Saturday, 25 August 2012

Diary of a Digital Start-Up

I am a writer/author by trade ( and a mummy by desire. I guess most mums inbetween jobs/projects would relish the downtime and read Fifty Shades or catch up on episodes of America's Next Top Model or similar. Not I. I've opted instead to build my own digital business start-up and put my own advice into practice. Nobody achieved anything from watching Eastenders or Big Brother so I've switched off the TV and am focusing my evenings on developing my new business, WiBBLE (which started life as a Facebook group, growing from 20 members to 300 in one week). TBH, I have no interest in sitting still. I'd rather move forward, learn, soak stuff up, grow and, hopefully, achieve my goals. And if I don't, at least I'll know I've tried. 

Today it is one month until the big launch event and I've been blown away by the generosity of my fellow WiBBLErs - from supplying thank you flowers and bunting for free to sending me encouraging cards and ideas for events. Yes, this week I have learned many things. Did you know, for example, that the best time to post on Facebook or Twitter is between 5pm and 9pm GMT or how to design an infographic? These are new lessons I have learned this week. I have had great feedback about a charity event and Christmas Fayre I'm organising, have downloaded some super helpful products from LaunchGrowJoy and found a whole array of useful resources (more on those soon).

As is always the case with the perpetual roller-coaster of being self-employed, there have been bad times (a potential book ghostwriting project being 'postponed' until the client has more time to focus) to incredibly good times: getting a piece in the local newspaper announcing the forthcoming WiBBLE Launch Event. 

The best boost though came from a surprise source - my brand new business bank manager. He said he found my business exciting, extremely viable and already knew of a few potential WiBBLErs he could pass my details on to. Bish bash bosh - bank account opened and a more buoyant (and relieved) moi.

Next week it's time to get my web copy written (glad I used to run a business called - I'm selling the domain if any UK based web copywriters would like to buy it... I stopped writing web copy when I started writing books). Got a website to build, fill with content and test too. Busy but exciting times ahead. Lots of hard work to be getting on with (haven't even found time to promote this blog yet, but I surely shall). Indeed, I'll be trying my best every stage of the way. That much I know for sure. Is there any other way when you're starting a business?

Thursday, 16 August 2012

10 Ways To Use Pinterest To Your Advantage

Pinterest is a HOT tool right now for marketing. Hitwise ranked it #5 in it's list of the top ten social networks, above big names such as LinkedIn and Google+. By 'pinning' images to your own relevant pinboards (a collection of themed 'pins') users can share, curate and find visually interesting products, quotes, landscapes and creative ideas. You can repin or comment on other peoples' pins thus connecting with people through 'things' you find interesting.

The virtual pinboard is worthy of consideration for many reasons, not only because of it's rapid growth and uptake, but also because of its huge capacity to drive traffic. Many sites are revealing they generate more traffic from Pinterest than any other social network. For example, Pinterest is now the third biggest referral source to Shopify's partner sites after Facebook, and on par with Twitter.

So how can you use Pinterest to your advantage?
  1. Give your Pinterest profile, description, pinboards and pins keyword-rich descriptions. Ideally create boards based on core keywords that you already use as part of your SEO strategy, and make them resourceful, useful and creative. Do this by repinning or commenting on other users' pins as well as pinning your own to enhance your boards and make them the best they can be.
  2. Include web links within the descriptions of your pins wherever possible to drive traffic to your site.

  3. Share a wide variation of relevant things, not just your own products. For example you might includes 'Quotes to Live By', 'Beautiful Shoes' and 'Amazing Places Your Shoes Could Take You To' if you are a shoe retailer.

  4. Make sure 'Hide your Pinterest profile from search engines' is clicked to 'OFF' so that your profile and pins can get indexed.

  5. Follow users you'd like to follow you back then like and comment on their pins.

  6. Add the Pinterest follow button to your social network profiles and website and the Pin-It button to your website.

  7. Pin a blend of visual imagery, from product photos, photos which showcase your brand identity and ethos, images which symbolise your tagline, book or ebook covers, photos of your customers (with their permission) using your product/service, images from your blog posts, photographs from behind the scenes at your office or from events you've hosted, infographics that tell a story/make a point/reveal industry data.

