The Big New Idea: the cat's out of the bag…

BIG NEW IDEA: the cat's out of the bagSo, after a couple of blog posts about my Big New Idea, I believe the time has come to let the cat out of the bag and tell you a bit more about what I’m actually doing.

Here’s the elevator pitch:

I’m starting a content studio to provide designer-makers with high quality product images, descriptions, tags/search terms and even product upload to various platforms. Content created for you, based on what I know works to sell products online.

I want to be able to say: “Send us your products, and we’ll make them look good, sound fabulous, and get them on the internet.”

It’s an extension of the product descriptions and product upload I’ve already been doing, but with photography thrown into the mix. And built with a talented team, so that we can offer consistent turnaround times as well as consistently excellent work.

This is the basis of the studio, but I hope to extend to offer other marketing content, like social media management, blog writing, newsletter templates and things like wholesale catalogues. The things that not everyone can fit into their schedule, but can boost business immensely.

The studio will benefit from my experience and expertise, and I’m already starting to work with copywriters and photographers to share my knowledge and establish the format that works. But, ultimately, the studio will be directed by me and run by a brilliant team. (Which means it’s a huge exercise in collaboration and delegation and trust, but more on that another time…)

I honestly cannot WAIT to get this going, and right now I’m planning a trial shoot with the initial team to get a feel for what it’s like for all of us to work together on this. Exciting times!

So right now I’m thinking about:

  • Getting products for the trial shoot (I’ll be asking existing clients if they want a free shoot, and I’ll need a variety of product types)
  • Props and backgrounds
  • Processes for future shoots
  • Using my new studio space for the shoot (read: needing to tidy up)
  • Getting the website underway so that I’ve got somewhere to put the test shots when they’re done
  • Pre-launch registration for anyone interested in the new studio
  • Branding

On that last point, I’ve contacted a few designers about working together, and after a few days, I’ve only had one response – and it was one of high enthusiasm. The branding of this new business is a place of conflict for me, and one that has taken up a lot of thinking time. I know a lot of designers and I love working with them, but for some reason I’m called to work with someone fresh and new. Not sure why, but I’m going with it!

It feels slightly terrifying to put this “out there” – I’m nervous! This is a big deal, and there are definitely moments of asking myself: “Are you sure?” No, I’m not sure, because certainty is a myth. But I have some pretty good information that tells me people are interested in this service. And I have a whole load of enthusiasm for it!

Keeping my fingers crossed while I press “publish”…


The Big New Idea: plans, models and lists (plus some fear)

BIG NEW IDEA latestHello again, dear friends!

I have news about this Big New Idea I started telling you about a couple of weeks ago. I seriously cannot believe that it’s actually two weeks since I wrote the first post, but here we are.

The good news is, I have made progress.

Here’s a little update on the things I listed in the last post:

  • Defining the help I need. This is in progress, but I’ve made headway, and I have a clearer idea about who I want to work with, both long-term and short-term, and part-time and full-time. It may shift and change, but some of the foundations (like skills, interests and personalities) are set.
  • Have conversations with key people. Done! Oh, and they were so good. I’m really grateful for the support of two people in particular, and I’m looking forward to working with both of them as we move forward. I also spoke to my accountant, who was really supportive and helpful, too.
  • Buy the domain. After much faffing around (see below), I finally did it this afternoon. THANK GOODNESS.

So, for those who may be interested, I wanted to share some of the business set-up background, especially having spoken to my accountant earlier this week. While this is a new business, it’s still very much linked to my current business, so while it may have been efficient to set up a new business, for now they’re going to be part of one big joyful entity but under two different names.

They’ll have separate websites, social media accounts, newsletter mailing lists etc, but ultimately they will be the same business.

This is partly because, when I think about the long-term and having a team in place, I want the team to be able to support my current ventures (like events) as part of their normal work. Essentially, I will be using resources from both ventures to support each other.

Before I spoke to my accountant, I had anticipated needing to become a limited company, but having talked through the options, I’ve decided to stay as a sole trader for the time being. Partly to save tax and partly to preserve my financial records for mortgage applications. (As some of you know, I had a mortgage until recently, when we decided to sell up in London and rent in Cambridge until we have more of an idea where we want to be long term. So while I have some mortgage points, I don’t currently have a mortgage, so need to do some clever balancing.)

I hope that’s interesting and helpful to folk who are in the early stages or thinking about expanding!

What’s next?

Well, it’s all go from here!

I’m still thinking about packages, and my financial model and aims. I probably won’t aim to make a profit in the first year, but I will aim to break even, and I certainly want to be fairly close to my ideal pricing structure with what I’m charging. (Because this is going to be part of my existing business, my current income will carry me through anyway, but I’ll be tracking the income and expense of this particular project so that I know what it achieves standalone.)

There are a couple of things that are getting in the way of my final decisions on packages, which are basically the costs: will I need to rent space in the short-term, and how much will it be in the long-term?

The other biggie is finding a certain person to work with, and I haven’t found them yet. (More on this soon, when I reveal the what exactly I’m working on!)

