Starting a New Business

We are running a project for new start up companies, called The Launch Pad Project in conjunction with Recruitment International Magazine, Orchard JV and Recruitive. The lucky winner will receive literally £££££££’s of services and personal consultation with the runners also receiving excellent prizes. It really is a great opportunity for the winner, it really is.

We are doing this because, after 15 years in business we are reflecting on what we have done, where we are and how we got here. We have also helped numerous businesses get started over the years and have also watched them grow (on many occasions, into much bigger businesses than ours!).

With confidence in the economy growing slowly, and an election coming along, we thought it was so important that new businesses get support and guidance when starting out, now more than ever before. With that in mind, we decided to launch this competition.

I also thought that I’d put into writing, my musings as to how ZOD started and how I came to be an owner of a medium business, without any specific business degree or business training (and yes, it shows sometimes).

Dreaming About Starting a Business

In my opinion, small to medium business owners can be split into distinct groups. There are those that inherit a business, those that fall into it by accident or by circumstance, and then there are those that have always dreamed about having a business and make that conscious decision to move from employment to being an employer. The former reasons are equally valid, but sometimes the decision to start a business under either of these circumstances is taken, without much long term deliberation.

It is those people who have always had that dream of having their own business that interest me the most. Not only because I am one of them, but for the fact that most people you talk to, have at some stage talked and dreamed about having their own business but won’t or can’t do anything about it.

I was one of those who always dreamed about having my own business, but it was usually a half hearted, “pub debate”, where my friends and I would come up with a mixture of funny, but ridiculous and badly thought through ideas. These little business ideas kept niggling away at the back of my head and started to mature as I did, and I even started to turn some of these ideas into reality.

My first little business was drawing rude cartoons for my friends in return for a few pence. It then developed into a small, paper magazine with a circulation of 10, read by my close circle of friends. One such magazine, consisting of about 4 pages of content and called The 149 Club Magazine (named because we lived at 149 Hartshill Road, Stoke), ended up eventually having a print run of about 100+ copies and a “wide” circulation in and around the pubs of Hartshill, Stoke-on-Trent. Fame! I’d made it (NOT!).

Paid caricatures of friends, family, and friends of friends followed next, but having to draw politically correct and non-offensive drawings of female friends, soon took the fun out of that little venture. The late eighties then saw the appearance of Water Filters, and yes, I confess to attending a number of pyramid sales events, without selling any. I even became a self employed insurance salesman for a short time, but refused to sell to my friends and family again, as most of my colleagues at the time did.

The pressures of publication dates and the cynicism and sarcasm of various pub drinkers made me turn my attentions elsewhere and next it was T-Shirt design and printing in the halcyon days of the Hacienda and Happy Mondays; the early 1990s. I soon became tired of flower designs and designs based on cannabis leaves, so my indelible ink and printing press was gently placed in the garden shed and then sold quietly.

The truth was that none of these ideas would ever make a living. Pocket money, yes, but a salary, no. I decided to get a job...
10 years of bad career decisions, resignations, redundancy and seeing my 30th year disappear into the distance, I decided at last to do something about the business ideas that had never left me and had kept popping up now and again to say hello. ZOD soon became a reality.

The point of this little mini blog, is that if you really want to have your own business, the biggest decision you’ll have to make is doing it in the first place. I could have easily kept moving from job to job, but I know that I would have never been happy. Yes, there are things to think about and plan obviously and you need an idea that has a market, but it’s that initial decision that is the most important decision you’ll ever make. Once that decision is made, you simply have to stick with it through thick and the very, very thin!

Next time, I’ll write about all the things we had to think about after we decided to start ZOD. From major decisions of “What size overdraft do we need, because I don’t think we’ll use it (the first naive thought of many)?” to “Do we really need Post-It notes?”

I will also write about the reality behind the first day in the office after you’ve done the dastardly deed of setting up your own business and then the first few months of waiting to be paid!

Check out the Launch Pad Project page, if you are starting your own recruitment business, as this will really, really help you and save you thousands of pounds!

Written by Steven Day, Zero-One Design Limited 
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