“These 3 steps will kickstart your business”

Solo Episode

Show notes:

This week I’m sharing my 3 must dos when you’re starting up a business. Bonus: they are all free!

Where to start when you’re setting up a business?! I was keen to take myself and my business seriously when I was starting up, and I was working to create a business, as opposed to being self employed. These 3 steps were crucial for me to design an ambitious business that potential clients and associates would credit, and let’s be honest, get some buy-in when it came to emotional investment at home.

These tips aren’t very sexy, but they will set your business up for success.

Let me know how it goes!

Bump to business owner links:

Website: www.bumptobusinessowner.com
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/bumptobusinessowner/
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/carolinepooley/

Princes Trust business plan template: https://www.princes-trust.org.uk/how-we-can-help/tools-resources/business-tools/business-plans

Transcript:

Intro

Hello and welcome to Bump to Business Owner, thank you so much for tuning in today. This podcast is inspired by my mission to find out why more and more mums are leaving the employment world for the entrepreneur life. I’ll be talking to some of the people I believe to be the most inspiring women in business about their journey building their businesses alongside motherhood. I’ll be also sharing some of my own experiences of juggling my award winning virtual assistant agency Upsource, while raising my two young children. Right now they are two and four, and trust me, it can be chaos.

 

Caroline:

Hello and welcome to today’s edition of Bump to Business Owner. I’m your host Caroline Marshall and I run virtual assistant agency Upsource.

 

Caroline:

Now as I’ve mentioned before, I have started this podcast to share my learnings of starting a business while pregnant and running around after two crazy little boys. It is no mean feat but I’m here. I am still very much in the early stages of my business. We are two and a half years old now and we’ve grown a huge amount. I’m still surprised by how well we’ve done, how I’ve managed to replace my income with it. But at the same time, we are still a growing business. We’re still a learning business. And I’m really keen to share that because I will still have learnings along the way.

 

Caroline:

And I think anyone who, sometimes you can think two and a half years in, wow, you’re such a long time in it’s not. We’re still very new, and I’m still in that journey of finding out where I want to go with Upsource. So I think that’s really important to share as well. So thank you for listening today and there are some things I wanted to share about the first few things I did to start my business. And this won’t be relevant for everyone because as you will see from the women I talk to on this podcast, everyone has completely different business journeys, goals, ways they fund their business. So I’m really interested in finding out from people who start businesses and need to get fundraising or crowdfund. But for me the goal of my business was to replace my income. So obviously it’s been bootstrapped and I did very little to invest in my business.

 

Caroline:

Really little. I’d probably say 1000 pounds. It’s a ballpark figure. I called in favours, I was very lucky. My best friend’s a lawyer, so she did my original contract drafting and terms and conditions. A friend of a friend did my branding at a very low cost. She does it as a side hustle and obviously that’s her career to do that sort of thing, but has a full time job doing it rather than as a full time freelancer. And yeah, I invested very little in my business at the beginning because the goal was to get clients, make money, take maternity leave and have a business to come back to.

 

Caroline:

So this is for people who their goal is to replace their income, whether that’s they need to do it or they’re just so fed up with the working world, or they think they’ve just got an idea and they’re going to go for it and they’re in a position to do that. So these are really sensible first three things, by the way. They’re not fancy, they’re not fun things to do, but I just believe they’re essential, I think, especially if you’re in that stage, oh, am I going to be taken seriously? I think if you set yourself up seriously, people will take your business seriously and what your goals are and how you’re going to get there, because how do you know if you don’t write that down? So my first one, what I started with, and it’s not sexy, it’s not exciting, but it was a financial plan and I was very proud to put it in place. You can get templates for these online just using Google Sheets. You can do that free. Or if you’ve got a Microsoft package, use Excel, whatever your preference is. But I really recommend, especially if you’re, I don’t know, at home, you’re going to have to persuade someone to invest in you emotionally and taking the leap if it’s going to make a difference to your household. If you show people how you plan to make money, it will get you taken seriously.

