Entrepreneur

The time has come…

No, the title doesn’t come from the very popular show where drag queens lip sync for their lives (If you do not know that reference, go and educate yourself!)

So my last post was dark and depressing so I thought lets break that up with some good news that I teased at the end of it!

So through the summer, I have been grafting to build my business up to be ready to fully set sail and start gaining full clients in October.

Well I am pleased to inform you we have fully launched! The business is up and running and we have gained our first set of clients! The new website went live on the 1st October and it was like all the hard work of the summer had paid off. The feeling of sending the first invoice and gaining that security, that first transaction, that’s when I felt I finally have a business.

However the good news didn’t stop there. Due to work and uni and now the fact we have many clients, my next step was to keep growing the client base so we had more of an income and more of a portfolio and experience in the field, the next step was to find a person to help me. This was my biggest downfall in many respects as I can’t pay myself a salary yet, so the fact we are such a small company I really didn’t think we could. However again I am very proud to say we did, and we officially have a brand new team member!

Agh, just being able to write that down makes me fill with joy, and this is what makes this story so remarkable. It all happened within the space of two weeks.

One week we secured the clients, the next week personally felt really bad and technically experiencing a very sticky complicated and rather harsh and sudden break up, to then signing a team member on board. Life went from pretty low to the highest of dreams! I feel so happy right now, when I give my business card to someone and see my logo, I just feel so proud of not necessarily myself, but the business that has formed. Its been a long old journey with twists and turns but this has just made me the happiest guy alive!

Also I have many more dreams I still want to achieve, but now I have been able to tick these off my bucket list, I have such a fire to achieve those dreams and reach for the stars!

Watch this space folks, many years ago I promised Serenity would be coming and this proves it!

B xoxox

Advertisements
Standard
Business, Entrepreneur, Me

The Excitement Every Entrepreneur Knows

So, I wrote a post a little while ago titled the Story of Serenity, and it was the first time I reflected back and actually wrote down my reflection of how I came to be with the business I run today. It was such a life and mindset changing experience. Being able to see where I am and realise where I was, was such a different story. Also realising that it was ok to have something happen like that! As an entrepreneur I have come to realise many things and one of those things is that change and evolution come hand in hand with the role of business owner. One of the thrills of running your own business.

So lately I have been hard at work. Since May I have been on the grind refining all the work and research I have been doing for the last year and half and making sense of it. Also witnessing the portfolio I have generated has impressed me as it far exceeded what I intended to generate in the time period I allocated for the task.

My last goal for this summer was a new launch and huge new marketing push for September, and well, its September and I think its time. I have changed a lot of things, at the same time not changing much. My business values are still the same, maybe a little stronger, my drive is the same, again maybe a little stronger, and my determination ever growing.

I am about to release a brand new site for my business. Now you may say, Brandon you are a web designer and launch new sites all the time what’s different about this one? Why is this one so exciting? Well this one symbolises a milestone for my business. Over the summer I secured my first 8 Clients. I have some more interest for the future too which makes me even more happy! This new site to me is the closest push to the end goal I have been chasing for years, launching a money making company. A company that could sustain me on its own without the need of an external job. A company that will eventually sustain others too apart from myself.

It also just looks amazing! This site is so clean and so my brand I cannot even fathom how excited I am!

The urge to just publish it now is real! However I also like this feeling of anticipation so much I would in an ideal world maybe push back the launch by a week so I can relish in it some more, but would be awful PR so I will not be doing that!

On the 1st October it will open its doors and the world will get to see what I have been working on for the summer, and I cannot bloody wait!

This feeling is exactly the feeling I felt when I registered my first company, Serenity Co Software. It was a feeling of elation two years ago when I filled out the form to Companies House and got my incorporation statement back the next day saying I am now a certified PLC. I now have two companies, Serenity Co Software and a Year Later Serenity Technology Group, when I put together my 10 – 20 year vision for what I wanted for the Serenity Brand going forward, and Serenity Design is just the start!

