Monthly Archives: January 2012

Public Liability Insurance – Research

Public liability insurance is commonly required for businesses that use an office within an established area, places like the Enterprise offices are great examples of this.

If someone has an accident within the office building it may make myself liable to be sued.

By researching into insurance websites I have found a suitable compare website which has helped me find a selection of quotes and prices to choose from.

The cheapest cover is £95.40 per year by Hiscox.

Office Insurance

I tried a quote on Direct Line for office insurance if it is needed. It seems fairly costly but this covers all property that I own and protects against theft and fire.

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Business Plan (In Progress)

Executive Summary

 Vector Buddy is a graphic design company. The company will be concentrating on providing high quality designs on request by the target customers which are Businesses, Video Game Clans and Individual Designers.
Vector Buddy will operate out of a small office in the Enterprise area in Roland Levinksy Building, University of Plymouth.

Vector Buddy will offer our target customers with fresh, ultra high quality graphic designs from request through online communication.

Most firms come solely from creative backgrounds.  While this is useful for the crafting of logos and other devices of visual communication, it lacks the intuitive business mindset that Vector Buddy can offer.  This competitive edge allows the company to bring both an aesthetic design focus as well as a practical, quantitative mindset that adds value to the service offerings by creating solutions that have both creative elements combined with rational, ideas.  This is useful mainly for the business clients.

Vector Buddy will grow it’s customer base using such social networks as Twitter along with affordable competitive pricing for custom-made graphics. Vector Buddy will hopefully reach profitability by the year’s end.

1.1 Objectives

The objectives for the first year of operation include:

  1. To develop a start-up graphics agency that will grow to profitability within year two.
  2. To create a company whose primary goal is to exceed customer’s expectations.
  3. To create a firm that provides the target customers with valuable services and provides the owner with a flexible, creative, fun, and profitable opportunity.

1.2 Mission

“Vector Buddy’s mission is to provide world-wide businesses, video game clans and web designers with ultra high quality graphic designs when they need it. Vector Buddy exists to attract and maintain customers. When it adheres to this maxim, everything else will fall into place.”

1.3 Keys to Success

The keys to success are:

  • Professionalism
  • Creativity
  • Practical insight
  • Enjoyment of the experience
  • Create business relationships with customers

2.1 Company Ownership

Vector Buddy is a Limited Company owned and operated by Lee Cunnington

2.2 Start-up Summary (Initial Costs of Equipment)


Services

Vector Buddy provides ultra high quality graphic designs to established and starting businesses, designers such as freelancers and video gamers who belong to a Clan. Some of the services offered are company identities, logo’s, avatars, vectors, textures, packaging and branding.

Business

The pricing of the projects for business packages are typically estimated as a project-based cost. This will be set as an hourly rate, but depending on what the customer needs, the prices are set as sections.

Video Gamers/Clans

The pricing of the projects for gaming clan packages are also estimated as a project-based cost but as a set border price.

Freelancers/Individuals

The pricing for these customers will be set prices depending on the individual graphic designs or combo packs they purchase. This can range from £1 to £10.

Custom requests will range from £5-20

Market Analysis Summary

Vector Buddy has several targets for each of the customers needs.
For business customers Vector Buddy will be targeting small to medium sized companies who are either starting out or need rejuvenation in the old advertising graphics. What these companies have in common is that they have started as a small company and have grown up into a larger, more mature company that must now decide if they are going to maintain the current business or reinvigorate the company in order to move to the next level.

4.1 Market Segmentation

Vector Buddy has 3 main groups of customers which have different needs.

Businesses/Companies

Gaming Clans/Individuals

Freelancers/Individuals

The businesses have  started with a concept and leveraged their original ideas of visual communication elements.

Gaming clans and gaming individuals need ideas for their identities online.

Freelancers and Individuals may need aid in certain website design projects for graphical layouts/templates or may simply need logo’s and vectors to aid in their projects.

