Founder of start-up, Rockit, shares five things all small business owners should know

When you start your journey as a small business owner, wearing multiple hats is key – at first, you are your own finance department, head of HR and social media manager. And at this early stage, marketing and advertising is crucial for people to know about your business.

But building a brand can be expensive business, with the average UK start-up spending a minimum of £22,756 in their first year, according to a study by Capalona. So, how do you get people to know about your brand on little (to no) budget? Simple; Do it yourself. With the right tools and technology you can often master anything, which is why we launched Adobe Express, a simple to use app that can help you unlock your creativity to make your own eye-catching flyers, logos, posters, adverts or social media content. All for free, with no design background required.

Last month, we revealed the winners of our Small Business Goes Big competition, in partnership with Enterprise Nation, which gave small business owners the chance to win a digital ad campaign across the UK – all they had to do was enter an ad they had designed themselves using Adobe Express.

We talked to Matt Dyson, one of the competition winners and co-founder of Rockit, the brand behind innovative products to help babies get more sleep, who said:

“For a small business, outlets such as out of home advertising feel aspirational when you are in the early stages of building a brand, as the budgets aren’t there to make a big enough splash to make it worthwhile. Without the investment to do this ourselves, the Adobe competition was an amazing leg up for us.

“Finding the time to go on training courses or trawl through online tutorials is near impossible, so intuitive tools like Adobe Express are so effective in helping you craft content quickly that doesn’t compromise on quality.”

Matt’s competition entry designed using Adobe Express

Here, Matt shares the five things he wishes he had known before starting a business.

Make time to look at the bigger picture

As a start-up founder, you spend a lot of time firefighting emails that need instant responses. You are dealing with the immediate needs and there is no one to keep you accountable to the broader business growth strategy. Having a mentor to check in with monthly has been so valuable. This gives us the extra headspace to take a step back and look at the bigger picture regularly. It’s easy to get lost in the day to day but having an independent support helps you be more intentional and stay true to your original vision.

A DIY mindset is great, but you can’t do it all yourself

In the early stages it is important to get to know every aspect of the business thoroughly – I wouldn’t advise outsourcing from the get-go as you can lose sight of certain aspects of the business. But, as you grow, you can look at ways to bring in support, as to succeed you can’t do it all yourself. I know from experience that it can be challenging relinquishing certain tasks – it’s always hard to let go. However, recruiting the right people at the right time will bring in fresh ideas and a renewed enthusiasm to a business.

Working smarter will save time

My working day can be pretty diverse – one minute I’ll be designing social media content, the next I’ll be dealing with customer service enquiries and prototyping concepts for a new product. Using software to save time and improve efficiency has been vital. Adobe Express is a great example of how an app can give you the high-quality output of a much more complex package without the need for lengthy training. Rockit is still a really lean business in terms of employees, so we are conscious of overheads and always looking for apps or tools that are free or low-cost and prevent us from having to outsource. It’s quicker for things like social media where you need to be reactive and create content daily – I also don’t want to give that up as it’s the fun part of the job!

Put your phone away in the evening

I found this difficult in the early years and would often be checking work emails and messages late into the evening. Working from home during COVID helped me realise the importance of getting the balance right and separating work life from home life. I’m much better at switching off in the evenings now. I wish I’d known that it’s not necessary to reply to every email instantly – if you look at bigger businesses, they stick to 9-5 hours for all communications as that looks most professional. You get the best out of yourself and your employees if you set those boundaries early on.

Problems seem smaller in the mornings

It’s ironic that the founder of a sleep tech company often has trouble sleeping. I have often laid awake at night worrying about a business-related issue, but I have learnt that these problems don’t seem anywhere near as scary in the morning. I now write down any concerns before bed and plan time to address them properly the following day. This way, you can compartmentalise them and often when you approach something in the morning with a clear head, it’s far easier to solve.

Start creating online content for free with Adobe Express - no matter how much design experience you have, the app has extensive templates and designs to allow you to quickly and easily make standout content.