Top 5 Start-Up Questions

  1. What Kind of person makes a successful entrepreneur
    If you take a cross section of successful entrepreneurs you will see certain characteristics they have in common, whilst not a guarantee to success it is worth asking yourself if you have any of these attributes.
  • A strong desire to work for themselves and do things their way
  • A history of making good decisions
  • An ability to see the whole picture of where the business is and where it needs to be
  • A high energy level for the inevitable long hours
  • A thorough knowledge of the area that the business is positioned in
  • Ability to persevere when things become more challenging

Whilst it is not essential to tick all the boxes straight away, more crosses than ticks would certainly highlight a cause for concern; however, it may be that further training or investigation would go some way to turning crosses into ticks.

  1. Should I have a business plan?
    A business plan is necessary because it not only summarises both your vision of the future but gives a roadmap to follow towards ensuring your success.

The plan should include (but not limited to) initial start-up details, future direction, who is who, and projected profit and loss, cash flows and assets, the plan should include as a minimum:

  • A table of contents
  • A page identifying the company
  • An ‘Executive Page’ giving an overview of who you are, where you are and where you intend to be.
  • The background of where you and the business came from and skills possessed.
  • A Marketing plan summarising how you will promote your business and products
  • Financial forecasts and statements showing expected performance
  1. How do I estimate start-up costs and expenses?
    You need to know up front what your start-up expenses are going to be, without that information you have no way of knowing how much capital you need to get the business off the ground and running even if you are intending to be self financing you need to know whether you are going to hit cash flow problems. You need to find the costs of business premises (unless you are working from home) , rent, rates, telephones etc.
  1. Analysis of Monthly Cash Flow.
    Your projected financial figures may differ substantially from ‘Actual’ income, ongoing analysis will highlight whether you are accumulating enough cash to cover operating expenses as well as showing hopefully when there is an excess of cash to make purchases or expand your operation.
  1. The Competition.
    All businesses have competition, it is vital that you know who your competition are their prime concern is to get the business that you are now hoping to get, analyse how they get their business, their products their ‘uniqueness’ (the reason the customers chose them in the first place) their prices, their strengths and weaknesses.

If you would like any help or advice with your web presence or would like more information on cloud contact us.

At CodeSpinnewe have over 25 years experience of producing custom software.

If you would like to get more tips, or would like to receive a free 90 page eBook on Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) please visit http://www.codespinner.co.uk/free-ebook.html

Alternatively if you would like us to discuss your software requirements contact me at:

Tel: 07850 009750
Email: info@codespinner.co.uk
Website: http://www.codespinner.co.uk/
Twitter: @CodeSpinner

Tell me and I’ll forget, show me and I will remember, involve me and I will understand (old chinese proverb).

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10 Things to Remember When Running Your Own Business.

Running your own business can be exciting, rewarding and stressful (not necessarily in that order), but life will be a little easier if you follow the following tips.

1.      Be passionate about your business
Work can and should be fun, having a passion for what you do makes coping with difficulties that little bit easier, regularly take time to think about why you enjoy being your own boss.

2.      Be flexible
It is a fact of life that plans will change from time to time; you need the flexibility to be able to cope with rapid change.

3.      Make timely decisions
It is ok to rely on intuition by all means plan and think about things, but don’t miss opportunities through lack of faith in your judgement. Don’t jump in to a new business venture without thought or planning but don’t wait for months either, try to find a happy medium most people benefit from a little pressure under fire.

4.      Don’t be afraid to fail
Learn from failure the alternative is to never try anything, if all captains went down with their ships there would be no captains left, hindsight is a wonderful thing, pick yourself up and assess what you would do differently. Remember you can’t run a business without taking risks, don’t let fear hold you back.

5.      Self Belief
You have to believe in yourself and your company, confidence is contagious both to employees and customers.

6.      Maintain a strong work ethic
Employees will follow your lead; it will help beat competition and maintain your edge with customers and suppliers.

7.      Your biggest asset is you!
Take care of yourself; your health is more valuable than anything maintain a healthy balance between work and family life.

8.      Step out of your comfort zone.
Periodically we all need to leave our comfort zone; there will be many times when you will feel uneasy implementing change.  So long as you mitigate the risks change can be good so long as it’s managed.

9.      Bounce back!
Learn from setbacks and move on.

10. Accept honest or justified criticism.
You won’t always get it right and just because you are the boss doesn’t make it right.

If you would like any help or advice with your web presence or would like more information on cloud contact us.

