November 4, 2015 by Antonia Cummings

How To Grow A Small Business

Hi Antonia here again,

As a small business owner, I have found one of the biggest conundrums to be trying to find the right size for my business. Yes, I want to get my business growing (to earn more money), but I don’t want to be so big that I have to start employing staff.

A Difficult Question

business growsAnd, why is this such a difficult question for the entrepreneur to answer?

Personally, I think it’s that most people of this nature are simply drawn by the need to survive and prosper under their own steam. Out of all the business owners I talk to, I hear many and varied reasons why people strike out on their own.

Some of the most popular include:-

  • I just had this idea and had to run with it
  • I couldn’t work for the boss any more
  • I can do it better than my previous employers
  • The boss / my employer were doing it wrong
  • I wanted to live by my own efforts

These are all totally valid reasons for starting your own business. But, having got started and a successful business (to some degree) underway, just how far do you go to grow it?

How Big To Grow?

Some will want to grow as big and as fast as they can, but for many their business is a lifestyle choice. All they want is to support their life at a reasonable and comfortable level.


David Hardisty – Business Growth Expert

Small business growth expert David Hardisty has looked at and worked with many start ups, small local businesses and entrepreneurs. Here we look at some fo the things he does to assess how and where to grow such businesses.

“The first thing I do”, he says, “is try and get “inside” them. Understand their psyche, their raison d’etre if you like. Why did they do this in the first place and then, where do they want to go”.

“You see, most people know they want more, but they simply cannot quantify those “feelings” of wanting more into something tangible. So, my job is to talk to these people and try and find out what makes them tick, and then to truly understand exactly why they did what they did and exactly where they see the end goal”.

Understanding Your Business Goals

“If I had a thousand pounds for every time I take someone to a place they never realised they wanted to go, I could retire”, he gives a broad grin.

“Getting to that point can be painful, but it’s worth it. It’s only once a small business owner understands where they want to take their business that you can put a plan in place”.

I guess it’s a bit like how do you know you’ve got there if you don’t know where you’re going. I think I learned that as an MLM marketer back in the mid 1980s!

So who do you help out?

“Most people I meet are the entrepeneurial types who are overworked, stressed and trying to do everything themselves. They have ended up coming away from the core skillset in order to provide that for their customers and the whole thing has ended up getting out of control”.

Getting It All In Order

“Basically I help them get things back in order”.

So, what practical help do you offer?

“It depends on what they need, I guess. Yes, I know a bit of a trite answer – sorry”.

“But anything from selling skills, to sales processes. Market identification to marketing strategies, both digital as well as traditional. But, two of the really key areas are time management and business processes. So many of these Guys are just into what they do and have no idea how to run a business”.

“It becomes almost a psychological process for people like this”

Yes, I was like that to start with.

“Once I have taught them how to run a business they can be more efficient and the business growth they are looking for comes naturally”.

Government can help as well (as well they should)!

If they do want serious growth then I help build growth strategies that include a longer term hiring and expansion path. This can, of course, include the financing option. I have also helped other businesses grow by franchising the operation. That is a very popular choice for business growth”.

David Hardisty Ltd is a business growth consultancy in Horsham West Sussex. You can find their wesbite at

This video is interesting as well.


August 4, 2015 by Antonia Cummings

Do What You Love – Make Money

Peter and Julie Maxted run Pets, Homes and Gardens and Pet Sitting Franchise Business. Here we look at some insights into their world and how and why they got started…helping people to start a business that coincides with their passion for domestic animals.

Love pets? How we turned our passions into a regular payday

It’s becoming more and more common these days for people to ditch unfulfilling 9 to 5 jobs and focus on what makes them happy. There are plenty of books, seminars and courses that show you how to make your dreams come true.

However, what they don’t give you is a support network – and that’s the difference between earning a few quid now and again or establishing a successful business.

The ‘find your passion’ business model isn’t an easy one to sustain, so how did we establish ours – and continue to grow?

Back to the beginning: why pets?

Even as owners ourselves, we’ve been pleasantly surprised at how important pets are to people. Research figures put around 50% of the UK population as pet owners, and pet sitting services are on the rise.

The associated costs are considered part of the holiday budget; pet insurer PetPlan’s research revealed that a quarter of pet owners factored their furry, feathered or scaly loved ones into their holiday plans.

Pet owners are happy to pay for quality services, and peace of mind is priceless. Both of those things together can be hard to find, however, and good pet carers even more so.

We saw this and realised there was a market; after 13 years of trading we saw that PHG could become a byword for caring, professional pet care services across the UK.

How franchising works for you

You get to focus on running your business without the stress and guesswork, plus you can hop onto a trusted and established brand. There’s still hard work involved, such as keeping up with regulations and legislation, plus the day-to-day running of your business – but the heavy lifting of building a brand has already been done.

