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Small business chat update – Yvonne Donald

mugs Welcome to a new business chat update, this time with Yvonne Donald who makes, oddly enough, cakes and cupcakes under her Kakes and Cupkakery brand. We first met Yvonne back in September 2012, and caught up with her in October 2013, when she said, In a year’s time, I will be writing my update sipping on a coffee at a table at that cute little Bakery/cake shop called Kake and Cupkakery“. Is this what happened next? Well, regular readers will know that very often plans change, slip, slide sideways and do all sorts of things, so we never really know what the interviewees are going to answer to that first question. Yvonne’s used this opportunity to have a good think about things and plans, and shares loads of useful tips, as ever. So let’s find out how she’s doing!

Hello again, Yvonne! So, are you where you thought you’d be when you looked forward a year ago?

The answer to that is yes and no, Yes in that the business is still here and busy as ever, if not more so. and No as I am not in a shop front yet. Was I being overly optimistic? Maybe I was, maybe I wasn’t. What I do know is that getting a shop front isn’t easy, but I feel so strongly that is where I am destined to be. But boy, is it hard getting there.

I also know what my business is, and I know that must sound strange, but in the early stages you try lots of things so see what works and what doesn’t and what you want to offer, and in my last update I was still trying to decide what my shop front business would look like. Now I know, because when you run your business it will dictate to you what it is, and this is dependent on what people want/order most of, i.e. in my case, dessert cupcakes and celebration cakes.

What has changed and what has stayed the same?

I’m still in the full-time job, but have a little more flexibility with my days, as they vary with different start and finish times. It takes even more planning, but it’s working.

Also at the beginning of  this year, the business went in a slightly different  direction when I was approached via Twitter to supply a coffee shop (yes, social media does work). So I unexpectedly became a wholesaler. This was a for a local business that just happened to be in a location i had previously viewed, in fact it was the same row of shops, but the coffee shop was a bigger premises. So, my cakes would be in my dream location, just not with me.

I had actually supplied a  smaller business previously so i sort of knew what to expect. Well, dismiss that last statement: what you think you know what to expect in reality is so much more! A lot of work is required when you supply a business as well as running your own; a lot of organisation is required, baking, invoicing, delivery, food safety. There is loads to consider, but after some tweaking I got a system in place and it was going well. However, unfortunately the shop has now closed after 5 months due to lack of footfall, the death knell for any business.

As this wasn’t necessarily the direction I was looking at going in, this didn’t have too much of a detrimental effect, but did make me think about this being a possible opportunity, so much so that in the same week the coffee shop closed, I got approached to supply another. So there seems to be a need and indeed an opportunity, but its hard work on top of my main business and customers, so I will see how that pans out.

What have you learned?

I’ve learnt that i have to maintain a good work-life balance. I recognise that I have a tendency to just work,work, work, as I like to work first and play later, so I tend to sacrifice my own free time in the pursuit of my business. But as well as being a small business owner who wants to do everything really well, I don’t necessarily want  to be a rubbish friend or not give myself enough time and energy for life/ family etc. … so I have been trying to be better at that, and I think it’s working.

What do you wish you’d known a year ago?

Be selective, but not to the detriment of your business, don’t be too quick to say yes to everything, and don’t worry about saying no if it’s not right. Oh, and even though I bake and love making treats, I don’t try to do everything. i.e. products etc. … I officially dislike cake pops (that is all)

Any more hints and tips for people?

My tips are:

  • You are your business, the marketing never stops. More people know me as “the cake lady” than I think actually know my name, and I actually love that.
  • Look for any opportunity to market your business. I recently got national coverage in the Guardian newspaper online about how i use PR and marketing in my business; coverage that money couldn’t buy (or rather i couldn’t afford).
  • Enter competitions and industry-specific awards, which will also give you exposure, Once again I am in the finals of the National Cupcake Championships in November in Birmingham (fingers crossed).
  • Network and co-work: it can be so beneficial to get away from your distractions (especially if you work from home) and work on your business with a friend. Birmingham library is great for this
  • Schedule in free time and family time (Sunday is my non-negotiable family time).
  • For all the cakey people running a cake business reading this, don’t undercut another cake decorator for the sake of a cake and be true to what a cake actually costs. I’ve lost track of the amount of cake decorators who constantly undervalue their work and time because they perceive a customer wouldn’t want to pay. If you understand your market and offer quality, you will actually be quite surprised.
  • Do not worry if your mojo goes from time to time with your business, it’s natural. You’re probably working too hard. Take your foot off the accelerator a bit and distract yourself with something else until it comes back.
  • Overall, have fun: you’re working on your passion, what’s not to love?

