Profit up for home businesses by staycation spending
Emma Jones
emmaljones

Home businesses from a range of sectors have reported an increase in turnover and profit as holidaymakers choose the UK as their destination of choice. With the staycation trend set to continue, businesses are preparing to maintain new customers and ensure the sunny times of increased turnover continue.

Results of higher turnover for home businesses came from an Enterprise Nation poll, supported by Business Link. Over 70% of the 230 respondents said their turnover had increased on account of more people holidaying in the UK. The majority (57.1%) also saw an increase in profit, with one in four reporting gains of up to 50%.

Home businesses are benefiting from a staycation trend that looks set to keep on running. According to YouGov* 54% of people plan to take their main holiday at home in 2010, more than double the 26% who said they were doing so this summer. With staycationing set to be more than a one-year wonder, home businesses are preparing for the new opportunities this presents.

Alison Vaughan is considering a new colour in her line of Muksaks; her own invention and a product that allows dog-owners to carry dog waste safely and securely. “With the increase in people holidaying in the UK and taking pets with them, I’ve seen orders rise this summer” says Alison “I'm working on plans for new colours in the range so as well as serving a practical purpose, the Muksak can also be a holidaying fashion item!"

Business Link advises other ways to attract new staycationing customers through incentives and promotions in the form of loyalty cards and competitions, and offering discounts as an effective tool in keeping customer coming back.

Patrick Elliott, Chief Executive of Business Link in London, said:

“Entrepreneurs can take themselves to the next level, setting themselves apart from their competitors by developing tactics to retain new customers. Keeping in touch through e-shots and using creative ways to interact with customers by making the most of social networking tools such as Twitter will all help in making the most of what is a new and growing customer base.”

Businesses are taking note. Over half the home businesses polled are planning on improving their marketing strategies (44%) and 38% said they will be customising their products or services.

The general message seems to be, let’s make hay whilst the sun still shines!

Emma Jones is Founder of Enterprise Nation and author of ‘Spare Room Start Up – how to start a business from home’

*YouGov poll carried out for The Sunday Times, August 2009
 


How to start a health and beauty business
Emma Jones
emmaljones

According to retail experts, the health & beauty sector is in rude health; thriving, they say. So if you’re wondering which sectors present good options for a new business start-up, this could be the sector for you. Emma Jones offers facts & figures and some business ideas you might like to try.

A healthy prognosis

Researchers at retail consultancy, Verdict, have published a report saying the health and beauty sector is set to grow by 2.7% this year. It’s already worth £16.3bn to the UK economy so the figures are impressive. The report sets out a couple of reasons as to why the sector is in such good shape, including people’s increasing concern with health and wellbeing and a growing market in male-grooming.

But not only does this sector offer economic opportunity, it also offers happiness. That’s according to business owner Nathalie Page who runs a make-up school from her home and says: “Beauty therapists are rated as the happiest workers in the UK scoring a massive 9/10 according to a city & guilds happiness index” Wow. Being in the beauty business brings health, wealth and happiness! Nathalie goes on “The beauty industry is a great business to be in - suitable for those wishing to retrain either after redundancy or children.”

So let’s look at the options and ideas you can start.

Your options

  • Go freelance – become a make-up artist, reflexology professional or fitness instructor and offer lessons/receive clients in your own home or travel to clients homes/offices. If you set up in London, check out http://www.returntoglory.co.uk as a site that helps with promotion and business development.
  • Create products – unhappy about the products they were finding on the high street Yaa Adjei-Bohyen and Sarah Brown set out addressing this by creating their own products and business. Yaa sells organic, herbal and natural alternative skincare, beauty and hair products and is branching out by launching an own-label product that’s been made in Ghana by local artisans and based on a formula used in West Africa for centuries, made without chemicals or preservatives. Sarah Brown has a similar story; launching her business, Pai Skincare, to fill a gap in the market for a chemical-free skincare product. As she says “I started making my own chemical-free creams. Friends started sampling (and loving) them and it all led from there.”
  • Start a School! - Follow Nathalie Page’s example and start a make-up school from your home. Nathalie’s business is buzzing as people sign up to learn from this professionally qualified lady who specialises in high definition for film, TV and photographic shoots.
     

