Duco Digital: Darren Winter
On the week before Christmas, Darren Winter talks about starting his new social media marketing start-up and his plans for the future
Tell us what your business does:
Social media marketing. We create a digital profile of a business so customers can find and engage with it; aiding sales growth and customer satisfaction.
Where did the idea for your business come from?
For the many businesses I have worked for, there has always been little marketing budget, so I've always had to work ‘box clever' to get results.
When networking with other business owners, they ask me for advice about how to use Twitter or Facebook correctly as they don't have time to learn or have the resources to employ someone or use an agency.
Looking at the typical agency model; many businesses are frightened by the high costs and sometimes poor results and service. As a result, owners have to juggle managing their business and attempt trying to market it at the same time.
Although social media is cheap and effective, because of technology and popularity, social media is evolving fast, so it can be hard for businesses to keep up with changes and it can be a steep learning curve for the less tech savvy to get a grasp of the essentials.
Nowadays, it is essential that businesses have a positive and confident digital profile.
How did you know there was a market for it?
Part of my research was looking at existing models in this country and around the world; there is a lot of competition, however it's a case of being able to prove yourself with results and keeping true to your business plan to offer an accessible and affordable service.
I also spoke with my local council who read my business plan and have been supportive of the idea since the beginning.
What were you doing before starting up?
I have worked in the retail and leisure sectors as a senior manager for over 25 years.
More recently, this month, I achieved my masters with merit in cross cultural communication and international marketing at Newcastle University, and in 2015 I graduated in BSc computing at Teesside University.
Have you always wanted to run your own business?
In any role that I have worked in, I always treated the overall business environment as my own; paying meticulous attention to sales, finance and customer service.
I think my own business has been a natural progression, with university helping me with confidence and understanding how to identify opportunities and risk taking.
How did you raise the money?
I am working full time alongside my business which is helping to fund it.
Describe your business model and how you make money:
It is a subscription business model; however, there are no contracts which although is a great benefit for customers, it provides a challenge when writing the business plan.
What challenges have you faced and how have you overcome them?
Time has been the biggest factor amongst studying for my masters and working full time. Now my masters has finished, I am putting that time into the business.
Everyday represents a new challenge, whether it's getting your name out there, fixing and developing the website, creating content, finding new customers, building a social media profile organically, networking effectively – for me it has to be built one step at a time.
What was your first big breakthrough?
At this moment, opening the business and beginning to market it. I have already been helping some colleagues with feedback on their start-up and reading their feedback is truly motivational.
What advice would you give to budding entrepreneurs?
We'd all love everything to be perfect from day one, but it isn't possible. The sooner you accept that, the easier it is to try and pace yourself and try to enjoy it.
Don't neglect life, hobbies or forget your family and friends! Sometimes, your best ideas and work happens when you’re not working.
Where do you want to be in five years' time?
By next year, I aim to be helping small businesses unlock their potential on social media and being part of their success would mean a lot to me personally.
A few years later, hopefully I’ll be enjoying helping UK companies promote themselves to global markets.
I have a massive passion for culture and diversity and truly successful global businesses invest time and money to understand other countries.
If I could help small businesses unlock the same knowledge, that would be a mission worthy of shouting about.