  8. Use hashtags to improve the search-engine-friendliness of your content and leverage cross-promotion on Twitter and Facebook, et al. 

  9. Your Pinterest profile has its very own RSS which can be found by clicking on the RSS symbol under your profile photo. Post it on your other social network sites and ask users/fans to  add you to their RSS feedreaders. 

  10. Make your website visitors aware of your Pinterest activity and recent pins by using a Pinterest widget, especially if you have a Wordpress site (it'll apepar in your Wordpress sidebar).
Follow me on Pinterest here:

If you are serious about harnessing the power of Pinterest, try this highly recommended Pinterest Advantage course. Before signing up it's worth watching this very informative and FREEPinterest webinar. Happy pinning!

Monday, 30 July 2012

WiBBLE - Harnessing the power of Facebook

It's been a while since I posted on my blog. This is due to one reason and one reason only... WiBBLE.

I set the group up on Facebook back in June and it has taken off (it reached 100 members in 24 hours and we now have over 400 members).

My goal has always been to inspire and inform women regarding how to start up and run their own enterprises, particularly when it can be a struggle to find flexible work/jobs after taking time out to have children. That's why I wrote my first book, The Small Business Start-Up Workbook - that was my purpose - and the purpose of WiBBLE (Women in Business: Brilliant Local Enterprises) echoed that purpose and has reignited it.

So much so that I have spent the last few months working on a plan of action to turn this Facebook group into a bonafide business, an extension of the group that will continue to  to inspire, inform, educate and empower women in business by providing a range of tools, opportunities and support. There's also a Facebook page to accompany it.

I've also embarked on a mission to persuade the Government to provide financial support for women in business and met with my local MP (who is very supportive) to discuss possibilities and synergies.

I'm excited about the possibilities and blown away by the mutual support and win-win collaborative opportunities that group members are providing each other.

Tuesday, 5 June 2012

To punt or not to punt? BBC The Apprentice Final 2012

This weekend I watched The Final of BBC's The Apprentice. (Stop reading now if you have Sky+ it and haven't viewed it yet).

So... Lord Sugar's predicament - play it safe? Go for the reliable, straightfoward business opportunity within your potential business partner's comfort zone? Or take a risk, have a gamble?

Entrepreneurs are widely known to be risk-takers, yet... when it comes to backing a business, whether it's your own venture or investing in someone else's, strength comes in validating proof of concept; in justifying why a risk is worth taking. As such entrepreneurial risks are always calculated ones.

The greatest risk may be "not to take one", but, as Lord Sugar said of his decision to back Ricky Martin's recruitment business, he needed to go for the business plan which he viewed as the most viable. He stuck to his ethos and kept it "simple and straightforward."

"I've spent the whole of my life in technology and I know that it's a hot market for IT consultants, scientists and software people," said Lord Sugar. "It is a real viable proposition."

Some of those who primarily see entrepreneurs as risk takers were surprised with Lord Sugar's decision. I wasn't. Yes, entrepreneurs take risks, but only if their gut instinct and research backs up that the risk is one worth taking. In seeking out viability and in justifying risk taking, entrepreneurs do all that they can to minimise risks by proving that something will succeed. Success therefore calls for the ability to reduce risks by proving that an opportunity exists – the more you prove it, the less risk there is.

As Nick Britton says in "The True Meaning of Entrepreneurship" in Growth Business here: "Maybe we should amend our notion of a successful entrepreneur from a risk-taker to a risk-assessor. What entrepreneurs do is not the equivalent of spinning the roulette wheel; it’s about knowing when to buy a stake in the casino."

That's what Lord Sugar did. 

What calculated risks have you taken recently?

Sunday, 20 May 2012

Like Tips, Links and Guidance on Starting and Growing Your Business, Team, Brand, Digital and Social Media Presence? Like my Facebook Page

OK. So, I was feeling fed-up on a Saturday night stuck at home with tonsillitus (swallow, ouch, swallow, ouch... you get the gist)... So I decided to turn a negative into a positive and work on my Facebook page which I've set up to provide tips, links and guidance to those starting, running and growing their own businesses. Please feel free to take a look and click 'LIKE :-) In doing so you'll get updates when I post new stuff. 