Whichever way you decide to go, start taking steps now whilst this sector thrives!

Emma Jones is Founder of Enterprise Nation, the home business website, and author of ‘Spare Room Start Up – how to start a business from home’

 

 

 


 


5 Awards you can enter right now
Emma Jones
emmaljones

If you’re having a quiet August month, why not use the time to enter an Award. A whole crop have just been announced with deadline dates spreading over the next couple of months. Emma Jones profiles five Awards and suggests it’s worth entering to win prizes, credibility and, highly likely, new customers!

BT Essence of the Entrepreneur Awards

In all the years it has been running, I’ve loved this Award as the prize is such a memorable and useful one; a once in a business lifetime opportunity to have your photo taken by top photographer, Rankin. (If you have a spare 5 mins, it’s well worth having a look at the gallery of past winners)

The Award looks for ‘inspirational British companies who are using technology to drive their business forward.’ Twenty winners will be chosen by a panel of judges and one will be awarded with the title of Outstanding Entrepreneur of the Year and the prize of a £10,000 business grant from BT. The judges will also be awarding the titles of Best Male, Best Female, Best Young Entrepreneur as well as the Most Original Business Concept.

Deadline date for entries is 31 August.
Award site www.essenceoftheentrepreneur.co.uk

Shell LiveWIRE Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award

This one will appeal if you’re aged 16-30 and in your first 18 months of trading. The prizes are good:

  • A £10,000 cash prize for the business
  • Significant publicity and media coverage coordinated by a top award winning PR agency
  • External recognition and credibility for your business
  • Highlighted profile through the Shell LiveWIRE website

Previous winners include successful entrepreneurs such as James Murray-Wells from GlassesDirect.co.uk, Stewart Graham from Gael Force Group, Lucy Cohen from Mazuma Money and James Watt from BrewDog.

Deadline for entries is 11th September .

Award site www.shell-livewire.org/news/award2009

The Good Web Guide Website of the Year Award

Could yours be the 2009 Website of the Year? The winner will receive plenty of prizes, including:

  • £1,000 to spend on your website plus an advertising campaign on thegoodwebguide.co.uk during 2010, worth £500. 
  • A full SEO audit and follow up consultation with SEOptimise, worth £750
  • Professionally taken portraits of the website founder(s) and/or team worth £350, by award-winning photographer Dave Watts

Websites will be judged on five criteria including design, content, interactivity and ease of use.

Deadline for entries is Wednesday 7th October 

Award site: http://www.thegoodwebguide.co.uk/websiteoftheyear

PRECIOUS Awards

The PRECIOUS Awards are annual awards for inspirational and entrepreneurial women of colour. The awards are designed to encourage and inspire other women to launch their own business.

This year’s Awards line-up includes nine categories such as Ethical Entrepreneur of the Year and Young Entrepreneur of the Year. Winners will be announced at a ceremony hosted by Award sponsors, Pearson, on 16th November.

Deadline for entries is 31st August.

Award site http://www.preciousawards.com

The International Garden Photographer of the Year

If you’re a photographer, this one is for you! Open to all photographers, The International Garden Photographer of the Year calls for single or groups of images across seven different categories, including Wildlife in the Garden; Garden Views and People in the Garden.

100 finalists will be professionally exhibited at Kew Gardens in London, for the summertime of 2010. One photographer will scoop the grand prize of £5,000, a runner-up will receive the same in cash and vouchers, and category winners will each win £700, as well as top photography kit.

Award site: http://www.igpoty.com/

For Home Business

The line-up list would not be complete without mention of our own Home Business Awards! They will be open in September with submission date being end of October and winners announced on Home Enterprise Day, Friday 20th November. To be the first to know when the Awards are launched, you just have to register to receive our e-news.

And good luck in writing your winning entries!

