Back to the Start

I recently had the pleasure of catching up with a lovely friend of mine who lives too far away to visit as frequently as we would both like. She shall remain nameless, but I can tell you that she is a journalist turned novelist, famous for her acting and has now found success writing and publishing a piece for theatre. There is no end to her talent!

Following these exciting ventures my nameless friend is now thinking of setting up a business as well. The idea is presently only in her mind, and she asked me for advice on how to start-up. ‘Start-ups’ are a BIG thing right now. Everyone has their plan and everyone wants to shake that daily 9-5 grind, whether it’s to holiday on a beach, study volcanoes or simply spend more time with the family. Everybody is capable of succeeding on their own. Most people, however, get stuck at the first hurdle.

For this post, I’m taking you back to the start. This is all you need to do to begin. If you need more information, simply drop me a line and I’ll get blogging.

To get started you will need a good old fashioned piece of paper and a pen; perhaps a couple of coloured pens if you’re feeling arty.

The reason for the pen and paper is that we spend too much time staring at computer screens. Additionally, if you’re like me, it is much easier to get your ideas down using pen and paper without trying to make my idea look like I want it to using the paintbrush tool and a laptop mouse?!

Pen and Paper

Pen and Paper

If you already have a name then you’re one step ahead. If you don’t have a name then you will need to decide on this before you continue.

When you have chosen your name you need to see if this name is available. Start out by looking for this name as a domain name. (A domain name is the web address you plan to use for your business: i.e. www.lkrosa.com)

To check if your domain name is available you could use: www.123-reg.co.uk or www.uk.godaddy.com or simply put ‘buy domain name’ into Google and check what hits you get.

In most cases you can put ‘mynewshopnameexample’ into the relevant box and the search will return with a list of available sites such as:

mynewshopnameexample.com – AVAILABLE

mynewshopnameexample.co.uk – AVAILABLE

mynewshopnameexample.biz – AVAILABLE

and so on.

AVAILABLE is good. The more domain names that are available, the more likely that nobody has already registered this name with Companies House.

So, when you decide that you want to buy the domain ‘mynewshopnameexample.com’ you simply select it, add it to the basket and then – before you buy it – open a new browser window to use the WebCHeck at Companies House.

Put your proposed business name into the box labelled ‘Company Name’ and check the box current / recently dissolved names’ and press search.

  • If there is no other similar name then you are okay to continue.
  • If the SAME name comes up – this has already been registered with Companies House so you should choose another.
  • If a SIMILAR name pops up, you will have to check this out in further detail. Usually if the business type is different, then this is not deemed to be an issue – i.e. nynewshopnameexamplerecruitment vs. mynewshopnameexampleretail. But you will have to check this out carefully before you commit to buying the domain.

Based on the assumption that your name was completely original and nobody has thought of it before, then you should head back to your basket and buy this domain. This will secure it whilst you’re playing around with other paperwork.

Click back onto Companies House and get your company registered here as well so noone else can decide that your name is exactly what they have been trying to think up and register it themselves in the meantime.

So, you now have an online company. Please comment and let us know what you plan to do next with yours!

Love LKR

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How to use Twitter for your business

Since starting L. K. Rosa I have learned so much about social media and how best to use it for business. So many other small business owners that I have met at events are not yet aware of the potential benefits of using Twitter. So, at a Wedding Fair last week, I promised two fellow exhibitors that I would write a miniature guide. Be forewarned: This is not as miniature as I had hoped…

I’m by no means the greatest Twitter user in the world, but I can explain how you can be. If you build up your twitter audience, you can reach mass number of followers with every Tweet, which in turn will hopefully increase your number of potential customers.

I know you’re already interested and that is why you have come here, so without further ado:

1) Firstly you will need to create an accout with Twitter here. You need your own name and email address and you will have to decide on a username too. Usually, the best username is your own name or the name of your business: I chose @LK_Rosa

2) Twitter will direct you through some information to explain the basics of Twitter. You can also check for friends using your email contacts.

3) The next important thing to do is click on Settings and go to your Account. You should add a photograph – either a picture of you looking top-clever or use your business logo: I use my business logo so that it increases brand awareness.

L. K. Rosa Logo

L. K. Rosa Logo

4) You will then need to add some more information to your profile. Things like your web address, blog, your location and a short bio. Do complete this information as people on Twitter actually want to know this stuff! You could even customise your page – showing you care about how you are percieved by other Twitter users.