At CodeSpinnewe have over 25 years experience of producing custom software.

If you would like to get more tips, or would like to receive a free 90 page eBook on Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) please visit http://www.codespinner.co.uk/free-ebook.html

Alternatively if you would like us to discuss your software requirements contact me at:

Tel: 07850 009750
Email: info@codespinner.co.uk
Website: http://www.codespinner.co.uk/
Twitter: @CodeSpinner

Tell me and I’ll forget, show me and I will remember, involve me and I will understand (old chinese proverb).

How Good Is Your Software Team

Just how well does your software team rate? Answer the following questions it won’t take a minute honest.

  1. Do you use source control?
  2. Do you do daily builds?
  3. Do you use bug tracking?
  4. Do you fix bugs before adding more code?
  5. Do you have an up to date project plan?
  6. Do you have a specification?
  7. Do your developers have a quiet environment?
  8. Do you have testers?
  9. Do you do UAT testing?
  10. Do new developers have to write code at their interview?

Didn’t take long did it now let’s look them in turn.

1. Source control is a must have, not only does it keep your precious source code safe but developers don’t usually know what the last developer did, how good he was, whether the code he checked in actually builds. A good source control versions your code, keeps a history and allows roll backs to an earlier version.

2. Unless you perform regular builds on your code you never know what state it is in till you come to work on it. The process can be automated not only to build the whole codebase on a regular basis but to create single step checkout and builds (overnight if required) the more steps you need to get to the point of building the code the more prone to errors. Daily builds on the whole code base will highlight errors such as a developer checking back in the code but forgetting to checking new classes or libraries, the code will obviously build on his machine but won’t for anyone else checking out the code (even worse if he locks his machine and goes on holiday).

3. Without an organised listing of bugs you are going to ship not only low quality code but probably re ship the code with reported bugs unfixed, you can’t keep all of the bugs in your head. As a minimum your bug tracker must keep:-

  • Steps to recreate the bug
  • Expected behaviour (without the bug)
  • Who spotted the bug
  • Who is to or has fixed the bug
  • Current status of the bug

4. If you are not fixing the bugs before adding more code you are simply compounding the problem, not only will it make bug fixing harder (you can’t even attempt to debug till the current code compiles) but you could well be introducing new bugs to the existing ones.

5. The code is important to the business, it is important for them to know when the code is going to be ready, developers are notorious for saying “however long it takes” unfortunately that doesn’t (and shouldn’t) cut any ice with the business,  they have to plan in advance for  when they expect to get ownership back of the code and the only way to do this is to plan ahead and keep the plan up to date, from the developers point this means that there is a good chance that you won’t suffer from “feature creep” and end up working on the code for the next ten years.

6. If there is one thing about spec’s it usually that everyone agrees you should have one but no one provides one.  As a result, when teams consisting solely of developers  approach the problem they go straight for a solution and dive straight in to coding resulting in much higher costs to fix any design or code issues. Software which wasn’t built using a specification quite often results in a badly designed product which doesn’t meet requirements and timelines spiral out of control.
7. We all know the developers work best when they can get into “the zone” where they can fully concentrate on their work, the trouble is that it is hard enough to get into “the zone” as it is without constant distractions, phone calls and the ever present “can you do this for me it won’t take you long” interruptions.

8. If your team doesn’t include at least 1 tester (ideally to every 3 developers) you are probably at best using a highly skilled developer to do a lower skilled job and at worst delivering buggy code to the business, saving money on not having testers is a false economy and can dramatically cut delivery times.

9. You simply have to have UAT testing, how many times are users given a new system and told to get on with it, more often than not they have had no input as to how the system works, scarily end users won’t even be asked what is wrong with the old system. UAT is an invaluable must have step in the process; no code should be delivered without first going through UAT.

10. Is there any other professional you would employ without first checking their work or at the very least have them highly recommended by someone you totally trust.You are placing a lot of trustthese people not to bring your business down, not to destroy the trust you earned for your business with your clients, every new developer should be asked to show competence to the level that the position requires.

 

If you would like any help or advice with your web presence or would like more information on cloud contact us.

At CodeSpinnewe have over 25 years experience of producing custom software.

If you would like to get more tips, or would like to receive a free 90 page eBook on Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) please visit http://www.codespinner.co.uk/free-ebook.html

Alternatively if you would like us to discuss your software requirements contact me at:

Tel: 07850 009750
Email: info@codespinner.co.uk
Website: http://www.codespinner.co.uk/
Twitter: @CodeSpinner

Tell me and I’ll forget, show me and I will remember, involve me and I will understand (old chinese proverb).

