Why you should consider becoming self-employed


There are many ways to make money and they all have their merits. Get a job with a big corporation and potentially you’ll earn a decent income and enjoy a few fringe benefits too. Get a job in the public sector and the pay may not be quite so good but the pension scheme is usually the best you’ll find anywhere. The job will be fairly secure too. Become a wage slave in any sector and you’ll make a living. However unless you work on Wall Street or in the City of London, you’re unlikely to make a fortune. If your aim is to make serious money then you should consider becoming self-employed.

We live in an age in which becoming self-employed has never been easier or cheaper. As a result of the Internet there are so many opportunities that were simply not available to previous generations.

And initially you don’t even have to give up your day job. You can start your own business as a part-time venture and keep it that way until the income your business is generating for you is sufficient for you to live on. You can even start one business to generate extra cash and as it makes money you can invest that cash into bigger and potentially more profitable opportunities.

As an employee you’re trading your time for money and that’s fine. However if your firm does well, you’re unlikely to benefit significantly from any extra profit they make. You might get a bonus but regardless of personal contribution, it’s more likely to be an incidental sum rather than life-changing money.

With your own business you can be making money whilst you’re sleeping. In fact it you want to get rich you have to start making money whilst you sleep. I can now hear you asking, but how do you make money whilst you sleep?

Let me give you some examples of online businesses that you could start with little or no money and start making money whilst you sleep:-

Selling Products Online:

Through the Internet potentially you can reach most of the people on the planet. Now think about that for a second. If you create a website or an online store then billions of people around the world will have access to it. And those people can access it whilst you’re asleep. So the potential is there for you to create something that can be generating money for you 24 hours a day 365 days every year.

Still not convinced? Let me give you some examples of businesses you could start to achieve this goal:-

Amazon:

If you’ve ever bought anything from Amazon you’ll probably have noticed that they are not always the actually seller of the item you’re seeking to purchase. Other suppliers sell their own products through Amazon via what is known as Amazon Marketplace.

And when third party suppliers sell products via Amazon they can also use a service known as Fulfillment by Amazon or FBA.

This means if you’re the seller, you simply deliver your stock of products to Amazon and they’ll handle all the logistics associated with product delivery to the buyer.

Fulfillment by Amazon:

So if you don’t want to handle your own packing, postage and delivery you can get Amazon to handle it for you. You can do it yourself of course but the point is that you don’t have to. You can just focus on finding products for your customers and Amazon will do the rest.

And remember this; those products don’t have to be new. They can be second hand items too. If you can find a suitable niche in second hand products there’s money to be made.

Consider this example. Each year graduating students have textbooks to sell. Essentially they just want to get some cash back for books they’re unlikely to read ever again. Shrewd entrepreneurs recognize that there’ll be a ready market for those very textbooks at the start of the next academic year. So they offer selling students a quick way to turn their textbooks into a little cash. And then buying students will be sold those same textbooks at a rate which will save them money on the price for the same book had it been bought new.

You can set up a website to attract book sellers and then through Amazon Marketplace the books you’ve bought cheap  can be sold at a profit. In that way you can create a profitable second hand book business.

You could repeat the same trick with music such as vinyl records and CDs, as well as films on DVD. Second-hand smartphones and other technology items could be another possibility.

Alternatively you could source your own products, e.g. skin care products, cosmetics, household products, et cetera, and then sell those via Amazon.

Plenty of people have created successful businesses with that approach. 

eBay:

When people sell stuff at a boot sale or a yard sale, they usually sell at very low prices simply because they price items for a quick sale. This is stuff they need to get rid of as quickly as possible for whatever reason. And in that there is a potential opportunity for you dear reader.

You buy these items on the cheap and you then resell them on eBay for a profit. More importantly people sometimes sell valuable stuff at boot sales and yard sales for silly prices because they didn’t realise the true value of the item.

On the British television programme Flog It, I saw a woman sell an antique item at auction for £800 having originally bought that item at a boot sale for just £1. That is a very nice profit. Yes such examples would be the exception but shrewd people can make money this way and eBay is a great vehicle for doing so.

Affiliate Marketing:

Essentially affiliate marketing is commission only selling.

Linked with the idea of Content Marketing, what this means is that if you can direct traffic to a product seller’s website which results in a sale then you will get paid a commission for that sale.

The amount of commission can be as low as 4% from the Amazon Affiliate Program to as much as 75% from some items offered through programs like Clickbank and Commission Junction.

How do you achieve this in practice?

Well despite its relatively low commission rates Amazon offers the easiest opportunity for the beginner. You sign up for the Amazon Affiliate Program and then identify a suitable niche which interests you.

Let’s say that niche is sports shoes for women. The niche does need to be focused and quite narrow. The category Shoes would be a bit too wide. You need to think about categories for which people will be searching via Google and other search engines.

So once you have a niche, you then create your own website publishing reviews of a variety of those sports shoes for women. And those reviews don’t have to be your own necessarily. They could be a summary of various reviews you’ve read elsewhere with an overall rating based on what others have been saying.

Creating a review summary by curating input from other sources is legitimate as long as you acknowledge the different sources which form the basis of your article. Essentially you’re doing the hard work for your readers and providing them with a summary and most importantly links to Amazon to make their purchase.

Why review sites are a good idea:

Review sites work with affiliate marketing because they capture buying intent and that’s important. If someone searches for a review for an item on Google then the chances are they will buy if the reviews prove to be favourable.

When producing your review articles the crucial action is to embed affiliate links within the text. Getting readers to click on those links and taking them to Amazon is how you’ll make money. If they buy within 24 hours of clicking on a link then you will get paid a commission.

Amazon commissions vary from 4% to around 10% depending on the number and type of sales for which you are credited each month. So in choosing a niche you must think about product value too. Generate low value sales and you won’t make much. However sales for items with a bigger price tag can prove very lucrative.

That said generating some low value sales can be a way of pushing subsequent bigger ticket sales into a higher commission rate. So don’t ignore them completely.