How to make it work

You can be as flexible as you like. Our franchisees turn over between £15,000 to £70,000 a year, which isn’t a bad return on investment for less than £2,000. Whether you scale the business up or down, be prepared to deliver exceptional service as standard.

A franchisee doesn’t need to be an Apprentice-style power entrepreneur either; a car, computer and basic IT skills are the basic requirements. We’ll teach you the rest, such as marketing and advertising skills.

A business in a box: the gift that keeps on giving

There are lots of people who would love to do what we do, but face a few obstacles. Most of the reservations we come across from new franchisees, like this, are fear-based: lack of business expertise to support their ambitions, worrying that being their own boss will be harder than their current day job. All barriers to starting a pet business that we can breal down for you.

Taking on a pet sitting franchise is more reassuring than starting from scratch; it means you get a successful template for running a business, and plenty of guidance.

Click HERE For More Information About Becoming a PHG Franchisee.

And…here’s a video from one happy customer!

July 21, 2015 by Antonia Cummings

Unexpected Birth Delivers A New Business

Birth and beyond: what to expect when your baby is unexpected – and how it created Dinki Dreams

Having a premature baby is a complete shock – there’s no doubt about that. Ask Ngaire Cokerill!

Your dreams of cradling your new baby take a back seat to willing your child to survive; you have to put your trust in others to help him or her do just that. It’s an emotionally taxing experience.

The last thing you’re thinking about is trawling online for baby clothes the right size!

However, when it comes to babies 4lbs and under, they’re much needed. Regular newborn clothes swamp premature babies.

Our experience by Ngaire

During those ten days my son Clarke was in the Special Baby Unit, I didn’t have a great deal of room to think about anything outside of his progress and needs – but that’s actually how Dinki Dreams came into being.

I saw other parents in the same situation, and wondered how I could make things easier for them. I was surprised at what I learned.

Basic things to know about premature babies

Their skin is super sensitive. So only the softest, purest natural cotton will do, and that’s our fabric of choice. It’s breathable and light, but keeps baby warm when they need it the most.
They lose a lot of heat from their heads. That’s why we designed a cape with a hood, and a hat that wouldn’t slip off.

Handling your ‘preemie’ can be nerve-wracking, but it doesn’t have to be hard. Lifting a fragile baby out of the incubator for a cuddle or feed can be fiddly. Dinki Dreams clothing lets you get close enough to the bed without pulling the attachments, and not worry about clothing items slipping about.

Size matters at this important stage. The skin of a 2lb baby (the smallest size we cater for) is so delicate that legged or sleeved clothing would prove uncomfortable. That’s why we have a tiny vest available for the littlest babies.

What I discovered in the SBCU – and how it shaped Dinki Dreams

Dealing with all the IV and PICC tubes CAN be easy and less nerve-wracking. Among the tiny baby clothes we initially bought for Clarke, we noticed there was little thought given to how a parent or nurse would negotiate all the attachments while trying to care for a tiny, delicate little baby.

So I thought: what about making it possible to get the baby’s limbs in and out of his baby suit without detaching the tubes? That’s where the Dinki Suit comes in, with its practical poppers along the arms and legs.

Proactive clothes

Be proactive – it could make a difference. It’s amazing how much Dinki Dreams’ clothing made the nurses’ jobs easier. They loved the Dinki Suit because it freed up their hands, even though (unlike nervous parents) they knew their way around all the wires and tubes. Also, giving them our ideas made us feel useful and less helpless at a time when everything seemed out of control.

Design and quality matter, and are good for the soul. You’re only human – you still want your baby to look cute in their gorgeous little clothes, even throughout this difficult experience. That’s why we have a top French baby clothing designer on board.

Although formed in the SBCU, Dinki Dreams clothes take your baby beyond the hospital, being comfy enough to use at home. The Cosy Bag was especially useful for venturing out and about, settling into life with our gorgeous little bundle.

Shop our most popular items:
preemie_clothes prem_baby_cape premature_baby_clothesThe Cosy Bag

Dinki Cape

Crossover Suit




Here’s a video you may find useful as well:-

Eco Friendly heating

April 16, 2015 by Antonia Cummings

How To Get A New Boiler And Stay Eco-Friendly

Hi, Antonia here,

hfb-logo-newToday I want to look at a business model that has been a huge success in Canada and is now being brought to the U.K, by Hassle Free Boilers.

HFB are part of the Ecovision Group who are dedicated to providing “green energy” to the wider U.K domestic energy market. But the business model they are using to deliver this is quite unique.

A New Boiler Is A Big Expense

If you buy a new boiler in Great Britain you are in for a sizeable bill. Add to that installation costs and you have a cost that equates to a pretty good second hand car. You then have a service contract and the actual energy costs to add on top.

