Design solutions: Take a wee walk with Scruffy Dug

Logo full Colour

We have been doing daily blogs for some time now, and we enjoy it very much, but it has occurred to us that we haven’t taken the time to introduce you to Scruffy Dug Design Solutions, and what we do.  So we would like to take some time to tell you what we’re all about, and what we can do for businesses and start-ups in central Scotland.

We are small group of professionals who have worked in all manner of businesses, small and large. Combining our skill sets we have experts in design, web creation, social media, marketing, book keeping, customer service, and business analysis.  What’s more, these skills have been applied to retail, telesales, fashion, hospitality, telecommunications, insurance, finance, and the drinks industry.  We have always strived to give our all in business and learn and enhance our skills, but always for someone else’s company.  When three of us found ourselves facing redundancy, we decided to take our destiny into our own hands.  We wanted to do things differently, building a fair and friendly business world.  We go out of our way to help people like us; people who have the knowledge and ability to do something special and haven’t yet had the opportunity or support to let them to strike out on their own.

When people have a skill, product or service and they want to start up a business, there are so many things to take into account.  This will take their time away from doing what they love and what they do best.  Getting bogged down with payroll is not what the budding tattoo artist had in mind.  A local charity might not envision how constant and time consuming social media can become, possibly drawing their attentions away from the main goal of their operation.  A brewer shouldn’t have to spend painstaking hours reworking logo designs or figuring out how to brand their business when they want to get on with making beer.

That’s why we guide young businesses through whichever aspect is furthest from their reach and offer support packages, acting like an external department;  a friendly, efficient extension of their business.  Web sites and social media are a part of most businesses these days but web design is a specialist skill, one we have in spades.  Have a website but no one sees it?  We will get you on that first page of Google to make sure get you noticed.  Need brochures or flyers to promote your business? We can work with you and produce exactly what you need.  Or, we can arrange and implement your entire start up process and let you get on with what you do best.

So don’t take those first, daunting steps alone – take a wee walk with Scruffy Dug.

 

Visit our web site to find out more about what we offer here:  http://www.scruffydug.com/packages/

 

Or get in touch and let us know what you need on Twitter @Scruffy_Dug or Facebook www.facebook.com/ScruffyDugDesignSolutions

Follows, shares, and likes are always appreciated.

Whistle while you work: Create a happy team and make more money

Enthusiasm

If you think you know everything there is to know about your industry then your competitors are already racing ahead of you.  Don’t get complacent, industries evolve and improve, businesses that hone their skills are sure to succeed.  You don’t want to have to hire new people to follow trends, give your existing employees the power to compete.

A well trained workforce is essential for ensuring you maintain high standards, professionalism and keep up with your competitors.  It’s important to recognise and maintain the skills that your combined workforce makes available to you.  It’s also crucial that you develop those skills.  Well trained employees are happy, more productive and make fewer mistakes – which will save you money.  Not only will you as an employer reap the benefits of a better qualified team, but you will also build a loyal staff base that feel supported and will appreciate the opportunity to progress both personally and within your business.  This is a process that can either come from a practical perspective, when a training need is based on things like new software packages or from a more organic angle, when someone shows a natural aptitude in a particular area that you can build into a valuable asset.

One of the key things that you can do to make sure that you not only have a highly skilled team but also a contented one is to spot enthusiasm and capture it.  When people are free to pursue the elements of the role they enjoy and excel in their passion spills over into other parts of their life and they become an ambassador for your business.  The energy that comes from a staff member who is enthused about a particular role is a powerful tool.  It can help sell your product and corral other members of the team to really get behind what you have to offer.  You would be a fool not to give support and any training needed to fill in the gaps in their knowledge or refine their talent.  Enthusiasm can wane quickly if left unnoticed, so act on it and develop it to benefit the business and to guarantee the member of staff knows that they are appreciated.

You should also utilise experienced members of your workforce, have them coach or mentor newer team members.  Long standing members of staff are a gold mine of information.  Not only do they know the business inside and out but they will be well acquainted with the systems or processes in place.  This means that the training resources are already at your disposal, you don’t necessarily have to fork out for external courses if you recognise and value the breadth of knowledge of existing staff that’s very specifically tailored to your company.  Promoting a culture of sharing knowledge will demonstrate to your existing staff how much you respect their expertise as well as creating a great place to work for everyone.

Developing and encouraging your staff can only be a positive endeavour, generate a satisfied, knowledgeable workforce and watch your staff, and your business, flourish.