4.2 Target Market Segment Strategy

Client Referral: Referrals from client to client is very common. By encouraging customers to recommend Vector Buddy after service is complete, it will increase the likelihood of referrals for the company.

Another strategy will be to use the Chamber of Commerce, I should be able to contact them with a proposal to create some work for them in order for this to be showcased allowing the Chamber of Commerce to help with referrals. It will provide a good reason for the Chamber to recommend Vector Buddy. By making sure that I exceed expectations, this will increase the likelihood that he will receive referrals from satisfied customers.

Social Networking (Online and Offline): Social Networking is an ideal leverage by using free social networks such as Facebook and Twitter, I will be able to effectively advertise Vector Buddy for free and at the same time create a fan base for hopeful future clients. This also helps in referrals because these websites encourage users to suggest and recommend liked pages. This will help in effectively updating news on the companies progress and can allow current and past customers to post comments of recommendation to Vector Buddy.

Website: Using the website as a platform from advertising to selling the products is a prime way of targeting customers and future clients. By combining Google search SEO’s (Search Engine Optimisation), when a user searches for graphic design companies in the south west, Vector Buddy will appear in the top list. Using my web design skills, I will be able to use meta data to achieve this proposition.

4.3 Service Business Analysis

The graphic design industry is diverse with all types of different services available online and offline. There are  large, medium and small advertising agencies which specialise in graphic design; there are freelancers and in-house businesses that serve specific purposes for their clients.

Trends have been changing for the past 10 years for graphic design companies. In-house firms are on the increase and full-service agencies are also jumping this bandwagon instead of out-sourcing it. This is occurring because of the higher profits for the providers. Vector Buddy will be concentrating on it’s own specific skill set.

4.3.1 Competition and Buying Patterns

Large Design Agencies: Over the past 10 years when Web 2.0 has came into the fray of internet culture and economics, advertising agencies aren’t just selling media forms such as video but they are now increasing their services in order to sell media forms such as graphic designs. Mainly targeting to develop corporate identity.

Freelancer Designers: These are strong competitors as they are typically a one-man operation like myself. The majority of freelance designers work from home. Some Freelancers are well experience and may offer the same professional level as graphic design agencies offer.

MediaLoot.com:

Strategy and Implementation Summary

5.1 Marketing Strategy

Vector Buddy will rely on three main activities in order to achieve it’s marketing efforts.

Social Networking: Using social networks such as Facebook and Twitter in order to become known to many online users. This also includes customers offline, but building relationships with both ‘communities’ will hopefully increase the leverage for popularity for Vector Buddy.

Client Referral: Providing customer attention is vital for pre and post customers of Vector Buddy. By providing attention it means by Emailing the customer with weekly or monthly updates of new designs and packages available to them. Also sending Emails to several customers to ask if the service and product has been effective for their needs is a nice gesture to maintain relationships. This in turn will hopefully allow them to refer their friends and/or business partners to use Vector Buddy’s services.

Targeted Customer Acquisition: Vector Buddy will target customers  by determining who the ideal ones are and how Vector Buddy can offer them a decent value for the service provided.

5.2 Sales Strategy

The sales strategy will be to use the website as a selling purpose but to also use it as an overall portfolio. By having this portfolio I will be able to illustrate my proficiency with the specific skill set I have to offer to the customers. In order for more success I will research into prospective companies and customers so that I have specific knowledge of the needs the companies or customers may have and solutions that I can offer.

5.2.1 Sales Forecast

The first few weeks of the first month of operation at Vector Buddy will be general office setup.

Months two through to four will be slow progress because of client development and client referrals will be low. By now Google SEO’s will have kicked in and the website will be shown on Googles searches. By month 6, will be developing projects for businesses and gaming clans and this will hopefully continue to grow steadily.

However, trends may change as seasons affect the rate of sales of graphics. Individuals and freelancers and gamers may choose to go on holiday during the summer months, leaving game consoles behind and leaving business for several weeks at a time. This means that interest in graphics are lower than in the winter months when businesses are at their peek and need graphic advertising and a lot of gamers are home playing video games.

