Home Business Heroes: Terry Koutsios

Name: Terry Koutsios

Location: London

Business: www.fivesquids.co.uk

Terry launched fivesquids.co.uk from his spare room and in just over a year it's become his full-time business attracting over 10,000 members and tons of press interest. The site allows people to sell anything for five pounds. Listings include everything from a professional PR consultant offering to write a detailed press release for your business to a man in fancy dress selling a video of himself, singing happy birthday in Welsh - seriously that's on there, if you're interested? Anyway, here's his story of how his fun idea has grown into a full time occupation and made him his very own boss.

How did the idea come about?

I saw a similar thing in the US and decided to create my own. I thought of a domain name and fivesquids just stuck in my head. I thought it was a really cool idea and it's all going well, so I'm really pleased that I've done it. Fivesquids goes back to a time in life where people were networking and selling their unique services to each other, rather than buying everything they need from big companies and services.

What were you doing before?

I ran a sports coach franchise, it's a sports school for kids. I've been doing that for quite a few years. I didn't quit straight away, but now fivesquids has taken over.

How did you turn the idea into a reality?

I designed how I wanted the website to look on paper, then I gave it to a web designer and showed him exactly how I wanted it to look, then he coded it and put it on screen. My skills were really limited when I first started but I'm learning loads as I go along. I've designed my own parts of the site now.

How did you fund it?

Initially I funded it myself, then I knew I needed some more money and I managed to raise some through private investors in October last year. We launched in January 2011.

How many users do you have?

There's over ten thousand members and we've only been going a year.  It's growing a lot quicker now than it was when I first started. I managed to drive traffic to the site at first by using all the usual techniques such as Google adwords and Facebook, which worked, but that all costs money. My advice would be to try and find as many free ways to advertise your business as you can. For example, on Sundays Theo Paphitis does this competition on Twitter called SBS (Small Business Sundays) where he tweets the best business ideas he's heard that week. I tweeted him and ended up coming in the top six the other week. That drove a lot of traffic to the site, I was also featured by Scott Mills on BBC Radio 1 in March last year, which got me quite a lot of publicity and I got a mention on the Gadget Show, so it's looking out and applying for things like that, as you won't have an endless amount of money.

How do you make money?

It's free to use the service we only get paid if you actually make a sale. We take a pound from every transaction, but then we pay 30p of that to PayPal.

Where in your home do you work?

I've got an office at home, but I try and do bits in coffee shops and places I can get Wi-Fi, I'm also out in meetings quite a lot.

FIVE SQUID

Do you find it hard to focus working with the TV so close and no boss?

I don't actually - I like it. It's not the working from home that bothers me. The hardest thing is being an entrepreneur, as it gets lonely driving your business forward by yourself. It's also tough when you have an idea you think is the best in the world and you have to communicate and explain to investors why you need their money, that can feel lonely too. I also think it's not healthy to be inside working all day, but sometimes it can't be helped.

Could anyone run a business from home?

You have to want to do it. I think anyone could do it if they really wanted to. When I launched fivesquids I hadn't really thought about all the obstacles in my way, I just jumped into it. I think if I had really thought about it and how hard it was going to be, I probably never would have started.

Do you find it hard to switch off?

I never switch off. It's almost like a sickness. I can't stop until I've got to where I want to be in my head. It's a bit relentless. I haven't had a holiday for quite a while, because I'm always working on fivesquids.

What's the best thing about running a business from home?

Definitely not having to get on the underground everyday. You can waste so much of your life spending an hour getting to work and an hour to get back.  The best thing about having no commute means you save money and you can achieve more.

What's the worst?

Working from home makes you fat. You have the kitchen right next to you, but when you get a bit anxious or bored you end up popping in for a snack.

What's the most bizarre thing you've seen sold for £5?

There was one young kid who offered to be your online bodyguard on Call of Duty, it went viral.

What's your ambition for Fivesquids?

My aim is to get to a million users.

For more information about fivesquids, click here

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