I cannot wait to see where this company is going to take me. This company has already taken me on such an amazing journey for the last two years and for the third year, she’s ready to take over the mother tucking world henny!

So sit back, get comfortable and get ready for one hell of a ride!

#SerenityDesign

B xoxo

Standard
Entrepreneur

The story of Serenity

When I look back, my journey in business has been a bumpy one, but that’s how its meant to be right? Now to pre warn you this is going to be a long post. So if you wanna keep reading, sit back, relax and enjoy!

So today, I want to take you on a journey, a journey from 2014 to now. When I was younger, and I first got into liking technology and actually experimenting when I got my first laptop, I loved to explore different programs. I loved the fact they all had different interfaces and they all had different controls that did different things when you clicked them. Why? What made them do that? How did it know to move the window from there to there and then close that? It was fascinating.

So then I came across Visual Studio. A development space for windows applications (Could not afford a mac back then!). I played around with different code, 99% of the time failed, but then I started watching YouTube and consulted that when things went wrong. A few months later, I made my first basic application. It was called Bournes Surf, a simple browser system based off the internet explorer API. It had fully functioning back and forward buttons, with a refresh, and close button. A few months after that I managed to add History, and Home. The next frontier to make it on par with other browsers was a separate search bar (Yes this is how far back I am going). It was a B**** (we are PG here folks). It used different code from the rest of the program, so If I added it, it would break the app, but I really wanted it. So I rewrote the app to match the code and it worked. Surf was born. In 2015 I went to Wix and opened my first website and the concept was ready. Bournes Co (Later to become Serenity) was here. It had pages and descriptions on the process and how to install my app.

Then my first PR crisis. People came to me saying it wouldn’t install. I panicked. What could I do? I soon came to realise I shared the editing version of the app that came without an installer so I complied it properly, re listed it and uploaded it. Success.

I soon moved to my next frontier. I wanted to make an app that did a little more than just a browser. I was hungry!

I started work on my second app. It was to be a multi function app, an app that houses note taking, browsing, file management and more into a single app. I didn’t really have a vision I just wanted to add as much as I could and what I learnt into one app. I advertised it as an ‘OS without the need of an OS’. Which was technically false advertisement as it needed Windows to Run but you get the point. It took four months to develop, and Bournes S1 was here. S was for I cannot remember for the life of me but it was S1. It hit the website and I was overjoyed! Compiled this time and learnt from my mistakes.

A screenshot of the newly released S1

Once I was happy it was working I got to work on S2, the second version and it was to add more personalisation and a redesign to some of the features. I was also being brave by adding something I have never tried before, an updater. Before this, users of my apps would need to uninstall the app and then redownload the new version I uploaded on the website as the app did not have the capability to update it self with patch updates so it was bulky and a pain. I wanted to keep updating S2 with new stuff so an updater was needed. It was, like the search bar, a right little…..bugger. It didn’t work. It kept me up at night and every tutorial was followed but still no joy, it would register a new update even when there wasn’t a new one and just keep redownloading the same update as what was installed. It was a right pain.

Unfortunately this snag stopped S2 ever seeing the light of day and I shelved it and kept my focus back on Surf.

In 2016, change came, and I was fully invested in the idea of a ‘business’. Before this it was more of a, hey look, download what I made, and that’s about it. Now I had a robust site, and a vision. I wanted to make my browser the most secure browser on the planet. I found its USP and was determined to make it happen!

So I renamed the app, to SBrowser, the ‘Secure Browser’. I redesigned it, the back end anyways, with all new code. I had got rather good at coding at this point and YouTube was still there but only as a last resort. I was using a mixture of C and Java languages to make the backend tick! I focused a lot on the history elements as this was the one outlet where the data from a website would be taken from my app, so this was one of the main portholes for viruses and data leaking to happen. So this was made to be robust, the backend was ticking like a freshly oiled machine and it was ready for launch. SBrowser, the brand new browser, Surf on steroids and Bournes Co was launched. It was such a proud moment, as I look back it was so simple to what I have today, but it was so much to me at the time. It helped shaped my next two years.

