Tag: start-ups

Skills to Start a Business

You’ve got an idea for a business and now you’re ready to take the plunge into making your dream become a reality but don’t know where to start. Fret not, as we will be sharing tips and guidance on how to gain the knowledge and support required to ensure that your new venture is successful.

Building the foundations 

If you are at the early stages of starting a business but aren’t sure where to begin, you will first need to consider the process of forming a new start-up. Ranging from legal requirements like registering your business, researching the market ensuring there is a demand, to writing a marketing plan and setting up a bank account. 

At City, University of London we offer a 10-week evening course Starting Up in Business which can help you to take the next steps, with the assistance of expert guidance. 

Money matters 

Provided that you have funding secured to get your business off the ground, you will need to ensure you have sufficient knowledge of financial management so that your organisation runs smoothly. This applies to pricing of your products/services, taxation, interest and borrowings, investment, performance measurements and risk mitigation. 

The Finance for the Non-Financial Manager City short course explains the fundamentals of finance, including an understanding of standard financial statements, and operational messages that can be derived from them. 

Home is where the start is 

Regardless of if you are an online business or not, it is crucial to have a presence on the web so that people can easily access your business.  

Thankfully, it is relatively straight forward and inexpensive to build a website with many services offering free hosting tools. If you want to keep costs down and create a website that has more functionality, then you can set up a site yourself. The Building Websites with HTML and CSS3 helps you to develop the fundamental skills required to plan, design, develop, validate and maintain websites using HTML5 and CSS versions 2 and 3. 

Once the website is in place, you will need to fill it with enticing and engaging copy. What you write will set the tone for your company and how you want to come across. The copy needs to be interesting and informative, keeping in mind SEO to ensure keywords are relevant to increase your search rankings.  Writing for Web and Digital Media course is ideal to write more effectively and engage your audience.

Finally, any good website is visually appealing and can attract the attention of users. To do this, it is helpful to be able to produce creative assets and imagery to make your pages stand out from the crowd, aligning to your brand. Photoshop: An Introduction is a useful course teaching you how to utilise the software to edit, manipulate and create captivating artwork.  

Spread the word 

Having completed your market research, you may have identified a specific audience who will likely be interested in your product or service. Once this is established, the next step is to produce appropriate messaging to encourage interest. 

In the Marketing: An Introduction course you will learn the key theories of marketing and how to apply them in practice. Our introductory marketing course employs a mixture of presentations, discussion and group work, exploring how to gain a competitive advantage by applying marketing tools and techniques and by adopting a customer orientated approach. 

For a more digitally focused outlook, Digital Marketing Fundamentals  provides an overview of key digital and marketing skills, including: 

  • Planning a website 
  • Website promotion 
  • Email 
  • Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) 
  • E-commerce and integrating digital marketing with traditional marketing. 

Perfect your pitches 

Whether you need to persuade investors to support your business venture or deliver powerful presentations to key stakeholders, being able to effectively and confidently deliver presentations is essential for communication. 

 Our interactive Presentation Skills course helps you develop skills for crafting persuasive presentations and delivering speeches with lasting impact. The programme combines insights and techniques for an effective preparation process with opportunities to put these into practice.  

Teamwork makes the dream work 

Recruiting staff is a big step in the life of any start-up and for a small business. Hiring employees is not only a legal minefield but a massive financial burden. 

Our Human Resource Management course explains practical topics such as recruitment, remuneration and administration, to more theoretical components, such as fostering good employee relations, the Human Resource course is the ideal way to develop HR knowledge and expertise.  

If any of the courses mentioned are of interest, visit City short courses to discover more. Good luck!

Taking a walk on the wild side of business

By Brenna Boyle

Brenna was working as a wildlife ranger in the Scottish Highlands before attending the Starting up in Business course at City, University of London. Brenna’s ambition was to make a successful business showing communities the diverse range of wildlife on their doorsteps.

An average day as a wildlife ranger would involve guiding groups of visitors around stunning scenery and viewing species including Golden Eagles and Bottle-nosed Dolphins. But I left the Highlands and returned to London, driven by a desire to prove that the wildlife of London, whilst perhaps not as iconic or dramatic as that of Scotland, is abundant, diverse and fascinating.

My goal was to set up a business delivering guided wildlife walks and nature discovery activities for groups of adults, families, communities and schools within London. And yes, lots of people thought I was nuts! I knew from previous experience that the wildlife of London really is surprising, rich and interesting, in that I had faith. What I didn’t have so much faith in was my ability to build and run a business. I had so many questions and doubts about everything from protecting my brand to tax, marketing, the law and hiring other people. My new business, Wild Capital, had officially begun before I enrolled on the course; it was very young but the website was operational, I was insured and I’d delivered a few programmes. However, I felt I was holding back on allowing the business to grow through uncertainty about how to proceed. My fear was that I would invest everything into the business and one day some scary bloke in a suit would appear and tell me I’d done something wrong and I owed thousands of pounds in fees or fines!

I chose to undertake an introduction to business course in order to deal with my concerns, and go forwards in business confidently. I did quite a lot of research into different options before settling on the Starting Up in Business course at City. The course was very appealing as it covered a wide array of business topics, but with a total duration of 20 hours over 10 weeks there was time to delve into each topic, rather than just scratch the surface. There was a choice of doing the course on either a Tuesday or a Thursday night, so I was able to select the night that most suited my schedule.

