New Age fills a business gap: Centre for self-employed offers personal growth along with success

THE Breakthrough Centre is a business centre with a difference - offering a holistic approach to self-employment.

Andrew Ferguson, its founder, proprietor and director, chants sometimes, meditates often and plays the saxophone. He is 46, has a degree in classics from Oxford, a background in marketing - and the look of an Old Testament prophet in casuals.

The centre, in Shepherd's Bush, west London, has been going for five and a half years. Its cornerstone is the Breakthrough Club, where members meet, make contacts, brainstorm, attend workshops, one-to-one sessions, and even parties. There are currently 175 members.

According to the centre's new-age philosophy, personal growth and business success are inextricably meshed. 'The people whom we work with are combining working for yourself with working with yourself,' Mr Ferguson says. 'It can be lonely sometimes, so our task is to relieve the isolation and make sense of where your life and your work is heading.'

Richard Arundel, a communications specialist who teaches people effective public speaking, joined the club in 1989 after leaving his job as a marketing manager for a computer company.

'Suddenly, I found myself on my own, with no one to talk projects through with, no accounts department to send my expenses to, no network to plug into.' He says the club has been 'invaluable for the networking, the brainstorming and as a resource base'.

He has chanted at a singing workshop and made a lot of business contacts through the centre and is keen to spread the word. 'There's a great need to get the holistic approach to business into the mainstream, but you can't just slam it in front of people. If what they are seeing is applicable and fits, the holistic approach of empowering people to take control of their lives will get across.' For Mr Arundel, it is paying off - he has just published his first book, Sell Your Way to Success, and has another in the pipeline.

There's no doubt that Mr Ferguson's life is informed by holistic tenets - but he also spotted a gap in the market, especially for people who have taken the leap into self-employment, established themselves, but are too small to qualify for the next tier of support from conventional sources such as the Government's Training and Enterprise Councils.

Workshop modules take Breakthrough Club members through seven steps, from vision ('finding inspiration and using imagination') to action ('ensuring commitments are met and the vision made manifest'). Via intuition, form, love, concentration and vitality, members find themselves 'tapping the different energies each step represents'.

The centre has always attracted people who fit into the new-age mould - aromatherapists, reflexologists and homeopaths. In the 1990s, as the recession has cut swathes through white-collar jobs, more and more people are 'questioning the railway tracks they started out on', says Mr Ferguson.

So it is hardly surprising that the Breakthrough Centre makes money. Club members pay pounds 17.50- pounds 35 a month, depending on how far they live from the centre. There's a legal hotline, telecounselling, a members' directory and the noticeboard and leaflet display - crucial to the centre's networking ethos.

Profit is not a dirty word for new-agers in the business world. 'Of course we all have to make a living,' says Mr Ferguson. But attitude is crucial. 'Money is just energy, and if you are heading in the right direction, doing the right sort of thing, the money will make itself available. So money is jolly useful. When it stops coming in, it's a sign that you've got to stop and take stock.'

Mr Ferguson himself is taking stock. He is considering turning the centre into a co-op and looking at other joint ventures around the country.

(Photograph omitted)

News
news
Life and Style
Popular plonk: Lambrusco is selling strong
Food and drinkNaff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz
Voices
A Siberian Tiger
voices
News
Gardai wait for the naked man, who had gone for a skinny dip in Belfast Lough
newsTwo skinny dippers threatened with inclusion on sex offenders’ register as naturists criminalised
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
News
science
News
people
Life and Style
President Obama, one of the more enthusiastic users of the fist bump
science
Arts and Entertainment
Peter Griffin holds forth in The Simpsons Family Guy crossover episode
tv
Life and Style
Upright, everything’s all right (to a point): remaining on one’s feet has its health benefits – though in moderation
HealthIf sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Data Governance Manager (Solvency II) – Contract – Up to £450 daily rate, 6 month (may go Permanent)

£350 - £450 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: We are currently looking...

Java Developer - Banking - London - Up to £560/day

£500 - £560 per day: Orgtel: Java Developer FX - Banking - London - Up to £560...

HR Business Analyst, Bristol, £350-400pd

£350 - £400 per day + competitive: Orgtel: My client, a leading bank, is curre...

Account Manager - (Product & Account Management, Marketing)

£26000 - £30000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Account Manager - (Produc...

Day In a Page

A new Russian revolution: Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc

A new Russian revolution

Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc
Eugene de Kock: Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

The debate rages in South Africa over whether Eugene de Kock should ever be released from jail
Standing my ground: If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?

Standing my ground

If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
Commonwealth Games 2014: Dai Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Welsh hurdler was World, European and Commonwealth champion, but then the injuries crept in
Israel-Gaza conflict: Secret report helps Israelis to hide facts

Patrick Cockburn: Secret report helps Israel to hide facts

The slickness of Israel's spokesmen is rooted in directions set down by pollster Frank Luntz
The man who dared to go on holiday

The man who dared to go on holiday

New York's mayor has taken a vacation - in a nation that has still to enforce paid leave, it caused quite a stir, reports Rupert Cornwell
Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business, from Sarah Millican to Marcus Brigstocke

Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business

For all those wanting to know how stand-ups keep standing, here are some of the best moments
The Guest List 2014: Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks

The Guest List 2014

Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks
Jokes on Hollywood: 'With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on'

Jokes on Hollywood

With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on
It's the best of British art... but not all is on display

It's the best of British art... but not all is on display

Voted for by the British public, the artworks on Art Everywhere posters may be the only place where they can be seen
Critic claims 'I was the inspiration for Blanche DuBois'

Critic claims 'I was the inspiration for Blanche DuBois'

Blanche Marvin reveals how Tennessee Williams used her name and an off-the-cuff remark to create an iconic character
Sometimes it's hard to be a literary novelist

Sometimes it's hard to be a literary novelist

Websites offering your ebooks for nothing is only the latest disrespect the modern writer is subjected to, says DJ Taylor
Edinburgh Fringe 2014: The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee

Edinburgh Fringe 2014

The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee
Dame Jenny Abramsky: 'We have to rethink. If not, museums and parks will close'

Dame Jenny Abramsky: 'We have to rethink. If not, museums and parks will close'

The woman stepping down as chair of the Heritage Lottery Fund is worried