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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

Adair Fri 18-Oct-13 09:46:19

Fated, could you get the bones ready? So rather than the PR bit, get sorted with a clear business plan, admin, systems etc.
Alternatively, what about working with someone else and then jumping on board when you have left your job?

Adair Fri 18-Oct-13 09:44:24

Fated, it's one of the first I actually did get a reply!
And Justine didn't answer my question about regrets... (But thanks for your reply about trying to stick with things... V pertinent)

This was the first web chat I'd posted on and I'm not sure if it's usual to not get a reply?

lemonygem Thu 17-Oct-13 22:11:35

Would seriously recommend Neil Patel's SEO tool at quicksprout.com. it can give you a basic overview of the main areas you need to focus on.

lemonygem Thu 17-Oct-13 22:05:51

I personally have found that you don't need to be on all social networks. If it doesn't gel with you, chances are it won't really gel with your target client. Pick the networks that feel best, work them well, and that way you don't dilute the message.

Hope that's helpful!

DanPosner Thu 17-Oct-13 21:25:16

...and I always thought I was fast at typing...Wow! That was intense. Thank you so much for all your great questions and best of luck with all your great business and start up ideas. Dan

DanPosner Thu 17-Oct-13 21:22:34

RubyRR

Thanks Justine, that's great to know.
If business banking Dan is still answering, we are looking for business bank accounts, there seems to be more exciting offers open to customers setting up as company through an online company rather than dealing directly with Barclays, is it possible to get a similar deal, ie cash back and free accounting software direct from Barclays?

Setting up a company through a formation agency 'online company' is a great way of setting up your business as a limited company. You need to check though, that setting up as a limited company is right for you. Depending on your circumstances - you might be better off as a sole trader. Assuming, that a limited company is right for you, then dealing directly with Companies House to register your company is also an option.

With regards to start up accounts, banking for the first 12 months is free, you get access to Connector - an online community which can help you find suppliers and new business leads. Barclays also offers accountancy software, online marketing courses and a whole load of other help for new business - some free and some not.

The stand out aspect of the Barclays account though, is that it rewards customers for loyalty - both the length of time and the amount of business customers do with Barclays. Barclays also offer a service guarantee which says that if anything should go wrong, we’ll give you a named point of contact who’ll take personal responsibility for resolving the query and keeping you informed.

It's worth checking out more details online.
http://www.barclays.co.uk/Businessbankaccounts/Bankingshapedaroundyourbusiness/P1242634487153

RachelMumsnet (MNHQ) Thu 17-Oct-13 21:21:15

Thanks everyone for a really interesting and informative webchat. We'll be archiving this so the Qs are together with the As and will link to the archived webchat from this thread early next week. You can check out Barclay's Online Business Fortnight for more information and tips.

ChrisSpurr Thu 17-Oct-13 21:20:41

Thanks for all your questions, everyone. And thank you for having me!

Good luck with your all your businesses!
Chris

JustineMumsnet (MNHQ) Thu 17-Oct-13 21:17:05

I think we're done now. Blimey, it's exhausting being on the other side! Thanks for brilliant questions and to Dan and Chris for joining us.

Do check out our starting a business pages put together by the folks at Barclays - there's some useful stuff there.

And very best of luck to everyone - sounds like there are some fab nascent businesses out there.

ChrisSpurr Thu 17-Oct-13 21:13:43

Episode

Hi

I hope I'm not too late here, but I have a question for Chris.

I understand your expertise are in Web design and user experience but I'm hoping you may be able to help.

We run a pretty successful online business from which 80% of our customers were coming in online - Google to be precise.

With the various Google updates we have seen hits of 300 a day go down to 40 on a good day! Now, I wont pretend there was no 'bad practice' SEO in the old days but for the last year at least we have been working hard to do things the correct way.

It is really hard to find comprehensive advice and online there is so much contradicting advice, but we suspect the largest problem we have is that our links (of which there are hundreds) are all associated with spammy sites which have also dropped in rankings.

We have had no email from Google to suggest we have been individually penalised, is it true we would have one if we were?