5) Set up Twitter on your phone. The whole point of Twitter is to be mobile so you can update interesting events in real time.

6) Follow family and friends. Find them using the search box at the top of the homepage.

7) Write your first Tweet.

How do I decide what to Tweet?

You want to gain followers on Twitter as there is no point tweeting if noone can see you. Therefore, you need to write interesting Tweets. Are you adding value to a conversation? Would you share this information with your busiest friend? No-one wants to hear your every move: “I’m eating Coco Pops for breakfast”, but people do like honest posts, a little bit of colour and emotion. People like interesting , helpful or entertaining snippets that they can tweet too.

Share links to articles you find interesting. Upload photographs and explain what or where they are. I use Twitter for “sneak peeks” – sharing pictures of my new jewellery before it is available to buy at lkrosa.com. I occasionally upload pictures of myself in my everyday life too, my followers can see that I’m a real person, not just a business.

Remember that you only have 140 characters to play with when you’re writing your tweet! Keep it short and sweet.

How do I get more followers?

This answer could be an entire article itself, so I’ll try to keep it brief, the key points are:

* When someone follows you, follow back – if it turns out that you are not interested in their tweets or they tweet too often, you can always unfollow later.

* Follow about 50 more people than are following you – this shows other twitter users that you are actively engaged in recruiting new followers.

* Follow people who are interested in similar topics as you (hunt them down using the search tool!)

* Most importantly engage with the Twitter community Retweet (RT) posts that you find interesting (use the button that looks like 2 arrows chasing around a square). Favourite posts that you enjoyed (by pressing the yellow star button) and Reply to other users if they ask questions or if you have something to add (Write @whoever at the start of your post to reply to them or directly speak to someone)

Note that if you start a tweet with @whoever – only your mutual followers will see the post. It is futile to use this method to gain followers. It is used primarily to be an active community member.

How often should I Tweet?

Ah, the sacred question! This is so subjective you will have to decide what is right for you. If you tweet too often you will get unfollowed. If you tweet too little you risk getting lost in a plethora of updates. Balance is key. I would say that about 5 per day is about right for most people. I presently only tweet once or twice a day and this is enough for me at the moment.

The Hashtag #

When you’re tweeting you can use the hashtag # to emphasise key words or topics. For example,  I will often use #jewellery or #handmade. This means that  if someone wanted to see updates about jewellery, they could simply write #jewellery into the search bar and every tweet containing this hashtag will be listed.

Bear in mind the spelling as well – I’m happy to write #jewellery as I’m based in the UK and most of my customers, thus far, are UK based too. If I was aiming at the American market I would spell # jewelry instead. Just food for thought.

The hashtag can also be used to start a trend. For example, conferences will often give an ‘official hashtag’ to use when tweeting about the event. This means that everyone else at the conference can see what other attendees are saying simply by searching the trending tag. I use #lkrosa – but it is far from trending – in fact so far, it’s just me who has used it!

As I write this post, one of the high ranking trends is #business so I will be using that tag when I post the link to this blog! You can find up to date information about what is trending on your home page in the ‘Trends’ Box. Don’t be surprised if you find that #business has gone by the time your account is set up – they change quickly!

Twitter Bird

Twitter

A Word of Caution

Everyone can see what you say on Twitter. EVERYONE. Tweets are searchable forever. Even if you delete something later, all of your followers will have seen what you said when you wrote it. So don’t write stuff you will later regret.

Avoid writing confidential information about you, your friends, your place of work. It is better kept in your head. There are crazies out there who could do a lot of damage with that kind of information.

Avoid writing personal information such as ‘I’m going away for a month in Guatemala with all the family’ – Even robbers have twitter accounts, so  keep yourself safe.

Final notes

Hopefully, you will have a good idea as to how to get started using Twitter for your business by now. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to ask and I’ll answer as best I can.

To finish up:

* It’s important to keep your Twitter account up to date. Check it at least every day as customers will use it as a way of contacting you or writing about you. You can retweet positive comments to your followers and you can manage negative comments by responding in a timely manner with the hope of fixing a potential issue.

* Don’t swear using your business Twitter account. It’s just bad practise.

