Or electrical PAT testing or health and safety advice or insurance or to place any advertisements or bizarrely a website?!? Nor do I want to outsource any website design, software development or search engine optimisation to India or China and especially not to someone who is struggling to express themselves in my native tongue.

Okay, so here’s the situation. I now work from home and I’m self-employed and unlike when I was a civilian and I made every effort to keep my telephone number out of the public domain, I now of course do the exact opposite.

So, I’m sitting with my laptop, with my head buried in some code and the phone goes… Hurrah! Maybe a potential customer on the line? I leap up to answer the phone and “Could you put me through to whoever is in charge of your fire safety training”?

Fire Safety Training?

Well, that’s just the latest one. “Er, sorry luv”, I say, “my fire safety goes as far as two battery operated smoke detectors, a fun-size foam fire extinguisher and a heavy chair to throw through my double glazing.”. Adding, “And I know the smoke detectors work because every time I cook toast to anything other than warm bread, they happily warn me of my impending doom!”.

And before that it was health and safety and my all time favourite (NOT!) phrase, “Well would you like a call back in 6 weeks to review your situation?”.

Aaaargh!! No I bloody well wouldn’t. The only time I really want the phone to ring is when there is someone on the end who is interested in perhaps giving me some money.

A Bit Harsh?

Well okay, yes, a bit. Being self-employed myself I know how hard it is to get the message out there and in truth I don’t really begrudge anyone trying to make a living. And in the main the calls are short and the callers are polite.

But DON’T call me back if it’s clear I’m not interested and DO be clear about your reason for calling. I’ve lost count of the number of calls, particularly from India and China, where I have to wait several minutes to find out what it is I’m going to be saying no to.

If you’re ringing about outsourcing, your opening line should be “Hello, we’re xyz, are you looking for reliable outsourcing solutions?” and NOT “Hello my friend, we are in a good position to offer you a chance to work together to deliver customer focussed solutions…”

And what about a bit of targeting?

Y’see I work at home and a 2 second Google search on my business address would reveal that it is in a residential, not industrial area and therefore it is extremely unlikely that I have any employees on-site, legal obligation to comply with health and safety law or indeed, a secretary to fend my calls.

I actually have a customer who offers fire safety training and they employ a very successful sales call system, whereby only potential customers who are likely to have the need are targeted i.e. with dedicated business premises, a sufficient number of employees and where they have specific legal requirements to comply with.

Give me Spam any day!

No, I don’t mean the tinned chopped pork and ham variety of Spam, although it is delicious fried. I refer of course to the unsolicited email variety of spam.

Now I know this stuff gets a bad name, but I’m not really sure why? Unlike the irritation of an interruption which can disrupt my line of thought on a complicated issue, they can be tackled at my own leisure and are quick and easy to ignore if I wish.

They also don’t cost anything, carry more information at a glance, don’t involve the felling of trees and don’t give the postman a hernia. So why not? So long as they are relevent, offer an option to opt out of further emails and you don’t receive 100s a week from the same organisation.

But a final plead to whomever it is that thinks I want a Russian bride, appendage enlargement or pills beginning with “V” designed to ensure the aforesaid appendage remains usable… …I really, really don’t require any of those things thanks all the same!

In conclusion…

If you want to let me know about your services, then please just send me an email and give me the time and space to digest it. Or if you are going to phone, at least make the effort to ensure I might be interested before you call.

Regards advice on appointing a fire warden, evacuation procedures, how to wield a fire extinguisher, etc.. I’m sorry to say that, if at some point in the future, the business takes off to the point where I’m employing others at an external premises, I’ll probably give the work to my own customer. 

Good luck with your venture!