Be Your Own Boss – BBC Series Update

The BBC ‘Be Your Own Boss’ series has now ended and past episodes are no longer available to watch on BBC iPlayer. However, you can view clips from the series and read bios of Richard, his team of mentors and the fortunate participants of the programme here:

You can also read an interview with Richard Reed, which includes some excellent tips and advice here:

My favourite quote from the interview is…..

“An entrepreneur accepts that the world is the way that it is and goes about changing it rather than waiting for someone to make it easy for them.”

However that, in my view, is doing it the hard way. But, as is often the case, to make it easier you just need to change one little thing. In this case I would just change one single word to read as follows…..

“An entrepreneur accepts that the world is the way that it is and goes about exploiting it rather than waiting for someone to make it easy for them.” But then, that’s just my way! You find your own 🙂

If you are ready to start your own business, check out some of the older articles on this website starting here: then work through the ‘Starting Out’ category working from oldest to newest.

Disclaimer: These two articles have been a review of a BBC TV series. Neither nor Attitude Ltd are connected in any way with the BBC or any participants in the Be Your Own Boss TV series. All relevant copyrights are acknowledged.

Be Your Own Boss – BBC Series

I’ve long been a fan of Dragon’s Den, but BBC3’s new series, “Be Your Own Boss” goes much further and a lot deeper into the realities of becoming a new entrepreneur.

Richard Reed, founder of Innocent Drinks, sets out to find Britain’s wannabe entrepreneurs. He’s looking for tomorrow’s potential high flyers to invest in with a million pounds of his own money. Starting out with 500 possibles Richard and his team of fellow entrepreneurs have to narrow these down to just a handful of likely prospects.

During the 6 part series, Richard will select three each week and give them a challenge to prove their worth, before deciding whether to invest in them or not. Some of the businesses are already operating but need funding to grow but others are barely more than an idea.

At the time of writing, the series is two episodes into it’s run. In week one only one of the three succeeds in getting the funding they need but in episode 2, two out of the three get the investment that could make their dream a reality.

This is real ‘hands on’ stuff, not just a pitch like on Dragon’s Den. The perils and pitfalls of business are very apparent, as are the qualities needed by the true entrepreneur if they are to get past the first hurdle. This is not just entertaining but extremely good learning if you want to start your own business.

If you truly want to be your own boss this TV series is a must watch training programme. Although two episodes have already aired, you can still catch up on BBC iPlayer.

Catch up with episode 1 here:

Then go to episode 2 right here:

The series has accompanying information on the series on the BBC website:

Enjoy! But take lots of notes, this will be a very valuable education.

Let me know what you think of the show and any ways you think it has or will help you in your business venture. You can use the comments box below.  Feel free to share this post via Facebook, Twitter, Google + etc.


Disclaimer: This article has been a review of a BBC TV series. Neither nor Attitude Ltd are connected in any way with the BBC or any participants in the Be Your Own Boss TV series. All relevant copyrights are acknowledged.

Choosing a Business Idea When You’re Spoilt For Choice

Do you ever feel as though you have too many business ideas? Do you find yourself going around in circles trying to decide what to do? Are you constantly being distracted by new opportunities but never finish anything (or even get started!)? You are not alone, I’ve been there myself. A question by a reader on my Small Business Crash Course prompted an answer to this problem. The question was aggravated by a lack of availability of start-up finance.

As this is probably of interest to a lot of people and my reply was rather lengthy, I decided to answer it as a blog post here:

One of the biggest problems I have faced over the years is having too many business ideas. The world is so full of opportunities that you can end up jumping from one thing to another and ultimately getting nowhere.

Your second question helps to answer the first, if you cannot get access to start-up capital then you need to narrow down your ideas to those that you can start without capital – at least in the beginning.

Generally speaking offline, real world, businesses that can be started without capital tend to be service businesses that you can perform yourself and that don’t need business premises or selling other people’s products on an agency basis. That’s how I got started.

