entrepreneurs

The Definitive Guide to Networking Part I: Top 6 Biggest Misconceptions

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Up to 85% of jobs are filled throughnetworking

The top 6 biggest misconceptions of its value therefore, lie in people’s perception of it

Networking for many, serves as a productive means to grow work opportunities and cement business relationships, but for a big portion it’s less an opportunity than an idea; straddled somewhere between a to-do list chore and a benefit with no tangible return.

This ambiguous area of modern business -similar to flexible work environmentsand digital workspaces- can ignite a sense of community in an industry known (and loved) for its independent freedom; or further solidify misled opinion.

So with clarity being key to realising the value of areas like these, here are the 6 biggest misconceptions about networking. 

1.     Networking is self-serving or selfish 

A networking event isn’t about milking a professional’s resources on a one-man goal to get work, it’s instead a mutually beneficial opportunity for two professionals with skills of comparable value, to meet and open a dialogue in pursuit of a long-term relationship resulting in work prospects.  

2.    Successful networking means immediate work 

Some networking can lead to a quick turn around, but much of it can often be long-term with relationships developing organically over time.

Often these types of relationships are the ones that yield the most pivotal and rewarding work; so remember to trust the process, keep the dialogue open and shift your focus from achieving quick results, to nurturing relationships that can open doors in the future.

3.    Networking events are large and daunting

There are many ways to make connections and strengthen your skills in ways that are productive for you. The variety of events include industry-specific talks watched by like-minded professionals, Linkedin group forums, happy hour meet-ups and creative Round Table events aimed at help creatives with queries and direction.

4.     To make networking a success you have to be an outgoing person

Networking is often seen as a by-product of an intrinsic outgoing character trait, but in reality, it's a skill that can be developed with practice and experience.

Once you’ve targeted your desired sector and found the type of event within that industry (as outlined in 3) that works for you, be clear on what you want to get out of it.

Are you looking to grow your clients or get a job? Form relationships or air some skill-specific questions? Having a clear agenda that you’re armed with when attending events, will enable you to target and hone your networking skills.  

5.    Focusing on your strongest, most apparent relationships is key to networking success

Focusing onyour strongest, most obvious relationships, such as professionals within your wider circles, leaves a mass of untapped potential work elsewhere.

Broaden your perception to extend to industries that are less apparent of needing your skillset, and you may be surprised at how much demand there is for your line of work.

Many unassuming sectors have a huge demand for skills but not the resource to accurately find them.

6.     Networking is purpose-built and targeted

Not only are 85% of jobs filled through networking, but a portion of this comes from no specific event in particular, instead, a disposition of being open-minded to opportunities.

Although one opportunity may not be exactly what you’re looking for, it will introduce you instantly to a wider circle of people, all with connections, contacts and fellow professionals working across multiple sectors.

Being open-minded to less apparently useful opportunities is crucial to growing a healthy diverse circle of contacts. 

The value of networking lies in the work, experience and relationships it can yield, proving it as indispensable

The Best Networking Events to Attend in London for Entrepreneurs, Tech Start-Ups and Small Businesses

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When you are starting a business one of the most important elements for your marketing and promotions strategy should be networking. We can spend a lot of time thinking about our grand ideas, products and plans, but we learn a lot about our business when we speak to others articulately about it and generate interest through our face to face relationships in real time. 

Here are some of our favourite places to find networking events for entrepreneurs, tech start-ups and small businesses in London.

Where to Find Networking Events for London Entrepreneurs

Silicon Drinkabout by 3 Beards

We had to add this to the list. We love the Silicon Drinkabout for its informal structure and its fun crowd of like-minded of entrepreneurs and techies. Plus, they meet weekly in different locations all over the world, so you’ll never run out of new faces to meet on a Friday night, wherever your business takes you.

Your Co-working Space or Serviced Offices

Make sure to regularly check your favourite co-working space for some great events and networking opportunities. You are sure to keen entrepreneurs and business owners with whom you can develop some strong connections. For example, WeWork and The Office Group host fantastic workshops, breakfasts, and events for their members to socialise and meet with others in a relaxed and informal way.

Google Campus Events

The Google Campus is the perfect hub for tech start-ups. Entrepreneurs can attend workshops and classes while also providing the space and events to find your next investor, mentor, founder or recruit. Networking with a dose of digital learning included.

