Mark Applin Notes

Founder of Intermedia.

Professional contexts. Year 2 and 3.

Games industry, running a business.

Print – digital, financial nightmare.

Signly app, making digital tools for clients to help them communicate with their customers.

Retail focussed because fast-paced agile. Loss prevention.

Why start a business? Getting fired, a necessity.

Teenage pregnancy with deafness, Signly – augmented reality. Signed content on your own device.

Not just about making money – doing social good. Intermedia pays the bills, Signly worthwhile.


Act 1: Setting up a business

Learn at someone else’s expense, get a job. Learn foundational skills before setting out. Customers become your boss. Not what you think it will be. Managing money.

Ltd company limits your liability, protects you as an individual. Pay less tax.

Sole trader. Social enterprise.

Company name/URL.

Find a bank that’s supportive, face to face meetings.

Reinvesting your own profits, grow slowly.


Act 2: Running a business

50% of start-ups fail.

You need to be well rounded. Self-discipline.

Scaling up, managing staff employing too many too early.

Business basics:

Employ people who are better than you.

Be contactable. Be easy to get in touch with.

Turn up on time, look the part.

Build a brand and reputation.

Work with big brands.

Be agile, keep moving.

Positioning statement? Explaining what you do in two sentences, easy to understand. What you don’t do as well as what you do. Why you do it better. What you value in yourself is not what customers may value in you. Product or service? Make your clients look good.

Cash is king, the lifeblood of the business. Don’t chase it too much. Look at your bank balance regularly.

Management information and dashboards. Conversion, proposals converted into paying work. 80%. Average order value. Gross net profit, net profit. Who are your top clients? Work in progress pipeline, what do you have coming up?

Growing the business. Do good work, 0% marketing. Social media is free. Referrals.


Act 3: Contracts

Clients who don’t know what they want. Find ignorant clients. Tender process 5-10 working days.

Let us get on with it!

Pricing, stick to your guns. Put your rates up, value yourself.

You are a professional service, like a lawyer. Respect as a professional.

You are the expert, be confident.

Different rates for different clients. Explain that you’re not the cheapest, but you are worthwhile.

Draw attention away from the price, increase their confidence in you.

Be reliable, promise less, deliver more. Turn up with added value.


Act 4: Working clients

Building lifetime relationships. Be partners, benefit each other.

Keep them happy, put in the hours.

Keep innovating, have ideas.

Review the projects with clients. You might get good feedback more referrals.

Be clear about your costs. Give them a budget. Deliver to the budget.

Company culture: Creative, supportive and challenging.


Act 5: Case study

The Little Book of Loss. Loss prevention. More employees steal than customers.

Proudest of creating Signly and The Little Book of Loss.

  1. Cherish ignorant clients.
  2. Make them look good.
  3. Find out ‘the need behind the need.’
  4. Go niche not mass market.
  5. Be creative, supportive and challenging.
  6. Do work you are proud of (money will come).
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