Website & New Server

Hi there, currently I’m in the process of editing this website, along with modifying the images of the products available on offer.

There’s a couple of reasons.

  1. The site needed a new fresher and cleaner look

  2. Redeveloping the site is easier than transferring all the data to a new server, especially as numerous plugins are no longer required.

Apologies for the inconvenience, the site will be up and running with full functionality in the coming days.

Best Time To Start Your Biz

Deciding to start a business is far from a small decision, there are umpteen factors which all have to be considered, from how you’re going to name your business, where it is going to be based, in what format is your business registered, how will it be financed, and even more importantly what your business does or is going to do.

But then there is another small factor to also consider.

Timing. 

So why should you consider timing as a factor?

Here’s an example, lets say you want to set up a retail store which will sell gift type items. When would the best time to launch be?

The January sales, the short month of February, March you might catch the easter market, the same with April. By May things have started picking up a bit, money is more free flowing and most of the christmas debts have been paid off. Your customer base however is starting to save for their big summer holiday, the same will run through June, July and August. Then September comes and it’s the panic over buying the new school uniform and extra school supplies. October sees the launch of the christmas gift market which runs right through to the panic buying the night before christmas.

Last year (2014) Asos reported a 38% rise in profits over the christmas period. That is a huge chunk of profit. The funds a retail business raises in this period are highly important, they fund the quieter months of January and February.

It also means there’s no surprise that retailers want to try everything they can to extend the christmas season.

So if you were to set up a retail store, you wouldn’t be likely to launch it in January or February due to those being quiet months for retail spending and by the same token you also don’t want to launch into a mass of advertising around the christmas season either.

They trick is to launch at a time where it’s busy enough to sustain your business and create a presence in the mind of your customers. This also gives you the opportunity to create a relationship with your customer base. Having a good relationship with your consumers leads to more loyal customers and to word of mouth recommendations one of the most powerful methods of advertising.

Deciding the month to start your business is only half the battle, the second crucial part is in regard to your life, in particular financing.

Finances

Do you have the finances to back up your plan? Are you old enough to get a bank loan to start your business? Are you young enough to be able to access grants?

We’re told we should have three months to three years worth of savings in the bank to be able to pay all of our bills.

We’re advised to reduce down all of our spending to reduce the reliance on those savings.

And it’s also suggested that we start our businesses whilst in education, living with parents, or working.

By this token it would suggest that you need to be in an age bracket that allows you access to grants and loans, young enough that you still live at home with your parents and have a job to help sustain you.

Unfortunately not everyone has that luxury, nor even the desire to start a business at that age.

Redundancy, disability, unable to find work after education are also other reasons that people want to set up their own business even when their finances suggest it will be a challenge.

Limited funds however do not mean you can’t set up a business.

It simply means you have to get more creative.

Finding ways to reduce your outgoings, and cheaper way to produce your goods and services.

It also means that you look for other ways to reach your target audience. Through craft fairs, Sunday markets, car boot sales, pop up shops, space sharing, social media groups and so forth

Additionally limited funds also means you have a greater understanding of how fragile a business is and your growth will be slow an manageable. You’re also more likely to have a financial plan in place for what your profits will be spent on and when. Every decision will be purposeful and thought out.

Age

We’re told you need experience to set up a business? Along with needing the finances as mentioned above.

But at what age should you start your own business? Is there an age limit to starting your own business?

Well in all fairness it doesn’t matter. Experience you learn from doing and if you can’t get a job directly out of school how are you supposed to gain that experience.

Equally if you’re 10 or 100 and have a fantastic business idea why not set it up. It’s not the end of the world if it doesn’t work.

Okay so the 10 year old probably has more time to learn from mistakes than an 100 year old but still you get the gist.

The only suggestion with regard to age is the assumption that in your older years you have some finances to support yourself and are more likely to take advice from someone else.

Support

There’s a couple of issues regarding your age is the access to professional support, mentors cost money, some you can get on a grant basis, others want to be paid out of the success of your business and others just want paying upfront.

I’m no expert in mentors, I don’t have one, however I have found another way in which I can gain important insights and learn more about business without a mentor. Those resources are blogs from likeminded people who have walked the entrepreneurial road before me. Sites like Olivia.co and ByRegina.com are two which I recommend and use myself.

