Finding the right photographer for your needs can be a big challenge. Photography has become extremely popular in recent years and there are lots of people setting up their own photography business and offering fantastic services and good deals all over the country.

To start with, you need to decide on your budget. Some photographers charge more than others and often you’ll find that photographers who have only just started out will charge less. It can be tempting to try and spend as little as possible, but if you want to ensure a professional photographer and great results, you should spend a little more to guarantee the perfect photos.

Check out a photographers portfolio to see examples of their work – this is an absolute must. Every reputable photographer will have a portfolio and you should take a look and decide if their style is right for you. It’s also worth making sure they have experience in what you want them to photograph, whether it be for your personal use or for your business.


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Do you know someone who ‘found’ a new hobby? For a while it was all they could talk about, then over time, their enthusiasm waned. After a year it was barely mentioned, and the tools of that hobby gathered dust in a distant corner of the garage.

We have sometimes found while talking to online marketing companies, the same pattern of behaviour as we offer business start-up help in the first years of a new enterprise. There is an exciting launch, a blaze of publicity, and powerful use of both online and offline marketing opportunities. As reality sets in, and the daily grind of making money takes over, the initial excitement understandably reduces.

In some cases, we have watched businesses (not our own clients) who, for example, have started with a weekly blog, and then posted nothing for several months. We see Facebook pages, bursting with enthusiasm at the start, where customer comments are now not even acknowledged. This is almost worse than not even having such a presence. Visitors might just assume that this business has ceased trading!

Equally, there are others who satisfy themselves with the occasional burst of activity and then return to their dormant state. This usually occurs due to a new product launch or a sale event. A harsh question needs to be asked: do they not wish to gain, build, and retain a customer base through every day of their trading life?

From day one, and ever after, the use of both offline and online proven marketing techniques is about developing a continuing and lively presence, one that continuously encourages current and future customers into a relationship with that business.

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Tax is arguably the most complex area for people who are starting a business. The tax code is constantly evolving and it can feel impossible to keep up with the latest developments at times. Among the many big decisions entrepreneurs have to make when setting up a new company is how to manage their tax affairs.

While large companies usually have the option of handling tax in-house, it is likely that newer organisations are going to need outside help. Choosing the right tax advisers is a huge decision for a businessman. Ideally, they will have experience of working with firms in a similar field. Those starting a business will also want their tax advisers to be used to working with new companies, as this poses a different challenge to established firms.

Entrepreneurs also need to ensure their chosen tax advisers have all the skills they need, for example in areas such as auditing, insolvency and investment. Having regular contact with tax advisers is key, so companies must find experts who can be reached easily. Qualifications should also be checked to make sure advisers are of the right standard. It is important to take time over the decision. Meet with a few different tax advisers before choosing which one will handle the company finances. This will provide a feel of how they work and whether or not they will be a good fit for the business.

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Cashflow can make or break any business, especially in the early stages of setting up a business. So it’s crucial to find the best bank to support your company when you’re starting out, building a relationship with them that will see you through any barren spells.

Look at the overdraft the bank will extend to you and the credit facilities on offer to new businesses. Indeed, the best strategy might be to handle your business finance with the same bank that holds your personal accounts, as they might look more favourably upon you. This isn’t guaranteed, though, so check carefully.

Other things you should look into include invoice financing, which can really take the load off your company in the first year when late payers and the odd bad client can make the difference between success and failure. You should even see how long it takes cheques and BACS payments to clear as these differ from bank to bank.

Ask what your bank can do to support your business, too. You might be surprised that a business-friendly bank will offer everything from an overdraft to business mentoring in extremely helpful cases.

Whatever you do, make sure you talk to a variety of banks and always remember that cashflow is one of the biggest issues facing a new business. Keep this in mind when you shop around.

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Building a Team

On May 14, 2015, in Basic Startup Tips, Management, by admin

When you’re setting up a business, finding the right people for each job is one of the biggest and most important challenges. There are two aspects to building a team, but many businesses owners think only about the first.

Skills and ability

You need to find the right person for the job. Exactly how you do this will depend on your personal preference and which skills and abilities you’re looking for, but typically, people are hired through a combination of interviews, tests and assessments. Potential employees will send CVs or completed application forms, so that you can whittle all of your applicants down to a short-list of suitable candidates to interview and assess in more detail.

No two people will have the exact same CV, the same qualifications and the same past experience, so it’s entirely possible to choose who to hire based on skills and ability alone, but don’t forget the other aspect that’s often even more important…

Culture fit

Hiring based on culture fit will enable you to find someone that will feel happy and motivated in their role, which is important for them and is just as important for you. A happy and comfortable worker that fits with your business will be the best person for the job. This isn’t about being discriminatory but about getting to know a potential employee on a slightly deeper level, looking beyond the CV. Trial days are excellent for letting you and your potential employee assess the situation further, so that you can both decide if the pairing is right for you.