And … where do you see yourself and your business in a(nother) year’s time?

Kake and Cupkakery, one website instead of two: I’m very excited about that. I want to focus on doing some online tutorials and face to face workshops for home bakers and those more experienced. I still want a shop front that will be a bakery and that is still a work in progress. Basically, I want to continue to take the business forward. It’s here to stay, and no going back.

Strong words there at the end, and I certainly think she’s here to stay! I do hope that this is the year where Yvonne will move into working for her business full time – it’s certainly better for the work-life balance when you do that (as I know only too well). I can’t wait to see what she does next (although I can see that there won’t be any cake pops in the mix!).

Yvonne’s current two websites are at www.letthemeatkake.co.uk for the celebration cakes and www.cupkakery.co.uk for the cupcakes. You can also find her on Twitter and Facebook.

If you’ve enjoyed this interview, please see more small business chat, the index to all the interviewees, and information on how you can have your business featured (I have a full roster of interviewees now so am only taking on a very few new ones). If you’re considering setting up a new business or have recently done so, why not take a look at my books, all available now, in print and e-book formats, from a variety of sources. 

 
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Posted by on November 22, 2014 in Business, Small Business Chat

 

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Small business chat – Amelia Wilson

mugsWelcome to another brand new small business chat, and this time we’re meeting Amelia Wilson, who runs an editing and localising business. I was excited to come across Amelia online, as I don’t meet many other localisers (if you need to know what it is we do, I wrote an article explaining it). Amelia also, like me, specialises in working with translators, as in editing text that hasn’t been written by someone whose first language is English. Now, you might think the overlap would worry me, but as I’m at a stage of my business where I’m usually fully booked in advance and can’t always fit in new enquiries, I’m always glad to meet people who I can recommend work on to – and so finding someone with a large overlap with my skillset is actually a Good Thing. Anyway, let’s find out how Amelia got started and what she’s learned along the way …

What’s your business called? When did you set it up?

My website is called Localisation Translation, but it isn’t strictly a business name. I wanted to find something that would explain my niche at a glance, as I specialise in editing translations and localising content for businesses. I launched in February this year.

What made you decide to set up your own business?

I wanted my efforts to go into building something for myself. It’s hard work but what I put in I get back, and it’s hugely motivating to know that I’m responsible for all the successes (or failures!) of the business. I also wanted more control over my time, and the option to be location independent

What made you decide to go into this particular business area?

Language is my passion and my background. I studied linguistics at university, and I knew I wanted to go into the publishing industry somewhere. It wasn’t until I worked in-house for a translation company that my eyes were opened to a whole new industry sector. I love the challenge that comes from working with non-native speakers and multiple different source languages, I’m constantly learning new things and it keeps it fascinating.

Had you run your own business before?

I’d freelanced a little bit after university, but not to the extent where I was full-time and “properly” up and running. My early experience set me up well, though, because it provided the perspective that setting up a solo business was always a viable career option.

How did you do it? Did you launch full-time, start off with a part-time or full-time job to keep you going… ?

I started freelancing in addition to my full time job, just to put the feelers out and see if it was something realistic. As soon as the time restraints of my full time job started getting in the way of my freelance work, I knew it was time to make a decision. I left to pursue more business opportunities and I haven’t looked back!

What do you wish someone had told you before you started?

That there will never be a right time to launch. It took me a long time to pluck up the courage to make the move, I was always waiting for something to get finished, or something else to fall into place. The perfect time will never come, so if you’re going to do something, you have to just make it happen

What would you go back and tell your newly entrepreneurial self?

