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In this section we have:

A 'home business'. Define.

Want To Run A Business From Home?
Or become self-employed; or freelance; or be a sub-contractor; or a 'lifestyler'; or just become your own boss.
The banks don't recognise any boundaries between these definitions; neither should you.
Plus other old - and new - chestnuts about home businesses.

(Why should I have anything to say on the subject?)

Part I. Do Your Sums, Then Get Out!
(Basic things to consider; 'must-haves' and 'nice-to-haves' including
sources of home business ideas
and franchise research)

Part II. 'Finding The Bacon'
(Preparing to do business; marketing and publicity on a budget)

Part III. 'Bringing Home The Bacon'
(Your first business or sales meeting)

101 Home & Small Business Marketing Ideas

Top Ten Networking Tips



A 'home business.' Define.

A 'home business' is 'a business or trade which performs its work, or is registered for trade or as a business, from a base which also serves as a home.'

Over the 20 years during which the Home Business Alliance has been working with home businesses or dealing with home business issues, we have been asked on numerous occasions by the media, politicians and academics particularly, to define 'home business'. The version we use and which has evolved historically over tens of thousands of years, is given above.

It has nothing to do with being a 'small' business restricted to a 'home office' as defined in Wikipedia. We have members whose businesses and homes are literally their castles for example, and who have a footfall of tens of thousands of visitors a year and multi-million £ turnovers. Or international haulage contractors whose back yards are filled with lorries and warehouses. Building contractors. Farmers. Salvage yards. Boatbuilders. Even deep-sea fishermen and contract pilots, whose workplaces are the oceans and the skies but whose businesses are registered from home. The list goes on and on.

Nor is a 'home business' an infant of the internet. The internet, computers and smartphones are just the latest business tools and that should always be borne in mind. Whereas 'home businesses' have been in existence since potters, smiths, carpenters and stonemasons first began to ply their trade. Indeed, take away the internet from a skilled tradesman and he or she will still be able to earn a profitable living.

There is however, much confusion in the media especially, with the various terms associated with home-based employment activity. So here are some more definitions.


The term 'homeworker' traditionally covers any person over the age of 18 years, who works in domestic premises, and is provided with work which is returned when completed to the provider or some third person. In short, although the homeworker might not always be classed as an employee, there are very close similarities. Typically, the homeworker must work to rules laid down by the company, must work to a specified standard, and is liable to be terminated if standards fall short of those expected.

.....Benefits to the homeworker include: working the hours one chooses; freedom to attend to other commitments; flexible hours to fit around family, holidays, illnesses, and so on.

.....Disadvantages are also plentiful, and include notoriously low pay for homeworkers, usually low earnings potential (most tasks are long and boring), little or no employee protection, and unscrupulous employers are a common feature of many homeworking schemes. Also bear in mind that very low wages are illegal, although very few homeworkers would risk jeopardising their position by complaining, however low the rewards. Complaints are therefore few, and very rarely is a homework dispute brought before the courts.

.....Despite the disadvantages, many people are looking for genuine homework whereas the trend for larger companies especially, to allow certain staff to operate from their homes usually as part of a flexi-working policy, is well-established.

Homeworking and teleworking (below) are frequently referred to in the media as one-and-the-same.


...Information technology-based homeworking frequently, but not exclusively, falls into the category of “teleworking”. This is officially defined as “working at a distance from your employer, either at home, on the road, or at a locally-based centre. Teleworkers use computers, telephones and faxes to keep in contact with their employers or customers”.


Freelance activities include writing, consultancy, research, typing and secretarial work, proof-reading and copy-editing. The main common denominator is that the freelancer, despite being self-employed, frequently feels he is 'working' for someone else, namely the person who ultimately pays his fee. That someone might be a publisher or editor, the manager of a firm whose business documents you type, the principal of a college whose theses you mark, or the manager of a mail order company whose direct mailshots you process.

.....In almost all cases, the freelancer relies on regular business from established clients. Lose one major client and your business could suffer dramatically. Moreover, the freelancer is frequently controlled to a larger extent by clients than most self-employed people. For the freelancer, the client usually has a greater say in how the business is run, what standard is expected, how work is processed, how payment is made and when.

Self-Employed Agent

.Agents usually sell and earn commission on all orders generated by them. You might be selling insurance or airline tickets, cosmetics or household goods, jewellery or typesetting services. The list is endless, so too the amount and range of rewards available.

.....Selling takes a variety of forms, from door-to-door retailing, direct mail, to advertisements in newspapers and magazines, party plan, and so on. Consequently, with a number of marketing styles to choose from, there is almost certainly one that is best suited to you and your lifestyle. You can even combine a range of agencies into your overall business portfolio, concentrating on those that suit you best at any point in time.


..The proprietor runs his own business, as indeed do agents, franchisees, freelancers, and sometimes homeworkers. The main difference is that usually the proprietor works independently of other businesses, with the exception of business customers. Proprietors decide what to sell, how to sell it, where to advertise, how much to charge, whether to ask for cash in advance or to offer credit facilities to customers.

.....Most small businesses run under this banner, from taxi firms to secretarial bureaux, animal boarding kennels to mail order companies, direct mail specialists to home publishers, newsletter publishers to traders at car boot fairs.

Within a home business context 'proprietors' are the most common form of operator, together with 'sole traders' and the 'self-employed'; in which case, the implications generally are full-time businesses with no employees. On the other hand, there are plenty of successful home businesses which are only part-time and plenty of others who are employers, too.


..The franchisee works as part of an already established business. The latter, the parent company, licenses out rights to work under the company name, in return for which the individual pays certain start-up fees and sometimes ongoing royalties and other fees to the parent company.

.....The parent company is the 'franchisor'; the person who buys into the business is the 'franchisee'. Many major household names operate in the franchise sector including Prontaprint, McDonald's and Chem-Dry.

.....Franchising offers a variety of benefits including backing from a recognised company, access to tried and tested marketing materials and processes, ongoing guidance and support from the parent company, training, product orientation, and much more. On the debit side, franchisees frequently report feelings of dependency on the parent company, and many express similarities to working for someone else rather than being masters of their own ship.

..... A vast array of information is available to anyone considering starting up in the franchise sector, much of it from special franchising publications available on newsagents' shelves, from regular national and international franchising exhibitions, books and information products, franchise consultancies and the industry's main representative, the British Franchise Association. (See also our section below on choosing a franchise and Useful Addresses.)


HMRC employment status definitions: http://www.hmrc.gov.uk/employment-status/


Want To Run A Business From Home?


I am not a qualified business adviser. Consequently, if you are seriously contemplating launching a full-time, profit-making business from home then I would wish to stress the importance of using the services of an experienced business adviser as part of the due diligence needed for this kind of venture. By all means take a look at other 'home business' websites, forums and blogs. But don't confuse the objectives of webbies punting advertisers' interests with those of your own. They will rarely run along the same line. And don't for one moment believe that in the world of business, there is ever a free lunch.

On the other hand, I have been steeped in running businesses from home since I was eight years old when my parents decided to become ‘their own boss’ - not for lots of money or an easy lifestyle (these were not valid considerations just after the Second World War) but because they wanted to be independent. It then became a simple case of the whole family pulling together in pursuit of that as a common goal. (Plus they didn’t speak English well enough to be able to get a ‘decent’ job.)

Consequently, I have been ‘selling’ for over 50 years and during that time I have also interviewed thousands, if not tens of thousands of people trying to ‘sell’ themselves to me and my various colleagues.

What I would like to emphasise is that I want to write about running a business from home full-time rather than part-time, as a hobby or as a learning curve. Part-time home business activity is a completely different ball game.

I am also going to address those issues which are business considerations rather than issues which might impact on a teleworker, outworker, or quite often, a freelancer.

Another point I would like to emphasise is that the following guidelines are for people wishing to start a home business in the United Kingdom/Great Britain. We have a lot of visitors from all over the world but the US, China, Russia, France and .eu domains particularly and so anyone who is not from the UK should use this article accordingly. Contrary to the claims advanced on Anglo-Saxon business 'weener' websites, etc, the entire world does NOT speak English and it certainly doesn't subscribe to all the same values - or lack of them - as the west. Laws, regulations, customs and practices vary enormously from country to country, even within the European Union (EU) which despite its ostensible pursuit of harmonisation, has yet to agree on anything other than the endorsement of its MEP's (Member/s of the European Parliament) expenses.

I will also try to keep my distance from examining lifestyle home business issues which although not entirely another subject in their own right do often have a completely different set of priorities. (I examine lifestyle home business issues in detail in my book, Home Business Survival which will be available for sale from December 2012. Ed.)

I would like to share with you some of my accumulated experiences in the hope that some of them might help you to make a successful go of a home-based business. To avoid some pitfalls and common misconceptions. I am not going to propose anything new or try to re-invent the wheel but simply to remind you of the hoops that have to be thought of and usually jumped through, to get the necessary results.

My ideas certainly aren’t going to work for all of you; whereas there are others who already know it all, anyway. A business adviser will tell you that 9 out of 10 businesses know all there is to know about running their business and can’t and won’t be helped any further. And that was before the internet came along. Now, that figure has risen to 99 out of 100.

No. Make that 999 out of 1,000.

Want To Run A Business From Home?

Part I. Do Your Sums, Then Get Out!
(Basic things to consider; 'must-haves' and 'nice-to-haves' including sources of home business ideas
and franchise research)

Part II. 'Finding The Bacon'
(Preparing to do business; marketing and publicity on a budget)

Part III. 'Bringing Home The Bacon'
(Your first business or sales meeting)

Part I. Do Your Sums, Then Get Out!

(For those of you who have come straight in to this section, I would suggest that you at least take a quick look at my Preamble just above and our definition of a 'home business' just above that. Thank you.)

The Groundwork OR Preparation.

In recent BAD News reporting, a significant number of established businesses suggested they would shun trading with a start-up; if you are a start-up AND visibly running your business from home, matters become a lot worse. The trick is to get your foot in the door, to make that trip from your home to sitting in front of your future client. What befalls most home businesses is that they won’t even be offered a chance, not even receive a second thought, let alone an invitation to pitch their wares.

Preparation and appearances therefore, become primordial. At the risk of over-simplifying, how about this for a home business preparation check list? (Offered in a rough order of priority).

Are YOU fit for purpose?

A lot of emphasis is placed on business tools for the job; of advice, technology and finance. However, it takes a certain type of person just to survive in business. You have to like people; and people have to like you. You need to be able to handle stress while avoiding ever becoming ill - because you won't have the time; to have the ability to bounce back, over and over again. You will automatically work long hours and not bat an eyelid. You will need patience and stickability. You will need to handle rejection and disappointment. Be able to invite a mountain of debt in the pursuit of your convictions. Alcoholism frequently rears its ugly head. I have seen families and homes break up when businesses go wrong. The closest of partners and friends can stab you in the back, usually, when the money really starts to come in and you think you've finally made it. Then, there are the subtleties and the intangibles. A lot has been written about the subject and I only wish I had the magic potion to sell - or sometimes give - to others. There are lots of authoratitive reports and books you can read and tests you can take. Finally however, you are likely to end up making an extremely subjective decision to give it a go, anyway, and after that, only time will tell.

The classic business assessment tool is called a SWOT analysis. For a comprehensive look at what this entails, try this link: http://sbinformation.about.com/od/marketingsales/a/small-business-swot-analysis.htm?nl=1 Or, you can download some free diagram analysis software here: http://www.smartdraw.com/specials/ppc/swotanalysis.htm?id=340717&gclid=COTEucHKkbICFQfKtAodqyYA3Q

A typical online assessment tool can be found here: http://www.emincubation.co.uk/main/DOC/935 (Registration, which is free, is required to use the assessor.) Whereas a very extensive check-list and series of parameters can be found here: http://entrepreneurs.about.com/od/becominganentrepreneur/Becoming_an_Entrepreneur.htm
(American, I know but the Yanks take a helluva lot of beating when it comes to running a business!)

Another American link for you which suggests all the classical steps to take in setting up a home business, can be found here: http://homebusiness.about.com/od/Setting-Up-Your-Business/tp/How-To-Start-A-Home-Biz-Guide-10Steps.htm (Apply also below, to Mind Set and What Business?)

OR, try this link for 10 Questions To Ask Yourself or, if you prefer a quiz format, go here: http://sbinformation.about.com/library/startup/blbizreadyquiz.htm

The professionals and educated will tell you of course, that business is a science. Like a casino programming the odds for a one-armed bandit. And they'd be right. On the other hand, the vast majority of successful, even wealthy business-people I have seen wouldn't be classed as 'educated' or 'professionals' other than by the greatest stretch of the imagination - unless you count what they have learned on their path to success, so to speak. Otherwise, they all started out as 'ordinary' people. (If you don't believe me, take a look at this article and link for Britain's Skillionaires' Club: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/education/education-news/an-unqualified-success-multimillionaires-who-prove-you-can-prosper-without-a-degree-2334149.html This link is repeated again in Part II as evidence of non-internet based success, as well.)

