With the number of unemployed reaching 750,000 in the UK, there’s never been more pressure to get out of that rut and start your own business – but what do you do after you set the wheels in motion and become the proud owner of a brand new start-up?
fivesquid.com is an online company that allows users to buy and sell services such as logo design and professional voiceovers for as little as £5.
The platform provides a great way for students and freelancers to build their portfolio, whilst smaller companies can utilise raw talent at an affordable price.
We interviewed the founder and CEO of this bright new start-up, Terry Koutsios, who told us a little bit about his background, and also how his now flourishing business came to be. He also shared some advice aimed at the budding entrepreneurs of the world.
Tell us a little bit about your career before fivesquid.com…
“During the seven year period prior to fivesquid.com, I owned and managed a kids’ sports clubs franchise for which I was awarded Franchisee of the Year in 2008.
“It was great fun and wonderful to use sport as a tool to develop children’s individual characters and instill in them values such as perseverance and good sportsmanship.”
What inspired you to set up the company?
“I started my franchise business when I was 23. The business grew to full capacity and there wasn’t really an option to develop it any further. That’s when I started seeking out a new venture.
“I was aware through running the sports club that there were a lot of micro skills/services that I needed help with along the way. For example, I had no idea how to install Google Analytics for my website – something that would have taken an expert just a few minutes to do.
“I also wanted a professional voicemail recording for my business line. Most companies I called quoted ridiculous prices for something that for them would be relatively simple. Services like this weren’t readily available online either.
“The majority of online freelance sites at the time were also very project based; I just wanted something quick and easy. I came across a micro-jobbing concept that was established overseas, but there was nothing like it in the UK. That’s how I came up with the idea for fivesquid.com.”
How did you finance it and why did you choose that method?
“I raised my initial funds through family and friends. This was on the advice of my business mentor. It was a good way to kick-start the business and take some friends and family along for the ride.
“Make yourself aware of the various investment levels and draw up a plan of how you’re going to achieve them.”
What do you think it was about your pitch that secured your business loan?
“I think a large factor was due to the fact that I was able to demonstrate that I had already set up the business and that it was working well.”
Terry Koutsios, Founder and CEO of fivesquid.com
What have been your biggest milestones and proudest moments at fivesquid.com?
“Probably the first purchase on the website because that’s the moment when it really felt that my business had started.
“Also, starting a business from scratch that has grown into something people find really useful. Buyers use the services on the site to help grow their own businesses, whilst our global community of sellers are generating an income from their skills.
“Driving the business to a point where it starts making a profit is of course a significant milestone: that’s when you no longer have to depend on anyone else to keep your business going.”
What five tips would you offer to any budding entrepreneurs?
Seek out a mentor
“Seeking out a mentor in the correct field is especially important if you’re starting a business in an area in which you have little experience or expertise. A knowledgeable mentor will also add credibility to both you and your business.”
“Your business name is your brand, so pick something memorable that is available in the same format and spelt in the same way across your domain name and all social media platforms, such as Facebook and Twitter. This will make your business easy to find online and to contact.”
Get a trademark
“Protect yourself by trademarking the name of your business as soon as possible, but don’t worry about trademarking your logo initially, as it’s highly likely that you’ll change your look a few times over the years.”
Don’t waste your valuable time
“When starting your own business, your time is one of the most valuable assets you have, so don’t waste it on unnecessary things like an Information Memorandum when a two page investment flyer and a PowerPoint presentation will do the trick.
“Get your business Enterprise Investment Scheme (EIS) approved by HMRC to allow investors to claim 30% tax relief on their investment, making you more attractive and valuable to prospective investors.”