Tag Archives: be your own boss

Focus Groups for your Business Idea

27 Jul

What are focus groups?

A Focus Group is a market research tool which involves a group of people, usually between 6 and 12, who have been selected to participate in a pre-planned group discussion, and/or Q&A session, to gauge opinion on a product or service. Using a focus group to research your products or service before you start your business, can help you to identify ways to sell or advertise to your target group. It’s also a valuable tool when introducing a new product or service, or to find out how your product or service is being perceived.

 
What are the benefits of organising a Focus Group?

Focus groups can help you to gather a broader range of information than surveys because they allow people to voice their opinions in their own words and add meaning to their answers. They can also generate ideas for improving or adapting your product/service which you may not have considered.

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How do I set up a focus group?

1. Decide on what type of people you want in your group: age, income, gender, employment?

2. Advertise your focus group in a way that’s going to attract the people you want. You could use Facebook, for example, go to community centres or mother and child groups, have a stall in a market and invite people who come to look at your product, put up a poster or invite people you know personally.

3. Arrange a venue for your focus group. It should be somewhere easily accessible, private and quiet enough to talk.

4. Ensure the meeting space is well prepared beforehand i.e. layout, equipment, parking spaces etc.

5. Prepare an introduction which explains the purpose of thee focus group and how it will work

What questions do I ask the group?

goodWork out what information you need. Create a set of questions which will give you this information. Ensure that these are easy to understand and will give you the answers you need. Get someone who does not know what you are doing to look at your introduction and questions to see if you get the right sort of answers.
For example:

  •  Would you use this product?
  • Would you buy this product for yourself?
  • Would you buy this product as a gift?
  • How much would you pay for this product?
  • Would you pay x amount for this product?
  • How would you improve this product?
  • What is your opinion on the packaging of this product?
  • Does the packaging make you want to buy the product?
  • What do you think of the colours used in the packaging?
  • Where would you go to buy this product?
  • Do you have any other ideas about this product?

Online Focus Groups

Running an online focus group eliminates the need for travel, refreshments, and finding a venue. Other advantages could include people feeling more able to speak out as they are anonymous to the rest of the group and can sit in the comfort of their own home.

Disadvantages include not being able to see the body language of the participants, which provides another method of seeing how a product is received.

TIPS

  • Don’t make it last too long – participants could lose focus or get bored

  • If possible, arrange refreshments

  • Don’t make the group too big – you don’t want anyone to feel left out, or unable to voice their opinions

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The day to day reality of business start-up

5 May

Starting self-employment as a sole trader, whether it’s as a window cleaner or dog groomer is a long process but completely worth it! It can be hard to know what to expect in the early days so we have spoken to Ritchie, a self-employed car valeter to give us some tips.  


Raising funds:
Your new venture may require specific equipment or start-up essentials and you need to find a way to raise the funds. You might start off by selling unwanted personal goods (I’d recommend your games console as you’ll have less time to play it if you’re committed!) or by asking family and friends for support. There are always start-up loans and banks but I was pleasantly surprised by the help I received from those around me.

Gaining new custosprayingmers: No matter what kind of day you’re having or what mood you’re in you must remain polite and presentable with customers. Those first impressions are critical to spreading news of your business and building your customer base.  Never let a customer down by arriving late and remember there are always competitor’s ready to fill your place if you don’t give good service!

Constant commitment: When I’ve finished valeting a car I can’t just make my way down to the pub. I’ve got to think about completing my paper work, meeting new customers, replacing stock and cleaning my equipment. Then there are other duties that might not have been thought of such as visiting the bank, training, buying new equipment and keeping up with industry trends. Just stay on top of your tasks and you will see great reward.

Getting support: It’s ok to not know some aspects of business start-up and there is plenty of support available out there. There are sites such as the HMRC site or organisations like Opportunity Plus (www.opsw.co.uk) that can offer advice or guidance.

It may seem like a lot of work but I LOVE working for myself. I get to meet people from all walks of life, earn my own money and see my business grow. I’m constantly learning new skills and surprising myself without dreading Monday morning!

You get what you put in, persevere through the start-up phase and you will succeed!

Check out Ritchie’s website at http://www.carcareplus.co.uk/

Colour influences for your business

12 Nov

As autumn turns into winter and we say goodbye to the lovely autumnal colours, it’s worth having a think about the colours we use to promote our business.

Colours often have a profound subconscious effect on people, and this is definitely something to bear in mind when choosing logos, websites, leaflets and branding for your business, or even the colours you wear when conducting your business. Having an understanding of colours can give you a useful tool to get the best response to marketing and promotion.