Online it is much easier as you can set up a website with very little money, around $10 US for a domain name and around $5 or $6 a month. If you are really short of money it is possible to start with a free website from or, until you have made enough to set up your own website. You can then use your website to sell other people’s products online as an affiliate – similar to the agency business above.

Now, down to the choice of business idea from your list. If you don’t have a list and your ideas are just floating around in your head, then write all your ideas down in a list before you forget them. Next look at each idea using the following criteria:

1. Is there a market for what you are proposing to sell? Is it big enough to sustain a growing business?

2. Are there any other people selling the same thing and making money?    If you don’t get a YES to both 1 and 2 then put the idea aside for now.

3. If you get YES to both 1 and 2, then consider if this is really something you want to do. In the beginning you will be spending long hours and days setting it up and if you don’t enjoy it, you will not be able to keep going. A question I have often asked myself during my career is “do I want to be doing this for the rest of my life?”

4. Think about the kind of people who will be your customers. Are they the kind of people you will want to spend your working life dealing with?

5. If 3 and 4 are both YES, ask yourself, “Can I really be of help to these people? What can I do for them to make their lives better? Can I do it better than someone else who is already in this business?” The only way to build a successful business is to create happy customers who will recommend you to others.

6. If you are still getting YES’s, Can you produce the product or provide the service at a price that people are willing to pay and that will cover all your costs and give you a good profit? Can you sell enough to ensure that profit will give you the personal income you want and leave some over to reinvest in growing your business?

7. Can you easily and inexpensively communicate the benefits of what you are selling to your prospective customers and easily deliver the product or service to them?

If you have got this far with all YES’s, then you are already ahead of 90+% of people with business ideas! You will have narrowed down your list of ideas considerably, possibly even down to one.

If you still need more deciding factors then carry on with the following:

8. Once the business has been successfully launched, can you give most of the work to other people to do, either by outsourcing or employing people full or part time? If so you will be able to grow your business as large as the market will take. If not you will be limited by your own time and energy. Some people are quite happy to keep the business small enough to do everything themselves but others need to grow.

9. Is it the kind of business you will be able to get someone else to manage? If so, you can then look at other business ideas, if you have that kind of ambition.

10. Does the business have the potential to be sold as a going concern to someone else in the future or is it too dependent on you? If so you can sell and retire or start another business.

ABOVE ALL, once you have decided which business to start, give it your full and undivided attention until it is running successfully or it fails completely. Let nothing distract you from building your business and do not be tempted by other ideas not related to this business until it is capable of running almost by itself.

This is not a complete blueprint on how to run a business, but it should help you to choose the best idea from those you already have.

I hope it helps


Options for office space renting

One of the great things about working for yourself is that, for most of us at least, you can do it from home! As good as this is, as your business grows and you take on staff, then it’s likely you’ll need more space – even if it’s not all the time, having your own office can help you look more professional and help separate work from your home life.

Buying an office is expensive and risky, plus potentially limiting. If you outgrow it then you have to sell before you move on, an increasingly difficult task with the currently unstable property market. Renting can therefore provide a great solution, offering flexibility in terms of price, office type and length of lease.

If you need a whole building, part of one, a room or even just a desk, there are options to suit every situation and budget.

For truly hassle free leasing, serviced offices provide a great solution: Fully equipped and managed, individual offices or floors are rented out. You don’t have to buy computers, desks, phones and cleaning and maintenance will all be taken care of – some even have a reception service, perfect for giving the right impression to customers. This is a great choice for a business that needs to look flash without the cash – the costs of setting this up from scratch would be prohibitive to most small companies.

Whether serviced or not, different spaces tend to attract different business types and by getting yourself in with the ‘right’ pool of companies, this could greatly enhance your own offering. Creative environments can be inspiring and if you work alongside a complementary business you may be able to help each other out and go for jobs collectively. If you know a number of businesses in the same position as you, why not pool together and share a building.

With risk low on many people’s agenda due to the economic difficulties the country is in, renting a workspace, short or long term, is a great option for any fledgling business. If you expand and everything goes well, you can move on to somewhere bigger and better, but if things don’t work out in your favour, then it’s easy to leave without incurring too much financial hardship.

