I travel abroad 6-7 times a year

Disillusioned with her job as a police officer Karen Barnes launched a London House franchise and has not only enjoyed the benefits that being self-employed brings but has also improved her living standards

An improvement in living standards together with the independence that self-employment provides has convinced Karen Barnes that buying a London House franchise was one of the best career moves she has made. Karen reveals: 'I have had a very good living from my London House business. I travel abroad on holiday regularly, about six or seven times a year, and some of the places I have recently been to include Florence, a Nile cruise and Sri Lanka. As well as this I'm able to buy a new car about every two years.'

Karen launched her Brighton-based franchise in May 2003 after becoming disillusioned with her job as a police officer. 'When I decided to leave the police force I was initially looking at setting up my own private investigations company, however I saw an advert for London House and decided to go through the franchise route,' she explains. 'One of the main reasons that franchising in general and London House in particular appealed to me was because of the support network that is in place to help you set up your business.

'With the London House franchise this is not only done through the initial training provided, but also through the work head office arranges for you so that you have some income coming in while you establish your business. Furthermore, with a franchisor behind you there is always someone keeping you up-to-date with changes in legislation, which is an essential aspect of this business.'

London House is a commercial investigation company that specialises in providing services to banks, law firms and other blue chip companies, as well as undertaking work for private individuals. Franchise owners gather information and provide comprehensive reports, which enable clients to make cost effective decisions and assist them with any appropriate action.

Karen's experience as a police officer meant that she had some background in investigative work, however she found the training provided by London House to be invaluable. 'I went on a two week training course at London House head office, which covered everything to get my office set up,' she recalls. 'In addition to classroom-based theory training I was also provided with practical training on how to undertake the work. I felt that together both aspects of the course really prepared me for the running of my business and I was confident that I could work from day one.

'Since launching my franchise I have had a lot of support from head office especially in terms of updates in legislation and changes in the law. Moreover, London House has supported me with renewal of essential licenses, for example last year I needed to renew my Consumer Credit Licenses which involved a lot of paper work. Throughout the process of the renewal head office offered a lot of support and invested time in helping me to complete it.'

Having enjoyed running her business, especially the independence it gives her and the variety of the work, she is now in the process of selling on her business. 'I have decided to sell my business because my husband has retired from the police force and we want to move to a more rural location,' she reveals. 'The money from the sale will help towards buying some holiday homes, either in Scotland or continental Europe.'

Reported by Derin Ibrahim