Finally, just as any successful bank robber will tell you, the first and most important aspect of planning a job is to prepare your escape route. In business terms, that means contemplating and planning for failure as a fundamental part of your preparation to succeed. Otherwise known as contingency planning, here is an article which contains numerous additional links, just to emphasise how important this. http://sbinformation.about.com/od/creditloans/a/small-business-financial-setback.htm

If in the end, you do succeed, you will be a statistical rarity, albeit a very satisfied rarity. For the majority, there is often little more reward than that; for many self-employed and home businesses, money isn't the main issue. Which is just as well!

I wish you luck. If you're like me, you'll need it. With a fair wind, go well.

Mind set.

Convinced that you can SURVIVE the vicissitudes of starting and running your own business? Then the next step is having the right frame of mind to SUCCEED in business and for this to be evident in your transactions with your potential suppliers, clients and general entourage. You have to become a business professional, if you will. If you are lucky, you might meet someone in the early days who you respect and admire as a business figure and you will hang on their words of advice and the way in which they behave. If you are really lucky, you might find this person is willing to become your mentor.

(The present Government has recently launched a nationwide small business mentoring service which has provoked an extremely mixed reaction - not least of all from ourselves. Still, it is far too early to judge and there well may be some precious nuggets out there. For further details, go to the website at: http://www.mentorsme.co.uk) However. The concept of mentoring has been around for thousands of years and was first introduced 'officially' to the UK's business community way back in the early 1980s. If it's going to work - and that's a very big IF - the quality of the mentor/pupil relationship cannot just be turned on like a tap. Both sides have to work at the relationship and it can take a lot of time.

If not, you might become attached to a particular motivational author. This is certainly the most common scenario and it's worth a punt. Even household names like Anthony Robbins occassionally do 'free turns'.

If you’re not even that lucky, you could try giving yourself a credo. ‘Business is just a game.’ Or ‘Play the game’. ‘A profit a day keeps the debts away’. Or, more specifically, ‘Effective selling is effectively, just making friends.’

Do not underestimate ‘thinking like a businessman/woman’. It will be critical to your success and until such time you think the part, you’ll never make it; no more so than anyone who thinks they can immediately start running a business from home doing just 37 hours a week at £25+ an hour.

For those of you who wonder what there is to think about just running a business from home, take a quick look at this link, called 'Things You Say',where I post a selection of potentially useful items ranging from news to mailings which I receive on a daily basis. You don't have to agree with my perspective by any means; but a potential client might be surprised, for want of a better word, if you weren't aware of a similar spectrum of issues if posing as a serious (home) 'business' player - rather than just an anonymous poster on a website for weeners.

What business? Do you know what you are going to do? Sources of home business ideas

It's amazing how many people think that years of experience of working for somebody else, a company or the local council, will translate into a viable business or even the competence to run a business. It doesn't. Or very rarely. You should be fine if you're a tradesman, somebody with a recognisable skill. But if your background is more along the lines of public service, large corporation (same thing as public service only worse), or the forces, be prepared for a struggle. Running your own business, especially a home business means a lot more than selling what you think has made you useful for the past few years. People or customers have preconceived ideas about what they will pay for; they may not know it; it may not be written across their foreheads and in any case, that doesn't really matter. What is important is that YOU know, or are prepared to learn, what will and won't sell.

If you're not too sure, may I suggest just a couple of real world, quick fixes for a fast getaway? Firstly, over the past twenty years or so we have been researching the ready-made business opportunity marketplace to produce a directory of the best fifty or so (currently 44, actually) business ideas which have proved themselves over the passage of time. It's not free but if you can't afford the £19.95 which the publication costs, you ain't ready to get started. http://www.homebusiness.org.uk/BestHomeBusiness.htm This is not a scammers' directory which corresponds to what YOU might like to do. It lists working businesses which are actually out there, making money; it is not a wish list. Nor are there are any betting or gaming schemes as those do not have proper business templates.

Secondly, for a quick, free scan of business opportunities and ideas, the following links will give you some food for further thought. http://entrepreneurs.about.com/od/businessideas/Business_Ideas_Business_Opportunities.htm Among these links you will find one for Springwise and specifically, business ideas by industrial sector (latest count) at this link - http://www.springwise.com/access-about/ - which are both favourite sources of mine. Whereas for another recent round-up of business ideas from about.com, try this: http://specials.about.com/service/newsletters/sbinformation/1345042800.htm And just in, another package of 120 ideas just here: http://www.skylineoffices.co.uk/small-business-ideas.php

Thirdly, one of the most overlooked sources of business intelligence these days is a telephone directory. The Yellow Pages are, by definition, a list of business ideas which have been put into practice. The other advantage of Yellow Pages is that it immediately shows you what's going on in your area, what the competiton is, etc. Just a personal note: look at a hard copy of the directory and not online. It gives you a more panoramic view than a computer screen. Goes well with a nice cup of coffee and a relaxed read on the balcony or out on the garden seat.

Fourthly, for more than 600 reports and guides which are regularly updated and accurately compiled, go here (although these are not free): http://www.scavenger.net/home.php?&partner=enterprisequest&xid=f45a958ae1b5df41992d6edb9eddd61d

Finally, for ready-made business ideas which are (should be) proven, working business models, there are two, obligatory ports of call: The Direct Selling Association: http://www.dsa.org.uk. And The British Franchise Association: http://www.thebfa.org/ However, as with any business opportunity, due diligence must always be exercised.

There are lots and lots of other sources but do tread carefully, especially if you start venturing into the business opportunity marketplace, which is notoriously dangerous. Be particularly suspicious of opportunities presenting themselves as ready-to-go packages or kits, Top Tips, all-in-one guides, successful formulae for making loadsa money running a business from home or the overt suggestion that a home business is straightforward or simple. These are often the telltale signs of a scam.

The home or house.

Once you have established you are fit for purpose and you know what kind of business you want to run (bearing in mind you may have to, or wish to change direction several times before becoming established or successful), the home becomes an essential component. (We are talking here of a 'home business', right?)

We will all have different expectations but for me, the home is where I will find at least, part of my workforce; the capital resources to finance the business - even if it's just a big sell-out of unwanted items on eBay or at the car boot. Office accommodation. Storage. Then, if you don't live in battery housing, a free or very cheap source of food, water, fuel and fun.

Altogether, unless you own a corner shop with accommodation above (for example) and your home becomes a place which customers come to regularly, precise arrangements aren't important. What does count for a lot however, is being able to bring down the costs of running your home to allow your home business to have as much chance as possible of getting off the ground and growing.

My home business and lifestyle criteria for choosing to live where I do at the moment, were:

A relatively high elevation, naturally sheltered, to provide protection from the winds and to avoid flooding problems not just to the house but also to infrastructure such as electricity and phones; sewage; transport; stocks and supplies
Space and storage; lots and lots for my machine tools, wood, building materials and general elbow room. I need a lot of elbow room.
Large garden
Well, pond and/or river access
Woods or access to a forest to supply wood for fuel as well as construction
Spacious house to accommodate visitors and friends
At least one, open fireplace or chimney
Pantry or larder
A field for the horses which provide transport, work and friendship (I've gone a bit like Gulliver over the years).
Useful neighbours
- leading to a highly personalised and supremely valuable, word-of-mouth network of supporters, advisers and friends. Forget Facebook and Twitter. THIS will be your 'good will' or your bona fides as a successful home business.
Low crime rate. I'm not quite sure if this shouldn't be right at the top of the list but if your business is also your home then the last thing you need to contend with is a burglary or - even thinking about the possibility of theft or a burglary. One of the aspects of my business activities is that I carry very large amounts of 'stock' which can only be kept outdoors, easily accessible to all and sundry. From my point of view, I need to live somewhere where the people are fundamentally honest and won't steal your 4x4 for example, simply because you've left your keys in the ignition. It's different strokes for different folks but for me certainly, being able to trust my neighbours to even look after my property, my interests, (as I do for them), is an absolute must.
Within walking distance of amenities and transport links

The outcome of my selection is that taxes and an internet/telephone connection apart, plus a bit of fuel for the engines, I can get by quite happily on zero expenditure per day and enjoy a better lifestyle than a lot of business owners with turnovers in excess of £1 million a year. (Which I know for a fact because some of the scratters keep coming around here regularly for my barbecues!) On a more simple level though, how much do you spend on vegetables, fruit and eggs? Add to that the estimated £600 - £700 of food wasted each year, most of which is simply bad household management and which you can control all the better if you are home-based during the day; then, add heating (and cooking) costs which can easily be brought down by another couple of thousand or so if you take a bit of time to source a supply of free wood. (For example; although you could also install a wind turbine and/or solar or photovoltaic panels, a solar oven, a smoker, improve your insulation still further; the list goes on.) I make that around £5000 pa. Or, put another way, an amount equivalent to that which many home businesses look for as a business loan or an overdraft facility. Try this recent link for a living cost health check: http://money.aol.co.uk/2012/10/04/seven-easy-ways-to-cut-your-living-costs/

OK. The above is an extreme example for many people (although just a garden, a shed/garage and a chimney and you're already well on the way!) but I do want to illustrate a point which is often forgotten. A 'home + business' is a dual operation. The 'home' being the qualifying and larger of the two parts; and your business aspirations and activity should always be considered in that context.

War chest.

There’s an awful lot of websites offering advice on starting a business suggesting that running a business from home is a low-cost, low-risk, soft touch option. That is extremely stupid and dangerous advice - if not the sign of a potential scam. (And never mind my personal setup in the paragraph above, which took decades of hard work and savings to achieve.)

Apart from the rest of the headed, main list below, do bear in mind that you will also need to consider paying for the following:

Dedicated home business equipment and professional surroundings; assuming you already have a suitable computer and printer, add professional phone (with an extension/s maybe?), lighting, long-haul seating, decor generally, filing cabinets, stationery stocks, additional or spot heating. (Your heating bills are likely to go through the roof when it starts getting cold and you are sitting by a computer; not the same thing as turning your thermostat down to background heating only when going out to work regularly. Your electricity and water consumption will go up. You will almost always do more running around in the car. And so on.) This link will give you a good overall view of possible requirements: http://sbinformation.about.com/od/office/Office_Design_Leasing.htm

Do beware of becoming a home business trendy or tecchy type, however. Home business/start-up marketing has become increasingly conspicuous over the years and it's not there to do you, in the first place, a favour. Thin out what you need to start making some money. Then, spoil yourself once the business - not you - can afford it.

If you are still determined to appear a 'modern' business and have the time and money to throw around, then this fairly recent article (April 2012) is a useful checklist for what is going on. http://sbinformation.about.com/od/ecommerce/a/how-to-use-technology-in-your-small-business.htm However, I have often seen start-ups spending so much effort on preparing to do business that they never actually get around to doing what a business is all about. Selling.

Training. There are lots of courses from lots of providers which could be deemed desirable if not essential to the successful development of a home business. Take your pick from subjects ranging from book-keeping to website design. A lot of courses are available free of charge from local colleges, official government agencies and private training providers and it's a wise home business start-up which considers the gaps in its education and does something about them BEFORE starting to trade.

Sadly, the majority of home businesses will try to patch over their shortcomings as they go along - a bit like Microsoft, for example, although YOU on the other hand, aren't going to benefit from unlimited 'governmental' funding. Yet, it's the vast majority which usually needs training the most, starting with a return to school to learn how to 'reed and rite' followed hopefully, by a few life and social skills.

Professional opinion is largely agreed that the vast majority of business start-up failures (think 2 in 3) are down to a lack of education.

It's a shame when you think that most business courses can be obtained for nothing or at very low cost; obviously, there will be exceptions - so you may have to dip into your war chest quite early on.

An added bonus is that a course is also a good way to start getting a feel for networking and making new and useful friends.

If you are going to be asking clients to come around or you are going to stock goods, add not only suitable surroundings but also . . .
Home business insurance. (Go to an independent broker at least initially, if you can.)

Possibly, business rates. Business rates become increasingly inevitable if you have an appreciable footfall of visitors, regular deliveries and collections, a significant part of your home premises is dedicated to your business activities, hold stock and/or your home address is visibly advertised as a place of trading. Consequently, if you're not sure, add . . .

Solicitor's advice. An initial consultation may be free; if not, don't try to avoid taking advice; budget for it, instead.

A solicitor will also prove invaluable when you are ready for a set of adapted trading Terms & Conditions. The practice of 'borrowing' terms from the back of another business's invoice for example, is well known. Or maybe a 'lift' from the internet. What isn't discussed so often is the 'double jeopardy' of putting your foot in it one day and an opposing solicitor finding you've got nothing more than a 'copy and paste' with which to defend yourself. It's not expensive to have a set of terms drafted just for you; so think about it very seriously. Setting yourself up is all about other peoples' and businesses' perception of your professionalism.

At this point, may I offer particular words of caution to anyone contemplating a franchise especially one which isn't (yet) a household name, for example. Do not underestimate the amount of due diligence required. Solicitors' and accountants' advice are essential. The following links should help.

