In business it’s great to be able to give something back, so when I was asked to take part in the Dragons Den event for Young Enterprise last week I knew I had to get involved.
Looking back to when I was at school, and even in further education at college & university, we literally were given no practical experience at all in business. Deep in theory and text books taught me well, but there’s no greater experience than setting up your own business where you risk your own money.
For that reason Young Enterprise is great – the Young Enterprise Students themselves had to legally set up a directorship and put the initial funds into the business to fund the shares. Even though for many it was as little as £25 it shows the value of money and the need to turn a profit on the investment
As you can see from the photo of the boardroom above, the experience was very much real life ,and the students faired well with some confident assured performances
What I found over 7 presentations on the day was the same business issues kept cropping up … and many of those crop up for SMEs as well
So part guide for future Young Enterprise students and part guide for SME’s, here are 5 things you should think about when setting up in Business
1. The Business Name Is Key and Sums Up Everything You Do
This might seem a strange one for a Social Media business called Altrincham HQ, but i’ll explain that later.
Think of the feel and tone of the business name and does it sum up what your business is about in either a direct name or the feeling it encapsulates.
One of the presentations on the day was of a cupcake company, which to myself auto-suggests light, fluffy, fun, but the business name the team chose suggested Business Coach or IFA. The product and the business name didn’t match and the jarring of the two led to mismatch of ideas
In these times, it’s also important that you can be found on google easily do research as to whether similar names currently exist
So why did I choose Altrincham HQ as a name for a Social Media company? The community is ingrained in everything I do and Altrincham as a town is reminiscent of many a small town trying to make the leap between the traditional and the modern world. I also wanted to separate myself from the franchised Social Media operates who all go under the “First Name / Last Name” Social Media banner and from a google perspective simply type in alex altrincham and see what comes up – even if you can’t remember the business name everybody remembers a first name and where i’m from?
Q: What is your favourite business name and why? Let us know below
2. Time and Profit – the 2 are interlinked
A lot of the Young Enterprise businesses were based around physical products to be sold at local markets and being their first time in business they didn’t link up time spent vs profit made
BUT it’s a mistake businesses with a lot of experience still make to date, in that they don’t track time spent on marketing or making a sale with the actual profit or return
How much time are you spending at networking meetings ? How much time are you spending on Social Media? What is the return per hour?
You’d be surprised how many businesses don’t track what is coming from where and how that impacts on the time vs profit and future marketing decisions
Q: What system do you have in place to track where business is coming from?
3. Thinking Outside Your Immediate Market
A lot of this comes with time as new market opportunities present themselves
Quite often it’s tempting to stay within your own comfort zone of who you know, the Young Enterprise teams for instance sold a lot to their peers and at school fete, but what’s interesting is looking at all the options available
When I sit down with a client for Social Media Training, the core of the training is based around the message delivered and who you deliver it to. We speak not just of current market demographics, but also of potential market demographics and it’s amazing how just sitting down for 10 minutes with somebody who has been in business for a decade plus has not thought of new opportunities
4. Long Term Commitment To Online Marketing
This was the big eye opener for me as this group were the generation who had grown up with Social Media and should have flourished with online marketing
But in all cases the teenagers displayed many of the attributes that the older generation have with Social Media
Often Twitter and Facebook accounts were set up, but when you look at said accounts – after the initial set up and flurry of activity, the marketing had ground to a halt
Social Media often works on a subliminal level with the drip drip drip effect (of course with real strategy and purpose) delivering the results and therefore long term engagement is needed
Don’t give up after the first attempt
Q: How long do you dedicate to social media each week? What results have you got via online?
5. Projection and Up-scaling Of The Business
This is the one big area that a lot of SME’s are guilty of, myself included, in that there’s no long term plan for upscaling the business
How do you take a business that you started because you were passionate about an idea you wanted to deliver yourself…how do you take that from just yourself or a small team to a much larger level where the business isn’t just about you
I spent a lot of time soul searching about this at the back end of last year, I read the E Myth and now have a greater idea of the structures I need to put in place to grow.
Q: Are you happy with business just being you or do you have a system in place to expand?
If you’re a Young Enterprise Team reading this – please pass on to your Business Teachers or Mentors
If you’re a business i’d love to chat further about how I can help market your business online – read the skinny below
Love to see your comments on the 5 points and question – if there’s anything to add it helps other SME’s and the next generation of business owners
“With over 12 years experience of Social Media and 17 years experience of online marketing in other companies, clients come to myself when they want a veteran rather than a rookie” Alex McCann