Content Marketing:

Essentially content marketing is the idea of publishing web content in order to provide the means for promoting products and services. Content marketing is closely linked with affiliate marketing but not exclusively linked to so. There are two types of content you can consider, as follows:-

(1) Written Content:

For instance, if you’re producing regular content and publishing it on your own blog then there’s the potential to generate an income through advertising.

Now selling advertising space on your blog or website is only possible if you have substantial amounts of traffic. If you’re just starting out you will not reach those levels for quite some time. However what is known as pay per click (CPC) advertising could generate money for you right from the start.

Perhaps the best known CPC program is one offered by Google Adsense. You sign up for this program, then embed Google’s links in your blog and they will insert advertising on your blog that is relevant to your content.

Every time a reader clicks on an Adsense advertisement you will get paid and it’s not purchase dependent. Readers only have to click for you to get paid.

The trick with Adsense is to have a very narrow focus for your blog. Let’s say your blog is about how to keep chickens and deal with blights like red mite. You’ll attract search engine generated traffic from people desperate to deal with the problem of red mite. Google will insert ads from companies offering products that will help with this problem and desperate people are likely to click on those ads to see what’s on offer. They click you get paid.

As long as your subject matter is focused and narrow, and ideally based on a highly searched keyword or phrase, then this can be a way to generate decent money.

(2) Video Content:

Another way to benefit from Google Adsense is to create your own YouTube channel, produce videos and again insert links from Google so that relevant pay per click advertising will appear on and around the video. Again if people click then you get paid.

Write eBooks:

Devices such as the iPad, the Kindle and other eReaders, provide you with the opportunity to self-publish your own eBooks and sell them through Amazon.

You may not be able to come up with the next Harry Potter work of fiction but there is good money to be made writing ‘How To’ books on just about any subject.

They don’t even need to be that long either. As little as 50 pages or 8,000 – 10,000 words covering a topic of general interest can be enough to produce something that will sell for one dollar or one pound sterling. That might not seem like a lot but sell 1,000 of them and you’ve made a decent sum of money.

Write something on an evergreen topic and it could sell for years. If you then write several eBooks like this, again on evergreen topics, that could become a decent income stream.

And what do I mean by evergreen? These are topics for which people have always looked for solutions. That might be something like tips for good time management or how to lose weight, et cetera.

And even if you’re not an expert you can research the necessary information and pull it together for people. Essentially you will be doing the work for them.

Develop Apps:

If you can learn to write code, and you can learn to write code, then you can also learn how to develop apps. If you can develop a killer app and sell it through the App Store then you can make serious money.

You’d love to but you don’t know where to start, right? Well there are endless videos and tutorials on YouTube and from these you can learn how to code and develop apps. Yes there’s some work to be done upfront of course. However a good app will generate money for years to come. Just think about apps like Candy Crush Saga. Produce something which becomes a real fad and there’s serious money to be made.

11 things to bear in mind:

If becoming self-employed appeals to you and you fancy making money as an online entrepreneur then here are 11 things you should bear in mind:-

  1. Know your target customers.
  2. Know your target niche or niches
  3. Know your strengths and interests?
  4. Apply your strengths and interests to serve customers
  5. Recognise that different markets need different strategies.
  6. Make sure you’re capturing buying intent.
  7. Create an image that will appeal to your target audience.
  8. With a website, traffic matters.
  9. Search engine optimization (SEO) will bring traffic.
  10. Getting back links from other websites will help with SEO.
  11. Be determined, work hard and learn as you go.

6 things you must do when you’re self-employed:

(1) Register with the tax authorities: Make money by all means but pay your taxes too. Upsetting the taxman is not a good idea dear reader wherever you live. In some countries tax regimes are more benign than in others but it’s always better to keep the tax authorities happy.

(2) Register for sales taxes and VAT: Again it’s all about paying your dues. If you do well financially then you have an obligation to share some of your wealth with the rest of society. Taxes are the price we pay to live in society and you can’t have a successful business without the society in which you live.

(3) Get a separate business bank account: Keep your business activities completely separate from your personal life. This is very important.

(4) Keep accurate and up-to-date records: You’ll need these in any dialogue with the tax authorities. You don’t want to end up paying more in tax than was necessary. Paying your dues is one thing; overpaying your dues is careless.

(5) Insure your business: When you’re in business, you’re required by law to have certain insurance policies in place. Exactly which policies you need depends on the nature of your business activities. Make sure you know your obligations and act accordingly.

(6) Keep it simple: In the early days you don’t want to be spending money you don’t have on things that are initially unnecessary. So keep everything as simple as possible for as long as possible.

Conclusion:

Self-employment can be an attractive proposition and for most people it is the only way you will ever make a fortune. It’s not easy of course but it can be done and you don’t have to ditch your day job to get started.

With an online business you can start small and build it up over time. And you can mix and match options. For instance you can start a website for making money with both Amazon affiliate marketing and Google Adsense.

A good review website can become quite profitable and once it’s generating revenues on ‘autopilot’ it can become an asset which you can sell for serious money. There are plenty of examples where such sites have sold for 6 and even 7 figure sums.

Don’t underestimate the challenges of course but it can be done and people do. Why not you? Think carefully about how best you can exploit the opportunities before you and then have a go.

Good luck and may you be the next Richard Branson.

And if you found this article useful then please share it with your friends via social media.

Other Articles:

© Roy J Sutton and Mann Island Media Limited 2017. All Rights Reserved.

How to find the right job for you

Do you enjoy your work? Do you have a job you love? Do you wake-up each morning filled with enthusiasm for the day ahead? Alternatively maybe you just feel your job allows you to earn an income but beyond that you can’t wait until 5pm when the working day is over? Perhaps you’re constantly asking how to find the right job for you? If that’s you then you’re not alone.

The acid test when you’re not sure is to ask yourself the lottery question. What does that mean? If means you ask yourself this, “If I won the lottery and money ceased to be an issue; would I continue to do the work I’m doing now or would I try something else?

