Self-employment: seven steps to success


Self employed need public liability insurance

  • By Rosie Beasley | simplybusiness.co.uk

Self employed entrepreneurs need the right business insurance

Climbing out of your comfort zone is always a big step, but the rewards of setting up as self-employed persuade thousands every year to go it alone.

Autonomy, hours to suit and the chance to steer your own career are just part of the attraction. Success however needs a firm foundation, so before you take on the big boys, make sure you’ve crossed your ‘t’s, covered your back and polished up your permits.

1. Plan for perfection

Even if you plan to work alone on a freelance basis, you should still treat your new situation as a business – therefore a good business plan is essential. Setting out exactly what you’ll be doing, who your target customers and competitors are, how you’ll promote yourself and where you hope to be in five years time will help you think strategically, and address any weaknesses in your plan before they become problems. You should also try and forecast what your expenses will be and how much revenue you’ll need to turn a profit.

Bank managers or other investors will need to see this business plan if you want to raise money – and in this case you should also detail exactly how much money you’ll need, what it will be used for, and how quickly they can either have it back or start to see returns.

2. Brand yourself (…) Leer más “Self-employment: seven steps to success”

How to reduce innovation risk

Align innovation to strategic goals. Far too often, innovation activities jump the tracks, pursuing interesting ideas that aren’t in line with corporate goals and strategies. This is an especially damaging result: good money and resources spent on poor outcomes. A clear strategic goal and documented scope provides a framework for innovators, increasing their chance of success.
Executives clearly committed to innovation. Rather than propound the need for innovation, executives need to provide the best resources, provide funding and stay engaged in early innovation efforts. Otherwise innovation is viewed as the flavor of the month and slowly withers from a lack of engagement and a dearth of resources.
People who understand what to do. Many innovation teams are simply going through the motions of innovation, pantomiming their way to an acceptable idea. They aren’t trained in innovation tools or techniques, and, more importantly, aren’t open to really big ideas. They haven’t changed their perspectives, still encumbered by the risk profiles of the business. Only when the best people are on innovation teams, have released their thinking anchors and have received training on the best innovation methods and tools can innovation succeed regularly.
Clear insights into customer wants and needs. Far too often innovation teams review existing market research and suggest ideas that extend existing products and services. It’s rare that an innovation team meets a real customer, much less explores new unmet or unarticulated needs. Identifying and validating new needs and creating ideas based on these needs will greatly reduce the risk of innovation.
Doing innovation at speed. Most innovation teams struggle with the culture, which is resistant to innovation, focused on the status quo, stuck in meetings. Most innovation teams lack sufficient resources and pull people on a part-time basis from their day jobs. Most innovation teams have to invent their innovation processes, which delays the work and forces the people around them to question they ability to innovate. The longer an innovation project drags on, the less likely it is to be successful. And the longer a project drags on, the less valuable any needs or insights that were spotted become. Innovators can reduce risk by creating educated teams following defined workflow and working quickly to ascertain needs, generate ideas and validate those ideas in the marketplace. Instead of slow and steady, move fast and steady.

By the way, while we are on the subject, there are several ways of reducing risk that don’t work well:

Reducing the scope of the idea. Many, many ideas start life as interesting and disruptive concepts, and over time are reduced, shrunk and rounded off to become incremental at best. Yes, this reduces the risk but also eliminates much of the differentiation and the reward
Fast follower. Many organizations believe that they can wait for others to innovate, then quickly copy the product or service. The fast follower model works if 1) your development teams are truly fast (which most aren’t) and 2) you understand what the customer values in the product you are copying (many times firms don’t understand the customer value proposition). As product cycles shrink and customers become ever more discerning, fast followers are left with less and less margin. Again, little risk but little reward.

There are many more ways to reduce innovation risk, but we don’t have time or space for them in a blog post. This should be the first order of business for any innovator – trying to define the types and nature of risk that innovation presents, and understanding how to eliminate or reduce risk. It’s strange actually – everything about business is a risk/reward tradeoff, yet in many organizations we’ve lost the ability to balance the two, and seek only opportunities with no risk and little reward.


