Business Tips

Untitled design (96)Our contributor Heather shares her top 10 reasons to start a home business.

  1. Be the best boss you’ve ever had!
    I’ve experienced working for some great bosses and some not so great bosses in my employed life, however I now have the best boss ever – ME!
  2. You can start immediately
    Most home-based business opportunities offer immediate start-up so you earn an income or commission immediately.  You also have the option to choose whatever business you like, however you have to have belief, honesty and passion for it to be a success.
  3. Low start-up costs
    Direct Sales businesses tend to have very low start-up costs so this is a huge advantage when you are starting up.  Other home-based businesses will also have lower start-up costs, however research should be done on all options before deciding which business to choose.

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Every April the UK Government rolls out new taxation changes – so what do small business owners need to know about for 2015?

Those clever bods over at FreeAgent have produced this infographic to help you grasp the changes.

View the full image at FreeAgent

Untitled designThe tax return deadline of January 31st is fast approaching. If you are a self-employed parent or a parent in the higher income tax bracket then you may need to complete a tax return. Heather Dore, Regional Manager of Easy Accountancy answers some commonly asked questions from her clients about how to complete their returns.

My husband and I have three young boys and we both earn over £50,000 a year, so are classed as higher income parents. As we receive child benefit we are required to complete a tax return. We both earn over £50,000 so do we both need to complete a tax return?

You and your partner are only required to submit one return to HMRC between the two of you. Whoever has the highest income out of you or your partner is the one who is required to complete the tax return.

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Working From HomeWorking from home is a dream shared by many – the thought of that extra time in bed, no road rage, no waiting for the bus – it’s easy to see why it’s a tempting prospect for parents. 

With the growth of the Internet and increasing use of mobile devices it is becoming easier to work from home. However, t’s not always everything it’s cracked up to be – whilst you might at first love the idea of extra time with your family, it can be hard to concentrate and achieve what you need to with children around.

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Becky I'Anson - Business Mum

The direct selling industry has experienced a boost in recent years as many people have turned to it as a great way to enjoy flexible working and boost their income. With 400,000 people currently involved in direct selling in the UK, it is the largest provider of part-time work, bringing £2 billion to the UK economy.

Direct selling is any form of selling outside of a fixed retail environment. Sellers choose a company (which could be anything from Forever Living to Usborne books) and sell their products to their family, friends and networks. They then get paid a percentage of the value of the sales made.

For many mums direct selling offers the perfect way to balance work and family life. It is incredibly flexible and you can work as many hours, when and where you choose, to fit around your own life and commitments. Starting your own business is simple and cheap – usually around £100 for a starter kit.

The Direct Selling Association (DSA) was established in 1965 and is the recognised trade body for direct selling companies in the UK. With a commitment to supporting its member companies and driving the industry further, The Direct Selling Association provides a wealth of opportunities to build your own business.  For more information and how to get involved visit

If you’re thinking about getting starting in direct selling, the DSA has put together its top tips on how to become a successful direct seller.

Although you don’t have to be a natural salesperson to be a direct seller, you do have to be a people person. Expect that not everyone will says yes – you will often hear the word ‘no’, but this does not mean failure.  Think of it as another reason to move onto the next ‘yes’. Your persistence will pay off. People are your greatest asset, so always show respect and be ready to offer your help to whoever needs it.

As people are central to your business, building a network of customers is essential. Direct sellers should always on the lookout for potential customers – whether in the playground or in the pub, you could always be in the company of potential clients. You need to use this to your advantage and have a think about all the chances to network. Be aware that each of your contacts has the potential to extend your network, so ensure you uphold your reputation by being professional at all times.

When you start direct selling you are effectively running your own business, so it’s very much a case of what you put in you get back out, as well as giving you a level of flexibility that standard 9 – 5 jobs often just can’t offer. By showing commitment to your sales, you will reap the business rewards whilst building your networks and reputation.

Pick a DSA member company
When choosing a direct selling company to be a part of, make sure they are listed as a DSA member company. All our member companies sign our code of conduct, and by choosing a DSA member company, direct sellers and their customers can be safe in the knowledge that they are working with a reliable firm. For more information on our member companies please visit

Your direct selling business is what you make it- so make it personal.  Your working pattern can be just a few hours a week or, for some, a full time occupation. 82% of sellers work part time, but it is entirely up to you. Choose the hours that suit you to make your business complement your lifestyle.

Whether your passion lies in cosmetics and beauty, or your home and garden, there is a member company suited to you. Passion, like enthusiasm, is infectious and people love to be around someone who displays commitment and belief in what they do.  Your passion will shine through in your selling and will help your business grow.

– Lynda Mills, Director, the Direct Selling Association

Untitled designMany people don’t realise how isolating working from home can feel. Many spend days only interacting with those they live with and not getting out the house. I always find I’m more productive if I get out regularly and network with others.

Working from home means you don’t get those daily interactions with others that you would if you went out to work- the conversations round the water cooler or over a coffee in the staff room, so you need to find other methods of networking and growing your circles, which at first can seem daunting, especially if your confidence is low.

I’ve been working from home for nearly 4 years now and the year before that was spent on maternity leave after my second child. At that point I lacked confidence and although I was an expert on Cbeebies, anything work related had slipped off my radar completely.