Yes of course if you won the lottery you’d have a little fun with the money first, but eventually your life would need a sense of purpose and routine again. So how would you fill your time then?

If you enjoy what you do, and you are recognized as being very good at it, then you’ll do your job well and you’ll be successful at what you do. And if you enjoy what you do, you’ll never have to work a day in your life. Now how good would that be?

So if you’re not happy with your job right now, the next question to ask yourself is, “What do I really want to be?

To answer that question, you really need to consider:-

  1. What are you good at?
  2. What do you enjoy doing?

These are quite different things but if you can find the sweet spot between them then you have the basis for finding a job you’ll love. So the steps to job heaven are as follows:-

STEP 1: What are you good at?

Not merely competent but really good at? Think about that question carefully and be honest with yourself.

What activities are intuitive to you? Things you can do easily and readily without having to give them too much thought?

Ask friends and colleagues for their views, and ask them to be really honest with you. Ask people you work with about the tasks they consider you the absolutely, first choice ‘go to’ person?

Gather together this information and make a list.

STEP 2: What do you enjoy doing?

Then make a list of all the things you really enjoy doing.

Which activities really give you a buzz? What activities get you so absorbed that you really lose track of time? What activities would you do for free or as a hobby, if you couldn’t make a living at them?

Paul McCartney once said that if he couldn’t have made a living out of writing songs and playing music, he’d have done it as a hobby, simply because he loved it so much.

What activities make you feel the same way? Make that list and don’t be reasonable.

All this requires time for reflection and careful thought, as well as feedback from other people. So do give it the time it deserves.

Don’t jump to conclusions. You do want to ensure you get it right don’t you?

STEP 3: Where is the common ground between your lists?

When you have your two lists ready, the final step is to identify the common ground between them, the point at which the two lists intersect.

If you find an item that is contained on both lists then you have found the Holy Grail. Finding something you’re genuinely good at and have a real talent for, and which is also something you’d really enjoy, will give you the greatest chance of success.

It is essential you find the common ground between your lists because:-

  1. If you really enjoy it, you’ll stick with it.
  2. If you’re really good at it, someone will notice

And if you get it right, sometimes people will sprinkle fairy dust on you too.

Finding job heaven is never about luck. If you’re doing something you enjoy doing and you’re doing it well, you’ll stick with it long enough to get someone’s attention. And when you get their attention, you’ll dazzle them because you’re doing it well.

That’s not luck; it’s hard work, perseverance and timing.

Once you’ve identified what you want, the next question is, “How do you get it?” That will be the subject of another post.

Have you managed to find job heaven? If so, how did you succeed?

If you’ve any ideas you can share then that will really help your fellow readers.

Other Articles:

Money-Making Tips from the 50 Smartest People

Don’t fall for an easy money scam

How to save money with Amazon Refurbished

Money and How to Get Rich

How to save money

© Roy J Sutton and Mann Island Media Limited 2017. All Rights Reserved.

Management: 15 things every first-time CEO should know

So you’ve landed a gig in the management hot seat? They’ve given you a decent office; the key to the executive washroom; and on your office door there’s a polished plate engraved with the words THE BOSS.

It makes you beam with pride, doesn’t it? Well done! Allow me to offer you my congratulations. Your family will be truly very proud of you.

However before you get too comfortable in your high-backed, leather, executive chair let me offer you a word of advice. Enjoy the moment while you can because the honeymoon won’t last long.

You’re there to deliver results consistently and if you fail to deliver, you’ll find the sea in which you’re now swimming will become very unforgiving, very quickly.

Businesses exist to enrich their owners and your job is to deliver profit and growth, year-on-year. No one wants to hear why it can’t be done; or why it hasn’t been done; or that in some way you’ve been unlucky. Excuses count for nothing. Do or die, it’s that simple.

I’ve been in that management hot seat myself, so I speak from experience. Equally I speak with the benefit of hindsight because I’ve certainly made plenty of mistakes along the way. However what I can say is that I did make sure that I always learned the lessons from my mistakes.

Management at the highest level is tough; very, very tough. They pay you well and provide excellent perks for a reason. You never get anything for nothing. They want their pound of flesh in return.

So let me offer you the benefit of my experience now with some observations on things I wish I’d known a lot earlier.

1. Find a decent mentor:

If you’re new to the job then you don’t have to make all the mistakes yourself. It’s a legitimate strategy to learn as much as you can from the experience of others. I wish I’d found myself a decent mentor early on. An experienced, friendly ear with whom problems and their potential solutions can be explored on a regular basis.

Being king or queen of the castle is not easy. Managing people and leading them towards achieving the aims of the business is a difficult task. You might think it’s just a case of issuing orders but it isn’t quite that simple, unfortunately. You must carry people with you. If they’re not working with you then in all probability they’ll be working against you.

So if I was in your position now, I’d find a decent mentor as quickly as possible. Having a mentor is not a sign of weakness; it’s a sign of strength and a sign that you’re willing and able to learn from others.

Learning is a lifelong process. No one starts out as the finished article.

2. Relationships are everything:

When you’re the boss it’s your job to get the most out of every employee. Amongst other things, it’s your job to guide, motivate, encourage, mentor, counsel, discipline and reassure people as and when necessary.

Employees are individuals and different individuals will respond in different ways. Your job is to know the individuals and know which technique to use to get the best out of them as individuals; to get the response that you need at any given time.

In order to know people well you must develop a relationship with them over time. You must care about them and you must take an interest in them and their families.

Employees are much more likely to go the extra mile for you if they really think you care. It’s your job to show them that you care.

That’s not to suggest that you should be a pushover. You must always be firm with people but you should always be fair as well.

3. You can’t be everyone’s friend:

Now having a relationship with individuals in your team doesn’t mean you should try to be their friend.

When you’re the boss there must always be a little bit of distance between you and the people you lead. Your relationship with individuals can be cordial of course. However having close friendships with people who work for you doesn’t work.

There will be times when you have to come down hard on people; push people; and challenge them. There will be times when you have to discipline them too. Individuals must accept that they work for you and you’re in command.

