Home – New Forums Starting your journey Where to start – in what order?

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  • #975079
    EmbalmSkincare
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    Hi everyone,

    My name is Mel and I just signed up to FS.

    I am planning on starting up my own business, which is creating/manufacturing products at home and having retailers to sell my products.

    I have been reading lots of articles, comments, threads and posts and I can say I have already learned a bit. There’s so much useful information here.

    At this stage, I’m in the trial/testing phase, giving small samples to familiy, friends, colleagues and their friends to get their feedback on my products. And also, I’m daily brainstorming to come up with a name. I want to create a brand that’s recognisable. Not just a business name but a brand.
    Would anyone here be able to recommend a small company to me, which doesn’t charge a fortune for naming/branding services?
    I have found in one of the comments that an agency called Profitable Marketing Works offers a first 2 hour free consultation in VIC but there are a little bit to far the other side of town and I don’t have a car. Something a little more central would be great.
    At the moment I am very focused on finding a brand name but I just can’t come up with something.

    I have also found a small business mentoring program which I will arrange soon. I’m just not sure about the order of doing so.

    Should I concentrate on finding a name first and get branding/website started before the mentoring?

    I have already a good idea about the way of marketing my product, after reading a post about sending samples to the retailers, which is a great idea.

    And my goal is, to sell as many products by the end of the year 2012 to equalise my current fulltime employment wages. After reading on FS, that it’s best to have a transition period so that I don’t leave my job too early etc. Which means, I’m doing everything on the weekends.

    Any ideas, thoughts, suggestions to the above would be greatly appreciated!

    Thank you so much in advance!

    Regards,
    Mel

    #1072224
    Anonymous
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    Hi Mel,

    Nice to meet you, and apologies that your very first post got stuck in our moderation queue for a while. :(

    I’ll be interested in what others have to say, but personally, I’d start work with the mentor before engaging a branding specialist. Those first stages of the mentoring relationship will really help you pin down what’s important to you, and that in turn will help you write a good brief to the agency. But that’s just my $0.02 worth!

    Good luck for the new venture, and thanks for joining the forum :)
    Jayne

    #1072225
    JacquiPryor
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    Hi Mel,

    Would it be safe to assume from your User name of Fingerfood, that this is the type of product you will be making/selling? If so, don’t forget (if not already done) to check out regulations concerning food products with your council and state consumer affairs office etc – you may be required to hold certain permits and have your kitchen up to a certain standard etc. If your user name is not relevant to the product- then disregard this bit :)

    From the ‘brand’ perspective – I highly recommend Michel Hogan from Brandology (see http://www.brandology.com.au) – the general idea with her business is ensuring that your vision and beliefs for your business align properly with your brand to ensure the best result and that your brand continues to convey the vision etc. (That’s a really basic idea, but sounds like the sort of service you may be after).

    She’s just out of Melbourne, but is usually up for home visits if necessary.

    At the above site, she also publishes a lot of articles and blogs etc as resources to help people build successful brands etc.

    Our business works with ‘brand protection’ aka Trademark Registration – once your brand is registered as a trademark, you essentially become the owner of that brand for your type of products/services, so that you can safely use it without stepping on anyone else’s toes, and also ‘control’ its use (i.e. license to other people, and take action against people found to be infringing your rights) – so this should be worked into any ‘branding’ plan, in my opinion!

    If you like what you see at the Brandology site – send me a PM with your email address and I can email you and Michel to introduce one another if you like.

    All the best

    #1072226
    EmbalmSkincare
    Participant
    • Total posts: 459
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    Hi Jacqui,

    I should have thought that might cause confusion but no, my Username isn’t in any way connected to my products. :-)

    Thanks a lot for the link! I will have a look right away. Your description does sound like what I’m after.

    Regards,
    Mel

    #1072227
    JacquiPryor
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    Fingerfood, post: 90545 wrote:
    Hi Jacqui,

    I should have thought that might cause confusion but no, my Username isn’t in any way connected to my products. :-)

    Regards,
    Mel

    Probably no need to spend hours cleaning the kitchen then ;)

    #1072228
    James Millar
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    Hey Mel. Some questions for you.

