Mistakes Small Businesses Make When Starting Up | Rebel Business School & Business Bunker Radio

Thanks to Business Bunker Radio for the interview – https://www.kentbusinessradio.co.uk/


Note: This transcription has been generated with AI and there may be errors present. 


The Business bunker with Paul Andrews, some cheesy tunes their pop music by him. And hopefully we’re now joined on the phone by Henry Nicholson of the pop up business school, Henry. Good afternoon.

Hey, how’s it going?

Henry, thank you so much for joining us. Why don’t you kick off by telling the listeners about the pop up business school?

Yeah, absolutely. So, so the pop up business school. I mean, in short, we help people take business ideas from an idea through to a trading business. And we do that in a in a very different way. You know, so the traditional way of starting a business, for example, is it’s all about writing business plans, working out how much money you need to borrow, borrowing, you know, that much money, and then maybe two years later, if it all works out, you’ll start making some money. Yeah. And we sort of looked at that, and we were having some time. Very exciting, does it?

It’s also a sorry, sorry to interrupt you, Henry. Also, it’s not actually very true, either. In terms of how most businesses actually get off the ground.

Exactly, exactly. Right. And it’s, you know, it’s, it’s very old, old advice that and you know, it’s classed as traditional when it’s what we’re taught in school, it’s what society tells us we should do. You know, as soon as somebody says, You know what, I’m going to start a business, the first thing anyone tells you is, have you got your business plan? Or have you written one? Where are you going to start? So, app pop up, we turn all of that on its head. And, and we look at the stuff that’s actually important. And in short, we help people start a business completely for free, right, the course is free, it doesn’t cost you any money to do we don’t encourage spending money to get the business started. And we definitely don’t encourage borrowing money. Yeah, absolutely. Because, you know, funding, you know, business funding in quotation is just a code word for debt. Yeah. And, you know, especially a time like this, you know, like, that isn’t something that anybody needs.

Absolutely, it’s interesting that you say that, because I don’t hear that often enough, funnily enough, as well. I operated for a number of years as an angel investor. And one of the things I tried to do with so many startup businesses was to put them off using me at all. You know, because what you’re doing is giving away for very little money, because a startup company has no value, a large portion of a potential business for no real massive benefit, other than some debt. So I couldn’t agree with you more, bootstrapping a business is the best way to go.

That’s absolutely and, and the way we do this, so the way we run, so we run five day courses that cover everything you’d need to get your business from an idea. Or even if you don’t have an idea, if you just know that you need to work for yourself, you don’t want to work for someone else, or you just need a little bit of control. So what we do is we have a five day programme day one is all about starting a business starting for free. And we have a dedicated session have five ways to get going for free, right? So how to find the things you need, how to borrow the stuff you need, how to negotiate for, you know, the kitchen, or the restaurant or the printer, you know, whatever it is that you need to get your business going. Yeah.

So just explained to me again, the format, you said five days, is that a five day programme or you run five separate kind of things?

Yes. So yes, sorry. So here’s a five day course. So that will be day one is all about how you can get going and grow. Day two is all about sales and marketing. And now for us, sales is the number one thing when you’re starting a business. Yep. Because if all you’re doing is, you know, say we wanted to start a bakery. So, you know, we start making cupcakes, they’re really good. They’re the best cupcakes you ever seen. If we haven’t got a customer, if we’re not selling those, if we’re not making any money, what we’ve got there is a really, really expensive hobby. Yeah, absolutely. And, you know, until that point that you can start making a sale, and then use your customers money to grow the business. It’s not a business. Absolutely. You just have a hobby,

larger waistline.

Much larger ways like they will never trust a skinny chef. So gates is all about sales and marketing. Day three, we will show people how to build a website for free, right? You know, these days getting online is is such a huge part of starting a business or really doing anything. You know, if you’re not online, you’re you’re more or less invisible. So, show you how to get website off the ground. They for the Thursday is social media. So we’ll cover what social channels are currently, you know, active, what are the main ones? How are they used? And then how can we implement that for your business and choose the right ones, right? Because you know, what? A mistake I see a lot of small businesses do is that they’ll they’ll set up a, you know, a Facebook account, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, they’ll do everything. Yeah. But then they’ll do none of them particularly well,

yeah. As you implied, they picked entirely the wrong platform. So you know, a bookkeeper is going to go on tick tock or something.

Certainly the audience. But yes, you’re absolutely right. So. So it’s a big part of, you know, figuring out which one or two are going to be the ones that you’re absolutely going to own. And, you know, that’s where you’re going to become the expert. That’s where you can own space. And everything in between. And then the Friday, Friday is usually a little bit shorter, you know, Friday, it’s a long weekend. But Friday is all about, it’s actually my favourite day, it’s the tax, the company structures, the financial bits, and spreadsheets and funding, that would be my

first day.