At the risk of sounding a little dated, the relationship between you and the people you lead is essentially one of master-slave. You’re the authority figure and, whilst they’re perfectly entitled to express opinions and make suggestions, you must have the final say. And you must be the disciplinarian whenever necessary too.

By definition friendship is a relationship of equals. So I’m sure you can appreciate that it would be difficult to be switching from equals to master-slave and back again as circumstances dictate. In my experience trying to maintain a close friendship with someone of a junior rank doesn’t work, so don’t try.

Maintain a little distance, always.

4. You get what you tolerate:

If you don’t enforce the rules then the rules will be ignored. If you don’t insist on there being standards then there won’t be any standards. Tolerate behaviour that is less than acceptable and that’s what you’re likely to get, most of the time. Tolerate bad practice and bad practice is what you’ll get, most of the time.

As the boss it’s your job to ensure that your employees are in no doubt as to where the boundaries are and what the consequences will be for any transgression. And in the event of any transgression you must act fairly but firmly. That’s essential.

The transgressor must know that punishment follows overstepping the boundary.

However it is equally important for every other employee to see what happens should someone overstep the boundary as well.

Punishing one individual serves a dual purpose in maintaining discipline.

5. It’s not what you say, it’s what people hear:

Effective communication depends on you making sure that the receiver of your communication fully understands the message as it was intended to be understood.

Whether you communicate verbally or in writing you must ensure that your message is clear. It’s not what you say, it’s what you mean and making sure that meaning is interpreted in the way you intended is a critical skill for the boss to develop.

Just because you said it, doesn’t mean they heard it. It’s not for others to guess what you really meant. Be sure that your real message was heard and fully understood.

Effective communication is very important.

6. If you want to know the truth, walk around:

There are lots of things going on in the business that you won’t know about. There are lots of things going on that plenty of people hope you’ll never find out.

That’s a fact of life in any business but it’s your job to know. Should something go seriously wrong then you’re responsible and saying ‘I didn’t know’ is not an adequate plea when you’re being held to account.

If you spend your life locked away in your office then you’re not going to find out, until it’s too late. So it’s essential that you walk around frequently and ask plenty of questions and awkward questions too.

And when you ask questions, you must ensure that people provide you with proper answers to those questions. Don’t allow yourself to be fobbed off with some polite but meaningless response.

Keep asking questions until you know exactly what’s going on. If something looks odd, then don’t be afraid to challenge it. You’re the boss and you have a right to know.

I will often ask questions to which I already know the answer simply to see what response I get. It often provides me with an indication of whether people are being honest with me or whether they’re trying to cover something up. It provides a gauge as to whether I can trust them too.

7. Doing nothing is doing something:

There are times when doing nothing will prove to be the right strategy. A ‘do nothing’ strategy is fine providing it follows a reasoned analysis and is a decision based on a logical conclusion from your analysis.

However doing nothing due to indecision is incompetence. In these circumstances, in doing nothing you’re actually doing something. That is you’re acting in a completely incompetent fashion and potentially putting your business at risk.

As the boss, you’re the master of the ship. You’re meant to be in control and not simply being driven by events. Allow events to drive you and disaster won’t be too far away.

Indecision and inaction has the potential to damage your business and damage your reputation too.

Indecisiveness will do you no credit at all. In fact it will reflect very badly on you.

8. Hire for character:

Hiring people can be a tricky business. In my experience hiring people is one of the hardest parts of the job of being the boss.

Hire someone dishonest and it can be very damaging for the business. The consequences to the business, and potentially to your own reputation, can be very expensive it you hire the wrong person.

When I’m interviewing someone, I look for integrity first. I look for signs that the individual is honest, has a responsible attitude and has the ability to work effectively within a team. These are vital competencies I think.

Yes of course skills and experience are important. However if people lack certain skills then that gap can be plugged with training. If the candidate doesn’t have every skill you’d like then it’s possible to work around that if necessary. To arrange some training once the individual has settled into the team.

Whereas with good character, usually people have it or they don’t. If they don’t have it, then it might be a bit naïve to assume that they might develop it whilst they’re on your payroll. Better to make sure they have it right from the start.

It’s my opinion that good character is the most important factor to consider during the hiring process and it’s what I always look for first.

9. Do it right first time:

When you’re the boss there are always many demands on your time. Sometimes when you’re very busy it’s easy just to have a stab at a task and then leave the job half done. However if you can’t find the time to do the job right first time; when will you find the time to repeat it such that it’s done properly?

Allowing a bit more time to get it right first time is actually a sensible strategy. Once the job is done, it’s done and you can forget about it.

Not allowing sufficient time to do it properly is a false economy.

Good time management requires you to get it right first time.

10. Delegate wherever possible:

Identify those things which only you can do and which will allow you to make your greatest contribution to the business. It is on those things you should concentrate and into which you should channel all your energy.

Anything that can be done by someone else should be delegated. Don’t be doing what others could be doing for you. That’s not the best use of your time.

However delegation doesn’t mean just giving someone a task and then forgetting about it.

It means giving someone a task with clear deliverables and timescales and then monitoring progress on a regular basis.

Delegated tasks should remain on your ‘radar screen’ and the individual so tasked should be providing you with a regular progress report until the task has been completed.

11. Everyone should know why they’re on the payroll:

Work is just doing stuff for other people in return for money. The stuff being done is an output to be delivered.

Every employee should know exactly what it is they’re meant to deliver. They should know why they’re there and so should you.

The business is not a job creation scheme. People are your biggest cost and costs must be managed if the business is to remain profitable.

Yes, skilled resource must be there to do whatever is necessary of course. However there is a balance to be struck between making sure you’re getting the most out of people and crossing the boundary whereby people are being overworked.

You have a duty to get the most out of people but you also have a duty of care to your employees, obviously.

12. Business is show business:

Business is as much about perception as it is reality. The perception you create for your business really matters.

You have to get noticed too. You can have the best products in the world but if I don’t know you exist then your products can’t be solutions to my problems.

