How to build wealth from nothing – 5 Top Tips

How to build wealth from nothingThere’s nothing anyone can do if you were born poor. That was just unfortunate. However you don’t have to go through life poor.

It is possible to build wealth over time and people do.

Many people born poor become very wealthy through their own efforts and you can too dear reader.

Here are five tips to help you build wealth from nothing.

How to build wealth from nothing:

1. Pay yourself first:

You’ll know I’m sure that making money can be relatively easy, whilst holding on to it is very, very hard.

We’re all constantly bombarded with reasons why we should spend our money in return for some fleeting sense of gratification. Would that be an experience you recognise dear reader?

It doesn’t have to be that way of course and rich people know that only too well.

So what do rich people do that’s different to everyone else? Simple! They always pay themselves first.

And what do I mean by paying yourself first?

I mean when you’re paid, you take a slice off the top of your income immediately and you put it away somewhere safe. And by a slice I mean say 10%.

And what do I mean by somewhere safe?

Well initially that would be depositing your money in an interest-bearing account.

However once your money starts building into a larger sum then you can start thinking about other forms of investment that’ll give you greater returns potentially. Stocks and bonds for instance.

Building a capital sum is important because as your money grows it starts to generate a second income stream for you. That may not seem important to you now but it will be as you get older.

So paying yourself first is a discipline to which you must adhere until it becomes a habit you do without thinking.

You must always put some money away and you must make that money work hard for you. You must grow and protect your investment portfolio with careful diversification and over time you’ll find yourself building a sizeable fortune.

So here’s today’s mantra for you: Pay Yourself First. Never forget that please dear reader.

2. Be an investor not a speculator:

You must understand that there’s a big difference between investing and speculation. They’re not the same thing at all.

I don’t wish to imply that there’s something wrong with speculation though. There isn’t.

In the world of finance speculation brings liquidity to the market and therefore it does have its place.

However speculation tends to operate on the ‘greater fool’ principle.

By that I mean someone is prepared to buy an asset for a given price in the hope that it can then be sold quickly to someone else, the greater fool, for a greater price.

This is what professional speculators do and they can make money this way because they know what they’re doing and they have sophisticated systems to support them.

However for ordinary people speculation is like gambling in a casino. And you should never invest your money as though you’re gambling in a casino.

You might get lucky occasionally of course but over time your losses will outstrip any gains you might make, and almost certainly by a significant margin.

So my recommendation to you dear reader is you should never speculate. Instead you should focus on becoming an investor.

By investing I mean buying stocks and shares in solid, well managed, cash-generative businesses which have the ability to pay good dividends on a sustained basis.

Buy stocks worth holding for the long term. This will provide you with a steady income stream from the dividends regardless of any short to medium term volatility in the market. And spread your risk by building a diversified portfolio.

If you reinvest your dividends then over time you will find that this approach should give you a good return on your money.

If you want to make money and build capital, then my advice to you dear reader is to be an investor not a speculator.

3. Focus on value not price:

The legendary investor Warren Buffett once said, “Price is what you pay; value is what you get.

With this observation he’s making a very important point. There’s a distinction between price and value.

A low price for an asset doesn’t necessarily mean you’d be getting value. And a high price doesn’t automatically mean you would not be getting value. Price in itself is not a measure of value. You must consider other factors to judge value.

When you’re buying any financial asset, says stocks and shares, you should always focus on value and you must establish metrics by which you can adequately judge the intrinsic value within that asset.

Judged in isolation price is just a number, nothing more.

A lower price means absolutely nothing if you’re getting little or no value in return for your money.

Never, ever forget that it’s the intrinsic value that will determine whether something is really worth buying or not.

Get real value at the right price and then you can get a decent return over time from an investment.

4. Create a personal private income:

Much as we all aspire to do work we love, you must never forget dear reader that ultimately work is simply a means to an end.

Essentially work is just doing stuff for other people in exchange for money. In turn that money is then the fuel on which we run our lives.

Money provides us with the means to put bread on the table, a roof over our heads and clothes on our backs and those of our loved ones of course.

If you work hard enough you can earn a lot of money.

Manage that money wisely and you can build capital. Invest that capital intelligently and you can create your own personal private income streams.

When you have a decent private income in your own right then you can truly pick and choose the work you do.

Then you only have to do what you enjoy doing; that thing that gives you a genuine sense of purpose.

Creating a personal private income is a worthy goal and it’s well worth the effort.

That way you’re in control of your own life and no one else can dictate what you should and shouldn’t do.

You’ll be in control of the good ship ‘Me’ and only you then decide where it goes.

The message here is, work hard so you don’t have to work hard.