Alumni Events

Graduate from a university? Or maybe you have a friend who has? Perhaps you finished a short course or qualification certificate? We find keeping in touch with your school networks can be a goldmine for building conversations, as you often already have a common link. Find your local chapter and see how you can get involved.

Meetup and EventBrite

We like using Meetup and EventBrite when we are searching for specific industry events to go to. Looking for a networking event specifically for female founders? Or do you want to share a pint chatting with people in your niche industry? There are new meet-up groups popping up everyday and these are great for targeting connection with people just like you.

Local Community Groups

Don’t underestimate the power of networking and connecting with local players around you. You never know how you may be able to help and serve members of your local community with your business and vice-versa.

Remember, social isn’t the only type of networking for entrepreneurs. Sometimes, a business can't be built behind a laptop alone. Get out there and take to real, live people to help build and strengthen your business. And when you need operational support to ensure your start up is running smoothly while you make connections, make sure to contact us at sales@costartupandgo.com to help with your virtual support needs.

Did we miss an event source or do you host a networking event that should be on this list? Let us know in the comments. 

The Key to Networking Successfully as an Entrepreneur

Networking entrepreneur

For any entrepreneur or business owner, networking is an essential element to success. It not only brings the potential for building contacts within your industry, it also provides opportunities to gain prospective clients and customers.

MANY ENTREPRENEURS SEE NETWORKING AS A CHALLENGE

Oftentimes  it can be nerve-wracking entering a room full of strangers and try to get them interested in who you are and what you have to offer. If you are naturally introverted, then networking can feel like even more of a daunting feat.

However, the benefits of networking for entrepreneurs and their businesses are so great, that it really is important to overcome the challenges and get it right. Having spoken to several key networkers across a broad spectrum of industries, the one key piece of advice to stick to when networking is this:

ALWAYS GIVE MORE THAN YOU RECEIVE.

If you want to be successful at networking and make real relationships that can benefit you - take YOU out of it.

When you walk into a room full of strangers at a networking event, the main goal should be to meet people you find interesting and see how you might be able to help THEM. Make it about their needs. Don’t make it about what you can get out of it.

If you stick to this key rule when networking, then you make real connections, and those connections will be clamouring to get back in touch with you - where you'll be inundated with ways you can partner with each other. From there you can grow a relationship that is mutually beneficial.

5 Top Tips To Avoid Entrepreneurial Burnout

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The biggest secret to an entrepreneur’s success? They don’t try and do everything by themselves. It’s a phrase we've probably all heard before, but often we forget to put it into action.

As you’ve started your business, have you ever felt or done any of the following?

·      Feeling like you are running on empty

·      Feeling overwhelmed

·      Taking your work home with you

·      Decreased Productivity

If so, you may be experiencing entrepreneurial burnout, and if you want to ensure any type of success for you and your business, you should make some changes. Get out of a mental rut by changing your scenery and your normal routine. Change your work environment for a day if you can to clear your head. But most likely, you may need some wider changes like re-structuring your business strategy or expanding your team with virtual support to combat this common pitfall.

Here are CoStartup & Go’s top tips to stop and prevent entrepreneurial burnout:

Re-Balance.

This is and will always be the first step. Taking care of your emotional, physical and mental well-being. The easiest and fastest way to bring yourself back to balance is to get a good night’s sleep and to increase your water intake. Balancing your body can go a long way in helping you become more productive as an entrepreneur.

Get Organised. Get Clarity.

Making time to organise yourself and your business will allow for some much-needed strategic vision for the entrepreneurial journey. What people often don’t realise is that as an entrepreneur or startup, there is so much changeable action that occurs and that your business needs to be ready for. Funding doesn’t come through? Pivot your product or service line. Funding does come through? Ramp up your marketing efforts. Being able to execute your plan while staying flexible is a true key to sustained success.

Schedule Breaks.

For entrepreneurs, we know that the clock never truly stops, and that if you want doors to open, YOU are the only one who can make it happen. But creativity and ideas emerge when your mind is still, when you allow yourself to focus on other things, and when you take some time off. Make it a part of your day to take short breaks to allow your brain to expand and your imagination to wander. And make sure you make a conscious effort to shut the laptop down a few nights and weekends.