5.3 Milestones

Vector Buddy will have a few milestones for the first year.

These are:

– Profitability

– Office Set up

– Business Website

– Clientele/Contact building

5.4 Competitive Edge

Vector Buddy’s competitive edge is based on my background of creativity for the business. The majority of companies similar to mine  will have the same talents but many of these people are aesthetically oriented. This is obviously the main type of persona within graphic design, but this is almost certainly limiting because while their work is creative on all levels, their work may not be understood by non-creative types we see in the business culture.

My knowledge background entails aesthetics and business. I have more of a sense of creativity within design but I have also began to become more business oriented. This edge will allow Vector Buddy much more creative and business success than other companies offer.

Web Plan

6.1 Website Marketing Strategy

The website is the center of everything for Vector Buddy. It will be showing off an extensive portfolio of recent projects from my creative background along with advertising the company by selling the range of services Vector Buddy will offer to its customers. The website will provide different forms of being able to contact my service such as an online contact form and an email address for the interested customer.

The strategy for marketing Vector Buddy online will be the use of visual materials.

Search Engine Optimisation will be a key factor in success for Vector Buddy as my ability to design and use Meta data will help search engines such as Google find my website and will hopefully keep it in the top 10 list when a user searches for ‘Graphic Design Companies in the South West/Plymouth’.

6.2 Development Requirements

The development requirement of the website plan will be handled by myself. With 3 years of knowledge in HTML and CSS web languages I will be able to build the website along with providing the creative works and designs. For PHP development in order for users to purchase the on-the-fly downloadable content I will be able to use such content management systems such as Joomla in order to creative an online shop, so when users purchase the product, they can download their graphic designs straight away. When it comes to developing the custom packages, I will be able to build PHP contact forms which allows the user to quickly pick what they need to send a request. When the form is sent to my Email I can confirm their request and will be able to contact them with a reply stating how long their project will take and how much it will cost.

Management

7.1 Personnel Plan (Year 2 and beyond)

If profit margins look promising after the first year of Vector Buddy, I will hire another member of staff in order to assist with the increasing work load. The work load will of course involve designing  various graphics and building business and gaming packages. Their role may also assist in administrative detail such as running the website and providing edits and new content monthly.

-Pay-

Financial Plans

8.1 Important Assumptions

-Table of 3 year plan with interest rates-

8.2 Break-even Analysis

-Table/Graph of monthly revenue break-even-

8.3 Projected Profit and Loss

-Table/Graph of Profits and Loss-

8.4 Projected Cash Flow

-Table/Graph of Cash Flow-

8.5 Projected Balance Sheet

-Table-

8.6 Business Ratios

-Table-

Business Plan Questions To Answer

Add the information into your business plan, to include

Company type chosen: Limited

Vector Buddy Ltd.

Why you have chosen it?

I have chosen Limited as the company base type because of the many advantages it offers:

  • A Limited Company can elect to be taxed as a sole proprietor, partnership which provides flexibility.
  • A limited liability company with multiple members that elects to be taxed as partnership may specially allocate the members’ distributive share of income, gain, loss, deduction, or credit via the company operating agreement on a basis other than the ownership percentage of each member so long as the rules contained in Treasury Regulations.
  • Limited liability, meaning that the owners of the Limited Company, called members are protected from some or all liability for acts and debts of the Limited Compmany depending on laws.
  • Much less administrative paperwork and record keeping than a corporation.

What the legal requirements are that you need to adhere to?

For a Limited company,

  • The company must be registered at Companies house
  • The company’s annual accounts must be filed at Companies house
  • Annual Returns (Form AR01) must be completed each year to ensure Companies House records the most up-to-date information about the company. This is subject to a modest annual fee.
  • HMRC must be informed if the company has any profits or taxable income on an annual basis.
  • Every limited company must complete an annual corporation tax return. Any liabilities must be paid within 9 months of the company year end.
  • All company employees must pay income tax and NICs on any income they receive

What roles/people does your company legally require?

