Nikki Hesford on Business: "Look at everything with common sense – you do not need a £5k website on your first day of trading."
Business spotlight shines the light on Nikki Hesford.
Interview with Nikki Hesford, owner and founder of Nikki Hesford Business Academy teaching small business owners the fundamentals of marketing their business and succeeding!
Nikki has a thirst for success - she runs successful events across the UK and hopes to project a turnover of £300,000 in year 2 of trading. Learn how she plans on achieving her business goals:
I had learned from experience that online marketing and getting sales to your business was incredibly difficult. As a cash-poor Start-up you simply cannot afford to pay an agency several hundred pounds per month, but neither do you know enough to do a good job of it yourself.
Your only option is to take any bits of free advice people will give you and learn as much as you can yourself from books, blogs and YouTube. And of course, your own trial and error (making lots of expensive mistakes with your already meagre advertising budget!)
After I exited this company in 2015, I wanted to create something that would help those people and my business Nikki Hesford Business Academy now runs events around the UK, from 2 hours to a whole day teaching small businesses the areas they need to grasp in a practical and affordable way. This includes SEO, Social Media, websites, Advertising, PR and many other fundamental areas on marketing a small business.
Suddenly it was just me, myself and I! My friends and family probably got tired of being asked to choose which logo looked best, or which photo was the most appealing – or for their thoughts on whether they thought £40 was too much for an event or not.
At the same time though it was also peaceful. A kind of stillness and quietness – because when you first start, you have no emails, no calls, and no real responsibilities as you haven’t yet made commitments to anyone to deliver anything.
I therefore made a conscious choice to develop a business that did not have a huge outlay at first. I needed around £500 to start up, to pay for branding, a website and entry to various networking events and I negotiated deals with venues where I could cancel up to two weeks before the event without penalty. This meant I only paid them, when I got paid by delegates.
As we have grown, we have invested most of the profits back into the business to redevelop the website, invest in branded promotional materials and hire staff to enable us to increase capacity.
I am currently launching an online programme which contains all the same content, delivered by me in the form of video (both live and pre-recorded) and small businesses can subscribe on a monthly basis to access this support. At £20 per month, it provides real value for those who need to hit the ground running and learn everything, as quickly as possible.
Ideal for those who were like me at the start – time rich, cash poor and needing to learn everything from which website platform is best, to developing a strategy.
If after a while you aren’t gaining traction, you must have the strength of character to admit when something might just be a rubbish idea.
I would create regular content on LinkedIn and ask people I knew quite well if they would share it (I would ask them privately, not by writing it on the post) Although it’s important not to abuse your network, and to give back where possible. I would never ask the same people more than once.
Local networking is also very useful at the start – many events are Pay As You Go, and even the memberships usually allow one or two free visits. Get the details of as many people as possible and build your database of contacts.
Facebook Advertising is also a very cheap way of getting your message out there (if done properly) as ads can run for as little as £2 a day. Sure, the more you spend the more you get from it but even just one or two enquiries a week is a start.
That money is far better spent on getting sales – Facebook Ads, networking, attending events, learning, creating content, getting a Premium Linked In account etc than it is being spent on a website that has no traffic and only ten people are seeing it each month, because you have no cash left to promote it.
If after a while you aren’t gaining traction, you must have the strength of character to admit when something might just be a rubbish idea. We’ve had events that nobody was interested in. Kill it and move on – find a different way of achieving your goal.
Sure, I could get someone else to deliver the events, but people are buying into me, and my knowledge and experience from having been there and wore the T shirt.
The subscription model is a key part of the commercial strategy, with a goal of 1000 monthly subscribers at the end of Y2