Mike and Russell, from Gydeline discuss how to prepare for starting a business and what skills are needed to do it well. The tools and support required are covered along with some ideas on naming an organisation
Resources on company naming and structure (@6:02)
Social Media Courses (@12:20)
Recommended Books and magazines (@14:30)
Other places for Advice & Guidance (@17:17)
Business Networking Groups (@17:45)
CONTINUITY: We’re back in the Dog and Bone pub. Zelda comes to the table where Jakob is sitting and passes him his Whiskey and Ginger.
JAKOB: Thanks Zelda – I bet your head is spinning with ideas
ZELDA: Yeah it is… Well kinda… Well I’m flummoxed really. I don’t know where to start
JAKOB: Have you done any research into starting a business?
ZELDA: I read “Start with Why” by Simon Sinek
JAKOB: And learnt…?
ZELDA: That I don’t like reading much
ZELDA: That I need to understand why I want to run my business… and that is to become rich and respected
JAKOB: Ok! I’m not quite sure thats what Mr Sinek envisioned. Any other insights like what steps to take next
ZELDA: I need to work out the What and How or the How and What… One or the other. Have you any advice?
JAKOB: Well, I’ve helped many companies by mentoring their founders through… (Interrupted)
ZELDA: I need money… Lot’s of money to buy offices, manufacturing space, stock, hire people, you know
JAKOB: (bit stunned) So you know what your business does now then?
ZELDA: Nope, not a clue. Didn’t a famous man say “Build it and they will come”
JAKOB: Well Kevin Costner said it in the film Field of Dreams – Jim Morrison may also have said something like it in Waynes World 2?
ZELDA: No, no, no a famous person said it…
JAKOB: umm, God said it to Noah about the animals coming to the ark?
ZELDA: That’s the one… God knows what he’s talking about, right.
JAKOB: If you believe that kind of thing… But do you think that’s a good strategic approach?
ZELDA: Strategy! STRATEGY! You sound like my dad. You’re not like my dad are you? Please say you’re not my dad. If you are I can’t work with you
JAKOB: No, no, NO! I’m not like your dad. Please don’t look at me like that. I believe in you, probably more than your father does. We just need to make sure that any investment is wise and will give me…uh… you a return
ZELDA: You’ll give me the money? That’s amazing. You really get me don’t you!
JAKOB: Yes I do, and more as each moment goes by
ZELDA: So do we have a deal
JAKOB: Well, I’ll have to work out the paperwork
ZELDA: Great, great – get your people to contact my people (waving him away)
JAKOB: But, Y… you, haven’t got any people
ZELDA: Oh yeah… Could I use dads?
JAKOB: I don’t think that would be a good idea
ZELDA: Oh yeah secrecy laws and all that..
JAKOB: Secrecy laws? What do you m…(interrupted)
ZELDA: I could go into competition with Zero’s Heroes. I know the business inside out, I have the contacts, we could undercut the prices and crush him (maniacally)
JAKOB: Do you think that’s a good idea?
ZELDA: Err, probably not, but exciting. Hmmm, there was that product line he found unprofitable – I bet I could make that work
JAKOB: Right… H…h…how?
ZELDA: You know… Cut costs, squeeze the workers… All the good business stuff. Also I want to rock social media
JAKOB: It’s certainly an element of marketing that needs consideration in the modern marketplace
ZELDA: I’ve got thousands, well, at least hundreds, of friends on Facebook, probably 85 people following my instagram and I bet I could be a wonderful twitterer if I knew what it did. Add all those together and apply it to this venture and boom! We’re all millionaires… Well I am, your already a millionaire
JAKOB: Billionaire actually… But anyway, I’m sure you could. I love your enthusiasm and I long to make this a reality. How do we turn that in to a business, do you think? Firstly, are you going to commit to this full time or do it as a sideline to working with Zeros?
ZELDA: Sideline, Sideline… Hmmm…. That’s a great name for the company. (Mimicking telephone answering) “Hello, Sideline, Zelda speaking how may I make your day” (Advertising voice) “Sideline… Doing stuff for less than Zeros”. Yes, yes, Welcome to Sideline Mr Oakstock – nice to have you on board.
JAKOB: Onboard… What… Errr… Thank you… Yes, errr. (Unenthusiastically) woo hoo ?
ZELDA: Fancy another drink to celebrate (running off the bar and shouting back) Oh, write your name on a napkin so I don’t forget your genius
JAKOB: (Bewildered) Sure, why not, MY genius! (shouting after her) Better make mine a double!