Is there a single easy way to remove the links already in place without contacting their webmasters? Most of which have now moved on as you can imagine....

We have just started to use PPC and we are not yet seeing an improvement in conversion but I have been told that to find the best keywords, phrases etc often takes time. The main reason we are doing this is with the hope that it improves our SEO one and secondly so that we can diversify our acquisition strategies. But with regards to improving our SEO is it worth doing any of this or any new SEO with our previous issues still in place?

And to summarise is there any single way to find out that our suspicions with what our issues actually are, are correct?

Sorry for the essay!!!

And thank you smile

This is a really tricky area, and as such there are lots of expert sites and agencies out there. However, I will try to help...

Unfortunately there could be a number of reasons for your drop in Google traffic. It sounds like the old links could well be part of the problem and I'm not sure of any quick way to resolve that. Make sure you do a full sweep of your site and check your site structure up to date. Are you using heading tags properly etc? No duplicate content?

I think you would only receive an email from Google if you were fully blacklisted. It sounds more like there is something in the newer algorithms which isn't sitting well with your site.

You're right, PPC will take time, but as you say will help diversify your acquisition, so it could be worth sticking with it, especially if organic results are dropping. Keep an eye on what's working and what isn't thoguh and make adjustments where necessary.

Overall, I would always recommend you write and create sites for users, not search engines. Google will always catch you on any 'tricks', so I wouldn't try to push it too hard!

There are some good online SEO reporting tools which you can plug your site into to check if there are any big issues. Or SEO agencies who will do a report on your site.

Hope that helps.

JustineMumsnet (MNHQ) Thu 17-Oct-13 21:12:19

LovesBeingOnHoliday

I want to start a business but just don't know what in, needs to be something I can fit around work and probay Internet based but how do I find something that's not already overdone.

I think it's really important to fill a need - the best businesses are ones that identify a problem and solve it for people. It helps if you're interested/passionate about the product/solution too, as it's not always plain sailing and in tough times what keeps you going is believing in what you are doing, irrespective of whether it's going to make you a fortune or not.

Hope that helps and best of luck!

JustineMumsnet (MNHQ) Thu 17-Oct-13 21:07:40

giveamonkeys

Do you think CSR/charitable engagement could/should play a part in founding a biz?

Interesting question. When I think back to pretty much the first half of MN's existence we just didn't have the cash or bandwidth to do anything other than soldier on. But admittedly we didn't really earn enough to pay ourselves for about 6 years and that felt like our charitable contribution! When I started looking at how MN could formerly incorporate fundraising into what we do - a foundation type thing - I found it pretty darn complicated involving forming a trust and having trustees etc. (So we've decided to have an annual match funded giving week instead - starting next spring.)

If someone could come up with a simple solution to corporate giving - I'm thinking you incorporate with companies house and you can elect to give element of profits to charity as part of a govn scheme with no complicated legals or tax stuff involved then that would be ace.

ChrisSpurr Thu 17-Oct-13 21:03:39

giveamonkeys

Do you think CSR/charitable engagement could/should play a part in founding a biz?

It's always good to try to include some way of giving back. In some industries, this carries more weight than others and can actually be a great way of spreading the word about your business and getting some positive PR – sorry if that sounds a bit commercially-minded and not too benevolent!

Of course, the most important thing is that you could be doing some good and this is certainly something that lots more businesses are incorporating into their business plans nowadays.

PeteCampbellsRecedingHairline Thu 17-Oct-13 21:02:20

Thanks so much everyone, this has been really helpful.

Can we do it again soon? smile

RubyRR Thu 17-Oct-13 21:00:41

Thanks Justine, that's great to know.
If business banking Dan is still answering, we are looking for business bank accounts, there seems to be more exciting offers open to customers setting up as company through an online company rather than dealing directly with Barclays, is it possible to get a similar deal, ie cash back and free accounting software direct from Barclays?

JustineMumsnet (MNHQ) Thu 17-Oct-13 20:58:46

Adair

Hi all,
InMySpareTime and the poster who talked about pricing yourself, I agree that it can be really hard to say I want £xxx per hour without feeling guilty (is this a -conditioned- female thing?). I am learning to have high value/charges on my time and then reduce/offering freebies for those who are deserving!