What is cloud computing and what can it do for me

The term cloud is used as a metaphor for the internet. Cloud computing is a general term for anything which involves delivered hosted services over the internet.

In broad terms a cloud service has three characteristics which differentiate it from traditional hosting, these are;

  1. It is provided on demand (by the minute or hour in some cases)
  2. It is scalable (a user can have as little or as much as they want)
  3. the service is fully managed by the vendor (you typically only require a computer and internet access)

Cloud computing promises to speed application deployment and lower costs, whilst increasing business agility. It has transformed the way we design, build and deliver applications to the users. Have you used a search engine today?, have you accessed web mail if so you are already using cloud services.

There are public clouds, private clouds and hybrid clouds but don’t let the jargon put you off, everyone agrees that cloud computing is the key to the future of I.T but lots of these people are unsure of what it is. Many companies are jumping on the bandwagon to offer “cloud services” so it is worth understanding such terms as SaaS (software as a service) or PaaS (platform as a service) or IaaS (infrastructure as a service) to name a few if you need to evaluate a suppliers claims.

Cloud computing has some real benefits but also has risks such as loss of services if your provider has downtime or worse still goes out of business also regulatory concerns over data security so choose your vendor carefully.

I recently setup a really simple system for a plumber who lives down the street; he already had an iPhone, an Apple Mac and an iPad although in his words he wasn’t really sure what to do with them. During our conversation he mentioned that his wife mans the phone at home and jots down all of his incoming appointments then rings him at regular intervals to give him the new list, if the call is urgent she tries to call him straight away, within 10 minutes we had connected his Apple Mac, iPhone and iPad calendar applications up to iCloud (he was familiar with the calendar app anyway), now when his wife enters the call details into a time slot on the calendar app on the Mac the appointment appears on his iPhone and iPad almost instantly and any Urgent appointments are highlighted in red, he now knows exactly when and where he should be, what the problem is before he gets there, the address and customer name and contact details and it cost him nothing as he already had the technology simple, but had this come up a year or two ago it would have been a little more difficult and a lot more expensive to achieve, it’s certainly not the best solution to his problem but it works for him and cost him nothing.

The reason for the anecdote above is to show that the “Cloud” isn’t frightening or intimidating, it’s not the answer to everything but in certain cases it does exactly what it says on the tin.

To conclude, here are a few more terms you may want to research if you want to know more, it is a fascinating subject.

Utility Computing
SaaS
– Software as a service
PaaS – Platform as a service
IaaS – Infrastructure as a service
RIA – Rich internet application
Multi-tenancy
Public, Private, Hybrid Clouds
Virtualisation

If you would like any help or advice with your web presence or would like more information on cloud contact us.

At CodeSpinnewe have over 25 years experience of producing custom software.

If you would like to get more tips, or would like to receive a free 90 page eBook on Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) please visit http://www.codespinner.co.uk/free-ebook.html

Alternatively if you would like us to discuss your software requirements contact me at:

Tel: 07850 009750
Email: info@codespinner.co.uk
Website: http://www.codespinner.co.uk/
Twitter: @CodeSpinner

Tell me and I’ll forget, show me and I will remember, involve me and I will understand (old chinese proverb).

 

Tips on improving your copywriting skills

Now is the time to start taking advantage of all the existing and emerging social media platforms currently available to you. Whether you are a business looking after your own social media campaigns, or a consultant working on behalf of a client, it important to get it right and this is where learning even the basics of copywriting skills will pay dividends.

Social media has been around for some time, initially these were great platforms to help build brand awareness and gain user interaction in fact they still are, however, in some instances they can be used to help drive traffic and improve conversion rates as well as playing a huge part in a business’s rankings with the many search engines.

Now is the time to start taking social media more seriously, whether it’s getting the basics right, or in understanding social media strategies, the following copywriting tips are worth remembering when using any media platform:

Spelling and Content

There is nothing worse than visiting a site that contains spelling mistakes or content that doesn’t read well, from a business perspective this will at best this makes the company look unprofessional and careless and at worst it can put a stop to any user interaction, rendering the whole process pointless.

Don’t beat about the bush

Whether you are writing a full page or trying to tweet a message in 140 characters or less, it is important that the message is to the point, any followers will simply lose interest if the message is “wordy” and not to the point, this doesn’t mean avoid having a personality it just means be clear and concise in what you are trying to convey.