What are the costs to register your business?

https://www.theformationscompany.com/page/value – On the Formations Company website, it costs just £4.99

http://www.blueskyformations.co.uk/?utm_source=googleadwords&utm_medium=cpc&utm_term=limited+company&utm_content=search&utm_campaign=company_formations_low_priority&gclid=CLXOufHF5q0CFUYLtAodXFrtVA

Mission Statement

A Mission Statement is designed to provide a path and spell out an overall goal.
  • Purpose and aim(s) of the organization
  • The organization’s primary stakeholders: clients/customers, shareholders, congregation, etc.
  • How the organization provides value to these stakeholders, for example by offering specific types of products and/or services

Vector Buddy Mission Statement

“Vector Buddy provides world-wide businesses, video game clans and web designers with ultra high quality graphics designed when they need it.”

Elevator Pitch

Using Sony Vegas and Adobe Illustrator I have managed to create a quick and useful Elevator Pitch. Also with some help from a friend (using her voice) sounds more friendly and appealing to advertise with the use of  a female voice.

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Resources, Pricing and Business Map

Facility

Office space at Enterprise (located at the Roland Levinsky Building – University of Plymouth).

–          Possibility of 2 people sharing the room depending on size of the room

–          Includes desk and chair set

–          Includes Phone/Internet Connection at no extra cost

–          Includes Electricity usage included within the cost

Cost: £150 per month

Equipment

Computer systems

Two computers will be required to run the operations of Vector Buddy

One system can be used to create the graphics and run the heavy tasking whilst the other can be used for documentation and processing email requests.

Heavy Duty

Acer Aspire X3990 Desktop

–          Intel Core i7 2600 3.4GHz

–          4GB RAM

–          1TB HDD

–          DVD±RW

–          Intel GMA

–          Windows 7 Home Premium 64

Cost: £598.43 or £26.87 per month

http://www.ebuyer.com/279533-acer-aspire-x3990-desktop-pt-sgke2-159

Light Duty

Asus X53E Laptop

–           Intel Core i5 Sandybridge 2430M – 2.4GHz

–           4GB RAM

–           320GB HDD

–           15.6″ HD

–           DVD Writer

–           Intel HD Graphics

–           Webcam

–           Windows 7 Home Premium 64

Cost: £399.44 or £17.95 per month

http://www.ebuyer.com/337144-asus-x53e-laptop-x53e-sx1136v

Monitor

Because the heavy duty machine is a built set without a monitor, I will need to purchase a sizeable one which would fit in the office space and will also provide enough scope to conduct large tasks when designing.

Asus VS238H LCD LED Full HD 23″ HDMI Monitor

–           Max Resolution: 1920 x 1080

–           Image Contrast Ratio: 50000000:1 (dynamic)

–           Response Time: 5 ms

–           Signal Input: HDMI, DVI-D, VGA

Cost: £148.34

Accessories and Backup Equipment

Accessories and backup are required to assist in tasks such as printing and storing back up files of recently made graphics and documentation.

Graphics Card

A graphics card maybe required to run on the heavy duty computer. In case certain designs require some 3D creativity. The card chosen will definitely produce the work load under little pressure.

Asus GTX 560 Ti Battlefield 3 Edition 1GB GDDR5 Dual DVI HDMI PCI-E Graphics Card

–          Nvidia GTX 560 Ti GPU

–           1GB GDDR5 Memory

Cost: £181.98

http://www.ebuyer.com/290961-asus-gtx-560-ti-battlefield-3-edition-1gb-gddr5-dual-dvi-hdmi-engtx560-ti-dc2-top-g-2di-1gd5

Printer and Scanner

Printers and Scanners may be important to handle documentation.