* Don’t use contractions or deliberately misspell on your business Twitter: “Itz goin 2B a gawjus wknd!” – it is dismally unprofessional.

* @whoever mentions are clickable. This means you can click on the link and open their user bio. If you’re interested, simply press follow!

* Direct Messages (DM) are private messages that are not public. Start a message with “DM @whoever…” to send them a private message. (Be warned that if you follow someone, they can send you a DM, be wary of spammers and don’t click links that say ‘have you seen this photo of you? hjew.hfig.dhuiohrg.com’ or other similar messages. They’re nonsense. Real people will DM you a welcome message that makes sense.)

*Don’t spam other people. It’s not very nice. Also be aware that a constant stream of links, advertising and  marketing information is likely to lead to people unfollowing you. Break up your marketing tweets with that emotion and personalbility we spoke of before.

*Finally, have fun! The more fun you have with Twitter, the more your enthusiasm for the business will shine through. I love sharing my sneek-peeks – and they get more comments too. You’ll soon find what works for you.

Don’t forget to follow @LK_Rosa when you’re up and running, you could even send us a tweet and say hi!

Happy Tweeting!

Love LKR xx

 

Exhibiting your business – Competition vs Comrades.

At the beginning  of every year, Spring Fair at the NEC is the place to be. For those of you who don’t work in retail: It is a huge event for traders to showcase, and retailers to spend.

My primary mission was to see what it would be like if I was to exhibit L. K. Rosa next Spring. I worked hard, scribbling mental notes in my head, illegible garble my notebook and colourful additions to my phone memo pad. I asked lots of the exhibitors for feedback: Have you had a good week? How is this spot working for you? Have you had a lot of interest? and generally falling into conversation about their work, my work and any other topic that came up.

If you are hoping to exhibit your own jewellery, craft or art somewhere – I highly recommend going to check out the event first. In fact, unless I know an Event Coordinator personally, I wouldn’t turn up to a large scale event without making my preliminary checks.

Whilst I am researching an event I think about the following points as a bare minimum. In addition, some conversations will pop up out of the blue that can help you make a judgement, actions you hadn’t anticipated may sway your opinion one way or another and even the day you visit may affect how you see this event working for your business. So let’s start with a few pointers to keep in mind:

  • Who else is exhibiting there?
  • Do the other exhibitors mean high competition or do they mean an increased audience looking for a particular thing?
  • What audience does the event attract? Is this the audience you hope to reach?
  • Are you going to reach impromptu buyers as well?
  • What is the likely footfall at the event?
  • How is the event advertised? Are the Event Managers willing to spend the required money on marketing to ensure that the right people know about it?
  • Is there any media coverage?
  • Are some stall positions better than others – if so do these come at a premium price?
  • Do you have the scope to make the stand space how you like it?
  • Is there enough space or is everything crammed together?
  • How does your product compare with what else is available? Is the market already saturated or can you slot in?
  • Do you have the necessary product volume in stock for this kind of event?
  • Do you have the manpower? Can you enlist co-workers, partners, siblings or friends to help you?
  • How much does the space cost?
  • What do you hope to achieve by attending this event?
  • What are your projected sales by attending this event?
  • Is it worth it?
  • Are the other exhibitors friendly?

By asking these questions, you’ll find yourself with a list of pro’s and con’s. This should help you easily decide whether or not to exhibit.

The last question is just something I add in because personally, I like to work alongside friendly people. In the case of the NEC there are two ginormous rooms filled with beautful beads, beautiful jewellery and beautiful people. And some of those people you are going to be directly in competition with. I realise that as a guest at the show the exhibitors and designers will inevitably greet me with enthusiasm – but I told every single one of them my honest reasons for being there and I base my ‘are they friendly’ opinion upon how they treat me after this.

Yesterday, I experienced three main reactions: the sales pitch, the competitior, and the comrade. Sometimes all three. I decided from these reactions that these people are the kind of people I would like to exhibit alongside. Creative, artistic, committed, tenacious and enthusiastic. That is the kind of environment that sells. And that is what is important.

After I finished my few hours in the jewelery rooms and with my head abuzz with ideas, I left the shiny pretty things that make me happy and meandered through some of the other spaces. In comparison to the jewellery, I could almost smell the desperation in some of the other rooms, feel the glower of eyes as I walked past their stands. I’m deliberately being vague in saying which rooms exactly – but it was clearly not easy for everybody at the show. There was definately a lingering mist of melancholy that I can only blame on the reluctance of retailers to buy – I assume, due to what people are calling ‘recession’.

