From the desk of Penelope Alice, Britain’s most fabulous PA – PA Life Club

From the desk of Penelope Alice, Britain’s most fabulous PA

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Riddle me this, my exceptional executive assistants: what do a personal trainer, a beer brewer and a Sherlock Holmes aficionado have in common? It’s a real brain-teaser that one, so before you tie yourself up in mental knots trying to work it out, allow me to enlighten you: they are all sure-fire ideas for making money by setting up your own business.

The clever clogs at have identified no fewer than 14 commercial opportunities that apparently are guaranteed to bring in the big bucks. In at number one is an option likely to be of interest to those who enjoy a libation or two: the microbrewery. As drinkers turn away from mass-produced beverages, there is a rapidly growing interest in craft beers and with the alcoholic drinks industry predicted to be worth around £45 billion by 2017, it could be time to put the spare room to good use and rig up a home-brew kit.

If you’re of a sporty frame of mind, meanwhile, then you’ll be delighted to hear there is wonga aplenty to be made by reinventing yourself as a personal trainer. With the obesity crisis worsening, now could be the perfect moment to cash in on the guilt felt by those feckless salad-dodgers and whip them into shape – for a price, natch.

The list continues and takes in, rather bizarrely, at number six, a “Victorian-themed business” – so don your bustle or deerstalker hat and exploit the revival that Victoriana is currently enjoying; mobile catering, blogging and virtual reality games are also on the agenda. What really caught my eye, however, was that a number three in the hit parade of top start-ups is that of Virtual Assistant – and no, we’re not talking fem-bots à la Austin Powers, this refers to the demand for online workers, a market estimated to reach $5 billion globally by 2108.

As more companies realise they simply can’t justify hiring a full-time, in-house assistant, the market for outsourcing administrative tasks and project management is experiencing a serious growth spurt. So if you can’t face any more commuting and the water cooler gossip leaves you cold, then this might just be the ideal time to embrace an entirely different way of working – as long as you don’t get distracted by daytime TV, of course…