Don’t lose the connection

Keep a clear connection between your brand image and social media personality it is an all too common mistake for many brands using social media, for example, a company may have the perception of being vibrant, new and exciting, but their social media activity may not reflect this, so write in a way that will enhance your brand image, whatever that may be.

Be creative!

It is important to focus on getting the user to click on a link, or to look at something you have shared, one way to do this is to be a little more creative with your posts or tweets, so instead of tweeting, “Here are some copywriting tips”, you could create more interest for example by saying, “For tips on improving your copywriting skills, follow this link”.

Make time!

It is all too easy to forget about updating social media content, especially if you are busy, however, every little helps, one way is to set yourself reminders to send out a tweet or update your status at various intervals during the day even if you can’t find time to post a full article.

Set aside some time to actually engage in online conversations with others, the more “active” you are the better this will be for your company’s exposure.

Most of all – Enjoy it!

The whole point of social media is to engage with others this is why it is important to enjoy the experience and not go for the hard sell which will put people off.

Potential customers or clients would rather take time to talk and engage with a company that is actively seeking their interaction rather than abruptly trying to push their products or services onto them.

Above all have fun! this will show in the way you write and the way other people perceive you or your business don’t see it as a chore but rather an integral and important part of online marketing.

At CodeSpinnewe have over 25 years experience of producing custom software.

If you would like to get more tips, or would like to receive a free 90 page eBook on Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) please visit http://www.codespinner.co.uk/free-ebook.html

Alternatively if you would like us to discuss your software requirements contact me at:

Tel: 07850 009750
Email: info@codespinner.co.uk
Website: http://www.codespinner.co.uk
Twitter: @CodeSpinner

10 Top SEO Tips

Content must be unique.
You need to provide content that is unique it’s no good copying content from other sites the search engines will look at identical content and work out who created it.

Add new content all the time.
Sites that are adding content on a regular basis are seen as more reliable this also helps you to increase the amount of relevant content on your site, which in turn improves your rankings.

Keyword Analysis
The first thing you should do when working on search engine optimization is find which keywords and phrases to use for your site. Keyword analysis is an on-going task in SEO

Choose a keyword phrases that are popular, but not too popular.
When trying to decide on a keyword phrase, you want to find one that is popular but not extremely popular. This may seem counter-intuitive, but the reality is that extremely popular keywords are very desirable and so very competitive. It’s better to try to optimize for keywords that you can rank higher with. You will generate more page views from a less popular keyword when you are on the first or second page of the search engines, than from a popular keyword that only gets you on to page 50 of the search engines.

Create an accessible site.
Makes sure the HTML is accessible to both search engine spiders and screen readers. The more accessible you make your pages, the easier it will be for search engines to read and rank your pages (check the pages against http://validator.w3.org).

Use your chosen keyword phrase in your title tag.
The title tag is one of the most important tags on your Web page it is the first tag the search engines look at and is often overlooked. Placing your keyword phrase in the title tag, preferably at the beginning is very important to get that phrase into the search engines. Plus it puts your keyword phrase as the link in the search engine index.

If possible get a domain with your keyword phrase in.
Putting your keyword phrase in your domain name is a great way to optimize for that phrase.

Use the keyword phrase in your URL.
Even if you can’t get your keywords into your domain name, you can put them into your page URLs. Search engines read the URLs and assign value to the text they find there.

Use your keyword phrase often, but not too much.
The ratio of your keywords phrases to the rest of the text on your page is called the keyword density. It’s important to repeat your keywords in your document, but not too much. Keyword density should be between 3% and 7% for your primary keyword phrase and 1%-2% for any secondary keywords or keyword phrases.

Use your keyword phrase in anchor text of links.
Link text is another great place to put your keyword phrase, links stand out on most web pages, and so are given higher priority than surrounding text.

If you would like to get more tips, or would like to receive a free 90 page eBook on Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) please visit http://www.codespinner.co.uk/free-ebook.html

Alternatively if you would like us to perform the SEO tasks for you and get your site noticed contact me at:

Tel: 07850009750
Email: info@codespinner.co.uk
Website: http://www.codespinner.co.uk

Why do I need a website?

How many businesses today still remark “why do I need a website?” and how many business have a website that looks fantastic, has flash, video, sound and music, cost a fortune and doesn’t attract a single customer.

At Codespinner in Hull our local advisors are all trained in sales, marketing and website design, we do not simply employ graphic designers to make pretty looking websites. Your website should be a business tool that should benefit your business.