About the author: Jessica Lowe writes on behalf of Office Genie, the UK’s first proper online marketplace for desk space and shared office space

Small Business Crash Course

Small Business Course

This is way overdue but I’ve intended for some time to produce a series of online training courses for new businesses or even those just thinking of starting a business. With two businesses of my own to run and a growing number of consulting clients finding the time has been a little tricky. Now I’m semi-retired and cutting back on my full day business training workshops the time has come to put my courses on auto-pilot.

First up is a simple six day small business crash course via email, one lesson a day. This is intended for those just considering starting their own business or anyone struggling to get started. It answers the key questions about “how do I get started?” Things like:

  • The ins and outs of starting your own small business along with some of the basic steps you will need to take to get up and running.
  • Some of the different options available for financing your small business, so that you can choose the one that is right for you.
  • An overview of how to create a professional business plan for your small business.
  • Some of the basic information that you must know when it comes to paying taxes for your small business.
  • Some of the common mistakes that small business owners make, so you can avoid making them yourself.
  • The importance of having an online presence and developing an internet marketing strategy for your small business

There will be more short courses to come in future but in the meantime find out more about my Small Business Crash Course. You can enroll for the course from that page.

Oh! I forgot to mention, this one’s FREE!

If you take the course, come back here and let me know how you get on. I would really appreciate your feedback on the course. You can also let me know what else you would like to know about starting and running your own business.

Use the comments form below to give me your feedback, or just click the comments link.

GOING SOLO – Basic Principles

Up to this point we have looked at various ways into business or self employment. Before going into more detail about the best kinds of income/wealth generating activity, I want to cover some basic principles of business success.

Business is simple, you only need three things…..

1. First & foremost, you need a whole bunch of people who have a common want that needs filling. The more of them there are and the more “hungry” they are, the better.

2. You need a product or service that fills that want in the best & simplest way possible at a price they are willing to pay. This  means providing the most complete solution that you can, NOT as little as you can get away with for the money!!

3. You need a way to let these people know what you’ve got and how it so perfectly fits their needs. You also need to be able to convince them that they can trust you and that you are not going to disappoint them. Unfortunately they, like you, have been disappointed in the past so they may appear a little sceptical!

You would be surprised how many people break one or more, sometimes all, of the above requirements!

From a business management point of view ther are a few basic fundamentals that you need to be aware of – they are, however, pretty obvious.

1. You have to operate your business legally, i.e. in accordance with the laws of the country you will be
operating in.

2. You have to operate within certain financial constraints – namely, there has to be enough money coming in to pay for supplies and operating bills, pay the taxes and have enough left over for you to live on! Otherwise your business will be in debt (possibly as well as yourself) which will result in you becoming a SLAVE to your own business in order to try to get out of debt! Not conducive to FREEDOM!

3. You have to ensure your customers are happy otherwise they will tell each other, they will tell the media, they will tell the consumer watchdog groups and they will tell the business controlling authorities! They may even SUE!The result will be that you rapidly go OUT of business.

You will also have to deal with things called competitors! These are other people trying to sell the same kind of things to the same people as you are. If they are not there to begin with, they will turn up as soon as you show signs of being successful! Don’t worry about them – unless they’ve read these articles 🙂 – they will probably make all the classic mistakes so will not be a threat. The worst thing you can do is take your eye away from giving your customers the best service you can and focus on your competitors instead. Keep the customer happy, and let the competitors look after themselves. The person who pleases the customer most, wins!

Now I know this sounds pretty demanding, especially the “keep the customer happy” bit. So how do you ensure you can follow the best principles of business whilst still following the best principles of freedom? Easy, combine business with pleasure! In other words, before you look for the “hungry crowd”, seek out your own hunger. If you go into a business which involves doing what you really want to spend your time doing, then you have found your “passion”. That passion will become contagious and will attract others with the same interests or needs – that is the hungry crowd you are looking for. They will become your best customers, possibly even friends and no competitor who lacks the passion will get a look in.