MIKE: So this week, Zelda has prompted us to talk though some of the basics of setting up a new business and has, quite rightly, decided that a company name is important
RUSSELL: And the name Sideline was a bit of a flash of inspiration… I think. It’ll be interesting to know whether that sticks because picking a company name is not as easy as it seems
MIKE: No, if I remember correctly I think we went through over, well, hundreds of names before settling we finally settled on Gydeline
RUSSELL: And that wasn’t the one we started with- we incorporated with a different name! You have to consider whether it is available first and doesn’t clash with another organisation on company registers.
MIKE: And then you have availability of domain names, which are available and which domains you wish to register – whether it’s a .co.uk, .com, .org, .biz, or .just about anything you like nowadays. Does it fit your product, your style and your values.
RUSSELL: A further issue to cover, especially if you make a word up, is that it doesn’t mean something somewhat inappropriate in a different language.
MIKE: And then you’ve got to make sure you do checks on Trademark registers. You might be able to get your name at Companies House and that might be available along with the domain, but someone might have registered the name as a trademark – and you have to think internationally as well
RUSSELL: And that depends on the market you’re targeting. Trademarks is bound to come up with Zelda and Jakob at some point in the future, so I think we can talk about that then
MIKE: No doubt! We found a few interesting articles on company naming and we’ll put the links on the episode page on the show notes. So, you mentioned company registers, you do need to decide what structure of organisation you want to setup.
RUSSELL: Yeah. There’s a range of different organisation you might consider setting up. There’s Sole Trader, wouldn’t necessarily have you registering with Companies House. Limited company, Limited Liability Partnerships or Business Partnerships. Even social enterprises and charities; all have different requirements. They all have different considerations. They have different benefits and different drawbacks. So we’ll also point you to guidance on that as well, because picking your structure is a key stage of forming the business..
MIKE: One thing Zelda seems to be lacking, though, is a product or service
RUSSELL: Which could make forming a price list coming up with an ‘offer’ and finding potential customers a very tricky challenge indeed
MIKE: Quite. So, she has no basis for undertaking any market research into her venture. She does need to decide what exactly she is going to do. Her natural conclusion, and based on experience, was to compete with her dad.
RUSSELL: Obviously, it’s an industry she’s has worked in and hopefully she understands, but again, crushing her father in business is a somewhat unrealistic stance. I think Jakob said that if she wanted to do that she’d have to have a pretty robust strategy as to how she was going to attack it… And what is her problem with Strategy?
MIKE: Well it seems to be something we’ve seen with lot’s of people we’ve worked with, that it seems to be difficult, it seems to be burdensome something that’s been struggled with before. Perhaps Zelda’s seen her dad angst-ridden over what the strategy should be. So her approach is much more laissez-faire, she’ll make it up as she goes along and everything will be alright.
RUSSELL: There’s also an element where the strategy could be seen as a great big wall of work. And it could be unrealistic, People think of a strategy, Oh no, that’s just sitting around talking and creating a report and they don’t need to do that
MIKE: And as we know, and as we’ve seen with start ups, they want to get on, they want to do things, they want to be out there selling and promoting and branding and logos without putting some foundational pieces in place and having a strategy, is one of those foundational pieces. But one of those foundational pieces that really needs attention is her work place
RUSSELL: Very much so. She’s ended up in the pub having a discussion with Jakob and we’ll have to see where that goes. You need somewhere comfortable to work and quiet to work. It’s not good to be clearing a space on the kitchen table among the morning’s breakfast dishes isn’t going to set you up for a productive and inspiring day. Imagine the sight of piles of ironing or half-done DIY to distract you.
MIKE: Says the voice of experience?
RUSSELL: Maybe. Probably worse would be working out of a public place like a coffee shop or pub
MIKE: Especially when there are good co-working spaces that are usually available for short term rent. There are some government funded buildings that offer great spaces at competitive rates
RUSSELL: Yeah, we work in a new one. It’s great, unless you’re trying to record a podcast. Which is why we’re sitting in my lounge.
MIKE: No echo and good coffee machine. Which brings us to another key consideration, equipment
RUSSELL: I think we’re going to have to wait and see what Zelda is going to do before deciding on equipment; What kind of product will she produce, what kind of service is she going to provide. Suffice to say there will likely be a need for a computer, software and a phone at least
MIKE: Well let’s leave equipment for another time and talk money. Specifically the need to get a bank account and, possibly an accountant
RUSSELL: Yes, because getting a business bank account is harder and takes longer than you might imagine
MIKE: And even in this online digital world, the need to demonstrate you are who you say you are still tends to rely on some paper going to one of the dwindling number of bank branches
RUSSELL: I don’t think anybody should think it will be quick and easy to set a business bank account up. They need to plan ahead, You can’t expect that to be done quickly… once you have a name and company structure of course. Zelda mentioned social media marketing… In marketing terms, is that all that’s needed?