However even if I do know you exist, trust matters too. A good reputation will help you but that must be maintained constantly.

And a good reputation starts with excellent customer-facing systems and a great level of customer service.

13. Adapt or die:

We live in a constantly changing world and businesses must constantly adapt if they are to survive.

Yesterday’s darlings of given business sectors can today be filing for bankruptcy protection. Brands that once dominated an industry sector can tomorrow be nothing more than footnotes in commercial history. Even major corporations can collapse without warning if their executives get their corporate strategy radically wrong.

If you’re business is doing well, that’s great but don’t make the mistake of becoming complacent. A technology change or a new entrant to your sector can suddenly make life very difficult for your business.

You have to be on top of what’s going on and what the implications may be for your business. And you must keep adapting.

Your business cannot afford to stand still. Adapt constantly or your business will die.

14. Make sure there’s a little ‘me time’:

Being in the management hot seat can be all consuming if you’re not careful.

Equally you can burn out very quickly if you’re not careful as well. You’re there to deliver results not to damage your health and well-being or the relationship with your family.

So make sure you factor into your schedule a little ‘me time’ on a regular basis. And make time for your loved ones too.

15. The best leaders are all readers:

All the most successful leaders are readers. Constantly broadening their knowledge and honing their skills by reading the latest books, listening to the latest audiobooks and seeking out information through professional journals and conference papers.

Make sure you spend a minimum of 30 minutes each day reading. If you can get through one book a week then over a year you will have consumed a PhD’s worth of knowledge. Over time you’ll become one of the most informed leaders in your field.

Here are five books you should consider having at the top of your reading list:-

The ONE Thing: The surprisingly simple truth behind extraordinary results by Gary Kemp and Jay Papasan

The premise of this best-selling book is that whilst multitasking may seem like an efficient approach, it is in fact better to focus on one objective at a time as this will boost your productivity and work wonders for your life generally. This book is a best-seller for a reason and you can check it out by clicking on the link.

Manage Your Day-to-Day: Build your routine, Find your focus and Sharpen your creative mind by Jocelyn K Glei

This book will help your get the most from your workday and with input from 20 leaders you’re bound to learn something, so it’s well worth your time. Again, check it out by clicking on the link

Tools of Titans: The tactics, routines and habits of billionaires, icons and world-class performers by Timothy Ferriss

If you want to be successful then identify successful people and copy what they do. This book is a compilation of the best take away points from over 200 hundred interviews carried out by Tim Ferriss with business people, athletes and celebrities. Again you can’t fail to learn something if you read this. So check it out by clicking on the link now.

The 7 habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R Covey

This book has been on the best-seller list for quite a few years now and it’s a best-seller for good reason. Stephen R Covey explains that success is as much an attitude as it is about lifestyle. His themes range from self-mastery to being proactive. This book will mould your attitude and outlook towards achieving success. Check it out by clicking on the link.

Start with Why: How great leaders inspire everyone to take action by Simon Sinek

Challenging your team to achieve their full potential can be a rewarding experience. Simon Sinek studied some of the most influential leaders in the world, looking at what they do, and documented his findings. This is an excellent book and well worth the cover price. Check it out by clicking on the link.

Other Articles:

Money-Making Tips from the 50 Smartest People

Don’t fall for an easy money scam

How to save money with Amazon Refurbished

Money and How to Get Rich

How to save money

© Roy J Sutton and Mann Island Media Limited 2017. All Rights Reserved.

9 Tips for getting the most from work

Do you feel valued by your employer? Companies are very good at trotting out platitudes like, “Our employees are our most important asset. We value our employees.” However you have to ask yourself how many really mean it? The answer is next to none in my experience.

To be fair many employers probably think they mean it at the time. Staff in the HR department may be very genuine when they issue such statements. However the reality is almost always quite different, however right on and trendy your employer tries to be.

Rarely are employees truly valued by their employers. Most companies regard people as a commodity to be used when they are useful and then discarded when they are perceived to be no longer of use.

So what does this all mean? Well for a start it means that you have to look after your own interests. If you don’t no one else will.

Here are my 9 tips for getting the most from work.

1. Take a pragmatic view

Now, reading this,  you might think that I have a jaundiced view of companies and corporate life. Actually I don’t; this is simply a realistic and pragmatic view based on many years of experience.

Work is just doing stuff for other people in return for money. If a company has stuff that needs doing then they are willing to pay good money to get it done. However once that work has been done, or is no longer required, then employers see no reason to retain people. Why would they?

So be realistic and take a pragmatic view. That way you won’t be disappointed.

2. Recognise the psychological contract

Let’s be fair, the company’s approach is no different than the one we’d take as individuals. If we need our house painting, we hire a painter and decorator. Our house gets painted and when the job’s been done we pay the painter for the work completed.

We don’t start worrying about the painter’s job satisfaction or career development. The psychological contract between us and the painter ends when the bill has been settled for the work completed. That’s the way it is. Simple.

So why should we expect our employers to be any different?

Companies are not charities or job creation schemes. Commercial companies have to make a profit, if they are to survive, and costs have an impact on profit, obviously.

The psychological contract we have with our employer is one where we do stuff for them and then we’re paid for our efforts at the end of each month. We are the hired help and once we’ve been paid that is where the psychological contract ends as far as our employer is concerned.

Your employer will not spend his or her time worrying about your aspirations or your dreams. It would be naïve to think otherwise.

3. Accept commercial reality

Commercial reality whether we like it not is that all companies exist to make money for their owners. It’s that simple. Why would anyone start a company for any other reason?

So if you think that your loyalty will be appreciated by the average employer then you’re either mistaken or deluded.

Employers will take everything you give and a bit more besides, but once you are no longer required they will be as ruthless as they have to be. If they weren’t able to be ruthless when necessary then that could put the whole company and the jobs of everyone involved at risk. So there’s a good business reason for the way they tend to operate.

Furthermore we don’t spend our money unnecessarily, so why should we expect a company to be any different?

From time to time you will meet leaders of real stature and class who will treat you very well. However they are the exception rather than the rule.