Emma Jones is Founder of Enterprise Nation, the home business website, and author of ‘Spare Room Start Up – how to start a business from home’

 

 
 


I need a brochure website – where do I go?
Emma Jones
emmaljones

Having asked a question in the Enterprise Nation forum on the best package to create a brochure website, Steven and Zoe from Cosy Cottage received a mixed response. Some suggested off the shelf packages - others warned against - and advised the business couple to turn to professional designers. Emma Jones looks at the pros and cons and offers links to the packages on offer.  

Kick-start question

This was the question that started a chain of responses:

“We are currently setting up our home business and sourcing products to sell via a website. We will be selling home accessories, gifts and seasonal products.

We have had some quotes for websites of which are out of our price range, we want the website to act as a brochure for our products then to sell using Paypal or something similar.
Does anybody know of or has used a product we can buy to create our own website to get a professional finish.

Many Thanks,
Steven and Zoe”

In response

The responses started well. Mike from Mike’s Computers was the first on hand to help and did so by suggesting that Steven and Zoe check out www.oscommerce.com

So far, so good.

Friend of the forum, Emily Coltman was next to step in but with a warning. ‘Beware of template websites’ she wrote ‘they have a nasty habit of looking like they came out of a box and can spoil the individuality of your business.’

Point well made.

At this point, Steven and Zoe may have started to wonder which way to turn. So let’s try to offer some clarity.

Box-set versus Pro-designer

In the 20 odd responses to Steven and Zoe’s original question, it was about 50/50 in terms of who suggested a package versus professional designer. The main points were:

  • Buying a website package means having to build the site yourself. This can take technical know-how and pressure to keep up to date with changing technologies so your site stays up to date
  • Turning to a professional designer will cost you more but think about the time saved and the fact you’re outsourcing what could be a key element of your business to an expert.
     

Package options

What also became clear is there are a number of packages on the market. If you do decide on the DIY route, here are the ones mentioned:

Oscommerce - an Open Source online shop e-commerce solution that allows store owners to setup, run, and maintain online stores with minimum effort and no costs or fees.
 

Wordpress - with an ecommerce plugin. Comes complete with a tutorial on Youtube on how to set up your store in less than 5 minutes.    
 

Cube cart – e-commerce shopping cart used by >1 million store owners.  
 

UK2.net - uses wizards to set up your site and ‘for a starter website, it's been pretty good’
 

Shopify.com - a hosted system (you don't need your own hosting for the website although you will for email) that can link in a number of payment options (PayPal etc.) and the admin section of the site allows you to easily manage all your orders.
 

Trading Eye – a highly featured ecommerce package which costs in the region of £350 + VAT (a one off cost) which comes with a simple template design.
 

So, there you have it! Plenty of e-commerce packages on the market. My only question now is which one will Steve and Zoe choose? I’ll ask them and cover it in a future column!

Emma Jones is Founder of Enterprise Nation, the home business website, and author of ‘Spare Room Start Up – how to start a business from home’ 
 

 

 

 


Let’s Celebrate!
Emma Jones
emmaljones

Home Enterprise Day is happening on Friday 20th November and Enterprise Nation members are making plans to celebrate. Emma Jones hopes you’ll join in!

The Day marks the first national celebration of home business. It’s being held as part of Global Entrepreneurship Week and the aim is to encourage more people to start a business from home and support existing home businesses to grow. There are a number of ways you can get involved:

  • Attend the Enterprise Nation Conference – we’re hosting a national conference on the Day with a top line-up of speakers who will inform and inspire. Speakers like Doug Richard (former Dragon & CEO, School for Startups), Louise Campbell (founder, Myehive.com) and, from the world of media Lisa Sykes (Features Editor, Country Living), Jenny Culshaw (Producer, Working Lunch) and Jimmy Leach (head of Digital, The Independent) The event is being held in London and on the day we’ll be launching our 2009 Home Business Report and announcing winners of the 2009 Home Business Awards. Plenty of reasons to come along!

  • Join us on a roadtrip – in the build-up to Home Enterprise Day, we’re going on a roadtrip! Starting in Scotland and travelling south, I’ll be interviewing people in their working homes, talking to policy makers and hosting home business meet-ups every night, at each stop-off point. The end result of the week will be a documentary looking at the rise of home business in the UK. This is where we’ll be – please come out and say hello!