The 'classic' read for evaluating a franchise is here: http://www.thebfa.org/shop/how-to-evaluate-a-franchise

Most of the firms of franchise solicitors act mainly for franchisors, but here's one which specialises in helping franchisees - http://www.wjm.co.uk - Wright, Johnson and Mackenzie LLP

Here's a link to their report on the many questions a prospective franchisee should ask a franchisor: http://www.wjm.co.uk/.../Franchisees_-_Key_Questions_to_ask_a_Franchisor.pdf

Here's another firm of solicitors which says they offer commercial advice in addition to legal advice: http://www.batchelor-myddelton.co.uk/franchising/franchise-solicitors-guide.html

Accountant's advice. (You knew about working from home and private residence relief for example, didn't you?) Once more, initial advice may well be free. The Home Business Alliance for example, has a professional relationship for the benefit of its members with AIMS, a national group of accountants. But again, if circumstances require it, don't try to cut corners or save a few pounds by not seeking professional advice. (See also the paragraph below referring to company formation, VAT registration and self-employed registration.)

Business banking. This area of activity is much more involved than simply opening a business bank account and possibly, a PayPal or other online account, etc, (more reading on the subject here and in your February 2011 issue of eBOSS for HBA Members) if you want to take money online. Excellent though PayPal is, we have found that taking payment by credit card whether over the internet, over the phone or face-to-face, remains a significant 'must have' business tool if only to cater for people who aren't familiar with internet banking developments or have an objection to 'non-standard' banking transactions. (Think mail order, direct selling variants from party plan to market stalls, and peoples' preferences and prejudices; and yes, I know that PayPal allow people to pay with a credit card but they have to hit that PayPal button first and a lot of folk simply neither know that or want to do that.)

PayPal apart, credit card authorisation from a traditional bank will not come cheaply or easily for a home business or a start-up, especially if you have yet to demonstrate any kind of turnover or your transactions are likely to be of low value. Quite a few hoops to jump through here and if allied to a business overdraft and/or business loan as well, this whole area of expenditure is likely to cost you an appreciable amount of money, regularly. (That's one of the reasons why banks always make a lot of money and businesses frequently go bust.)

Furthermore, you don't have to travel any further than across to the other side of the Channel before it becomes clear that once outside of the UK - and the States - the majority of your potential customers haven't even heard of PayPal and prefer to pay by cash, cheque or even bank transfer!

So. Do whatever you can to ensure that your customers are able to part with their money in your direction as comprehensively and conveniently as possible. In exchange - based on our own experience over the past fifteenyears or so and from what we've heard elsewhere - you could double your online takings over a PayPal arrangement alone. The only downside here is that for a number of years the fixed fees for these arrangements have been driven up to the extent that it will probably cost you from around £50/£60 a month PLUS an additional fee per item to use a High Street bank whereas PayPal and to a lesser extent, Worldpay, are becoming increasingly the norm for online transactions and are much more affordable and user-friendly, especially for a home business or a start-up.

However, do check out the following updated links for the latest deals and card processing technology.

Card processing provider PaymentSense - free processing rate review. http://links.paymentsense.mkt5663.com/servlet/MailView?ms=NDEzOTYxNzES1&r=NDY4NDI1NjQzNjkS1&j=MTg2MTk0Mjg4S0&mt=1&rt=0

22.02.2013: Do check out this latest chin and pin development from PayPal however. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/news/9887451/PayPal-launches-smartphone-linked-chip-and-pin-machine.html

and PayPal Here mobile transaction service. https://www.paypal.com/uk/webapps/mpp/credit-card-reader

01.05.2013: WorldPay mobile 'Pay As You Go' Service: https://mobile.worldpay.com/

On the other hand, setting up more traditional business banking arrangements could also bring you into contact with another professional who should be able to give you not only good banking advice but also point you in a worthwhile direction for setting up your home business generally, including some good local contacts. Assuming you manage to open an account with a bank which offers a personal level of service and which isn't just an internet facility, for example. Sadly, business banking relations management is becoming increasingly rare.

One more, very important thing. While going about opening a, or one, business bank account, open at least another, second business bank account either at the same time or as soon as possible afterwards. Then, keep both accounts active even if you will also be doubling your bank charges, of course; however, shop around and these may not be too onerous.

There are many reasons for two accounts - or even more under certain circumstances. Firstly, the old proverb that you shouldn't put all your eggs in one basket; business banking and lending policies can change overnight, requiring you to suddenly repay an overdraft or a loan, for example, which you have relied upon for years thus exposing you to the risk of foreclosure if you can't quickly do so. Terms, conditions, rates of interest etc will vary all the time and so you need to be able to access the best possible deal for your business when YOU CHOOSE to do so and not when the bank tells you to. You may simply fall out with your bank and suddenly want to go elsewhere. The bank may even call in a facility secured against your family home, for heaven's sake. But above all, the majority of banks have proven in recent years that they are the worst possible guardians of your money and business interests and should be treated with the greatest of caution at best - if not outright contempt.

You cannot afford to jeopardise the survival of YOUR business by relying on institutional serial offenders who deliberately run up trillions of pounds/dollars/euros of toxic debt to sustain their cancerous bonus culture. In fact, with a Prime Minister (David Cameron) whose family fortune comes from banking and who predictably hasn't made the slightest attempt to even bring UK banking controls in line with his European counterparts, the best advice I could give you is to use banks for their services only, buy gold and keep it buried in a hole at the bottom of the garden. That way, when the world's financial system finally collapses, you should be OK. (Depending upon a few other home business survival factors as well.)

In the mundane meantime, having a couple of banks in the bag means that you should be able to ride out most specific banking service problems seamlessly and quickly with a minimum of, or no inconvenience to your customers.

There are some very good banks, of course, which do not fall into the above category. We have used the ethical Co-Operative Bank for many, many years and are absolutely delighted with their business banking. And there are others. (Try this link for more info: http://www.ethical-company-organisation.org/154-183-GSG09-money.pdf) But do make your choice very carefully and remember that your money is YOURS - so keep it that way.

A little N.B. Personal credit cards. I don't know anyone who doesn't or hasn't used a personal credit or debit card for business spending. I'm not going to try and change the flow other than to suggest that from a book-keeping point of view, make sure this kind of borrowing and spending stays transparent and accounted for. One of the objectives of any business is to develop something of value, something which you could sell at a later date. So make sure it all adds up.

Then finally of course, you wouldn't offer your family home as security against a bit of placcy, would you?

If you do find yourself in debt, the best way to avoid any problems is to bone up on the consequences beforehand. (Eh?) A couple of HBA members, Jill Bray and Steven Maoudis, have written some excellent excellent work on the subject and Jill's guide was serialised in The BOSS.

Frequently in the same 'bracket' as banking arrangements we have pensions, accident and sickness cover. With the latest predictions suggesting there will be no more pensions by the year 2050 - http://money.aol.co.uk/2012/12/27/no-more-pensions-by-2050/ - this is a particularly serious matter for anyone contemplating self-employment or running their own business. When you are young and fit these aren't issues which seem important but it's a wise head which budgets and puts aside business income for not only the end of one's working life but any nasty surprises along the way.

Unfortunately, everything is up in the air these days. When I started in business, pension planning and saving was a sure-fire bet; I knew that at the age of 60, certainly by 65, I could expect to put up my feet. I reckon I've just about got away with it but fortunately, I put most of my savings into property, land, tools, kit, and a comfortable lifestyle which I could sustain without a lot of money. A lot of businessfolk I know put their regular contributions into drawing large pensions - and even today, they are in trouble with things looking to get worse, much worse, as the current economic climate continues to degenerate.

Give this whole subject an awful lot of thought. But do put aside something or the other to be able to cope with your older years, especially as the state is looking less and likely to do that for you.

Then, there is Data Protection registration. It may or may not affect you as a home business but check out the official website and at least get in the know.

Trips to and from clients/networking/other business meetings which you may - or may not - be able to tie in with the need to buy in family shopping as well as trips for supplies for your business. In our experience, many trips for domestic purposes, taking children to school or the childminder, for example, can be combined with the daily routine of going to and from work. When working from home, business trips usually become specific and therefore, have a significant impact on your budget.

I would be surprised if running the average business from home does actually - as is often suggested - equate to a more planet-friendly option or prove to be more economical than simply travelling to and from work every day. It depends. Individual circumstances can be very different. There are plenty of people commuting in and out of London who pay £5000 a year for the privilege of standing up in a rolling shit-pit for a couple of hours a day. But when I see millions of cars circulating with just one driver behind the wheel, moving backwards and forwards at the same time morning and evening every day, topped off by widescale throwing of food into dustbins, then there is still a lot of scope for planet-friendliness before appealing to everyone to work from home - in which case, the utilities wouldn't be able to cope, anyway.

Consequently, if you want to run a business from home, don't be under any illusions that it's going to save you money. It's possible but . . .

. . . now that that's the 'due diligence' part covered, read on for some more typical home business expenditure.

Firstly, it is common for start-ups to fail and coping with that possibility should be a fundamental part of your short to medium-term business strategy. What is much more important than failure is the ability to recover so it’s critical for example, that you don’t re-mortgage your house or borrow too much money or make a start with something which seems like a good idea but which you haven’t market tested.

Just as with the right kind of mind set, your ability to prospect for business will be markedly improved if you’re not sweating cobs at a sales meeting because you have absolutely GOT to get the deal done as otherwise you won’t make your next mortgage payment. In which case, it will have been the seventh time you will have struggled this year, your lenders are pressing and the wife and children are threatening to leave, etc, etc. YOU may think you can poker-play these situations. The guy or gal facing you, won’t necessarily have the same view.

Consequently, your war chest or financial cushion, call it what you will, remains critical. Not just to pay your bills in the interim as you establish your business activities but because you need to invest in your home business ‘shop front’ to help you get your foot in the door. ONCE AGAIN, try to avoid an overdraft or business loan at least until you have got some kind of trading activity behind you and you can see how the money flows. (Grants for home businesses being quasi-non-existent although the present Government recently re-introduced the Enterprise Allowance, more details of which can be found here: http://www.direct.gov.uk/en/employment/jobseekers/lookingforwork/dg_173931).

A Start Up Loan scheme has also been officially introduced recently: http://www.startupbritain.org/loans However, do not be tempted to 'pump prime' your business if you don't even have one yet, only to find that in a few months' time you will be back at square one, having to stand on your own two feet again PLUS having to find a significant amount of extra money each month to pay off what you borrowed.

Nonetheless, if you still want to persist, this is the link to the Government's one-stop guide to finance for businesses: https://www.gov.uk/business-finance-support-finder and the following article from a business magazine (30.08.2013) also offers a round-up of loans for start-ups: http://www.bmmagazine.co.uk/in-business/finance/20759/analysis-types-funding-available-start-ups/

Borrowing money to finance your enterprise is OK if you know what you are doing, if you have plenty of business experience and you are SURE your business idea (or you've got a trade) is going to work. Otherwise, you will end up doing what the vast majority of business amateurs end up doing - ploughing back what little you do manage to earn into other peoples' pockets. With knobs on. The self-employed business sector is notorious for its high levels of debt, both personal and business and recent independent findings confirm this. http://www.stepchange.org/Mediacentre/Pressreleases/selfemployeddebtproblems.aspx

You will find that a business adviser may suggest that your pricing should be high enough to include the cost of loan and interest repayment; which unfortunately, will leave you uncompetitive if you are trading against businesses which don't have these extra overheads - and believe you me, on a typical home business turnover, banking charges will usually be your highest, single outgoing. ONE OF THE MAIN REASONS FOR RUNNING A BUSINESS FROM HOME IS TO KEEP YOUR COSTS DOWN. So don't immediately go and louse up the formula by borrowing money from the very sources which will usually cause you to go bust.

If you really do need some extra money for your home business then try to develop a regular, extra income stream, instead. A twilight shift at a local warehouse or factory, perhaps; a bit of odd-jobbing; seasonal land work; there are lots of possibilities. Second best is to borrow from family or friends. But exercise this option with the greatest caution. Nothing but nothing causes friendship and family strain and bust-ups like owing money.

Anyway, back to your ‘shop front’ which will usually include an assortment (if not everything) from the following list and are items which you SHOULD pay out for BEFORE you can start prospecting confidently; otherwise you are going to risk giving a bad or at best, mediocre impression from the very outset when you should in fact, be arriving on the scene with a very favourable, 'big bang'.

Naming your business.

If my personal experience and that of my business friends and colleagues is anything to go by, this category would be right at the top of the list taking priority over everything else. Needless to say, coming up with a good name which describes what you do, is memorable and has the scope to become a brand name, takes a lot of brain power. If you've got the money, you can use an agency. It's much more normal however, to rely on those mainstays of the vast majority of home businesses - family and friends. Not that using an agency is infallible by any means; when I was in the rag trade I infamously turned down the name 'Zap' for my leisure-wear range!

Anyway, here are some ideas for you: http://specials.about.com/service/newsletters/sbinformation/1320850800.htm

Or, you could try a 'business name generator' website. Here are some free ones: http://sbinformation.about.com/od/startingabusiness/tp/Free-Business-Name-Generators.htm

But whatever you do, try to resist that practice favoured so much by the UK tradesman - a couple of initials Ltd - however good a job the signwriter might make of it on the side of your van. (Or the magnetic sign might cost, etc, etc.)

Business club/Chamber of Commerce/association membership.

In this day and age of the internet, paid-up membership of the business community is a highly underestimated primary stage not only of ‘doing the diligence’ but also, of establishing yourself in that community. It is an essential part of the learning curve and a highly likely source of business from other like-minded people. Facebook, Twitter and other social networking media are absolutely no substitute for real-time belonging. They are not as time-efficient, they are not so instinctive and they are almost certainly not as potentially profitable.

