5 Newbie Steps to Success – #1  Investing Time

Anything worthwhile requires effort. This is not going to be simple or easy.

I earn a full time income online. It took me 3 years and I had to put in a lot of time and effort. You will need to do the same.

Time

Every day you have 24 hours to invest. How much of your 24 hours do you invest in your future?

Most people “pass the time” or waste it playing games, watching TV or mindlessly browsing social media rather than investing it in their future.

[tweetthis]Once today is gone, you cannot bring it back. Use the time you have today to invest in your future.[/tweetthis]

Nobody can use every minute of their 24 hours constructively. Sleep and rest are important but you can almost certainly use more of your time than you do now. Continue reading 5 Newbie Steps to Success – #1  Investing Time

Luck – Take Control and Make Your Own Luck

Have you had a bad day?

Are you feeling down in the dumps?

Do you feel like other people have all the luck?

I’ve been there, I know how you feel, but I have found a solution. I make my own luck.

How Do You Get Lucky?

We all make our own luck all the time. If we are negative we attract bad luck. If we are positive we attract good luck. I

lucky crossed fingers

know it is very difficult to be positive when all kinds of unfortunate things are happening in your life but if you want to change your luck that’s what you have to do.

What is Luck?

Random events happen to everyone, but most are not really random. Events happen as a result of something you have done.

I hear people talk about good luck in avoiding car accidents.

It’s not good luck but high-level driving skills that allow the driver to anticipate what other road users might do. It is about reading the road ahead and setting up the car for the safest route through a bend. It is about having good tyres and a well-maintained vehicle. It is about concentration, never using the phone, never driving after drinking alcohol and not playing loud music while you are driving. None of that is luck.

The only bad luck I can imagine happening to a driver is if lightning strikes his car or if a bridge suddenly collapses in an earthquake.

What about other aspects of life? The same principles apply. You can control many aspects of your life that people think are random. If you want to be in the right place at the right time you need to put yourself out there; if you are in enough places then one of them is going to turn out to be at the right time.

How Do You Make Your Own Luck?

You make the right decisions. If you realise you have made a bad decision you undo it as far as you can and start afresh. None of us get things right first time every time, but you can do better second time around.

Talk to People

Luck often involves talking to the right people. That is only going to happen if you talk to lots of people; some of them will make good things happen for you. If you do not talk to people then why should any of them help you in any way?

Help People

I would go further and say that you need to help others, to pay it forward. Where’s the logic in that, you ask? I think it just makes you a better person, someone who is less wrapped up in himself and who others will see as being someone to associate with.

Lucky people all live like this; if you want to attract good luck then you must live by the same rules.

Make the Right Choices

Use your time wisely, constructively. There is a massive amount of knowledge out there that you need to learn. This is just as important as getting out there and meeting people.

Rather than reading a magazine or newspaper try downloading a self-improvement book or talking to the people around you.

Rather than updating your Facebook status take notice of the things that are happening all around you, the things you miss because you are engrossed in your online “social life”.

Rather than watching soap operas on television log on to TED.com or Upworthy.com for inspiring videos and stories.

luck man silhouetted against the sky
Make your own luck

Take Control of Your Luck

You will always have good luck and bad luck. The thing is to grasp every element of good luck and make the most of it, use it to increase the likelihood of more good things happening. When bad luck happens just shrug it off and move on.

How Lucky Am I?

I count myself as lucky enough. I lost my job in 2010 and now realise that was the best thing that could have happened to me. I have grown mentally since being forced to generate my own income. I have networked and helped people and my life is richer for having met those people. Every penny I have earned in the past four years has come from people I have met online, people I have helped.

How Lucky Are You?

Are you ready to take control of Lady Luck, to increase the probability of good things happening in your life?

You have made a start by reading this. The next step is up to you. Can you change your unlucky habits and learn new, lucky ones?

Please use the comment box to respond to this article, to share your story. Your email address will not be published, so your privacy is secure.

Phil Turner is a writer from Cork in Ireland. He helps people to improve their lives and to realise their entrepreneurial dreams.

Phil organises conferences and seminars where he helps participants to change their dreams of a better life into reality. Follow Phil on Twitter @Philtrate and on Google G+.

Give Up the Day Job and Become a Writer – I Did and Here’s How

In 2007 I had a steady job, bought a new house and just pottered away. In 2008 Lehmam Brothers crashed and the economy plummeted. In 2009 the writing was on the wall, the company I was working for was downsizing. In 2010 I lost my job. The Depression of 2008-2014 was the best thing that could have happened to me.

