Monday, September 21, 2009

Enterprise Nation - 1,233 miles, 18 home businesses, 5 clear trends

In this week's column, Emma Jones of Enterprise Nation talks about EN's first UK road trip, starting in Scotland and heading south to meet and film home based businesses in what will become a mini documentary charting the rise in this modern way of homeworking and shedworking.
From Scotland to Shropshire
Packing everything in to a single week meant we were able to get a very quick overview of what’s happening in the home business sector across the UK. This is what we found:
Now is a great time to start – the mood throughout the week was incredibly upbeat. One moment that will stick in the mind is when Patrick Elliott (CEO of Business Link in London) opened an event with a question to the audience of ‘Do you think this is a good time to start a business?’ – a ripple of 200 voices came from behind and it was a resounding ‘yes’ – throughout the week we met people who are starting up whilst holding down the day job and others who have come out of redundancy to realise their business ambitions. We met a wide cross-section of businesses and there was nothing but positive chat from them all.

Technology means trade
All of the businesses we filmed are making the most of technology, whether it be Stuart Mills who is applying the web to the pub world, or Malcolm Gallagher who is communicating his business message through online videos; produced cost-effectively from a home studio. Many of the craft businesses are using sites such as and to sell their products to a national – and international – audience. Technology is clearly broadening the trade and partnering horizons of many a small business.

Freedom & control
We stopped counting the number of times these words were used in interviews. Having started up, home business owners are finding freedom and flexibility in their working lives and are relishing being in control of their creativity, working environment and earnings.

This is a slightly difficult one to put in to words. Every business owner we interviewed is doing something ‘good’ by being in business; whether it be Clare Nicolson who believes in giving work to the people in her neighbourhood, Emma Henderson who sources fair trade fabrics from India or Emma Warren who offers time and business experience to a charity. They would not refer to themselves as ‘ethical entrepreneurs’ as such but these business owners are having an impact in many a varied way.

Growth through outsourcing
The adage of ‘do what you do best and outsource the rest’ is being taken seriously by the home businesses we met. Companies are partnering up and work is being outsourced to professionals. In the case of BodieandFou, Karine Kong outsourced the design and build of her website to an expert she’s yet to meet! Technology tools such as Skype, email and project management software means there’s no need to be in the same place but for others, physical networks are important as a place to meet business partners .. but also just to have a social chat!

It was a crammed and fascinating week that shone a light on what is a bright and vibrant business sector. The documentary will be aired for the first time on Home Enterprise Day (Friday November 20) when home business owners will be travelling to us!
Emma Jones is Founder of Enterprise Nation and author of ‘Spare Room Start Up – how to start a business from home’. The home business roadtrip took place in week commencing September 14 and was sponsored by Orange.

Monday's posts are sponsored by garden2office, the Swedish garden office specialists.Click here for more details.

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