 

Find us on Twitter and Facebook

@Scruffy_Dug

www.facebook.com/ScruffyDugDesignSolutions

 

Let me be brief: working to a design brief

Let me be brief

Following a client’s brief is essential; you need to execute their idea to a high standard in the best, most efficient, way possible.  Much of what you need to do is common sense but it doesn’t hurt to have a few tips from someone’s who has already made every permutation of error out there, so here you have it, a few handy hints for making sure you hit the mark.

Don’t make the mistake of thinking that you’re design ideas are better than someone else’s, instead talk the idea through and make suggestions for other concepts that you think will work well and be able to explain why.

Identifying your client’s taste is a good place to start, but it’s important to get this perception directly from them.  Don’t go solely by their website or décor because it might be irrelevant, for example, if you don’t ask they might be planning on changing it or it could be a colour scheme they  can’t stand.  Have a chat, have several chats, and keep asking questions to make sure you’ve always got the right end of the stick.  It’s really useful to have a brief in front of you.  If your brief has been emailed read it through, work out what you think it all means then talk to the client before you even think of doing anything else to confirm that you are, or aren’t, on the right track.  Don’t feel silly for reiterating, you’ll feel sillier if you get it wrong.

Make sure you have a thorough understanding before you start working.  A rookie error is thinking there can only be one or two interpretations of a style or theme.  There have been many times in the past, and it still happens from time to time now, where I have a concrete vision from the brief that turns out to be miles from what the customer had in mind.  Be really specific about the details, if they’ve said, for example, I want a blue background, well, it’s silly to assume that of the hundreds available they’ve got the exact same shade of blue in mind as you do.  Don’t accept vague terms like “something cool” or “something vintage” without getting your customer to show you examples of what they mean by that.  It can sometimes be quite difficult to squeeze these details out, it’s important to stay friendly and ask questions in a patient manner, it can feel awkward to begin with but you’ll soon develop the knack. Trust me; it’ll save you so much time in the long run.

Sending drafts back and forth can be time consuming, and not only could you be wasting everyone’s time, you’ll also make yourself look less professional.  If you have doubts, or if your customer is unsure and needs a little inspiration or direction, suggest sending through some partial designs.  That way you don’t waste too much of your time, your customer will feel looked after and the first full draft you send will be what your client is looking for.

 

Find us on Twitter and Facebook

@Scruffy_Dug

www.facebook.com/ScruffyDugDesignSolutions

Create A Community Not A Network

Network Community

 

Networking is great. You meet and connect with new people, promote your product and find new clients. Business, any business, YOUR business, can be more and do more than that. By working together, and building a smaller, tighter, more determined community, small companies can really thrive.

Be Friendly

Every business wants to have a friendly face, what’s better is to have a genuine, friendly attitude. I’ve said it before, it’s nice to be nice and people like nice people, business doesn’t have to be cut-throat. Success is better when it’s shared.

Act Locally

It’s important to think big but it’s important to start your networking on a local level. Reach out to the people on your doorstep that are potential customers or compatible companies you could work with. Swap ideas, share services, refer people to them, working together to benefit everyone, socially and financially.  A good reputation is essential and building a positive standing in your local community gives you a solid foundation for improving your connections.

Always Refer

With local contacts and a good reputation you can start to build a strong, worthwhile business community.  Most companies will rely on outsourcing for part of their business: accounting, legal matters, supply, plumbing, any number of things.  When you have a relationship with another business, promote it. You will find that if you refer customers to them they will do the same for you when they encounter someone who could use your product or services. A strong recommendation is worth a thousand ad’s.

Be Charitable

Do what you can for local charities. If you hear of a charity doing good work in your area support them however you can. You can always do something. You can fund raise, volunteer or donate your product, service, time, or a portion of your profits.

Volunteering is great. If you are planning a team building weekend, do something that matters, like renovate a community park.  At Scruffy Dug we donate our services when we see a local charity doing work we like. It brings goodwill, feels great, and makes a difference, plus you will build relationships that strengthen your business community.

Community Not Network

To create a network, you connect with people and businesses. The idea is not just to make a list of contacts but to find a way to co-exist, grow and make positive changes with those groups. Don’t just look for people who can help you, but people you can help. Expand your business, while they expand theirs, creating a driven business community that can really make a difference where it matters most.

