Here is how Charles tells the story of how he came to write this book:
"A few years ago, I started to be intrigued by press stories of ordinary folk who made a fortune from a simple small business idea.
Then three years ago, I decided to start a scrapbook. I had a vague idea of cutting out stories, which charted the success of an idea dreamt up by a person just like myself. People who'd grown up in a family with an average income and who sent their children to state schools for an ordinary education. A life ahead which would expect to pan out in the usual way: a job with a modest income and a few weeks holiday each year, an average car and a three-bedroom family home.
I didn't search out cuttings, I was too busy earning a living, working in a busy office for that. As the number of stories grew, my astonishment and excitement increased. For I discovered:
The scrapbook grew until I had well over a hundred cuttings, all stories of the most fantastic sums of money, made from simple small business ideas dreamt up by ordinary people. I couldn't resist discussing the cuttings with family, friends and acquaintances, so enthused and enthralled was I by these stories.
Each time someone looked at the cuttings they became really animated and often couldn't wait to tell me of a 'foolish' small business idea they'd had, sometimes many years ago, other times recently. They asked me what I thought of their small business idea, they asked my advice on how they could proceed to turn their small business idea into big money for them.
Other people, would become so thrilled they'd ruminate, 'if only I could come up with an idea, maybe I can, if someone else can, why not me?'
And I realized that so many people had ideas which were often potentially profitable, but the ordinary person usually didn't know how to become rich from their small business idea. And there, in my scrapbook, was proof of how dozens of 'foolish' ideas had made their originators rich. At the end of 1999, a business colleague, Stuart, heard about my scrapbook and found the contents exciting and thought-provoking.
On my next visit to the library, I searched the shelves for a book which had small business ideas from ordinary people and how they'd turned them into a personal fortune, and I searched. No such book existed, at least I couldn't find one. So, I rushed back home, sat at the computer and tapped out a proposal to Stuart, which explained how I could write a manual based on my scrapbook.
A prompt reply flew back, to the affirmative. This is just what he had wanted to help inspire his unique group. And so I began writing.
Because the stories are from my personal scrapbook, I did not always have dates available, because to me they didn't matter, it was the small business idea and how it had made money that interested me. Some of the people may be older than the ages I have put. For copyright reasons, absolutely no story is copied.
Each story I have told in my own way, while diligently ensuring the facts were kept absolutely true. Sometimes I had the information of start-up capital, other times not. I hope these stories will inspire you to dream up your own small business idea and to make as much money as you want to from it. You can do it, these pages contain all the proof you need." Charles Clarke
The Stuart mentioned above is a mutual friend of one of the '4 Small Businesses' team, so it was agreed that it would be a good idea to pass on some of the best material to its visitors.