There are three main ways a website can help your business:

  • Save Money
  • Save Time
  • Make Money

A website is the most flexible and cost effective way to keep in contact with your customers, inform them of your latest offers/events/news. Studies have shown that regular communication with your customers will improve loyalty to your business and therefore they’re likely to spend more with your business.

At Codespinner we know exactly how to fine tune your website to your marketing activities to ensure you spend less but gain more from your campaigns.

How do you advertise currently? A website will allow you to advertise yourself 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Direct them to your website that provides full details about your business, a website provides a second shop window to attract more customers and raise the profile of your business over a greater area. Can you afford not to have one?

If you would like a free consultation with no hard sell, at a time and place of you choosing contact me at:

Tel: 07850 009750
Email: info@codespinner.co.uk
Or visit http://www.codespinner.co.uk

for all your website and online profile requirements in Hull, Bridlington and East Yorkshire

Starting a business on a shoestring

Make sure there is a demand for your service or products.

Unless you are rich and can stand the losses you don’t have room for trial and error, a business needs demand to survive and it doesn’t matter if its products you are selling or a service you are providing.  Market research is a must.

No Excess fat.

Forget the fancy office, fancy shop and the company BMW, if you can start from home if you are in the business of sales consider online or markets and fairs, rent instead of buy if you and your business are viable then the rest will come with time.

Illusion – Look bigger than you are.

Build a professional website (or have one built for you) don’t let people know you are a one man band working from home, answer the phone professionally it costs nothing look for special offers there are plenty of companies offering a batch of business cards cheap, you may get a better deal if the same company produces the rest of the stationary, haggle they need your business and expect haggling when you are selling the less expenses the better you need money coming in.

Passion

if you haven’t a passion for your business then save your money and carry on working for someone else. Believe me things are going to be hard if you are not committed then don’t do it working for yourself is hard work, you will need to go the extra mile if you are to succeed, long hours, heartache and disappointment precede a successful business.

 Balance the Books!

When possible take the cash option, you won’t have the luxury of 60 or 90 days credit, so where possible get the money from your customers as quickly as possible if your service takes time ask for a deposit or staged payments get the cash coming in and keep it that way

If you hold a stock purchase only what you can sell, avoid overstocks which are often sold later at a reduced profit or even a loss.

Reinvest.

Once the money starts coming in keep a percentage to re invest in the business, avoid taking from the business if possible the flash car will wait a month or so, remember anything sold must be replaced if you are to keep going.

Choose an online profile partner

A huge percentage of purchases are made online, in fact people research online before purchasing, all businesses these days require an online presence, we can supply a website at a fixed cost, the site will not only look good but will work for your business and regardless of the number of pages you require the price is fixed take a look at our site (Here)  to see what you get

And finally!

Good Luck!

Software Development

Fixed price web site design

2012 Business Plans

Hi,

Well christmas is over for another year, now is the time to take a long hard look at your business plans for the new year, unless you are 100% happy with your advertising. online profile or amount of business you had last year (and how many of us are 🙂 ) now is the time to get someone to look at your online profile.

At Activ we not only build fixed price web sites, but we also look at the bigger picture, sure for £499 your not going to get all the bells and whistles  but you  will get enough of them to make sure your site works for your business rather than just sit there looking pretty. Companies can spend a fortune on a web presence which their web designer tells them they need, it will probably look fantastic with images gliding gracefully across the screen whilst christmas video’s play in the corner and snow gently slides down the screen but chances are, after 6 months the site will still be looking just as pretty and still not generating business for you. just look at some of the highest grossing sites, amazon.co.uk, is it the best looking site you ever saw?, how about PC World, Argos to name but a few, the difference between these companies is that their site are built to a) work for the business and b) be easy to use by the customer, do you visit these sites to sit and look at the graphics or sit and watch a 5 minute video of their products whizzing around the screen.. No and they know that.

The point I am trying to make is if you want a site that works hard for your business then come and talk to us (Activ) , if you want the site to just look pretty we probably can’t help you.

We offer a full range of help and advice to make your online presence the best we can from fixed price wesites £499, to full e-Commerce sites at £999 as well consultancy, photography in fact everything you need online.

Happy New Year!

For all you online profile advice and web sites in Hull and Bridlington Codespinner Ltd

or call 07850 009750, email: info@codespinner.co.uk

Created Twitter…

Created Twitter & Facebook accounts ready for the Activ franchise areas to build websites in Hull & websites in Bridlington also setup ready for Activ Rotherham Social watch this space….