5 Game Changing Image Sources – All Free!

Camera lens

 

One of the easiest ways to instantly grab people’s attention on social media is by using pictures; it’s always handy to have a bank of images for any publications you’re putting together too.  Google Images is one of the quickest and simplest ways to add pictures to posts and other documents but you have to be careful to change the search settings so that you are not illegally using an image.  Don’t worry though; there are lots of sources at your fingertips with fantastic free photographs, drawings and vectors. We’ve listed 5 below, they’re all free to use and because these sites use imagery that falls under the Creative Commons Zero license you can use, share and modify them, even for commercial purposes, without having to worry about copyright restrictions.  Some sites stipulate that you must give credit to the original artist, or state when you have modified the picture (although even if they don’t, it’s still nice to be nice).

 

FancyCraveFancyCrave

This is an excellent place to start.  It’s easy to use and a great source for pictures to use on social media.  There’s lots of bright, good quality images plus photo packs you can download, and you’ll instantly have a handy collection of photographs in your chosen category.

 

Unsplash

This is another easy site to use, you can view photographs on their website (either as large, almost full screen, shots or in a grid layout that makes them easier to select if you’re in a hurry). You can also subscribe and have ten free images emailed to you every couple of weeks.  As well aUnsplashs having a ‘collections’ section where you can view by category, you can also search the site for something specific.  If your search comes up blank they encourage you to look through their images and tag them, helping to refine future searches and make it less likely to throw up blank findings.

 

StockSnapStockSnap

Not only can you quickly and easily search by category, nature, landscapes etc. you can also look at the images that are trending, the most popular downloads and see a view count for each photograph, so not only do you have access to great quality pictures but you can also keep your finger on the pulse too.

 

KaboompicsKaboompics

As well as high quality images this site also has some excellent background options that will look great as the background for things like flyers, invites or brochures.  The images take up a lot of screen space so browsing to find the perfect pic can take time, but it’s well worth having a good old peruse and get inspired!

 

Gratisography

gratisographyCertainly no boring, same old same old in here, if you’re looking for quirky or eccentric images this is the place for you.  As well as typical categories such as animals and people they also have more off the wall things in their whimsical category.  The search bar is initially difficult to spot, click the middle of the page just above where the photographs start and a search bar will appear but other than that it’s really easy to navigate.

 

 

Find us on Twitter and Facebook

@Scruffy_Dug

www.facebook.com/ScruffyDugDesignSolutions

 

5 Free Twitter Tips For Start-ups

As you might expect using Twitter for business can be a bit different from running a personal account.  Your content will obviously circulate around the product or service your business offers, rather than social posts, but there’s a bit more to it than that. Here are 5 easy to follow tips that will help you get most out of Twitter and it won’t cost you a penny.

1. Use Lists

The lists functionality on Twitter can be a very handy tool. It is what it sounds like, lists of Twitter accounts. It allows you to select a group of accounts on a theme of your choosing. This way you can focus on one aspect of your business at a time, rather going through a timeline filled with topics on various themes. It is also worth noting that when you put an account on a list you can set it to private. This means that accounts you have on your list won’t know they are being viewed, unlike when you follow the account in the traditional sense. (Yes Twitter has been around long enough to have traditions.)

2. Engage Directly

To get the most out of Twitter it is important to engage with your followers. Find ways to connect with people throughout the day. When someone comments, comment back. You may not want to follow everyone who follows you, but it is always nice to follow back when you can. It’s nice to be nice, and people like nice people.

3. Keep It Relative

As point 2 says, you want to engage with people as much as possible, but remember you are running a business. You want to stay on topic, and find ways to make the talking points of the day relate to what you are trying to promote. If it doesn’t either reinforce your brand or image, or sell and promote your product or service, it might end up doing more harm than good. You don’t want your Twitter feed to seem like a forum for an unrelated topic.

4. Keep A Routine

People will come to expect certain things from you in terms of the frequency of your content. You can decide what content is best and the timings of your posts, but once you do, stick to it. If you regularly post a blog on a specific evening every week, for example, your followers will be keeping an eye out for it, hopefully looking forward to it.  If you suddenly start posting that blog at different times on different days you risk losing people’s interest.  Also, if you start posting it at different times of the week your followers can potentially miss out on information.

5. Use Analytics

There are several sites you can use to analyse your account, however Twitter’s  Analytics function is free and easy to interpret.  It provides you with a lot of useful information that you can use to track your Twitter data.  You can work out what type of content works best for you, improving your presence and efficiency.  It allows you to monitor information on things like  how your content is being received, the posts people are engaging with most or the number of views.  This means you can address any issues you’re having and also get confirmation of when you’re doing a good thing and getting it right.

Find us on Twitter and Facebook

@Scruffy_Dug

www.facebook.com/ScruffyDugDesignSolutions

Blog Twitter Tips

 

Which fictional character would you set up a business with?

