Got a great business idea? Need a little help whipping it into shape? Welcome to the Business Brainstorm! Get involved for your chance to win a Workfest goody bag! NOW CLOSED

(31 Posts)
AnnMumsnet (MNHQ) Mon 15-Jul-13 11:11:22

So, last month saw the first ever Mumsnet Workfest, sponsored by Barclays. Over 200 Mumsnetters came to hear speakers talk about returning to work or starting up your own business - and to meet each other in person, of course!

Lots of the new entrepreneurs who attended were brainstorming ideas there and then, so Barclays thought what better place to get that going again than on a thread on the Business Start-ups talkboard.

So go for it, whether you have an idea for a new business, you're looking for a new logo or you have promotion coming up, please do get talking on this thread about how you can make your ideas even better with a little help!

Barclays on Mumsnet also have two exclusive goody bags from Workfest to give away, so get involved - either by asking your business question or posting a helpful response to someone else's business dilemma - for your chance to win one!

Everyone who adds a comment before the closing date of 29th July 2013 will be entered into a prize draw where the first two names drawn MNer will win a Workfest goody bag each (worth c. £50!).

Thanks
MNHQ

ThatsSoVanquish Mon 15-Jul-13 22:20:22

I've recently started a business - a sideline at the moment, time will tell if I can cut my fullt-time hours yet.

I would be interested to hear how others who run non-retail businesses arrive at a pricing structure. Do you mirror the competition, or undercut? DP thinks undercutting cheapends the business. Think he may be right, don't want to chase people off though!

WaitingForMe Mon 15-Jul-13 22:25:13

I struggled with pricing (I'm a writer) but found I got more work and was taken more seriously once I started charging decent money. I started at £30 p/h but now it's more like £50. But I charge by the job not the hour and that covers all the time I spend networking, marketing, doing admin etc.

I'm now trying to work smarter and create "products" such as Ebooks rather than the website content etc.

PetiteRaleuse Tue 16-Jul-13 11:17:23

I do some freelance on the side. Teaching and translating mainly. My problem is being assertive and asking for payment. I don't mind doing the odd favour for friends but when the favour lasts a couple of hours and becomes regular (ie giving classes to friends' children rather than coaching them on a specific point) I find it hard to suddenly ask for money... Any suggestions? Should I stop giving freebies compeltely?

Punkatheart Tue 16-Jul-13 12:57:22

You sound like a lovely person, Petite but yes - you need to be more professional now and like Waiting, to value yourself and your skills. It's cheeky for people to take advantage. You need business cards, rates and an assertive smile. Tell them they have had enough tasters.

snowymum12 Wed 17-Jul-13 14:30:52

I would certainly set out an agreed pricing structure for your services. Locally, there will be an abundance for tutoring services and it seems unfair that you are not benefitting from a fair rate for your services. It is hard with friends but if you let them know that you are firming up your freelance work and give them information re: pricing as well as course coverage, etc then they will get them message.

I'm a freelance storyteller, a field where demand outstrips supply (certainly round here), so I charge what the market will bear. My cafe sessions are less than my school sessions or party packages for example.
My illustrated stories are priced as artwork (which they are really, words and illustrations arranged artfully in a frame), I looked at other local artwork to decide a pricing structure.
I would agree that undercutting cheapens the business. Instead, offer something big business can't and price accordingly. A USP commands a premium.
Anyone can buy off-the-peg, but these days people will pay a little more for something the "Joneses" simply cannot buy.
The biggest challenge I have found in my business is the need for expertise in a wide range of subjects. This last year I have taught myself website design, book editing, ebook formatting, SEO, appliqué, marketing, networking, YouTube uploading, puppet-making, ebook publishing, versal illustration, and small business tax requirements, among many other things.
I have also read countless books of folk tales and fairytales to extend my knowledge base.

Hopezibah Thu 18-Jul-13 21:53:20

I have a HUGE fear of failure which is the main thing that puts me off 'going for it'. I wish I could get over it as the advice I would give others is to have a go and if it doesn't work out then at least you have learnt something and can just try again. And yet for myself I just find that I can't get over the fear of failing however likely the chances of success are. Would love to hear from others who have also had this issue and how they overcame it! thanks x

Smilehappy Thu 18-Jul-13 23:59:26

How scary is it at the start? I have done my market research, business plan, aims and goals and nearly finished on pricing structure, and decode on a name! I'm just scared to go go go! hmm I wanted to possibly find a business partner but its providing difficult. Just needing the push to go ahead and start up. Hopefully after a bit more research I will feel confident enough to do so!!

Tee2072 Fri 19-Jul-13 00:11:14

My advice smile is to just go for it.