 

Caroline:

It will get you showing people, yes, this is what I’m going to do, and this is how I’m going to get there. Even if you’re in a great position where you don’t necessarily need a lot, or maybe you are in a position where you need to be the main earner or an equal earner in your household, or want to be, I think there’s also that you can’t do that unless you know how you’re going to get there. And it might be a very simple financial plan. With mine, I was always going to go down the agency model. I probably did a really ambitious financial plan, actually, for a VA, and that is just because of where I came from. I’d seen a financial plan of virtual assistant agency before and they just put in the sales they expect to make. And I don’t think all VAs go in with that plan in mind. They might do for themselves, but not for associates or to give to a team.

 

Caroline:

So I know my financial plan was not what I ended up achieving in my first year, but that was probably because it was really ambitious, especially with the fact I was planning to take maternity leave. But it meant I achieved what I needed to achieve firstly to replace my income as soon as my kid went back to nursery months later. So I was fully booked with the amount of billable hours I wanted to be fully booked with by that summer. And then I had a few that were in the background. Few leads that I went in the background of people to put on associates and all my clients ended up going on associates for me to take maternity leave. But it gave me a real goal and it gave me looking at it just made me think, right, this is what I earn and I want to replace that. How am I going to do it? And I’m very lucky. I come from a family of accountants on both sides and it meant my dad helps me a lot on the high level accountancy.

 

Caroline:

I have someone now, I didn’t before. Now I have a bookkeeper who does my day to day keeping on top of Zero and everything. And then my dad does my, makes sure my VAT returns are done. So I’m very fortunate in that sense. Having someone in your life who is good at finances is worth the weight in gold. But I could show him that and he’d be like, yeah, that’s a financial plan, because I showed it to him and then I said, oh, also now I told him I was pregnant in the same call, the same zoom call, because it was Covid lockdown. So it was like, yeah, let’s see how it goes.

 

Caroline:

Still enthusiastic. That’s key. Thanks, dad. So, yeah, get it online. There will be places online you can download this. I will probably share mine myself or actually reach out to me if you want to see mine. I’ll give you my template. Always happy to share.

 

Caroline:

But think about it, what does year one look like for you? How are you going to get there? So, yeah, financial plan, big fan. I look at mine every week. I have my forecast, I have my cash flow. Having a good hold of your finances is essential to be a business owner, and it’s boring. But start to get to know those spreadsheets. And secondly, a business plan. Now, I can’t lie, I thought, well, if I’m going to talk about a business plan, I should go back to my original business plan.

 

Caroline:

I haven’t done that. Maybe I should do that because there is always that thing with a business plan. Because I was like, should I do a business plan? It’s like, yeah, but don’t do a business plan and just keep it in a drawer or a metaphorical folder, Google folder and don’t look at it, which I have clearly totally done. But I think a business plan was good to know, what sort of business do I want to run? Take myself seriously from the start. I think sometimes people set them up as self-employed and they’re not thinking of the long term picture, what do you really want? And it’s okay to say what you really want or put it on your business plan. I do struggle a bit, I know often with my mentor, and we do some coaching days and they’re like, oh, what’s your five year plan and your ten year plan? I do struggle a little bit with that, I can’t lie. Because is that an early years thing, being early years of motherhood? Like, what do I want in five years time? I mean, yeah, I could probably say a big house, but I think I still struggle a little bit.

 

Caroline:

I have this overall picture of what I want in my head. But when it comes down to the nitty gritty, because I don’t have a plan to, just some people set up a business and they’re like, I’m going to sell it by this I want to get to this stage and I’m going to sell it. I want to sell it for this amount. And that’s fantastic. I think it’s probably also being completely honest. I run a people business and I know I like to pay people well, pay people what they’re worth at the same time. While a business needs to make money, but I never want to be a business that sacrifices. I came from a people business that was so much about the margins and then it would sacrifice the people and then ultimately it sacrifices the service as well.

