am using, on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Flickr. Yes what a load of old cobblers (as in son of).

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What type of website do you need?


All companies need a website, but not all companies need the same type of website. In this internet age you need to have a website, but how far you go is dependant on what you want your website to achieve.

If you talk to sales professionals they will talk about farmer and hunter sales people, i.e. reactive and proactive. The same principle, with an extra element, can be applied to websites.

The FARMER website;

This is the minimum website a single page, it just sits there with company and contact details with a brief description of services. The website is totally reactive. It is useful for online directories, referrals by customers etc.

The SHEPHERD website;

You can think of this as an online catalogue, when you want customers to know more you send (shepherd) them to your website. The website has reasonably static content that includes descriptions of services, prices etc and customer testimonials. It allows you to save money by not having a printed catalogue and can be easily updated as your products/services change. Make it visual and engaging but no real need to worry about SEO etc.

The HUNTER website;

This is the full-fat proactive website, has the content of the Shepherd but with added value content, feeds to social media and attention paid to SEO. This is the website you want to be at the top of search engines etc.

As a minimum every organisation should own their domain name and related email address, there is nothing worse than seeing a @btconnect or, even worse, a hotmail email address on a van or business card. Think Perception see my previous blog “P is for Perception”.

A basic domain name, website and webmail service is cheap and worth every penny.

This blog was a guest blog on http://www.anthodges.co.uk/what-type-of-website-do-you-need/

Mark Palmer BSc, Cert Mgmt (Open), MBCS

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I like Thelwell cartoons and it’s become a trademark for me to always include a Thelwell cartoon in my presentations. This interpretation of a cartoon is on Incentive, with the right incentive (good or bad) people (customers, staff, etc.) can be encouraged to do what you want them to do.

Thelwell Incentive

Thelwell cartoon in Lego

Mark Palmer
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P is for Perception

Anybody who has done any marketing training will know about the 4 “P’s”, Product, Place, Price, and Promotion. This is sometimes extended to 5 “P’s” by adding People (or resource) which unless you’ve invented a fully automated business run by a robot are fairly important! After reading a comment about adding anything that starts with “P” I’ve added a sixth, Perception!

Why Perception and isn’t it part of Promotion anyway, well maybe but I think that peoples Perception of your business whether it’s a one-man band or a multi national is critical to success and should be considered when looking at any activity. Take a simple example, you’re starting out in business and have asked two accountants to come to you for a free one hour consultation. The first arrives late, disheveled in a creased cheap suit and tie, he gets out a cheap note book from a Tesco carrier bag and makes notes with a chewed biro. The second arrives 5 minutes early, is smartly turned out without a tie, carrying a leather portfolio, he hands you a set of pre-printed guides. Who would you give your business to?

Conversely it’s also too easy to create a perception that sets expectations too high. It’s too easy to create a website that could overstate the perception of your capabilities.

BTW, other “P’s”, Positioning, Promote/PR/Propaganda/Pitch, Pedigree, Policies/Processes, Philosophy/Principles, Purpose (Business), Proposition (Business), Priorities, Plan, Provision…
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Hi welcome to the “Jumare” blog. This blog is dedicated to help and advice for new small business start-ups.

Having recently gone through, and continuing to go through, this process myself I hope to provide some blogs posts that will help other. These posts will be based on the practical application of theoretical approaches.

Mark Palmer, BSc, MBCS, Cert Mgmt (Open)

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