Happy Birthday!

As the Marketing Guy celebrates its one year birthday, I look at some of the lessons I have learnt on the way.

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What a year!

I write this blog with a sense of trepidation. I feel like a child trying to tell adults how to run a household. However, I am hoping that someone may find use in it.

This blog is a reflection on my first year in business, what it has felt like and what I have learnt and hopefully a bit of advice to pass on.

1) You are going to make mistakes!

The first mistake that I made was that I set up my business on the 1st of April and not the 6th April, meaning I needed to fill out my self-assessment form for a year that I only spent £30. A good start!

After that I have made a number of mistakes and the majority of those mistakes have cost me money, some more than others. You should never shrug off losing money but try to accept that this is the cost of learning. I bought PowerPoint templates, video design software and a Whitepaper program in my first two months of trading. So far, I have yet to use the video maker, and the two other programs have not lived up to my expectations. I chalk this up to experience, I now have a better idea of the programs I want to use, how I work, and the time involved in using each item of software.

I should say that I did find some good programs as well. I absolutely love Canva.com!

2) Surround yourself with good people:

This title might seem strange, I am a sole trader, I sit in an office on my own without a lot company throughout the day. However, I still consider myself to have a team and several people that I can talk to. Early on I met online Dan from Click Intelligence (https://www.linkedin.com/in/dannetts/), a company that I would partner with to provide PPC services to my client. Dan would always be at the end of the phone, he was supportive and gave good advice, even in my infancy and when I wasn’t generating him a lot of income.

From there I have built a team of freelance specialists who are all smarter in their field than I am, Holly Copson (https://www.linkedin.com/in/hollycopson/), Nicola David (https://www.linkedin.com/in/nicoladavid/), Kat Adams (https://www.linkedin.com/in/kat-adams-b925b314/), Penny Brazier (https://www.linkedin.com/in/penny-brazier-6017a213/) and James Crisall (https://www.linkedin.com/in/james-crisall-99a8973a/), are all amazing at their job and each has been so supportive of me and my business. I think of them all as my team and I love working with them all.

Surround yourself with good people

3) Work out your sales and marketing strategy.

You need to figure out how you are going to get in front of people, you need people to know what you are going to do and for me I needed to do it on a tiny budget. The way I have done it is through Networking, Social and referrals and all have paid dividends for me.


There are a lot of Networking groups out there and some ask you to pay and some don’t you need to work out what you feel comfortable with. For me I attend the Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce Networking meetings https://www.gmchamber.co.uk/events/gmcc-networking-20th-april/, DBFY, (https://dbfy.co.uk/) and https://raecan.co.uk/networking/, between these three I have found a supportive community, some customers and some freelancers that I like to work with.

There are a number of other groups, the biggest one you are likely to hear about is BNI https://www.bni.com/, and I have attended a couple of meetings myself. BNI is like marmite, people that sign-up to it and invest in it can see big returns in their business, some people I spoke say that 85% of their business comes from BNI. However, meetings are often in the early morning and there is pressure to generate business for the group. For some people they see return straight away and for others they have to wait a few months before they start to see success. For me as a non-VAT registered business, the cost was too much at the start of my business to justify the membership and the calculated gamble. But it is an organization that I would look at in the future.

Social Media:

One of my biggest clients is Gala Events and I am working with them on an 18-month contract to deliver a number of big events. The first of these is Pyro-Picnic – https://pyro-picnic.galaeventsltd.co.uk/. Aaron one of the Directors is a former golfing partner that I haven’t spoken to in years, he saw my social posts on Facebook and asked me to have a discussion with him regarding his marketing. This led to a positive discussion and now I am engrained in their marketing to deliver the best for their event. I also have had similar success with former colleagues who have found me on LinkedIn. Keep posts regular, consistent and let them reflect you. I have to admit that I am not as good at posting regularly now as I once was. I have got busier doing things for clients and my own promotion has dropped off. This definitely falls into the category of not doing what I preach.


Referrals take time, for me it has worked best with websites and social media. Once you have case studies to show people you will get friends, family and former colleagues sharing your posts or telling other people what you can do. My accountant Ruth said to me that for her business once she got up to six customers she started to see regular referrals and a steady stream of business and I think that this holds true for a service business.

4) Invest in yourself

Time is precious and you will find that it disappears quickly and you will undoubtedly find that you prioritise working for your clients than for yourself. You do have to be careful however because this can lead to an unpredictable peak and trough turnover. Adam Stott at his Big Business Events https://bigbusinessevents.co.uk/ will tell you that you need to build a strategy that gives you more of a horizontal line with lower peaks and troughs. You need predictability, you therefore need to make sure that you build a marketing and sales strategy that you can consistently manage to do.

Don’t be afraid to take time out to learn, Nicola David is one of my copywriters and she is one of the best copywriters for SEO I have met. The reason for this is that she spends a lot of time investing in herself. She pays to go to courses on SEO and to learn how to write for the web. If you are starting your business spending money going on courses may seem difficult, so look for free options. I joined Small Business Saturday (https://smallbusinesssaturdayuk.com/) and now I get a number of free webinars and seminars to join on useful and free topics. Google Digital Garage (https://learndigital.withgoogle.com/digitalgarage) is also a great place to learn new skills.


5) Don’t do it for the money

Everyone I spoke to has said to me don’t expect to make money in year one. I am really lucky I set up my business while on furlough. I only went three months without some form of salary coming into my accounts. That being said, my predictions are that it will take me two more years to get back to earning my desired salary. But I love what I do, I love the variety, I love working with different businesses and having the flexibility to run house errands or spending time with the children when I want.  The lack of money has been stressful and does add pressure, but I have continued to believe in what I am doing and it is now paying dividends. But don’t do this for money, it will take too long. Do it because you want a different lifestyle or because you believe in your product/ service. There has to be something more in it for you to go down this route.

So there we go, some of the lessons I have learnt on my first birthday. I look forward to seeing where year two takes me. If you have read this far, thank you for indulging me and I hope that you have learnt something.

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