 

Caroline:

So I think that’s why I’ve never gone down that or not yet gone down that route with my business of like, I want to sell it because then it really becomes all about your margins and that’s not why I started Upsource. I started it to create an income for myself, but also I like getting good clients on, I like getting great VAs on, and I like growing that side of it and seeing how much of it I can grow. And right now, work life balance, while that doesn’t really exist, it still is a thing. I can see if you grow a people business, I’ve seen it too quickly, too fast, without the structure in place, without the right proper processes in place, it’s at a detriment of, well, your people, but also yourself, and then also it’s the people around you and your family. So I’m quite aware of that. I want to get to a place where I’m still growing, still building income, but I have no plan in place of that. But aside from that, a business plan is so important because I think it really if you’re someone who’s only thought about, I want to be a VA, because naturally, say you become I’m just using a VA as an example, as that’s what I know. You’ll start to get in the industry, you may get excited about bringing on associates, maybe growing a team yourself or niching in a particular area or upskilling and offering certain skills that you’ve learned from being self employed you’re better at.

 

Caroline:

So I think it’s always good to go back to your business plan and be like, actually, that wasn’t the plan. And especially if you end up being really stressed, say you do bring on a team or something like that. And you’re like, this isn’t what I wanted, this isn’t what I pictured, and go back to your business plan and this is what I wanted. It helps ground you. You can go back to it and be like, this is why I started this and this was the plan. And maybe your plan is to be like, I want to grow a business and sell it and make X amount of money and you’re getting diverted along the way. Go back to your plan and remember, if that was your goal, that’s okay too. I’m not saying it’s wrong to be that way.

 

Caroline:

Clearly, it wasn’t my plan for my business. Essentially, I think it’s a logical plan that at some point you’ll sell your business. It’s just not something that I’m looking at right now. So, business plan as well, you can find them online. So I’ll tell you where is a great place, which I’ve used for clients myself, is the Prince’s Trust. It’s been a long time since I’ve looked, but I know they mainly support young people in business. But there’s free templates out there which are great. And especially I’d never use a free template for a contract or anything like that.

 

Caroline:

But for something like a business plan, just google it. Google’s your best friend. So, yes, a business plan is my second tip. Okay? And this is my third one, is tell people about it. I need to sell my service in order to make money.

 

Caroline:

So therefore, if I’m just sat behind the safety of my screen, focused on having the right software in place, making sure my emails are working, making sure everything is set up beautifully, but that means nothing if you don’t sell or if you don’t have people knowing what you are doing. I think that is key as well, because then you never know how people speak about you when you’re not in the room. It’s like someone over there needs some VA support. And they’re like, oh yeah, just have a chat with Caroline. I heard she started that. So there are my three bite sized tips on how to start your business and keep it simple. I think it’s so easy to get sucked in and think everything is complicated. Everyone has a plan in place.

 

Caroline:

And I think if you start with the finances, start with the business plan, you can keep it simple, really nail in on what you’re doing and why you’re doing it, and then tell people about it. So, thank you for listening today. My name is Caroline. I am a founder of virtual assistant agency Upsource. Please connect with me on Bump To Business Owner or connect with me on LinkedIn, Caroline Marshall. And tell your friends about this podcast. Anyone you know who might be wanting to start a business and figuring out how on earth you do that when you’re trying to keep humans alive. And maybe we can help each other through this process. Caroline:

 

Outro:

You have been listening to Bump to Business Owner, the podcast for mums running businesses, aspiring to run businesses, or simply supporters of mums who go on this crazy business journey. I’m your host Caroline Marshall and I run a virtual assistant agency called Upsource. I started it in lockdown 2020, I’ve seen it through maternity leave and it is growing alongside my two growing boys. Thank you so much, please connect me at Bump to Business Owner, my name is Caroline Marshall.

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