Fictional Characters

There are several books and online articles out there that compare the management styles and strategising techniques (amongst other, more obscure, traits) of various fictional characters and apply them to real-life scenarios.  Some franchises do a roaring trade in self-help style comparisons, take Star Trek for example.  Many a blog and book have been written on the merits of Kirk’s characteristics or how to follow Picard’s methods for conflict resolution, each containing advice that you can genuinely use in your own business.  Having already pondered and concluded on which incarnation of the Enterprise I’d like to live on, I started to think about other franchises and fictional characters that would make good start-up business partners.  That got me wondering how many of you would pick the same ones.  So, here are five shouts for fictional characters that would have something to offer a start-up company.  Let us know who you’d pick or who your own ultimate start-up partner would be in the comments!

 

  1. Samwise Gamgee

Don’t make the mistake of thinking this one only works if you’re opening a garden centre, there’s a lot to be said for loyalty and compassion in the often cut-throat world of business.  Unwaveringly seeing a goal through to the end, no beef with uphill struggles, resistant to the pull of evil distractions…is Samwise your ideal new business partner?

  1. Daenerys Targaryen

Perfect credentials for a start-up partner because, well, she’s started from scratch a few times.  Daenerys knows how to corral entire armies so the work force of a small or new business would be like water off a dragon’s back to her.  She’s not afraid to make difficult choices and shows outstanding resolve when times are tough…does she have what you’d want in a business partner?

  1. Batman

Not much of a team player but he’s got plenty of capital and some truly ingenious inventions.  He’s certainly a charitable enough fellow and never afraid to stand up for what’s right, with a strong moral compass that will keep your company heading in the right direction, Batman could be a great choice for partner, plus you can car pool to the office in the Batmobile…

  1. Han Solo

Every business needs a scoundrel, someone to push the boundaries and take your start-up to the next level, a risk taker, someone who always has a few cheeky manoeuvres up their sleeve, someone with influential friends and of course he’d probably bring Chewy down to the office every once in a while…

  1. Lisa Simpson

There’s a lot of goodwill attached to that name.  Someone who is happy to do their homework could be extremely useful for a start-up, all that research would be taken care of and she’d probably nag you to keep on top of your own tasks too.  She could create a sense of calm and well-being by busting out some funky sax music while you enjoy what would likely be a very healthy vegetarian packed lunch.

A Small Space For Branding Is Nothing To “Wine” About

Blank WineWhen selling a product or service it’s important that your branding and design say the right thing about your business.  Sometimes you will have to say a lot with very little space.  This got me thinking about the how difficult this can be in industries like alcohol where ads are restricted and the market is so competitive.  Wine labels, for example, are small and have to provide certain information, while showing the consumer why they are unique.

I regularly succumb to the manipulative powers of strong branding and choose a wine based on the label.  However, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, when the image or style of the product is effectively conveyed in the packaging it can help consumers to make choices.

Continue reading “A Small Space For Branding Is Nothing To “Wine” About”

5 Tips If You’re A Start-up Starting Out In Social Media

  1. Be sure you are connecting with the right people

There are many social media platforms out there for your start-up to use.  Before you venture into social media you need to know your target demographic.  Create a table of the people and businesses you want to target and split them into categories based on age, interests, business type, etc.  Then do some online research to find out which social media channel each group prefers, this way you won’t waste time or resources on the wrong platform.

  1. Don’t spread yourself too thin

Once you know which platforms are best for you, focus on one to begin with.  Once it’s up and running and you’re happy with it you can start to add the other platforms as appropriate.

  1. Keep social media social

Whenever you receive a share or follow make sure you publicly acknowledge it.  They’re showing an interest in what you do and helping your business grow so it’s nice to be able to thank them in whatever small way you can.  Shares, likes and follows are a great way of doing this.

  1. Connect your content

Once you’re comfortable you can start to build on your social presence by using other social media platforms, so these should be linked.  For example if you write a blog make sure it’s linked to, and shared on, your other social media outlets.  Don’t forget to remind them at the bottom of the blog where they can find you on other platforms.  It is also a good idea to link your social media through a website to keep your ranking high, and also avoid being lost if the algorithms change on one of your chosen social spaces.

  1. Keep a cool head

We’ve seen businesses ruin their reputations overnight by getting caught up in arguments on social media or responding aggressively to trolls.  It’s rarely worth letting it get to you and it’s never worth publicly losing your head over it.

 

Find us on Twitter and Facebook

@Scruffy_Dug

www.facebook.com/ScruffyDugDesignSolutions

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