Delegate.

If you are wondering how you are ever going to get all your work done now that you are sleeping so much and taking breaks – the answer is easy: Focus your work efforts on the most important tasks that add value to your business. Avoid time suckers and tasks that take up much of your time and energy but in the end, can be done by others. Investing in a virtual assistant is so important as it allows you to excel in the areas that you are best at, and you can outsource and collaborate with others on areas you don’t have time for. But don’t limit your scope here – startups and entrepreneurs can use virtual support for social media, web development, bookkeeping, email management, marketing administration, events management and much more.

Gather A Support System.

Going it alone with an idea and a laptop is admirable, but can quickly get lonely and discouraging if you don’t have a smart network around you. Slowly build a support system around you with people whom you can bounce ideas off, keep you motivated, and at times can keep you accountable. Using a flexible co-working space is perfect for fuelling natural relationships. Check out the options at The Office Group for flexible co-working memberships.

Ultimately, success as an entrepreneur isn’t about the number of hours you put in, but about what you do with those hours. Are you using your time wisely? Why not book a free consultation with CoStartup & Go to see how we can help increase your productivity?

Work-Life Management & How To Find It

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As the conversation continues about work-life balance, many individuals are coming to the conclusion that it simply does not exist.  New terms are emerging such as “work-life fit” or “work-life choices”.

These are much better terms to use because “balance” is different for each individual. There is no one prescription for creating balance. It is a continuous goal which must be practiced, tweaked, and managed daily in order to achieve. Therefore, it is important for individuals to strive for an acceptable balance that works for them.

Technology has not only revolutionized the way people communicate, it has also altered the way people work by allowing for more flexibility. However, this increase in flexibility also creates the need for even higher levels of organization.

Liane Hornsey, Google VP of People Operations, is a proponent of this new, more flexible work place. She believes in measuring people with “positives”, not “negatives”. She advocates not tracking sick days or holidays and instead, looking at output. No matter how it is achieved, she understands that people need a balance between work and life, and that this differs for everyone.

“Lets face it: programmers want to program, they don’t want to do their laundry. So we make it easy for them to do both”. Eric Schmidt, CEO, Google. 

Start-ups and entrepreneurs have the option to adopt these flexible ideals into their company cultures.

Here are some tips about how you can manage your work-life balance in this new flexible and virtual age, where productivity and efficiency are still the end goal.

Be Mindful

Use singular focus and be present while completing the task at hand

Jobs can become a source of stress and exhaustion, often due to the mind worrying about present or future concerns. In order to avoid burn-out try to “be in the now” especially when you are speaking to a colleague or client. This has been proven to increase productivity and efficiency.

 “The power for creating a better future is contained in the present moment: you create a good future by creating a good present.” – Eckhart Tolle

Mindfulness is assisted through practices such as yoga or meditation     

Meditation has been shown to increase productivity at work by stopping pointless worrying and allowing the mind to become more focused and clear.

Set your intentions for the work day in the morning

This helps you stay organized and focused.

Use transitions wisely

Take a moment for yourself while in between meetings. Be consciously aware of your surroundings while walking from place to place. Take breaks for stretching or going for a walk. Along with the many health benefits, this can help you re-center yourself so that you are better able to tackle your day.

Conscious breathing can alleviate stress and anxiety

When you find yourself getting tired or overwhelmed, remember to stop and take a deep breath. Focus on your breath and create a mini-meditation.

Nourish yourself with water and healthy food choices

Be present while eating lunch or taking a sip of tea or coffee. Create a moment of peace and relish in the moment.

Bring your mindfulness home with you

At the end of the work day, remember to be present while spending time with your family and friends.

Be “All-In” But Set Boundaries To Avoid Burn Out

“The right to disconnect”

France recently passed such a law. People find it hard to disengage without traditional work boundaries, especially with the influx of technology and ease of communication. Try turning off your phone and computer at night.

Schedule, don’t “list”

Schedule things you need to complete into your calendar. This helps you clearly identify your priorities.

You have a Life

As an entrepreneur, there are always going to be many interesting ideas and things to explore. Make sure to schedule personal time with family and friends.

Use the help of Apps

Rescue time This helps with time management by helping you understand your daily habits on the computer.

