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Book review: Working 5 to 9

Cover of  by Emma Jones

So, you've decided that you want to start your own business to give yourself more flexibility around the family? You're worried, though, about the risks of ditching a good salary. Well, many people are getting around the problem by combining employed work with self-employed work, clocking back on at home to run their own business when the kids are in bed.

The phenomenon of 'working 5 to 9' has gathered momentum in recent months as technology makes it easier and easier to set up your own home business and people look for extra income in an insecure jobs market or a way out of the rat race.

Emma Jones, founder of home business website Enterprise Nation, knows more than most about the phenomenon, having just written a book on it. Her book, ?Working 5 to 9?, is, she says, for anyone wanting to become their own boss in their own time, but she singles out, among others, new mums. She says working 5 to 9 allows women to ?take an idea and start a venture that can be run in the quiet hours and around school as the children grow?.

The book cites all sorts of statistics showing the tremendous recent growth of such businesses. These include: the fact that internet use peaks between 5pm and 11pm; that Enterprise Nation noted a 9% rise in home businesses being run between 5pm and 9pm from 2008 to 2009 in its Home Business Survey and that a poll by BT Tradespace showed 65% of respondents ran their business at evenings and weekends. She also cites statistics from, which show that between 2008 and 2009 the number of people seeking work they could do from home or in their spare time shot up by 142%. Interest in franchises, in consultancy work, in work such as remote typing and translation is rising fast.

Having outlined the demand for different types of working, Jones describes how you can put that demand into practice. A huge section of the book is given over to case studies of people who work or who began their business by working 5 to 9. Jones knows from experience that one of the main barriers to people setting up their own businesses is not knowing how to go about it or what they could do. She sets out 50 different types of businesses that can be run in your spare time and then provides 60 cases studies of people who work this way, ranging from virtual PAs to lawyer to IT services to online store to network marketeer to rare pig breeder. There is a huge range to choose from and the section is followed by one on home business opportunities. If you are thinking of working this way, it would be hard not to be inspired by one or several of these.

Once you know what you want to do, you need to start on a business plan. Jones details all the steps to becoming a fully fledged home business, from research to setting up your own website, using social networking and even setting up a Youtube channel and getting a virtual office assistant to handle calls when you are not around. There are lots of handy links to help you along the way.

She also talks you through when and how to tell your employer. Even if your contract has a clause which suggests you have to devote your whole time, attention and abilities to the business of your employer, she counsels that it is not a cause for despair. ?Many employment contracts are drafted using standard templates with little consideration to personal circumstance,? she says. ?You know your job better than anyone, so if you don't think your business venture will affect the way you do your job, it probably won't and your employer will recognise this.?

She suggests an informal chat with your boss and being prepared to be flexible and compromise. Point out the benefits ? that running a business will make you more confident and experienced ? and emphasise that it will not affect your ability to do your daytime job.

The book is colourful and easy to read and, if working 5 to 9 is something you are interested in, it provides a step by step guide on how to go about it. It even ends with a tongue in cheek reworking of the famous Dolly Parton number, Working 9 to 5. It begins: ?Sitting at my desk, And doing the same thing, Wearing my suit, waiting for the phone to ring, Every day just doing this all the time. But there is a way To make things better, Where I can choose to work in a sweater ? Working for myself, from 5 to 9.?

Working 5 to 9 by Emma Jones is published by Harriman House, price £12.99.

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