To succeed in business takes a good personality, a quality product, lots of hard work and a few sprinkles of good luck along the way. Whatever business you’re working in – do try to remember that your main competitor can also prove to be a good comrade. There is room enough for us all in this world, we just need to help each other and we can all achieve our dreams and find success.

In the meantime, I would love to hear what questions you ask yourself when choosing whether or not to exhibit somewhere new. Do you check out a potential show first or just turn up and try your luck?

Wishing you all the best at your next exhibition. Perhaps we’ll see you there!

Love LKR

Nothing comes for free… why give it away?

One place I haven’t mentioned the (rather wonderful) L. K. Rosa competition is right here on the LKR blog…

In a nutshell you can go here for instructions.

Not in a nutshell all you need to do is email: valentine@lkrosa.com and ‘Like’ our facebook page.

Q: “What’s in it for you?” I hear you ask.

A: Well, by entering (and hopefully sharing!) the competition, L. K. Rosa hopes to achieve a greater brand exposure.

By entering, you will simply be subscribing yourself to our fortnightly newsletter which includes updates, stories and lovely reasons that you might want to choose L. K. Rosa over other brands.

All of our customers receive this newsletter already – I only tell you this to try and assure you that it’s not just rubbish! Mind you, if you decide it’s rubbish – you can always unsubscribe.

To ensure you choose to stay subscribed – it’s in my best interests to write good stuff!!

Most importantly – and the reason you’re in it – is to WIN IT!

You are giving yourself the chance to win this gorgeous L. K. Rosa necklace made from .925 Sterling Silver and Swarovski Crystal worth £45.

You can win it for yourself or you can win it for a loved one! The choice is yours.

L. K. Rosa Sterling Silver and Swarovski Necklace

Win her heart this Valentine’s Day!

Be assured, that you will only need to exchange a little bit of your time to email and ‘like’!

Why do I give it away? Well, you’ve come this far… now you know my brand name!

Good luck & I hope you’ll come back again soon.

Love LKR xx

(This promotion is in no way sponsored, endorsed, administered by or associated with WordPress. Information is collected by L. K. Rosa. See here for full terms.)

L. K. Rosa – time to blog…

Foxgloves

 

After spending my first few weeks of summer wistfully making jewellery, staring out at the sparingly few days of glorious sunshine, I had some sort of epiphany and realised that I had bigger fish to fry. I couldn’t keep having so much fun playing with silver and stones like a child with fluff and glitter in art class –  I had to get TECHY. And not a half-hearted attempt at being savvy – I really had to get tech-smart for the sake of a successful business!

Now, this is a sudden desire to be tech-smart for a gal who is quite content leaving her phone at home to enjoy an afternoon of uninterrupted shopping; who puts her phone on silent whilst eating lunch with the ducks in the park; or simply ignores the bothersome beeps whilst deeply engrossed in a literary masterpiece and sipping on soy cappuccino. This new desire to actually use a computer for more than emails and word processing was going to involve some kind of miracle 360!

From owning a phone that I mainly dismissed as irritating (it actually didn’t function very intelligently, which I maintain as a good excuse for my ignorance) I bought myself a new smartphone – I then got engrossed with ensuring I knew how to use it properly (this one is intelligent and basic – and I love it) and I actually communicate with people – efficiently!

I’ve started taking photos, I’ve started using photoshop and I have built an e-commerce website to sell my wares.

I built another website from scratch (just to prove to myself that I am in fact capable of at least basic web design skills) and I’m finally getting acquainted with social media. Yes, finally.

Well, I think I am slowly but surely catching up what with Twitter, Google + and a Facebook Page (I’m still getting to grips with Pintrest!) – and here you have it…. my latest installment of being an (almost) fully fledged user of marketing tools in order to promote both myself and my business.

If you think I’ve missed anything on my tech-tour (and I am bound to have missed more than a few things!) I’d love to hear your feedback or suggestions of what to discover next.

In the meantime, feel free to check out http://www.lkrosa.com to see where this new ‘tech-knowledgy’ has led me thus far.

Love LKR