Siteblock For sites that you spend too much time on, and that hinder your productivity, why not block them completely? This app also shows you how many times you tried to access certain sites while they were blocked.

Create A Sacred Space For Your Work Environment

If you are working at home, make sure you have a designated space. A room that is separate from your bedroom or living room, and has a door, is best. Also, create a space with a nice view, or faux view, and set up objects that make you happy. Choose objects that remind you to stay focused and present. You have free reign to create a space that works for you!

Want to get out of the house completely? Join a co-working space. Choose a co-working space that provides the amenities (gym, café, meeting rooms, telephone booths, roof garden) that work for you and aid your work-life balance. Choose a space that feels good to you and has the décor that you prefer. There are many co-working spaces from which to choose.

Social isolation is a growing problem with the increase of dependence on technological devices and programs. Counter this by making sure to schedule Skype meetings, or by attending networking events. If you do not particularly like networking events, enjoy the natural networking that takes place at a co-working space. It has been proven that “water station talk” psychologically benefits people in the workplace.

Ask For Support

The power of speaking to people and feeling heard is extremely powerful. Sometimes in the professional environment, it isn’t always easy to convey your personal struggles.

Use an app such as Talk Space. This app provides virtual therapy, when and where you need it.

At PA&GO we provide flexible, virtual support and advice for all of your on-going start up and entrepreneurial needs. Speak to us about what is causing you stress and work with the team to find a way to delegate tasks which will make your daily routine more manageable.

It is important to craft a work-life fit that works for you. Managing this delicate balance is more of an art than a science and one that will continue to be tweaked. Focus on the positives and celebrate the times when you feel you had it right. At the end of the day, personal moments matter most in life and are as important as successfully growing your skills and making money in the workplace.  

“Accept-then act. Whatever the present moment contains, accept it as if you had chosen it. Always work with it, not against it.” –Eckhart Tolle

 

 

Written by Alexandra Griffin, Operations Executive / Virtual Assistant PA&GO, New York

 

 

My Start Up Journey A Year In – Key Learning (Vol 1)

Having helped get more than several start ups off the ground in the last 10 years...

.....I have to admit that I don’t think that I could see myself working in any other environment!

That all hands on deck, almost boundaryless way of working and the camaraderie that taking an exciting idea forward brings, is second to none.

I remember in the early days when I was involved with helping Zulily when they launched in the UK, their growth was at such a fast pace. From a core team of just 7 of us through to 45 people within the first year, it was truly remarkable. And one of many start up journeys I have been lucky enough to be involved with along the way.

Having launched PA&GO 12 months ago now, I have learnt so much and it has been a wonderful journey thus far.

From those early days working at my dining table to seeing the brand come alive with the body of an awesome team to the enthusiasm of our clients in what we do, this has made the journey so rewarding.

So what has been my key learning in the first year? There has been so much.....

Be Prepared To Sacrifice

There isn’t always the perfect time to launch a start up. I have come across countless people who are in a full time jobs with such passion for launching their own company but stuck in the fear of the financial change.

What are you so worried about? Take it from me, it will be sometime before you will have the safety blanket of a similar income as your full time role anyway, so that is no excuse for not getting stuck in and starting.

Too big a step? What can you do in the interim to help you make the move? How much capital does the business need to start? What is the minimum that you would need to live on and get by? Could you work less hours or part time while starting?

Sometimes just taking that leap and knowing that you are driving your new business forward makes up for the required change in lifestyle to be able to do it.

‘’Nothing ventured, nothing gained’ – Benjamin Franklin

Stay Focused On The End Goal

Sheer grit and determination in your DNA is a pre requisite for starting your own company for sure!

Stay focused on the reason you started your business in the first place as the inevitable peaks and troughs come your way.

It can be tough when you are in between client invoice payments and need to pay your team, or when you get home after a long day and after putting your kids to bed have to then spend the rest of the evening working.

It is relentless, and along with that can come other peoples negative opinions or your thoughts on how others may be doing it better.

Remind yourself why you set your business up in the first place and deal with issues methodically, practically with the end result in mind and just keep moving forwards.

“You will never reach your destination if you stop and throw stones at every dog that barks.”  -  Winston S. Churchill

Get A Mentor

You will have heard this countless of times, however it’s true, getting yourself a mentor is such a valuable exercise when starting your own business.