You can do a lot of ‘diligence’ for free on the internet (assuming you can wade through and even discern all the rubbish) but in playing the game properly, you finally need to pay your subs. Don’t hesitate and in fact, funds permitting, join up whatever and wherever you might think it’s appropriate to do so. (Although I could easily tell you some horror stories about some business clubs so DO ask around to see what your peer group thinks.)

Having said that don’t forget that membership of a business club or association is, or should be, a pro-active and interactive step. What it gives you will be the sum of what you put in. If you prefer to stay at home watching The Apprentice or Dragons' Den then don’t expect a membership to give you a return nor expect your home business to succeed.

Private Members’ Club.

At first glance this might seem totally excessive but just stop and think for a minute. Where are you going to meet with potential clients? We have members who live in mansions, chateaux and castles which is more than OK for a business venue but what about you?

For those of you who belong to professional or career institutions, prestigious premises are often part of the deal. The Institute of Directors, for example. OK is you qualify for membership. OK if you are going to meet in London. OK if you’re not too picky about your food.

However, for the majority of folk, private members’ clubs are much more accessible (unless you live in a smaller town or rural area, in which case it will depend on where your client is to be found rather than where you live) and unless you want to put a quick end to your home business prospects by arranging a meeting in your living room over a can of Fosters, give a LOT of thought to where you are going to have your meetings. It goes without saying that somewhere with a bit of cachet is always a lot better than a pub bar or tax-dodgers, Starbucks. Especially if you want a decent cup of coffee. There are other options as well, of course, but it all depends on location and accessibility. A client will go the extra mile to see you at a private club; he may not budge if you suggest a hotel.

Subs vary but you may be pleasantly surprised at just how affordable some clubs can be. (Although do try to avoid private clubs which are ‘fashionable’ or ‘current’. You are looking for a venue which is quiet, comfortable and discreet and not somewhere to rub shoulders with loud-mouthed riff-raff.)

Company formation/VAT registration.

A limited company will always create a better impression than someone who is a sole trader/self-employed, just as will VAT registration, voluntary or otherwise. (A link to a fairly current article on the subject here: http://www.bytestart.co.uk/small-businesses-could-save-billions-by-going-limited.html)

BUT. There are a number of critical, additional considerations such as personal liability as well as profits to take into account and this is one of those times where it is essential to get the best advice, heed it and pay for that advice if necessary; circumstances can be highly individual and there are no short-cuts I for one, would want to take. Not in this case. So, ask around at your business club/s, take a couple of hundred at least, out of the kitty, and go and speak to a good book-keeper or accountant and/or solicitor. Then, lay your cards on the table and be honest. Don’t dream out aloud.

It may be the case that you will be able to get an initial consultation for free; so much the better. (See above also, under Accountant's advice). But if the local consensus of business opinion is firmly behind a professional who does not offer a free initial meeting then don’t baulk at taking out your wallet.

Having said that, there is no doubt that the large majority of home businesses choose to trade as 'self-employed'; once upon a time, this was no more complicated than simply deciding to do so but nowadays, HMRC registration is required for self-employed newbies and for information on how to go about this the Business Links section on starting up is as good a bet as any. Beware of non-official websites giving start-up advice where information and links are less than comprehensive, frequently out of date or dead. (Even the British Library's 'Business Essentials Wiki' which we looked at recently, is seriously unfit for purpose.)

Official address.

If you decide to form a company it is often the case that your official address will not be your home address. Accountants’ or solicitors’ chambers for example, are just fine.

If you are still lumbered with an ‘unsuitable’ home address (depending once again, on your type of activity), you will want to find a more impressive accommodation address. Not just to stick on your stationery and website but to have your business mail sent to, as well. This will only come at a price. Rates vary enormously but be guided by recommendation rather than price, if possible.

The other option is to have a pre-paid business reply or Freepost service but that can prove to be more expensive than an ‘address of convenience’. That notwithstanding, I have always found that business reply services are well worth paying for; once again, it’s a business facility which sends out the right message.

If you are going to be trading mainly locally, you might be lucky enough to come to an arrangement with an established business which has a spare room or whose professional facilities you can share on an ad hoc basis. I once managed to negotiate a deal with some local architects along these lines. They had a desirable address and the eminently affordable arrangement worked very well for a long time.

Special N.B. for 'internet-only' businesses and online slobs. In an online world where - if you're lucky - only 95% of the messages you receive will be spam or scam, one of the things a lot of potential clients will be doing is applying filtering mechanisms to weed through their mail on its way to their Inboxes.

One of the best ways of identifying spammers and scammers is to see if they've used a footer or not. That is, an official address and contact details at the base of the message. Apart from being a legal requirement - http://www.out-law.com/page-5536 and http://www.out-law.com/page-431 - we and a lot of people like us, will not even give a second glance to a message which arrives without a footer. Let alone do business with its author.

Yet, it's amazing just how many online slobs send out sales messages ending only with a simple christian name, either unaware of what is needed or what is business - NOT internet - etiquette or just following the pack. We even received a message a few weeks ago from a perfectly genuine firm of solicitors offering their online defamation services yet - without any kind of footer whatsoever, just a blind link back to their company. So, on the basis that you shouldn't be clicking blind links either, we certainly won't be passing on details of this firm to anyone else.

A business message is not an email to some fake friends on Facebook; just as a business card, it tells someone something about you before they even look at the message. That is why you need an official address and once you've got one, why you should be using it. As I emphasised in my Preamble, what we're talking about here is projecting the image of a serious, full-time (home) business run by a business PROFESSIONAL; not a hobby, nor a try-it-and-see dabble, nor just a little earner on the side.

Business telephone number and telephone answering service.

Forget about using your personal mobile number for clients, either potential or existing, to call you on a regular or first-time basis. Despite the growth in mobile communications, you will need a land line and a human being to answer the phone for you when it rings and you’re not there IF you want to give the best possible impression. Hopefully, very often indeed because you are always out drumming up business. A typical telecommunications overview can be found at this link (sponsored): http://www.homebusiness.org.uk/features2.htm#10

On the basis that family or friends are the last people you want fielding your professional calls for you and that the answerphone should only come into use very rarely indeed, you will need to think about a personal PA. I know you can use call diverts to your mobile, etc but to give any kind of dimension to your home business activity, you will need to be able to offer your clients a PROPER call answering service for your very own business telephone number.

A good service however, is like gold dust. One which knows you, your business, can handle customers yet remaining affordable, is to die for. I think it took me six years to find such a service at one stage. And it didn’t come cheap, although a suitable business address and mail handling service were included so the final solution was more than satisfactory. After doing a LOT of asking at your local business club or Chamber of Commerce, divvy up some more funds out of the kitty.

Directory listing.

Once you have got your trading name, official address and phone number sorted, it's time to put yourself into a directory or two. Once upon a time it was as simple as the White and Yellow pages and job done! You were on the business scene. Now it's a lot more complicated not only because the internet offers a lot of additional choices and variations but because business start-ups themselves often do things on the cheap and in the short-term and change their official addresses, phone numbers, emails etc as often as a normal person would change their socks.

If you are not going to be able to guarantee your contact details for at least a couple of years (as best you can, anyway) then there's no point in trying to get yourself into a business directory, even on the internet. In fact, you might even ask yourself the question if you are being serious about getting going in business.

On the other hand, it's amazing how many people get suckered into paying to appear in 'European' or 'International' trade directories which they have never seen before in their lives and which take usually, around £100 off you for your stupidity. Holland used to be the main source for bogus business directory scams although I've seen offers coming from Russia and Spain as well.

Having said that, perfectly genuine local, trade and specialist directories do exist and you will have to pay for an entry. But do your research first; ask your trade association or Chamber of Commerce if you aren't sure.

By the way.

As we have already said, business, address and telephone directories are an excellent way of telling at a glance, who is doing what in your area, who the competition is or might be and where there are some potential gaps in the marketplace. Whether or not directories these days are a useful source of business referral may be a moot point; on the other hand, there is no doubt that they are an excellent source of business intelligence.

Business uniform.

Clothes maketh the man. (That's me in the pic, by the way. Ahem.) And I would emphasise ‘the man’ because I don’t remember ever having seen a woman turn up at a business meeting badly dressed.

There are some men unfortunately, who feel they have to look modern. Currently, that seems to be a cheap double-breasted jacket tailored in Rumania, pre-stressed jeans courtesy of child labour in Pakistan and North Africa, perhaps a v-necked jumper hinting at a pallid chest, bottomed-out with a pair of pointy brothel-creepers manufactured in a Chinese sweat shop.

It’s very simple, really. Business meetings are the moment to show and reinforce the notion that you are a business professional and NOT to make a dubious fashion statement.

The impression you create will have its maximum effect for (schools of thought vary) twenty seconds or so? In which case, don’t complicate your chances. Without knowing who you are going to be talking to, it’s more than likely it will be someone like me. A bit old-fashioned, ideas and trains of thought already well established by the passage of time. Knows what he/she knows and knows what he/she does and doesn’t like.

So stay conventional. Not necessarily a suit. A dark jacket, plain shirt and tie and good quality trousers with a pair of normal-looking shoes will more than do.

If you can afford to pay the extra, get the best jacket possible. One which is light and with plenty of movement because it is important to feel comfortable in a wide range of positions. If your clothing is a bad fit, you will start to struggle and once again, it just shows you to be an ill-prepared amateur.

You can spend a fortune on what I would describe as your business ‘uniform/s’. On the other hand, I have seen top-quality Italian suits in charity shops, of all places, costing next to nothing. If you are of an average size, you shouldn’t have to spend too much. The problems start with people like me!

I have also referred to your business clothes as a ‘uniform’ because these are clothes which should be kept and used for the purpose of, only. (If at all possible.) At some stage, you may receive a late-afternoon call to go along to a meeting in London first thing the next day. Full of hope and expectation, you set your alarm to go off at 5am the following morning whereupon you get out your clothes. And you find a stain on your jacket lapel; crumpled white-ish shirt with a dirty collar; the trouser belt is missing; and you haven’t got any clean pairs of socks left. The shops are shut that early and you won’t have time to get anything done after you get off the train. Your better half seems asleep and anxious for you to get gone so she can carry on sleeping. Roll on!

Oh. And the watch. I have seen so many Dell-Boy Rolexes on wrists since the internet came along that I’ve developed a lurking suspicion that the original factory may have had more than a hand in the matter. So to speak.

Anyway, someone who has the money to pay for your business services or goods is also likely to have the money to buy a decent, genuine watch. And to spot a decent, genuine watch. Or otherwise. If you can’t afford the real thing don’t tempt fate. Better not to wear a watch at all. I never do and I can’t say I’ve noticed it affecting my conversion rates too much.

The portfolio/presentation/sample.

You’re going to do a computer presentation, right? Just like everyone else. Trouble is, I have seen as many computer presentations go wrong or have problems as I have seenthem go smoothly. Most people simply don’t know what they are doing. They’ve got Microsoft Office and that’s it. End of.

They don’t check to see if their batteries are fully charged. They find they can’t get a wi-fi signal so they have to ask their client for an internet connection. Unless the meeting is taking place at a hotel and there isn’t a socket available where you’re sitting - and all of a sudden you haven’t got a presentation to make at all. The screen’s desktop is overloaded with icons and so it takes ages for pages to load and move forward. There are four people facing you and only one of them at a time can really see what is happening on your screen because of reflection and poor lighting angles.

By all means prepare a computer presentation even if PowerPoint is now considered to belong to the Stone Age - if it is really going to help. But research your methodology well. Keep it snappy and simple. Keep the graphics and images nice and big so that they can be seen and read from a distance. Practice your ‘show’ a few times on friends and family, first.

But at the end of the day, do you even need a computer for a presentation? What about a simple portfolio approach, instead? Prepare a master, A4 sized at least and once you’ve got something which looks the job, produce several smart copies to pull out of your briefcase at will during your meeting, depending on how many people are there and whether or not it is appropriate to leave something behind - in addition to your classy business card.

A portfolio is much more flexible than a computer. Once in his or her hands, a client has control of what he or she wants to see, dwell on or return to. You don’t have to make that choice, leaving you free to expand on your client’s questions, taking the pressure off you to lead the sale all the time. Several different people can also be looking at different pages at the same time if they want to. (Not to be encouraged from a purist’s selling point of view but you know what people are like!) It’s also much easier and cheaper to leave behind a file than a laptop! Once you’ve gone, the client can go back to your presentation whenever they feel like it and your portfolio is working for you, even if you’re not there.

On the other hand, although a portfolio has every possible advantage, it is something which once again, has to be prepared carefully, thoroughly and professionally. Use good quality, thick paper; number your pages; add an index; personalise the cover if possible; make sure everything is nicely bound. If in doubt, get a local print shop to help. On the other hand, if you want to do it all yourself there are endless sites on the internet which are full of good advice and ideas. Click on the image aside for just one of them.