Obviously you will want to choose colours that you like, and you certainly do not need to use a colour that you dislike – after all, you need to be passionate about every single part of your business. There is always more than one combination of colours that will suit and assist your needs. It is best to have more than 1 colour, but avoid having too many in the mix as they may cancel each other out.

Yellow is great for fun and products or services aimed at children. It keeps people moving. It’s not advisable to use it forcolourwheel expensive products or if you are trying to convey stability.

Orange depicts adventure, risk taking and confidence. It stimulates appetite and conversation. It has a create flair, but consider using it sparingly if you have a high-end product or service, as it can also be cheap and superficial.

Red is the colour of passion, energy and excitement. It is an action colour. It can also be domineering and aggressive, so think about whether it will suit your target customer.

Pink is caring, sensitive and emotional and often represents love and romance. It is useful for attracting a feminine market, but can depict passion and energy in its more vibrant, deeper shades. It could also appear immature or girly.

Purple represents wealth, extravagance and fantasy. It is a very creative colour and can be used to denote a high-end product or service, but it can also appear aloof, arrogant and impractical.

Blue is the colour of reliability, trust and confidence. It is can depict a dependable business image, and is often used for technology, education and cleaning businesses. It may not work for the food industry, as there are few naturally occurring blue foods. Depending on the shade you use, it could be perceived as too conservative if your target customer group is young and modern.

Green is associated with growth, nature and money. It can appear nurturing and practical, with flexibility. It can depict something new and fresh, depending on the shade. Be wary of dull, olive shades as these can be quite negative. Green can also be seen negatively as greed and selfishness.

There is a lot of information out there on the psychology of colours and how they can help to market your business. It is worth taking a little time to do your research and decide what works best for you and your business before you spend money on a website, leaflet or even business card. http://jasonathen.com/color-meanings-in-business/

Conquer your job search fears

30 Oct

As its Halloween you may be thinking about things that scare you and we’re doing the same. Fears aren’t always spiders and ghosts though, and some fears can stop you from getting what you want. We have been looking at some of the most common job search fears and how to overcome these.

Fear of being ‘un-hireable’

You’ve worked on your CV and handed it out everywhere; you may have even been called to some interviews but still no one is offering you a position. It’s a situation that can cause you to think you’re not hireable or no one will employ you – this is not the case! If you start to fear this then it can be easy to slow down your job search as you’re scared this theory will be confirmed further. It’s best to take a step back and think rationally about what’s going wrong. Perhaps you need revamp your CV or tailor it more to the positions you’re applying for or ensure the skills you have match the ones needed for the job roles. Just refreshing what you’re doing or making a slight change can make a big difference to your confidence and hopefully you’ll start seeing the benefits.

Interviews

Even the word interview is scary to some and it’s easy to understand why. In an interview you’re put under a lot of pressure to prove that you’re right for the job and it can be stressful for some if not all. To feel more confident and relaxed in an interview it’s all about the preparation. Before your interview you should research the company and find out what they do and what kind of candidate they’re looking for. You can also practice answers for common questions or think example that you’re going to use, this was you won’t feel so on the spot so will come across well. It’s also sensible to search where you will be going in advance so you’re not rushing and to prepare your outfit in advance.

Asking for help

Asking for help or admitting that help would be useful is a scary thing to do. Many people think if you ask for help then you’ll be judged and some are even too embarrassed to admit they are currently looking for work. Being unemployed is not something to be ashamed of (even Steve Jobs has had a period of unemployment) and neither is asking for support. You don’t know how useful the recourses around you can be until you try them. Friends and family may know of upcoming or available vacancies or can even just offer moral boosts to keep the hunt going. You can also seek local help from a company such as Opportunity Plus where we can give professional help and advice for your job search.

My new boss

You might be concerned that your hard work of finding a job may be for nothing if you do not like your employer. Remember that you don’t have to accept a job just because you’ve been offered it and if you’ve had an offer the likelihood is you’ve met your boss already. It’s worth weighing up the pros and cons of working for that person and assessing what your work like will be like. You never truly know how this person will behave until you’re in the role so maybe just give it ago and you might be pleasantly surprised – they did hire you after all.

Stopping benefits

This can be a very real fear for some, particularly if you have been on benefits for a while. Perhaps it has not been easy, but you are managing ok, so now if you get a job your benefits will stop and maybe you won’t get paid for a month – How will you cope? What about your rent? The good news is that there are systems in place to help and support you, for example housing benefit run –on and in work benefits. Don’t let this fear get in your way. Speak to an adviser or seek information from websites such as entitledto.co.uk, gov.uk, and turn2us.org.uk

What if the job doesn’t work out?

