Here’s an interesting and original business idea that could be for you if you’re looking for a part time/sideline business you can work from home – and you have good personal/organisational skills.

Can you believe there are people who will pay you £50 an hour or more to do simple jobs for them?

Things like shopping, paying bills, filling the car with petrol, walking the dog, making a restaurant booking, picking up dry cleaning, researching a holiday…

Well there are! And it could make a fantastic business opportunity for you.

Personal assistant/concierge services do all the things that the concierge in a good hotel would do, and lots more. But they operate quite separately from hotels, as independent businesses. Doing tasks, chores, errands – call them what you like – for better-off customers at home.

So how could you start a successful personal assistant/concierge service of your own?

* Offer it to the right customers. This isn’t a service for ordinary members of the public. It’s for people on high incomes, cash-rich time-poor people who can easily afford this kind of service and are willing to pay for it.

So focus in on the wealthiest suburbs, towns and villages in your area.

* Decide what sort of jobs you want to do. You can offer to do ‘everything’. Or you can just offer certain services.

Here are some of the day-to-day jobs that personal assistants do:

Personal administration and bill paying. Grocery shopping. Finding and hiring tradesmen to do household maintenance. Organising a party. Buying cards and gifts for birthdays etc. Clothes shopping. Booking flights or holidays. Finding and vetting a cleaner or babysitter. Getting quotes for a new carpet. Arranging for cars to be washed, serviced, taxed and MOT’d.

* Some concierge services are provided in the client’s own home or immediate area. Others can be run over the phone or Internet, as a kind of virtual personal assistant service.

* Do some marketing. Make sure you advertise in the right places – such as lifestyle magazines. Make a list of companies in your area and write introductory letters to the chairman or managing directors. Do some networking: Ask upmarket golf clubs, financial advisers, property letting agencies, top football clubs, polo clubs, gyms and prestige car dealerships if they would introduce you to their clients and contacts.

Remember, because you’re charging a high hourly rate you don’t need many customers. So it doesn’t matter if there is a recession. With just two or three you could have a very profitable small business.

* When it comes to setting your rates… don’t undersell yourself. I think you should be looking at charging at around £50 an hour. Maybe even £100 or more in London and other wealthy areas. Plus out-of-pocket expenses on top.

* Be very professional at all times. Dress smartly. Be courteous and polite when dealing with your clients and their family. And of course totally discreet – never discuss the tasks you are undertaking with anyone else. If possible gather together some references to show potential clients. And take out some liability insurance if you’re working in their home.

* If you don’t want to do the work yourself, or if you want to expand your business, employ others to do the work. Pay your staff say £10 an hour to work for you – a very generous rate that should make it easy to find good people – while charging your clients £50 or more. With a bit of organisation you could own a successful personal assistant/concierge service earning you £40 an hour for doing, well, not much real work at all.

If you do this only employ carefully selected, vetted and reliable people to work for you.