posted by Jeffrey Phillips
http://innovateonpurpose.blogspot.com

Every day when I come to work I scan my Twitter stream and get insights from hundreds of people who have excellent perspectives on innovation.  There are people who write about open innovation.  There are people who write about business model innovation.  There are people who write about new products, innovations in specific industries and topics like reverse innovation.  The diversity of insights and range of topics demonstrates how valuable innovation can be.  But while there is great diversity of opportunity, there also remains a great distribution of success and failure, which creates innovation risk.  And while there are many types of innovation, one common factor in all innovation efforts is risk.As I’ve written in Relentless Innovation, innovation is fraught with risk.  There is risk that an innovator won’t identify important needs.  Risks that innovation teams disrupt the regular operations of a business.  Risks that even a promising idea isn’t accepted by the customerswhose need it was meant to address.  Instead of the scarlet “A” from Hawthorne’s novel, every innovator and every innovative idea wears the black “R” for risk.  And in the modern business model, risk is to be avoided at all costs.Risk introduces uncertainty, costs, variability and unpredictability.  These factors run in opposition to business as usual – the work most firms have done to streamline operations, create predictable short term results, eliminate unnecessary costs and reduce or eliminate variability.  Innovation introduces the snake of risk back into the garden of efficient, effective business operations.  And yes, that snake whispers sweetly to some executives about the mythical risk/reward tradeoffs.

Clearly, if our highly efficient, productive business models are to become more innovative, they need to believe that innovation risk can be reduced or controlled.  Either that or the operating models must become far more comfortable with risk and its costs and variances.  I suspect the latter requires far more cultural change than many firms will sustain.  If the tradeoff is trying to reduce innovation risk or reduce the resistance of the culture to risk, I think the former is the place to start.

How does a firm reduce or eliminate innovation risk?  I think there are at least five actions that can dramatically reduce innovation risk.  Note that I didn’t say eliminate risk.  I doubt that is possible, but I do believe innovation risk can be dramatically reduced through the following actions… Leer más “How to reduce innovation risk”

Small Business Strategy Tips

I don’t know what the name of your small business is, nor do I know what product or service you are selling. What I do know is that if you start small business plans without a strategy, you will fail. All successful business plans have a good strategy behind them. And when it comes to small business ideas and strategies, there are several aspects that you will want to consider. Let’s take a look at a few of them.

1. Leadership

Before you even start small business plans, you need to develop good leadership abilities. You need to be able to create small business ideas and enforce them. After all, what good are ideas if there is no one to put them in place? If you have staff, you also need to know how to direct them while at the same time making them excited to work for you. To be a boss is one thing – to be a boss that your employees respect will take your company to a whole new level. In small business, it is also important to remember that leadership does not just involve leading others, it also involves listening. Listening to the needs of your staff and clients will help you to better your business and increase your sales.


I don’t know what the name of your small business is, nor do I know what product or service you are selling. What I do know is that if you start small business plans without a strategy, you will fail. All successful business plans have a good strategy behind them. And when it comes to small business ideas and strategies, there are several aspects that you will want to consider. Let’s take a look at a few of them.

1. Leadership

Before you even start small business plans, you need to develop good leadership abilities. You need to be able to create small business ideas and enforce them. After all, what good are ideas if there is no one to put them in place? If you have staff, you also need to know how to direct them while at the same time making them excited to work for you. To be a boss is one thing – to be a boss that your employees respect will take your company to a whole new level. In small business, it is also important to remember that leadership does not just involve leading others, it also involves listening. Listening to the needs of your staff and clients will help you to better your business and increase your sales. Leer más “Small Business Strategy Tips”

Ad brings newspapers to life


Ad brings newspapers to life

October 5th, 2010 by Lauren Fisher in Advertising

AXA have created an excellent newspaper ad, that shows the new age of advertising at its best. I’m a big fan of interactive advertising, and what happens when ads meet social and this is an excellent example of that. The video below shows the AXA ad in action, which directed the reader to place their iPhone over an empty space on the page :

Given that AXA was Belgium’s first insurance company to launch an iPhone app, it’s fitting that they would use such a unique method to announce it. This is one of the first ads of this kind that I’ve seen, where you see a real consideration of the user journey. They haven’t just added on an element to integrate with mobiles, but have actually built it into the story of the ad itself.

Full article Ad brings newspapers to life.

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Aviva campaign offers customers five minutes of fame

– Warsaw: Intercontinental hotel cityscape

The outdoor campaign, “You are the Big Picture”, created by Abbott Mead Vickers (AMV BBDO), features real stories of Aviva customers, employees, business partners and communities, to convey their value to the business.

One building in six cities across the world including London, Warsaw, Paris, Singapore, Delhi and Mumbai, will project pictures of the public. Buildings will include The National Theatre in London, Ave Charles de Gaulle in Paris and Hotel Intercontinental in Warsaw.

