BT Home Business Award Shortlisted Winners

Helen O' Grady Shortlisted Winners

In association with  Remote Worker Awards in association with BT Business


Remote Employment and BT Business are delighted to announce the short listed winners in the national hunt to find remote working employers who could demonstrate how remote working and home working has made a beneficial impact on their business and home life for
The Remote Worker Awards.

The BT Home Business Award appealed to hundreds of budding enterprisers as well as larger home based businesses across the country, and this was a very popular Award and as such a difficult one to short list.

Winning Ceremony
The Remote Worker Awards will culminate in a winning ceremony at the stunning
Cliveden House in Berkshire on 10th September, where the shortlisted winners will find out if they ahve won this superb prize that will change their working life!

Short Listed Winners
These companies are the best entrants who demonstrated how their remote and home working solutions benefit both the company and their staff. They are now in the running to win a range of fantastic prizes!

Your Local Cinema
Dean Rhodes-Brandon
From Carshalton, Surrey
Dean’s company 'Your Local Cinema .com' is the only cinema listings service of its kind in the world. ItDean is in the running for The BT Home Business Award exists to create awareness of - and increase audience figures for - subtitled & audio described (narrated) cinema releases and shows, for people with hearing or visual problems. 

Your Local Cinema covers the UK and Ireland. In its short life Dean has managed to get it sponsored by the UK film industry. The website also includes subtitled and audio described trailers and clips. In a nutshell, the cinema industry uses the service to reach out to people with hearing or sight problems who are interested in going to the cinema. All cinemas with a subtitle & audio description system email  and service their listings each week.

There are around 500 subtitled shows every week, and thousands more audio described shows in more than 300 cinemas nationwide. His company is an advocate for the public, and deals with representatives of the cinema/film business on behalf of the public. It's a member of the film industry's 'Disability Working Group', a collection of representatives from cinema, distribution and technology companies, as well as representatives from the main charities for people with hearing or sight problems. They meet regularly to review and plan the future of 'accessible' cinema.

Dean’s home business is run from a laptop, with a mobile broadband USB stick . Dean is profoundly deaf, and rarely ventures out to meet people face to face, preferring to correspond almost entirely by email. He works from the garden when the weather is nice, the dining table when it's not, his bedroom in the evenings, and the library when  attending College (three days a week). He enjoys the flexibility of working for himself, from wherever he wants. Although the day can be very long sometimes, with 12 or even 16 hour days not uncommon, overall Dean finds it a very relaxing way to work.

Dean has overcome great adversity to get his business off the ground. As he is profoundly deaf and have mild cerebral palsy, it means that he simply can't do most trades/jobs. He started the business with the aim of persuading the cinema industry to become accessible to people with hearing problems, like himself, and somehow provide on-screen subtitles. 

It all began with a campaign and a petition to the cinema industry. He  trialled it in his school which had a dozen deaf students. The petition got over a thousand names from that school alone. So he launched a website to publicise the petition nationally and over the next year or so got many, many thousands of names.

Eventually Dean took the petition to the UK Film Council, who spend millions of pounds annually on film-related projects, and persuaded them to seriously investigate the 'cinema access' issue. They looked into the matter and after more than three years of campaigning for better access, but not just moaning - actually working with the film industry -  his company was hired by the film industry to be the 'marketing arm' of cinema access. A big feat for such a young man!

Due to this one young man's drive to see films in his local cinema, he has opened up a new world of film to people with hearing or sight problems across the country and now most UK cinemas are now accessible to people like Dean.

Dean said: “I am absolutely delighted that Your Local Cinema.com has been shortlisted in the Awards. It would be fantastic to win. It would really help to spread awareness of 'accessible' cinema, which makes a real difference to people with hearing or sight loss. As we get older we may all lose some hearing or sight. We may appreciate services that can help us enjoy sound & vision! Also, to win a national award can only help to persuade my sponsors to continue funding my service!"


Post a Present
Helen Johnson 
From Selby, North Yorkshire
Helen set up an online Gifts Business called www.postapresent.co.uk selling affordable gifts, along with aPost a Present is in the running for The BT Home Business Award Gift Wrapping Service and Greetings Cards offering the complete package to enable customers to send direct to friends and family as well as for themselves.

As the Gifts business is highly competitive, Helen took a different approach and opted for quality, affordable gifts - traditional, but a bit different and hopefully with some good use value and many exclusive to her company. Helen felt that the reasonably priced, traditional route is what would keep her going in hard times.  She also added a Gift Wrapping Service and aims this primarily at the overseas/expats market and British Forces, i.e. people living abroad with family in the UK and as her own family live abroad, Helen understands the difficulties and expense of posting overseas.