- Monday 14th September  -Scotland
- Tuesday15th September – North East (Newcastle) 
- Wednesday 16th September – London
- Thursday 17th September – South West (Bristol & surrounds)
- Friday 18th September – West Midlands (Herefordshire & Shropshire) 
 

  • Enter the Home Business Awards – the Awards will be open in early September with winners announced at the Enterprise Nation Conference on Friday 20th November. We’ll have the same categories this year as last which are:

- Home Business of the Year
- Home Business Couple of the Year
- Young Home Business of the Year (under the age of 30)
- Home Office of the Year

Entry is free and you’re in with a chance of winning plenty of profile and prizes.

  • Run your own event – if you’d like to celebrate Home Enterprise Day but unable to join us for the conference in London, why not host your own event. We’ve prepared a basic sheet for anyone looking for tips on how to spend the day.

Whatever you decide to do, and wherever you’ll be, I look forward to celebrating the UK’s first ever Home Enterprise Day with you!

Emma Jones is Founder of Enterprise Nation, the home business website, and author of ‘Spare Room Start Up – how to start a business from home’

 


Great ladies and their homes
Emma Jones
emmaljones

People of all ages and backgrounds are starting and growing businesses from home. But of late I’ve got to thinking about a few great ladies who have chosen this way of working. For them, home represents the heart of family life and a busy commercial hub.

The Lady Laura

It all started when I read an article about the great and late Laura Ashley. The story was how her house, Rhydoldog, is to be given to the National Trust and opened to the public. In the piece, Ashley’s daughter Jane was quoted:

“The fact that the business was built in this house over decades is what makes it special”

The piece went on:

“Although Ashley’s designs seemed to have deep rural roots, the business was actually started in her kitchen in Pimlico, London, where she created printed Victorian-style headscarves and napkins while working as a secretary. The family home served as an office and studio, as well as a canvas for her designs.”

This smart lady started her business from home by ‘working 5 to 9’ and went on to build an empire that spanned continents.

Catwalk Confidential

In a second feature (Sunday Times, 21st June 2009) entitled ‘Catwalk Confidential’ we hear about Sarah Doukas, founder of Storm Modelling Agency, with a story that goes like this:

“Her house, nestling in a row of Victorian terraces in Battersea, is a slice of fashion history. It was here, two decades ago, that Doukas founded Storm, the agency that has gone on to represent names such as Elle Macpherson, Carla Bruni, Sophie Dahl and, of course, Kate Moss.

Doukas ran the agency with two friends from the house, driving round in her car all day, scouting for fresh talent. She often brought her ‘finds’ back there. “We didn’t even have a proper phone system, and would have to run up and down the stairs shouting to each other to come on the line. It was quite mad, but so exciting to start something new.”

There are many following in the footsteps of Ashley and Doukas.

Heather Gorringe has turned the family farm in Herefordshire in to HQ for the highly successful Wiggly Wigglers business. The podcast recorded from her ‘wiggly sofa’ beats Chris Evans in the podcast charts and she sells to thousands of customers worldwide.

From country to city, Simone Brummelhuis is the Founder of TheNextWomen.com; a site and resource dedicated to women in technology and once a month the kitchen table in Simone’s Notting Hill home becomes a dining place for tech luminaries.

These stories are a collection and but a reflection of what can be achieved with vision and from your own home. May there be more great ladies to come! 

Emma Jones is Founder of Enterprise Nation and author of ‘Spare Room Start Up – how to start a business from home’

 


 


Make way for e-business
Emma Jones
emmaljones


Online spending is growing rapidly in the UK. E-commerce in 2009 will be worth over £20bn and, experts say, by 2013, online spending will make up for 10% of total retail sales. If you have a product to sell, you’re in a good position, but how to attract customers to buy? Emma Jones offers five recommendations.
 

1. Make offers

Offer to write content and guest posts for blogs and sites where you know your customers are hanging out. Offer discounts to member groups and communities and offer links to other important sites, in exchange for them linking back to you. The more inbound and outbound links, the higher you’ll appear in the search results.