Which leads on to my next question for Justine... Not sure about you but
I kind of want to do everything! I see opportunities for pop-up shops and think I could do that! Or opportunities for classes for little ones, or adults classes (I run drama classes for kids in Walthamstow). Do you have a strategy for deciding which avenues to say YES to? And do you regret any of these avenues you said yes to (or no!)?

It's a very good question and one I wrestle with all the time tbh. There's so much we could do! But I'd say one of the things I've learned with regard to digital products is that you can't just develop something and move onto the next thing. Developing it and releasing it is just the first stage. You need to hone and refine and keep refreshing it. It's better to do a few things really well than lots of stuff mediocrely (is that even a word hmm). So focus on what's unique about this idea, why can I do it better than anyone else and am I prepared to keep working on it. If it passes all those tests it's probably worth doing, but don't spread yourself too thin!

ChrisSpurr Thu 17-Oct-13 20:58:34

GNICHOLLS

Hi,

Quick question:
I run a website that is getting approx 3000 Unique hits a day, I have google adsense but was wondering how I go about getting private advertisers to advertise there brands on my website?

You could look into using smaller, niche advertising networks, which target audiences really well for your business. I'm most familiar with ones I associate with creative industries, and I know networks like influads.com and carbonads.net/ can be great for facilitating this sort of thing.

ReLIKEAbbe Thu 17-Oct-13 20:58:30

Just wanted to say - this is a really great webchat/resource... so many questions and ideas. Thanks

DanPosner Thu 17-Oct-13 20:55:59

nobutreally

Hi :-)
I'm SE/running my own business for over 9 years (B2B/consultancy area) and currently looking to partner up with a couple of long term mate/partners to set up more of a real brand/identity

What would be your advice ito what business format to look at (we're thinking informal partnership - but people keep trying to push us towards Ltd Company); and what do you think are the advantages & disadvantages of going into business with people you like....

TIA

Difficult to give advice on this one - it very much depends on your personal and business circumstances. The link below provides a quick intro but if you have a good accountant I would start with discussing it with them.

www.smarta.com/advice/starting-up/company-formation/company-formats-and-business-structures-explained/

cyclemater Thu 17-Oct-13 20:54:51

ps apologies saw this webchat advertised 5 minutes ago and scan read it to beat the deadline. I see now it is about online business queries so my question is not at all appropriate. sorry!!

JustineMumsnet (MNHQ) Thu 17-Oct-13 20:53:39

GNICHOLLS

Hi,

Quick question:
I run a website that is getting approx 3000 Unique hits a day, I have google adsense but was wondering how I go about getting private advertisers to advertise there brands on my website?

See my answer to RubyRR below/above, depending on your customised settings. Also you could create a page saying "how to advertise with us and why you should" and run your own ads directing folks to that page.

cyclemater Thu 17-Oct-13 20:52:23

I have designed a product that is manufactured in the UK. It will be launched in Feb 2014, the factory we are working with only has capacity for 5000 handmade items per year. If we receive orders in excess of that we will need to invest in injection moulding and larger production premises where can I go for advice on how to set up manufacturing? It is important to our brand that the manufacturing stays in the UK.

giveamonkeys Thu 17-Oct-13 20:52:11

Do you think CSR/charitable engagement could/should play a part in founding a biz?

Adair Thu 17-Oct-13 20:52:03

Hi all,
InMySpareTime and the poster who talked about pricing yourself, I agree that it can be really hard to say I want £xxx per hour without feeling guilty (is this a -conditioned- female thing?). I am learning to have high value/charges on my time and then reduce/offering freebies for those who are deserving!

Which leads on to my next question for Justine... Not sure about you but
I kind of want to do everything! I see opportunities for pop-up shops and think I could do that! Or opportunities for classes for little ones, or adults classes (I run drama classes for kids in Walthamstow). Do you have a strategy for deciding which avenues to say YES to? And do you regret any of these avenues you said yes to (or no!)?

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