So, in effect, customers can order from Post a Present, who wrap it and post it direct from the UK and who now have many grateful customers living in New Zealand, Australia, Abu Dhabi, Egypt and Europe who regularly use the services. Helen believes in a fair price and does not believe in inflating her prices when it gets to special occasions like Mother’s Day or Valentine’s. She also prides herself on excellent customer service and will go that extra mile, which she feels strongly is lacking in a lot of companies these days.

Having moved around the country quite a bit and thus having no friends or family support network closeHelen from Post a Present hopes to win The BT Home Business Award by, Helen found it difficult to find work where she could be around for her children, but felt it was important to be there for them. So after a lifetime in Office work she had a complete change and took on a pub where she could live and work on the same premises.

However, after 4 years of constant standing and heavy lifting Helen developed back problems which made it too painful to sit or stand in one place for long and she had to give up the pub business, but she was determined to do something else from home and Post a Present was borne.

This was again another change of direction for Helen, as she had never created a website before, but thanks to the wonders of the internet, a lot of research and self teaching and attendance at some Business Link courses, not to mention the sale of some personal items to finance it, she got started. It was a very steep learning curve and 18 months of very hard work, but it is now paying off and sales are growing each month and Helen is enjoying helping others celebrate their special occasions and being around to be a taxi service, nursemaid and Mum to her children!

Helen said: "
I am so excited to be shortlisted! It’s made all my hard work over the past 18 months worthwhile and it’s nice to be recognised."

Musical Signers
Rebecca Boulton
From Tamworth, Staffordshire
In 2005, a 23 year old single mum from Tamworth, Staffordshire, took the leap into self-employment. Unable toMusical Signers is in the running for The BT Home Business Award attend local Baby Signing classes due to the high cost - she then discovered herself to be more qualified than the teacher - and decided to set up her own.

It wasn't a great earner, just a sprinkiling of pocket money, but it allowed Rebecca to work locally, taking her baby daughter with her - and helping her gain self-respect. The business bloosomed, and upon Rebecca meeting her new husband (who is profoundly deaf), diversified into teaching British Sign Language and Deaf Awareness to adults too.

Rebecca's company, Musical Signers (who also trade as H.A.C Training Services), now employs nine people.
Rebecca is now largely office based, working from home. And although she admits to working harder, longer hours than ever before, these hours are flexible to fit in around a growing family. Staff members are lucky too, as work is usually close to home (sometimes within walking distance) and they too have the option of flexible hours to fit in around their own families.

Rebecca said: "It's just amazing, as this business came about by accident and rather took me by surprise. It's wonderful to have the flexibility to work around my young children - and I get a great sense of satisfaction as I feel that my business benefits the local community. We're all about improving communication between groups of people, be it parents and babies (Baby Signing) or the teaching of British Sign Language so that the people of Tamworth can communicate better with it's Deaf Community."

Tots To Travel
Wendy Shand
From Nassington, Northamptonshire
Tots to Travel was set up in April 2006. It was one of the first online travel companies to provide GENUINELYWendy is in the running for The BT Home Business Award family friendly holiday accommodation. The Tots Team source, visit and vet high quality self catering properties across Europe and ensure that they provide all the equipment parents need when travelling with babies and young children. They also ensure that the properties are as safe as possible while providing the added extras that allow parents to have a relaxing holiday.

Wendy had the idea for the business after a family holiday, when her son (then 2) fell into an un-enclosed swimming pool. Thankfully they managed to get him out safely, but the accident made Wendy realise how unsuitable most holiday properties are for families with young children. In fact, holidaying with children was harder work than simply staying at home. Wendy wanted to change that. Her vision was to develop a range of holiday properties that were both gorgeous for parents to stay in but still ideally suited to the specific needs of young children with a key emphasis on safety.

To highlight the importance of safety, Tots to Travel has worked with the Child Accident Prevention Trust (CAPT) to ensure that their safety levels are of the highest standards. Wendy is not aware of any other holiday company doing this. For example, they ensure that stairgates and electric plug socket covers are provided, pools are enclosed and any quirks in the properties – like split level flooring or hazards in the garden – are highlighted clearly so that parents are aware of them and can decide whether they suit the ages of their children.
 