Most senior executives are driven only by self-interest. Once you’re no longer of use, they will be as ruthless as they have to be. That’s the way the world works, so don’t expect it to be any different for you.

4. Don’t expect loyalty to be reciprocated

The point I’m making is that you must be ruthless too. You must look after your own interests, constantly. It’s perfectly reasonable to be working with your own agenda in mind. Deliver the results for which you’re being paid of course but always with one eye on your own interests.

In any job you should make sure that you know what you’re meant to be doing and what you’re meant to be delivering. What you’re delivering must add value. You should know what that value is and you should be confident that it’s not something that can be done by a machine. If it is, then the chances are that one day it will be and you will be out of a job.

Never do anything out of some misplaced sense of loyalty because that loyalty is unlikely to be reciprocated. At work you have to be very business-like in everything you do.

The name of the game is to earn a living. If it’s not obvious to you what your contribution is meant to be then you should start to worry. If you cannot explain what you’re meant to be doing in a couple of lines then it’s time to move on.

If you don’t know what you’re meant to be doing then the chances are that your boss is wondering too. And once your boss starts to question your role then there is a risk that it won’t be too long before your job is eliminated in a cost-saving exercise.

5. Look after your own interests

Remember this: No one owes you anything.

Life is what you make it. You’re the captain of your own ship. You should be steering that ship in a direction that suits you and your ambitions. Steer the good ship ‘Me’ in the direction you wish to go and not in the direction someone else wants you to go.

You should be working to your own agenda and within the framework of your own plans.

If you think your employer has plans for you then you are fooling yourself. You will only figure in your employers plans for as long as it makes good business-sense for them to include you in those plans. If they can’t see how you will add value to their plans then a parting of the ways might not be far away.

6. Take every opportunity to develop your experience

You may make mistakes occasionally and you may do things for employers which for whatever reason come back to bite you. If you do, don’t worry. Just learn any lessons from the experience and move on.

Lessons learned are far more valuable to you than anything someone else can tell you. That commodity based on life’s lessons is known as experience and it is a very valuable commodity indeed.

Take every opportunity to broaden your experience and grow. Work harder on yourself than you do on your job. The more you have to offer the more employable you’ll be and the greater will be your financial rewards.

7. Have realistic expectations

Never expect loyalty from your employer and you won’t be disappointed.

You’re not indispensable and neither is anyone else. If you weren’t around then someone else would be hired quickly and the business would move on. And in all probability you’ll soon be forgotten.

The chances are that someone else will take the credit for any significant contribution you’ve made but you’ll probably take the blame for everything that is wrong, including things in which you had no involvement at all.

That’s life, unfortunately.

8. Work to you own agenda

If you look after your own interests then your achievements will be all yours and you’ll be on the road to success.

You have to carve out the success you want; no one else will do it for you.

Add real value to your employer for as long as you can or for as long as it makes sense within your own plans for you to do so and then it’s time to move on to the next opportunity.

Don’t get overly sentimental; you’ve got to be as ruthless with your employer as they would be with you. It’s perfectly reasonable to work to your own agenda, and that’s exactly what successful people do.

9. Keep reading; keep learning

Never underestimate the value of reading and continual learning. The more you read the more you learn. Read one good book related to your work or personal development each week and over a year that’s the equivalent of a PhD’s worth of knowledge gained.

Increase your knowledge by that amount every year and you’ll be light years ahead of your colleagues.

If you’re looking for a good book on the nature of work then one I can recommend is The Rules of Work by Richard Templar.

This is an easy read that is packed with common sense advice, thought-provoking ideas, practical strategies and down-to earth wisdom, together with plenty of humour and honesty. A book you could easily read on your morning commute.

So what are your views?

If you’d like to add your own views about the world of work then please feel free to add your comments below. I’d be interested to hear what you think and about your own experiences.

© Roy J Sutton and Mann Island Media Limited 2017. All Rights Reserved.

How to add value to your business card

If someone gives you their business card, what do you do with it? Do you file it carefully in a suitable place, so you have it there whenever you might wish to refer back to it? Do you just put it in your pocket or leave to one side on your desk, for immediate reference but with no long term intention of retaining it? Perhaps you just throw in straight into the waste paper basket the minute the person has gone? I am sure your approach will depend on whether you regard the business card you’ve been given as something that might have value to you.

Now think about it from the perspective of you giving your business cards to other people. Why do you give them out? It’s a bit of personal PR of course and you’re providing people with your contact details should they decide they wish to do business with you later. So in that sense business cards are important. They could lead to business later.

Now if you’re a self-employed consultant, like me, then I’m sure you attend plenty of conferences, seminars and exhibitions. That’s the way to network with people and hopefully generate a few business leads or at least build one or two relationships that might pay dividends later. Over coffee, at lunch or over a cold drink in the evening you’ll chat with people and then at the right moment you exchange business cards.

The problem is, how can you be sure that they will retain your business card? Perhaps they were just being polite. Plenty of people give me business cards when I meet them but I retain very few of them. Why? Quite simply because I get thousands of them and I can’t file them all.

So there has to be a good reason why I will retain a business card. If you provide a service that I feel I may need to use then I’ll probably retain your card. Alternatively if there is something on your card that is of value to me, then almost certainly I’ll retain it.

So how do you add value to your business card? How do you make your card memorable?  Interesting question, would you agree?

One way to do that would be to have something printed on your card which represents genuine value to the recipient. For instance, you could have a discount code printed on the card.

As an example, suppose one of your products is a one day training course on a particular topic. You could offer a 10% discount through the discount code printed on your card.

Alternatively you could offer a gift that can be redeemed from your website. This gift could be a free copy of a report or an eBook written by you and intended to showcase your expertise and knowhow.

Another possibility would be a code which qualifies the bearer to a free 30 minute consultation with you or whatever. The possibilities are endless.

The key message here is that you need to think outside the box. Be creative. Your card must be memorable and provide people with a good reason to hold on to it.

In a competitive world you must be different. You must be memorable too. You need a ‘get noticed’ strategy.