2. Make some noise

Why not carry out a poll on your site using www.surveymonkey.com and use the results as the basis for a press release. Another tactic that will have you mentioned in the media is celebrity endorsement. This is what Lyndsey Young has done with her product, Count On It, www.count-on-it.co.uk which has received glowing testimonials from the likes of Amanda Holden and Janey Lee Grace, to profitable effect.  

3. Make the most of social media

Have as many sites driving traffic to yours as possible. And this is possible by making the most of social media and creating communities on Facebook and Twitter. These applications can now be integrated so you only need to update once and your news/product offers can be communicated to your entire network, with links back to your site. A number of online businesses we profile have their own site as well as a presence on a trading platform such as eBay, BT Tradespace or, for the arts and crafts sector sites such at Etsy, Folksy and MyEhive. Review sites such as www.thegoodwebguide.co.uk are also useful for bringing attention to your online store. 

4. Make friends with your customers so they keep coming back

Have your existing customers return by keeping in touch with them and connecting customers to each other. Again, this is where cost-effective technology tools play their part; why not introduce an e-newsletter to your site using a service such as www.mailchimp.com or add a community feature such as that available from www.webjam.com -  you can go as far as inviting customers to meet each other ‘virtually’ face-to-face by adopting www.tinychat.com

5. Make yourself known to this site 

Contact the site you are reading this on and ask if they’ll profile your story! It’s great to have your company featured in the printed press but if your site is promoted online (with a link) then potential customers are only one click away.

Emma Jones is Founder of Enterprise Nation and author of ‘Spare Room Start Up – how to start a business from home’

This feature appears as part of Episode 3 of Enterprise Nation TV 

 
 


Five steps to making a sale
Emma Jones
emmaljones

Without a sale we’re not in business and ongoing sales will spur the business to grow. Emma Jones offers five steps on how to make a sale and keep the cash flowing.

Step 1: Prepare

Research supply and demand ie spend time looking at what the market wants and how you can supply this in a way that will set you apart from the crowd. Before making a first approach to the potential client, carry out a search so you’re happy you have the right person, their correct name, and possibly a news item highlighting their demand eg a first note may be ‘Dear Andrew, having seen you quoted in a recent article in ABC press, I understand you are looking to move to new office premises. I am writing to introduce you to my interiors company ….’

Step 2: Present

Present the client proposition in a professional manner. This applies whether it be sending a first email (as above), distributing flyers or making a call to a prospect. Present the benefits of buying you and your product/service. How will it make the client’s life easier/who else has bought/what does it cost/who can they call if interested. These are all useful points to cover in a first approach.

Step 3: Persist

There’s a delicate line between persistence and becoming a pest! Saying that, unless your potential customer has an immediate need for what you offer on the day on which you make the approach, then it’s likely you’ll present yourself and then have to spend a bit of time following up. Submit the proposal, follow-up with a delicate prompt a week later and, if still no response, keep in regular contact with friendly emails and calls along the lines of ‘Hi, just like to keep you updated on what’s happening here .. would love to do business with you when you’re ready..’ 

Step 4: Perform

You’ve won the gig! It’s time to deliver on all the goodness sold and promises made. Perform to a high level so reality meets expectation. Along the way, check the new client is happy with the service they’re receiving.

Step 5: Promote

Sales means testimonials and this leads to credibility. A growing roster of quality clients will give others the confidence to trade with you. Promote new sales and client wins; through a press release, via testimonials on the site, or social media such as Twitter. 

Taking these steps can be eased by using software such as Salesforce.com which keeps track of sales leads and the business development pipeline. Or, do what I do, which is to use an excel spreadsheet and a handwritten list that’s regularly updated and always carried with me!

Emma Jones is Founder of Enterprise Nation and author of ‘Spare Room Start Up – how to start a business from home’

Enterprise Nation is racing to follow every home business on Twitter by Home Enterprise Day on Friday 20th November at www.twitter.com/e_nation

 


 


Is business the secret to a long life?
Emma Jones
emmaljones

Many studies are carried out on the number of people starting businesses and the success of those ventures but few researchers have investigated whether business is the secret to a long and healthy life. Emma Jones offers a few examples that point to a connection.