I mean, I think for most of us that first start in business, that is our worst day for all of us, because none of us really start in business to do admin, do we put it that but of course, once you’ve been in business for a while, you suddenly realise just how important it is, you know, understanding your cash flow, understanding your VAT returns, understanding all the stuff that you don’t particularly want to understand. But it is actually the bedrock of running a proper business.

Yes, yeah, 100% 100%. And actually, you know, in business, especially in small business, there are three columns, and I guess I would call them the Trinity’s of management. Sounds very posh, it’s just a bar graph. For what you’ve got, you know, you’ve got the product, or the service in one column. And that’s, you know, that’s what you do. So that’s our cupcakes. So baking, we absolutely love. And what you do is you measure this based on excitement, we’ve got column one is the products, we’ve got 100% excitement, because we love baking, and that’s what we do. The second column is selling it. And it’s funding the business. And it’s, you know, having those conversations with customers telling people how much it is, you know, all that kind of stuff. Usually, people are not very excited about that, it’s quite a difficult thing to get used to, or to enjoy the very least. So you know, we lower that down. So what you see there is you’ve got a full bar graph of the passion, the thing that excites you, you think not as much a little bit but not as much as selling it. And then you’ve got the admin and control and finance. And usually that’s really, really low. Unless you are a bookkeeper or an accountant, then usually that’s, you know, that’s the thing that is your passion. Yeah, exactly. So, so what we do in pop up is, you know, we sort of address all three of these things, and we talked about this in the course as well. But unless you’ve got a level of all three of them, or a way of doing them, it, it’s really easy to fall apart. Because, you know, as a small business as creatives, you know, because as entrepreneurs, we are creative people. It’s, we want to spend all of our time doing the business, you know, making the products sewing the clothes, or don’t whatever the business is. But actually the challenge then is that we need to spend as much time selling it so that we can keep doing it. Yep. And then we need to make sure that all of our books are in order so that we can continue to do it forever. So it’s, you know, it’s those Trinity’s of management, they’re quite an interesting thing to dive into shows that will give you some really big clues as to what we need to work on.

can ask a question, Emery, what your experiences of talking to people that are looking to start businesses, with the sales process. My experience over many years is that especially in the UK, I’ve lived and worked in the US where it’s different. But any UK we seem to shy away from sales. We I mean, you don’t. In America, you can do a degree in sales at a university here, there’s no such thing. So we tend to, as a society not look very fondly on sales. And most people kind of struggle with sales. It’s not something they got doing. I just wondered what your experience was of dealing with start businesses, and how you know how they respond to that need to sell.

Yeah, it’s really interesting one, so we’ve run courses in in the States as well. And it’s interesting, you mentioned it because you’re right. It is a totally different culture. Totally different now. Very direct and I think one thing we really do that here is being very British about things. Or would you mind awfully? We love to give people the option to say no. And actually, we expect people to say no, most of the time. But that’s why you’ll see you know, some, there are people that you just cannot say no to. And that’s usually because they’re so direct. So direct, and it’s, you know, not down the level of they’re rude about it. But being direct is such a powerful way of progressing things and making sales. But so back to back to your question. What’s really interesting is, especially in, in the UK, and what we’ve seen running our courses, but when we talk about sales, what a lot of people imagine is, you know, a guy with slicked back hair in a suit, that’s just a little bit too big. Knocking on your front door. With slightly. Yes, yes, exactly. Exactly. And, and, you know, it’s not a negative connotation, yet, we don’t love the idea of it just because we don’t like being sold to in a negative way. Yeah. But if you think about it on the flip side, and you think about the things that you have painful and have bought, and you have been sold to, if it’s done in a way where it benefits your life, it’s not a problem. The only time sales is negative is when it’s a disruption, and it doesn’t fit in with your life. Yeah. So if you think about this former, you know, as a business owner, or you’re starting your own business, the products or the service that you are delivering, improve somebody’s life in one way or another. And you know, whether that’s entertainment, or whether, you know, if you’re a plumber, for example, you got somebody who’s got a pipe that’s busted in their, you know, the front of the house, there’s water going everywhere, they’re not going to mind you sending it to them. That’s improving their life trying. There you go. You see what I mean? It’s all about the positioning. And I think when we talk about sales, we put it into this negative box that actually, it’s all about the the outlook and what you’re trying to do. And and if you can get a customer as enthusiastic about your idea as you are, the sale is almost, it happens automatically.

