Check Facebook once a day then do something else

Not once.

Not ONCE

Have I ever checked my Facebook feed (business or personal) and thought ‘it’s lucky I read that post or the results could have been catastrophic!

So these days I find myself checking Facebook just once in the morning for about 30 minutes. Reading, replying, posting and commenting.

Then I go and do something more enjoyable or educational like read a book on copywriting or get away from my desk and feed the chickens.

Best decision ever.



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The ugly truth about cashflow forecasts?

Is it only me who thinks that cashflow projections and business plans are a load of bollocks?

Silly thing to say? Well here’s my thinking…

I once went for a bank loan to start a business with a mate YEARS back – over twenty years ago…

…and our business model was the biggest work of  fiction since the British royal family changed their name to Windsor and started their “Honest we’re not really German” campaign…

We had cashflow projections, forecasts and a five-year business model.

It was the biggest fairy story since Snow White decided she liked them ‘short but lots of ’em!’

And the bank loved it.

We got the loan and promptly started a totally different business with the money which was quite successful.

Yes I know that some of you will consider me an amateur for daring to say this but COME ON – cashflow forecasts and projections would be great except for one thing…

real life gets in the way.

You might say ‘well they’re just there to give an indication…’, but it might be a totally WRONG indication

The economy changes for one thing.

Lehman Brothers’ cashflow forecast was about as useful as Anne Frank’s drum kit.

It’s worse in internet marketing, Google does updates, domain registrars go out of business and you lose your domains, Paypal closes your accounts, some governing  bodies somewhere changes the rules on website terminology…

…or, as I reckon is a possibility, the Euro ends up being worth less than a fart in a spacesuit.

But it’s also the reason I LOVE internet marketing – online business in general – in fact all levels of entrepreneurship…

because you don’t have to play by the rules.

In my humble opinion the biggest skill you can have as an entrepreneur is being good at problem solving

(or ‘getting yourself out of the sh*t’ as my old gran used to say)

You don’t have to ‘do’ mainstream to be in business online, and that’s what makes me passionate about IM

You can be a pioneer, you can try stuff, and can plan your business in whatever way you want to,
ignoring cashflow forecasts and any other crystal-ball gazing just because other people do it IF that’s
what you want to do.

It’s up to you.

You can make those decisions.

Why follow the instruction booklet when you can write it eh?

Try stuff. Do new things. Take chances

Be brave and have a great time doing it :)



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The ducks have gone

Well it’s almost exactly two months since two orphaned Mallard ducklings were left for us to look after.

And a few days ago the first one decided it was time to leave and flew off. The second one flew away yesterday. They can fly well at 50-60 days and since we have large bodies of water very close I presume that’s where they’ve gone.

We didn’t keep them caged (although we gave them somewhere to hide in case foxes, weasels or cats came around) and they were free to leave whenever they wanted.

Luckily they didn’t seem to imprint on us and although they were very friendly and would sit on a blanket in the garden with us, and regularly came into the house looking for something to munch, we never picked them up and slowly fed them less and less so they learned to forage for their own grub.

They got along fine with the chickens (in the pic you can see them noseying around my wife’s workroom) and free-ranged in the garden all the time.

ducksandchickens

The kids were a little upset but always understood they were never pets or anything, but it is a little sad to not have them waddling around any more, even though it’s MUCH better that they leave.

Great experience though – wouldn’t have missed it.

Good luck ducks!



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How much is enough?

Here’s my story…

A major realisation in my life came about when I realised that deferring ‘life’ until some future date (success, retirement, a certain income level) was a BIG mistake.

So I defined my income level, working hours (I was reasonably established in IM at the time) as ‘success’ and started enjoying everything that brought instead of working towards some future goal or time.

Obviously I still needed to work (still do) even if it’s just a case of sending out a promo and working 20 minutes a day. At other times I might really get into the writing process of creating a product and work 12 hours a day doing so.

I take a LOT of free time to spend with my family, walking, taking photographs, sitting in the garden, having a pint with friends and everything else that makes life worth living.

The stuff that makes you breathe a little slower and smile for no reason…those calm moments when you realise that life truly is wonderful…

The main thing was defining THAT point of my life as the point when I had acheived my own personal success. I just moved the goalposts and redefined it.

I chose not to put off fully enjoying my life until all my circumstances were right, because they never will be.

Ever.

It’s all about making the decision to enjoy life, and enjoy it NOW.

Because if you DON’T define your success as being right here right now, how long do you wait, and what circumstances will be the right ones?



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Caring for orphaned ducks

ducklings1

So now we have two wild Mallard ducklings

They’re possibly the cutest things I’ve ever seen and my wife and chidren are smitten, yet we have a strong sense of realism about having them (temporarily) living with us

I won’t go into too much detail about how they came to be here except that I wasn’t entirely happy about it (people thinking they’re doing the right thing often get it badly wrong) but they are now definitely orphaned and have nowhere else to go.

They were cold, bedreggled things when they arrived but now they’re putting on weight nicely, are swimming and seem to be happy and in perfect health. They haven’t got their own waterproofing just yet but a fluffly towel and a good heat source means they can practise in the water and keep warm immediately after.

They need to reach certain stages when we can remove their heat lamp (we’re already slowly doing this), let them live outside for longer and longer periods…right up to the point where they’ll fly away to do their own thing.

We have a tiny pond but it’s not really suitable for fully grown ducks but it just might suffice until they feel it’s time to go.

They’ve probably already imprinted on their mother (they were only a day old or so when they came to us) and they’re being treated very much like the wild birds they are although they do seem to like a snuggle once in a while. We’ve got the right food for them and as good an environment as possible excepting of course being in the wild with their mum.