My Day Job

I worked in a security company in Ireland from 2004 -2010. The job involved driving around Ireland in an armoured van with colleagues who wanted to take short-cuts rather than to do the job right. We had to park the van illegally and then try to talk our way out of any parking tickets we received. The van had no air conditioning which was a problem because the windows did not open either and there were days over the summer when the temperature inside the cab got as high as 400C. The job also involved answering alarm calls at night to banks. Sometimes I would have a series of calls all night, followed by a 6am start for the van-driving day job.

Unemployment

In Ireland I was entitled to twelve months of weekly payments because I was unemployed. I also had a redundancy payment, but I had a large mortgage that amounted to three times the money that was coming in. I was 57 years old and my chances of a job were zero, so I started writing articles online because it was the only way I could think of that might keep the roof over my head.

Self-Employment

Four years later the article writing still gives me an ongoing income that is higher than I was earning in the security job. It took a while to build the contacts and reputation, but things are good. Article writing on a payment per article basis is not something I want to do forever. I need to transition my time to earning residual income from books I have written months or years ago rather than it all coming from work I have done this month.

Writing an ebook
A writer’s life is a happy one.

Being a Writer

I am a writer and that means I have to write pieces that are more than 1,000 words long that actually say something. I have written one book and am writing a lot more on education-related subjects (I used to be a teacher). I am also writing a series of novels. Many people want to be writers but have no idea how to start. Here’s how I started to give you a few ideas.

1)     Start writing articles for websites that give you a share of advertising revenue You will not get rich, but you will improve your writing and you will make contacts.

2)     Believe in Yourself You have to believe in yourself or nobody else will. If you are ever to get paid writing jobs then you need to be confident.

3)     Help Others This is the single most important aspect of developing your reputation. You have to help people in their writing. Forget the idea that you are helping your competitors; the people you help are highly unlikely to ever compete directly with you for writing jobs. Others will see you being helpful and their respect for you will increase. Those you help will want to pay you back by helping you when they are able to. It really is about ‘paying it forward’

4)     Keep Your Eyes Open Look out for the main chance. Always be on the lookout for paying writing work. If you are an active member of a good writing forum, G+ or Linked In group you will be offered paying projects by other members if they know you are looking for paid writing work. Every cent I have earned over the past four years has come from forum contacts.

5)     Outsource You are limited in your earnings by the number of hours in a day that you can write for. If you employ others you earn less per project but you can take on many more projects. Your writing business needs to grow if it is to provide you with a full-time income. Writing articles for cash is not going to pay your mortgage for long.

6)     Keep Growing You must continue to grow as a writer. It really is a case of ‘grow or die’. You need to start writing longer pieces. E-books are a great example of a medium that allows writers to grow; they can be 2,000 words or 100,000 words, have low cash investment requirements and appeal to more people all the time.

Should You Give Up the Day Job?

Probably not, but you do need to develop an exit strategy before it totally stunts your mind. I wish I had started writing years ago, while I had a secure income. I would advise anyone to start working online before they lose their job. I would never have given up the security of a weekly wage but redundancy gave me my way forward, the time and energy to devote to writing.

Can I Help You to Give Up the Day Job?

I wish I’d had someone to show me the way to earn money as a writer. If you need help getting started all you have to do is to ask. If you comment here, I check all comments before they go live and will get back to you individually.

What Happens to Your Business when You Die?

The only thing certain in life is that we all die. If you have not made plans for your business then it will die at the same time.

  • Are you the only person with access to your clients?
  • Are you the only one who really understands how the business works?
  • Are you the only one with access to your banking and accounting details?

No business continuation planning guarantees that your business will fail. Most work-from-home businesses depend on one person; if that man or woman dies then the business comes to a crashing stop.

Is this Depressing?

One of the changes that occurs with age is that you accept the inevitability of death. You cannot avoid your life ending but you can mitigate its effects.

If your business stops, then your family’s income stops, dead.

Selling the Business

A business that is effectively one person is not a business after that person’s death. It is worthless; it will generate no income, so any business sale will only be of the business assets. The sale price will in no way reflect its earnings while you were alive.

Many business owners have this fond idea of selling their business either before or after their death. They are living in Cloud Cuckoo Land if there are no continuation plans for the business in place.

Planning is the Key

Most business continuation consultants are only interested in selling you insurance. This is the real world: If you are more than 50 years old then your business cannot afford to buy insurance to pay someone’s salary for a year to replace you.

Most people just run their home business from day to day, taking decisions as needed, taking orders and ordering stock. They have a contact list, a website and an accountant and that is pretty much it.

You need to bring people into the business and to immerse them in it so that they understand every aspect of the way the business runs.