In three years, business has really taken off, yet it is still fully functional as a home business. Wendy started out with 10 properties in France. Now they have grown this to over 100 properties in France, 27 in Italy, 13 in the UK with a handful now coming online in Portugal, Spain and the Balearic Islands. Sales are up 75% - 100% over last year’s figures and they already have a good pipeline of bookings for 2010 – all this despite the credit crunch!

The next stage is to take the business global.  Our ultimate vision is to expand globally so that Tots to Travel standard properties around the world, allowing parents to travel wherever they like with their young children. They expect to be in 4 ‘world zones’ within the next five years with estimated turnover of £6 million – all run from Wendy’s home office.  Everything Wendy does, she does with an eye on scalability.

Unlike most online holiday property rental sites, Tots to Travel only accept properties that have been personally viewed and vetted and which meet their exacting criteria. They have a team of mums in France, Italy, Portugal, Spain, Turkey and the UK who are trained to vet the properties, keeping an eye on safety, equipment and facilities. They also help property owners sell more weeks of holiday a year by specifically targeting families with children aged five and under as they’re not restricted by school holidays and can travel in the less busy shoulder season.

The business model has worked for everyone. It gives Wendy the flexibility to run a rapidly growing business from home while still having the time to look after my children. It gives the marketing agents a flexible job that they can do remotely and fit around their families. It gives the property owners an extended season and greater sales. And it gives customers a far better quality holiday than has previously been available for parents with young families in the less busy shoulder season.

Wendy said: "The tots to travel team and I are thrilled to have been shortlisted for the BT Home Business Award!  It has been a tough, but hugely successful year and winning this award would broaden our smiles even further!"


Lifestages
David Rolph
From Frinton on Sea, Essex
Lifestages specialises in the provision of specialist services to help disabled and non disabled people in the area of financial services, Disability Awareness & Equality Training, Diversity consultancy specialising in all area of disability, and the provision of specialist toolkits to help people to plan better in the futuDavid is in the running for The BT Home Business Awardre and to help when dealing with medical and other professional organisations.
 

David wants to win this award because of the amount of adversity he has had to overcome as well as the amount of time that he spends with each of his potential clients to give them the best service.

David’s attitude is ‘blow my disability’, as he prefers to cater for the needs of his clients. This has led to him being offered the opportunity to devise a policy on disabled access for a client. As a wheelchair user, he feels he has experienced certain issues firsthand and feels he is perfectly suited to finding ways to tackle such issues.

David would like to show how disabled people in business can be supported through their difficulties and yet also have the determination to succeed, even if this includes diversifying.

In the future David is hoping to become more of an influence within the UK and to be able to have a fully accessible office employing disabled people to give them the opportunities that might not always be open to them.

David said: “I enjoy the challenges that come with running my own home based business and meeting people with the same outlook in life! I am really looking forward to September 10th and the winning ceremony”.


Ella Announcements
Amanda Farren
From Coventry, West Midlands
Ella Announcements was launched in early 2007 when young mum, Amanda, was looking for a way to stay atElla Annoucements is in the running to win The BT Home Business Award home with her children, yet be involved in more than just baby-talk. She had spent the previous year teaching herself graphic and web design, and realising she had a passionate for this line of work, her hobby soon progressed into a business.

Ella Announcements is an online business, offering unique announcements and invitations for any occasion. The ranges mainly focusing on babies and young children, driven forward by Amanda having three children of her own and therefore being able to understand the market and relate to the customers.

Every customer is provided with a completely unique design that noone before or after them will have. Using their own photographs and information, as well as a design specification, Amanda creates every announcement from scratch to ensure the finished product is as unique as the child on it. Where it's difficult to find invitations for blessing ceremonies, parties for two people, joint celebrations and unique occasions, Ella Announcements will be able to provide the perfect design to suit.

On the website you'll also find a newly launched wedding stationery boutique, a gift section selling a range of Amanda is in the running to win The BT Home Business Awardunique products sourced from other business mums, and a business design section offer low-cost, high quality business design options to other small businesses, again markets that Amanda is personally familiar with.

If three children aged 5 and under, and a stationery business wasn't enough, Amanda has recently started organising local Baby Fairs. The first of these, held in Coventry this June, was a great success. Not only did this provide local families with a fun, free family day out, but it gave a fantastic marketing opportunity to small local businesses. Amanda is also hosting the inaugural Mumpreneur Conference in October, bringing business mums from the UK together to celebrate achievements, network with like-minded people, and come away with some fantastic advice and information for moving businesses forward.

