Welcome to Essential Business. If you were to ask us what we do, we’d say, “We create business guides and workbooks for business start ups, small and micro business owners, and the professionals who support them”.
Why do we do it? Because running a business is challenging, sometimes scary and always demanding. We know it is because we’ve done it and we’re still doing it. We want to help anyone running or advising a small business to gain the vital skills and understanding that make business success more likely.
Our strapline is: Taking care of business. We care about business, we care about the people who run their own businesses and we care about educating people about the right and wrong ways of doing business.
Who we are
Essential Business is founded, owned and run by Julie Stanford and Marianne Whitfield:
Our backgrounds are different but are our ideals and goals are identical: to produce books and workbooks that help business owners gain the knowledge and skills they need to prevent failure.
Failure hurts and business failure can cause damage to people’s finances, families and futures. Very often, it can be completely avoided if the business owner is properly supported.
We both think that it’s immoral to say ‘business is easy’ when it isn’t. Just because a celebrity has made millions from a business venture, doesn’t mean you will.
We’re more likely to say, “This can be hard but you can learn how to do it” than, “Anyone can run a business, just go for it!”
Why we started
Julie founded Essential Business in 2002. She had been running her own businesses for 20 years and her experience during those years prompted her to create and develop the first Essential Business publications:
I felt then (and still do!) that business is far easier to talk or write about than to do. I also suspected that I wasn’t the only person who sometimes struggled to find the right answers to my many and varied business questions.
Asking around, I realised that I wasn’t the only one. Other business people I knew felt just as frustrated. Although there are many, many books available and hundreds of pages of free content on the internet, sorting the good from the bad (and sometimes downright wrong!) was difficult and a waste of precious time.
So, because my background was in planning and designing books and workbooks that people can read and understand, I decided to stop wondering and start doing. My goal was simple: clarify what’s involved in starting and running a business, ditch (or explain) the jargon, and create inviting and easy-to-follow learning materials that help build essential business skills, step by step.
How we started
In 2003, Julie gathered a team of collaborators and subject specialists and together they wrote, designed and published the first book in the Essential Business range, the Essential Business Guide. The book won the Plain English award, is now in its fourth edition and has been used by thousands of business owners and their advisers.
Over the years, customers asked for other learning materials, presented in the same clear and jargon-free style, so we created a series of practical workbooks, courses and trainer support materials.
In 2012, Julie met Marianne Whitfield and they quickly realised that they shared a belief that business owners need certain skills and information to survive. As Marianne says,
Being involved in Cobweb Information for a number of years, I understand the importance of providing accurate, relevant and up-to-date information for start ups and business owners. For many people, it’s a step too far to have to worry about whether information they are reading has been checked, verified and edited to a standard and is relevant for them, in their particular business.
All too often, they don’t know the questions to ask, or the specific information they need to know to run their business — simply because they lack the key basic skills: planning, managing finance and forecasting. How do you extract the vital information? How do you filter the good from the bad? How do you know whose information to trust?
Essential Business publications are so well structured and designed. As soon as I picked them up I found they were a joy to read — and it’s a joy to see how easily other people learn from them and go on to really understand how their business works and how to make it a success.
Where we’re going
We’ll continue to use our skills and experience to create high-quality learning and reference materials for small and micro business owners and the people who advise, teach and support them.
If you run a business, we want to help you learn the skills and understand business in a way that will help you create profitable, successful businesses for you, your employees and your future. If you help and support people who start and run businesses, then we want to provide you with resources that help make your job just that bit easier.