There are business sectors which have their own peculiarities. If you’re turning widgets on a lathe in your garden shed, you may want to prepare a sample for a potential buyer. Don’t do what British manufacturing (R.I.P.) used to do and offer up a hastily-prepared, unpolished lump of metal presented in a Tesco carrier bag with the excuse, ‘We’ll get that properly sorted for the production run.’ Make it the finest piece of work you’ve ever done. Put it in a custom-made box with a printed label on the lid. If you’re a clothes designer, adopt the same approach. Don’t just drape your sample across the back of a chair. Check every stitch; steam it; fold it impeccably; box it; name it.

Once again, it's going to cost a little bit extra. But it’ll be well worth it.

Now if you have been astute and very lucky you’re probably only up to around fifteen hundred pounds or so out of the kitty at this stage. Next however, is that element which a lot of people consider to be essential these days. The website. And this is where you can blow your budget to pieces.

The website.

In this day and age, your home business armoury must try to include a website. ‘They’ say. It does depend very much on your sector of activity. There are many which don’t NEED a website to start prospecting and selling. No more so than a computer. You must be the judge but if on a tight startup budget, a website can prove an expensive luxury.

We are not the experts here even though we manage our own websites and have been at the top of the search engine rankings, both co.uk and .com, for over a decade. However, there are people who know a lot more than we do about the internet and so in this case, do by all means, take their advice. A lot of advice. With our best wishes on finding someone who knows what they are talking about, can deliver the right quality on time and is affordable for a home business.

There is a UK scheme called the Get British Business Online initiative which will supposedly get you going with a website for free. However, I have never received any feedback on this service so I leave you to have a poke-around at your own discretion. Here is the link: http://www.gbbo.co.uk

Just to put things into context for you, a survey conducted as recently as April 2012, found that a quarter of firms have no website http://www.companiesmadesimple.com/online-savvy-survey.html?pdf=1 and that a third of those have no plans to get one - according to new research by the Made Simple Group. The survey also revealed that although over half of those with a website received fewer than 500 hits per month, a third do not take any steps to drive traffic to their website, and a further third do not try to improve their search engine rankings.

The research also found that 60% of firms do not accept payments online.

Finally, if you do end up getting a website, do keep it regularly updated, otherwise after a few months there really isn't much point in having got one in the first place. Try to learn the basics of doing this yourself. It really isn't difficult. Assuming you are going to use a designer to produce a website for you in the first place, he/she will probably be happy to show you how to make basic changes and uploads yourself. If your approach is going to be totally d.i.y then there's a wealth of information out there on the subject - all you have to do is make an effort.

At the same you will need to assess the value of social media to your business and an introductory guide can be found here: http://sbinformation.about.com/od/marketingsales/tp/social-media-for-small-business.htm?nl=1

Business stationery/business cards/business logo.

Website all done and dusted? Got a few pages which actually work? In other words, your url doesn’t produce ‘Site Under Construction’ plastered across the home page? Good. Almost the final stage, then. You can now sort out the business stationery, etc.

Although there are some very impressive online or electronic stationery packages available, don't forget to have something prepared for face-to-face business, as well. But please, do it properly. If ever I have seen an amateur in the world of business, it’s someone who offers me a curled, flimsy business ‘ticket’ spat out by a cheap desktop inkjet printer. You might as well turn up at a meeting with ‘cheapskate’ written across your forehead

For what it costs these days, do make the effort - and it’s really not much of one - to have your business stationery designed and printed by a professional. We for example, have a whole bank of top-end laser printers costing several thousands of pounds each and could do a better job at producing our own stationery than the vast majority of people but when it comes to the crunch, we can’t for example, feed over 300 gsm+ card, which is what you will need for a decent business card.

Furthermore, until you know your stationery specs, don’t try to buy for the first time on the internet. You need to feel the stationery and judge its weight to get it right. Feel is every bit as important as appearance. Then, look at your samples in varying shades of light.

You might think that stationery these days is a bit old hat, that e-mail has taken over. The trouble with email is that a lot of design work, let alone the entire message, might get chopped by the spam, key word and image filters your client has running on his Inbox; and of course, all the sheep and lemmings use email these days. If you want to make a statement, be different, a cut above the common herd, don’t hesitate to send out a good ‘ole fashioned letter every so often, especially if you’re quoting or confirming a deal. It’ll make you more memorable, maybe just different enough to get the business ahead of the competition or to get a second bite at the cherry.

Then, when you’re face-to-face with someone, it’s nice to be able to leave them with something which appeals. The business card culture isn’t at all developed in Britain but assuming you will want to expand your horizons at some stage do be aware that the business card is a fundamental part of establishing yourself. Don’t forget you will only have a few seconds in which to make an initial impression. Don’t louse it up with a crappy business card.

There are always lots of promotional offers for business stationery doing the rounds but if you want a pukka job, budget once again, a couple of hundred pounds where the design element will be the most costly. At the same time however, aim to be getting a business logo, a masthead out of the deal in which case, it would be money very well spent, indeed.

And make sure that when the job is done, the printer will let you have all the design elements on a CD because that is what you have paid for and it’s YOUR property.

Professional Indemnity insurance.

As more and more professionals work from home, so more and more home businesses are becoming increasingly high value and high liability, making professional indemnity insurance a very important consideration. Some sectors won’t even touch you if you don’t have this kind of cover.

If you have any questions at all, speak to an independent or specialist insurance broker. (If PI is recommended, then it’s very serious kitty time again.)

Right. Ready now? Everything has come together. ALL the components are in place? ie You’re not going to try and prepare a portfolio while keeping your customer waiting a few days? Or need to find the money for a day return on the train to London? Good.

Now, you may wish to formally pull all these components together and produce that good old classic, a business plan. It seems to be the trend to knock business plans these days whereas when I started out, you would need one just to get a modest overdraft facility at the bank. Furthermore, if you are going to ask the bank for a few thousand pounds or more, either as a loan or an overdraft, then not having a business plan will almost guarantee a refusal. My view is that it's not a bad discipline anyway, although it depends on your scale of intended operations and what your ambitions are just as much as any external requirements. At the very least, look at formal business planning as part of your due diligence. There are a huge number of resources and links for business planning available; this is just one: http://sbinformation.about.com/lr/business_planning/1699536/4/

An article which discusses financial planning specifically for a home business, can be read here: http://www.netplaces.com/home-business/writing-your-business-plan/financial-plan.htm

Making the break or, getting out.

On the basis that you have decided on what kind of business you would like to run - and that can be a marathon in itself - you will eventually need to decide to take the plunge, leave your regular job and commit to a business full-time. IF that is what you want to do. On paper, it’s possible to taper into full-time business activity from part-time or while holding down a full-time job but in practice, I’ve rarely seen it done. Money which you set aside from part-time business sales will usually go on helping pay day-to-day bills; had some good sales? Then it's only natural to 'treat' yourself or the family rather than invest in business development. And so on. If you have got the will-power to separate out the two activities and keep them separated, then congratulations. You’ve got more self-control than me.

What can work well is a big, all-the family-together-now, sell-out at a car boot or on eBay to raise some working capital. It's surprising how much can be lurking in the garage or the loft which can be converted into a few bob and it's all a good exercise for raising awareness among the entire family that this home business idea of yours, is serious.

Financing apart, do then bear in mind that you will not be able to juggle your new customer priorities with the demands of full-time employment. Once or twice, maybe, but not in the long run.

Perhaps you can make a gradual shift towards a full-time home business with direct selling opportunities, but there you usually have a tried and tested formula and structure to guide and support you. The other formula which will usually work is that the ‘other half ’ continues to go to work and assumes the lion’s share of the family’s financial responsibilities. But it is normally a long haul. Think in terms of three years or longer to become established. If you can make it faster, congratulations again.

In addition, once established then the long-term goal of your hard work should be something called 'good will'. This is rarely mentioned on business weener websites largely because it's a favourable trading condition which takes years, maybe even a generation or more, to evolve, and cannot be sold 'ready to go'. You will need to stay put, to produce the right work at the right price, making your customers feel they are the best thing since sliced bread, year in and year out before arriving at a state of affairs where word-of-mouth recommendation and loyalty will make your business successful, come what may. (Almost!) It will NOT be achieved by updating your Facebook profile every week, changing your email address every six months and selling your home or climbing the housing ladder every couple of years.

Consequently, at anything between a couple and several thousand pounds already spent on the preparatory business trimmings, you will now need a lot more than that to pay your way until your home business starts bringing in some serious money. But it won’t start bringing in serious money until you take the plunge, start getting out and working at your business double, even treble-time. So it’s Catch 22.

The ball is in your court.

Have a final think about whether or not that spare bedroom you want to turn into a home office might be more productive let out as lodgings or B&B.

At the same time, take a look at what your local or a nearby authority might be offering as business or start-up workspace where, if my own experience is anything to go by, the cost of an all-inclusive package can easily be MUCH cheaper than setting up at home. (Homes are not designed after all, for running a business.) Perhaps your priorities are more lifestyle and not purely down to running a profitable business: but very often I come across start-ups who think that a logical progression is getting going from home and then moving on to bespoke business premises. That COULD be putting a dog-leg into the straightest possible path.

Still determined to have a go from home? Well, once you've lashed out for all the necessary bits listed above, the next stage is getting out to drum up the business. Seriously. It's not going to happen if you are going to sit at home.

Oh. Almost forgot. Registration with HMRC if you are about to become self-employed (which will generally be the case with most home business start-ups). It's compulsory nowadays and it's all explained here: http://www.hmrc.gov.uk/selfemployed/register-selfemp.htm#1 It's the final 'cold shower' before launching yourself into your brave new world. No more anonymous posts on forums, hiding behind a stupid pseudo. It's time to get real.


Part II. Finding The Bacon.

(For those of you who have come straight in to Part II, I would suggest that you at least take a quick look at my Preamble. Thank you.)

Now that you are well prepared and committed to go out to drum up some business, the rest is quite easy; you just have to decide how you are going to attract your customers and then persuade them to give you their money in return for your goods or services.

It’s no more complicated than that so never mind the detail. The devil is in the detail. As well as a lot of your money heading for other peoples' pockets.

So. You may be someone lucky enough to start a home business with a few existing (ex-employer’s?) clients in tow. Maybe a successful eBayer or car-booter who wants to go full-time. Or perhaps you’re a freelancer or a sub-contractor looking for just one, major long-term contract. Or, a recently qualified professional such as a consulting engineer or an architect who can almost work from where they choose and expect business to beat a path to their doorstep. But for the majority of home businesses identifying and then trying to win over new clients on a regular basis is a tough routine AND it’s a routine which needs to be learned as a skill in its own right. None of this ‘get marketing’ followed by ‘get the sales rep. onto it’ nonsense you get from a clueless big company director. As a home business, YOU have to learn these skills yourself and until you do, you won’t get far.

Lead generation or, bacon-finding.

So, a question. How many basic ways of lead generation do YOU know? (EXCLUDING the internet.)

I know 72. (Seventy-two.) Maybe even a couple more. (We provide a list for Home Business Alliance members; if not, any worthy business advisor should be able to give you something suitable.)

I have excluded the internet from this count because in my experience, the internet is one of the worst lead-generating mediums I have ever seen, having evolved with a completely different set of expectations and performance criteria to those required by the majority of successful, professional home businesses. I am well aware of the returns which can be obtained from social network marketing for example, but by the time you have paid for all the whistles and bells to profit from a sophisticated online campaign, what kind of investment are we talking about? Me, I'm talking about a home business start-up for who the immediate priority, especially for the critical first three years or so, is SURVIVAL.

Consequently, what you need to be looking for is rapid, efficient and economic access to people who will PAY you for your home business activities - not just time wasters and parasites pursuing the internet’s free lunch philosophy. Home businesses simply have too many pressing things to do to be able to sit around waiting for the occasional result. A company business with employees may have the means to designate someone to tweet, make faces or goggle. (It’s got to be a joke, all this. You couldn’t make it up if you tried. How many of you can imagine any of this taking off just ten or fifteen years ago?)

By all means, if you’ve got the time on your hands and you want to do the job properly, have a go at internet marketing; if your business lends itself to selling online then I would certainly agree that an efficient, commercial website for example, is indispensable even if it is just one of billions. But whereas a typical emailing campaign will produce results which range from microscopic to invisible, an hour or so of networking face to face will produce concrete results from people who are not only there to sell but who play the game and are prepared to do some buying as well. In which case they will automatically buy from someone they have already seen and talked to and who also plays the game. YOU.

Once again, much is being said about social media for marketing your business. By people who are trying to go with their perception of the flow (sheep) or make some money from saying that. On the other hand, numerous surveys of real, 'Joe Public' businesspeople suggests that social media as a business tool, sucks. OK, I accept that the vast majority of people who dabble with making money from an internet business probably aren't going about it properly. Or they are being scammed. But that, nonetheless, is the reality. Otherwise, you might as well say that if people drove respectfully and skillfully there wouldn't be any more road accidents.

(I've been kicking around earning money from home business activity for over 50 years and during that time, I've met a lot of seriously wealthy people. Although such folk are generally very modest and discreet, I do know that not one of them has made any money mainly from the internet. OK, I suppose it is a relatively recent business medium; on the other hand, with fifteen years' worth of water under the bridge, I would have expected to have come across at least one genuine, internet success story by now! You know - someone who actually exists and who's made enough money to buy their own pot to piss in - and not just some anonymous illiterate on a forum.)