Business should never be a chore, business should never be tying, you should never feel the same way about your business that you may have felt about a job you hated or even just disliked a little! Business should be F-U-N! For both you and you customers!

Have a fantastic week!

FREEDOM – Review

We’ve covered quite a lot of ground in the last five weeks, so I thought it would be a good idea to review the plan so far! It is very easy to get carried away with the latest information or ideas and forget to carry on with previous learning.

By now you should have a clear idea of how you and other members of your family want to live your lives. You will have set your goals both material and lifestyle and be practising the exercises I gave you for achieving those goals. If you have not written down your goals as taught in part 4, please do so now. I cannot stress strongly enough the importance of clearly defined goals. Similarly, if you are not carrying out the goal “visioning” exercise every day, do so from now on – it works!

Onto your debt elimination. Have you carried out the debt listing exercise in part 1 and the debt prioritising exercise in part 2? If so, you should by now have made a start on clearing your highest interest debt. If not, start now – the later you leave it, the longer it will take and the harder it will get! A few of you will have….
ADDED to your debts in the last few weeks (I know this because I have years of experience of human nature). Please, STOP adding to your debts, debt will keep you and your family in SLAVERY for years, and that is precisely the opposite of FREEDOM!

If you really and truly want to take control of your own life you will have taken note of and acted on the earlier lessons. So take stock now of your progress, it will be slow at first – like turning around a huge oil tanker, but once you start to gain momentum, your progress will get faster and faster.

Last week I gave you some freedom principles which have been life changing for me and many other people. I hope you were able to take them to heart without too much difficulty. They may well have gone against years of “programming” but give them “house-room” and they will repay your acceptance many times over.

Here is one more – you may or may not have heard it before, but it is fundamental to the philospher’s often repeated question….
WHY AM I HERE? You are in this life to become your own highest vision of yourself, or at least get as close to it as you can in the time you have on this planet. You are NOT here to be what someone else wants you to be! You are NOT here to conform with the requirements of the State, without question! You are NOT here to be the slave of another or to make someone else rich! You are simply here to achieve your own highest ambition!

But be careful, this does not give you free reign to walk over other people or manipulate others in any way. Remember, they are all here for the same reason you are, even if they don’t know it yet! Be kind to others on the path – they may even reciprocate! We can help others without becoming slaves to them.

FREEDOM 4 – Principles

So far I have introduced you to some of the freedom principles that I live by. Together we have looked at examining your lifestyle requirements and those of your family. I have given you a method to get out of debt that I know works, because I have personally used it! I have also shown you how I and most successful people set and achieve goals.

Now I want to introduce you to some very controversial freedom principles! Are you ready? Do you have an open mind? You may have heard some of these before, the message is beginning to get out there – so here goes……

  • You have the RIGHT to be free and to choose your own destiny! But your choices should not deny the same rights to others
  • You may CHOOSE to serve others, and this can be very satisfying, but no one should force, or coerce or manipulate you into doing so!
  • You were NOT born into modern slavery, even though it might sometimes feel like it!
  • You have the RIGHT to be happy, it is our natural state (left to our own devices!) If what you are doing does not make you happy, or worse still makes you unhappy – CHANGE what you are doing!
  • Kill the BIG LIE …. Money DOES Grow On Trees!! In both the literal and metaphorical sense. Literally, apples, oranges, olives, almonds, walnuts….. i.e. CASH CROPS grow on trees. But, more important is the metaphor. When, as a child, you were told that money does not grow on trees, you were in effect being told that there is a limited supply of money. In fact the supply is NOT limited! For those that can change their belief and learn how to make money, there is no limit. There may, however, be limits to what you are prepared to do to make money – but that is your choice and comes from your freedom to decide.
  • But also understand that money isn’t everything, it is simply a means of exchange. Do not sell your soul for it. Having the right attitude to money is what is important. Money is NOT the master, YOU are!
  • Freedom brings responsibilty. You must live with the outcomes of your choices. Make them wisely.

