Intro: Start-up to Stable
We are so glad that you’re here!
Elle Moss, founder & CEO of Drew London, has created this guide to support you on your start-up to scale-up journey. Elle has experienced the pain and pleasures first-hand of starting a business, with over 16 years of experience helping wonderful clients along their journeys to success!
This guide will share stories, tips, advice and useful links.
We hope you find this guide useful, and in true Elle style, if you need any further support her door is always open – hit the link to book a no-commitment meeting.
Let us begin!
You’ve met a challenge, tried to solve the problem, couldn’t find quite the right solution – BINGO! Business idea bells explode in your brain; this is the beginning of your start-up journey, and we could not be more excited for you!
First, some stories:
Why did I set up Drew? Well, I wanted to create an agency that nurtured others, had an incredible work-life balance (I’d just had a baby and wanted to be present whilst he grew up!). Every single agency I worked for didn’t deliver, so I chose to go it alone. And now, 16 years later (and the ‘baby’ is now 6’4”!), I’m proud to say that I lead an agency with the most fantastic family supportive vibe. We nurture – hence this guide.
Richard Canterbury, the founder of Love Struck, wasn’t getting enough fruit into his busy schedule. He would have piles of fruit heaped onto his desk at work yet never found the time to eat it all. Lightbulb moment – chop the ripe fruit up, pop it in bags, bung in the freezer; when you need your energy hit, grab a bag, whizz up with apple juice – BINGO! Richard now sells over 30 frozen fruit sachets and has expanded the product range to milkshakes, soups, bone broth, and brilliant cocktails! Sold across the world, bringing fresh, delicious, right every single time smoothies to everyone!
Emmy Scarterfield, the founder of Emmy London, was getting married and could not find beautiful shoes that complimented her dress and were comfortable enough to wear all day long. She was appalled by the number of brides who would be dancing barefoot by the end of the evening. Emmy was a qualified and successful shoe designer, and she set about finding the right workshop and designing a limited number of ‘heals and toes’ that could be customised for the bride for her special day. This truly global brand has become a sought after brand and product range across shoes, bags, accessories and more recently, jewellery!
I have hundreds of stories, like these, that have found niches in the market, an audience who will buy and then have gone for it!
Don’t be afraid to share your vision, see if there’s an audience for it, but ensure you ask probing questions rather than “This is my idea….would you buy it?” Often, as you’re sharing with mums, dads, friends, and people who generally want to see you succeed, the answer can be skewed.
The Mom Test – kudos to this book executes a series of questions to understand what people think about your brilliant idea.
Once you are certain that your idea can work, is needed, and doesn’t exist as brilliantly as you envision, go for it! Let us turn your brilliant idea into a beautiful reality!
Step 1: What’s in a name?
We often find naming tends to involve an exhilarating ‘eureka’ moment. You’ll have lots of these ‘eureka moments’ along your journey. Don’t forget to jot them down, make a memory, take a picture.
The rule of thumb for a brilliant name is short, as few syllables as possible, pronounceable, and an assurance that you’re not insulting somebody in their language – yes, really, this does happen!
Names should be so memorable you can ‘feel’ them – they are tangible and conjure up a personality, whether dictated or typed. For example, Drew London following was named after my wonderful Grandfather, Major George Drew, family names are often a great place to start.
Family names can tell a story, drive your values and generate a sense of unbounded protection of your start-up, given that the name is part of your family. Be mindful that naming a business after yourself can limit your growth and give an observer the feeling of ‘sole trader’; however, this is where a strong brand and messaging can overcome utilising your name.
The ‘sweet spot’ for a name is that it clearly describes your business, and it doesn’t torture logic; it does what it says on the tin, such as Rentokil and EasyJet.
Step 2: Companies House
You’ve settled on a name, or names, that you’re happy with exploring further; You need to make sure that your new name is available across all platforms.
Carry out four core searches:
Social Media Handles for Facebook, Insta, TikTok, LinkedIn, Twitter
Website URLs often .co.uk and .coms are no longer available – .io is great for tech platforms/offer, .co is a popular choice .org is you’re a not for profit.
Companies House to check on current or pre-existing businesses.
Trade Mark Search to assertain whether your choosen name and/or logo have any conflicting competition.
If there are, as far as you can tell, no conflicting names or similar products within the same arena, you are ready for step three.
Word of warning (this is the only part of the guide where I get a little tough!): Do not risk ‘just going for it’ even if you think there’s no conflict or you’re feeling bullish and don’t care. We have written this guide for your start-up to succeed, grow and make money. Trust me, when your bullishness ends up in a legally bound ‘cease and desist’ letter, the outcome is devastating, and you have to potentially start all over again.