You have done really well to get this far and have been offered the role. Now the self doubt kicks in and you start wondering if you will be able to actually do the job. Everyone feels a little nervous when starting something new. Remember that the application and interview process is there for a purpose – employers need to find the best person for the job. There is a reason they chose you. They have faith in you, so have faith in yourself.

If the job is not what you expected it to be, or not want you want to do forever that’s fine. Learn from the skills and experience you are gaining and give it a try anyway. If you still want to change jobs later it is easier to get a job when you are employed than when you are unemployed.

If you want help with any of the issues mentioned please contact us on info@opsw.co.uk or 0800 043 2440

Sales for your start-up

4 Sep

There are many ways to sell your product or service, whether that’s online, over the phone or face to face and you need to make sure you’re getting the right message across to your potential customers.

Although sometimes you may want to shy away from direct selling, it is extremely effective if you can engage them in your product. Selling and sales techniques can be found call over the internet and in various books. There is no set way to sell something though and it really does come down to you as a person and the way you interact with others. Some will choose a more pushy approach where ‘no’ will not be accepted where as others will be more laid back and let their personalities do the selling. It’s your business and therefore you choose the approach you want take.

A good way of thinking about your sales tactics is to picture the scenario if the roles were reversed. If someone approached you with this product what would grab your attention? Another approach is to think about what NOT to do. There are certain actions which can jeopardize your chances of making a sale and it would be best to avoid them.

As an alternative way of preparing your strategy we have made a quiz – where for the most part, we want you to think about the worst ways to sell and use this is a ground step for creating your sales pitch.

https://www.onlineexambuilder.com/selling-your-product-or-service/exam-35665

If you would like more information or are thinking about coming self-employed please get in touch on info@opsw.co.uk or 0800 043 2440

Self-Employment in the UK

14 Aug

You might be thinking about going into self-employment but don’t know whether to take the leap, well these facts might give you just the push you need!

4.6 million are working for themselves

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The most common types of self-employment are:

  • Farming
  • Taxi Driver/Chauffeur
  • Carpenter/Joiner
  • Construction
  • Cleaning Services

Just think of all the benefits!

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We know that starting a business can be hard and sometimes you will encounter set backs. Having the motivation to carry
on with or begin your big idea can be tricky. Opportunity Plus are currently offering free Virtual Support to all residents of Devon and Somerset. The Southwest currently has the second highest number of self-employed workers in the UK. If you are looking to become part of that number or think we can help you then please visit our website.

Web: http://www.opsw.co.uk

Mail: info@opsw.co.uk

Tel: 0800 043 2440

Do you have goals, or are they dreams?

13 Aug

Author Mary Anne Graham wrote a blog on the difference between goals and dreams, in which she says:

 “Winning the lottery is a dream.  Making a living as a full-time romance novelist is a goal”

Lottery Balls

A dream is a lovely ‘maybe’ place that we visit to escape reality, for example, seeing all 6 of your numbers come out for the national lottery. It’s a great thing to imagine. You plan how you would spend all of that money, who you would help, what you would buy.

A goal is a target you plan, plot and work to reach, and the work can be hard and relentless at times. This can be a problem.

It’s so easy when creating another hopefully interesting post in order to gain more ‘likes’ on your business Facebook account, to start looking at what your friends are posting, and dream of lazing on that Caribbean beach that your cousin is posing on, drinking rum cocktails and sailing on your yacht.

That will never happen unless you improve your networking, get out there and sell, sell, sell your product or service, and then work, work, work to get the income and repeat business.

It’s easy when adapting your CV for the 50th time and writing yet another ‘stand out’ cover letter to a company you long to work for, to give up, ask yourself if it’s really worth it, go get a cup of hot chocolate and dream about being spotted in the street by the managing director who begs you to come and work for her.

It’s easier to listen to your won’t than your will.

Mary Anne says that “Sometime, when I wasn’t looking, my goals sneaked back into my closet and put on a fuzzy robe and slippers.”

Does this happen to you? Do your goals slip into dreams and stop you getting that job, or starting that business?

As Mary Anne Graham says:

“Whatever your dreams are – do you want to keep them in fuzzy robes and slippers or do you want to suit ‘em up and put ‘em to work?  And if you think your dreams are already goals – be sure to take frequent time to check up on yourself.  Keep your goals in work clothes because no one ever crossed the finish line in fuzzy slippers.”

Mary Anne Graham is a lawyer in California and a Romance writer. She has published books in her own name and her alter ego Olivia Outlaw. Her blog is called Quacking Alone.  http://www.quackingalone.com

Want help achieving your business or employment goals? Call 0800 043 2440 or email info@opsw.co.uk