For those of you who still believe that the internet is paved with gold, you may wish to take a quick look at the following article which was published on 09/08/2011, over a year after I first drafted this guide.

'The 'Skillionaires' Club. Just announced. Britain's richest 100 businessmen who didn't get any academic qualifications. http://www.independent.co.uk/news/education/education-news/an-unqualified-success-multimillionaires-who-prove-you-can-prosper-without-a-degree-2334149.html

Britain's richest 'skillionaire' is the chairman of the yellow digger maker JCB. Sir Anthony Bamford, whose wealth is valued at £2.15bn, started his working life with a two-year apprenticeship at Massey Ferguson in France in the early 1960s. JCB itself is valued at £2bn, but Sir Anthony's family also has private assets including a 4,500-acre Staffordshire estate and a 1,500-acre estate in Gloucestershire.'

I had a quick look at the first twenty names on the list and would you believe it - not a single fortune made from the internet! Well, I never.

Anyway, It’s also about time. I try to schedule three meetings a week to ‘bring home the bacon’. Half a day per meeting to include travel to and from; one and a half days in total. I personally work on a 75% conversion rate. It can often be 100% because for quite a while now, I have only taken meetings which I knew would put business my way.

However, even a very modest 25% conversion rate is astronomically higher than anything you will get out of the internet and yet totally realistic face-to-face because if all your preparations have been up to speed, you’ll be going along to a customer who is already predisposed to doing business with you.

That then leaves me - or you - five days a week (yes, don’t forget to include Sundays for the first couple of years at least) to produce or develop your wares, up to one day a week preparing for meetings and then, at least 2 days per week to get more leads. You could go to church on Sunday, of course. It’s very good for networking as well, practised religiously by all the leading ethnic ‘traders’. Then, half to one day a week socialising or doing charitable or voluntary work or playing some kind of sport or going to the gym, which are all ways of generating and reinforcing leads for your business, at the same time. And time for the family? You may well ask.

You can’t plan that way with the internet. That’s why the REAL landscape of successful home businesses in the UK consists of Polish landlords, Asian shopkeepers (living accommodation above and to rear) and Chinese takeaways (ditto for living accommodation) and NOT self-styled website designers who can’t even write code, looking at plastic screens.

HAVING SAID ALL THAT - and bearing in mind that successful businesspeople don't make a lot of money from being followers of fashion (they create fashion) - we do at the Home Business Alliance nonetheless, give regular updates and postings on free or low-cost courses which would be suitable for learning the basics. (Here, or above all, on eBOSS (members only), for example.)

Or, try this link for a 'modern' comprehensive list of all-inclusive, 101 small business marketing activities.

So, let this be a reminder of the earlier section referring to training: check with your local official business support sector, colleges and training providers to see what is being offered. As the internet has become such a vast subject, a short, half or one-day course, usually available for free through to £100 or so, is a good way of rapidly getting yourself up to speed without wasting days or even weeks, trawling through Forums for Morons and ending up none the wiser. Then, if you find that 2 + 2 = 4 or better, then go ahead and bone up some more. But don't waste your time by going straight into lemming mode. There are no successful lemmings in the business world.

One more consideration. The media and even business websites are full of disjointed, trending advice and recommendations that all businesses should be using social media. Generally speaking, the professional view is that it comes down to the kind of exposure you want and if, once you have the ball rolling, you will be able to find the time and the commitment to manage your social media effectively and consistently. In the real world, you will find that if you are a one-man band successfully running a business, the customer, the work you do, invoicing, chasing and managing your money will take absolute priority. Even acknowledging emails for many small businesses seems to be too much of an effort dealing as one does, with 99% trash and possibly, just one or two genuine enquiries or leads. And of all the tradesmen and business services I use, for example, I don't know of a single one which benefits from social media as a significant business tool. Yet they all seem to be doing very nicely indeed!

Nonetheless, this guide will help give an overview of the social media scene for small businesses. http://sbinformation.about.com/od/marketingsales/tp/social-media-for-small-business.htm?nl=1

Apart from the internet, there are two other popular forms of lead generation where I would also urge caution. Direct mail and newspaper or magazine advertising.

Not because they don’t perform but because like the internet they don’t perform well enough for the money which they cost. I have used them both; even won Royal Mail ‘Best Mailshot’ awards. However, a good response rate from a mailing campaign will only be 3% or less; OK, I have heard of and had much higher than that, especially with lists I’ve generated myself or to existing customers. I’ve also seen and heard of 0% response rates. But when you have got limited funds in your kitty and you’re not (yet) a direct mail expert then even a modest mailing of 1000 or so, isn’t go to pay for your first Roller and yet it’ll take a hefty slice out of your budget. In fact, you’ll be lucky to break even at any point if Royal Mail are still experiencing a 5% shrinkage rate on deliveries as at one stage.

But just as with the internet, this is a sector which has a substantial learning curve attached. You won’t learn writing good copy from illiterate, lower-case postings on a weener business forum. It’ll work and work well but it’s mainly for professionals rather than a home business just starting out.

The other classical area for lead generation is newspaper advertising or similar - school magazines, specialist magazines, etc. Once again, the medium is - or can be - effective but it’s all about budget. To make an impact with this kind of advertising, it has to be done regularly and supported with as much editorial as possible. (The editorial is more important than the advertising). YOU might think you can write ‘killer copy’; but is a readership, mentally swamped by generations of advertising messages going to be sufficiently impressed by your first-time effort to get in touch with you in preference to everyone else - just to explore the possibility of giving you some money? I don’t think so.

If you have got the money in your kitty for a sustained media advertising campaign, then OK but I doubt that you would be trading as a home business and so, reading this. There are LOTS of other ways of lead generation which cost very little and are infinitely more effective.

Back to the List of 72. Print it off, sit down with family and friends again (non-Facebook types) and tick off the lead-generating possibilities which suit you and your home business activity. Budget continues to rule so I don’t imagine you’ll be launching a TV advertising campaign. On the other hand, if you’re looking to do business locally then a few thousand letterbox flyers, hand-delivered by yourself, family and friends might work wonders and cost very little, indeed. (It is no coincidence that leading, household name UK companies continue to favour this method despite everything which is claimed for internet-based marketing; a current business news story for you here.) Even in rural areas, you can easily target a lot of people this way and the only constraint might be, how many flyers can you afford to print?

If you find yourself asking this question then do look at printing your own. Black and white is normally very cheap but if you’re going to start spreading your message to car windscreens and leaving little piles in newsagents, grocers, charity shops, markets, fairs, you can easily be looking at repeat print runs of thousands.

Take a look on eBay for a second-hand workhorse printer. Stick to black and white (or if you want to spend a bit more consider colour by all means but it’s the consumables which will cost you an arm and a leg subsequently) and for a couple of hundred pounds you should be able to pick up a real work-horse laser like a Ricoh Aficio. (As I write there is actually a Ricoh Aficio, as pictured, on eBay with just 11,000 copies on the counter going at £99 with just over 1 day of bidding left!)

These are A4/A3 printers and will normally duplex as well. It’s worth paying the extra for those two features because you will then be able to print double-sided much more quickly and (almost!) eliminate feed problems. In addition heavy duty machines like these operate at a fraction of the cost of desktop inkjets/lasers.

Heavy duty printers have a life cycle of a million plus copies and usually, you should be able to get one which has only done around 100,000 to 150,000 quite easily. In addition, models which are several years old will have consumables and parts readily available on eBay and at very reasonable prices. A bit of patience is all that’s needed and then you should be able to do your advertising printing for next to nothing AND have the capacity to do a bit of printing for your friends AND, affordably add some glossy brochures to your home business portfolio as well! BUT. Time to dip into the war chest again. (What are we up to now?)

Be very careful about buying ANY new printer. For the past few years, printer manufacturers have been making the lion's share of their money from the sale of consumables - and that means a lot more than just ink or toner. A typical modern laser printer will require you to change colour drums, imaging units, transfer belts, fuser units and even waste toner containers at frighteningly regular intervals usually at a cost of hundreds at a time. And, as all modern printer consumables are electronically 'chipped' as well, the customer has absolutely no say whatsoever in the matter once the machine has turned over a predetermined number of times - irrespective of quality, waste and any other technical problems. In addition, the benefit of manufacturer service contracts is highly dubious involving pretty much the same kind of selling scam as extended warranty contracts on most new consumer goods. Finally, we all know about built-in redundancy, don't we? No more than 5 years for an inkjet, I'd say, before a chip cuts in and knocks out the machine, manifesting itself usually, as a major ink leak.

Arguably, THE manufacturer to avoid in the small business sector is Xerox in general and Xerox (France) and Xerox (India) particularly. From spoof websites mocking the company's approach to customer service, through to a lawsuit brought by the SEC in the USA, consumer complaints about Xerox's scams abound. Here are just a few links for you:


And Xerox's latest scam: http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/gadgets-and-tech/news/the-photocopy-that-really-is-a-fake-machines-have-been-altering-numbers-8749076.html

Just a couple of other points about printing and distributing your own.

Firstly, DO NOT print on coloured paper. It's amateurish, it is difficult to read, especially if you are printing on a dark-coloured paper and the usual reaction from your intended client will be to chuck the thing in the bin without even trying to read your advertising message. Black on white, as any graphic designer will tell you, has the most effect or impact and of course, it's also the cheapest colour paper you can buy. (Newspapers haven't been printed black on white for centuries simply by chance.)

Secondly, DO MAKE AN EFFORT to produce a tidy, easy-to-read flyer. There are so many free publication templates available these days that there really isn't any excuse. Do resist the temptation to overcrowd your message; 'white space' is as important as the message itself. And if you want to use a bit of clip-art try to avoid using the same image everyone else has used before you. Then, when the flyers come off the printer, REJECT any which aren't perfect. Don't leave your customer with the impression that you are just a cheap slob.

Thirdly. At the risk of being of being dragged before a court for making inflammatory and discriminatory remarks (as if I ever would), it's common business knowledge that certain demographic groups are better targets for your publicity than others. Council estates are the gnat's nadgers; the tenants are usually hard-working and honest, especially the older generations. 'Desirable' postcode areas on the other hand, are best avoided unless you have a very particular service to offer or you know what you are doing. As the saying goes, you don't 'make it' in Britain by being honest or hard-working. Consequently, general opinion is that well-off neighbourhoods are largely populated by successful crooks - in which case you might struggle to get paid, if at all. (There you go; that'll get me an OBE.) But it's what they say. So once again. Be mindful of who you target; don't just distribute your publicity willy-nilly.

Back now, to prospecting. If it’s a national service you are offering - technical translations, perhaps - then precision lead generation will be the order of the day although this time, you will need to identify potential clients around the country who will need to be addressed by name. Typically, this is where Chambers of Commerce, import/export clubs, technical journals and directories, trade visits and exhibitions come in but all of a sudden, although it might have seemed a good idea at first, reaching out to do this kind of business can unexpectedly become expensive and complicated. Once again that is usually the last thing you want when starting a business from home, however potentially lucrative the business idea might be.

That is one reason - and a very good reason - why the vast majority of businesses are ‘local’. It's interesting to note that even online business activity which can easily be enabled to trade internationally, (i.e. online payments, eBay, etc) often stipulate national sales ONLY and by implication frequently, local sales only. i.e. the insistence that goods are collected and paid for in person, won't take PayPal because the transaction charge is too high, hasn't got an alternative means of taking payment online, vague 'problems' experienced in the past with overseas postage, cost of overseas postage and so on.

In fact, when you come to sitting down at this stage to examine how you are going to go about selling your wares, you may well ask the question, ‘Is this what I should be selling at all?!’ It’s a good question to ask. One of the most important lessons to learn about success in business is that you give the client what he or she thinks they want. Not ‘needs’; or what you think they want. Then, if you haven’t got it right, be prepared to change or adapt your offerings to provide exactly what will sell and then, what you are able to DELIVER.

Don’t forget that one of the main advantages of a home business is that you will be supremely flexible and much more sensitive to your customers’ wishes than a larger company, where there will be an information chain, conceptual and physical constraints. Budget as well, very often. As a home business your overheads should normally be low so for small to medium-sized orders, you should have the upper hand on pricing. That said, you must actually do something, fast, whenever appropriate and not just gaze at A Round Tuit!

At this stage I feel compelled to comment on an email I received from the professional business advisory sector a few weeks ago. The subject was British companies going after new business for which their preferred criteria were:

Customers who are as profitable as possible
Buy high-margin products
Pay full-price without negotiating discounts
Place a small number of large orders rather than a larger number of small orders
Do not cancel or amend orders or otherwise add time and complications to their orders
Pay on time without being chased for payment
Do not require extensive after-sales service

Yeah, and I’m after a mistress who looks like Ursula Undress, has Steven Hawking’s brain, unlimited access to George Soros’s bank account and can drink like a Russian soldier. If ever I have seen an epitaph to the demise of British industry then this is it. I’m normally OK for a laugh but the fact that this came from the official business support sector leaves me wondering what other fantasies they have up their sleeves.