Don’t risk your card being binned. Create some stickiness for your business card and give people a reason to retain it.

© Roy J Sutton and Mann Island Media Limited 2017. All Rights Reserved.

How to Get Organized

Get organized - business stress notes, white backgroundWhether you’re an entrepreneur, a business leader or just one of the team, it pays to be organized. If success is your aim, then it cannot be achieved without you being well-organized. Even if you’re willing to plod through life at your current level, being organized will reduce your stress levels and improve your life experiences.

In any job worth having there will always be 1,001 things to do, so you have to work in a systematic way if you’re going to get everything done on time and to the required standard. Now people seem to think that all this is difficult but actually it’s not. In fact if you master just four simple steps you can quickly become a well-organized role model your colleagues will want to follow. And here are those four steps:-

1. Make a List

This one is absolutely essential. You cannot keep everything in your head and hope you won’t forget something. You will, we all do. So better to write it down, ideally is a notebook that is your constant companion. That can of course be an electronic notebook, i.e. your smartphone, it doesn’t have to be the physical variety. Whatever you prefer is fine as long as you record your list.

Actually I always work with two lists; one is my master list, which is all the things I have to do at any given time; and then I have a daily list which contains all the things I plan to do on any given day.

Making lists will help you focus your mind on what needs to be done. And if you write it down it won’t get forgotten.

A key thing to remember here is that many tasks can seem enormous if you’re not careful and that can make them appear to be a bit daunting. The way to get around that is to break big tasks down into a series of smaller tasks.

Remember this; a big task is approached in the same way that you’d eat an elephant; one bite at a time. That way you’ll get through it eventually.

2. Know your priorities

How often do we allow ourselves to be distracted by everything going on around us? A colleague needs this, your boss wants that, and everything is urgent. So you allow yourself to be driven by the expectations of others, rather than focusing on your objectives. It’s a mistake most of us make at times.

The trick is to identify the truly important from the merely urgent. What tasks are important if you are to achieve everything that is expected of you? The tasks that will help you achieve the objectives for which you will be measured?

You must always concentrate on those things that are truly important. It is all about knowing your priorities. You couldn’t possibly do everything at once so you have to start with the things which are the most important.

You start with your highest priority and work down the list through the lesser priorities.

Remember this; the main thing is always to keep the main thing, the main thing.

3. Focus on results

Whether you’re in business for yourself or employed by a company, you are there to deliver results. Business is all about delivering solutions that will solve problems for your customers. Work is all about completing tasks for other people in return for money. We are all paid for doing stuff.

If you’re to be effective, you must be focused on the results expected of you at all times. If you’re painting my house, I will measure you on how well you painted my house, not on how helpful you were to passers-by in the street. Whatever you’re doing, it’s the results that matter most.

Remember this; it is perfectly reasonable to be working to your own agenda. Your success will depend on it.

4. Get your desk organized

How many people work from a desk that is messy and disorganized? Well I must be honest I have been guilty of this particular sin. However good organization always starts with a clear desk where you can work effectively.

This means having a proper filing system. You might choose a paper-based filing system for hard copy, as well as an electronic filing system for email and other soft-copy documents. However even hardcopy these days can be scanned and stored electronically. The advantage of a digital filing system is that it takes up far less space. So if it can be stored electronically then it should be. Space costs money and there is rarely enough of it in a business environment. So an electronic document management system makes a lot of sense.

File everything that needs to be kept; bin anything that really doesn’t need to be kept. And be absolutely ruthless when deciding on what to keep. Ask yourself this question, if I trashed this document what would be the consequences? If not having the document won’t matter then you should trash it.

Beyond the basics

Being disciplined about being organized pays big dividends. If you learn to maintain lists, establish priorities, focus on results and keep your desk organized then that will make you fairly efficient for sure. However going beyond these basic techniques will make you even more productive and efficient.

There are plenty of good books on the subject and it is worth buying some for your own personal reference library. They are not expensive, well-worth the money and buying Kindle editions for your personal iPad or Kindle is a great idea.

So go don’t procrastinate, buy now and you’ll be a productive, efficiency ninja in no time at all. Kindle books are available from Amazon. Click here.

You can read my book review Best Books to Read: Getting Organized by clicking here.

© Roy J Sutton and Mann Island Media Limited 2016. All Rights Reserved.

The Art of Negotiation

Business cloudMany people think that negotiation is all about squeezing the other party as much as you possibly can in order to ensure that you get as much out of the deal as you possibly can. If this is the way you view negotiation dear reader then I think it is unwise. Successful negotiation should result in both parties feeling that the deal meets their needs; that it is a fair deal all round. It is not about screwing your opponent it is all about seeking a win-win position. Negotiators must find the common ground with their opponents such that the deal is as fair as possible to everyone. To put it another way; negotiation is the art of making your opponents think they’ve won whilst you ensure that you get everything you need from the deal.

When entering into negotiation over a deal you will have a series of ‘must haves’ and ‘nice to haves’ and so will your opponents. You need to ensure you get as many of your ‘must haves’ as possible. However in the process you need to let your opponent feel that they’ve won a little too. This might be achieved by conceding one of your ‘nice to haves’ to allow them to have something they really need. So a good start is always to ensure you know what the needs of your opponents are likely to be. Taking time to establish these beforehand will be time well spent.

Having a reputation for being a tough but very fair negotiator is far better than being known as someone who cares little for the needs of other people. In business we tend to do business with people we trust. Get a bad reputation and people won’t want to do business with you. And that will hurt you in the long term. People will respect someone who is ‘tough but fair’ but they’ll have no respect for ‘mean, grasping and insensitive to the needs of others’.

Winning at the expense of others might produce a short-term gain but in the long-term it’s likely to be counter-productive.

© RJ Sutton and Mann Island Media Limited 2014. All Rights Reserved.

6 Tips for Exceptional Customer Service

Fotolia_50378128_XS_3In business you should never underestimate the importance of customer service. Providing exceptional levels of customer service is a very good way to differentiate your business from your competition.I will always do business with a company that provides me with good customer service in preference to one which does not; even if I have to pay a little more for the product that I want.

