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TONIGHT! Want to start your own business or already run one? Join webchat with panel of experts including Mumsnet CEO JUSTINE ROBERTS, Thursday 17 October 8-9pm.

(101 Posts)
RachelMumsnet (MNHQ) Mon 07-Oct-13 17:43:15

For the next two weeks Barclays are running an Online Business Fortnight. It's a collection of the tools, tips and know-how you need to take your business to the next level online, gathered together and brought to you by experts, from networking wizards to social media gurus.
 
At 8pm on Thursday 17 October, we'll be joined by Dan Posner who is Head of Innovation Optimisation & Performance at Barclays Business, Justine Roberts, co-founder and CEO of Mumsnet and Chris Spurr, Web design and User Experience expert at Redwood, the leading content and marketing agency. 
 
They'll be on hand to answer any business related questions you might have. So add your questions below and be sure to check back on the 17th.

Here's a reminder of our webchat guidelines

MakeMineAKorma Thu 17-Oct-13 11:05:08

Another one for Justine:
I'm in the early stages of setting up an online business, and it has heaps of promise but I am really struggling with finding time to do as much as I want. (have 2 young DC and preg!)
Plus social media is great for getting name out there but SUCH a distraction. blush <oh look, here I am on MN again blush>
Any tips to remain focused so that you actually get things done?

hambo Thu 17-Oct-13 11:16:56

Hello, I have a small business, (design/art type stuff) and I use facebook to advertise., but I find twitter a mystery.
My question is: How do I use twitter to 'advertise' myself in an interesting way and also how much time do I need to spend on twitter per day??

Many thanks indeed for any comments

Korma-I know what you mean.

Oooh I'll just pop on Mumsnet.
A quick game of Candy Crush won't hurt.

Then it's 3pm and time to pick up the kids.

Oops.

Another question if I may:
How best to tackle the general assumption that because I'm working from home I'm not "really" working.
Teachers, friends etc. assume that because I'm at home I can go out for a cuppa, nip to the shops for them, look after their kids so they can do some work.
I know, I need to grow a pair and tell them all to shove their little errands, my work is important, but I'm intrinsically nice (and inherently British) so I allow myself to get walked over then seethe about it.
Any good phrases I can use to make the point that WAHM is different from SAHM? (I'm not denigrating SAHMs by the way, but I need to concentrate to get my writing done, I don't work well when constantly distracted).

My questions are related to the finance of starting up a business, specifically that In the bridal sector.
My husband is already a business owner so I have plenty of experience to tap into (albeit in a different area), and my mum has a diploma in marketing. However, my sister and I do not have a great deal of start up funds.

How much would a bank be able to lend to start us of, what interest rate would this be at, and as 70-80% of the money will be spent on stock that will remain unsold could this be used as a guarantee of some form? I appreciate that you won't be able to give specifics but just an idea of some sort would be helpful.

Thought I would ask on here first, before we get our ass handed to us in a bank ha!

Appreciate any advice.

Just a quickie compared to other one!!
Thinking of starting up an online business in a similar field in order to raise savings and establish ourselves as business women in the eyes of the bank.
This prospect is not quite as exciting but it should help us achieve 'the dream' if you will.

So my Q is this, is it worth us committing to this or should we put all efforts into the initial plan?

Thanks again.

raffle Thu 17-Oct-13 17:19:44

Wanting to start small business and plan to employ around 10 staff, I am petrified of the new pension scheme...I fear if all 10 staff opt in, this would finish me.

So I wondered if I changed my business plan to an agency type model where the staff remain self employed but pay me a finders fee, would I still need to provide a pension (they would be contracted, trained and supervised by me)?

Thanks

Nix01 Thu 17-Oct-13 17:26:05

Where does one start with investigating if goverment/council would assist with start up costs for a retail store?