MIKE: Not really, no. Social media is a key aspect in marketing and sales today. As is a really good website. But nothing can beat, and there’s been a resurgence in face to face networking, so some other things like business cards and promotional material remain important in that battle to be noticed in the crowd.
RUSSELL: And the amount of effort required to make social media a productive source of leads should not be under estimated
MIKE: The biggest benefit of social media is it can be used for free. However, you need to money on the right bits of promotion to accelerate your growth. The number of people that spend a vast amount of time on social media for no return. So that’s something to be aware of. It’s an area that Zelda could with some training in, I’m sure about that.
RUSSELL: Yes and there’s lots of people training in social media, We’ll put some of those on the episode page. The final thing I thought we could mention, with regards to starting up a business is Passion. Starting a business is an amazing and rewarding experience, as we’ve had – it’s also the beginning of a journey that’s likely to have its fair share of frustrations, disappointments and late nights. If you’re going to make your business a success, you need to have the drive and self-belief to make it through the tough times.
MIKE: And sometimes the difference between business failure and success is simply that drive and passion to see it through and the tough times. Having said that, I think Zelda does seem to have some passion
RUSSELL: She’s certainly got some passion about her abilities. Whether they’re founded or not is yet to be seen! Do you think Jakob is handling that passion?
MIKE: Not sure what Jakob is doing at the moment. He’s clearly going to back Zelda’s venture but her motivation is to become “rich and respected”. That’s not really the, for example, the “Why” Simon Sinek what talking about.
RUSSELL: Yes, Zelda mentioned she’d read that, what core understanding did she miss in that book?
MIKE: I think it’s a mistake a lot of people make. They they focus on an outcome “to be rich and respected”, “to earn money to grow your business”. That’s not really the why that he’s talking about. He’s talking about the the underpinning emotional driver that says “why am I doing this”. Am I doing this because I really care. Am I doing this because I want to make people’s lives better. So that why that really matters to you is the thing that will keep your motivation going through those tough times and that’s really what she wants to. Not focus on the outcome. So, that’s a good example of a book about starting or improving a business. Is there anything else that you think we should recommend on that note?
RUSSELL: Well, as you know, I’m not the biggest fan of reading and tend to fall back on audio books and snippets – I’m a bit of a snippet monkey, but I’ve always been drawn to Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People and his Eighth Habit book as well. It’s not everybody’s cup of tea. It’s not specifically about start-up business. It’s more about you being a more effective individual and that obviously translates into a better business. I think it’s what works for you and you have to try a few before you find advice that sits well with you and aligns to your way of thinking. You’re a bigger reader. Have you any reading recommendations?
MIKE: Yeah, I am a big reader of business advice books and I think the advantage and challenge of these books is that there is a lot of them out there. They cover a lot of different areas. Such as, entrepreneurship or money management or investment or the practicalities of running a business, or stories about the growth of a certain business whether it be Google, Facebook or Walmart or whatever, or Stories about an entrepreneurs life. So it’s very difficult to say here’s one book that will answer or sit with the needs that you have. What I will do, in the show notes we’ll put a list of the books we think are really useful. We’ll give you some clues as to the areas that they’ll help with and, it’s not just books. There are places you can go for inspiration and guidance. So maybe we’ll post some of those in the show notes as well.
RUSSELL: Yes, and some of those other places are government funded, at least in part EU funded currently in the UK. There are places like Growth Hubs all over the country which can act as signposts to other funded help.
MIKE: These are great, especially if you’re on your first venture and learning the business ropes. Business planning, market analysis and skills development and training are usually available. It’s also worth hunting out your local business networks
RUSSELL: Very much so. We are involved in a number of networking groups which provide access to arranged events, usually free. Some of these groups require some kind of fee to join, nothing too hefty but you can usually go to a few events before needing to join or anything like that. We’ll list a few in the link area as an illustration and if any networking groups want to add to that list, please comment and we’ll ad them on.
MIKE: Yes, let us know. And if you’ve got any other comments about what you’ve heard . About where you think Zelda, Jakob and Nero are going. Please post them, we’d be so delighted to hear your comments and get your feedback. Share this and review this and we’ll keep, hopefully, keep bringing you some fun and some educational content. So, until next time…
RUSSELL: Thanks very much for joining us
MIKE: Thanks for listening.