When I buy something I want to be confident that if I have a problem with it then there will be no problem. All the best companies will take a problem like that and deal with it, making my life as easy as possible for the customer and that’s what I want every time.

So if you’re keen to ensure that your business is providing good customer service, what factors do you need to consider? Well you could start with the following:-

  1. Polite, Courteous and Friendly

Your frontline staff will play a huge part in creating good service. If staff are polite, courteous and friendly to me when I walk into a store then we are off to a very good start and I am much more likely to spend my money in that store.

All customers like to be treated with respect and they like to feel valued. Therefore the message your frontline staff need to convey to customers is that they appreciate the importance of the customer and that they recognize that without customers they wouldn’t have a job. Staff must show customers that they understand that they are there to ensure that the customer has a great experience every time.

So you need to recruit staff with the right attitude and personality and you then have to ensure that they are well trained in the customer service values you want to promote within your business. Get it right and your business will do well; get it wrong and your business will struggle.

  1. Caring

Customers must be in no doubt that your frontline staff care about the in-store experience and making sure it is the best possible experience for customers. If staff show me they care about me then I’m much more likely to spend my money buying your products and services. Give me even a hint that your business doesn’t really care and I am likely to leave the store as quickly as possible without spending a penny. I will then checkout your competition. And of course, once you lose a customer it is very difficult to get that customer back again.

  1. Pleasant and helpful

The customer experience is so much better if the sales assistant or store associate is pleasant and helpful. If it all seems like it’s too much trouble for them then I find that a big turn-off. And if it all seems like too much trouble then I will leave without buying anything. Conversely if I sense that people are keen to ensure my needs are met to my complete satisfaction then I will not only spend but I will return again and again

When my son was a small boy I used to walk him to a local store on a Sunday to buy a newspaper. One Sunday my normal store didn’t have my preferred newspaper. So I went to another store further along the same road. The lady in that store was kind, extremely helpful and she made my son feel very special too. From that point on I bought my newspaper in her store. Then I had to walk past my previous store each week but I valued the higher level of service so I was prepared to do that regardless. Result? She gained a customer and the other store lost a customer.

  1. Responsive

When a customer has a problem with a product or is unhappy in some other way then they expect your staff to respond willingly to their needs. They expect your staff to take their complaint seriously and they want it resolved with the minimum of inconvenience to them.

If you fail to take my complaint seriously I will not only be unhappy and unlikely to do business with you again. I will also broadcast my problem and your lack of a proper response on social media. And that can damage your brand and result in even more lost customers.

However get it right and I will sing your praises on social media. Now tell me, which one of those scenarios do you prefer?

  1. Efficient

If I have a problem I expect it to be dealt with efficiently. That means the problem should be resolved completely to my satisfaction, it should be done quickly and of course with the minimum of inconvenience to me.

  1. Prompt

I hate being kept waiting, particularly in queues which are far too long and moving too slowly. I don’t expect to be seen instantly but I am not prepared to wait more than a few minutes. I will leave very quickly if I think it’s all taking longer than it reasonably should.

So you need to get your staffing levels right and you need to ensure that each customer is dealt with promptly. Mess customers around and make them wait too long and you’ll lose them.

That’s my six tips for today. So are these all the qualities your business will need in order to provide good customer service? Probably not but they would represent a good start if you can get them right.

© RJ Sutton and Mann Island Media Limited 2014. All Rights Reserved.

How to maintain a successful business

Fotolia_64827472_XS_3For a business to be successful you must have an established base of customers who have some reason to love your business and who will keep coming back because they love your business. It may be the great products and services you have to offer or it may be the exceptional customer service and ease with which they can do business with your company. They may like the personality of your company or they may like the well-trained and polite staff you employ. Whatever it is, you should know what it is. And you should always keep your eye on that ball.

If you’re in business you should always remember what it is that you do that your customers love about your company. Don’t lose sight of that magic ingredient that influences customers to do business with you rather than your competitors. Essentially this is your company’s unique selling proposition (USP). It is the factor that differentiates your business from your competition.

The problem is that many businesses start off by doing one thing really well and this attracts loyal customers. Then before too long they turn into something else without ever having made a deliberate decision to do so. These businesses simply evolve into something else. They lose sight of what their customers considered special about them and in the process they throw away their competitive advantage. And of course once it is lost competitive advantage can be very hard to regain.

The trick is to keep asking this question; what do our customers like about us? Why do they keep coming back? What makes us special? Know the answers and make sure you keep giving your customers what they want. Never allow your business to evolve into something that will alienate your loyal customers.

In fact you should never just allow your business to evolve at all. Any change to your business should be on the basis of a reasoned strategy that offers your customers something more than they are being offered now. Even then you should retain that magic ingredient, if that is what is bringing customers to your door. Happy customers will return again and again; unhappy customers will look elsewhere to meet their needs.

© RJ Sutton and Mann Island Media Limited 2014. All Rights Reserved.

8 Rules for Business Success

Fotolia_57975920_XS_5Running your own business is never easy but it’s the best chance you’re ever going to have to make some serious money. Look at any self-made millionaire and in all probably it has been achieved through starting their own company. There’s no easy formula for success; no magic bullet. It involves risk and a lot hard work. However there are some rules you should bear in mind and here are eight of them:-

  1. Use the skills you’ve got;
  2. Use the resources you’ve got;
  3. Go for the highest value activities;
  4. Be flexible and adapt when necessary;
  5. Create world-beating products;
  6. Go where others are not going;
  7. Solve a problem for the customer;
  8. Build a better mousetrap.

Business success can be achieved and plenty of people achieve it regularly. With self-belief and determination you can be successful in business as well. Go for it, if you think you have what it takes. Even if you’re not quite sure, it’s better to have a go and fail than not to have a go at all. Life is too short to look back with regrets.

© RJ Sutton and Mann Island Media Limited 2014. All Rights Reserved.

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