Florence1 Thu 17-Oct-13 17:46:31

I am hoping to turn my hobby of making handbags into a business. My question is - if I want to test how they sell at a craft market, what do I need to do. Do I have to be a registered company? Register for self assessment? I would really appreciate some advise, many thanks.

tattiehowker Thu 17-Oct-13 17:51:59

I've recently started a training business (also working full-time and mother to a toddler!). The first events sold out and we had great feedback. Now trying to expand and not sure how best to use social media. How do you ensure tweets get seen? I feel that I'd have to tweet the same thing 20 times per day to catch our audience! Also any ideas to build up number of followers/encourage sharing of our tweets?

emwah74 Thu 17-Oct-13 18:03:32

Hi
I have a model and process that is designed to help streamline patient processes, support GP's and save NHS money.
I want to pitch this to Comissioners, I have costed it to run it with my own clinicians but would also like the option of going to comissioners to develop it to be run by them. I am struggling with valuing my own time. I know how much the service would save however find it hard to cost myself. I feel im selling an idea ame my time so charging just a PM day rate seems to be selling myself short.
Any ideas?

ReLIKEAbbe Thu 17-Oct-13 19:04:19

Hello
Our two year old start-up business www.relike.co.uk is a website for parents to buy and offload their children's good condition outgrown clothes in bundles, in return for vouchers and a high feelgood factor (we give to charity when a bundle sells, they get credits and make another mum's day). It is social enterprise with the mission of encouraging reuse rather than recycling or worse. Our collaborative consumption model is unfamiliar and new in the UK, but it is scalable and solid.

My big question is: who do we talk to within large retailers (for cross promotion purposes) or logistics companies to discuss collaborations and forge new business relationships? So often it seems sales people are reticent or unsuitable, whilst getting hold of the CEO is unrealistic. Who in between - and what roles, department names, should we be seeking out?

Thank you very much for your time and insights!
Abbe

bt1978 Thu 17-Oct-13 19:43:28

Hello,
I will be taking over the (very small) family business next year - book publishing - and as yet I have only been involved in the finance aspects as this is what I am trained in...but they want to move it into the 21st century, which is where I come in! Would you recommend that I push advertising on Facebook/Twitter etc - or does this just generate loads of 'likes' and 'followers' without any actual sales? Is it worth the effort?

Thanks!

JustineMumsnet (MNHQ) Thu 17-Oct-13 20:00:44

Hello everyone and welcome. Literally just got in having been stuck in traffic for eons. Imagine that, late for my own web chat. We're all in different locations, so this is all a wee bit experimental but fingers crossed…

RachelMumsnet (MNHQ) Thu 17-Oct-13 20:00:58

Welcome everyone to our webchat this evening. Dan, Chris and Justine are about to join us and will try and get through as many of your questions over the hour as possible.

ChrisSpurr Thu 17-Oct-13 20:02:11

Hi, Chris Spurr here, designer and user experience (UX) specialist, at strategic content agency, Redwood. I’m really looking forward to answering some of your web build and design questions, as well anything else I can help with!

JustineMumsnet (MNHQ) Thu 17-Oct-13 20:03:01

InMySpareTime

Another question if I may:
How best to tackle the general assumption that because I'm working from home I'm not "really" working.
Teachers, friends etc. assume that because I'm at home I can go out for a cuppa, nip to the shops for them, look after their kids so they can do some work.
I know, I need to grow a pair and tell them all to shove their little errands, my work is important, but I'm intrinsically nice (and inherently British) so I allow myself to get walked over then seethe about it.
Any good phrases I can use to make the point that WAHM is different from SAHM? (I'm not denigrating SAHMs by the way, but I need to concentrate to get my writing done, I don't work well when constantly distracted).

Just be firm and say, I'm sorry I can't, I'm working. Keep banging on and the message will get through eventually.

HRHLadyG Thu 17-Oct-13 20:04:51

Hi! Who/where is the best place to go for advice re initial investment/loan for a new business? In particular in terms of buying/renting a property and refurbishing to make fit for purpose? Thank you!

ChrisSpurr Thu 17-Oct-13 20:05:19

VelvetStrider

What is the best strategy for marketing to small, creative businesses? In the last decade, email marketing has generally been the preferred method, with rising postage costs and a backlash against high volumes of 'junk' mail. However I'm wondering if things are now coming full circle? I get a huge amount of marketing emails, most of which I don't even open, yet the postman puts very little through my letterbox. Is it now worth the extra cost to send information to potential customers by snail mail? Also, if I do send marketing by email, what sort of wording should I put in the subject line to tempt people to open and read the message?