Analyse Your Business

Most of us do what needs doing and never actually list the hundred and one business-related tasks we do each day. The first step in continuation planning is to know what you do. The second step is to train someone or a group of people to be able to do those tasks as well as you do.

You cannot expect even a family member to step in and to put in the same time that you put in, but you can bring in family members as employees and gradually teach them about the different aspects of the business so that they come to understand it over time.

Some people argue against employing relatives and there are some risks. However, if your business is sound and if you can bring people in without them having to give up other paid employment then it is a win-win situation.

There is more trust between two people who have known each other for decades or grown up together.

Categorising Business Tasks

In most businesses tasks fall into one of three categories:

  • Communication
  • Processes
  • Payments

Often it is the payments category that is overlooked when business owners are planning how their business will continue without them. Processes are fairly easy to outsource or to teach to others, communication systems can be changed fairly simply with a little forethought but payment systems are the biggest obstacle to any business continuing in the event of the death of the prime mover and shaker.

Any forward-thinking business owner needs to address all three task categories to have confidence in the future.

Case Study 1

Alan had a writing business that he ran from home. In the beginning he did all the writing himself, but soon realised that his income was going to be limited by the number of hours he could write in a day.

Alan joined an outsourcing site and hired writers to handle the article writing work. He paid them for their work before he was paid by his client, carrying the risk of non-payment himself. Alan made less profit on each article, but more overall because he could take on many more article orders.

After a few years the business was generating a good income, but Alan was 64 years old and realised that the business would stop producing income for his family if he died. There would be no money to pay the bills, including the mortgage, the house would be re-possessed and the family made homeless.

Alan’s Processes

Finding writers and new clients were the most important processes in Alan’s business. He had been finding writers and editors using oDesk. Alan had been finding new clients largely through his personal contacts and forum activity on a range of sites. Finding writers and editors was something he could assign to a trusted employee.

Finding new clients was a bigger problem. Alan solved it by asking other family members to become involved in the search for new business. This would also prepare the way for him to take a step back from the business in a few years’ time.

Alan’s daughter had young children and wanted to give up her full-time job. He asked her to edit the articles that his writers were sending as a first step. This gave her a taste of the business and she was able to do the editing between school runs.

Alan also brought in one of his sons as a second-line editor to do the final proof-reading that he had been doing himself.

Alan’s Communications

These were happening using Alan’s personal email and G+ accounts. Alan set up a few email accounts using the company’s website, so his email was something like Alan@mybusiness.com. He set up new email addresses and a new company G+ account through Gmail for companies. The cost of this including Google Vault was $10 a month, which was tax deductible as a business expense as well.

Alan’s Payments

Alan was paying writers using his personal PayPal and bank accounts. His payments were coming in through the same accounts. Alan knew that when he died all his accounts would be frozen, so this had to change. He has spoken to his accountant about and asked him to find out about the best options that are available, so he has started this process moving.

Case Study 2

Patrick was a plumber. He had grown his business for 30 years and was in his 50s when he began to think about retirement.

Patrick ran his business from home in a small town in England. He had a house with a large yard where he kept his vans and where business was run from. For the last few years Patrick had largely been a manager, sending out his plumbers to handle the jobs and visiting them while they were working to make sure everything was going well and that customers were happy.

Patrick had built up the business and his reputation in the town over decades and knew that he could sell the business when he retired. He also knew that anyone who bought the business would give him less for it than the business would generate if he could keep it in the family.

Patrick’s Processes

Patrick’s business depended on his reputation and on repeat custom. Managing his reputation depended on his quality control processes. Patrick had brought his son into the business as an apprentice and had trained him himself. He knew his son was totally trustworthy and would never take shortcuts in his work.

Gradually Patrick assigned more and more of the quality control to his son but he realised that he needed a manager as well, someone who would run the business according to Patrick’s instructions because he was being paid a salary to do just that.

He hired a manager who he gradually assigned more of the business’s processes to. The manager gradually took on tasks such as finding new contract customers, dealing with the accountants and vehicle maintenance and replacement. The manager and Patrick’s son took over recruitment of new employees between them with Patrick’s oversight.

The business still ran from a converted stables building in Patrick’s back yard so he knew everything that was happening and was able to keep overall control of the direction it was moving in.

Patrick’s Communications

Most of Patrick’s customers contacted him by phone when they needed work. The business had a website that had Patrick’s contact details and that was it.

Patrick gave his phone to his son so he would no longer be woken up at 3 o’clock in the morning with tales of overflowing toilets and burst pipes. The business office was now manned by Patrick’s daughter, who was paid a wage for managing the office.

Patrick paid a local company to develop his website because he realised that new customers wanted to be able to check out his business before asking for a quotation. The website developer also trained Patrick’s daughter so that she could update the site and showed her how to set up business social media accounts.

