Cynicism had clouded my judgement, but the last time I met someone from Business Link all I heard all about the iniquity of their sales targets and all that that the 'computer said no'. I really never found out what they were selling except that I am sure their experience would have taught me a great deal about folding and selling a t-shirt. However, all web roads seemed to lead to them and eventually I picked up the phone: five minutes later, all questions answers and I had a host of fact sheets (that I may read when I get desperate) and they have passed my first test.
The best thing they told me about was 'Lawyers for Business', the Law Society's scheme to offer free 1/2 hour consultations - more about that later.
Buoyed by this success, I logged onto the regional pages of Business Link. With the click of the 'Enter' the permanence of this move dawned on me, the clouds darkened and I had entered the layer of hell dedicated to those dealing with the government. Two minutes later the phone rang and it was a gleeful soul from Slough Business Link (yes, I do mean gleeful) and five minutes later I was signed up to meet one of his advisers... At least she passed her first test, she was not called Carol and I was meeting in the library, far away from any computers.
How many excuses can you think of for avoiding a meeting? The dog ate my house keys? I am scared of being swallowed by a Kafkaesque nightmare? Well, not a pin stripe or sneer in sight. I found a very breezy lady, with significant business experience sent me through a mental assault course; making me explain, justify and project future ideas about my business - while her brain leapfrogged through advice and anecdotes. Her style could have been discombobulating to the tidy minded, but it worked for me.
Two days later a typed report came through highlighting our discussion - and I sensed this is where the sales came in: there were random and inexplicable references to London 2012 littering the pages. I rejoiced in overcoming my prejudice and filed the report in the recycling. I can't wait for our next meeting (unless the dog really does it my house keys).