The campaign was booked by Publicis Group media agency ZenithOptimedia with its Aegis joint venture specialist Meridian Outdoor and Aegis out-of-home agency Posterscope.

Booked through outdoor media owner JCDecaux, activoty includes wall and tunnel wraps in radio stations, digital 6-sheets, Transvision, banners, pennants, floor media and 6-sheets across major stations in London.


Aviva is offering customers five minutes of fame by projecting their pictures on landmark buildings across the world as part of its first global brand campaign.

– Warsaw: Intercontinental hotel cityscape

The outdoor campaign, “You are the Big Picture”, created by Abbott Mead Vickers (AMV BBDO), features real stories of Aviva customers, employees, business partners and communities, to convey their value to the business.

One building in six cities across the world including London, Warsaw, Paris, Singapore, Delhi and Mumbai, will project pictures of the public. Buildings will include The National Theatre in London, Ave Charles de Gaulle in Paris and Hotel Intercontinental in Warsaw.

The campaign was booked by Publicis Group media agency ZenithOptimedia with its Aegis joint venture specialist Meridian Outdoor and Aegis out-of-home agency Posterscope.

Booked through outdoor media owner JCDecaux, activoty includes wall and tunnel wraps in radio stations, digital 6-sheets, Transvision, banners, pennants, floor media and 6-sheets across major stations in London. Leer más “Aviva campaign offers customers five minutes of fame”

Launch your dream career in ‘retirement’

So while it might not be possible to completely stop work at 55 (an age when many women would like to retire, Fitzhardinge says), at least she might be able to reduce her hours at work and transition into a role that excites her. Fitzhardinge says often these roles aren’t as lucrative as the salaries women have enjoyed earlier in their career, but they provide a top-up to income into retirement, and can be merged with lifestyle as much as possible.

As part of this strategy, Fitzhardinge works with women to add skills development into their financial plan so they can begin to build the skills they will need in their new ‘passion’ career.


An assortment of United States coins, includin...

For many of us dreams of retirement include visions of finally having the time to do all those things we’ve never had the time to do. But did you ever imagine your ‘retirement’ planning might include a way to finally embark on a business idea you are passionate about?

Linda Fitzhardinge is an empowerment coach at the organisation Women Building Wealth. She gives women financial advice and encourages them to take an holistic approach to their health, wealth and spirit – and says all three elements are closely inter-related.

Fitzhardinge says there are times when she has met with a client to discuss her retirement plans and the session has ended in tears because dreams do not align with financial reality.

But instead of focussing on the negatives of such a realisation, Fitzhardinge has been working with older women to draw out their ideas for earning income from ideas they are passionate about. Leer más “Launch your dream career in ‘retirement’”

Freelancing: The Basics of Survival

Anna Debenham shares her experiences of freelancing by equating them to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs.

While I was writing my talk about freelancing for FOWD London 2010, I was surprised to find that almost half of freelancers do not feel secure in their career.[1] I thought for a while about why this is and was reminded of studying Maslow’s hierarchy of needs during my A-Levels.

Maslow’s Hireachy of Needs

The hierarchy of needs model is based on the idea that you have to meet all the basic human needs like food, water and shelter before the higher needs can be fulfilled, such as confidence and belonging.

The hierarchy of needs is over 60 years old (that’s older than the Internet!) so I’ve created an updated version for freelance web designers.


by Anna Debenham

Anna Debenham shares her experiences of freelancing by equating them to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs.

While I was writing my talk about freelancing for FOWD London 2010, I was surprised to find that almost half of freelancers do not feel secure in their career.[1] I thought for a while about why this is and was reminded of studying Maslow’s hierarchy of needs during my A-Levels.

Maslow’s Hireachy of Needs

The hierarchy of needs model is based on the idea that you have to meet all the basic human needs like food, water and shelter before the higher needs can be fulfilled, such as confidence and belonging.

The hierarchy of needs is over 60 years old (that’s older than the Internet!) so I’ve created an updated version for freelance web designers. Leer más “Freelancing: The Basics of Survival”

Private healthcare provider launches Health365 online brand

The organisation, which has around 350,000 policyholders in the UK, aims to create the industry’s most digitally focused and innovative online product, by offering “quick and affordable” health cover from £15 per month.

To launch the brand, Westfield Health hired Brilliant Media to work on its SEO, PPC and display advertising strategy.

PR agency Umpf is handling social media campaign to promote the new brand, while branding agency DKPM has created the visual identity and designed the website.