Patrick’s Payments

Patrick’s business was set up as a limited company in the early days, so he knew that the finances would carry on in the event of his death. The company had its own bank account that all payments went through.

How Will Your Business Survive?

You can start the business survival process by analysing your business processes, communications and payment systems. You know your business better than anyone else and you know which tasks can be done by others. If you have no family members who want to take on the jobs then you will need to hire employees and to train them long before you plan to step back from the business.

The transition from a one-man-band to a company with its own bank accounts, managers and other employees takes many years. You need to start now.

Talk to your accountant and explain that you need to set up systems to ensure that the business continues to generate an income for your family even after you are dead and buried. The accountant should be able to give you advice regarding company formation and bank accounts.

 

What processes can you assign to someone else?

How can you modify your communication systems so that they are less dependent on you?

Have you set up a company  bank account?

The Great College Hoax – Why Are Teens Actively Discouraged from Making Jobs for Themselves?

More education is automatically seen as a good thing, but this is a scam, a hoax, a con trick.

If education was free then the argument would be more convincing, but with the spiraling costs of even a first degree it really is time to think again.

Do your son’s teachers just assume he is going to college?

Has the school discussed other options such as self-employment?

Has your daughter been shown how to find a job?

What entrepreneurial skills has high school taught your teenager?

The College Con Trick

I have seen education as a teacher, as a parent and as an entrepreneur. Parents are persuaded towards college or university for their offspring from an early age. Our children are immersed in the education system for more than ten years; every day they are indoctrinated into the belief that more education makes you a better person.

What Use Is College?

A Bachelor’s degree is next to useless except as a step towards a Master’s: Employers are besieged by job applicants with irrelevant first degrees. All that a B.A. or a B.Sc. does is to show you have spent three years studying, drinking and having fun. Anything less than a first class degree simply demonstrates that you were out of your depth on the course.

Why Do Teens Want to Go to College?

Nobody wants to make a sudden break with what they have known for ten or twelve years. Filling in a college or university application is a NON-decision for most; it is the easy option, a cop-out

Young people are persuaded by their teachers, universities and the media that they need a degree to get on in life. They have had full-body immersion in education since infancy and know no other world. There is also a lot of peer pressure of course, “everybody” goes to college and it is a rare 16 or 18 year old who will do something totally different from her friends.

Why Do Teachers Push Students towards Higher Education?

A teacher’s job depends on how many students the school can attract. That depends on how parents perceive the school, which, in turn depends on exam results and how many students go on to college or university. Teachers cannot give unbiased advice to their students if their own jobs depend on persuading those same students to carry on with their education.

Most teachers are actually convinced that their students will benefit from further immersion in the education system. It is all they have ever known themselves and it worked for them. Teaching is that rare career that you can pursue with just a Bachelor’s Degree in a related field.

Why Do Colleges Want More Students?

Colleges and universities are businesses. Their income depends on how many students they can attract so they are hardly independent sources of wisdom and advice.

Colleges run courses that students want, rather than courses that will lead to a highly-paid job. This is why Sociology, Media Studies and Anthropology courses are popular, and why there are so many graduate students with qualifications in these subjects on unemployment benefits or working in call centres.

Thirty years ago higher education was designed for the most able students; nowadays it has been dumbed down for the large number of young people who have no choice. I have personally employed graduates who have no idea about written grammar and zero understanding of what a deadline means. These are the real-world skills I need: I have no need for an in depth understanding of how gorillas interact with humans in Namibia.

Why Does Society Want Students to Continue their Education?

Governments want to keep young people off the unemployment register and they will do everything they can to persuade parents and their teenagers to fork out the cash for a university or higher degree course to save the government and taxpayers making social security payments to people who have no job.

Parents naturally want to do the best for their children and traditionally this has been seen as staying in the education system as long as possible.

This is no longer the best option.

Higher education is only suited to three groups of people:

  • Students who are training for medicine, veterinary science or law
  • Very academic students who will go on to achieve at least a Master’s degree
  • Adults who know what they want to do with their lives and need further qualifications

What are the Alternatives?

There are both traditional and modern alternatives to college and university.

Traditional Jobs

Learning a trade through an apprenticeship is still a great training for a career. We needed plumbers one hundred years ago, we still need plumbers today; we will always need plumbers. The same can be said about electricians and carpenters.

Trainees are even paid; not much, but it is infinitely better than college students who have to borrow money for the privilege of attending classes.

Entrepreneurship skills can be learnt, but schools do not teach them, so it is up to parents. Many young people have ideas that can be developed into a business; tee-shirt printing, selling sweets (candies), dog walking, computer networking and giving tuition to other students are examples I came across when I was teaching.