Celebrating a centenary

It was two recent insertions in the Obituaries column that got me thinking about this idea of business leading to a long life. The insertions marked the passing away of two great businessmen; Daniel Carasso, founder of Danone, the world's leading yoghurt maker, and Wall Street veteran Albert Hamilton Gordon who rebuilt investment banking firm Kidder Peabody after the crash. Mr Carsso was 103. Al Hamilton Gordon was 107.

What I’m suggesting is that their business was very much responsible for keeping them going until a ripe old age. It gave a reason to get up each morning, with both men still very much involved in the running of the business until literally the day they died.

Saying that, when questioned at the age of 103, Al Hamilton Gordon said:

“My longevity I attribute to, number one, excessive exercise!”

The feature reports:

‘On business trips to Los Angeles, he would carry his own bags -- from the airport to downtown, walking all 18 miles. At 82, he ran the London Marathon -- and finished in a little more than six hours.’ 

The young kid on the block 

Looking almost youthful in comparison, and still very much alive, Gerald Ronson was recently profiled and praised for his stamina and ongoing business success: 

“The 70 year old has no plans to moderate his workload, which still consists of six and a half days a week, more than 12 hours a day, and with regular travel across the nine countries in his £1.5bn development programme’

In his own words, Ronson said:

“I have more energy at 70 than two 35 year olds. I have no intention of slowing down or retiring. I don’t do what I do for the money. I do it because I enjoy it.”

And I guess, at the end of the day, this is the crux. It’s doing something you enjoy that gives the energy to stay alive. That, plus a little exercise on the side!

Emma Jones is Founder of Enterprise Nation and author of Spare Room Start Up – how to start a business from home’

 


Four steps to the perfect home office
Emma Jones
emmaljones

Working from home gives you the opportunity to set up an office that perfectly suits you and your business. Emma Jones offers her top four tips on creating the right environment.
 

  1. Make some space – you’ll work much better if you have dedicated office space. That way, you can work without distraction, and close the door at the end of the working day. This space could be the spare room, the attic or even the garden shed. Working at the end of the garden path is becoming increasingly popular and the garden office industry is booming on the back of it. Wherever you choose, make sure it has plenty of natural light and decorate it with soft tones of blues and greens as these colours will make a home office, and you, work particularly well.
  2. Furnish - Once you’ve identified the space, whether inside or outside the house, it’s time to furnish it and the two most important pieces of furniture are those you’ll spend most time at - your chair and desk.Buy a chair that is designed for computer use and try it out. Sitting awkwardly for any length of time will put your body under stress and make you work less efficiently, so make sure your chair is fully adjustable. Ideally, your feet should be flat on the floor and your back straight. Getting this right will make working from home so much more comfortable.Invest in a good, sturdy desk that offers you sufficient working space and can also accommodate your computer, monitor, keyboard and mouse. The top of your monitor should be at eye level and the monitor itself about an arm’s length away.Scale furniture to the size of the room to avoid any sense of claustrophobia and keep furnishings an inch or two away from the wall.
  3. Cut out the clutter – it’s difficult to work effectively amidst chaos, so try to keep your workspace free of clutter. If necessary, invest in some good storage but always buy boxes with lids and make sure you label them well. If you have a lot of boxes or files it can be distracting so consider buying a screen or a box seat for visitors to hide them from view
  4. Final touches - to make your home office complete, consider adding a plant to help reduce any feelings of isolation, or a vision board to remind you of your business goals and priorities each time you enter and leave the room. And a decent sound system to provide some background music or something to dance to when celebrating a new deal!

Emma Jones is Founder of Enterprise Nation and author of ‘Spare Room Start Up – how to start a business from home’

Enterprise Nation is racing to follow every home business on Twitter by Home Enterprise Day on Friday 20th November at www.twitter.com/e_nation 

 


 


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