The key advantages to having a mentor is the specific advice you will get for your business and the accountability measures you also have.

Using online support you have to create your own accountability and find the advice you need, which sometimes can be difficult if you’re not exactly sure what you need.

Recession or Growth

In an ideal world there would never be a recession, but unfortunately this is part of the financial cycle.

So out of these two which is the best time to start a business?

Recession

Your customers don’t have as much spare cash to spend

Due to a lack of funds you learn how to reduce costs without cutting corners

Reductions in the number of businesses means more units are available for hire at reduced rents.

Your suppliers are cheaper to try

Access to loans is tougher but they also have lower interest rates

You will be more stable than a business started in growth during another recession

Growth

Customers have more spare cash to spend

High demand for units raises the rental prices

More options for suppliers but costs are also likely to increase

Loans have become more expensive from increased interest rates

You will also have more competitors for the same customer base, equally you can team up with some of your competitors who are similar but not exactly the same with your marketing efforts

Final Thoughts

Essentially the best time to set up a business is when you are ready, there are opportunities and challenges no matter when you start your own business. Age is far from a factor as successful businesses can be owned and run by anyone of any age who has an understanding of business.

And finally

If you are considering setting up a businesses I have a handy and very helpful printable business planner which includes pages for a business plan and many other useful sheets to help you run your business.

How To Use Stock Graphics

In an ideal world we would never have to use stock photographs. I’ll explain why in a moment but first I want to tell you what to expect from this article.

Using stock photographs has some really good points but equally they can be just as bad, and I want to explain to you why and how you can avoid some of the pitfalls which can come with using stock imagery.

Newsletters, internal communications within a business, sample layouts for a website, images on blog articles (much like this one). I’m not afraid to admit that I use stock photography. There are also other times where you can use stock graphics again these are very similar circumstances to stock photography.

There are numerous sites out there which hold libraries of stock images, all ready to be found with a few keyword searches. Stock libraries have been in existence for decades well before the invention of the internet. How else would we be able to find images from the past.

Making matters even more complicated these sites all have different systems in place, pay for the image you use, pay for a license depending on how many people will see it, pay for a licences for a set period of time or the royalty free copyright free images.

Let me tell you there are some great photographs on some free stock libraries but you can always find better quality when you pay for the stock images.

So what are the plus sides of using stock images?

  1. For me it’s the diversity of images, from people to places.
  2.  I can have photos of places I’ve never been to and simply can’t afford to go to.

For every plus there’s always a down side.

  1. Anyone and I mean anyone can use the exact same stock image as you (in other words if you want something unique for your brand get the image yourself)
  2. The quality of some stock images are poor

How do you overcome these downsides.

For the first option if you pay for the stock images it reduces the chances of someone else using the exact same image, not everyone wants to pay or can pay for the images they use.Secondly and this is where you need to check the terms of the usage agreements, if you can edit the image in some way do it, make it look slightly different, give the image a treatment, place something within the image which is unique to you.

Here are a few examples of how to edit a stock image correctly and how not to edit the images.

Personally I soften the image, add bold text to the image along with my logo. A logo alone is not enough to define an image as yours. Even though the above options are simple even when using basic editing software it is worthwhile creating a style which is unique to your company, some styles will look similar to other brands, this is something which you truly need to try and avoid.

As for quality, you get what you pay for or decide to download, where there is an option to grab a selection of sizes always go for the largest one possible, equally never resize the image to be bigger than it actually is, that’s a sure fired way to ensure you loose quality.

If you can afford to get a photographer, illustrator or designer to create the images for you I recommend always doing this as it will cut down on the number of edits you have to do to maintain the brand message within your content.

Two areas where you should never use stock images.

  1. Your logo, it should be unique to your business / organisation etc, no one else should ever be able to use this image with the exception of the designer who created it and even then only for display in their portfolio never to sell on.
  2. Staff images, using stock images of people and displaying them as staff can make your company look untrustworthy. Why would you want to do business with someone who exaggerates their business with fake employees

Pre made branding and logo options are not stock imagery unless you can purchase them many times over in which case I would recommend you not buy them at all.