Modern Jobs

The Internet means that even a high school student can earn money online. Anyone can set up a website, though the financial side has to be organised through an adult. The website can earn money through ads or by selling products; the products can be anything from printed mugs to designer watches.

What Can a Parent Do?

We have to put aside the bias towards education that we have been indoctrinated with for 30 or 40 years and see the world as it will be in 20 years’ time. We need to teach our children the real-world skills they will need to become entrepreneurs.

Father teaching daughter
Father and daughter working together

What Are the Entrepreneurial Skills They Will Need?

  • Attitude
  • Networking
  • Persistence
  • Financial skills
  • Time management

 

1)     Attitude is something we can definitely help our children to acquire. As parents we can counter some of society’s bias towards higher education by actively considering other options with our sons and daughters. We can encourage them to consider a real-world job after high school or support them in self-employment. It is difficult for a teenager to do anything different from their friends, but if you can help them realise that by doing so they can be truly independent  six years  before their friends then you will have a good chance.

2)     Networking is the biggie for any adult entrepreneur and many businesses fail because of poor networking skills. We can teach our children how important it is to give a good impression of themselves, to dress appropriately and to have self-confidence. We can demonstrate the principle of “paying it forward” ourselves by helping other people at every opportunity and developing a good reputation in our own communities. We can help them to learn that networking is really just about helping others rather than just spending hours each day on social media sites.

3)     Persistence is something that we can encourage in our children from an early age. We can reward them for completing difficult tasks and we can give them age-appropriate activities that require continued effort in order to succeed. We can also set examples of course, working alongside our offspring to complete tasks that require persistence and then celebrate together when the job is done.

4)     Financial skills need to be taught to all children but it is particularly important if we want to encourage them towards self-employment. We need to make our children’s allowances dependent on their doing simple jobs around the house. Advances of allowances should never be allowed and the importance of saving for special treats must be emphasised.

5)     Time Management is a skill that every entrepreneur needs and one that many adults find difficult. It is something that is easiest to teach by example by always using our own time effectively. Every family activity needs to be a conscious decision; the TV should only be turned on when there is a program worth watching for example. We should be using every minute of our 24 hours each day by doing something, rather than just “passing time”. We can help our children and teens with organisation, but at the same time expect them to take increasing responsibility for managing their own schedules.

Work alongside Your Children

Children learn by example, they need guidance and help, especially if you want to go against the flow with your parenting ideas. You need to develop a culture of entrepreneurship from a very early age.

Set Up a Family Business

This can be as simple as starting a tee-shirt business on Zazzle.com. The whole family can contribute design ideas and work on marketing the tee-shirts to friends and contacts.

Start an eBay business, a drop-shipping business or sell plants you grow from seeds or cuttings. There are many business possibilities that you can start with little cash and that will use the talents of each family member

It is worth doing this even if you have a secure job because of the way it encourages everyone to pull together as a team. It shows your children the necessity of having a back-up plan.

Encourage Networking

Whatever your children ultimately do with their lives, their success will depend on their ability to communicate with the people around them. This is about much more than having social networking accounts; rather it is about networking in the broader sense, about helping people to solve problems and paying it forward all the time.

If you set an example, then your kids will see this as a normal and natural way of living. They will see the way that people hold you and your family in high regard. This could be as simple as helping out elderly neighbours with jobs around the house and garden or visiting lonely old people who need someone to talk with. It could be asking neighbours if they want any shopping while you are going anyway.

We need to move away from the isolated family model of society that has been prevalent for the last forty years and back towards connected family units that do things for each other.

Play an active role in community organisations yourself and encourage your children to participate at every opportunity; if they see that you are involved then they will see it as natural to join in themselves.

Developing Entrepreneurial Skills

We all acquire knowledge every day, knowledge that we do not even think about. We all learn from our environment and from the people we interact with. Schools and colleges have a part to play in that learning environment but only a minor part.

Most of our day is spent with family so the family is the main source of knowledge, of learning new skills and putting information together in new ways.

You have more to teach your children than you will ever realise; as you do everyday things with them you will pass on much of your own knowledge without even trying to.

This is what will make your children capable of the independent thinking they will need to become entrepreneurs themselves rather than fodder for college and university courses.

What are Your Thoughts?

Will you encourage your children to go to college?

Are you an undergraduate student who is in the wrong place?

Do you wish you had done things differently?

Should school be abolished altogether?

Please use the comment box below to contribute to the discussion. This is your chance to be heard rather than being part of the herd mentality that has pushed young people towards degrees that do not lead to jobs.