Health365: online brand from Westfield Health
Health365: online brand from Westfield Health

The organisation, which has around 350,000 policyholders in the UK, aims to create the industry’s most digitally focused and innovative online product, by offering “quick and affordable” health cover from £15 per month.

To launch the brand, Westfield Health hired Brilliant Media to work on its SEO, PPC and display advertising strategy.

PR agency Umpf is handling social media campaign to promote the new brand, while branding agency DKPM has created the visual identity and designed the website. Leer más “Private healthcare provider launches Health365 online brand”

20 Reasons You Shouldn’t Be a Freelancer


We’ve all read countless articles on the reasons you should consider freelancing.

They often make it out like anyone still working in the corporate world is just a schmuck with no ambition. But the truth is, there are plenty of reasons not to start freelancing.

Below are twenty such reasons, all laid out so you can make an informed decision about whether freelancing is really something you want to do in your career.

There’s nothing wrong with staying in a corporate job, just as there’s nothing wrong with setting out on your own. But it’s a choice every designer and developer needs to make for themselves.

One note: when we talk about “corporate jobs”, we’re talking mostly about design firms with multiple employees (whether they’re corporations or not), but most of it also applies to in-house design teams at large companies.

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1. You Think It Will Be Easier Than a Corporate Job

A lot of people considering freelancing think it will be easier than their current corporate job. After all, they’ll only have to take on projects they want to take on, they won’t have a boss or coworkers to deal with, and they’ll be able to set their own hours.

But most freelancers, when the first start out at least, aren’t able to be too picky about the work they take on. And while they don’t have coworkers or a boss to deal with, that means they also don’t have anyone to turn to if they get stuck on a project.

There are still clients to deal with, too. And the whole thing about setting your own hours pretty much just means you can choose which sixteen hours in the day you want to work when you’re getting started.

2. You Don’t Have Much Experience

If you’re just getting out of school, you may not have much experience to draw on. And there are a couple of reasons why experience is more important when you’re a freelancer.

First of all, you’ll need a portfolio to show prospective clients if you want them to hire you. While you can always use personal projects, it’s also good if you have at least a few sites in your portfolio that you completed for other people (bonus points if they’re not friends or family). This shows a prospective client that you’re legitimate, and that you’ve had happy clients in the past.

The other reason is that experience proves to both you and the client that you’re capable of finishing projects. If you’ve never done anything but personal projects, there’s no indication that you’ll be able to finish a project.

Freelance designers need to be able to handle client requests and revisions, as there will almost always be things your client wants to change, no matter how great your initial design is. And until you’ve finished a client project, you don’t even have any proof that you have what it takes to work with clients.

3. You Have No Business Sense

When you’re freelancing, you generally don’t have anyone around to handle invoicing, collections, marketing, PR, and the myriad other tasks that corporate design firms handle for you. These are all things you’ll need to deal with yourself when you start freelancing.

Of course, you can always outsource some or all of these functions, but you may find it prohibitively expensive when you’re starting out. It’s better if you know how to do all of them yourself.

Keeping your own books is especially important, as it gives you a clear picture of how much money you have coming and how much is going out (and where it’s going). That’s important if you want to stay in business.

4. You Need Benefits

Some people can’t get by without benefits. If you have existing health problems, you’ll almost certainly need health insurance. And even if you’re healthy, that’s no guarantee you will be in the future. Plus, if you have kids, you’ll likely want health insurance for them, too.

This is one of those issues that’s not going to matter in countries with universal health coverage, but even in those countries there are other benefits you may not want to lose.

If you’re self-employed, you’ll no longer have employer contributions to your retirement plans. You won’t get paid sick days or personal days anymore. All of these things will need to be built into your budget or schedule.

5. You Think the Pay Will Be Better

Many considering switching to freelancing think the pay will be better. After all, they’ll get to keep all the money they’ve billed out, without sharing any of it with an employer. And that’s true. But you’ll also be responsible for paying all of your own taxes (in the U.S., at least, that amounts to an extra 7.5% in payroll taxes that you have to pay that would otherwise be paid by an employer).

You also have all sorts of other business-related expenses you’ll need to pay. Things like office supplies, new equipment, software, and all those other expenses that go along with running a business will all have to be paid by you.

There’s also the difference between hours worked versus billable hours to contend with. Not everything you do will be billable work. Time you spend on administrative tasks aren’t billable.

If you screw up on a project and have to take time to fix it, that’s usually not billable either (at least not ethically). At a corporate job, you generally get paid either for the hours you actually work or on a salaried rate, regardless of how much the client is billed.