I didn’t stop. SBrowser 2, 3, and 4 came hot off the press, a month or two in between, adding more rigidity to the backend, and adding some new design tweaks and features like bookmarks, favourites and more.

Then we get to number 5. I was fed up of the design, so stripped it completely and redesigned the whole app. The navigation panel was a small tool box at the bottom of the screen that would be summoned by two permanent buttons on the left and right hand side of the screen. It could be changed in terms of colour and position on the screen and housed all browser commands.

SBrowser 5.0

SBrowser 6.0

SBrowser 6.2

Number 6 arrived two months later and added app extensions. Links to apps like the Microsoft suite and more.

Then I took a break. College was coming and my time was getting less and less flexible. Development more or less stopped entirely at the end of the 2016 and when college finished and the new year came, I decided it was time to get back to working on my app.

SBrowser 7 logo, a pride logo without meaning to be one!

Number 7 came soon after with a new rainbow inspired logo, maybe my unconscious was predicting what was to come in the future? Funny when I think about it I came out and became fully open in the 7th Month of 2017. How weird I literally only thought of this as I was writing this sentence! Gosh! The app itself looked the same as number 6 but added a tonne of stability and performance fixes to the back end that was really needed after two updates of major features additions to the app.

Number 8 came and then came Number 9. However 9 was different. I changed tac and decided to bring back an old friend. Hey S2!

SBrowser 9

I merged S2 with SBrowser 9, and made it a full screen app that acted like an internal OS. It also came with my take on Siri, called Anna. Text to speech tool that would answer pre determined questions that I coded into the app so once typed in, she would speak out the answer that I would have preloaded into the app. I launched it at my old secondary school, where I did a talk on my app, and launched the system at an event I organised in the main assembly hall with my computer rigged to the projector so I could so a live demo of it. My first ever full on product launch. It was amazing and really fired me up to think of this as my life going forward.

When I released SBrowser 9, I also had a talk with my old business advisor and we spoke about the name of my business, currently Bournes Co at the time. He said to me, “Having a business named after yourself can really limit the growth whenever you want to or plan to leave”, and that resonated with me to this day, so got on thinking of a new name. My mother then came up with the great idea of Serenity, as I wanted my company to personify simplicity and something new and fresh, and this was a perfect name. Serenity Co was born.

SBrowser 10.0

SBrowser 10.1

I kept on working on that app for a while, 9.1,9.2 and you get the idea. I kept updating the app until SBrowser 11 when I decided to change the name again. I am now in my first year of uni and I was speaking to a business advisor and showed them the now newly renamed app called Swift (But was SBrowser 11 at heart). He loved the idea and thought it would be perfect for banks.

SBrowser 11, which became the newly renamed and redesigned Swift Browser. It had the biggest marketing push I have ever done for a product

Swift had to rename to Switch due to a conflict of name with Apples new programming language Swift

Then came my second PR crisis. Swift, newly relaunched, three months later Apple release a brand new programming language that shares the name Swift. I cried three days straight, so the name was altered to Switch. Luckily development stopped before Nintendo killed that name too!

However when I think back, I felt the app was great for consumer and it was built for consumer and I felt like it would really not fit banks at all, and I also had huge anxiety over my security promise. Banks need a guarantee and I have no degree in coding, so on a consumer level its a sealed boat, however in the hands of a bank or big company, will I have a Titanic disaster on my hands?

I decided to shelve the app, after two years of intensive development and I went into a creative slump.

I was designing websites for people in my course and my inner circle, and on the side I was doing public speaking at outreach events and it all seemed like Serenity was dead in a way. Nothing was happening.

However it then came. My big lightbulb moment. Why don’t I turn my website making skills into a business? Switch Serenity into a more service business instead of applications for now, and then pursue them in the future? So I got to work and created Serenity Web in the summer of 2017, and am still going today.