Have confidence! When you’re so used to being validated by your boss and your superiors, appraisals and company feedback and all the typical corporate stuff, it’s really important to keep your confidence when it’s just you and your computer. Your clients will provide all the feedback you need, and if they keep coming back, you’re doing it just fine.

What do you wish you’d done differently?

There’s nothing really, it was a big step for me and I know that I did it in the best way that I could have, for me. I wish I’d had more confidence when I finally decided to start making life and career changes, but one way or another I got it done, nervously or otherwise!

What are you glad you did?

I put away some savings before taking the plunge, probably not as much I could/should have, but enough to cover the rent for a few months so that even if I ended up living on noodles, I’d still have a roof over my head! It was a comfort, to start with, not to have to worry about where the next rent cheque was coming from if things started to slow down work-wise.

What’s your top business tip?

So many! I’ve picked up so many words of wisdom since I started, from various entrepreneurs and business books and blogs. We’re so lucky to live in such an age of information. I try to remember that “everything is better than zero” – you start small, taking each opportunity as it comes, and you build and leverage on top of that over time.

I also think it’s really important to constantly evaluate – you must be willing to change the way you work in order to evolve and develop a business. I don’t want to become stuck in my ways to the extent that it becomes damaging. For every Borders there’s an Amazon, for every Blockbuster there’s a Netflix. It’s always necessary to keep moving and to remember that change is good!

How has it gone since you started? Have you grown, diversified or stayed the same?

I’ve grown gradually as I’ve taken on more clients, and I’ve diversified in terms of expanding the material that I work on, which is one of my favourite aspects because it keeps every day different and interesting.

Where do you see yourself and your business in a year’s time?

I’d like to have some products to offer besides the service-based side of the business, whether that be e-books or training courses, I have a few ideas floating around. I’d also like to network more, and build relationships with other professionals in my field working in similar ways. I’d like to outsource some of the less exciting tasks (I hate invoicing!), but overall I’m looking forward to taking a look at the data from being a year in business, seeing what goals were met and finding new ways to improve.

I do like the phrase “anything is better than zero”, and it’s such a feature of the early life of a freelancer / small business – I certainly did some jobs for zero “pay” but a recommendation early on, and it’s good to know that you can shed the lower-paying jobs (or raise the rates on them) as you progress and get a full roster of clients. Oh, and it IS nerve-wracking – I went full time with Libro in January 2012, and I remember having a massive wobble in December 2011, even though, as Amelia found, my day job was getting in the way of my freelancing, I had money saved up and it was time to do it. Oh, and then I got a letter telling me I had jury service the first two weeks of January! I got through that, and we all need to embrace the nerves, examine them to see how well-founded they are, and if there’s a good chance we can prove those nerve wrong, go for it! We wish Amelia all the best as she comes up to the end of her first year in business, and I look forward to working with her on her update this time next year!

You can find Amelia online at www.localisationtranslation.com and email her, of course. She’s also on Twitter

If you’ve enjoyed this interview, please see more small business chat, the index to all the interviewees, and information on how you can have your business featured (I have a full roster of interviewees now so am only taking on a very few new ones). If you’re considering setting up a new business or have recently done so, why not take a look at my books, all available now, in print and e-book formats, from a variety of sources. 

 
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Posted by on November 15, 2014 in Business, Small Business Chat

 

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Small business chat update – Dave Bradburn

mugs Welcome to another Small Business Update, and today we’re talking to Dave Bradburn from Opus Design. Dave’s one of my stalwart originals – we first met him in July 2011, then caught up with him in July 2012 and September 2013. I do find it fascinating to watch my interviewees’ businesses change and grow, and it’s amazing that we’re on the fourth interviews with some of them! When asked last year, this is where Dave wanted to be by now: “Steadily growing the business. The intention is to work fewer hours for greater income (a not uncommon aim!) and to gradually develop the core client base. The team will grow and evolve – most probably through outsourcing and collaboration.” So, how’s he doing?