Step 3: Ducks in a row
The name is registered (Companies House), the URL has been purchased, and you’ve secured your social handles… fantastic!
It’s time to get serious. Your business will grow, and potentially quickly, so there are some legal requirements to running your company.
Find a great accountant: I can highly recommend Alistair – and if he can’t help you, he will recommend someone suitable. Recommendations are trusted gold dust, and a great accountant will ensure you step forward with the right software (Xero, FreeAgent, SAGE) from the get-go.
They’ll ensure you know when your end of the year is due, how to record your tax return, how to keep HMRC happy, what’s a company claimable expense (and what’s not!), how to save money and how to spend money sensibly. They will grow with you as you approach and overtake the VAT threshold of £85,000/PA; as you employ others, they will effortlessly guide you through payroll and pension contributions which are legal requirements.
Going from a personal gmail.com email to your URL is a real milestone and essential for success as, essentially, your prospects will trust you more. Whether you’re more comfortable in Gmail or Microsoft Outlook, having IT support can be a total weight off of your mind if you’re not comfortable with tech (which is perfectly normal, by the way!) for a full time geek, and IT guru look no further than Josh.
The journey of setting up a business and making it a success can have other unknown challenges, and if you’re feeling overwhelmed, it might be a great option to seek a business coach. There are various types of business growth strategies, from EOS to Action Coach. I found Angus from Action Coach outstanding support offering step-by-step solutions through each part of your business. A business coach will end up being a huge part of your journey, so you must enjoy working with them.
Step 4: Tell your story
A brand identity brings your name to life, and it tells your story to your prospects and builds trust with your customers and future team.
As an agency, we have named and delivered hundreds of successful brands. We have a tried and tested process of discovery that ensures our clients’ story, vision, values and DNA is projected through the creative communication of your brand.
Consistency is key, and every touchpoint of your brand must be on point as you only have one chance to make a great first impression. Your brand encompasses everything, from how a team member answers the phone (tone) to email signatures, website, landing pages, brochures, event stands, packaging.
Invest in your brand, as a strong one will undoubtedly drive your business value.
You should be so excited when your name, brand and touchpoints are all looking fantastic; it’s time to protect what you’ve created. Advice is always worth obtaining, and reaching out to Stephen who is fantastic at explaining and protecting your intellectual property, is an investment that will reassure you as you grow and expand.
Step 5: Fit for Growth
You are ready to sell. I know that sounds crude, but selling your product or raising funds for your not-for-profit is precisely how your business will grow and thrive. Let’s talk through some of the finer business development opportunities.
Meeting new people is always a great thing to do. It’s important to remember that you aren’t there to ‘sell’; you are there to find your champions, supporters, mentors and suppliers. Broadening your network, think Kevin Bacon 6 degrees of separation, will grow the pool of opportunities. Put time aside to find the right networking group for you, whether it’s a trade body such as the IoD, FSB, DBA, a select group of like-minded businesses such as Urbano or a global powerhouse such as BNI, try various events out; they’re cost-effective ways of growing your business.
If you’re overwhelmed by the number of marketing channels available and which would be suitable for your business we offer a Banging Marketing Strategy package at Drew that delivers a step-by-step guide.
Working from home works for some, but not everybody. Having a dedicated office space is a great way to focus the mind; as a bonus, starting with a desk in a shared space is cost-effective and will broaden your network overnight.
As any good business coach will tell you, there are roles within your business that somebody else can teach and carry out. Bringing in a first employee can be scary; however, there are step by step ways to take the fear away: Part-time and/or freelancers are a great way to test the water and allow you to really focus on which roles can be delegated. The rule of thumb here is to hire someone who you think is more talented than you! Yes, really.
Of course, with employees, even freelancers, legal documents to protect them and your business are essential. Again, I would work with an expert, such as Akbar Ali from Ali PSG, who can help you with multiple business areas.
Job descriptions, goals and communication are vital to keeping your team happy, content and driving the business forward with a shared vision. We have a straightforward ‘wheel of life’ that we use to discuss all aspects of the employee’s life and track their progress.
Step 6: Share the love
Thank you so much for reading this guide. We would welcome any feedback.
Know somebody who would benefit from this guide? Guide them to get in touch with us.
Need our help? We are always, and I mean ALWAYS, here for you. We want you to succeed.
Reach out here to find time in my calendar.
The very best of luck and please do enjoy the ride!
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