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Showing posts from 2011

Small Business Answers?

Hi there, and welcome back to Write Away, the blog for small businesses, the self employed and those thinking of working themselves.
Our latest post concerns another online resource that could prove to be a valuable resource for any small business owner or budding entrepreneur. The website is called “My Business”, as usual, the link is included below this post. The website is divided into eight useful sections: Finance & Money, People, Technology, Sales & Marketing, Operations, Import & Export, Future and Cash flow, each one having a number of sub sections that contain valuable insights and advice on that aspect of running a business.
The Finance & Money section has some great advice on late payments and how to try and avoid this and further advice on taking small claims through the courts if you need to. The latest Sales & Marketing article contains advice on pitching for new business and the “Top 10 Features” listing deals with questions surrounding IR35 and conside…

First Impressions

Hello again.
It’s well publicised that in interviews, we form an opinion of someone within seconds, and that opinion counts towards our overall impression of that person in front of us.
In business it is really no different. When you are trying to promote yourself to potential customers or clients, making a strong first impression is very important, whether it be through your business card, giving someone your well practised “elevator pitch” or merely introducing yourself, you have to convey a professional image and convince that person that they need to do business with you.
In a past job, I attended a lot of networking sessions and came across a speaker at a couple of those events who really focused on first impressions and emphasised their importance. His name was Nigel Risner, he does a lot of talks about networking and how we can improve our communication and his passion is infectious. Nigel wrote a book sometime ago, called “You Had Me at Hello” (the titles refers to a line from the…

Start Up Advice

Welcome back.
For the first time on this blog I’m going to include a book recommendation, just because I think it is an excellent book and could be a worthwhile investment if you’re seriously considering setting up your own business.
It’s called “Make It Happen – The Prince’s Trust Guide To Starting Your Own Business” (ISBN 9780857080455) – I was asked to review this book for the Chartered Management Institute and I’m very glad I did.
The book is divided into ten sections which range from marketing and sales, managing your money and writing a business plan to advice on growth and getting yourself a mentor.
The format and layout of the book make it very easy to read and there are numerous nuggets of advice from both well known entrepreneurs (such as James Caan of Dragons Den fame and Tony Elliot who started Time Out magazine) and not-so-well know business people, but all offer sound advice and excellent tips based on their own experiences.
As start up books go, I found it refreshingly diffe…

Fresh Business Ideas

Hi there and welcome back to the Write Away blog, an online resource for entrepreneurs and those working for themselves, or thinking about making the leap into the world of self-employment.
Today’s post is about another useful internet resource for small business owners and anyone working for themselves.
Fresh Business Thinking is a website aimed squarely at this part of the market. It has a quality “Business Advice” section with articles on every aspect of running a business, anumber of “how-to” guides, ranging from Self-Assessment through to Recession-proofing your business, its own video channel and a newsletter you can subscribe to called the “Virtual Director” which aim to inspire and offer support on a wide range of topics.
The site also contains a directory of a range of businesses, which you can pay to be part of should you so desire.
The site has a good search facility that makes it easy to find relevant articles or information meaning you can dip in and out of the parts of the s…

The Start-Up Kit

Hello again.
This week I want to introduce you to a great new resource for anyone looking to start their own business. It’s from a company called Brightword Publishing and is called “The Start-Up Kit”.
The kit contains a book and a number of excellent, money-saving offers from leading business brands to help the budding entrepreneur in the early stages of setting up a business. These include free business cards and sales contact lists, discounts on HP products and O2 mobile phone deals and further offers that could save you up to a total of £400.
The book is written by Emma Jones, a small business expert and author of other business start-up guides such as Spare Room Start-Up and Working 5 to 9. It is very well laid out and provides a wealth of Internet resources for small businesses and anyone looking to go it alone. The guide is split into three sections, Prepare, Launch and Grow, and there is a section at the back containing a number of helpful templates that you might need throughout ea…