Hi Dave! Are you where you thought you’d be when you looked forward a year ago?

Yes and no. To be honest, it’s been a very busy year and I’ve ended up mainly working ‘in’ rather than ‘on’ the business. I’ve found it difficult to find the right people for an expanded team in some areas, although part of the responsibility for that lies with me. The team has both evolved and strengthened, and the business has grown too. The hours most definitely haven’t reduced though!

What has changed and what has stayed the same?

New clients have come, I’ve refocussed what the business offers in certain areas (for example, I’m far more specific about the type of website projects that I’ll take on), I’m using some new suppliers alongside a number of longstanding ones and I’ve reevaluated where I get leads from. For example, I still do a reasonable amount of networking but, due to family commitments (school runs!), I had to make a decision on which to attend. Fortunately much of the networking of previous years still continues to bear fruit. Word of mouth referrals, repeat business with existing clients and networking are by far my largest sources of work.

I’m still in the same office with the structure of the business (excluding suppliers etc) unchanged and with many of the same clients that I’ve worked with for several years. The additional team member that I really need is a reliable and capable freelance designer – basically, the role I was doing 6 or 7 years ago. The irony is that at the point I need that person it is very difficult to take the time to find them and take the risk of ‘trying them out’. I’ll get there!

What have you learned? What do you wish you’d known a year ago?

I’m gradually getting better at saying ‘no’ to jobs that are not right for me. I know I can do an excellent job for my clients – I’ve proved that many times. But that is weakened if I take on too much or take on a job that isn’t one that I’m best suited to. The danger in those cases is not only that you do a poor job on that particular project, but that the time and effort that it absorbs is also taken away from those projects that are within your core offer and skills.

I tend to be very loyal to suppliers. 99% of the time that pays off. Once in a while though it can be detrimental – I need to be a little harder and more decisive in those situations.

Earlier this year I experienced my first real bad debt. I’d had a few clients that didn’t pay or took a very long time to do so in the past, but most were minimal amounts and/or eventually coughed up. In this case a client phoenixed – went into liquidation on the Friday before starting up as a new, debt-free business the following Monday. They owe me about £1.5k – I doubt I’ll ever see it. I have my feelings on whether it should be legally possible to do that, but whilst it is it is a lesson to minimise the risk that you expose yourself to with clients.

Any more hints and tips for people?

I think my tip this year would be to have a plan and to review it periodically (annually and quarterly perhaps). Take time out to do that. Be prepared to change the plan if need be, but try to avoid just drifting along without any direction.

And … where do you see yourself and your business in a(nother) year’s time?

Reading last year’s update I said “To treat your own business as a client. Schedule time to work on your own marketing and development. If you don’t it will always be at the bottom of the pile.” I need to take that advice myself! I’m long overdue a new website (it’s embarrassingly out of date now – don’t look!!!) but I have also decided that it’s time to go back and review the whole visual brand of the company – the logo, literature, stationery and everything else. I always advise that clients need to be proud of the way they are presenting their business but currently I’m not living up to that with my own visual branding. Time to schedule it in!

I think many of the aims for this year are the same as they were last. Increasingly managing a larger outsourced team rather than doing it all myself and, in doing so, reducing my working hours.

It is really hard to say no to people and to keep those business hours down. I’ve been quite successful at taking at least a full day off at the weekend and a half day during the week, although that last one was a by-product of my husband working from home during the summer, and I’m not sure that’s going to happen quite so nicely now he’s in an office-based job again (having said that, he gets home earlier than he used to at his old job, so I try to stop earlier, too). Dave’s hit that awful problem of a bad payer, and the way in which they did that seems very unfair indeed. Not sure what can be done about that, but it’s a warning to us all to take care and protect ourselves as much as possible. As always, I look forward to hearing how Dave is doing next year – and hope he can get that staff member and those reduced hours sorted out!

Call Dave on   of , visit www.opuscreative.co.uk or his LinkedIn page, and contact him on Twitter, too!

