Michael Killen started his entrepreneurial journey by forming his digital business with The Formations Company. We talked to him about our “Blog and Win” Competition, open exclusively to our customers, and here’s his guest blog.  If you are keen to share some Top Startup Tips, or simply talk to our readers about your unique story starting a business, let us know in our Facebook Page.

“Make sure you can explain your value right from the beginning.  Understanding the value of what you’re selling is way more important than a perfect launch.” – Michael Killen, Devon Digital

Michael’s Top 5:

With increasing numbers of businesses looking to turn to digital experts, it’s a fantastic market to get into and relatively cost-effective. Digital businesses are becoming more and more prevalent.

I started Devon Digital Design after being made redundant. I was the digital marketing specialist for a large corporate data security company.  Now, Devon Digital Design works with SME’s to bring corporate digital marketing success to them.  These are a few lessons I’ve learnt along the way.

1 – Don’t start with a perfect set up, just start.

It’s all too easy to want to get everything right before you start a digital business.  Having the website set up, all your social media pages, contracts and templates etc.  However, you can spend months or even years (hell, there are even companies that do all this for you) fine-tuning and perfecting everything so that you can launch.

When you’re starting a digital business, you assume that if everything isn’t perfect that people are going to pick holes in your plan and business idea.  They’re going to do that even if you make millions of pounds.  Whatever it is you’re selling, start selling it. Networking events, blogs, social and SEO are all great ways to meet customers and start selling.

2 – Practice what you preach and show it.

Whatever you sell, you need to do it yourself. Sell SEO? Be the top of the rankings. Created an app that means you’re always on time? Never be late. If you’re starting a digital business be the best example.

From computer hygiene to digital marketing best practice, you need to be a shining example to your customers.  Your customers should be asking ‘what would YOUR COMPANY do?’

Don’t ever bad mouth your competition, but do explain if you do something better.  People prefer positive practice over a negative review.

3 – Don’t become a ‘regular IT guy’.

Know what you’re selling and know the value of it.  Do not allow yourself to be lumped in with ‘that other computer guy down the street’.  It’s too easy to start fixing people’s printers when you should be designing websites.

However, if you get a lot of these requests, maybe you should add consultation and repair to your portfolio? The point is to make sure that everyone you meet knows exactly what you do and what your value is.

Be specific with all your pitches, explain the value first and then if they ask, explain how you do it.  Don’t just say ‘I work with computers’, its patronising and your job is not so complex that no-one can understand.  If you can’t sum up your business in 3 lines, you don’t know your business well enough.

4 – Not everyone knows what you know.

This should be why people are paying you. I pay an accountant because I can’t be bothered to learn all that stuff.

This is a two-way idea. First, understand that you might know exactly what a PHP script is compared to an HTML file, but your customer might not know what a jpg is compared to an image inside a word doc.

Make sure your customers understand the VALUE of what they’re getting from your service.  Most people don’t care how it works; they just want it to make their lives easier or save or make them money. Don’t patronise them by saying ‘it’s just magic on computers’, but don’t throw jargon. Understand how to sell VALUE.

On the other hand, you have a little creative freedom, especially when starting. The more specific your solution, product or service, the easier it is. If you are good with digital, you should have an idea of whether any of your customers ideas are possible (most are), but if it isn’t, explain why. Your honesty will be much appreciated.

5 – Adapt and change quicker than the bigger companies.

Your biggest strength is flexibility. Adapt and change with the times. Don’t rely on your old ‘time-proven’ techniques. You might not have the time to learn, but you can roll out changes quicker than a large organisation.

Use this to your advantage, duck and weave with every change and show your customers that you’re both resilient and adaptable. If your SEO service sells 10x more than social design, move with it.

Want some more information or feel like reading more? We have plenty of helpful articles in our knowledge hub and on our blog.