The Imelda Marcos Shoe Shopping List

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The Imelda Marcos Shoe Shopping List

The things you have to do when setting up a new business look like an Imelda Marcos shoe shopping list. Not kidding.

Imagine you are in a giant Tesco’s with a shopping list that looks like it was written on a roll of toilet paper. You’re looking down the list and mentally trying to see which ones you can tick off easily – buy printer cartridges, organise company mobile phone, set up company email. Cool. I can do those no problem.

Now you’ve got a few check marks on your list and you’re venturing into less well-trodden territory – hmm… office space is probably in the Property section, new employees in the shiny Personnel section, business plans in the DIY section.

Even when you get to the section, it still takes you a while to find what you’re looking for.   You now get to the point where you are looking at the list and you realise you’re lost.

You’ve gotta ask someone. You approach a shop assistant (“Sharon” is written on her name tag) and ask her where you might find company formation. “Oh, that’s in the Legal section over there. If you walk down there, past Property and hang a right at Personnel, you’ll find it right next to Accounting’’. Cool. That means I can do tax registration at the same time.

Aweeeeesome. You’re done. You get to the checkout, take one final look at the list, turn the toilet paper over and there it is… “How do you present yourselves?’’ You now look like a dog that’s been shown a card trick. On asking Sharon where you can find that, she just shrugs her shoulders and says, “Search me.’’

Almost everything on your list is something “physically doable’’ – buy a company phone, rent office space, register a company, employ a person, go somewhere to sign a piece of paper or get a stamp. ‘’How you are going to present yourself’’’ is ethereal. Completely ethereal. And tricky to spell. Even more tricky to do. Brian (the tech guy) and I hadn’t even thought about it. Never crossed our minds. Brian’s so focused on the tech side that if it doesn’t have a keyboard and a screen, it doesn’t exist.

We both look at Ann, our All Seeing, All Knowing Marketing Being, who says, “Oh, I know how to do that.’’ Our relief is palpable, like a mother, who finally finds her kid who’s wandered off in a shopping centre. After Ann had explained to Brian and I what ‘’How we are going to present ourselves’’ means, I sat down, decoded the message and came up with this:

  1. Come up with a cool name – easy, huh. Yeah right. Do you realise that almost every single cool name is taken, especially if it’s a That’s why so many companies have stupid names that mean nothing, like Bubbawubba. How the hell do you start marketing that puppy? Hopefully, the product is at least called Bubba… Couldn’t believe that someone had already taken the name I wanted – Seriously. But at least someone had the same awesome idea as me. My other choice was bellbottomtechnologies, but no-one else wanted to venture back to the ’70s. I came up with our company name, ‘’FullStripe’’. OK. Telling a few porkies here. I came up with ‘’FiveStripe’’ after searching rankings in the army. Ann improved it to ‘’FullStripe’’, which after looking at literally hundreds of names, was miraculously available from the Domain Gods as a Plus apparently you can do a bucket load from a marketing perspective with ‘’full’’ in the name, and Brian and I are going to look great in our superhero costumes with our kick ass logo (capes included).
  1. Come up with a cool logo that means stuff – it has always been Ann’s belief that one of the things you should invest in is a creative designer for your visuals. The designer creates your logo, colour palette, font family and images, which give you a consistent visual identity that you can present consistently to the market. You give the designer a creative brief, they give you a choice of say five concepts and then you pick one. Unless you are a graphic design start up, it’s a worthwhile investment, trust me. Yeah, sure it costs some money, but in our case, I think our designer, Ales Hudec, came up with a cool logo and concept that works.
  1. Write the website – easier said than done. It took a looooooooong time, researching designs of sites that we liked, scribbling in notebooks, revisiting the business plan and our product pricing, coming up with our key selling points, writing about our key selling points, laying it out on WordPress, filling in the gaps on WordPress, creating Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter profiles, posting regularly on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter. It’s like walking around IKEA with a massive shopping list from your wife.
  1. Have cool business cards – again, not as easy as it sounds. Apparently, the business card should be eye-catching but at the same time fit in with the image you are trying to present. Ann asked Brian and I for some ideas. ‘’Make it different, make it stand out but reflect who we are,’’ she said. Brian and I came up with the idea of a Golden Retriever dressed in a FullStripe superhero costume with “go-faster’’ stripes down the side. She eventually said, ‘’I’ll just do it.’’

We did all this. It took a long time, but we got there in the end. Oh, by the way, I forgot to tell you about the step BEFORE all the cool designy stuff happened. According to Ann, this step is called the ‘’what are you trying to resolve in the market and what you want to be for your customers’’ step. Now, Brian and I didn’t revise this bit for the exam. We were hoping the question wouldn’t come up. We asked Ann if this could be the multiple choice section. ‘’Ok,’’ she said.

‘’Are you going to be

a. customer focused

b. best in class

c. the cheapest on the market’’

Brian and I passed.

“The answer is a., guys,’’ she said. “Cool, we can get behind that,’’ we said. “Good,’’ she said. “Now, you’re going to have to make trade-offs. When you are customer focused, the customer experience is the one thing you don’t trade-off when making business decisions. This means that you will have to trade-off on profits in some cases because you have to go the extra mile.’’

“But, that’s what we’ve all agreed from the get go,’’ said Brian and I. “Good,’’ she said, “Now the logo and the symbols mean something to both the customer and to us.’’

Your shopping list takes you around the “Supermarket of Business’’. You know where some things are, you have an idea where some things might be and sometimes you have to ask for directions. Imelda Marcos’ shoe shopping list is far simpler and easier to do, but at the end of the day her list doesn’t have:

Find superhero costume with go-faster stripes for a Golden Retriever.