If you’ve enjoyed this interview, please see more small business chat, the index to all the interviewees, and information on how you can have your business featured (I have a full roster of interviewees now so am only taking on a very few new ones). If you’re considering setting up a new business or have recently done so, why not take a look at my books, all available now, in print and e-book formats, from a variety of sources. 

 
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Posted by on November 8, 2014 in Business, Small Business Chat

 

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New book on networking, social media and social capital

Quick guide to networking, social media and social capitalI’m delighted to be able to announce that my new book, “Quick Guide to Networking, social Media and Social Capital” is out now and available to buy on Amazon and Smashwords as an e-book in all formats (for Kindle, Kobo, as a pdf …). Like my popular “Quick Guide to your Career in Transcription“, this contains the specific information – no filler, where there’s jargon, it’s explained – that you need to venture into networking, whether that’s face to face or through online services such as Twitter and Facebook. It pulls together material I’ve written and thought about on social media etiquette and building social capital … to help others as well as ourselves, and where I go into detail on particular topics, I provide links back to this blog for all of those screen shots and details that regular readers will be used to.

You can visit the book’s web page which lists all of the places you can buy it, and I have shared the first great reviews today, too.

I hope you enjoy reading about my new book and if you find it helpful or think one of your colleagues or friends would benefit from reading it, please let them know by sharing this post or the web page for “Quick Guide to Networking, Social Media and Social Capital“.

 
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Posted by on November 4, 2014 in Business, Ebooks, Social media, Writing

 

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Small Business Chat update – Sally-Jayne Braisby

mugs Welcome to another Small Business Update – this time with Sally-Jayne Braisby of SJB Teaching. We first met Sally-Jayne in August 2012, and revisited her in September 2013. At that point, here was where she wanted to be in a year’s time: “If I’m still in exactly the position I’m in now, I’ll be happy.  If I could change anything I’d like to do more language teaching in universities, and more work training primary school teachers ready for languages to appear back on the curriculum in 2014. That is all dependent on me finding time to get in touch with primary head teachers and university MFL departments, letting them know what I can do though!” Sadly, tragedy struck Sally-Jayne’s family soon afterwards, and the year has been one of coping and coming to terms.

Now, as you’ll realise as you read it, this was a difficult response for Sally-Jayne to write, and I respect and admire her enormously for having the courage to share it with us. I’m honoured, too, as it’s been such a hard year, but the honesty with which she shares her story will undoubtedly help anyone else who finds themselves in a similar situation.

Hello, Sally-Jayne. I already know you’re not where you thought you’d be when you looked forward a year ago. Can you tell us what happened?

It’s actually been a really difficult year. Two days after you published my update last year, my mom died really suddenly and unexpectedly. It knocked me for six, and I’ve only been able to focus on one day at a time. A lot of the plans I had made got shelved until I felt able to start thinking ahead again.  Luckily all my clients were really supportive about me taking some time out, and were happy to wait for me to return to work.

Work is now busier than ever. I’m being booked by schools well in advance and I’ve had to start another tuition waiting list. Last time I updated I had cleared the list, but I’m getting so many recommendations now that I just can’t take anybody else on at the moment.

What has changed and what has stayed the same?

I’m now teaching only the subjects I enjoy. Last year I had managed to ditch music, and this year PE went the same way.

I’ve been teaching more languages than ever – I’ve been invited back again to the university I was teaching at, I have a long-term contract at a primary school in Birmingham to teach French and Spanish, and I’m teaching French privately to a family who are considering a move to France at some point in the future.

I’m also in the process of expanding my language skills. At the end of the summer term, I took some time out to begin learning Chinese. The Confucius Institute organised an intensive 3-day kick-start training session, and then we’ve had to follow an online course over the last few weeks before a top-up session next November. At the end of it I should be able to teach some Chinese in primary schools. While my Chinese will never be as good as my French or Spanish, it’s useful to have another language to offer and I’ve already started teaching some in a lunchtime club. I’ve also dusted down my Latin and Ancient Greek books from school days and started refreshing my memory of those languages so if any schools are feeling more adventurous – I’m ready for them!