HP Officejet 4500 Desktop All-in-One Multifunction colour Inkjet Printer with Fax

-Max Printing Resolution: Up to 4800 x 1200 dpi
– Max Printing Speed: Up to 28 ppm
– Standard Media Capacity: 100 sheets
– PC Connection: USB

Cost: £50.90 | Ink: £23.85 (Black and Colour)

http://www.ebuyer.com/219479-hp-officejet-4500-desktop-all-in-one-multifunction-colour-inkjet-printer-with-fax-cm753a-bev

Hard Drive

I will require a set of hard drives in order to store and carry information from once location to another. Having a well designed HDD will protect data from damages such as fire.

Buffalo 1TB DriveStation External Hard Drive – Hi Speed USB 2.0

Cost: £80.00

http://www.ebuyer.com/255188-buffalo-1tb-drivestation-external-hard-drive-hi-speed-usb-2-0-hd-lb1-0tu2-uk

Hosting the Website

Hosting and Domain purchasing is required to allow Vector Buddy to be online.

Here is an example of pricing from the website One.com which offers many different packages.

–          Web Space Medium (10 GB) – 12 months = £22.80

–          Annual domain fee (.com) = £9.00

–          Discount – Annual domain fee (.com) = -£9.00


–          Setup fee = £9.00Total excl. VAT. £31.80Total Cost of Startup (excluding office space) = £1340.89Yearly forecast (office space costs) = £1800.00Grand Total = £3140.89

Business Map (Draft and Database)

A business map is designed to establish the resources around you whether its locations, finances or key people that may have special uses to a business. Here is my draft design of the Business Map for Vector Buddy. The full Database of contacts, facilities and finances are downloadable here: http://leecunnington.co.uk/database.xlsx Throughout the rest of this term I will be able to upgrade the business map based on the more people and locations I meet and see.

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Self Assessment Essay 1000 Words and Presentation Pitch 2

Here is the Second Presentation Pitch Video

 

Self Assessment Essay (Includes SWOT analysis)

 

2 Minute Pitch

The strengths of my presentation were more positive than expected. I was able to maintain my idea after the presentation as the fellow students seemed to have approved my idea to be a suitable one. They provided several questions that I was able to answer concisely without any problems. They also provided me with some suggestions and improvements to the business plan which proved to be very helpful and allowed me to boost my confidence for the next 5 minute presentation/pitch.

When conducting my first 2 minute presentation, I was very nervous and sometimes nerves are fairly difficult to control especially when trying to explain a rough draft of a business plan to the entire group. The first main weakness that I spotted whilst reviewing my recorded presentation was that I was speaking too quickly. Rushing the speech may have hindered my abilities which caused stuttering towards the end along with adding the nervousness causing me to interrupt the presentation to ask to read it again. With this it would have affected the timing of my presentation as 2 minutes is very short and reading from the piece of paper again at a slower pace wouldn’t have been possible. Which brings to the point of reading from a piece of paper, this actually added pressure and affected my body language as I was unable to engage with the audience. My body language became very defensive towards the end of the presentation because of the mistakes made whilst reading out my idea to the class. With the negative body language, the flow of the presentation began to break up which affected the way the business plan was told to the students.

The opportunities are almost endless for the next time I present my idea to the group. This is because I will be able to use a PowerPoint presentation to provide myself and the group with visual aid so they will be able to understand my business plan in more detail and I will be able to have more confidence with heavily prepared information, data and images in order to have a successful presentation. Seeing as I have viewed my presentation from a recording I have been able to take note of all of the mistakes and problems I made so when the next presentation comes to date I will have a prepared presentation and pitch ready to present.

The main threat of this presentation was the time scale. Being given 2 minutes to explain the idea was the problem. Being nervous was a threat to the presentation as a whole also because it prevented me from completing the presentation within the time limit and may have caused some of the students to understand my business idea lesser than expected.

