When you’re starting out in business there are a lot of things to think about, so where do you begin breaking it down?
Every business will have different crucial needs and priorities that need to be juggled. But every business starts somewhere - and starting is better than not starting.
Beau Lawson is the founder of streamshark.co.uk, a graphic design agency targeted towards video game enthusiasts. Starting out with less than £100, the business now turns over £5,000+ a month and has two part-time employees. Here are three of the most important things that Beau did to get his business up and running.
Contacted social media influencers
When I first started out I didn’t have a huge sum of money to spend on advertising and marketing, so I had to get creative. I reached out to a few people within my industry who had a large social media presence and an interactive audience. The key thing here was not to get in touch with whoever had the most followers but those who had high engagement rates on their posts. It is very easy to manipulate the number of followers you have these days, so I did not pay much attention to the number alone.
Once I found someone who was a perfect fit I offered to do some work for them for free. In return, I asked them to share my work on their page and recommend me to anyone who might enquire. A good deal for both of us. This put my work in front of thousands of eyes. As a bonus, they were all users who were involved in the industry I am working in, since I made sure to use an influencer within my niche. Just as good as running a targeted Facebook ad campaign - but without spending a penny.
From there, I received my first paid order. Things continued to snowball and during slow periods I would repeat the process. I did not run a paid advert on any social media sites until six months ago, when I started to scale up.
Outsourcing to add diversity
As the business progressed, I decided that I needed to add more services to what the business originally offered. Some of my ideas required skills I don’t have, and I also didn’t really have the time to self-teach. So my only option was to outsource. I posted a job on a freelancing website and received proposals from over thirty people, all willing to work for a price that still left me with a profit.
I set up a fixed-fee payment plan per project so I could manage my numbers more easily, and always ensure that I wasn’t losing money by outsourcing. Some workers prefer an hourly payment but this didn’t make sense for my business.
I went through three or four different freelancers before I realised the importance of building a relationship with one who I could trust and rely on. After all, they are representing my business - I wanted someone who understood the brand. I eventually found some perfect candidates and we work together on almost a full-time basis to this day. They have become a crucial part of the business.
Another benefit of outsourcing work online is that you can get in contact with people all over the world who can work in various timezones. This is really helpful for me personally, as we have clients from the United States, Australia & Europe.
Getting Google traffic
Social media is great. Word of mouth is great. However people still search on Google for whatever they may be looking for. I needed to get ranked on the first page for my keywords to increase organic website traffic. Luckily I already have some knowledge about SEO, so I managed to get my website on the first page after a few months. My niche is not too competitive so this wasn’t as hard as it would be in the health and fitness industry, for example. If you don’t know anything about SEO you can always outsource this. You can also run Google PPC (Pay Per Click) to get paid traffic from people searching your keywords.
I’m not going to go into SEO detail as I’m not an expert, but I optimised my site by continuing to add relevant content, making sure loading times were fast, and keeping up my incoming traffic from other sources like Twitter and email. These are best practices that all businesses can do, even if they’re not SEO experts either. Once I managed to get onto the first page, I saw a significant spike in website hits along with orders to match. I now also run PPC for other keywords.
I also added a section on the order forms titled ‘How Did You Find Out About Us?’ to see how many people answered with Google. This gave me a good idea of how many orders were coming from search engines compared to social media and helped me decide what to focus on more, going forward. The more information, the better!
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