So let’s get this straight. As a home business, your wish list will be pretty much the same as that of any other business. But don’t expect for one minute to get anywhere near these kinds of expectations. If you get paid within 90 days for example, celebrate. It’s better than not getting paid at all which is a daily occupational hazard of running a business. If you get a small order, celebrate again. It’s a lot better than no order at all. And it’s probably from another small or home business like yourself, which needs to breathe in order to grow. They can’t afford a big order even if they wanted to order more. And so on.

As a home business starting out, in practice you will accept what business you are offered and you will be ever so ‘umble and say ‘Thank You’ and later you will go back and say, ‘May I ‘ave some more, please, sir?’

There will be exceptions. For example. If the word at your local Chamber of Commerce or business club (your subs working for you again) is that Firm X are very bad payers or in danger of winding up then you will take note and try to find business elsewhere.

But don’t be under the illusion that as a home business starting out YOU can pick and choose. Not to begin with, you can’t. Get yourself established and THEN . . . (think of it as your own version of loss-leading.)

Finally, just one last thought and it’s very important.

It’s not that unusual to get such a good response from your lead generation, especially when starting out and pinpointing a service which is unique to the area, that you end up with more leads than you can quickly or reasonably handle. This is an extremely undesirable situation because it usually leaves you having to make one of two choices. Either, decline some of the potential business altogether, politely fobbing off the potential customer and risk losing him/her for life. OR, hastily phone and ask around to see if someone else can step in to take up the slack.

Anticipate this kind of situation yourselves with lead generating. Make sure you’ve got the capacity handle the business you are going after. Do the necessary BEFORE you start prospecting.


Part III: Bringing Home The Bacon

(For those of you who have come straight in to Part III, I would suggest that you at least take a quick look at my Preamble. Parts I and II precede.Thank you.)

Enquiry time

Right, you’re under way. Your professional PA has emailed and left a phone message for you with an enquiry. You will usually get these first thing in the morning which is perfect. You’re feeling fresh and sharp. You get onto calling back by no later than mid-morning unless the caller has suggested a specific time. The message had arrived the previous afternoon but although it’s important to get back quickly on enquiries it’s also a good idea to let people get into their offices comfortably first thing in the morning, have a coffee, read their mail and have a look at the newspaper. You will have had a quick look at a newspaper as well, even if only online. For me, getting back to someone just after 10am is favourites.

Just another tiny bit of preparation before touching base with your first phone call. Just register the enquirer’s address in your mind and ask yourself how easily could you make an appointment and by what time of day or during the week. If necessary, quickly check your journey times.

Then, if a time and a place is proposed, you will (should) already know how that fits in with travelling and you will be able to make a decision and give your answer straight away. WITHOUT I hope, some stupid pregnant pause as you pretend to look in your diary to see if you are free that day. For pity’s sake!

If you DON’T do this and the conversation steers quickly towards you accepting an appointment which ends up becoming very difficult for you to get to on time, you will be faced with the embarrassment of calling back a second time to re-arrange the meeting OR, to get to the venue the day before, which will cost you a lot of extra time and money. Either way, it’s the height of amateurism.

Get what information you need to know from the call to give yourself a picture but don’t let the initial conversation drag on. Ensure the enquirer has seen your website, which if so, is where most information is to be had already. (Although it's amazing just how many people don't actually LOOK AT and READ website content; all they tend to see is if it looks pretty or not; whereas just as many websites don't have information where it should be in a manner which is easy to follow and understand; advertising and popups slow down the pages loading and leave your visitors irritated and critical; many websites don't comply with the law. So, your website can be as much a kiss of death as a beneficial tool - if you don't get it right. What's yours like? Have you asked anyone?)

Then, if ‘Yes’ (your website has done the necessary), you will be trying to fill in any missing pieces and if it’s still going well, trying to get an appointment. It’s usually ‘yes’ all the way by the time someone has called. Business-people don’t waste time making phone calls. They are made for a purpose.

If you have some flexibility of choice in arranging your appointment, I for one, have a marked preference for late morning (11-ish); I don’t like travelling by car (too much like a stressful waste of time) so I use the train whenever I can despite the UK’s and France's deteriorating quality of service.

UK rail is also ferociously expensive unless you have a few days’ grace to book over the internet and choose off-peak services, in which case it’s not that bad at all. Really. On the other hand, you may not have the luxury of a few days’ notice to get to a meeting and so you will be paying out some silly money to a train operator and possibly, for a taxi, too. In which case, it’s a good job you have got that war chest, eh?

Finally, the logic behind an appointment at around 11am. It usually gives you ample time to get to the meeting while avoiding the early morning rush hour; about an hour is right for a typical meeting, which takes you nicely up to lunchtime; if on the other hand, you find yourself getting on like a house of fire, then you can spill over into lunchtime if necessary, whereupon you will offer to pick up the tab; (oh, yes); meeting over, you can get back home in a relaxed fashion and once again, before all the 9-5 sheeple are ready to make their return journey; people are generally fresher and more alert in the mornings - discussions proceed more snappily. After lunch, appointments can be delayed or even waylaid by more important matters which have cropped up in the meantime. That can be unsettling as well as playing havoc with your own timetable.

Of course, you can throw all these timings and preferences in the bin once you are contemplating longer journeys and trips of 2/3 days or to other countries. Despite current talk and reports of the future lying in exporting, the average Brit is only likely to go abroad for a one-week vomiting holiday in Torremolinos. Flying is favourites although increasingly unreliable and respectful of the laws of gravity, whereas train travel which should be less disruptive and more productive, is rife with timetable delays, strikes, filthy carriages, standing-only and poor to non-existent communications. Even in France, which until four or five years ago had one of the best rail services in the world, standards have dropped to such an extent that if you are able to complete a trip according to a journey plan made a few weeks earlier, then you will be in luck!

Having escaped the clutches of the UK's rail franchises and the French SNCF though, matters do get far better as you head north, south, and east, all the way to Mongolia and beyond. The worst possible scenario there is that public transport doesn't reach all parts of the Asian continent - in which case you simply fall back on a 30 year-old Lada still running strong which, even in the unlikely event of a breakdown, can be fixed almost immediately with a 2lb hammer. (Pic aside - an unbreakable 4wd Lada for going and working where bloated Hummers and Range Rovers can't and don't go. Ultimate retro-chic and practicality for lifestyle and land-working home businesses. But all that is another story.)

Consequently, come the time you want to do business outside your own country's back yard and a crap internet connection, start worrying. However, within a radius of a couple of hundred of miles of your home business, you should fare better. Which, mind you, is still a lot of potential custom.

Final preparation and the internet again

Once you have the basic details about who wants to see you and why, it seems logical to use the internet to find out more about your potential client. This can be a Damoclean sword.

If you use the internet as well as a bit of insider information (Chamber of Commerce or business club again; maybe Companies House) you are likely to go along to your meeting armed with all that you will need to know to make a tidy impression and to arrive at a balanced decision if the next step looks like a deal. Don’t push your research into your client’s face; just one or two facts which come out discreetly in the conversation will be enough to hint at your thoroughness and professionalism.

However, if you can find out about your client, he can find out about you, too. It is becoming increasingly commonplace for companies to Google personal and company histories on the internet and use those findings to influence their decisions. Just ten years ago, that wouldn’t have happened and if you were a home business recently starting out and you had a VA a couple of years before that, it was possible that with a fair wind, life could have given you a welcome, fresh start. That is no longer the case.

Worse still, the arrival of social networking sites has complicated matters still further. A couple of postings which may have seemed just a laugh at the time or someone’s rant, a pack of lies or not, and all of a sudden, doing business isn’t quite as straightforward as it used to be - especially if you were hoping to get away with the odd white lie or two here, and a stone left unturned, there.

Perhaps fortunately, the future is B.R.I.C. (Brazil, Russia, India, China.) We will all have to learn a new business language; the internet will finally be policed; sensible laws introduced and enforced; security measures applied and constraints will be placed on the abuse of integrity and freedom. For the time being however, there is more than a problem. (I'd be among the first to defend human rights and liberties. That doesn't mean defending human exploitation.)

So, in going to your meeting, it would be prudent to assume that your background has been laid bare and any temptation to pretend you are NOT a home business or that your business experience goes back no more than 40 days, should be avoided. I would be surprised if someone actually had the gall to invite you to come along to a meeting only to throw facts like these in your face. But if in the meantime they have come across pictures of you exposing your arse on Facebook (however appropriate) don’t expect to land a contract as a Public Relations consultant to a member of the Saudi royal family.

Of course, much of this is allied to being a 'new kid on the block'. If you already have a few clients on your books, a decent portfolio and you're a limited company trading from a 'business' address rather than as 'John Hopeful, 27 Primrose Close', then you are very likely to be accepted at face value. But as I emphasised at the beginning, it's all about getting your foot in the door.

(A good home business opportunity here, though. Deleting histories and records held on the internet. I've received a few contacts already from people offering their services in this field and I would expect this to be a good punt for the next few years.)

Getting ready for the meeting; ‘to take’ list.

It may not seem it but I suffer from nerves quite badly before a big event. I keep telling myself that after all these years it’s a nonsense but that doesn’t seem to make any difference. If you are the same as me, I’m sorry but I can’t give you any advice although there are a myriad books on the subject. The best I can ever do is go along and keep my mental fingers crossed.

In the event - 99% of the time - it’s OK on the day. It’s the night before I lose sleep just when I need the exact opposite. So, I get out my clothes; polish my shoes; check my travel tickets are in my top, inside pocket which is where I instinctively hope to find them; (I almost never travel by car; too time-consuming and you can’t work or relax while driving.)

I check the mobile phone to make sure it’s fully charged and that I know how much calling credit is left; (for the purpose of business trips I only use my mobile phone for emergencies such as last-minute changes to plan); make sure I’ve got at least two credit cards with enough money behind them to pay for the cost of another journey just in case I lose my tickets at the last minute; plus enough for a taxi plus a meal for up to three or four people.

I also check I’ve got the equivalent amount in cash. This check and facility is absolutely essential. I and people I have seen, trying to slide under a table to hide their embarrassment when trying to pay for a business lunch with a card which didn’t work - is not a pretty sight. Funny. But certainly not dignified.

Plastic money is pretty tough but things can go wrong, not least of all damage to the magnetic strip or as with some cards, you’ve forgotten to instruct your bank to authorise foreign transactions. I once lost a card, reported it missing for it to be cancelled, found it again and instead of destroying it immediately, absent-mindedly put it back in my wallet. Later, I pulled out the identical replacement card and destroyed that by mistake, instead. You know the rest.

Cash is good. Bullet-proof. (In the pic, a genuine and typical member's 'pile' to take on a business trip; moleskin wallet, bits inside and £200 in cash to the left; small moleskin notepad and pens - Pilot V5 Tech Points; I use a classic, leather Time Manager, myself; then, a ubiquitous, unpretentious but perfectly effective Acer laptop; Olympus Ferrari digital camera. At the back, choice of music if you are taking along a device for making sound; Tony Bennet in this member's case. Good stuff. On the other hand, I just eavesdrop on fellow-passengers' conversations. I learn something every time. Finally, that modern-day technological codpiece, the mobile phone. In this case, an eight-year-old Nokia on a Vodafone Pay As You Go tariff with international roaming, kept in the coat pocket so that it doesn't get forgotten.)

By the way. Don’t try to impress your clients by paying with a ‘gold’, platinum, black or American Express card. Just an ordinary Visa will do. Or cash. You’re NOT supposed to be giving the client the impression that you can afford him, rather than vice versa.

Most important of all, I make sure I have my piece of paper with the meeting venue, client names and contact details. This will usually go in the briefcase although not before I’ve memorised the name and address so that I can quickly hop into a taxi if running late and give instructions to the driver without having to fumble about.

The briefcase will also contain of course, the portfolio/presentation and/or any samples or further promotional or research material. By the way. Try to get a decent briefcase for your meetings. eBay has a wonderful selection of good quality, used leather briefcases and for £20 or even less, you should be able to do the business. This is also one of those 'cases' where you don't want something which is brand, spanking new. You're an experienced businessman, right (?), and your briefcase should give the impression that you've done a lot of meetings.

I try to avoid taking along a computer if I can unless I have a lot of work I could profitably do on the train. However, everyone but everyone, including the captain’s monkey is sprawled out with their laptops and notepads on trains these days and being able to do some work yourself isn’t always practical.

I also take some paper hankies or kitchen roll, an energy bar or a couple of home-made flapjacks and a bottle of still mineral water. Then, if the train breaks down (almost guaranteed if it’s a Eurostar) you should be OK for the 24 hours or so it’ll take for them to get the thing moving again. Some people pack a good book as well but I find I can amuse myself simply by looking at what isn’t happening or once again, listening to what people around me are saying.

Pretty much the same kit bag when travelling by coach, especially along the western half of Britain or anywhere in general, which is allegedly served by Virgin Rail. (Although a recent survey suggests that Virgin Rail is the UK's most improved rail service.)

OK, then. Bottom line. Get everything ready the night before so that come the day of your meeting you can be like Eric Cantona. COOL.

Arriving at the meeting.

Try to get there about 15 minutes early.