5 Minute Pitch

The strengths of my 5 minute presentation pitch were very well planned out and had an extremely more positive outcome than expected. With visual aid of a PowerPoint, I was able to plan out what needed to be said within the time scale of the presentation. It also assisted what my business plan meant and with simple notes on the presentation slides I was able to refer to anything I may have forgotten to mention during the pitch. With this I had the capability to speak out loud with clarity so everyone could hear and understand me, being able to engage with the audience was key in this presentation and the PowerPoint slides were correctly thought out so the students knew what my business idea was and how it could appeal to them. When engaging with the audience I was able to interact with the slides by pointing at certain areas such as images to show everyone what it was about.

I was able to compose myself whenever I started to feel that I was running out of time and I made sure that I was not speaking to quickly to prevent the stuttering behaviours. Body language was improved greatly by wearing a suit jacket. This made me feel more professional and added extra presentation style as if I was actually trying to ‘sell my idea’ in a kind of Dragon’s Den scene. With this I was able to clarify all of the information that I was giving the audience (students), being able to engage with the audience was used to the best advantage as I was able to involve them in questioning what they would like allowing them to bring me more feedback and improvements when questions were answered. Again when answering questions I was able to quickly pinpoint the answer to what they had in mind just like in the 2 minute presentation. This presentation overall has boosted my confidence towards group speaking in front of the fellow students.

There were not many weaknesses noticed during my 5 minute presentation, mainly because I was able to compose myself and settle the nerves prior to preparing for the presentation. One of the main problems however was the pricing, I accidentally miss calculated the Business prices on the PowerPoint slides so I had to explain that it was incorrect during the presentation. On closer observations of the recording of my presentation, I may have been looking towards the presentation to read one or two notes instead of making eye contact with the audience. There may have been too much text information on the

Opportunities for the next presentation will be to increase the information and improve the styles on the slides, maybe making the text information more bite-sized will allow the audience to read and take in the information easier before the slide is changed to the next. Maybe practising time management for presentations would be an ideal thing to undertake as I will be able to improve the flow of information and hopefully increase eye contact and engagement throughout.

The threats were reduced in this presentation because the time scale was perfect to explain all of the information about my business plan to the audience, however in the next longer presentation I will need to prepare a bigger PowerPoint presentation and a better script in order to keep timing in order.

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Interview Questions from MediaLoot.com

Recently I decided to contact the company MediaLoot in order to find an incite into how they work and how they produce and sell graphics to the users.

Here is the interview, it was fairly short but the information has helped me plan the next steps to what I need to conduct. The questions have been shortened greatly because some of the questions I asked were sensitive for them to answer – many companies have trade secrets and MediaLoot has many which they wouldn’t share.

Name: Natalie Hipp

How long has your business been running?

MediaLoot officially opened on March 9, 2010, but it was in the works from December 2009.

What does your business offer to the internet?

MediaLoot offers graphic design resources to graphic designers, web developers, and entrepreneurs. Our products make designing high-quality web and print items easier and at times more sophisticated.

Who is your target demographic (customer type)?

Graphic designers, start-up entrepreneurs, web developers: generally our customers are between the ages of 20 and 35 and are located all over the world.

What are you selling to the customer?

Graphic Design Resources (such as icons, print templates, web templates, PhotoShop brushes, textures, patterns, vectors, etc) provided as a collection of different files.

How do you distribute your product?

Once a product is purchased individually on our site, it is added to the customer’s member area as a purchased download. Alternatively, customers can sign up for a subscription on a monthly or yearly basis and get a certain number of downloads to use per month, at which point they can download items directly from each item’s information page. All downloads are recorded and viewable in the MediaLoot member area.

What is the size of your team (including job roles, hierarchy)?

We have four people who work on MediaLoot on an ongoing basis. Mason and myself (Natalie) own the site. Mason handles most of the PR and promotional parts as well as makes sure everything’s running smoothly. I handle site development and customer support. Tony is our head designer and provides almost all of our design resources. Jenn handles social media through Facebook, Twitter, and Google+. We also hire designers and writers on a per-item basis to provide extra design resources and blog posts.