The course itself was a mixture of taught material delivered with PowerPoint presentations (all the slides were uploaded to an accessible website in advance of the class so you could print them and make notes on the hand-outs), class activities such as working in groups to review existing businesses and personal work done in our own time which cumulated in writing a full business plan that was read and reviewed. Kulan Mills, who delivered the course was extremely knowledgeable and helpful; you really felt you could ask him anything. Kulan obviously has a great deal of experience with a wide range of businesses. He would tell us anecdotes from his own experiences, which were insightful and interesting. Kulan took interest in everyone in the class; he made himself available before and after the sessions to answer questions and discuss ideas. He also put students in touch with people from his extensive network of useful contacts; I had a very helpful meeting with the manager of an outdoor activity centre, instigated through Kulan.

Several of the students, myself included, already knew what type of business we wanted to develop. Others knew they wanted to run a business but weren’t yet sure what kind. The course was very suitable for both groups of students, with many ideas thrown up for those looking to create a new service or product. For all these reasons and more, studying at City was a great experience. The nice coffee shop and free WiFi were also very welcome!

Since completing the course at City I have had the confidence to expand my business; I now work with both local councils and London based charities, providing wildlife discovery activities for communities. The numbers of new private bookings for adult wildlife walks and family adventures are increasing all the time, and I’m now looking at rolling out a selection of programmes for schools.

I wouldn’t hesitate to enrol on another course at City. Perhaps further down the line I’ll a need a course to develop my skills as the director of an expanding company!

To find out more about Wild Capital please visit the website www.wildcapital.co.uk, follow on Twitter or like on Facebook.

To find out more and enrol on City’s Starting Up in Business short courses visit the webpage.

Former business student opens pet accessories shop in Covent Garden

By Taro Takeuchi

Until June 2013 I had an office job working for a theatre ticketing agency but I always knew that I wanted to start my own business.

I chose City because a friend of mine did a ‘Starting up in Business’ course here a few years ago. Since then she has opened her own cake shop called Cuckoo’s Bakery in Edinburgh and it is doing really well.

So I thought, why not, and got myself onto the same course and I wasn’t disappointed. In ten weeks I learnt a lot. The course is really condensed and focused. There is an understanding that you cannot learn everything about starting up a business in 20 hours but Kulan Mills, the course tutor, gave me the base from which to start thinking seriously about what I wanted to achieve as a business owner.

My original business idea has changed dramatically as a result of attending the course. At first, perhaps naively, I wanted to open an old-fashioned sweet shop but Kulan got me to consider profit margins and helped me realise that my sales volume would have to be huge to make any kind of profit.

So I started thinking what I am passionate about and realised that I love dogs and know a great deal about them, so I decided to open a dogs’ accessories shop.

My store is called Bow Wow London and it’s in the heart of fashionable Covent Garden.

I am still in touch with Kulan and sometime come to speak to his students as a guest lecturer. I always tell them that being a business owner is hard work. It requires bravery, passion, conviction and a lot of investment, both in terms of time and money. But it really pays off when you get it right. For the first time in my life, I feel pride and satisfaction every minute that I am in my shop. I look forward to coming to work and I don’t mind doing my accounts or tweaking the website when I get home at night. It is truly a 24/7 job but I love it.

Was I born an entrepreneur? I guess so. Was I born a successful entrepreneur? Time will tell. I think I have a natural flair for marketing but the Bow Wow London brand is still very young. I’d like to give it a year before I can say that my first business venture has really worked. So far so good though, shop has been doing really well and is certainly going in the right direction!

Starting Up in Business is one of the many business and management short courses we offer at City. For updates on all our courses and events follow us @cityshortcourses.

Business founder credits digital marketing masterclass for improved performance

By Rav Roopra

At City I took the Integrated Digital Marketing masterclass – a three-day intensive course on practical digital marketing.

Customer education is a key part of what we do at Stubble and Strife. We want to ensure that customers get access to the best advice, information and curated products in the UK. To do this we need to be easy to find on the web. I was therefore keen to learn the key components and strategies in digital marketing.

Choosing City, University of London as a short course provider was a natural decision for Stubble and Strife. The company has strong links with City: one of the co-founders is a Cass Business School alumna. We have also had the support of City graduates. We recognise that there’s a large pool of expertise at City, especially in design, marketing and technology, which complement what we are doing at Stubble and Strife.

For the masterclass City teamed up with dynamic digital marketing agency, MintTwist, who delivered the course content. I was very impressed with the expertise of the speakers, as well as the actionable insights designed to deliver results. Victoria Lennon, MintTwist’s marketing director, is an exceptional tutor, very experienced in her subject area and willing to share her up-to-the minute knowledge of digital marketing strategies and technologies.

Our study group was very diverse, with students coming from a large range of disciplines and backgrounds, which helped to bring different perspectives to the course.

I have already implemented a number of strategies we picked up at the masterclass and the business is seeing improvements in results. I have also brought this new knowledge into our technology and marketing roadmap for the future. It might be too early to measure the impact but initial returns look promising.

As a founder, I want to take Stubble and Strife from a start-up venture to a fully-fledged omni-channel retail business, tying the latest bricks and mortar retail technology together with online convenience, data analysis and digital marketing. I believe that the knowledge I gained at City will be a significant aid in this process.

Rav Roopra is the founder of Stubble and Strife, an expert retailer of shave, beard, moustache and skincare products.

For more on our business and management short courses visit our home page. Or follow our twitter updates @cityshortcourses.

 

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