If you have chosen to drive, it’s not a good idea to turn up in something which looks and/or is more expensive than your client’s car. He or she may think you don’t need or deserve the business. If you are going to arrive in something which conforms to a British-manufactured average family saloon or estate, then fine. If it’s a Japanese 4wd pickup which only goes off-road when it mounts the kerb - or anything similar normally driven by East European body part smugglers - then park out of sight and take a short walk to your appointment. Seriously. Going to meet someone to discuss business for the first time is a VERY subjective affair, believe me.

Kill the mobile. Turn it off, off, off. If you can leave it in the car, do so. If not, leave it in your coat pocket in the reception area. Nothing is a bigger turn-off to your client than a mobile/smart phone going off half-way through the conversation.

Even if the meeting is largely concluded DO NOT go looking for your latest bit of plastic to see if there are any messages for you. It’s a modern form of social inadequacy or attention-seeking. If you can’t last an hour or so with a customer without looking at a bit of plastic, you don’t belong there in the first place.

Check yourself in a mirror. If you can. Especially if you’ve been eating or it’s a windy day, etc. If you arrive early, you can ask the receptionist if you can use the toilets. That’s the time for a final check.

Meeting time.

Here, we part company. Time to do the business on your own. Now that you have arrived, the job is over half done. Usually, you will get the business simply by avoiding any disasters or making a fool of yourself. If you've never done any selling before then the closest analogy is, I suppose, like going for a job interview.

After that, I am reminded of the advice I once received from Britain’s most acclaimed salesman at the time: “Selling is just about making friends.”

(Shortly afterwards, in a highly mediatised story, this guy was sacked by his company's MD for making more money from sales commissions than he (the MD) was earning in salary. This same MD, who was also credited with popularising that corporate profit-making device politely referred to as 'creative accountacy' and sending thousands of small suppliers and sub-contractors to the wall, then went on to be knighted by Margaret Thatcher's government for 'services to industry'.

Since that time, British industry has either died or been bought for peanuts by furreners. Whereas more recent knighted British industry 'luminaries' face disqualification from holding directorships by getting involved in outright scams.

And so, a classic element of home or any small business survival remains. If you can possibly avoid it, don't do business with just one, major customer. Or a large company. Then again, if the wolf is at the door . . .)

On yer bike, then.

Oh. Almost forgot A posting I saw on a Forum For A Moron recently, has just reminded me.

Read my lips.

In the real world, you do not get brownie points , or contracts, for rubbishing your competition. It might seem like a good idea to a keyboard warrior with a few Carlsberg Specials down their neck, cowering behind a suitably stupid pseudonym trying to talk up their online presence.

In the real business world however, you will need to explain, convincingly, why YOU deserve to get the work and not why someone else, such as an existing supplier, shouldn't.

Don't ever forget that. At any time. It's one of the most unprofessional things you can do.


(This article is an excerpt from the book, 'Home Business Survival' by Len Tondel, Copyright 2011


101 Home & Small Business Marketing Ideas

Alyssa Gregory, About.com Guide

One universal small business goal is to sell the business's products and services. This is usually best accomplished by positioning the business in front of the target audience, and offering something they can't refuse or find elsewhere.

To this end, one of the smartest things a small business owner can do for their business is take the time to develop a small business marketing plan that will set them apart from the competition. A marketing plan clearly outlines how you will reach your ideal customers by effectively implementing your marketing strategy.

There are thousands of ways you can promote your small business. With the right mix of activities, you can identify and focus on the most effective marketing tactics for your small business. Here is a list of 101 small business marketing ideas to get you thinking about all of the different ways you can promote your business.

Do you have an idea of your own not listed here? Add it to the list.

Marketing Planning

1. Update or create a marketing plan for your business.
2. Revisit or start your market research.
3. Conduct a focus group.
4. Write a unique selling proposition (USP).
5. Refine your target audience and niche.
6. Expand your product and service offerings.

Marketing Materials

7. Update your business cards.
8. Make your business card stand out from the rest.
9. Create or update your brochure.
10. Create a digital version of your brochure for your website.
11. Explore a website redesign.
12. Get creative with promotional products and give them away at the next networking event you attend.

In-Person Networking

13. Write an elevator pitch.
14. Register for a conference.
15. Introduce yourself to other local business owners.
16. Plan a local business workshop.
17. Join your local chamber of commerce.
18. Rent a booth at a trade show.

Direct Mail

19. Launch a multi-piece direct mail campaign.
20. Create multiple approaches, and split test your mailings to measure impact.
21. Include a clear and enticing call to action on every direct mail piece.
22. Use tear cards, inserts, props and attention-getting envelopes to make an impact with your mailings.
23. Send past customers free samples and other incentives to regain their business.


24. Advertise on the radio.
25. Advertise in the Yellow Pages.
26. Advertise on a billboard.
27. Use stickers or magnets to advertise on your car.
28. Take out an ad in your local newspaper.
29. Advertise on a local cable TV station.
30. Advertise on Facebook.
31. Advertise on LinkedIn.
32. Buy ad space on a relevant website.
33. Use a sidewalk sign to promote your specials.

Social Media Marketing

34. Get started with social media for business.
35. Create a Facebook page.
36. Get a vanity URL or username for your Facebook page.
37. Create a Twitter account.
38. Reply or retweet someone else on Twitter.
39. Setup a Foursquare account for your business.
40. List your business on Google Places.
41. Start a business blog.
42. Write blog posts on a regular basis.
43. Start social bookmarking your online content.
44. Create a Groupon.

Internet Marketing

45. Start a Google Adwords pay-per-click campaign.
46. Start a Microsoft adCenter pay-per-click campaign.
47. Comment on a blog post.
48. Record a video blog post.
49. Upload a video to YouTube.
50. Check your online directory listings and get listed in desirable directories.
51. Set up Google Analytics on your website and blog.
52. Review and measure your Google Analytics statistics.
53. Register a new domain name for a marketing campaign or a new product or service.
54. Learn more about local search marketing.
55. Track your online reputation.
56. Sign up for the Help a Reporter Out (HARO) email list.

Email Marketing

57. Create an email opt-in on your website or blog.
58. Offer a free download or free gift to make people willing to add their email address to your list.
59. Send regular emails to your list.
60. Start a free monthly email newsletter.
61. Use A/B testing to measure the effectiveness of your email campaigns.
62. Perfect your email signature.
63. Add audio, video and social sharing functionality to your emails.

Contests, Coupons and Incentives

64. Start a contest.
65. Create a coupon.
66. Create a "frequent buyer" rewards program.
67. Start a client appreciation program.
68. Create a customer of the month program.
69. Give away a free sample.
70. Start an affiliate program.

Relationship Building

71. Send out a customer satisfaction survey.
72. Ask for referrals.
73. Make a referral.
74. Help promote or volunteer your time for a charity event.
75. Sponsor a local sports team.
76. Cross-promote your products and services with other local businesses.
77. Join a professional organization.
78. Plan your next holiday promotion.
79. Plan holiday gifts for your best customers.
80. Send birthday cards to your clients.
81. Approach a colleague about a collaboration.
82. Donate branded prizes for local fundraisers.
83. Become a mentor.

Marketing with Content

84. Plan a free teleconference or webinar.
85. Record a podcast.
86. Write a press release.
87. Submit your press release to various distribution channels.
88. Rewrite your sales copy with a storytelling spin.
89. Start writing a book.

Marketing Help

90. Hire a marketing consultant.
91. Hire a public relations professional.
92. Hire a professional copywriter.
93. Hire a search engine marketing firm.
94. Hire an intern to help with daily marketing tasks.
95. Hire a sales coach or salesperson.

Unique Marketing Ideas

96. Get a branded tattoo.
97. Create a business mascot to help promote your brand.
98. Take a controversial stance on a hot industry topic.
99. Pay for wearable advertising.
100. Get a full-body branded paint job done on your company vehicle.
101. Sign up for online business training to revamp, expand and fine tune all of your marketable skills.

There are many more than 101 small business marketing ideas. Do you have an idea not listed here? Add your small business marketing idea to the list.



Top Ten Networking Tips

From the SFEDI Enterprise Network Builders of the Year 2010
Release Date: 3 June 2010
Contact:s: Duncan Cheatle – 079 9057 0393
Andrew Ferguson – 020 7473 5544

Two very different Enterprise Networks have won the first SFEDI* Awards for this category of Business Support for 2010.

The Supper Club, who won the top award, creates connections between million pound businesses. Founder Duncan Cheatle says “85% of our members believe The Supper Club has helped them grow their business, and 40% have found strategic partners through our events.”

www.BreakthroughNetwork.Net, winner of the runner-up award, is an online forum where professionals and enterprises of any size meet, network and answer each other’s questions. Founder Andrew Ferguson says “We have deliberately removed all the clutter which plagues other networking websites; so www.BreakthroughNetwork.Net is simple to use and puts connectivity first.”

Presenting the annual awards to recognise the stars of enterprise support, Tony Robinson, Executive Director/Founder of SFEDI said “With the new government gradually taking shape, there is concern about what small business support policy will look like. SFEDI Award Winners Duncan Cheatle with the Supper Club and Andrew Ferguson with the Breakthrough Network show that in reality most small business owners learn how to succeed, and support each other, in their own brilliant networks. They do it for themselves.  Government agencies and support personnel are not as credible - you learn to survive, thrive and develop far more from problem solving and talking to fellow small business owners. Government should enable rather than meddle in enterprise. They would get far better bang for the business support buck by enabling networks like Breakthrough and The Supper Club to do more and reach more new and existing enterprising people.”

Duncan and Andrew have put their heads together to compile Ten Top Networking Tips. Andrew Ferguson sums it up in one word “Give”. “Put your own agenda to one side,” he says, “and give your full attention to being useful to others ... unconditionally.” Andrew and Duncan both demonstrate this by giving at least half their coaching time free of charge. Duncan Cheatle’s Top Tip is “Focus: time is your most precious asset, so mixing with the right people in the right way is crucial.”

Released by:
Andrew Ferguson Duncan Cheatle
The Breakthrough Centre The Supper Club
29 Adine Road, London E13 8LL 19-20 Dufferin Street, London EC1Y 8PD
t: 020 7473 5544 t: 084 5359 9888
e: Duncan@Supper-Club.Net

* SFEDI originally stood for Small Firms Enterprise Development Initiative. SFEDI describes the skills and know-how required to survive and thrive for those thinking about, preparing for and starting their own business. These 'standards' are used in training and support programmes and all recognised enterprise qualifications in the UK.  SFEDI also sets standards, accredits and recognises best practice for all those supporting prospective and existing small business owners.
Colour photos and digital images available
Andrew and Duncan are available for interview, radio and television.

Duncan and Andrew’s Top Ten Networking Tips
From the SFEDI Enterprise Network Builders of the Year 2010
Duncan Cheatle of The Supper Club and Andrew Ferguson of www.BreakthroughNetwork.Net

Give: Put your own needs to one side and give your full attention to being useful to others ... unconditionally. You are far more likely to make a good impression too.

Focus: time is your most precious asset, so selecting the right people to mix with, and productive methods and places, is crucial.

Visibility: Don’t hide your light. Don’t deprive people of your extraordinary gifts. It’s OK to be seen, and “known, liked, valued and respected” (arch networker Roy Sheppard’s formula for successful networking). Then even more people will seek you out. The best way to benefit from a network is to be generously and visibly helpful in its forum, because it’s not just who you know, it’s who knows, and remembers, you.

Listen: Show you genuinely care by listening and responding intelligently. This takes you into their world. “Working the room”, importuning others with your agenda creates a referral-free zone around you! Listening is an incredibly rare talent.

Commit: Don’t be flaky – follow up when you say you will, and don’t promise what you won’t or can’t deliver promptly. Don’t let your Yes be submerged by your inability to say No. Commitment is memorable.

Facilitate: Prepare some interesting questions, relevant to the group/venue. Be ready to explain succinctly what you do - few will take you seriously if you waffle vaguely, so be really clear what result your business gives people, and also what you’re looking for right now ... just in case they ask.

Etiquette: Don’t be dismissive or rude to anyone. Whether they appear valuable to you or not, it’s wrong, and they may be best friends with your next prospect! If you’re being helped, you make the running ... and the phonecalls; and after you’ve been helped, always ask “ ... and what are you looking for that I might be able to help you find?” A Thank-You wouldn’t go amiss either!

Relevance: You will be judged by the introductions you make, so make sure there is real value to both parties. Only refer people you genuinely believe are ready and able to benefit from each other. Are they at an adequate level of skill/development? Do they have the time?

Congregation: Even though the core principle of networking is to give and facilitate things for others, it does make sense to do your networking where your own niche market congregates. Not least because you need to be able to speak the same language at the same level. This is where you’re most likely to find joint venturers for mutual benefit.

Relationship: To network effectively the main requirement is to be a fully functioning human being with a deep understanding of relationship. Personal development is the main training to undertake.

What have we missed?! What’s your key networking tip?

Andrew Ferguson; Duncan Cheatle
www.BreakthroughNetwork.Net; The Supper Club
t: 020 7473 5544; t: 084 5359 9888
e: Andrew.Ferguson@LifeShift.co.uk e: Duncan@Supper-Club.Net


Home Business Alliance
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Tel: 0871 284 5100 Fax: 0871 284 4999 (Calls to 0871 numbers cost 10p per minute)

Contact/e-mail: info@homebusiness.org.uk

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