Start Up Saturday

Hello again!
Today’s post is about a great new initiative for anyone interested in working for themselves or starting a small business.
It’s called Start Up Saturday, and consists of 12 weekly classes, taking place on a Saturday morning, at a Staples store near you (hopefully!), that are going to cover a number of different topics related to starting a small business.
To whet your appetite, a couple of the course titles are “All things Web – building a home online” and “Make some noise! Successful marketing on a budget” but there really are a diverse mix of areas included and you can choose to attend all 12 sessions or dip in and out and book only those that interests you.
I think this is a great concept, it considers the fact that a lot of people looking to go into business for themselves are often working to a very limited budget and might hold down a full-time job prior to making that commitment, and you’ll get to meet other budding entrepreneurs along the way.
As always, to find out mo…

Growing Business

Hello again.
There are not many periodic print publications aimed at start ups and small businesses on the market today. This is probably due, in part, to the decline of printed medium and enormous growth in online content. If you’ve not read Growing Business magazine, then I recommend that you take a look. It is aimed specifically at small businesses and contains news, informative features and interviews with entrepreneurs who share their experiences and offer advice to others in business or those looking to start up on their own.
If you prefer internet based information sources, then Growing Business has just re launched its website, after a major overhaul (as usual, the link is below). The website has the latest small business news, a number of “Sixty Second Guides” on specific topics, Entrepreneur TV – featuring more than 60 full-length interviews with successful entrepreneurs and information on business events happening around the country. There is also a regular newsletter you can sig…

You Selling You

Hello All.
A while ago, I attended a Management Development course that was taken by Steve Miller. Steve is a motivational speaker and has appeared widely in the media and on television, his courses and master classes cover a number of areas including losing weight and gaining confidence.
A main feature of the course I did was about developing and selling yourself, either in paid employment, if you are pushing for promotion or working for yourself and trying to sell your services. For a lot of small business owners, particularly freelancers, you are your businesses product. You are trying to sell you. Whether it is your services (such as a car mechanic window cleaner or painter and decorator) or your expertise (i.e. an accountant or solicitor) you have to convince the potential client to invest their money in you.
Steve’s view was that confidence is the key to this important area. That may not be rocket science, but he went on to show us how being able to sell yourself, and be confident doi…

Start-ups - Gaining the Edge!

Hello again.
Some time ago I attended a seminar aimed at people looking to start their own business, the main speaker was very engaging and offered some great tips for small businesses, his name was Tom Edge.
Tom started working for himself over 30 years ago after being made redundant, and now runs a very successful training business. He regularly runs seminars for would-be entrepreneurs, he also has his own website – the link is below – which contains some great general business tips, a section specifically for start-ups, and a newly launched business club, which is subscription based.
The website also has details of Tom’s range of business self-help cd’s, aimed at specific parts of running your own business.
All in all this is a good source of small business tips and advice from someone experienced in helping small businesses thrive and survive.

Franchising - the route to business success?

Hello again.
I read some interesting facts recently about business success rates, the article announced that some 90% of new franchises succeeded, and although there are varying measures on the success rates of other start ups, the rate is nowhere near as high as this.
So what makes the franchise model that much more successful than any other business model?
Well clearly, because it is a franchise, the business concept has been tested and proven successfully. Franchisees have the benefit of operating a model that others have used and have a backup (in their franchisor) that they can go to for advice and support. The downside of a franchise is that you are likely to have to pay a royalty fee or give a share of your profits to the franchisor, but this is often seen as a small price to pay to run a successful business of your own. Finally and probably most importantly given the current credit crisis, statistics show that you are much more likely to get bank finance to start a franchise than yo…

From Acorns.....

Welcome back.
Today’s post is about a business book I’d highly recommend if you’re looking for inspiration and ideas to help you start up and run your own business. Now, there is no shortage of books offering such wisdom and as a reader of many titles in this genre, I know it has its fair share of duds.
However, “From to build your brilliant business from scratch” (by Caspian Woods, published by Prentice Hall) is one of the best that I’ve read.
The style of the book is relaxed and at times very amusing, and the author shares his experience and wisdom on starting a business, in a very informative and concise way. The fact that the book is written by someone who has gone through the highs and lows of setting up a business gives it added credence. It has tons of useful, practical advice to help you on your way and if you’re thinking about going it alone in business, this would be a very good place to start.
Follow the link below to find out more.
Be inspired! Let me know what you…