Serenity Web has gained it’s first clients this year and has a brand new site and identity for itself. Serenity Co, now renamed to Serenity Technology Group, serves as an umbrella company that manages all my projects, like Serenity Talks, where I occasionally hold talks on matters that matter at the time or technological topics like tech and fashion and tech and music.

This has been the story of Serenity. It’s been a strange one hasn’t it? I have loved every moment and this is only the beginning. I have so many wild dreams for the future of this business and I aspire to achieve every single one of those crazy wild dreams.

I will go back to developing apps, but I have decided its a venture I do not want to do myself. I have many ideas for apps and have one right now I’m planning for the future, but I only taught myself to code to get a physical MVP (Minimum Viable Product) out to market, its not something I would call a passion. I’m not the best and I need the best and someone who knows exactly what they are doing and thats not me! So apps are in the future but it will take a little while. Every minute so worth it.

So if you are reading this and are contemplating your own business, go for it. It will probably change so much in the future but thats not a bad thing. It’s just a part of a long winding journey of entrepreneurship.

B xoxox

Standard
Entrepreneur, Leadership

5:47pm

So we jumped back onto the bus at around 5:47pm, after a jam packed day.

I learnt so much from this trip!

I was able to meet a whole group of brand new people doing the same course as us, and struck new bonds and friendships that will grow in the future. I met many new business contacts and expanded my knowledge on the way the entrepreneurship course works and runs.

So the day started with speed dating! We spoke to everyone for two mins each and it was very interesting! Found my fellow tech friends! Found some people who wanted to work in space and space travel, restaurant owners, personal trainers and more. Everyone was so diverse in their career path it was very very interesting to talk and find out more. Just wished I had more time with each person!

IMG_0365

We then worked on a presentation with my groups question being ‘ How does a team member become the best team leader’. I couldn’t be happier with the question we got. I immediately got to work and lead the conversation. I felt so confident and I felt like the spotlight was on me. This did make me feel rather nervous however, without sounding too arrogant, I had missed it. This year I made it my aim to step back from front line leadership on some things, and focus on my own personal projects. However taking charge and leading the team, I found myself in a position where I looked good not only to the judges who were judging our presentation, but to my course leaders who are looking to recruit five team coaches.

IMG_0366

We smashed the presentation! It was different, we included the audience, and made it almost like a talk show, asking questions, throwing things out there. We killed it! I was worried as we had very little time and some people were very confused at one point but they all came together and we killed it!

After the presentation was finished the others presented and we gave a big cheer to the end of the day. We went to have lunch and then had a tour of the campus. I loved the openness and the size of their hub for entrepreneurship. I can’t lie but I was very envious!

IMG_0355

So we then jumped on the bus and went on our merry way. This day will stay with me for a very long time indeed. It was only a day, but what we managed to achieve, the friendships and bonds that were struck in this short time. I will never forget, and I just can’t wait to put what I have learnt during this experience to action!

B x x x

Standard
Me

6:30am

6:30, I woke up. 5 Hours of sleep which was pretty good but it wasn’t enough clearly as I was the usual zombie I am in the mornings. possibly worse.

Anyway I digress!

So today, I am off to Bristol, on a trip to visit another group of entrepreneurs very much the same as us. If you haven’t read my posts before, I do a course called BA Entrepreneurship and we are tasked for the next three years to build a team orientated business and we run and grow and sustain the business and thats our course.

One very important aspect of the business is our network. As I said before, its not what you know its who you know. So back to the story of going to Bristol.

Our course is a very niche course. There is a course in five different places in England, and we are the newest and so still building our network.

I am excited to go to Bristol for two reasons, one reason is that I haven’t been to Bristol before so I am liking the idea of going to a new place instead of sticking to the University. Also I am excited to build my network. I love meeting new people and I have been networking with the people we are meeting via linked in already so I am excited to finally meet them.

So I shall update on how the trip goes!

Ciao!

