Grounded Vertigo

Michelle Penny is trying to get off the ground with her new business and hopes she won't get too dizzy.

Getting off the ground is a tough job for many new businesses and some don’t make it, so Michelle Penny has given herself six months to make her project work. Take a deep breath for her company Grounded Vertigo – we hope she doesn’t get dizzy on the way up.

Name: Michelle Penny
Age: 24
Business: Grounded Vertigo
Type of business: Web Design Agency
Start date: November 2005

When did you first decide you wanted to start your own business?
I don’t think there was ever a decision to, for as long as I can remember having my own business was something I felt I had to do.

Tell us about your business
Grounded Vertigo is a web and graphic design agency with a focus on creating beautiful looking websites at cost effective prices. Alongside this, we act to ensure our sites meet web standards to allow them to be accessible by the greatest audience possible.

Was it your first business idea and where did it come from?
Grounded Vertigo was far from my first business idea but has perhaps been the most sensible and plausible of the lot. It came from a realisation that all businesses are going to need a web presence if they are to survive and being confident I could provide this service to small businesses at the kind of prices that they could afford.

Was your decision to start a business inspired by any other companies or individuals?
Inspiration for me comes from many sources and not necessarily from the business world, for example athletes like Kelly Holmes have inspired me in the past because of their drive to achieve their goals.

What makes you think there’s a market for your business?
The internet is becoming one of the most cost effective marketing tools available and soon I believe it will be a necessity for all businesses, however big or small to have some sort of web presence if they are going to survive in today’s market.

Once you’d decided to start a business, what did you do first?
The first thing was to evaluate the competition and see just what I was up against.

What research did you do?
Research stemmed from researching how to set up my own business to what was the best way to market and promote my company.

What other help did you get?
Other help was gained from talking to other designers already working in the market who were able to provide me with useful information on where and how to promote the business.

Does the government need to provide more help to people trying to start a business?
I think young people are the most enthusiastic about starting their own business but have little support from the government to achieve this, instead relying on other agencies such as the Prince’s Trust and Shell Live-wire.

Talk us through the process of writing your business plan.
I used two main sources to help me create my business plan – Shell-Livewire’s example and Sahar and Bobby Hashemi’s business plan within their book, Anyone Can Do It.

How useful has your business plan been and do you think you’ll stick to it as your business begins to grow?
My business plan has been useful in keeping me focused, I do hope to stick to it to one degree, but to another I hope to expand so quickly that the plan is soon out of date.

How did you fund this?
The company is funded solely by my savings at the moment.

Have you made any provisions for business not being as prosperous as expected? Please explain them.
I have given myself a six month period in which to prove this company can work and I am 100% committed to achieving it.

When did you stop working?
I made the very scary move from ending an Open University degree to jumping straight into my own business. This has made making sure Grounded Vertigo is a success even more important.

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