I shall leave you to ponder these concepts and make room for them in your life. But we are not finished yet, I shall introduce many more before we are finished here!

GOING SOLO – The Perfect Business

During the last few weeks I’ve indicated some of the benefits & pitfalls of going solo. I’ve also detailed the key differences between self-employment and running your own business. You have also seen a variety of ways to do both.

This week I want to give you the benefit of my experience working in a number of businesses. If freedom is your goal, be aware that not all businesses will give you that. Some businesses can be very tying or demanding.

First of all, what are you going to sell. There are three types of product:

products you sell once, in other words every sale is to a new customer.

Products with repeat sales, customers keep coming back for more.

Products that are part of a family or range, you can keep on selling new products to existing customers.

The second is preferable to the first, but the third is the easiest, once you have a satisfied customer, they automatically keep buying. The first is the hardest as you are having to constantly find new customers and persuade them to buy.

Services likewise fall into 3 different categories just as the products above. However, services also have a different set of categories in addition to the above.

Services you provide personally.

Services provided by employees or subcontractors.

Services that can be delivered automatically.

The above can also be applied to products but in a slightly different way.

You can produce the products yourself.

You can employ other people to make them.

Or you can buy them in for resale.

As you can see, there are a large variety of options here, as well as permutations of two or more of the above.

Producing products or services yourself is very tying. Most people who take this route do not achieve the kind of freedom they seek.

Employing other people can also be very tying, they have to be supervised and managed and someone has to bring in the sales to keep them all busy. There is also a lot of bureaucracy and cost involved in employing staff. This is especially so in UK and Europe, though not quite so bad in USA.

Without going into too much further detail on all these different options, let me give you a few pointers to what I think are the ideal “freedom” businesses.

The ideal product should not need your personal input to produce it on a continuous basis. You may have to create the idea at first, but if you become a production line, you cannot be free.

The perfect product should be deliverable to the customer on “autopilot”, in other words you should not have to concern yourself about delivery.

Similarly, orders should be processed via a simple procedure that carries on automatically once you have set it up.

Payment should ideally be made directly into your bank account, processing cash and cheques is very time consuming.

The perfect product should require very little customer service and the little that is needed should be able to be carried out remotely, e.g by email, telephone etc.

The perfect business should be “portable”, in other words you should be able to run it from anywhere.

Your ideal business should require very little personal input from you other than setting it up in the first place, over- seeing the operation and devising and implementing new ideas for marketing the product.

In a perfect world, your business should not require employees, by which I mean staff directly employed by you. You will need the input of other people, but they should be suppliers, agents, affiliates etc. You may also need professional advisors for the tricky legal & financial stuff or to help with developing the business.

Both Mail Order and Internet businesses can be set up to meet these requirements. This is why I highlighted them in an earlier article!

Next time I shall talk about the basic needs of any business and what separates the successes from the failures.

Until then, have a great week!

FREEDOM 4 – Goals Continued

I’m wrote this article on a flight to Alicante in Spain. I had just just left England in the rain & was looking forward to spending some time in the sun. Meanwhile, my business could pretty much run itself while I was away.

Why am I telling you this? Well, to show you what is possible once you achieve the freedom mindset and lifestyle.

Last week I left you thinking about your goals. This week I shall continue with the theme. Setting the right goals and programmimg yourself for success is fundamental to achieving the freedom you seek.

Setting Goals

“Most people, whether in business or not, are too busy earning a living to make any real money!” So said a guy who became a major influence on my business life at an early stage. His name was Roy and he was what I often refer to affectionately as a `hustler’ – by which I mean someone who makes things happen by sheer force of will and personality. Roy introduced me to a number of `success’ concepts but the most important of all was the concept of setting goals.

I have since come across the same philosophy from a large number of people, all of whom are successful at what they do. They all say the same thing – “You can have anything you want if you know exactly what it is, set it as a specific objective and, most importantly, allow yourself to have it!”. So, it seams that you need to start out knowing what you want and set goals to achieve it.