B x o x

Standard
Entrepreneur, Leadership

Getting people on your side.

One of the toughest things you will face in business, and something I have only just learnt in my journey as an entrepreneur, is getting people on your side. Its something I have come to learn and overcome, to a certain extent, however It never was that way.

Whether its leading the team, becoming the leader in the first place, or getting your idea heard, when working with a group of very different people, it can be impossible.

There is no easy way to get people to listen to you and take you on board. You have to fight, and thats the first stage I will advise.

Plan ahead. When I was elected the first leader of our team business in BA Entrepreneurship (My Uni course), it was done by planning ahead firstly. I came in with the vision of becoming leader straight away. I didn’t tell anyone as this was a plan in my head, a plan for myself. It does sound selfish, because it is. Sometimes you will have to be selfish, this is business, theres always an element of selfishness. I was open, and happy and was good with everyone, I didn’t strike any enemies, or barriers. There were many reasons to why I did this, it wasn’t solely because I wanted to become leader but being leader did factor into it.

When it came to the election, it did strike me a surprise, as I didn’t realise the election would happen when it did. We all debated whether having a leader was ok (I explain this in this blog post, click me!), from the very beginning I said yes we do, as you do. Not for orders or dictatorships, but for direction.

So far, I say respect and be open to everyone, as when it comes to anything like an election, you need these people to vote for you, so striking division really isn’t in your favour. Also, along with this plan ahead, you don’t build friendships during an hour, a real friendship and respect takes time, so allocate that time, don’t rush it as most likely you won’t get people flocking to you.

Office disorder

Last but not least, is you need to have your idea or vision that you trying to get people on board for, thought through completely. If you put forward an Idea, for example for a great new cake that a shop can sell, and then when someone who actually wants to find out more and maybe use it, comes to you and says “Hey! How do you make it?”. If you don’t know your idea inside and out, you have failed before you begin. I knew exactly what I wanted to sort within the group, as this is my strength. Listening and observing showed me our communication was rubbish, so my manifesto as it were, was to improve our communication, and I had a plan and vision as to how I wanted to improve it.

This helped people see me a valid candidate and in the end they trusted me enough to elect me the first leader.

I do not speak from great deals of academia, I speak from experience, so I am no expert but I hope anyone reading this can take it into consideration for their own path and hope it helps!

Sometimes, leadership is most effective when you lead from behind, not from dictating the orders from the front.

B x o x o

Standard
Entrepreneur

Don’t let things hold you back, experiment, and fail. 

Failure is a fickle thing.

To many failure is a bad thing. It shows you are weak. Your decision was wrong. Why did you decide to do that?

However little do these people know that failure is actually a great thing.

When it comes to business, if it’s easy then you are not trying hard enough.

Business is never easy. I plan to relaunch my business in the biggest launch I’ve ever created or organised this year in September, and even though my business is still very young, I’ve always found it rather hard and difficult and things make you question whether business is right for you?

I’ve always been a little hesitant to explore brand new ideas, purely because I didn’t want to run the risk of failure. Then I stared University and everything changed.

My mentality changed. I no longer saw failure as something bad but something to embrace.

Some of your greatest learning comes from failure. If you don’t fail then you don’t know how to succeed.

It can hurt, especially if you invest tonnes of money into something that doesn’t work. However that’s why it’s best to fail as quickly and as early as you can. I went to Uni purely because of this. I wanted to start my business and if it failed I had a network around me that could pick me up brush me off and set me straight once again.

This led me to change the entire structure of my business. I made it a group, so my business would act as a umbrella company (Serenity Group) and all my other projects come underneath it. (Talks, Apps, Script and more).

This allows me to explore new things without the risk of damaging my brand, or confusing it.

So the next time you have a business idea or anything at all, don’t be scared of failure, embrace it. Learn from it, deal with it and use it to succeed in the long run.

Go out, explore and try new things! Even if there’s a small chance it fails there’s still a small chance for it to succeed.

Brandon x x x

Standard