Finding someone who can give you key insights into your industry with the experience of having tread the path before you is something of a must in order to gain valuable insight into what lies ahead.

It can also very much be a reciprocal relationship. Your mentor will learn a lot from being on your journey too.

Try Launch22 or Seedcamp to name a few.

“In learning you will teach, and in teaching you will learn.”  -  Phil Collins

There Is Enough Success In The World For Everyone

In the early days I will openly admit that I struggled with other brands that were in the same market place. I would just think that what we were doing is better and didn’t pay much heed at all.

Now, as I have grown the business, I realise that there is more than enough success in the world for everyone and a lot you can learn. I appreciate the journey that they have gone on to build their brand and that rather than competitors, they are in fact great sources for learning and potential future collaborators.

There will inevitably be others in the same market place as you, so take your time to see what they are doing. By aligning yourself with others in a similar industry and their current marketplace, you can actually increase your brand exposure and help your business grow.

In fact, some well-known brands have made fantastic collaborations or mergers with their competitors. Think of Currys and PC World or Lloyds and TSB bank.

As said, there’s enough success in the world for everyone!

“A horse never runs so fast as when he has other horses to catch up and outpace.”  - Ovid

People Will Copy You

Let’s face it, if you have a great idea or way of working at some point someone is going to come along and look to copy what you are doing.

As an entrepreneur, taking a great idea forward you are always going to be torn between the excitement of talking about your brand with others and wondering whether they are thinking at the same time how they could take your idea.

My advice is to just plough on, stay true to the reason you set up your company and know what separates you from the rest and keeps you a cut above them.

Ensure that you have the right contracts in place with your team, NDAs for sub-contractors or any other person outside of the business that you talk to about your start up. This is particularly important in the early stages.

Also be realistic, anyone can come along and look at what is on your website and gain an idea for a company. So be clear on what you can and can’t control and just focus on taking your brand forward through to success.

If someone does copy your idea, know when to invest in getting them to stop as they are a threat, or when they just won’t cut the mustard and are no threat at all.

‘’If you want to be original, be ready to be copied’’ – Coco Chanel

Embrace Your New Network

Working on and in your start-up will bring along a new world of connections especially when you start to network and take your business and brand forward.

They say you are only as good as the 6 people that you spend the most time with, so embrace your new social circle as an opportunity for personal development.

At the same time, you may find that some friends or previous colleagues are less than enthusiastic about your new venture or the changes that this brings about in you. And just as you will gain, you will also need to ask yourself whether these people have your best interests at heart or whether it Is time to move on.

Harsh but true.

‘’Strong people don’t put others down…They lift then up’’.  -  Michael P. Watson

Get Help When You Need It

Getting your start up off the ground at the beginning can require a lot of work. There is a point when you need to consider having other people on team to help you.

If you need flexible support for your start up, get in touch today.

How to Stop and Prevent Entrepreneurial Burnout

Entrepreneur Support

The biggest secret to an entrepreneur’s success? They don’t try and do everything by themselves. It’s a phrase we've probably all heard before, but often we forget to put it into action.

As you’ve started your business, have you ever felt or done any of the following?

·      Feeling like you are running on empty

·      Feeling overwhelmed

·      Taking your work home with you

·      Decreased Productivity

If so, you may be experiencing entrepreneurial burnout, and if you want to ensure any type of success for you and your business, you should make some changes. Get out of a mental rut by changing your scenery and your normal routine. Change your work environment for a day if you can to clear your head. But most likely, you may need some wider changes like re-structuring your business strategy or expanding your team with virtual support to combat this common pitfall.

Here are CoStartup & Go’s top tips to stop and prevent entrepreneurial burnout:

Re-balance.

This is and will always be the first step. Taking care of your emotional, physical and mental well-being. The easiest and fastest way to bring yourself back to balance is to get a good night’s sleep and to increase your water intake. Balancing your body can go a long way in helping you become more productive as an entrepreneur.

Get organised. Get clarity.

Making time to organise yourself and your business will allow for some much-needed strategic vision for the entrepreneurial journey. What people often don’t realise is that as an entrepreneur or startup, there is so much changeable action that occurs and that your business needs to be ready for. Funding doesn’t come through? Pivot your product or service line. Funding does come through? Ramp up your marketing efforts. Being able to execute your plan while staying flexible is a true key to sustained success.