Over the years I have examined the ways in which these people set their goals and found a remarkably common approach. I have also refined this approach to ensure that goal conflicts don’t occur.

“Hang on! What’s a goal conflict?” I hear you ask. Well, goal conflicts occur when individual goals are pursued in isolation without reference to or co-ordination with other goals. For example, a particular business goal may involve working long hours for a while or travelling away from home. At the same time you have a personal goal to spend more time playing golf, whilst a family goal may be to spend more time with the kids! Something has to give …. hence goal conflict, one goal gets in the way of others. Simple really, but so often overlooked.

So how do you get it right? First of all it is important to recognise exactly what a goal or objective is. Most people are too vague and specify aims rather than objectives. For instance an aim might be to get rich – but how do you define rich? In this case a specific objective might be – “By the end of 2005 I shall be earning ÂŁ100,000 per year and have ÂŁ250,000 invested.” I hope you see the difference.

A goal must be tangible, measurable, achievable and have a time scale for completion and it must be described in detail. Another example – “I want a new car” is not a goal, it is a wish and, as far as I have been able to ascertain, to get your wish you need either a genie or a fairy godmother – neither seem to be in particularly good supply!

On the other hand – “On 1 August this year I shall take full ownership of a brand new Lexus 2000 automatic in metallic red with grey trim.” – is pretty specific.


Try this exercise. Take a sheet of paper and draw a vertical line down the centre. On the left side write the heading Personal Goals and on the right side put the heading Business Goals. At the very top in the centre write the heading Immediate Objectives.

List as many immediate personal goals as you can think of on the left and do the same for business goals on the right. Personal goals are to do with achieving the life-style you want. Business goals are directed at the way you want your business or career to develop e.g. To increase market share to 40% or double turnover or increase profits by 25% or maybe to employ an effective manager to give you more time for other things.

Later you can do the same for medium and long term goals, say for one year and five years ahead.

Next make sure that there is no conflict between personal and business goals, or between goals on the same list, in fact business goals should ideally support the personal goals, after all, what are you in business for?

Now take three personal goals and two business ones, five in all, and think about them in more detail as in the car example above. Then write them out in a similar way to the car example, in the first person future tense. Make sure that each goal is described in full detail, that you state a date by which or on which the goal will be achieved and that you state that you will achieve it. Write them clearly in large print in priority order on a separate, clean sheet of paper. Do not show this list to anyone other than someone who is working with you towards your goals and don’t talk about it. The act of writing down your goals in this way sets in place the plan for their achievement.

Work Your Goals

Every morning read your list out aloud to yourself then close your eyes and picture in your mind the achievement of the goal. Imagine the feeling of driving the car, banking the business takings, relaxing on the sun-drenched beach or whatever your goal entails. Then put the list away and go about your daily business with confidence. What you have just done is to program your subconscious mind to act as an auto pilot to help you achieve your goals. Operating on auto pilot is what the subconscious does best, after all it does a pretty good job of keeping us alive in an increasingly hostile environment.

It is important that having so programmed your subconscious that you now let it get on with the job without hindrance from the conscious mind. That means not actively struggling to make things happen. All things take time, but with this method they usually take less time than by applying conscious force. You will find that ideas for fulfilling your objectives will simply come to you. When they do, act on them at once and you will find yourself moving inexorably towards the kind of life you want.

As each goal is achieved place a tick next to it on the list and say “thank you”. Replace that goal with a new one and write out a fresh list, then continue the process.

How does it work? The truth is I don’t actually know. Many people have tried to give an explanation, either scientific or metaphysical, but we know too little about how the mind (or the universe) works! All I know is that whenever I use this system it gets results and it also works the same way for many other people. Frankly, as long as it does that’s all that matters to me. I don’t need to know how a computer works to use one and I don’t need to know how a car engine works to be able to drive! I’ll leave the PhDs to work out how while I just enjoy the result.

Don’t be sceptical, give it a try for yourself. If it works for you just think how it could change your life! If it doesn’t, what have you lost?

Until next time

best wishes