The biggest challenge Amanda has had to overcome to move forward in the business world, is her age. She was a teenage mum when starting up Ella Announcements. Being a mum in business is tough and being a teenager in business is tough, yet Amanda had to battle with both. The stigma surrounding being a young parent knocked her confidence, and when going out and about with Ella Announcements to business events and exhibitions, Amanda felt uncomfortable talking to other people.

Only recently has she started to use this to her advantage and feel confident to talk to other people. At the least, it's an icebreaker, and at the most it's an inspiration to others. Amanda intends to turn this from a difficult obstacle into a platform for inspiring others and helping young mums to achieve their dreams, and has already spoken at a young parents event this year.

The 22 year old runs the business from home in what was once the dining room, although the professional quality of the website, products and service says otherwise. From the products to the website, Amanda has created everything herself, being self-taught in both graphic and web design.

Crushing the teenage mum stereotype, Amanda has challenged many peoples perceptions on young parents, being featured in both local and national newspapers highlighting her success. This young woman has proved an inspiration to many people, and has created a fantastic life for her family already with an exciting future to look forward to.

Amanda said: "I can barely contain my excitement at making the finals. I am truly honoured, and blown away that I have been chosen alongside such fantastic individuals. What an amazing achievement!"

Baby No Bumps
Susan Port
From Leamington Spa, Warwickshire
Babynobumps is an on-line business retailing a new and unique baby safety product. It was launched at the Baby no Bumps is in the running for The BT Home Business Awardprestigious Earls Court Baby Show in London where it received a positive response.

Babynobumps protects vulnerable, as yet underdeveloped head of babies when they are learning to sit up, crawl and walk. Babies are top heavy so always tend to lead with their heads which makes them more vulnerable to a potentially serious accident.

Every year over half a million children go to hospital as a result of an accident – this product goes some way in trying to reduce that number.

Susan said: "I am grateful to Remote Employment and BT for allowing me to enter this award and am delighted to be short-listed, not only for myself but for the recognition that Babynobumps deserves."

Labels 4 Kids
Ann-Maree Morrison from Stirling, Stirlingshire
Ann-Maree Morrison, a mother of three from Stirling, Scotland was tired of tracking down her boys’ lost Labels 4 Kids is in the running for The BT Home Business Awardproperty at school and play group.

Every label she tried either fell off in the dishwasher or never made it home at all on the lunch boxes, and clothing labels were not much better. She was determined to find a solution and spent years researching and testing dishwasher and microwave proof vinyl labels and better clothing label varieties.

Rather than go back to full time employment as a management consultant after having three children she decided to launch her own home based business using her own savings. She wanted the flexibility to work from home whilst her children were young and wanted to be able to work hours that suited her. She also wanted a good income and to run her own business.

Launched in 2005, Labels4Kids supplies a range of labelling products, from the waterproof, microwave and dishwasher proof vinyl labels to clothing labels that stick, iron or sew on. Ann-Maree has also developed a line of personalised gym bags, bag tags and id bands. A wide choice of colours and images are provided.

Labels4kids also helps schools to earn commission to spend on school requirements, with fundraising schemes in place for commission on the full range of products.

The business has grown rapidly, doubling turnover every year during the first three years, and the website Ann-maree is in the running for The BT Home Business Awardwww.labels4kids.com generates over 95% of the orders. Ann-Maree has learnt a lot about web design and web optimisation during this period and website has been redeveloped on a number of occasions to keep up to date with the latest trends including blogs and social networking. 

The bulk of the orders came over the summer holiday months when parents re-ordering labels for the new school year. This was a challenge at first as Ann-Maree’s children were also on holiday. The children were roped in to help with packaging, but she now employs students from the local university to help during the peak summer months, and casual workers.

The UK site generated orders from all over the world and this has prompted Ann-Maree to consider expanding the Labels4Kids successful UK business internationally by launching foreign websites. A site for the USA and Euro currencies, French, German and Swedish languages are now live generating international orders. Ann-Maree hopes to franchise the business in foreign countries.

Labels4Kids business continues to grow during 2009 with sales up over 30% so far this year. During the difficult economic times parents would rather spend a little on naming their children’s property than having to pay to replace lost property.

Ann-Maree said: "I am so pleased to be a finalist in the BT Homes Business Award. This is recognition for my success and hard work in establishing a rapidly growing home based business with international growth ambitions."

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Free eBook Downloads
Wide range of eBooks

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Buy and sell freelance services

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Easy digital marketing toolkit to promote, optimise and market your site.

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Easy to understand DIY website guide.

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Retirement activities and income ideas for over 50s


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