I resigned my position about 3 years ago and it was terrifying.

Now I will never work for someone else again.

Smile, I think the difference is whether or not you need investment (or have to sacrifice current income) in order to get started.

If what you are selling is based largely on your own time and existing resources, then there is nothing to lose from just getting out there and winning some orders - and it's hugely rewarding however small that first 'sale' might be.

If the cost of what you are selling requires a financial outlay over and above your own time and existing resources, then you need to take a little more care with forecasting the numbers and containing the risk.

Either way, if the numbers in your business plan add up and you are confident with it, what's stopping you now?

Another thing is, sometimes there can be a gap at this point between having 'done the homework' and being ready to start the business on a practical front. If you set a date, say 6 weeks or whatever, and say 'I need to be ready to start trading on x date' then you'll realise you have a list of things that need to be done, like company registration, logo, website, and so on. Strart getting those things done, and it suddenly moves from theory to reality.

Good luck!

Smilehappy Fri 19-Jul-13 18:54:24

Thanks for your feedback guys! It's not so much for investment it's more of a guidance I would love, and support, reassurance? lol a mum?? haha only kidding! grin but hey I suppose everyone starts somewhere and I will too... smile X

thethighshaveit Sat 20-Jul-13 08:41:53

Hi there,
I am just about to launch my first business and am really struggling with what is most important. It is an online shop and I know that getting it indexed with google etc is very important so I need to get the site up and running but equally I would like it to be perfect when it is live and have all the good things I have been thinking of.
Should I just get the site up and running and sort out the details later (such as exactly which postage company I am going to use) and if I don't make any profit on any orders that is fine as the likelihood of orders is pretty slim!
Any advice really appreciated

Make sure the site is correctly spelt throughout, and that it offers a basic service before going live. Even if it only sells one product, it needs to do it well, or you could damage your brand.

Maggietess Sun 21-Jul-13 16:42:44

I think I've had a really good business idea and I've translated most of it to a business plan. I'm comfortable I can get my head round the sales, marketing, competition, financials etc but the one bit I have no idea around is the actual design of the product.

It's an online business and largely sent around a mobile app connecting to a website - I know what I would want it to do but would have to either engage someone to do the tech creative bit or partner with someone. This is such a small business I would imagine for the first few years that partnering would make it hard for me to justify taking the time out of my job to do it.

Has anyone had any experience of engaging web design experts and how did it go? What would you recommend re taking on the challenge of a business where I know exactly what my vision for the output is but don't have the expertise for the input!

Thanks!

MarthaS Sun 21-Jul-13 18:41:12

Maggietess - one approach to starting a tech business is to try and gauge customer interest and needs first using the absolute minimum functionality. If you jump straight in and build an app or website without either understanding exactly what it needs to do or making sure it's something people will pay for then you could waste a lot of development time. These days it;s referred to as the "lean startup" methodology. To get things up and running there are various ways - create a simple sign up page asking people to join a waiting list, running the service as physical service etc. This way you can get some customers on board to help you to shape the product, then getting more chance of raising funding if it's a goer. To get basic pages or simple functionality built you can do this very cheaply using one of the outsourcing websites such as people per hour.

Thethigh...in terms of website, you need to be adding things to it as much as possible to keep it fresh in the eyes of the search engine, every day if possible (depends on your site though)

Get it ready to a standard you are happy with customers seeing and then update it as you go.

MarthaS Sun 21-Jul-13 18:47:33

thethighshaveit - one way to get an eCommerce website up and running for virtually free is to use Wordpress with Woocommerce - it's really easy to learn and you just have to pay for hosting. It has built in functionally to help with the search engine stuff. I would say it's worth paying for a logo though - this can be done for £30-£100 on something like PeoplePerHour.

Postage company is something you can decide on later - to get you up and running parceltogo seems to be the cheapest way as it shows you a comparison of all prices. Once you know your volumes then you can start to think about a contract with a courier company, or even an external fulfillment company (pick and pack).

If you would like more help/info (for free!) pm me, I've experience of Wordpress and setting up an eCommerce business.

MarthaS Sun 21-Jul-13 18:49:08

Agree with MoreSnowPlease - fresh daily original content is one of most important SEO factors, in addition to back links from reputable sites (so you should register yourself with any online business directories and try to get links on other blogs etc).

Maggie...if it is a web business and you are not web savvy then a partner would be a good idea, but if its something that can be set up by an expert and maintained by you then farm.out the work and use someone that has been recommended to ou or someone who built a site/app that does well.

There are so many aspects to creating a good website it is not just a case of getting a designer, it really depends on the product though as to what you do. PM me if you want to and I can give more specific advice based on what your product is.

