Emma Jones is founder and editor of Enterprise Nation (www.enterprisenation.com), the home business website, and has started two businesses herself from home offices in London, Manchester and rural Shropshire. Emma is regularly called upon by the government to speak on the subject of home business and she advises Regional Development Agencies on how to encourage and support homeworking.
To celebrate 'Working 5 to 9' becoming our Book of the Month, we caught up with Emma to find out some home-business truths!
What was the inspiration behind the book?
I noticed an increase in the number of people we were profiling on the site (www.enterprisenation.com) who said they were starting and growing a business, in addition to holding down a day job. I thought this was the very best way to start and grow as it enables you to ease out of employment and into self-employment and it gives time to build confidence and cashflow. I came up with the term 'Working 5 to 9' and decided to write a book that would tell the stories of successful 5 to 9'ers and encourage others to do the same.
Have you always had an ambition to be an author, or are you an entrepreneur at heart?
Rather than an ambition 'to become an author' I had an ambition to produce books that relayed business content in a simple and friendly way and presented the idea of becoming your own boss as accessible and achievable to all.
Having now written 3 books, you could say I have turned from author to entrepreneur as we have formed a new publishing company focused on producing books, kits and digital products for anyone starting and growing a small business. We launch a book ('Go Global') in November and the following month, a start-up kit that will retail at £25 and is packed with all you need to get started. I'm very excited about the breadth of opportunity for this company, Brightword Publishing, and hope we will be in a position to commission many business authors!
Do you think there are advantages of working from home?
For sure! Over 60% of businesses started in the UK are started from a home base. That's because working from home saves on cost (no pricey second office), on time (the joy of a 60 second daily commute) and saves the environment as you're not clogging up roads at peak congestion times.
What is very interesting to see at the moment is how companies are not only starting at home, they are continuing to grow from home. That's because small businesses are growing by outsourcing and sub-contracting as opposed to taking on staff which means you can be a business of one, run from the spare room, and yet be trading with the world and pulling on the expertise of a connected team of many. Technology has enabled this to happen and small business owners are embracing all the opportunity it offers.
What would your one piece of advice be to other would-be entrepreneurs?
Take a first step! Starting a business is not as daunting as some TV programmes would have us believe! You can build a business whilst holding on to the day job and it doesn't cost the earth to get started as marketing tools such as Twitter and Facebook are at our disposal and free of charge. But it all starts with a first step; researching your idea, writing a business plan, making a first sale. With a few more steps and some commitment, you'll soon be your own boss and enjoying all the freedom and flexibility it brings.
Who is your biggest inspiration in the business world?
I have taken inspiration from so many people in the business world! I respect Martha Stewart (in the US) for how she built a major brand, I admire Mark Dixon who started with a hot dog van and now runs global workspace provider, Regus. I learnt from Sinclair Beecham, co-founder of Pret, the importance of patience and perfecting your business model and it was Dave Atherton, formerly of Dabs.com who taught me to focus single-mindedly on one business. These, and others, have all inspired, in different ways and measures.