I’ve also been doing a lot more of the intervention work that I love, and this year the school I’ve been working at achieved its best ever SATs results, so I’m really proud to have been a part of that.

Last year I said I was looking at the maths and English curricula for secondary schools so that I could continue working with my private tuition pupils beyond year 7 if they wanted me to.  I am now able to offer English to the end of year 8, and I have kept some of my pupils on for this.

I have also started offering maths and English tuition to PGCE students to help them through their professional skills tests. I haven’t yet updated my website yet to reflect this new service – again because I’ve been too busy. At the moment it’s just word of mouth, but I shall probably update the website next summer when I am in a position to start taking on new clients.

What have you learned? What do you wish you’d known a year ago?

This is a difficult one to answer. I haven’t learned much from a business perspective this year because it’s been such a difficult time on a personal level. The understanding my clients showed me has reminded me that they value me, which has been good for my confidence.

Any more hints and tips for people?

Be prepared!  During holiday times I write a few blog posts on a general theme so that when work gets extra busy I can use a pre-written one and don’t have the worry of trying to find time to write something new.  This has turned out to be a real help this year because it meant that during those first few weeks after mom died, when I was really struggling, I was able to continue adding new content to my website without any extra pressure. Thanks to this I maintained my place in the search engine rankings and have continued to receive enquiries via the website.

And … where do you see yourself and your business in a(nother) year’s time?

To be honest, I’m still taking things one day at a time so I’m not making any future plans for the time being. I’m just going to see where life and work takes me over the next few months, and then when I feel ready I shall reassess where I am and where I want to be.

I’d like to thank Sally-Jayne again for this very honest and helpful set of answers. I think that the way in which her clients responded to her difficult time with generosity and kindness really shows the relationship she’s built with them. I know that my clients have been great during the odd personal struggle that I’ve had, and it’s really testament to the way you relate to your customers if they come through for you like this when times are tough. I’m glad that Sally-Jayne has still been able to build some positives into the year, achieving her aim of only working with subjects she wants to work with, and even starting learning a new language, and I’m sure we all wish her well for the upcoming year.

To find Sally-Jayne online, visit her website, find her on Facebook or Twitter or read her Blog

If you’ve enjoyed this interview, please see more small business chat, the index to all the interviewees, and information on how you can have your business featured (I have a full roster of interviewees now so am only taking on a very few new ones). If you’re considering setting up a new business or have recently done so, why not take a look at my books, all available now, in print and e-book formats, from a variety of sources. 

 
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Posted by on November 1, 2014 in Business, Small Business Chat

 

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Small business chat – Deborah Price

mugsWelcome to another brand new small business chat, with Deborah Price from Dap Squared Ltd. I came across Deborah via an old friend from London on Facebook who was talking about her friend’s business – it sounded fun and different so I asked if she’d like to take part. We’ve had bras before in this series, and now we’re on to pants and nighties – or I should say lovely boxer shorts and a beautiful nightwear collection. Like  many other interviewees, Deborah set up her own business for family reasons – usefully, she already had a wealth of high-level experience, including working in all aspects of the business, which meant that she knew exactly which business area to go into.

Hello Deborah, and welcome! What’s your business called and when did you set it up?

The business is called Dap Squared Ltd. We have 2 brand labels. The first is British Boxers: we manufacture British made Boxer shorts using the link to my great-great-great-grandfather, the world’s first heavyweight boxing champion, Jem Mace, as the story on the packaging. The second brand is a stunning nightwear collection called Double Dapper which we’ve created using some of the finest fabrics in the word. We set it up in 2012.

What made you decide to set up your own business?

I’d always wanted my own business, but when my daughter aged 2 1/2 was diagnosed with a lifelong condition called Williams Syndrome I realised that the only way I’d be able to carry on working was if I was the boss. I needed to be in control of my time so that I could take her to medical appointments and give her the attention she needed.

What made you decide to go into this particular business area?

Simple. It’s what I knew like the back of my hand. Previously I’d been the Head of Buying at a high-end London-based nightwear company. I knew the factories, the fabric mills and the buyers, too.

Had you run your own business before?

