While all this networking and idea bouncing was going on, I was still developing the business plan. Once I was satisfied with the model, I met with Chris Dowd, a Chaplain at Aston who had previous experience as a business consultant. He added massive value, particularly around pricing. He felt that charging entertainment venues to promote their services on our site was a dead end.
We decided upon the structure of the business. We went for a private limited company to give us more security, which we also thought would stand us in better stead from a reputational point of view once we started to approach companies. We registered the web domains and suddenly everything was a lot more official.
By this time we were in early 2012, and although the legal entity of the business had been created, the rest wasn’t really progressing as quickly as we’d wanted. We had set an Easter 2012 launch date. But with no operational website, and only ideas and concepts, we decided that this wasn’t going to happen. We suffered another setback when Prab and I sat down, and came to the conclusion that he didn’t really have the time to give this project the full commitment that he would like to…so then we were down to 2 Directors, with James filling the graphics and design void.
After the next few weeks, I knuckled down and made changes to the business plan. We had decided that we could add more value to the company by creating more streams. We knew that students were desperate for more money and experience in the current climate of rising tuition fees and mounting unemployment rates. So we added the employability string to our bow, quickly followed by a market research element. This also created the possibility of increased revenue, which was something which we were looking at as a potential issue. From Phil’s original comment about focusing too much on a niche, I knew that the wider the market potential the better, although the need for realism had been highlighted to me on several occasions.
We set up a meeting with an accountant and showed him our projections, which he felt were very realistic and he liked the business model. We set up a bank account, and after several frustrating weeks thanks to mistakes made by HSBC, we eventually received our cards through the post.
The business plan itself is still evolving, with constant changes being made when new ideas come to mind. For us, that has really been the key; making sure that it is a living document, not static, allowing for constant idea development and not restricting yourself just because it is no longer the creation you initially had in mind.