With a staggering 3.6 million sole traders or solopreneurs hard at work in the UK today, I realised there was a high number among my own friends and colleagues.
Many of us operate from home with one in 10 UK homes ‘housing’ a business and these 2.95 million home-based companies contribute an almighty £243 billion to the British economy*.
We’re a force to be reckoned with and many big businesses rely on our services whilst there are a vast amount of other solopreneurs, from dressmakers to hairdressers, who deliver essential personal services to keep our lives on track.
Here’s my roll call of highly professional solopreneurs (with two partnerships thrown in for good measure). If you need a barber, social media mogul, tutor or a counsellor, give me a shout and I will put you in touch! In no particular order:-
Dawn Bird – having worked for herself when her three children were younger, my next door neighbour Dawn returned to the stability of PAYE for several years when redundancy late last year made her rethink her working life. She hit the ground running from the start of this year with Dawn Bird’s Bridal Alternations – she makes would-be-brides look their best on their big day as well as providing a host of accessories. Find her on Facebook.
Suzanne Hamilton – my best friend from secondary school, Sue is in the process of establishing her counselling business. With a vast amount of experience working for the prison service and with vulnerable people, Sue has also volunteered for the Samaritans. Sue holds Level 4 Diploma in the Theory and Practice of Counselling and is a registered member of the British Association for Counselling Psychotherapy (BACP), Find her blogging at www.buckscounselling.wordpress.com
Sara Lee & Donna White – two of my oldest and, of course, dearest friends operate a domestic and office cleaning service, essential for the rest of us who are so busy at work we don’t have time to do the ironing. These latter day Ms Mops can be contacted via Facebook or I can put you in touch!
Linda Fasoranti – we met whilst studying for postgrads in journalism and our two sons have practically grown up together, Linda now offers home tutoring in north London but will soon be relocating to Chesham and Amersham. Her speciality is English to GCSE and 11+.
Sarah Bryan – having known Sarah for far too many years, we have also taken advantage of her services when my young son struggled following a spate of bullying incidents, another counsellor and also registered with BACP, Sarah specialises in teenagers. She tends to work with the local authority and direct with secondary schools but also takes on private work. If you have a teenager whose angst is getting them down and you think they could benefit from specialist counselling, I can put you in contact.
Jennie Shaw – my ice-skating pal gave up the commute to the capital when the newest member of their family came along and now runs Sew Made for You (find her on Facebook) providing a dressmaking and alternation service as well as home décor making and alternations. She turns her talents to practically everything from creating fabulous and sophisticated evening gowns to lining curtains.
Lorna Webley – another communications expert, Lorna and I worked at the same PR company and her West Indian cooking has filled our bellies many-a-time. Her culinary skills aside, Lorna specialises in internal comms for large corporations but also fulfils contracts for smaller companies and agencies. Email firstname.lastname@example.org
Mel Blanksby – social media and PR champion for all you solopreneurs, I met Mel when I did some work for one of her clients. She runs Funny Onion Communications (find her business on Facebook) and provides social media guidance and services including one-to-one tutorials for small business owners who are trying to make their mark.
Shear Madness & Dawn Baldwin – and now we come onto a few partnerships, Shear Madness is a barbers in Naphill, Bucks, set up by two friends Mandy Dearden and my ex-sister-in-law Lynn Nicholls, they share their premises with hairdresser Dawn Baldwin, who also does my hair (must book an appointment!). The madcap duo have just celebrated three years in business and a visit to their retro style shop is worth it just for décor! What’s great about these guys is that they have thrown themselves into their local community and always have some kind of fundraising going on, you can often find them in fancy dress – any excuse – Red Nose Day, Children in Need…Follow their antics on Facebook or at http://shear-madness.webs.com/
Cloud Ten – Simon & Faye Bennett – I worked with Simon at H.R. Owen Plc and his decision to give up the 9-however-long-it-takes to go it alone, well with his wife, graphic designer Faye, is something most salaried people dream of doing. The pair sold up in the South East and moved to the country with their three young children and now run their own design and marketing agency. In business since the end of last year, Cloud Ten has already secured some impressive account wins – find them at http://www.cloudtengroup.co.uk
Annie Hodgson – the youngest of my solopreneurs, Annie, who skates with my daughters at Slough, aged just 16, has set herself up as Miss Annie Blooms just three-quarters of the way through her floristry course. She makes flower arrangements for all occasions including artificial flowers for the synchro teams when they skate at competitions; take a look at her work on her Facebook page.
And then there was one – don’t forget about me for all your copywriting, blogging and marketing requirements.
*Source: Huffington Post, Emma L Jones, founder of online small business community Enterprise Nation and co-founder of national enterprise campaign StartUp Britain