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REF: ALP001
27 March 2008

The feelings of loneliness and isolation experienced by many people starting out in business could soon be a thing of the past thanks to a new web-based business community launched this month.

A1 Business Forums, a free resource aimed at start-ups, small business owners and people working from home, has turned an old tradition on its head by actively encouraging its members to mix business with pleasure.

Ray Burn, Managing Director of A Local Printer and owner of A1 Business Forums, explained:

“For people making the leap from paid employment to running their own business, the sense of isolation can be overwhelming. To go from working in a big office where you can regularly bounce ideas off colleagues and catch up on the office gossip to working alone at home can be a big culture shock.

“A1 Business Forums is both the sounding board and the watercooler of small business life. Whether you have a burning question about how best to market your business or you just fancy letting off steam about something that bothers you in life, there is a place for it on the forums.”

The forums have dedicated areas with advice and information on starting a business, accounting and finance, marketing and PR, search engine optimisation and e-commerce, as well as a sub-forum for businesses to post their latest news and information and company profiles.

There are also ‘time out’ and ‘lively banter’ forums where members can discuss the lighter side of life and take a break from the pressures and isolation of running a small business.

A sense of community and a place to network and build both business relationships and new friendships is clearly important to small business owners. Within just one week of going live, A1 Business Forums had 71 registered members and over 5,000 posts.

In just over three weeks, the forums have attracted more than 150 members, ranging from work-at-home parents and people in the early stages of starting a business to established small business owners with specific expertise.

“The friendliness and originality of the forums make it a fun place to do business and a great place to hang out,” said Andy Trish, Director of NCI Technologies.

Work-at-home mother of two and Director of Boxby Ltd., Sandra Patterson, said: “Trying to balance the demands of a new business with those of a young family doesn’t leave much time for a social life. My contact with A1 Business Forums is often the only chance I get to have a conversation, rant or giggle during the course of a working day. It’s a lifesaver!”

The forums are a great resource for both start-up companies and more established small businesses and can be a cost-effective way of building a business.

Laura Tanner, owner of Fill Your Pants, a specialist retailer of cloth nappies and eco-friendly baby products, has already saved money from the free advice given by members of the A1 Business Forums community:

“I posted a question in the e-commerce forum about the online shopping software that was being integrated into my website. I realised from the answers I got that I hadn’t made the best decision, so I pulled the plug on the project and started again with a new designer.

“The advice I received has undoubtedly saved me money because had I gone ahead with the original design, I would almost certainly have had to pay for a complete re-design in the not-too-distant future.”

The forums can also benefit established business owners, who can pick up new business as a result of their expertise, the free advice they give and the discounts they are prepared to offer other community members.

Danielle Ford, owner of Dotwhack Marketing Solutions, has seen an increase in business since joining A1 Business Forums:

“I posted a special reduced-rate offer on my keyword reports for businesses wanting to get their websites listed nearer the top of the search engines. Within the space of a week I had five new clients and a handful of leads, without having to spend a fortune on marketing my business.”

New business owners can often be at a loss on where to access free business advice or feel embarrassed to ask questions, thinking they should already know the answers.

The relaxed atmosphere and welcoming community at A1 Business Forums provide a safe and open environment within which to ask questions and receive advice on running a small business. There is even a private forum for asking more sensitive business questions.

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NOTE TO EDITORS:

1. For more information or to request an interview with Ray Burn or a member of the business community, please contact Vicky Robertson, Write on Message Ltd., 07855 301975, vicky@writeonmessage.co.uk

2. The forums can be accessed at www.a1businessforums.co.uk

3. A1 Business Forums includes a dedicated section for work at home parents and a forum for ethical, fair trade and ‘green’ business

This press release was distributed by ResponseSource Press Release Wire on behalf of Write On Message in the following categories: Business & Finance, for more information visit http://pressreleasewire.responsesource.com/about.