The first few days were touch and go but now it’s pretty obvious they’re going to reach adult duck-hood unless something unforseen happens. We’ve taken expert advice and all seems well.

They get loads of care from the minute my daughter and I get up to let the chickens out in the morning,  right through until we go to bed so we’re keeping an eye on them most of the time.

ducklings2

It’s an amazing experience for our children and I’ve no doubt there will be tears when they leave, but all in all it’s a far more valuable educational experience than the sodding SATS tests the government are forcing on kids under 12 in the UK at the moment (kudos and support to all the parents who decided to keep their children off school today in a protest about how much stress the government is putting our children under)

So that’s it.

We are playing hotel to two Mallard ducklings.

Gorgeous creatures.

Didn’t stop me getting a large portion of ‘Chinese-style duck with egg fried rice’ from the Cantonese take-away last night though 😉

 

 

 



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Please do not touch the head

…yep… ‘head’ as in severed, pickled, 270 year old head (see photo below)

Please do not touch the head

 

It’s the head of a bloke called Francis Towneley (I took the kids to visit Towneley Hall in Lancashire one day when they were bored over the Easter hols) and he was a Catholic Jacobite who fought with Bonnie Prince Charlie to overthrow King George II

It didn’t end well. Francis was caught and sentenced to be hung, drawn and quartered.

(This next section is a bit grim)

So they hung him for SIX minutes (that’s as long as it takes to boil an egg), kicking spluttering and worst of all knowing that WORSE was to come because the hanging bit was ‘only’ for pain not execution…

…then cut him down, and while still alive, started to slice him into quarters.

Being a tough bloke – he was called ‘gay and volatile’ at the time but I’m pretty sure the meaning was different back then :) – he was STILL alive so the ‘merciful’ executioner (great name for a band) cut his throat.

After being briefly buried, his head was then dipped in preservative pitch and rammed on a spike at Temple Bar in London, which was the gate between Fleet Street and The Strand and used to mark the entrance to the city.

(See what happens to northern lads on a night out in London eh?)

It remained there for over twenty years and in fact Dr Johnson (the poet, writer and essayist) saw it in the late 1760’s.

Must have been a bit mushy by then.

To cut a long story short, it ended up behind the chapel wall at Towneley Hall in Lancashire via a London townhouse, a hat box and the indignity of occasionally being passed round the dining table by pissed-up members of the Townely family for a laugh.

So when we saw what must be the BEST sign ever in a stately home ‘Please Do Not Touch The Head‘, I couldn’t resist sharing.

The photo is difficult to see but if you zoom in his nose looks to be in remarkably good condition, and you can see the hole when the head was rammed on the spike at the top. There’s still a bit of hair there too, in fact more than my accountant has.

 

Interesting story don’t you agree?

 

 



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New arrivals – chickens.

We got chickens.

Two Silver Sussex and two Black Rocks.

Just getting them used to the run for a few days before they venture into part of the garden.

Kids totally smitten.

Four eggs so far…

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We have randy frogs

Spring is definitely here because while cleaning my teeth this morning with the bathroom window open, all I could hear was froggy croaking.

A quick investigation of our tiny pond revealed an orgy that could have been hosted by a froggy Caligula. They mostly scarpered when I came close with my camera (who wouldn’t) but these few hardy amphibians decided to put on a show.

 



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How to get paid when you hate asking for the money

Freelance consulting

 

If you build websites or sell from an online shop it’s easy to get paid – you just make sure you have plenty of payment buttons for your customers to click (although you’d be surprised how many people I work with who complain they don’t make any money yet don’t actually have any payment buttons out there!

But if you deal with people on a more personal level, for example as a freelance writer, a coach, a coder, designer or webbie it can be a lot harder than you think to actually ask for the money.

Sure, if  you’re done the work and your fee is now due, you can follow up with an invoice and then a series of emails or phone calls if the payment doesn’t arrive.

But what happens when you’re actually striking the deal?

How do you broach the subject of getting paid in that situation?

As a freelancer you’ll know that discussing the project is 90% about what your client wants, and when it comes to discussing ‘awkward’ things like your expenses, your duties and (heaven forbid) the FEE you’re going to charge it can be a lot harder to broach the subject.

Here are a few tips that might help:

1. Realise that when you talk about money your client will see you as professional not annoying. If you hire someone who doesn’t agree an hourly rate or price for a commission or project then you feel as though you’re working with an amateur, or worse, someone who is desperate and will work for any fee.

Make sure you choose a moment to discuss your rates and what you will provide. It makes things clearer for both you and your client and will help them to feel they’re dealing with a professional.

2. Use silence and don’t make excuses. When it comes down to discussing your fee, or slightly easier, when your client asks for your price say “For this project my fee is £XXX”. Then shut up. Don’t make excuses or start to mumble and excuse as to why the fee is so much. Tell them the price, smile, look them in the eye and then wait. Nine time out of ten your price will be accepted without question, but if negotion is needed, you’ve started from YOUR price, not theirs.

3. Make it easy to actually get paid. Today there are apps, plugins and card readers than mean your iPhone or tablet can become a point of sale terminal pretty much anywhere. If you find it uncomfortable to ask for your client’s card details during a meeting, DO make it clear how and when they should pay.

Tell them you’ll send them an email with payment details in it. Give live (clickable) links in your email explaining how they can pay you – BACS and Paypal are pretty much instant these days and if you include a 24 or 48 hour deadline ‘Pay by XXXX date to lock in my services’ and you’ll really stay on top of your cash control. Most of all make it really clear to your client, so there’s no confusion about payment method and terms.

By becoming confident that you’re good at your job and realising that a big part of what you do is money management, you’ll keep the cash flowing and avoid those nasty broke periods…

…and don’t forget to politiely confirm that you’ve recieved payment when it arrives!

 



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