 

The Secret to Business Success – 4 Ideas More Important than Money

Are you in business to make money? Most of us are.

Do you spend all your time thinking up new ways to make money? Stop!

There’s a better way.

Money is the final stage in a process whereby you have to find a need and come up with a a way to satisfy it.

Idea 1 – Stop Thinking about Money

We all need cash, but thinking about getting it is counter-productive in the long run. Nobody likes to give their hard-earned cash to somebody who they see as a smash and grab guy. Most people are happy to reward you for effort and a good job or product.

Think about your service or product from the customer’s perspective:

  • Does it make the customer’s life easier?
  • Does it solve your customer’s problem?
  • Does it make your client smile?

If you can answer ‘Yes’ to these three questions then your business will succeed. Your customer will be happy to pay you because he or she is happier as a result of what you have supplied.

Idea 2 – Start Thinking about Helping People

Help people at every opportunity. Don’t wait for a chance to make money by helping them. We all have long memories and most people will feel a sense of obligation to someone who has helped them for no reward. You will get your reward at some point, but today just think about how you can make life better for the people you meet in your business as well as in your personal life.

Every time you help someone you are building your Reputation and Contacts, two of the pre-requisites to persuading people to buy from you.

Every time you use your brain and ingenuity to solve a problem you are increasing your Knowledge.

If you invest your Time in growing your Knowledge, developing your Reputation and Growing your Contact list then Money will automatically follow; every time.

Idea 3 – Discover What People Need

How do you know what help people need? You listen to them.

Listen to friends, family and everyone you meet. In today’s connected world, listen to your online contacts, too. Join G+ communities and read, make helpful comments when you can, but most of all look for problems that people have. If you can come up with a few solutions to people’s problems then you have a business.

Your business should react to and solve the problems that people have. If you can solve their problems in a new way then your business has a chance. Try to think outside the box. Brainstorming with a partner is often more successful than trying to brainstorm on your own. The two of you will see more possibilities in each idea that you come up with.

 

Idea 4 – The Power of Love

Spread a little kindness. You will be amazed at the results.

Nobody expects kindness and you can make people very happy by simple actions. Just smiling at people and talking with them as people rather than as customers will have an enormous impact on your business.

There are two hardware shops in my local town; both are small family-run businesses.

One has surly staff members who never give you the time of day, not even the faintest glimmer of a smile. The other employs people who rush to open the door for you and talk to you because they are really interested in you. There is no pretence, they really are interested; they remember your name, ask after your health and remember what you bought last time.

Which shop would you rather spend your money in?

If you employ staff be careful to choose people who are genuinely interested in other people and treat them well. If your employees are unhappy with the way you treat them then they will come across to customers as happy.

Treat your staff well or you end up with surly employees who make customers unhappy just by looking at them.

Make People Happy

Be happy in what you do. Happiness spreads like wildfire.

If you are thinking or worrying about money then it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy – If you make your potential customers miserable they will want to get away from you as quickly as they can. If customers are happy they are much more likely to buy from your business.

If your customers are happy then they will talk to you, you can find out what problems they have. This gives you the opportunity to help them and come up with solutions to their problems, solutions that will drive your business success.

Will Cash Flow Problems Kill Your Business, Too?

Cash flow is about how much cash you can lay your hands on at any time. You may have made 200% profit on the goods you have supplied but it only affects your cash flow when you have the money in your hand.

Cash flow problems kill many start-up businesses, particularly those that are selling to other businesses.

All businesses put off paying bills as long as they can so that their own cash flow is better. Your sales to other businesses carry two risks:

  • That the business may go bust and never pay you, meaning you could go bust too if it is a large invoice
  • That payments of your invoices will be delayed, meaning your available cash is reduced

How to Avoid Cash Flow Problems

1.      Market Your Services or Products to Consumers

Consumers expect to pay for their goods or services immediately, in cash. Your risk is reduced to almost zero. If consumers do not pay cash then they do not get the goods and you can sell them to someone else. If your business is a service-based one then ensure that you are paid frequently so your risk is reduced to the hours that you worked on a job.

If you do sell to other businesses then be very careful about the credit terms you extend. If you offer a discount for prompt payment you will find your invoices are paid sooner, just factor the discount into the price you quote in the first place.

2.      Ask for Cash

Expect to be paid in cash immediately rather than in favors or goods; you can only pay your own bills with cash.

3.      Keep Records

Look up how much cash you had at the end of each of the past six months. In a healthy business this amount of available cash will show an increasing trend, this is called positive cash flow. If the amounts are getting smaller then you have negative cash flow and a problem that you need to get a hold of.

