Welcome to Saturday Business/Freelancer Chat – today, we’re talking to Neil Chandler from SEO and online marketing company Yellowbelly Online Ltd. After a somewhat curious move from poultry to marketing, Neil’s taken the route of setting up an office and employees while still very new (the company was only founded in March 2011, so it’s still pretty young!) which is quite different from some of our paths, including mine, but obviously equally valid. I came across Neil when he was offering a free SEO check for small business’s websites, and very helpful it was too, with no hassling or hard sell but someone obviously knowledgeable and able to help when needed. Yellowbelly do website design, search engine optimisation, e-commerce solutions and social media marketing, but have recently diversified into more traditional marketing too, in an interesting move from online to offline – showing how we all need to be aware of the opportunities for diversification, whatever direction they may take us.
So, let’s say hello to Neil!
What’s your business called? When did you set it up?
The business is called Yellowbelly Online Ltd and we started trading in March 2011.
What made you decide to set up your own business?
Other than a period teaching, I have always worked in business as a director or run my own business. I had to leave the poultry industry after selling my business and I could not re-enter that sector for 3 years for contractual reasons. I went into teaching but worked out that to get a full pension I would have to work until I was 84! – Time to start again!
What made you decide to go into this particular business area?
I wanted to be able to sell skills rather than physical products. Lower overheads and better cashflow.
Had you run your own business before?
Yes, but in the poultry industry.
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 Yellowbelly from home but it soon became apparent that I could not concentrate on both finding work and doing it – there was not enough time in the day. I had to get bigger quickly so moved into an office in Lincoln and employed staff. This was a bit of a risk as I could not pay them on day one – we had to get the work in.
What do you wish someone had told you before you started?
“Just do it”
What would you go back and tell your newly entrepreneurial self?
Delegate so you can do what you are best at.
What do you wish you’d done differently?
Ask me in a year’s time!
What are you glad you did?
I’m glad I took the risk of taking on the office and staff when I did.
What’s your top business tip?
The boring answer would be something about not being undercapitalized. Other than that, be prepared to pivot – change direction as required; you are in business to make money not follow a private passion or idea that may not work.
How has it gone since you started? Have you grown, diversified or stayed the same?
We’ve grown and diversified. I think it is important to exploit the skills of your staff, so we have moved into ‘off line’ marketing and branding because we have the skills.
Where do you see yourself and your business in a year’s time?
Even more grey! I aim to have doubled in size and thus gained economies of scale.
Like Maxine’s business a couple of weeks ago – but following a different path – this is a young company, and I’m really looking forward to seeing what they’ve branched out into by a year’s time!
Update: I didn’t receive any further updates from Neil. It looks like the company has now been dissolved and the website and email address are no longer in operation. We wish Neil well in his further endeavours.
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. If you’re considering setting up a new business or have recently done so, why not take a look at my new book, Going It Alone At 40: How I Survived my First Year of Full-Time Self-Employment.