University of the Car

Welcome back.
I once attended a lecture by a very successful businessman who was talking about how to maximise the benefit from our scarcest resource, our time.
Some of his ideas were not exactly new, or even radical, such as watching less television or spending less time in the pub; but one area he commented on was the amount of time we spend driving around, and how this can be a real opportunity for us.
Rather than listening to music or other people chatting on the radio, he suggested listening to audio business books or self help guides - he termed it the “University of the Car”, I’ve started to heed this advice and found it very beneficial.
If you’re stuck for a starting point, try buying or downloading “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” by Stephen Covey, read by the author, it is an inspiring book, and one I’ll post on in more detail soon.
You can find out more about the book on the link below:


Freelancing Advice

Today’s post is about a gem of a website for anyone who is a freelancer or has aspirations to become one.
If you already have a freelance career, then the chances are you will have come across Freelance folder, but if you haven’t, then I encourage you to take a look.
The site describes itself as a community for freelancers, entrepreneurs, work-at-home business owners and web workers; there is an excellent blog with lots of useful advice about common problems freelance professionals experience and under the section “Getting Started”, there are some helpful quick-start guides available to purchase for anyone thinking of starting their own freelance business.
There are a number of forums to join and a marketplace you can use to advertise your services or even find another freelancer to work with.
Freelancing might mean working on your own, but with sites like Freelance Folder, you won’t be alone.

The Ideas Source

Hello again.
Today’s post looks at online sources of ideas for new business ventures.
A lot of people have aspirations to start their own business, but if you have no obvious skill or knowledge that can be transferred into a business opportunity, the age old question of what business you could start, comes to light.
Well fear not, here are a couple of excellent websites that could help you uncover the “next big thing”, or at least inspire you to think laterally when you see some of the innovative business ideas around today.
Trendwatching employs a network of spotters around the globe who share the very latest consumer trends and how technological innovations are developing.
Springwise is the sister-site of Trendwatching and employs a similar network sharing the latest entrepreneurial ideas and new business trends - looking at the vast array on offer could provide some valuable start-up inspiration.
If you are not familiar with these sites, check them out, they are a treasure trove of infor…

Teamwork Works!

Welcome back.
Today’s post discusses the value of working with others, either on ideas for a new business or in actually starting something up together.
I think there is a common view, that starting a business is something you do on your own initially, and this can mean that would-be entrepreneurs miss out on valuable advice and input from others.
A few years ago, I enrolled on a course called Teamstart, the basic premise being to bring a group of people together who either had a business idea, or just a burning desire to work for themselves. The six-week programme consisted of different modules linked to starting a business with a number of workshops included, where you were put into pairs or groups to come up with, and work on, various business ideas.
I made lasting friendships from the course, but it also taught me that two or three heads can definitely be better than one when you’re trying to come up with that elusive business idea or concept.
So if you’re struggling in this area, think…

That community feeling!

Welcome back. This is the first in a series of posts on websites specifically aimed at start ups and small businesses, links to the websites covered will be at the end of the post.
The internet is a mine of information on a whole host of different subjects, resources and advice for small business and start ups are no exception. You can spend hours browsing through hundreds of websites without finding exactly what you are looking for. One of the aims of this blog is to keep you informed about interesting and useful online resources and websites that are aimed at small businesses and start ups.
One of my favourite online resources is the Enterprise Nation website
Enterprise Nation was founded by Emma Jones, who has started several small businesses of her own and launched the site to build an online resource and community of small businesses that could support each other, and very good it is too.
As a spin off from the Enterprise Nation website, Jones has also founded another website, Bitsy, …

Opening Gambit

Hello all, well this is it - my first post on the "Write Away" blog.

Firstly, thanks for checking the blog out, hope you like it.

I'm an accountant by day, and that keeps the bills at bay, but I've always wanted to work for myself, and write, and this blog is all about achieving those goals and working for myself, as a freelance writer.

Lots of people have an ambition to start up a business or work for themselves, I'm no different, but I want to do something about it now, and share my experiences with you.

I'll try to dig out those "off the beaten track" web resources for new businesses, pass on any tips and tricks I learn along the way and even share some useful financial management information, but, hopefully, in a concise and informative way.

I hope you'll stay with me on the journey (and tell anyone else who might be interested)

Until next time.