NomDeClavier Mon 22-Jul-13 23:48:45

Waiting I find I get a better response charging per hour until the work is done. It allows clients to decide at what point they're happy to stop but obviously my hourly rate had to cover those non-writing tasks.

GetKnitted Wed 24-Jul-13 20:49:48

Writing and NomDeClav, obviously there are different clients out there with different needs, but as a purchaser of writing services I am not able to purchase your services by the hour, I need someone who can complete a job within an agreed budget. For anything additional, I'm happy for contractors to quote their hourly rates.

ArcticRoll Thu 25-Jul-13 16:37:06

Hi I'm planning on opening a women's clothing boutique where I'll be selling pristine second hand designer, top end high street clothes and accessories. I will be acting as an agency so will selling on behalf of others. I will need to attract people who want to sell good quality stock as well as the actual customers to buy it. I am planning on leaflet drop as well as using FB, Twitter etc. I'm trying to keep costs down but want to market it as a beautiful upmarket shop. I'm not sure whether I need to employ graphic designer to help with font design of signage and design of my leaflets etc or whether I can do it myself sing the vast array of tools that there are online. Would be grateful for any comments, thanks

SameAsYou Fri 26-Jul-13 12:06:19

Hi everyone

Me and my OH have an idea and its been made by his place of work (so we are very excited) and each time we sell one we get x amount of pounds per item we sell. His work are going to advertise this product too.

We are responsible for selling it ourselves too and not sure of best avenues. We have set up a website, Facebook, Twitter, Amazon & eBay account - can we do more? I guess initially we have gone for the cheapest/free options.

I've suggested our local magazine to do a piece on OH and maybe a leaflet drop to all our area, but quite a vast area, has anyone used companies for leaflet drops? Is it expensive?

Is there any grants we can apply for? We want to market it right but on a budget to start with.

Thanks to anyone who replies!

I have an idea, and am currently unemployed after graduating from university last year. The problem is, due to a disability, I don't drive, so I'd ideally need either someone who does to help me at first, or premises, which are too expensive right now.

I also need some more equipment and that's scarily expensive too. I'm currently re-designing my website to help promote my work.

The basic idea, is a photography business, but I'll also have training/experience with working with disabled clients, both children and adults, and would be able to offer a service to them which would work (example; having a social story to send to a family with a child who is autistic, about what will happen when they come to have their picture taken, who they'll meet etc). If I had premises I'd offer other packages, photo printing etc as well, so I'm not just appealing to that niche market.

It's just so hard without premises or a driving licence to get started, I'm too scared to go for it in case there's no demand here.

thethighshaveit Sat 27-Jul-13 20:42:18

MarthaS, inmysparetime and moresnowplease,
Thank you so much for your replies. Sorry it has taken me a while to reply but I have been working very hard and the website is now live! Hooray!
I really appreciate all the advice you have given and unfortunately am already dissatisfied with my website and looking to move to another provider. The shop does not have all the functionality I would like which is a shame but you learn from your mistakes! My peak sales period is the simmer so I really wanted to get a feel for how I can improve this year rather than waiting till next.

On the plus side I have had lots of positive feedback from people so fingers crossed it all works out in the end.

Thanks again

Maggietess Sat 27-Jul-13 22:22:39

moresnow and marthas thanks so much for your advice.

Martha I'm not sure if the lean start up is a goer as I think what I'm trying to sell is the fact that it would do all these things.

Moresnow I think I'm leaning towards hiring someone rather than parternering as I think if it's set up correctly like I envisage then I could run with it. I'm going to do a bit more work on the business plan then talk to my local enterprise agency to see of they can add some thoughts. I'll def pm you if I get to that stage and am thinking about really making it work. Thanks so much!

NEScribe Mon 29-Jul-13 21:08:43

Lollipop - why not try some market research rather than just not go for it?. Ring potential clients and say it is market research to judge demand or put a survey form where potential customers meet up? (Always out a contact email or number on the survey - just in case someone does want the service right now smile

belle1992 Mon 29-Jul-13 21:45:29

Lollipop, that sounds like a really great Idea, I'm in the early stages of starting a cake business, I have wanted to for years but was always too scared to go for it then I just realised life is too short! If it doesnt work out then at least I tried, but if you put all your effort and heart into it then you should have no regrets whatever happens!

AnnMumsnet (MNHQ) Wed 31-Jul-13 10:30:20

hello - thanks for all the comments: am pleased to say ThatsSoVanquish and Smilehappy are the winners of the WorkFest goody bags. Well done.

Smilehappy Thu 01-Aug-13 00:16:02

Woo hoo grinsmile

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