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There are a multitude of points that could be considered under this header, a myriad of angles from which to observe it. However, here’s a simple premise to work with: have an old-fashioned attitude and then deliver it in a modern way. This is even more important when you start a business, and need to introduce yourself to a world of potential customers.

You’d think that having an online presence is the answer to everything, but we’ll come to that. Let’s start with the traditional part of the argument. To succeed in business you need to produce a product or service that people need or want. Your aim is then to clearly identify who your customers are, what they need to know, and how best to tell them. Finally, as potential purchasers, each needs to be able to make a purchase simply and easily, and feel that they are valued customers.

This is as true today as it was if you were to open a drapery shop or ironmongery store half a century ago. Of course, back then, you’d be telling them in their local paper or perhaps by sending out a letter (and these may still be a part of your strategy).

Which brings us to the modern part of the equation. Find the places where your potential customers are now – be it Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and the like. Accept that you need to work on your online information provision to match the needs of key search engines. Talk to them in ways they will respond to – or share.

In reality, the business proposition doesn’t change – but, to succeed, its delivery needs to be constantly tweaked!

If you’re setting up a new business, you’ll need to decide which accounting package to use. Accounting software can help you keep track of cash flow and enable invoicing. It helps you manage your tax and can mean you’re less reliant on the help of an accountant. It’s a more intelligent option than paper accounts and spreadsheets, and it’s a cheaper option than paying someone to do your accounting for you.

You can either use a cloud based system (usually paid for monthly) similar to Xero or similar or one where the software and your data are stored on your own computer. In either case, you should back up your data – for around £50 you can buy an external hard drive to back up a standard laptop. That is an important business purchase, whichever accounting software you use.

Sage has been a market-leading accounting package for many years. Sage 50 is the big one, but there’s a more lightweight (and cheaper) version called Sage Instant that might be a better bet for a fledgling business. TAS Basics is a free version from Sage but it won’t help with your VAT.

Other packages to explore include FreeAgent, which seems very popular with its users, and free packages, such as TurboCash. You’ll need to explore the features offered by different accounting software to see if they fit your business’s requirements. For instance, if you expect to deal with payments in different currencies, Kashoo may be the best package for you.

Still unsure? The Institute of Chartered Accountants offers a handy guide to accounting packages.


Tree surgery is a key part of our business in the Chichester area and was a core part of our initial business concept. When we were originally setting up a business plan to become a tree surgeon, we identified that the web was going to be a key channel for us when it came to finding customers who were looking for tree surgeons all across the UK.

How did we go about using the web to set up our business? Well the main thing for us was to make it easy for customers to find and contact us for tree surgery services. It may sound really obvious but its surprising how few small local businesses really grasp this. Being easy to get in touch with can make all the difference when it comes to standing out from the competition.

On our website we offer multiple channels of contact. Many of our customers just like to call us, so our phone number is prominent. Others are worried about calling someone who may be halfway up a tree! we provide a contact form for them to fill out their details so we can call them back. Just be aware that customers expect a fast response. We offer contact details at the top and bottom of each page so it’s impossible to overlook. Our website has been the absolute key to our success.

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What will you choose to view search results online?

The internet, as a medium, is fast-changing, with new technologies forcing it to evolve into an altogether better place, and so too are the ways we’re accessing it and viewing search results.

In the recent past, internet access was limited to either the PC or Mac, whereas today, a range of devices offers people the choice to do so much more. This has clear implications for search engine optimisation, because with the swift rise of the tablet computer and smartphone, more and more people are now accessing the internet – and getting their search results – on the go.

The search engines are all too aware of the trend, and some have been struggling to keep up. Now, companies that are not configured online for mobile access may well find themselves yesterday’s online news, along with search engines that fail to develop new offerings.

Leading website marketing companies agree by saying: “That’s why global search engine leader Google (commanding around a 60% market share), is swiftly moving towards mobile; it’s rewarding sites that are mobile-ready with higher rankings while pushing those that are not further down – because functionality is crippled if responsive design is not part of a website’s makeup”.

Many firms, of course, are complying, which means it doesn’t matter what device you’re using to get your search results, because the search engines and the sites you’re looking for will more than likely be configured for whatever you’re using.

If you’re looking to start a business, it’s important to choose the right business structure. That’s something you need to decide at the outset and before you begin trading – although you can change it at a later date if necessary as your business evolves. Your options are: limited company, business partnership and sole trader. The choice depends on what you plan to do with your business. The structure you choose will also affect your tax, legal and financial responsibilities, how you can take profits out of your business, and the amount of paperwork you’ll be required to complete – especially when you start operating and at tax time.

It’s a good idea to consider what clients you’ll be working with when you start your business, as some organisations may insist on trading with limited companies rather than sole traders. It offers them a degree of protection – and it offers you protection too by separating your personal assets from your business ones.

Setting up as a sole trader is relatively easy and involves contacting HMRC to register for self assessment. If you choose to go down the limited company route, it’s a little more complex to set things up and you’re required to register your business with Companies House. You will probably find it easier to have an accountant if you’re setting up as a limited company, although some people prefer to tackle the tax themselves.

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