No, but in my previous job I’d worked incredibly hard and had done every aspect of the process, the design, the buying and costing, the merchandising and the sales, so I was confident in my own ability.

How did you do it? Did you launch full time, start off with a part-time or full-time job to keep you going?

We moved up North. This mean we had a lower mortgage, and we had space. We shopped in Aldi, We forgot about foreign holidays in the summer and went camping in Wales, I could no longer afford a cleaner. Please don’t ever judge me on the dust.

I don’t think anyone is allowed to judge any self-employed person by the dust! So, what do you wish someone had told you before you started?

To be a bit kinder to myself. We’ve been through a very difficult time with my daughter and  sometimes it’s very easy to blame yourself when really some things are just out of your control.

What would you go back and tell your newly entrepreneurial self?

To be honest I think I’d say “Steady as you go” and “As you were” There’s not much I would have changed.

What do you wish you’d done differently?

I’d have liked to have had some help with the accounts from the beginning. The admin can take up valuable time but conversely I do believe that unless you know what every aspect of your business is about then you’re leaving yourself exposed. It’s important to know how each cog works.

What are you glad you did?

I’m so glad I did it. That I left my job and gave it a go.

What’s your top business tip?

Research your pricing structure thoroughly. It’s absolutely essential to know the pricing of all your component parts to gain an accurate cost. From there you can work out your margin and the price you need to sell at and whether the product is a viable one to bring to market. If your costs are too high, then question how you can you lower them. If it can’t be done, then maybe your product isn’t commercial. Move on.

How has it gone since you started. Has it grown, diversified or stayed the same?

We started with British Boxers, manufacturing here in the UK and telling the story of my great-great-great-grandfather – The First World Heavyweight Boxing Champion Jem Mace on the packaging.  We originally started with the traditional boxer shorts, but quickly diversified into the stretch trunks, too, and from there we have developed a range of nightwear called Double Dapper and it’s stunning. We are using some of the best fabrics in the world.  I’m incredibly proud of both collections.

Where do you see yourself and your business in a years time?

In a year we’ll be selling out product into lots more stores. We’ve already been invited to exhibit at a pretty exclusive trade show and I’m very excited about that.

From a difficult time in the family, a lovely business has grown, obviously with a lot of hard work. People who are thinking of selling products will glean a lot of tips and hints from this interview, and I’m grateful to Deborah for that. I hope we see the brands go from strength to strength – do take a look at the website!

You can find British Boxers and Double Dapper online at british-boxers.com If you want to  know more, you can email Deborah or get in touch via Twitter.

If you’ve enjoyed this interview, please see more small business chat, the index to all the interviewees, and information on how you can have your business featured (I have a full roster of interviewees now so am only taking on a very few new ones). If you’re considering setting up a new business or have recently done so, why not take a look at my books, all available now, in print and e-book formats, from a variety of sources. 

 
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Posted by on October 25, 2014 in Business, Small Business Chat

 

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Google+ for business

In this article I’m going to go through how to set up a business page on Google+

Because I don’t want to show my home address in public on Google, or give it to Google, most of the examples here are drawn from setting up a Brand. However, I understand that the principles are the same if you’re setting up a local business with an address. Do get in touch if you’d like to share screen prints from setting up an account with an address and I’ll be happy to include them (but not tell everyone where you live!)

Why should I set up a Google+ account and page?

This is a good question, as Google+ is known to be one of the rather less active social media platforms. However, the clue is in the word “Google”. Basically, stuff you post on Google+ and your Google+ page will be indexed more quickly by Google and will appear as more relevant in a Google search. There are active communities in Google+ and Hangouts and other social discussions and groupings – I have to admit that what I personally do is auto-post to Google from this blog and my others, so invest minimal effort, but it is worth doing for the indexing and SEO side alone.

How do I set up a Google+ account?

