Five Years of Helping South London Business…


The South London Business Initiative was established in 1986. Its aims were to support small businesses and the self employed in south London and invigorate the local economy. To do this SLBI has assembled an impressive team which includes large companies, local government, small businesses, community groups and schools. Gathered together under the SLBJ umbrella, this team has contributed mightily to the economic regeneration of south London in the last five years.

Walter Baker

Dr. Wally Baker is Chief Executive of South London Business Initiative Ltd and the fact that the SLBI has survived and succeeded for five years has a lot to do with the energy and enthusiasm of Wally and his team.




Profile of a Business Counsellor


On the wall of his office in the SLBI, Bill Ball has one of those postcards with a motto. The motto reads Its Tough Running a Successful Business.

Bill’s job was to remind people just how tough it is and encourage them to go for it if appropriate. Being a business counsellor for SLBI is nothing if not interesting.

“You have to deal with anyone who comes through the door so you don’t know what’s going to hit you until you sit down. The majority of people coming for advice are new starts, so they want help developing a business idea or putting together a business plan or loan proposition for a bank.” It is the written plan that decides whether or not a business ever sees the light of day. The people coming to Bill are usually armed with no more than a good idea and lots of enthusiasm, so the first thing he does is sit them down with a cup of tea and a pen and together they work out the bones of a business plan.

“Only the person who is starting the business knows what their business is all about, so they have to write it themselves but you can point them in the right direction and tell them which areas they need to cover.” Bill takes people through the basics. Why are you starting a business? What business is it? What makes you the right person to start it? What is the market? ‘Where are the premises? What are the risks?

“Anyone starting in business has to be able to answer all these questions before the banks or landlord or anyone else even asks them” Bill has learnt his trade not just through years of teaching experience but also from running a few successful firms himself.

Back in the swinging sixties Bill studied at the London School of Economics. He qualified as an economist and went on to work at a technical college teaching economics and business studies. After five years teaching experience Bill decided it was time for a change and took off on a trip around South and Central America and the Caribbean to decide what that change should be.

“I arrived back at Heathrow with £2.40 and an idea that after teaching business for so long I should really have a go at running one” The artists’ co-operative and shop which he opened on Railton Road in Brixton grew into three successful businesses including a nightclub and a clothes design and retail firm.

Bill was lured back into business training when local authorities started getting involved in generating their local economies, something he had long been encouraging them to do. He worked first for the Cooperative Development Agency in Brent, then Camden Economic Development Unit followed by the Economic Development Office in Bristol. But when the SLBI offered him the chance to do the business counselling job he did best, in the south London location he loved most, he jumped at the chance. Right now he is bringing all this experience to bear helping south London businesses to be both realistic and positive at the same time.

When you see the young men and women bounce into his office starry eyed and grinning and watch them walk out frowning but determined half an hour later, you know he is doing his job.

SLBI publishes the London Directory of Managed Workspace Paperback

SLBI publishes the London Directory of Managed Workspace Paperback in Nov 1992


Directory Details

Paperback: 88 pages
Publisher: Futures Publications (November 1992)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1871131324
ISBN-13: 978-1871131321
Shipping Weight: 503 g


The publication includes details on a number of subjects which we consider relevant to the type of businesses most likely to use managed workspace facilities.

Managed workspace facilities vary widely and the intangible benefits of business centres should always be compared. Moreover, because a number of centres work on short-term lease agreements with three month break clauses the directory highlights in some detail the implications of lease agreements. The rates section outlines restrictions on use of premises. Whilst this is normally catered for in business centres which operate on a licence basis it is important to verify that your activity is a permitted use under the Town & Country Planning Acts for, leased premises.

Insurance is never a major consideration until you find you are not covered, whilst training may give you a competitive edge.

Banking is only important when you need an overdraft or increased loan. National Westminster Bank outlines how you can improve your relationship with your financiers.

Following these articles, there is an alphabetical listing of workspaces, whose entries include address, telephone number, and a contact name. In addition, segregated by London borough, the workspaces are listed alphabetically, highlighting: the range of units available; the type of workspace ie workshop, studio, office or warehouse; whether business services are available; the rent per square foot, minimum to maximum; the terms of notice, in months: the total number of units in the individual complex; and any applicable restrictions.

Some workspace centres specialise in particular types of businesses. This could be, for example, clothing, high technology, motor trade, food or those of a certain age. Where known, these restrictions are shown in the borough listing.

In addition to this workspace listing, don’t forget that letting agents and local authorities can also help.