Hi, VelvetStrider, great questions! When it comes to marketing, it really depends on who you're trying to reach and how you think they will react. A great example of a small agency promoting themselves is a small London studio, Mat Dolphin. They 'rose to fame' when Creative Review celebrated their first anniversary on twitter. Mat Dolphin decided to design and print a lovely poster for them and had it delivered to the Creative Review offices. CR tweeted the poster to their 90,000 followers and the rest is history.

In terms of subject line for email marketing, do as much testing as possible. Use a control group and test one subject line versus another and see what your audience responds to. Obviously avoid words which might end up flagging your email as spam (free, sex, viagra, etc)! If it's possible, personalising the subject line ("Hey Jane…") will can really help your open/response rates.

JustineMumsnet (MNHQ) Thu 17-Oct-13 20:06:02

MakeMineAKorma

Another one for Justine:
I'm in the early stages of setting up an online business, and it has heaps of promise but I am really struggling with finding time to do as much as I want. (have 2 young DC and preg!)
Plus social media is great for getting name out there but SUCH a distraction. blush <oh look, here I am on MN again blush>
Any tips to remain focused so that you actually get things done?

Prioritise - make a list each day and make sure you put the important things - the 2 or 3 things you really want to address TODAY at the top, and don't let yourself do other things (even Mumsnet grin) until you've done them. I find it quite useful sometimes to turn the wifi off - Twitter/FB and Gmail have all spent a lot of time, energy and money designing things that will grab your attention and distract you. Sometimes the only way to get on with stuff is to disconnect.

Whistleforit Thu 17-Oct-13 20:08:08

Inspired by the reasons for setting up Mumsnet & our own experiences we run a business www.villas4kids.com that provides fully stocked/child proofed holiday homes for families. Am never sure how to use Mumsnet best for it - nervous of even mentioning name in case am breaking rules. Modest budgets etc. MN seems more targeted than Facebook but is that right? And how to start.

Just looked at relike - great idea - v glad Abbe shared it.

DanPosner Thu 17-Oct-13 20:08:25

Good evening everyone. I'm Dan Posner, I look after Business Banking Innovation at Barclays and I'm here to answer any questions you may have around technology and finance...so online banking, mobile banking software...and of course anything else I can help with...

JustineMumsnet (MNHQ) Thu 17-Oct-13 20:10:54

paulapg

I have an idea to provide information to the public. As this would be online and I would not be selling any products, how do I make money from my website?
I could possibly sell items that related to the area in which I will provide information but I dont really want to have an online shop and hold stock and it would not be a large number of products.
The information on my website is about products so some form of advertising could be an option. I dont want to make the website too complicated but would obviously
like a good financial return.

Think about why people come to the site and what they might be prepared to pay for. Maybe there's some part of the information that is very valuable - maybe you could offer to package it up or deliver it in a way that adds value - like a subscription newsletter? Add on a forum? So folks who come can share a conversation around the info you're providing (forums are usually quite good for traffic wink - then maybe you can monetise by selling ads)

ChrisSpurr Thu 17-Oct-13 20:11:57

PeteCampbellsRecedingHairline

I have a couple of questions if that is ok:

The first one is about expanding? DH is self employed and quite successful but very in demand. He is umming and aahing about taking someone on but there is always the worry that the demand could drop off. How did you/do you take that next step?

The second question is about social media. How often should you be tweeting and Facebooking a day? And what content should I be sharing to encourage people to interact? I'm finding I am getting more interaction on Twitter with other businesses but Facebook is quiet. Is that normal?

Sorry that was more than 2 questions. blush

In answer to your second question, @PeteCampbellsRecedingHairline, there aren't any hard and fast rules about the frequency of your tweets/posts. The more regular the better, but not at the expense of quality. You'll lose followers if you're posting rubbish or irrelevant information. Find a tone of voice that works for your audience (are you chatty? quite formal? funny?) and stick to that – it will help you work out if something's worth posting! Keep an eye on your followers too, if an particular tweet gets them talking, try more of those. If you drop followers after a tweet, avoid that style in future!

thethighshaveit Thu 17-Oct-13 20:12:22

I have a website, lots of people visit but they don't buy things. What am I doing wrong??

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