4.      Plan Ahead

You know when your tax bills are due. Make sure that you have enough cash on hand to pay them. If you spend every cent that comes in and have nothing left for the government, your business will soon be at an end. Work with an accountant to predict your tax liability.

5.      Delay Your Own Payments

If an invoice says payment due in 21 days NEVER pay it immediately. The extra cash sits in your pocket for that 21 day period and increases your liquidity, possibly preventing you from going into the red.

cash flow

6.      Invoice Factoring

This is where you sell your invoices to a bank. Usually you get around 75% of the invoice amount immediately and another 10-20% when the invoice is paid. The bank takes a small cut for providing the service and carrying the risk.

You can factor all your invoices or just the ones that are proving troublesome to collect on. Overdue invoices carry a larger risk for the bank, so you will have to pay more if you only use a factoring service for invoices that are overdue.

I was an Internet Marketing Sucker

Are you tempted by all the Internet marketing emails and ads you see? I was, and I spent $2,000 in just one year chasing the dream.

I am not proud of my stupidity but perhaps I can help you to avoid the same mistakes I made.

What Is Internet Marketing?

You have probably seen the ads for the dream lifestyle that goes with being an Internet marketer. The reality is very different.

The people selling the dream are leeches: They suck the money out of your credit card account and give you nothing back. They sell you a silver bullet solution that promises a fortune for zero effort in just a few weeks.

Internet marketing silver bullet

The silver bullet only costs $47, a reasonable amount for the key to riches, so people buy it. I did, too. It’s like a lottery ticket, except that you have less chance of coming out in profit.

When the silver bullet doesn’t work, you think you must have done something wrong, so you still buy the next “better” silver bullet when you see that a few weeks later.

What about all those “proofs of income”? That is because they have sold thousands of silver bullets and pulled in lots of suckers who hope to change their lives with a $47 “investment”.

Why Doesn’t It Work?

There are two main reasons why none of these get rich quick silver bullet schemes work.

  • They get rich selling the idea to you; who are you going to sell it to? You have no email list to pester every day, no hot prospects to sell to
  • They only ever give you half what you need. If they gave you the whole package for some ridiculously small sum then you would be competing with them . . .

 

Do You Even Want to be a Leech?

Have you a conscience? If you have then forget all these silver bullet plans that steal money from people under false pretences. Do you want to steal their dreams?

Why Was I a Sucker for so Long?

I am an optimist and always believe the best of people. I really wanted money in my bank account. I was prepared to work for it, too. I kept thinking that I must be doing something wrong and kept buying the next, even better silver bullet that came along.

I also suffered from “information overload”. These programs were coming at me so thick and fast, every one with a very limited deadline that I just yanked my credit card out and paid, so I did not miss the boat. I had 30 emails a day with “learning”, “education programs” and the like. I needed 28 hours a day just to take in all that information. Paying for the next silver bullet was a way of alleviating the stress I felt.

I also needed backup plans. I had so many backup options I could not even remember what they were.

Is it Possible to Make Money Online?

I am doing it.

Not from any of the silver bullet plans I bought, but by hard graft.

I am not going to show you photocopies of my bank statements or PayPal account because I have no need to do so. I am not trying to sell you anything, so I don’t need to prove anything.

I work hard. I start at 5am most mornings, sometimes as early as 2am. I work through the day until 8pm and go to bed at 9pm. I have an hour off here and there through the day but basically work an average 14 hour day, 7 days a week.

What Do I Do?

I write articles and edit others’ articles for a living. It started slowly as I built my reputation and developed relationships. Some relationships became profitable business relationships as people came to trust me. I earn my money by providing services to people who need them. I will never be rich, but it’s a job with lots of advantages:

  • I choose who I work with
  • I don’t need a car because I no longer drive an hour each way to work
  • I work hours that I choose
  • I enjoy most of what I do
  • I can grow my business by outsourcing more

Could You Make Money Online?

Yes, if you have a service to sell that others need. Forget all the silver bullet plans and Internet Marketing hype.

The Internet is a worldwide marketplace. I live in Ireland and sell my services worldwide. I have clients in the UK, USA, Canada, Australia and India. You could do the same . . .

Have you wasted money buying Internet Marketing hype?

Have you any skills that people will pay you for?

Please leave your comments and your own experiences below. Your email address is never published.

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Image source

Buying a Van for Your Business

You need a van, even if your business is an online one. A van gives you marketing space that people will see as you drive around.

Why Does an Online Business Need a Van?

Even online, people prefer to deal with local businesses where they can; a van with graphics establishes you as local and as being more trustworthy than a random business on the Internet.