Absolutely. And I guess that starts with having a proper idea of who your customer should be. And what I mean by that is like, I’m sure you do like me, Henry, you know, we’re on LinkedIn. And I get dozens of messages a week from people trying to flog me stuff, that I’ve done no research at all, they have no idea that I may need or want their product, because they don’t even know what I do. Yeah, they just sent me a message, a sales message that says, you know, do you want to buy this? And that’s why that’s why they find it such a difficult task, because they’re they’re trying to sell things to the wrong people. The analogy use about someone with a broken water pipe is a very definite, isn’t it? You know, of course, you want to hear from a plumber, of course, you want to be sold, because you have a very definite problem to be fixed. So is that something you talk about how to identify that your, your, your marketplace? How to Identify your customer?

Yeah, yeah, definitely. And actually, that’s probably the thing we speak about the most throughout the course. And I’ll tell you what the the biggest mistake I see people make all the time, I would say more or less 99% of cases, people will make the mistake of trying to sell to everyone. Yeah. Yeah. And you know, let’s go. Let’s go back to the cupcake example. In theory, everybody likes cupcakes, don’t they? Yeah. Yeah, for the most part, ignoring dietary requirements for a minute, like most people would like cupcakes. However, if you try and sell to everybody, you’re gonna end up selling to nobody. Because you don’t relate to any one person, you’re not getting in front of any one group. You’re just putting your business out into the noise of the rest of the world. However, if I decide, you know, if I go really, really detailed, and this is what we help people do say I decide to sell to car dealerships, and I want to sell to them for their events or for this stuff. And I want to sell them 30 Cupcakes a month. Is it easy to find all of the car dealerships where you live? Yep. Who basically, you know, we know exactly where they are. And then suddenly, the marketing activity, you know, you’re not going to do TV adverts. You’re not going to do radio necessarily. You’re not going to do newspapers because you can literally walk in and talk to the customer directly. And I think this is this is one of the big things that I really want. I’d love I love helping people figure out and understand this, then by narrowing down who your audience is, it makes your life so much easier. Okay, you know what marketing activity you have to do?

It’s almost counterintuitive, isn’t it? Although it’s not. But it’s almost counterintuitive, because I think so many so many people go, Well, anyone can buy our product, because it makes them feel better that you know that there’s 60 million people that could potentially buy their product. But it actually doesn’t help you with the sales processes. As you’ve just identified, it is actually far easier to chunk it into much more deliverable deliverable pieces. Because you stand more chance of actually selling into that demographic.

Yeah, yeah, I totally agree. You’re exactly right. And it’s, you know, we’re not saying, don’t sell to everybody. All we’re saying is you need to just be really specific of who you want to hit first. Because, you know, say, for example, my target market complete broad generalisation is women between the age of 30 and 40, who work in a certain sector and drive a certain car. If you know, they from around the corner, who drives a different car and works in a different sector. So actually, can I buy one? I’m not going to say no. But you know, I’m just not directing my energy towards that group. Because I know who my target audience is. And that’s basically the whole point of it. Yeah, it’s to make your life easier. So

do you reckon that by, you know, scaling down that detail and focusing, it’s actually sounds sounds to me that it’s a lot calmer and less scattergun approach that you’re teaching people?

Yes. Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. Because, you know, if you if you looked at bombing, you know, does anybody have phone books anymore? Does the Yellow Pages still exist? Like, you remember how sick the Yellow Pages used to be? Yeah, yeah. Hay was huge, you know, used to use those to reach the top shelf in the kitchen. But if you get one of those out, put it on the desk. That is who you’re saying you’re going to ring? You’re going to call everybody in that phonebook. Yeah. Like, it’s just unrealistic.

Yeah. It’s not practical at all. Is it? unrealistic? It’s really funny. On a very similar note, Somebody contacted me the other day and said, I’d like your help. Paul, you’ve got a lot of Twitter followers. How do you do that? So I looked at their Twitter account, and it became fairly obvious why they weren’t getting very far. And the fact is, what I said to them is, well, who is it that you want to follow you? Who is it? You know, who do you want to follow you? And I went, Well, anyone? Why would you want to be followed by anyone, surely, you want to be followed by people you want to talk to. So basically, it’s a question of you following the people that you want to follow back so that you can do it. If you look at an in this particular case, this person’s Twitter feed, everyone they followed was a celebrity of some kind, well, none of them are gonna follow you back. So you’re not gonna have a conversation with them. So you haven’t actually got anyone that you having a conversation with, what you need to do is identify the type of people that you want to have a conversation with, you know, and then follow them. And they’ll follow you back and have a conversation and it grows from there. And it’s very similar with what you’re saying about the sales approach to this. Yeah.