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Untitled designWhen I made the big decision to leave my job and become self-employed I was very nervous about the benefits I was going to miss out on by not being employed any more.

My biggest concern was the lack of social interaction and being part of a team.  With a background in Hotel Management and then Human Resources and Training, I was always part of a big team and I knew this would be the one thing I would miss the most.  I needn’t have worried!

My training business means I meet people but they tend to be individuals that I train over a period of a day or longer and I may never see them again.  However in my Direct Sales role I am part of a big team of Consultants throughout the UK. 

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In the Direct Sales industry Consultants can often worry that January and February are going to be very quiet months as no-one wants to party after the Christmas and New Year festivities and it is always assumed that no-one has any money either. 

So, here’s a question…………… Are Marks & Spencer, Next, John Lewis or Selfridges empty in January?  NO! Do you see people queuing to get into the shops and retail outlets in January or late December? YES!  Amazingly some people even shop online for sale bargains on Christmas Day!  Surely this is proof that a lot of people do have money and are willing to spend it!

January will be whatever you want it to be, you have to truly believe it will be a good month, however you do have to put some work in to achieve this – it won’t just happen on its own.

The Direct Sales company I am with always has a sale on one of their product lines in the New Year so this, combined with a good host bonus programme, helps me to get bookings.  Obviously I don’t know details of other Direct Sales company’s bonus schemes, however this can be a great way of securing bookings. Sell the benefits of booking in the New Year and get the 2014 off to a flying start.  I always think that there is such a build-up of excitement in the planning for Christmas and it is over so quickly that by mid-January people are desperate to go out and do something a bit different!

Why not kick-start your New Year with a ‘home show’ or ‘at-home party’?  You can invite your past hosts, your most loyal customers, highest spending customers and friends and family to your own party.  You can showcase your products from the comfort of your own home and offer incentives for booking their own party on certain dates that you want to fill.

Use social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter effectively to promote yourself and your products.  By posting regularly you can reach a huge number of your fans and their friends without even stepping out the door and with no financial outlay.  It also reminds people who you are even if they’ve not seen you for a while.  If you have your own website your guests and hosts can order your products online – who doesn’t love the simplicity of online shopping?

Host Coaching is probably the single most important aspect of making January a great month.  Personally I don’t take bookings until about the 10th of January but from then on I am pretty much full for the whole month!  Ensure your hosts are booked in, have had confirmations of the date they have booked and then keep in touch with them regularly.  January can be a bad month for cancellations and postponements due to sickness, weather and lack of host coaching!  If you ensure you keep in contact with your hosts they will be much less likely to cancel or postpone.  If your host is concerned about their guests not having any money after Christmas, remind them about all the other big retailers and how busy they are.  If it helps the host and guests and is not detrimental to you in any way, agree to submit party orders at the end of the month once people have been paid.  Send a follow-up email in December detailing the offers that will be available at January parties so the host knows what will be on ‘special’.  Why not incentivise your host to get pre-orders from guests that aren’t able to make the party or family members that live too far away to attend?  When I started in Direct Sales my Team Leader suggested that I send a Happy New Year card to all my January hosts and include some ‘top-tips to a good party’.  I do this every year and I’m sure it has reduced the number of cancellations and postponements that I get because I am building a relationship with the hosts and they can see that I care about them and am already planning their party!  In the New Year I always follow-up with a phone call to the host to plan their party with them and re-iterate the top tips.

If you are able to follow these handy tips you will be able to relax during the festivities and switch-off from work.  Have a great time during the festive season and I hope you get your New Year off to a flying start.  Just remember to stay in regular touch with your hosts and make them your new best friend!

Untitled designIf you run your own business, the school holidays can mean you have a challenge on your hands. Are you ready to face the challenge?

The key to managing the summer holidays is all in the planning. It may sound a bit tedious, but it is important to have a plan of action to ensure that you continue to work consistently (albeit with reduced hours), spend quality time with your children and above all, keep your sanity. Before you start filling your diary with lots of pursuits let’s look at some of the key factors.

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Janet Withell

This weeks business tips are from Hailey Watson who is an AVON cosmetics sales leader and busy mum to three children.

What are your three tips for starting a business?

  1. Treat everyone of your contacts, staff, customers and team members as individuals. Think ‘What can I do for them’ rather than ‘what they can do for you.’
  2. PLAN PLAN PLAN. Never start the day without writing it down the night before!
  3. Set goals and target dates to complete tasks, never just run blind as you will not get anything done.

What are your three tips for running a business around a family?

  1. Time management. Make sure you have separate family time when the computer and phone are off!
  2. Get the kids involved! Teaches them to work for a living, gives them skills for life and a sense of achievement.
  3. Take time out for YOU! When the kids are in bed, turn off the computer, phone one evening a week and have a nice bubble bath and glass wine.

What are your three tips for business social networking?

  1. Don’t keep pushing your business onto people, they will get fed up and it will have the opposite effect. Create useful, interesting and relevant content that will earn you respect from your followers.
  2. Support and actually take an active interest in other business start ups.
  3. Don’t just stick to one social network site, use as many as you can and interact with as many like minded people as you can. Don’t just think of social networking as a way to gain business, use it as a library, learn from people.


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