If you have a Google email address, you will automatically have a Google+ account. Look at the top of your email and you’ll see a +[your name] icon …

Google+ icon

You do need to have a Google account to have a Google+ account, although of course you don’t need to use it for anything else. Notifications about Google+ interactions come to your Gmail, but you could set up an autoforward to send that to another email account. Anyway, enough about options for escaping being taken over by Google – click on the +[name] icon and you’ll be taken to your Google+ account:

Google+ account

You can see that this looks quite a lot like other social media platforms such as Facebook, with posts by friends, recommended contacts (names deleted for privacy purposes) and a place to post an update at the top.

We’re not going to explore personal G+ at the moment, but instead look at the business application.

How do I set up a Google+ page for my business?

To access the Google+ pages creator and editor, click on the Home button at top left and choose Pages:

Pages on Google+

This will lead you to an option to choose a business type:

Google+ pages business type

Clicking on Storefront or Service Area (which is what I chose when I first did this) will first give you an option to search for a business. This gets a bit confusing, but we’ll work our way through it. If you choose Create New Page, as you would expect to do, after clicking Not a Local Business …

Google+ pages create new page

you will get the option to add a business with a street address. This is great if you have a shop or trading address, for example if you welcome people into a high street shop, have a gym in an out-of-town location or have customers visit your home to collect products, have therapeutic sessions, etc., and if this is the case, you can fill in all the details and have a listing for your business appear on Google maps for prospective customers to see.

Google+ pages add your business

Here’s what a business with a local page looks like on Google Maps. Here, I’ve searched in Google Maps for the business name, but it will also appear if you are viewing the map of the area at a certain level of zoom:

Google+ pages on Google Maps(thanks to Alison from Silicon Bullet for letting me use her business as an example!)

But what if I don’t want to list my address and have a pin on Google Maps?

I don’t want to list my address on Google Maps because I work from home, but I don’t see any clients here and I don’t really want the world to know my address! So this is how to set up a Google+ page without your address. Note, you can’t cheat the section above and put in spaces or dots – it really does want to pinpoint your address with a little label.

When you’re at the point of choosing your business type, choose Brand if you don’t want to have to add your address:

Google+ pages business type brand

This will take you to a screen where you start to add your details:

Google+ pages add brand details

You can now start filling in your details:

Google+ page set up brand

You can add in your URL and select the type of thing you’re talking about – so this is how you set up a community or other non-business entity, too.

Do note that you need to tick the box to agree to the Pages Terms (and do click through to have a look and check you DO agree) and to confirm that you’re authorised to create the page.Then click Create Page to create your page:

Google+ page setting up brand page

Once you’ve created your page, Google+ will give you a tour or you can just get started customising your page.

Google+ pages page created

This is all pretty self-explanatory. For example, you will be asked to complete your profile and given options to share updates. There’s also a section where you can see Insights – how people are interacting with your new page.

Google+ page complete profile

You can update your cover with your own image as well as adding your own picture to the place on the left:

Google+ page change background

Once you’ve clicked Change cover, you can choose one of the gallery or upload your own photo (if you have already put up several cover photos, you can click on that link to choose one you’ve used earlier).

Google+ page change cover

Upload takes you into your own folders so you can choose your own image. Here I’ve added my own image and I can now explore, add updates and add contact information and links.

Google+ page complete profile

How do I edit my Google+ business page(s)?

You can access your business pages at any time by clicking the Home button and choosing Pages. If you’ve created more than one Page, you will be shown all the ones you have active, with a link to edit them:

Google+ page edit pages

The Golden Rules of Google+

The rules here are the same as everywhere on social media …

  • Be professional
  • Reciprocate and share

In this post, we’ve learned about Google+ pages and how and why to create them. To learn about more aspects of social media for business, take a look at the resource guide.

if you’ve enjoyed reading this article and have found it useful, please take a moment to click on the buttons below to share it! Thank you!

Other relevant posts on this blog:

Facebook for business

How to delete posts and block users from your Facebook page

How to add a moderator or admin to your Facebook page

How to find a job using Twitter

Using Twitter for your business

Using LinkedIn for your business

Additional resource:

Garrett and Mike from Techfunction Magazine have got in touch to let me know about their resource guide to Google Business – read the first article here.

 
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Posted by on October 22, 2014 in Business, Social media

 

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