On Tuesday we were joined by Matt Pyke, a young entrepreneur and founder of Fly High Media to discuss starting and scaling a business in 2020. A marketing specialist, the focus was on making digital work for you.
Matt started his business whilst at University, teaching himself skills such as web design and SEO from his dorm room whilst studying Marketing Management. In the second year, he started renting a desk in Innospace – Manchester Met’s incubation hub. The benefit of working in an open space meant he was able to meet people and foster connections, but the true benefit comes from having a space in which you can invite others to come for meetings.
It might be shady, but I’d be amiss if I didn’t put in that he also mentioned that it wasn’t as nice as the Propeller Hub!
Nowadays, Matt has his own office in Cheshire and works from three other locations with his business partner and COO Denis Brzozowski, whose business Wolfden Creative he acquired.
Brass tax: 91% of start-ups are still going after their 1st year. Great news. After 5 years that drops down to 40%, according to Matt. So, how do you keep going? How do you ensure you try your hardest and only give up if it’s the best decision? For Matt, it’s all about having a cast-iron determination to succeed, resilience in the face of hardship and a tenacity to keep putting himself out there.
“Being an entrepreneur isn’t really about starting a business. It’s a way of looking at the world: seeing opportunity where others see obstacles, taking risks when others take refuge.”
Start with ‘why’. Ask yourself ‘why’ you want to do this. In fact, ask yourself 2 ‘why’ questions:
- Why do you want to run your own business?
Perhaps you want to pursue a particular passion, you’re dissatisfied workling for others, or you don’t like the strict 9-5 regime.
- Why is your business going to be successful, when so many others fail?
Maybe your idea meets a client need that nobody else does, makes use of a gap in the market or provides an already successful product or service with greater cost effectiveness.
Promoting your business
One of the first things you’re going to want to set up is a website. That way, whatever else you do will lead there. When choosing a name, avoid hyphens, ensure it’s searchable and doesn’t have any strange spellings that will make it difficult for people to find you. The general steps are:
- Buy domain
- Purchase web hosting and email hosting
- Get an SSL certificate (so consumers trust your site)
- Use security plugins
- Register for Google My Business
- Create a sitemap and submit to Google (add-ons like Yoast SEO can do this for you)
You know you need to share, but you’re not sure what content is right. You might post something on Facebook to roaring success, but receive very little on LinkedIn. It’s important to understand the different audiences and respect what content people expect to find. If you’re working Business to Business (B2B) then LinkedIn is ideal for client case studies, but not as a podcast (people are at work and won’t want to listen). Getting the right content is key. Here’s some examples:
LinkedIn: upload video, pdf, articles, paid ads and use it for networking.
Facebook: great for video, paid advertising, conversations in Facebook groups and posting graphics with short-form content.
Twitter: Ideal for videos, news articles and images of events. A very current platform for up to date news.
Instagram: Images and video for behind-the-scenes, Instagram TV and sharing graphics.
For a lot of start-ups, there are tools that can make life a lot easier, but knowing where to look can be a problem.
Productivity tools such as Trello can be really beneficial for organising activity, sharing calendars and allocation resources. Another useful tool can be accounting software that creates automatic invoices, works out VAT, mileage, keeps receipts and connects straight to the bank. Sales and marketing tools vary dramatically depending on what you need to do, but a lot of the basics are about being found, keeping an eye on your audience and making improvements to make their life as easy as possible. Communication tools can be used for a variety of things such as collaborating remotely or having conference calls.
A good starting point can be:
Productivity: Gsuite, Trello
Accounting: Quick Books, Wave
Sales: HubSpot (inbound)
Marketing tools: Google My Business (search engine presence), Drift (autoboots and live chat), Google Analytics (metrics)
Communication: Slack and Google Hangouts (virtual coworking space), Zoom and Skype (conference call)
- Build your brand
- Build systems into your business
- Work with others
- Keep customers happy
- Optimise service-based business operations
- Optimise product-based businesses
Build your brand
Especially for SME’s and sole traders, building your brand is everything. You need to become well-known, respectable and the first choice in a highly competitive landscape. To do this, a content-led strategy in which you post regular, engaging content is appropriate.
Creating and posting quality content weekly not only shows that you’re active, but that you keep up to date with current trends and at the front of industry changes. Blogging, creating podcasts or making a video are great ways to demonstrate your expertise. A consistent post schedule will allow people to expect the same dedication from you to your clients.
Another good way to gain credibility and exposure is to guest-write for leading industry publications. These can be trade magazines or blogs in your area, which you should be reading regularly. For digital marketing, these include sites such as Social Media Examiner and Prolific North.
It’s important that people know who you are. You want to be seen and become a familiar face wherever possible. With that in mind, post selfies, attend networking events and put yourself forward for awards.
Build systems into your business
To keep things running smoothly, it’s important to have processes in place. For Matt, this involves having a specific process for onboarding new clients and keeping a record of it; checking his bank account every day and paying any invoices.
Other processes like checking your website security can be regularly scheduled. For tasks that occur less frequently, having a written set of instructions can make things quicker and ensure the correct information is collected, for example creating a system for contracts or taking on new employees.
Work with others
You don’t always have to employ others in order to take on more work. Taking on freelancers is not only a great way of tapping into someone’s specialist knowledge but helps to build networks. You only need to hire them when you need them, but those relationships can help push work in either direction. Similarly, your competitors don’t need to be your nemeses. Find out what they do differently and join forces; perhaps there’s a bid that you both want to apply for, or they can help you engage a different market.
Keep customers happy
Pretty straight-forward, right? Make it as easy as possible for your customers to engage with you, to receive information and learn about what other products or services you can provide. Keep an eye on what they are doing and offer suggestions based on other aspects of their work they aren’t necessarily thinking about adapting just yet.
Optimise service-based business operations
- Provide clear, simple and transparent results
- Ask for regular feedback
- If you didn’t receive the work, ask why you didn’t win
- Monitor your best source of leads
Optimise product-based businesses
- Create best customer experience
- Make safety your priority
- Continually innovate and be different
- Monitor website traffic sources
- Review ROI each month
It was a very informative evening, providing a great overview of resources and advice when starting up. Have a look around, find what’s applicable to your business and let us know how it goes. If you