I’m also thinking about how much I want to invest up front, especially on branding design. On one hand, I have confidence in the business and know it’ll do well. But on the other, there’s fear (see below) and wanting to break even. I’ve been in touch with a couple of people, and hope to set up chats with them, but I’m still mulling over what I need for launch. I may not need an all-singing, all-dancing visual branding package in the first, say, six months, and could spend more on this later.

So, a little note on fear

Also interesting and (I hope) also helpful is that I’ve watched myself get stuck in fear a few times over starting this project. It’s really big, and on a few occasions I find myself wondering whether I want to take on this much work, responsibility and commitment.

As someone who’s fairly comfortable with taking risks, I’ve found myself holding back on registering the domain name – something fairly cheap and easy and straightforward – because I’m “not ready”. Because there are several thousand things I can find I “have” to do before I do that.

Like choosing a host. I currently have two great companies’ websites open, and just need to pick one. They’re very similar, both recommended, and neither is expensive. I just need to choose! And yet, I find myself wanting a second opinion, rather than trusting myself to make a (not complex) decision.

So yeah, I can hold myself back. And I guess this is the point at which to hold myself back. This is the first time since I dreamt up this project 18 months ago that I’m actually taking action to make it happen. This is the point of diving in. Except I’m not really diving in. I’m just stepping onto the first step.

I can always change my mind, especially as I learn about the business and the work. If it’s not right, I can change it.

So, there’s an update for you! I’d love to hear your stories of setting up your business, or if you have any questions about this new project from me.

More soon,

Jenny x

The Big New Idea: introducing my live-blog of setting up a new project

MY BIG NEW IDEA: Read my live-blog about setting up a new businessOkay, friends. Here’s the thing (to coin a phrase): I’m working on something. Something BIG. Something new. Something that’s going to make my business better, but more importantly, it’s going to make YOUR business better.

Sounds good, right?

Good, I’m glad you’re on board!

So, to add some extra goodness to the whole thing, I thought I’d “live-blog” my progress with some behind-the-scenes looks at my thought process as I set something up.

The idea is cribbed from Paul Jarvis and Jason Zook over at Invisible Office Hours, who have been live-podcasting their latest project together. I’ve loved hearing them talk about their processes, and it’s totally worth a listen, especially if you have a penchant for software/service development (which, so it transpires, I do).

Anyway, back to this Big New Idea.

This project is so big that it’s kind of like setting up a new business from scratch. Oh yeah, I wasn’t messing around when I said it was BIG! But because it will involve setting up a website, creating packages and all that jazz, I thought it would be pretty helpful to read about. And hopefully interesting too.

It’s also a great way to keep myself accountable. Not that I particularly struggle with that, but having my thoughts written down has never really steered me wrong before.

So, I know what you’re thinking. What the blooming heck is this project?!

I’m not going to tell you just yet. That will come, but I’ve got some important conversations to have with people I want to get on board, and I don’t want to give the game away too much until I’ve spoken to them.

What I will give you is an insight into where I am right now, and what’s on my next steps list. This is a real-life snapshot of the project as it stands right now, and these things are not too far off the to-do list for any new endeavour.

What I already have:

  • A name (to be revealed in due course)
  • An idea of how I’ll describe the business (essentially, an elevator pitch)
  • Ideas for packages (or products): I know what I’m going to be offering my clients/customers
  • My target audience: not hugely different from my current audience (hi, there!), but subtly different, and with different specific needs
  • A pretty good idea that this will work: not to blow my own trumpet, but I already know that there’s a gap in the market for this business project, because my existing clients are asking about it


My next steps:

  • Plan the packages: what the customer will get, how much they’ll cost, how long each thing will take (so that I can price effectively). This won’t be hard-and-fast forever, but it’s what I hope to aim for. I’ll also plan introductory rates to help me launch the packages.
  • Define the help I need. This isn’t a one-woman show. I’m going to need help. After I started looking for an assistant in January, I got some good contacts, but I need to define for myself what I need in the people I work with. It’ll be my Mary Poppins wishlist that I can then use to compare to the people I talk to about joining the project.
  • Have conversations with people about the project. This is mostly about finding people to work within the business, but I might also have conversations with people who can support the development of the business (i.e. promote it or become customers).
  • Buy the domain. I already have the name of the business, so this is a no-brainer. I’m not ready to start setting up the website yet, but I can at least grab the domain name. I might think about who I host with, as this will link later to whether I set up business email addresses etc. (This is a slightly more complicated question for me as I already have my email address.) I’ll share my hosting decision once I’ve decided!

So, I’ll be back soon with an update! I’d love to hear from you if you have thoughts or questions about this Big New Idea, and if you’re planning to follow along. Post in the comments or get in touch.

Oh, and if you’re wondering about your own business development and getting my thoughts on online selling, my Inspired Action course starts in a little over a week, and is jam-packed with lots of inspiration and ways you can take action to improve your business.

Until soon



Enter The Forge

Life's too damn short to chase someone else's definition of success. I'm here to give you the courage and tools to forge your own path.