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).

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

Bespoke Software Fills The Gap!

Bespoke software fills the gap between off-the-shelf solutions and your business requirements.

Purchased off-the-shelf solutions often provide most of the functionality a business needs, but often they find that their business processes don’t quite match the generic processes these solutions provide, not only that but often you are paying for functionality you probably don’t want and functionality you don’t need.

An example is where businesses use a standard accounting package that doesn’t match their sales order processing process, bespoke software can fill this gap, enabling you to take advantage of the lower costs associated with these types of applications and investing in the specific needs that these solutions don’t provide.

There are numerous other examples where bespoke software can help you, as a business, make the most of your existing investments

Examples of where bespoke software can help are with duplication, where information has to be entered multiple times into various different applications, this is not only a labour intensive operation but often leads to errors resulting in data varying between one application and another.

Don’t discount your existing solutions just because they don’t quite fit as often bespoke software can provide a viable solution without having to re-invent the wheel! Customised solutions of vertical market applications can offer huge savings and enable you to harness the functionality that drew you to the specific product in the first place.

At CodeSpinner, we focus on working with SME’s, these are our core market and we believe we understand them because we are one as well. This is important because we understand the business issues that our clients face.

Some questions you should be asking are:

  • Do we know what our business needs in order to be able to choose the right solution?
  • Does the software developer understand our business? Do they have a process that will enable them to find out?
  • Do they undertake a full requirements capture that challenges our needs?
  • Do we go down the off-the-shelf route, or do we go for a bespoke solution?
  • Will the end product give us the functionality we require to solve the key business issues which highlighted the need in the first place?
  • Can we live with 70-80% of the functionality we require if we utilise an off-the-shelf solution?

Whilst this not a definitive list of questions these will certainly help kick-start the process you then start to think about your requirements more fully.

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

Setting up a Facebook page

How to create a Business Facebook Page.

Want to make the most of Facebook for your business? Here’s how.

Facebook accounts in the UK number over 30 million. If you’re looking to tap into the marketing potential of Facebook or improve your own sites SEO ranking the first thing you need to do is create a business page. These are the steps and we show you how to make the most of this social media portal.

To Start
First you will obviously need a personal Facebook account. If you already have one great If not you may wish to create a separate business account so your employees can login and edit the company page. If you want to advertise on Facebook it will be tied to this account so a separate profile makes this easier to manage and control if the person who normally manages this task leaves.

Where to Click
The first challenge you have is finding where to create your business page. The link you need is often hidden away amongst the hundreds of options on your profile page. To get started the page you need is http://www.facebook.com at the bottom of the page you will see a set of links.

Mobile · Find friends · Badges · People · Pages · About · Advertising · Create a Page · Developers · Careers · Privacy

Select “Create a Page” (marked in red above)

Choosing Your Page Type
When you select ‘Create a Page’ you then have to choose from the following options:

•    Local Business or Place
•    Company, Organisation or Institution
•    Brand or Product
•    Artist, Band or Public Figure
•    Entertainment
•    Cause or Community

Once you have chosen your page type you can choose a category. It is important to select the one which accurately matches your organisation as users will often search for companies using this field. For example, a restaurant would go into the ‘Food/ Beverages’ category where as a magazine should go into the ‘Media/News/Publishing’ category.

Basic Information.
1.     Profile Photo: Here you have the option to upload an image. This should be your most up to date company logo in a square format – this same image (or a cropped square version) will also appear next to your updates.

2.    Get Fans: This is an excellent opportunity to start promoting your page straight away. If you know a number of high profile users it would be worth inviting them to view your page. If you already have a comprehensive list of contacts you can upload an Outlook, Constant Contact or .csv file and Facebook will alert the users of your new page. This is a fantastic option for a company like an online florist, who may already have a valuable list of emails for customers, clients and suppliers.

3.    Basic Info: Here you have the opportunity to add your website. This is worth doing as you can gain a valuable back link which can direct social users to your main domain. You also have 255 characters to summarise your company. This should convey your page’s proposition and unique selling point. I would also suggest including your main keywords and location to help the page appear in relevant Facebook search results.

The Detail.
Once you have created your page the real work can begin. Click ‘edit page’ in the top right-hand corner and enter as much information about your company as possible. When it comes to creating a Facebook page the more you give out the more you will get back. If you enter your address details you will appear for local searches i.e. ‘Computer Shop Brighton’. Similarly if you enter awards the company has won, this will give the page and your business more credibility.