That’s it. That’s it. And you know, there are two points to sales that will guarantee that it works every time one is transferring enthusiasm. Because that’s, you know, that’s all it is, if I can get them as excited as me, they’re going to be able to, they’re going to be happy to buy it. Then second point, is add value. Yeah. If you’re not adding value, even, you know, like now, for example, technically, what I’m doing now is I’m advertising the course. Yeah, absolutely. That’s the sort of, that’s the work we’re doing now. But I’m, you know, hopefully, I’m adding value because we’re, you know, we’re talking around the subject and exactly, you know, people listening if it’s applicable to them, hopefully, it will be helping as well. And if you’re not adding value up front, people find it very difficult to figure out how it fits into their life, if that makes sense. Yeah.

Yeah. I just had a tweet from a lady called Tracy and Barker. And she says, really interesting guests, Henry Nicholson. A great it can be so easy to get the wrong thing. niche or market and niche to your talk target audience helps your sales process. Absolutely. So Henry, this the pop up business school, it’s a five day programme that you offer, and you offer it totally for free.

Yeah, completely for free, completely for free. Our business model is we’ve got kind of a Robin Hood style business model, I guess. Okay.

you map them on the way out?

Yeah, that’s it. Sorry. No, no. So what we do is, we identified our target market fairly early on when we started, this is about eight years ago. And we figured out that housing associations, so social landlords Yeah, And counsels. And there are two primary audiences. They would put they would pay us to run a course, to engage their local community. Yep. And that, you know, that’s how we started. And we’ve kind of branched out from there. So what we’ve got going on in this time is, it’s actually an EU funded project. And this is twin, this is course number 19, out of 22, that we’ve been running in Kent, right? Over the last three years. So you know, it’s one of many. This is the only one that is camp wide. That is, you know, for anybody in the in the county, then they’re more than welcome to attend. And you know, what, if people come, perhaps I can, I’m not too sure. So, so yes. So what we do is we get sponsors to pay us to run the course. Right, so that we can give it away for free. Yep,

that makes sense. That makes sense. And I know what you mean, I’ve done some work with social housing groups myself, they they have, they have a need to get their tenants into either paid work or starting businesses so they can afford to buy rents, which are fairly simple. So

is there a start date for this Henry or deadline for these courses?

Yes, so So this, this one in particular that we’re talking about? It starts on the third of August. So two, two weeks ish. Yeah. It’s the third of August until the seventh, which is the Friday is totally free, all you need to do is head over to our website, which is pop up business school.co.uk. We’ve got an events page with all of the events we’ve just got. One is called Kent, August 2020. Go through that. And there’s a signup process as well.

Fantastic. Emery, thank you so much for bringing that to our attention. It’s been a pleasure to talk to you. We have put a link to the website on the radio website. So if people want to find out, they can go there if they didn’t write it down. And they can book their place on your third of August course, and also find out about all the other things you do if, if they want to follow you on social media, how can they do that?

Yeah, so our Twitter handle is at pop up business. I think it’s the same on Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn actually, as well. Find us on that. Alternatively, you know, our website does have all of that sort of stuff as well.

Okay, give us one final shout out for the website. One final shout out for the website. Dot code at UK.

Obviously on form today isn’t. Yeah. Whereas I’m not Henry, I was frolicking on the on a beach

Joses into a three three bottle hangover today. Not that I’m spilling any beans.

It totally wasn’t my fault. It’s just everybody else decided they weren’t going to drink anymore. And we don’t in the bottles, you know.

She’s the kind of person that can’t waste anything. There’s an emery, thank you so much for joining us. It’s been an absolute pleasure to talk to you. We wish you continued success with the pop up business school. It’s a fabulous idea I love I love the passion. Not just a passion. I love the basis under which it’s been delivered. Because it is based in reality about, in my experience, how you actually go about starting a business and that I love is it’s not the old traditional way of doing it. And I love that

it’s a third of August for five days, isn’t it, Henry, if people want to get

every thank you so much. Enjoy your afternoon. Thank you for joining us, and we look forward to talking to you again in the future.

Yeah, thank you for having me. Thank you, everyone. Good luck.

Keep in touch.

Cheers. Bye now.

Very interesting there,

Henry, Lucas on the pop up business school. Yeah, we

need that now. I don’t mean, what’s going on, but I don’t.

It’s not just that they’re doing it. It’s not just it’s for free. But as I said, I like the ethos of the course. Yeah, about bootstrapping it about focusing on the things that need focusing on, on sales focus on on your demographic, focusing on your administration, your cash flow, your your budgetary management, all the things that we don’t like doing, but you have to do to run an effective business, social media and the website and social media and websites and all the other things that go along. Yeah, exactly. But but but if you do it right, it pays you dividends. It’s people that have half do it or get it wrong or don’t put enough effort into it.

I could do with a cupcake. Yeah.