    1. Have you undertaken any form of financial forecasting (formal or informal) to determine the viability and likely profitability for this venture or are you just going on gut feel / instinct? (yes many people do)

    2. Have you undertaken any form of business plan (long or short) that documents the major items, SWOT etc.

    Merely running through this process will teach you a lot about the business and what to expect. Our research shows that only about 50% of startups undertake either of these (and my guess is the half that don’t have a much higher fail rate). You don’t need to spend a lot of money on these either (it’s actually important that you do most of it).

    Something to consider.

    Helping build better businesses and better lives with expert financial and taxation advice. [email protected] www.360partners.com.au 03 9005 4900
    #1072229
    maria2011
    Member
    • Total posts: 1
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    Hi Mel,

    I’ve sent you a private message.

    Regards,
    Maria

    #1072230
    Adam Claydon-Platt
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    • Total posts: 63
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    Hey Mel,

    Firstly, good luck with your new business! Sounds like you’re following one of your passions, which is always a great start :)

    Great idea starting your business small – though in the 1st stages it’s going to be hard to get a foot in the door with the larger retailers – you’ll have to make baby steps! Local markets, people you know etc. is a great way to do some ground-level “market research” about exactly what kind of product the market wants, sounds like you’re on the right track there!

    As for deciding a name, that’s a very personal thing, so I can’t suggest whether it’s best to think hard about it yourself / with people you know, or to seek advice. Though I do think it’s a slight case of the chicken or the egg. Look at some of the biggest brands out there today – it’s not so much their name that’s catchy, but rather all the millions of “branding” dollars they’ve spent on campaigns to get their name out there..?

    So, there’s a lot of differing opinions out there (and I’m sure some will disagree with me here), but I would say that in these 1st stages of your business (when every penny counts), choose a name you love, and over time, work on getting your name out there in a creative way, and it will stick!

    As for a general order of things to do, I would suggest:

    1. Research your major competitors, and decide what makes your product different/unique (it will help you set a rough pricing for your product too).

    2. Sit down with a pen and A4 paper, close your eyes, and imagine all the steps you think you’ll have to take until your business is running the way you envision it. Jot down all the steps (in no particular order), so you have a rough idea of your direction. Then spend some time on your computer word processor, organising all the steps in the order you think is best. (I would decide the co. name here too)

    3. Get your friends to recommend a good accountant, sit down with them for an hour, and tell them exactly what you plan to do (take the list you’ve created above, and ask them all the questions you may have). They should be able to tell you everything you need to do re: registration etc. (ABN / TFN etc.), or at least point you in the right direction (licenses required etc. – the Govt. website is also great: http://www.business.gov.au/BusinessTopics/Registrationandlicences/Pages/Licencesandpermits.aspx )

    4. Sort out all the registrations / licensing etc. that you have identified in step #3 above.

    5. Start developing your corporate image – logo / website / business cards etc. – http://www.vworker.com is a great place to get all these tasks done on the cheap (but still good quality).

    6. Think about advertising – as it sounds like you’ve already got a good idea about the way of marketing your product, that’s fantastic – this is one of the biggest hurdles to success!… depending on what kind of product yours is, this may be the point at which you need to just get out there to local markets, getting your brand known, emailing/calling retailers, sending samples etc…

    Sorry if this is over-simplified – hopefully it gives you some idea about the general steps you need to take to get your business off the ground!

    And yes, perfect idea about keeping your day job while you get this one off the ground – very smart way to go about it! Sounds like you’re really cut out to be your own boss. Again, good luck with everything, but most importantly, have a fantastic weekend! :)

    Adam.

    #1072231
    B Cooper
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    • Total posts: 211
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    Hi Mel,

    Glad to see that you’re pursuing your dream – many (I could even go to say ‘most’) people never act on theirs.

    Anyway – as for getting a website, if you wanted to do it on the cheap, you could build you own site with WordPress – otherwise, I own a web design business and would be happy to help you out.

    Good luck with the venture!

    Brentis

    #1072232
    EmbalmSkincare
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    • Total posts: 459
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    Hi Adam,

    That’s a great list of things to work on. Thank you!

    I’ve already looked at the vworker website. Very interesting way to offer your service. Have you used it before? I’d be interested to know what the prices are like. I’m thinking about finding someone there to help me with name/branding and also packaging. Those are the main “hurdles” I’ve been thinking about all week.

    Would you suggest to seek a mentor first?

    Thanks a lot for your help! Much appreciated!

