Presentation: Setting Up A Business With No Investment


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I founded one of the UK's leading Digital Marketing Agencies in 1999 with my partner Katherine Jerman. We started it with a £5,000 overdraft in 1999 and sold the business in 2007 for £10,000,000.

These are slides from which I will present from. You may find it better to read the full paper which is also available here. All these tips are from experience. If you would like to see more background to the reasons why we suggest these tips, please see

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Presentation: Setting Up A Business With No Investment

  1. 1. • In 1999 Cheeze Ltd. was formed. • A digital direct marketing agency founded by Jamie Riddell & Katherine Riddell. • The investment was a £5,000 overdraft. • In 2007, the agency was acquired by Digital Marketing Group plc. For £10,000,000. • The founders and key staff owned 100% of the agency at the time of acquisition.
  2. 2. • We grew the agency with no investment. • Everything we achieved was through hard work and reinvestment of profits as they came. • Here we offer 10 tips that may help guide you on the same path. • Good Luck!
  3. 3. • Starting and growing a business with no investments requires commitment and sacrifice. • The big salaries and fast cars must be an aspiration not an initial requirement. • Seek partners with complimentary skills – what are you weak on, what skills can you benefit from?
  4. 4. • If you start a business the buck will stop with you. • Making the tea, answering the ‟phone, chasing the business, chasing the invoices – you will have to do them all. • To succeed nothing can be beneath you, nothing can be too much.
  5. 5. • A business is usually borne from a great idea. • A business plan will need to plan those great ideas. • It will also need focus on the worst case scenarios. - What happens if we don‟t get paid? - What is the minimum rent commitment? - What happens if a client goes bust? • It is easy to spend time on the positive things. • Spend time on the negatives, they will save you in the long run.
  6. 6. • There is a chance someone else has a similar business or proposition. • With a new company you will have no business reputation (maybe personal reputation) – so how will you immediately and obviously differentiate? • Enter awards, no matter how small. You too could be „award winning‟. • Seek external endorsement – can you register somewhere to get a badge? As seen on..? • Endorsements help when you are young, they could also make the difference between you and a close competitor later in your business growth.
  7. 7. • Cash flow can be the biggest killer to new businesses. • You can borrow money or factor invoices but that will eat into your bottom line. • Seek ways to gain up front payment – inventivise prepayment. • “It‟s better than keeping it in the bank.” • Positive cash flow can earn you money, loans can cost you money.
  8. 8. • If you are working for money, you need a contract. • Not a cheap web template contract, but a bespoke contract for your business. • This should form the basis for working with customers or clients. • It sets out who is commitments, expectations and requirements. • It will save you a lot of pain.
  9. 9. • Pay attention to every invoice. • Is the detail correct? • Don‟t pay invoices that aren‟t correct. • Communicate with the invoice originator, get it fixed. • Don‟t sit on invoices, just pay the ones that are correct and fix the others.
  10. 10. • Always projected a positive and successful image. • This doesn‟t need to cost anything. • If you need others to believe in your business, you need to believe in it. • No matter how bad the day is!
  11. 11. • Twitter, Scribd, Slideshare, Facebook, Linkedin, Blogs… • These are all free opportunities for you to share your knowledge. • How can you promote your business? A white paper? A blog? • Share your knowledge and others will pay attention.
  12. 12. • Possibly the best advice we ever received. • Is your business reliant on time and hours income? • Can you create additional goods or services that will generate revenue 24/7? • Apps? White Papers? Guides? • This can grow your income without growing your costs.
  13. 13. • It can be lonely running a business on your own – even with partners. • A mentor can be a „business friend or a more formal associate director. • They can help gain perspective and experience without head count expense.
  14. 14. • You have set up a business because you have a great idea. • Sometimes you will wonder why? It becomes so hard. • Keep going! It is still a good idea, just may take a while to seem that way!
  15. 15. Contact details are on the site + extended article covering the points raised in this presentation.