Schedule Breaks.

For entrepreneurs, we know that the clock never truly stops, and that if you want doors to open, YOU are the only one who can make it happen. But creativity and ideas emerge when your mind is still, when you allow yourself to focus on other things, and when you take some time off. Make it a part of your day to take short breaks to allow your brain to expand and your imagination to wander. And make sure you make a conscious effort to shut the laptop down a few nights and weekends.

Delegate.

If you are wondering how you are ever going to get all your work done now that you are sleeping so much and taking breaks – the answer is easy: Focus your work efforts on the most important tasks that add value to your business. Avoid time suckers and tasks that take up much of your time and energy but in the end, can be done by others. Investing in a virtual assistant is so important as it allows you to excel in the areas that you are best at, and you can outsource and collaborate with others on areas you don’t have time for. But don’t limit your scope here – startups and entrepreneurs can use virtual support for social media, web development, bookkeeping, email management, marketing administration, events management and much more.

Gather a Support System.

Going it alone with an idea and a laptop is admirable, but can quickly get lonely and discouraging if you don’t have a smart network around you. Slowly build a support system around you with people whom you can bounce ideas off, keep you motivated, and at times can keep you accountable. Using a flexible co-working space is perfect for fuelling natural relationships. Check out the options at The Office Group for flexible co-working memberships.

Ultimately, success as an entrepreneur isn’t about the number of hours you put in, but about what you do with those hours. Are you using your time wisely? Why not book a free consultation with CoStartup & Go to see how we can help increase your productivity?

Winning Startups

startups paul graham

How do startups win?

According to computer scientist and venture capitalist Paul Graham, they win by transcending, not attacking. In his essay "Mean People Fail," Graham mentions that having the best people and the best team available is critical for start-ups. He speaks about the way the world of work is changing and how start-ups win by having new ideas and building new things. Check out his insightful essay here.

If you are on the path of creating a great idea, and you are keen to have a dedicated and smart support team with you that can handle multiple projects, then PA&GO is for you. We understand the way the world of work is changing and we are committed to helping a new wave of entrepreneurs succeed.

Contact Sian for your free initial consultation to see how we can support your start-up or small business.

Personal Assistant 2.0: The Rise of a New Type of Worker

personal assistant with paperwork

Personal assistants, virtual assistants, consultants, freelancers - all indispensable for entrepreneurs, start-ups and small businesses, but what do they actually do and which one should you hire for your business

As the world of work changes, so too do old job titles and job descriptions. We live in a world where the multi-hyphenate professional dominates. People are no longer defined by their job titles, but by their skills. With technology rapidly changing the normal working environment, people are setting up businesses more than ever. With a laptop and an armchair, you can now have an office anywhere in the world. And they will need support.

This brave new world of working in business has also welcomed a new phenomenon - the Personal Assistant 2.0. For freelancers, small businesses, solopreneurs and start-ups, the traditional version of a Personal Assistant has become a dated entity. Diary management and answering phones (while still important) are no longer the most important aspects of a personal assistant. 

Entrepreneurs are now looking for assistants who have a varied set of digital and soft skills that they can use in helping them grow their business - from social media management to web design, blogging to business development, event management to customer service, video editing & photoshop to SEO & Google Analytics. This new assistant is dynamic, flexible and digitally savvy. Often working remotely, they know how to use technology to facilitate their work. Meetings on FaceTime or Skype, updates on Slack, and digital project management tools such as Asana and Trello are all tools of the trade that keep these assistants connected and accountable.  (Check out our favourite tools when collaborating with your virtual assistant here). And for this new breed of personal and virtual assistant, excellent communication skills are their most valuable resource, so though they may not be in the office everyday, you'll never feel out of touch. 

As more people continue making that leap to self-employment and flexible working becomes the norm, traditional job descriptions will become a thing of the past. Personal Assistants will always be a helpful asset to any company or entrepreneur - but the assistant that can leverage new digital skills, be dynamic, and work flexibly will continue to thrive. If you think you might need a ‘Personal Assistant 2.0’ feel free to get in touch with us for a complimentary consultation to discuss the value we can bring to your business and we can create a customised quote for you. Email us at sales@costartupandgo.com