    Regards,
    Mel

    #1072233
    EmbalmSkincare
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    Hi Brentis,

    Thanks so much for your kind offer to assist me with a website.

    You know, I didn’t really think about creating my own website before you’re
    suggestion. Which is funny as I do have some website building experience.
    So thank you for mentioning WordPress to me.
    I’ve already looked it up and it seems perfect as I’m not planning on selling my goods online. So just a website with information/photos of my products will suffice.
    Would you happen to know if it’s HTML or simpler to use than that?

    Thanks again!

    Regards,
    Mel

    #1072234
    Adam Claydon-Platt
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    • Total posts: 63
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    Hey Mel!

    Yes, I’ve been using Vworker for at least 5 years now – love it! The prices are very reasonable, depending on where you choose workers from. (Employing the services of individuals in the developing world is not only more economical for you, but also makes a much bigger difference for them, as even a small amount of money goes a lot further, and in many regions, they’ve got next to nothing so it’s greatly appreciated!)

    Name/Branding/Packaging – all perfect tasks to have done via Vworker. I’d recommend posting them as separate jobs (though again I would suggest you decide the name before posting the branding/packaging job), or even posting them as 1 job but choosing 2 or 3 different bidders for the job – that way, you’ll get a wider variety of different samples to choose from!

    Depending on exactly what you need (ie. name, logo, letterhead, box(?) packaging?), offering somewhere between $50-$100 for a job including all the above should give you some great designs from some very talented people around the world. (note: always choose a bidder who has a high rating and has completed many (similar) projects in the past – much more reliable! Also check their portfolios to see if you like their style first)

    When posting the job, be as descriptive as possible about your product / your market/demographic / desired colour scheme / rough layout if you have any preference etc… but still tell them they have creative control to do as they please (this will give them the room to move to really come up with something unique for you).

    Personally, I don’t think seeing a mentor is necessary – what exactly are you expecting from them? But hey, that’s just me! I love conceptualising the business by myself – the creative process is half the fun! And ultimately, the questions that a mentor may ask you, you will inevitably end up asking yourself along the way anyway…

    Again good luck, and enjoy – I bet it’s a very exciting time for you!

    Adam.
    ps. WordPress is awesome – highly recommended, and very simple to use :)

    #1072235
    Dane Pymble
    Member
    • Total posts: 227
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    Hi

    I agree with Jayne, engage the small business mentor first as determining the appropriate brand for your business is very dependent on your business plan.

    Having said that one of the regular contributers on these forums, Aidan McCarthy is involved with a firm called Magic Dust (http://www.magicdust.com.au) who do a great and affordable job of designing a logo & website for you as well as search engine marketing which is an important facet of building brand presence.

    Best of luck with your business!

    #1072236
    nduncan
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    • Total posts: 98
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    Hi Mel,

    My advice is that the absolute first place you have to start is by researching both your competitors and your potential customers. You need to make sure that you have a large enough market to target and your target customers want your products. The more research you can do upfront the better business decisions you will make down the track.

    The next thing I would suggest is building a fairly robust business plan including a financial forecast and cashflow projection. You should do some scenario planning to see what the impact will be of differing sales and cost levels.

    Once you have these it may be worth doing some legal investigation to ensure that you are not encroaching on anyone elses brand/trademark etc.

    Finally you should look at your web design and your online/offline marketing.

    #1072237
    B Cooper
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    • Total posts: 211
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    Fingerfood, post: 91147 wrote:
    Hi Brentis,

    Thanks so much for your kind offer to assist me with a website.

    You know, I didn’t really think about creating my own website before you’re
    suggestion. Which is funny as I do have some website building experience.
    So thank you for mentioning WordPress to me.
    I’ve already looked it up and it seems perfect as I’m not planning on selling my goods online. So just a website with information/photos of my products will suffice.
    Would you happen to know if it’s HTML or simpler to use than that?

    Thanks again!

    Regards,
    Mel

    Hey Mel,

    Building a website with WordPress requires no prior web building experience or knowledge (although knowing a little HTML) wouldn’t hurt. You don’t even need to touch a piece of code, it’s all done through a simple online interface that anybody can use.

    You’ll find it surprisingly quick and easy to get setup, with a fantastic result.

    There are some great tutorials for WordPress below:

    http://ithemes.com/tutorials/

    Good luck Mel! :)

    Brentis

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