If you have any photos they are worth uploading to send a visual message to the user. If you are a local store load pictures of your shop and displays, if you’re a restaurant include pictures of your best dishes. Similarly, a retail shop should display pictures of their most popular products. This can be done by going to the photos tab in the left hand column.

Get Connected.
Now your page is ready. The final steps to setting up your Facebook page are to make sure you are connected to the right people.

If you go to ‘edit page’ and visit the resources tab you can link the page to your Twitter profile. This section also gives you the option to install ‘social plug-ins’ like the ‘Like Button’ on your website. This is worth doing as it enables you to transfer website users into Facebook fans.  In turn this will help you build up a quality customer base and create valuable remarketing opportunities.

Permissions and Settings.
Finally you have the option of managing the permissions of your page. Here you can control what users can post on your wall. You can limit their posting ability by posts, pictures or videos.
You also have the choice of choosing what the default landing tab will be. This is worth testing and will be different for each company. For example, a news website will want their default landing tab to be the wall due to constantly streaming fresh content.  However a local computer store may want to display their information tab to prompt an enquiry as quick as possible.

Custom URL.
When you first create your Facebook page it will give you a long URL with lots of numbers. To get your own custom URL you will need to attract at least 25 fans. Once you have done this you have the opportunity to change the URL to http://www.facebook.com/CompanyName to do this simply go to http://www.facebook.com/username/ and edit the page username.

Creating a Facebook page is an excellent way to stay in contact with not only your core customers but with potential customers as well.

After you have successfully created a business page you can link to it from your own website, e-mail campaigns or other social profiles.

Once live, it is important to keep a regular stream of content populating the wall. Information, pictures and unique content will keep users coming back for more and will also enable you to build up a quality list of contacts for marketing opportunities.

For a free ebook entitled “Search Engine Optimisation Made Easy” visit CodeSpinner

If you would like to learn more about social networking, or would simply like to discuss your online presence or website requirements contact me at:

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

Why Should I Blog!

Whether you are a one man/woman business, boss of a small business or even the CEO of a multi-national you simply cannot afford not to blog.

The days when blogging was a niche pastime for spotty kids or bored students is long gone, the reasons today for blogging are many, not least of which is to promote your business.

So what are the reasons?

Blogs give you a way to reach out to clients.

One reason is to allow you to open a dialogue between you, your customers and your potential customers. You most likely have a good idea who your customers are, which products or services they are buying but how well do you know the customer.

Sure leaflets, newsletters and advertising will allow you to get your message across but blogging allows them to speak up as well.

The comment or response functionality of your blog allows your customers to tell you what they think as well as allowing them to learn more about your business.

This allows you to interact with your customers learn more about what they want, their needs, if the customer thinks you care, if they believe you are interested in what they have to say they are more likely to stay with you; there is no greater sales tool than word of mouth from satisfied customers.

Blogs can increase traffic to your business site.

Another reason is SEO If you’re having trouble with search engine ranking for your website then a blog might just be what you need. We all know that search engines love blogs. With some strategic blogging, you can increase traffic to your business website. And if someone finds your blog through keywords in a search engine result, they are probably part of the audience you are trying to reach.

If you are constantly posting new articles to your blog, then you can be sure that the search engines will notice. Keep adding new articles and useful content to your blog and you can expect your page ranking to improve.

You can build a following

When you post good information on a regular basis you will build a group of loyal followers. In time, they will get to know you and your business; your readers can become your biggest champions, providing referrals and leads.

A blog is much easier to maintain than a newsletters or electronic mailing list and what’s more, the contact between the business and the customers is immediate since your blog can easily be updated from wherever you have computer access. If you need help to setup your blog or just need advice about a web presence then we at CodeSpinner can help we offer a full range of services and skills at affordable prices.

Of course, blogging isn’t for everyone. It takes time, a commitment and accurate, interesting relevant material, you will need to post regularly, provide information that’s valuable to your customers, and be willing to interact with and learn from them.

One of the biggest challenges for bloggers is sticking to a regular schedule, we are all busy, and a blog post is yet another item on the to-do list, but once you start writing, especially if you are writing about something you’re passionate about, it just starts to flow and ultimately you will be glad you did it…and hopefully you’ll be advancing your business prospects in the process.

For a free ebook entitled “Search Engine Optimisation Made Easy” visit CodeSpinner

If you would like to learn more about blogging, or would simply like to discuss your online presence or website requirements contact me at:

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

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