A recent survey of U.K homes suggested that the average age of gas central heating systems and installed boilers is between 7 and 8 years old. There have been considerable advances in boiler technology during that time. If we use the car analogy again, not many people drive around in 8 year old cars!

For a start fuel efficiency and emmissions are not good. So, by getting a new car, you can cut emmissions and save on fuel.

The same is true for installing a new boiler.

Energy Efficient

Again, the average boiler is classed as Grade D / Grade E. That means energy efficiency is pretty poor. Hassle Free install new eco-friendly boilers from three top manufacturers:-

  • Vaillant
  • Worcester Bosch
  • Ideal

These are withoout doubt the most advanced energy efficient boiler manufacturers in the current market.

Any boiler installed, be it a combi, heat only or system boiler, will be energy efficient Grade A rated. That means they are 45-50% more efficient than a Grade E boiler. Clearly that translates into huge savings on your energy bill. It also means less emmissions so your home is more enviromentally friendly into the bargain.

An Attractive Deal

But, what makes the Hassle Free deal so attractive?

It’s a valid question.

The deal is this. Hassle Free will do a survey with you and check your home to see which boiler is the most efficient for your central heating and water heating system. They will then install the boiler, do a full systems check, install a magnaclean filter and do a complete systems drain and refill.

It’s a professional job to make sure your system is running at peak efficiency.

Expensive, right?

Well, actually not necessarily. Because of their huge buying power, HFB have negotiated keen supplier deals with all of the manufacturers, savings that are passed on to you the consumer.

Of course you can pay for yur boiler up front, but, you can also transfer that cost across the lifetime of the boiler and make an all inclusive service and payment contract. All this for as little as £36/month. That can be as little at £19/month if you pay for te boiler up front.

A Great Way To Save

This is far cheaper than most other offerings in the U.K market.

However, that is not all. Again, because of the economies of scale at play, HFB have also managed to negotiate a spot energy deal to bring you cheaper gas as well. Overall this means huge savings for you across your energy costs. Plus, as I mentioned, you instantly become and “eco-friendly” home. This is what I think makes this such a very good deal.

Effectively it’s like getting a new free boiler!

You can see what they have to say about their new boiler deals by clicking this link. Or visit the website at

They also do some great free public service videos like this one, look them up on YouTube as well. I hope you find this useful. I’m back with more very soon.

How To Get Business Ideas


April 3, 2015 by Antonia Cummings

3 Methods On How You Can Get A Business Idea

business-unusualHave you considered of having your very own business? If you do, then you need to come up with a business idea first before anything else. How are you going to get such idea? All you have to do is to follow through one out of the three methods mentioned below:

Method 1 Find A Need

This is what most businesses are based. The founder of the business saw that there is a need, then they have created something out of it to satisfy and address that need. When people’s need has been satisfied that’s already a sure recipe for success. So, what you can do is be observant. See for yourself what could be a need that you can address through a service or product.

Example of this sort of business – click here.

Or, you can ask yourself is there something I need for myself. Are there any people out there who do share the same need as I do? This is where you start researching, asking people around, and come up with conclusion that indeed there is a need. Later on, you come up with a business idea how you are going to address that need with the use of a service or a product. Be sure there is no other company out there who have addressed such need. In this way, you become the very first one who addresses such need, find a solution for it, and eventually people will come knocking at you. Before you know it you are earning millions.

Method 2 Look At The Trend

business-growthAnother method of coming up a business idea is for you to look at the trend. Check out what is the latest trend today. If you find a trend, ask yourself how long will this trend last? This is where you need to do a thorough research about it. See what the experts have to say as to the longevity of such trend. When you already know you then come up with a business idea. What product or service you can introduce to the market in line with the specific trend.

There is one thing you need to remember, you are coming up with a business idea base on trend. You need to ready yourself as to what the future might be if you proceed with such business. Are you going to be in the business for 5 years or 10 years? Are you going to get back your ROI in an x amount of years? All these need to be considered if you want to be successful in such kind of business.

Method 3 Combine Ideas

Last method is for you to combine one business idea with another idea or two. This will enable you to come up with a new one and eventually your idea is much better. You can get ideas from simply everywhere. One good place is for you to check out your local area. See what business idea you can get out, and then mix it with another idea.

Perhaps, you might consider checking out the Internet for other ideas. Even grab an idea or two from business magazines. You can never tell how many ideas you can get if you put your time into searching for them. Who knows you will be able to have one great business idea?

Are you now ready to start unraveling a business idea? Do pick which method mentioned above you are going to use. For sure, you will be able to come up with an idea today or for days to come. Think of it as a mind exercise. You will surely see the benefit out of it in the future when you put your idea into reality – a successful business.