Besides which everyone needs a van sometimes, even if it is only to pick up compost from the garden centre. It is also a tax-deductible expense, so it makes sense financially as well.

Van with full body grass wrap

Why Does a Real World Business Need a Van?

Your van is your main marketing medium. It will have your contact details on it, your website address and will tell people what you do. When you park outside a client’s home your van is an ad that all the neighbours will see. Some will ask your client about the job you did and will ask you to do work for them if they hear that you did a good job.

Having graphics and contact details on your van also establishes you as a genuine business with a reputation to uphold, rather than a fly-by-night operation that will disappear at the first hint of something going wrong.

What Kind of Van?

Size is the most important consideration. An online business only needs a small van, which will be a mobile advertising platform and little more. A real world business needs a van that is big enough to do the job.

Your van needs to be large enough to carry all your tools and supplies, but larger vans cost more in tax and insurance, so don’t go bigger than you actually need. Remember though that your van is your mobile office and warehouse; it needs to be large enough to access all your supplies easily.

Cost is the next most important factor and you can buy much more van for your money if you look for a used van rather than a new one. Remember though that your van IS your business; it needs to give a good impression and to look good, with no rust or dents. The best compromise is to buy a van that is 3-5 years old.

Appearance is everything: If you want to appear patriotic then buy a van from a local manufacturer rather than an import. It also needs to match your website colours, which means either having it re-sprayed or paying for a full vehicle-wrap graphics package.

 

Using Your Van

People judge by appearances. They will judge your business by the appearance of your van, so it needs to be washed frequently, as soon as it becomes dirty, rather than just once a week.

Keep it clean inside, too: If you are carrying messy supplies like soil, compost, grass cuttings and cement then invest in a small trailer to keep the inside of your van clean.

The cab also needs to be kept tidy at all times to show people that you are a tidy worker. Avoid leaving coffee cups and newspapers up on the dashboard because it gives a slovenly impression to anyone walking past. Your van needs to be in 100% showroom condition at all times if it is going to bring you new jobs.

Image source

Image source

Reasons to Find a Partner in Your Business

Most people who start a business do so on their own. We all struggle to complete the scores of daily business-related tasks ourselves; and very often some tasks are only partially completed. We put off jobs that we know will be difficult until another day and sometimes we just never get around to doing them.

This was how my own online business was, struggling at times. That was until I came across another guy in the same business; we now talk every day, help each other with daily tasks and are there for each other when things go pear-shaped.  Even as a blogger a partner gave me a massive boost.

The same is true regardless of whether yours is an online business or a real world one: A partner will improve the health of your business.

 

Partnerships as legal entities are fraught with difficulties, but even an informal partnership will help you to succeed. My partner and I each have our own strengths, so we each use those strengths to help one another. We both work on our own, but bounce ideas off each other and help each other out on a daily basis.

Another Perspective

It is very easy to lose track of reality if you are working on your own 24/7/365. Having someone to bounce ideas off can help prevent expensive mistakes. Sometimes you just need someone to talk with to make you realise that your intended action is not the best way forward.

Constructive criticism is one thing that any one-man business lacks for. You and your partner can help each other’s business to improve by providing non-threatening and helpful criticism. It is sometimes difficult to see the big picture when you are in business on your own; you can help each other with your business visions and the strategic planning needed to get there.

Extra Knowledge and Skills

I used to think I knew everything I needed to know about my online business. My partner showed me that I didn’t. He helped me to improve my website’s appearance and functionality, showed me how to analyse visitor data and gave me advice on my writing.

Nobody knows everything; ours is a world of specialisms. Each of us has unique knowledge because of things that have happened to us over our lifetime. Each of us has a different skill-set that we bring to bear to solve problems.

If you partner with someone in a related business you will gain access to that person’s knowledge and skill-set. It’s a 2-way street of course; you also get to apply your own skill-set to your partner’s business issues. You are both better off for the interaction, you both benefit by giving.

Extra Contacts

Contacts are vital to any business. If you work with a partner then you double the number of contacts you have access to.

Contacts may be social or professional, it does not matter: Your business is only a business if you have contacts.

How Do You Find a Partner?

If you are working in the real world then you will find related businesses in the normal way of things. Plumbers meet electricians and plasterers on every job they do. Gardeners call in tree surgeons to handle large trees that need bigger equipment than they have themselves. Builders meet architects and quantity surveyors. There is a lot more business done over a few drinks or a game of golf than you could ever imagine.

In the virtual world you will meet people in forums and on social networking sites. Help other people and they will help you. Gradually you will find that you are talking to a few people every day and that you have become friends and partners. It takes longer to grow trust and to develop a business relationship online but if you keep helping others and have a positive attitude it will happen.