clear waveI’ve just been fortunate enough to catch up with a good mate who having had his hand somewhat forced, has decided to start-up his own company. He’s been made redundant, and while I don’t have any stats to back this up, I’ll bet that’s how most one man bands and other types of SMEs are formed.

And more power to him – It’s a great response to a potentially devastating situation. 

Here is a plug for him actually, he is setting up as Clear Wave Productions. He will basically make any type of audio you might need. Anything from a film sound track with a newly minted and bespoke musical score to a series of corporate answer phone messages.

He’s also got a nice lineon ‘elearning’ modules that come with a spoken element (they have to be recorded and produced – that’s what he does) and also has a great deal going on video production too, if that’s more what you need.

Anyway, when we met up we fell to discussing what he’ll need in order to make this a success. Like a lot of people in these situations, he has a tremendous passion and an outright market leading skill for what he does…

But is that going to be enough? 

Here’s what he has got:

Passion – he loves what he does, and this shines through when you speak to him.

Expertise – He knowledge is unparalleled. If you have an audio related issue, he can solve it, no question.

Contacts – Built through years of doing a similar job for someone else, he has a network of potential customers all lined up.

A music library and logo / website and other marketing collateral – Almost as a by-product of what he does and what he loves, he has built this up over the last few years and is getting some decent organic success from it. Plus, he can leverage this, his own product, in terms of his new business. Without getting too technical, it’s a great starting point for what he wants to do.

It sounds like a great start doesn’t it? But will this loose arrangement of skills and opportunity result in a money-making, bill paying, career defining business for the long term success of him and his family?

Well, I know plenty of people who have started with less…

But let’s think for a moment about what he hasn’t got. Which incidentally was the subject of our conversation. I can’t help him design a sonic logo or a musical identity or a direct a professional voice over, but I can point the way to structuring the more prosaic elements of what he’ll need to do!

A plan – He has the components, but he hasn’t pulled it all together into what the banks would recognise as a business plan. He has built it organically over the years using his own money, and he is now in a great position to kick it all off – but where does he even start?

An elevator speech – This is a way of very quickly identifying the crux of his offering and communicating that to potential customers.

Competitive Advantage – Listen, I know he is a great guy, and exceptionally good at what he does. but how does anyone else know that? How can he quickly demonstrate to a potential customer what value he provides. How does he distinguish himself from the opposition / competition?

A Sales Process – For instance how does he go about identifying who to talk to, initiate a conversation with them, offer a solution to them, and then close a deal? For that matter how does he go about writing an order for them? What are his legal obligations and protections within his contracts?

Come to that, how does he make sure he’s going to be paid? 

A marketing strategy – Who is he talking to? What does he need them to do in order to buy from him? Why should they do it? How much can he charge – what are the potential markets and products he could utilise? Where should he be based? How does he get the product to market? Where can he grow? What research his available on his potential clients base?

Whats his communication plan? How is he going to tell those people he doesn’t have a personal relationship with about his business and what it can offer.

And what about Social Media? For me, a killer opportunity these days, for any new business, is the ability to harness the power of the social web. He can position himself as a ‘thought leader’ in his industry in front of the whole world-wide market for his services through the application of some very simple ideas*.

I think he was a little overwhelmed with the scale of the conversation, and I have promised further chats to make sure I can talk him through some of these big ideas. But can you guys see what I mean?

Are these the relevant questions that need to be answered by someone starting up in business today?

What have I missed? what other ‘delights’ do the first few months on his exciting journey hold for him? Let me know in the comments!

Oi14*As an aside for a moment – if you are interested in social media marketing, and especially what it can do for your business then you need to go to The Oiconf – (The online influence conference, not an affiliate link) if you are anywhere near Cardiff, Wales in April.

If you want to do it for yourself, as well as reading this blog (ahem) then I recommend the following resources supplied by my good friend Mark Schaefer 

Mark Schaefer

Mr Mark Schaefer

Mark’s Businesses GROW blog – genuinely everything you will ever need to know about social media marketing, for free. 

The Tao of Twitter – Mark’s seminal book on Twitter – this is the best-selling book in the world about Twitter and you’ll see why after 5 minutes. Plus is will only take you 90 minutes to finish it.

Social Media Explained – Mark’s latest book. Essential reading for senior executives / MDs / business owners looking to start out in social media marketing. Literally an instruction book that can be followed page by page. I intend publishing a full review of this book shortly. 

(While both these books mention me and Marks friendship I make no return on talking about them or linking to them. They are just that good!) 





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3 replies
  1. Gareth Daniel
    Gareth Daniel says:

    Hi Tony. Your friend seems like he’s got a good basis to be a business success – passion, expertise, contacts and I should imagine there is market demand for his services which he can offer globally. To add to your advice I would recommend that he takes a look at the business model canvas tools out there. They will definitely help him in the market planning process.

    The Lean Canvas
    A great one to start with is the Lean Canvass –
    The website has good information and you can fill in multiple canvases on the site. It offers a 30 day free trial to use the other functions to go deeper into the process of experimentation and the build-measure-learn methodology.

    Business Model Canvas
    This is the original canvas tool which the lean canvas is based on. I think it is worth taking a look at both and filling them in. here is a link to the canvass:
    and the value proposition canvas which is like an extension of the exercise

    To help get to grips with these it is well worth reading the “The Lean Startup” by Eric Ries. It talks in depth about the build-measure-learn process and gives lots of real life examples of businesses using this approach to great effect.

    Hope this helps!

    [email protected] says:

    Cheers TD, nice blog!

    @MrTonyDowling wrote .. Tony Dowling posted: “I’ve just been fortunate enough to catch up with a good mate who having had his hand somewhat forced, has decided to start-up his own company. He’s been made redundant, and while I don’t have any stats to back this up, I’ll bet that’s how most one man ban”

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