In Part One of our feature on local small businesses, Lisa McManus spoke to local author Jenn Ashworth, Louise Day of Lifft and Jane Fox of Fired 4U about starting a small business and gaining support. Part Two focuses on marketing and the challenges they face.Advertisement
Web 2.0 technologies including blogs, social networking and Twitter have no doubt helped many small businesses market and sell their products. Many experts, such as Eric Qualman, author of Socialnomics, agree that social media will be become central to business strategy and with the advent of smartphones they suggest many businesses should have a mobile as well as a desktop version of their site. So how useful have Web 2.0 technologies, such as social networking, blogs and Twitter been to our entrepreneurs?
“They’ve been wonderful tools for helping me connect with my readers and have conversations with reviewers, bloggers, literature development organisations and potential clients,” says Jenn. “But as I’m interested in blogging and similar as a form of literature, most of my writing isn’t to do with self promotion, but with expression.”
“I’m also part of a community of brilliant writers and bloggers, and the moral and practical support I receive from them is worth more than any outcomes in terms of sales or clients. Although yes, my publisher does court book bloggers and I am sure an online profile helps.”
Challenges vs Benefits
From talking to our entrepreneurs it seems that while running your own business can offer a greater flexibility the hours can be long and there is less scope for holidays. Plus there is a lot of unpaid yet necessary work like book keeping, networking and meetings. Jenn and Louise both said the hours they worked were longer and Jane out
lined that it can be a struggle managing holidays and time with loved ones.
However, it seems that the benefits outweigh the challenges. The main benefit for everyone I spoke to was control and flexibility. Louise and Jenn both said running your own business fits around family life.
“You choose your own time to work. All the work you do benefits you and not a Boss” said Jane.
“You can choose what you do and you don’t have to wait for a board to give you the go ahead. Plus I am able to pass on my skills to a small team and to our customers.”
Jenn echoed this: “Of course I have deadlines, contracts with my publisher and my clients and I need to make a living. But generally I can choose when and where I work, can pick my hours and can avoid working with people I’d prefer not to spend time with. Because of that, I think I have the best job in the world.”
Louise Day will be pitching the Lifft Sling on BBC2’s The Next Big Thing, hosted by Theo Paphitis, scheduled for broadcast at the end of March.
Jenn Ashworth’s second novel Cold Light is out this spring, published by Sceptre. The Writing Smithy is for committed writers, either poets or novelists, wishing to get one to one advice from a published working writer.
Fired4U have recently launched their online shop and are open Wednesday – Sunday inclusive. Tel 01772 203060. Check website for opening times.
Business Link Northwest can be accessed via telephone, online or face to face for more in-depth support. Anyone wishing to start up a business can also access the range of guides produced by Business Link Northwest via their website.