Importantly the page is not just for those who've set up their own businesses. If you use social media for marketing as part of your job, are involved in brand building or recruitment and the retention of great talent, the links and tips will still be of use. 

If you are an entrepreneur, intrapreneur, or someone who takes an interest in what's going on in the world of digital business, building great products, teams, brands, apps and websites, please click the link below which will take you to my page: and give it a big fat LIKE. I thank you xxx

Thursday, 10 May 2012

May issue of Entrepreneur Country

My "Top 10 Tips on promoting a Digital Business" feature is now live in Entrepreneur Country magazine's May issue:

Entrepreneur Country May Issue also features Charlie Mullins - Living the Pipe Dream, Government proposals on the retention of data by Lord Paddy Ashdown, Venture Capital: A European Story by Julie Meyer, Profit from Disruption: The Zara Model by Tom Peterson, Business Owners Flying Blind by Robert Craven, Start-Up Chile by Joe Haslam, Jamie Oliver and Social Enterprise by Alison Coleman, Five Reasons to Write your Book by Mindy Gibbons-Klein, plus Living a Laptop Lifestyle, Planning for punchy performance, The Road to Technology in 2012, How Fit is your Business?, Can London become a sustainable community?, SpotLightOn: Young Masters

Monday, 9 April 2012

Top 5 Tips on Starting a Digital Business

Top 5 Tips on Starting a Digital Business

by Cheryl Rickman, author of The Digital Business Start-Up Workbook

This global village of ours is now virtual, digital and mobile. The omnipresent World Wide Web has enabled anyone to access revenue-generating audiences from anywhere with an Internet connection at anytime, 24-7.  Ultimately, where there’s an Internet connection, there’s a potential enterprise and, where there’s scale, there’s colossal opportunity.

Thanks to technology and the digital revolution, global web operations can be orchestrated from any location. (Amazon and Google started life in their founders’ garages, eBay was established in a spare bedroom).

Today, when start-ups open their doors for business, they can do so to the world.  Indeed, living in a global village means that, as well as seizing the chance to sell, entrepreneurs can also tap into a global talent pool and source low-cost supplies from far-flung corners of the planet. The world is quite literally an entrepreneur’s oyster.

Here are five Top Tips extracted from my new book, The Digital Business Start-Up Workbook to give anyone starting a digital business the best chance of success.
  1. Seek out windows of opportunity that you have the competencies to take advantage of. Consider how you can create a better, unique, differentiated, useful product or service with a fantastic value proposition. Seek out problems that you might be able to solve. Consider how you might make a group of people's lives/tasks easier. What can you offer that traditional businesses cannot? Personalisation? More product choice via a wider range? Faster turnaround? Easier purchasing? A brand new solution? 
  2. Listen to peoples’ reactions when you explain your idea. “My worst decision was being too stubborn in the early days and not listening to people,” admits founder, Richard Moross. 
  3. Create an exceptional and memorable product. “The most important element of our growth has been the product,” says founder, Nick Jenkins. “That’s been 75% of it because people like it and they want to spread the word.” Benchmark your success based on how exceptional, exciting, remarkable and memorable your products and company are. 
  4. Put the customer at the heart of what you do. Provide unrivalled customer service that goes the extra mile to please your customers and turn detractors into promoters. 
  5. Gain traction. The more users you can get using your product/service, the more investors you will attract. Traction validates your claims. It’s as simple as that. Present a product that is up and running as opposed to a mere idea; thus proving the concept works and the market exists. Test launch to get an initial base of customers and consequential metrics.
Finally, be brilliant. Hire a brilliant bunch of people and produce great products and services that people want to share. Follow these tips and you'll be well on your way to creating and sustaining a successful digital enterprise.

Cheryl Rickman's new book, The Digital Business Start-Up Workbook: The Ultimate Step-by-Step Guide to Succeeding Online from Start-Up to Exit is published in April 2012 by Wiley/Capstone.

(c) Cheryl Rickman 2012.

Please feel free to publish this 'top tips' content on your own blog/website in its entirety, including web links and copyright detail above. Thank you.

Click here to order the Paperback version