6. You Have No Self-Discipline

If you can’t discipline yourself to actually work, then you’re not going to make it as a freelancer. If you find you’re spending hours playing video games or on Facebook instead of working, you’re going to have a very hard time finding enough billable hours to pay your own bills.

When you work in a corporate environment, there’s always the threat of being let go if you goof off too much. When you work from home, you don’t have that same threat lingering. But if you don’t get client work done on time, you’ll have unhappy clients and, eventually, no clients.

If you can’t discipline yourself to work when you need to, you’ll be better off sticking with a corporate gig.

7. You Don’t Love Your Work

So many people who work the usual 9-to-5 don’t really love their jobs. They don’t wake up in the morning looking forward to going to work. But they do it in order to earn a paycheck and put food on the table. Sometimes this is because of the work environment itself, but others times it’s because they don’t really enjoy the work they’re doing.

If you don’t love what you’re doing, you’re probably not going to love it any more once you’re freelancing. Freelancing is hard work, and if you’re already struggling to find the motivation to get your job done, you’ll probably struggle even harder once there’s no boss there to motivate you.

8. You Think the Hours are Better

When you own your own business, you’ll likely end up working twelve- to sixteen-hour days five to seven days a week, at least for the first few years.

Freelancing is like any other business. Sure, once you’re established, you’ll likely be able to reduce your hours and only take on higher-paying projects. But in the interim, you’ll probably have to take on any work you can get to build up your reputation and a stable of regular clients.

It’s also likely that your workflow won’t be as efficient as it could be for your first few months, or even years, in business. You’ll spend time on unnecessary activities. You’ll end up repeating things because you don’t have good methods for keeping track of everything.

And because of this, you’ll spend more time than is necessary on a lot of things. Time and effort will eventually fix these issues, but they’ll still have to be dealt with for a little while.

9. You Have No Space in Your House/Apartment/Bedroom for an Office

Leer más “20 Reasons You Shouldn’t Be a Freelancer”

USAA, Apple Top Net Promoter Scores


– Todd Wasserman
Apple scored high again, but not as high as the USAA and health insurers tumbled in this year’s tabulation of Net Promoter scores.

The scores, compiled by Satmetrix, are based on polling 19,500 U.S. consumers about which brands they would recommend to a friend. Positive recommendations (+100 percent) are averaged with negatives (-100 percent) for a final score.

Just as last year, the overall winner was USAA, an insurer and banker for military personnel. John Abraham, general manager of Net Promoter programs at Satmetrix, said that USAA has a “unique recipe of really great service and innovation.” Such innovations include compensating users for using ATM fees (USAA doesn’t have its own ATMs) and the ability to cash a check electronically.

USAA, which scored 78 percent and 69 percent in the auto and homeowners insurance categories, respectively, was a standout in the segment. The USAA’s biggest competitor in homeowners insurance is Geico with 41 percent. In health insurance, scores were generally abysmal. Blue Cross Blue Shield of Illinois was the only brand with a positive score while Cigna had a score of -28 percent the lowest of any brand.

On the upside, Trader Joe’s and Wegmans broke into the top 10, largely because Satmetrix didn’t survey retail brands the previous year. Apple had a strong showing, though Abraham said AT&T’s 9 percent score may have a dragging effect on the brand since it is Apple’s exclusive telecom partner for the iPhone. Leer más “USAA, Apple Top Net Promoter Scores”

Which Is More Secure – The 9-5 Job Or Self-Employment?


In my wife’s interview of me, and in her blog post about what it’s like it being an entrepreneur’s wife, she asked me about how I plan for my “golden years”. In other words, am I planning for my retirement? Do I worry about not having a pension plan or a 401(k)? Do I worry about not having a steady paycheck? In her blog post, she says:

So I guess part of me does feel somewhat insecure about having a blogger for a husband.  I do think about what it will be like when we get old and have no 401k or any other income to fall on, I think about the $2500 we have to shell out of our pocket before the health insurance kicks in if any of us gets sick.  I think about the economy and how it is going to affect our small business.

She also mentions my small ordeal in getting approved to buy my first house. This is true. In retrospect, I may have stressed about it more than I needed to, but I did have to jump through a few more hoops to get approved for that mortgage because I did not have traditional pay stubs. Plus, they saw my income (from my tax returns) go from a small amount (due to a college job) to a full-time income even though I was technically unemployed. It didn’t make any sense to them because I didn’t fit the normal template. Who knows, maybe they thought I was a drug dealer or something. :) Leer más “Which Is More Secure – The 9-5 Job Or Self-Employment?”