5. Never forget what matters most:

It would be very easy to believe that a life filled with lots of money and materiality will make you blissfully happy. Well let me tell you dear reader, in isolation, it won’t.

I’m not suggesting that these things are not important but you must get your priorities right.

Yes of course, go out there and make money. Manage it carefully. Buy nice things and enjoy some of that money too.

However to be truly happy you must never lose sight of the most important thing in your life and that is family and friends. People are social animals; we’re not solitary like cats. We need other people and most of all we need our loved ones.

So make time for your loved ones, especially your children. Enjoy their company and make the most of every minute with them.

Never focus on work to the exclusion of your family and friends. Without them you have nothing. Money is important of course but people are much more important.

Never lose sight of the people in your life.

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How to handle criticism at work

How to handle criticism at workHow well do you handle criticism at work dear reader?

Think about it. You’ve been working hard and really doing your best but someone still thinks it’s necessary, with a critical tone, to offer you some ‘words of advice‘ about the work you’ve just done.

Not a thank you; not an acknowledgement of the effort you’ve put in; just some caustic words about why they think your work is less than perfect.

Wouldn’t that make you feel just a little unloved, at the very least?

Now perhaps your critic lacks sensitivity? Perhaps he or she fails to appreciate the value you’ve been adding to whatever you were doing at the time? Perhaps your critic had no visibility of the constraints you were working under or the difficulties you faced?

Regardless of the circumstances, it’s natural if you feel a little hurt when all people can do is point to something they believe is wrong or incomplete. If it doesn’t actually hurt, certainly it can be irritating. It can also seem overly harsh at times.

The problem when hearing criticism is that our defensive barriers tend to go up immediately. And once we’re on the defensive we don’t tend to listen to the feedback we’re getting. We just concentrate on how we’ll respond in order to dismiss whatever’s being said.

This is unfortunate because if we did listen and reflect on what is being said, it’s just possible that our critic may actually have a valid point.

The importance of criticism is that it provides us with valuable feedback. And how we react to any feedback depends on our attitude and how we choose to look at it. We can get all hurt and defensive or we can choose to give our critic the benefit of the doubt and assume that they’re genuinely trying to be constructive.

In other words we can embrace criticism positively and seek to use it to our own advantage. Certainly this is the mature and grown up way of dealing with any criticism we receive.

We must recognize that none of us are perfect and we’re all prone to making the occasional mistake. That’s human nature. However if our aim is to succeed then we have to become masters of our chosen craft or profession. We have to be very good at whatever we’ve chosen to do if we’re going to stand out in the crowd. In fact we have to be the best.

Being the best requires the constant honing of our skills. That means we must learn from our mistakes and any inability that might prevent us from delivering the results required of us.

How to handle criticism at workLearning is a lifelong process and we should be constantly practising and developing our skills and improving on the results we deliver.

In order to do that then we must learn from our mistakes.

Some mistakes will be obvious to us of course but sometimes we’ll fail to recognize them. Fortunately others won’t.

The underlying point here is that criticism is simply feedback and feedback is essential if we’re to improve our skills and become masters of our craft or profession.

That’s why it’s important to listen. If we know where we fall short then we can do something about it.

If you find yourself on the receiving end of criticism, the first thing to do is to remind yourself that to feel hurt is quite natural. That’s simply an emotional response to a negative situation. However don’t take anything personally. Criticism is rarely groundless, though it’s often exaggerated.

Give your critic the benefit of the doubt and assume their intention is simply to provide you with some valuable feedback. Welcome that feedback. Don’t interrupt your critic with excuses. That will just make you look defensive. Don’t glower at them either because you might stop them sharing that crucial insight with you.

The truth may hurt, but the sooner you hear it, the sooner you can fix whatever it is you’re doing wrong, assuming you are doing something wrong.

Listen and focus on hearing everything being said. When your critic has made his or her point, say thank you. That will show confidence, dedication and grace too.

Then ask yourself honestly, is the point being made by your critic a fair one?

And you really do need to be honest with yourself here.

If your conclusion is that your critic has a fair point then you must embrace the lesson. Learn from it; resolve to do better next time; and be determined to improve.

That way you’ll go from strength to strength. You’ll gain the respect of other people too for your willingness to listen and learn.

However, remember this, critics are not always right.

If honest reflection leads you to the conclusion that your critic is being unfair then just ignore it.

Smile and move on. Never take it personally and never let anyone discourage you from the pursuit of your aims.

Conclusion:

Criticism is just feedback. Feedback is your friend. Embrace it; learn from it; use it to your advantage; but never take it personally. And if following honest reflection you think they’re wrong then it’s perfectly reasonable to ignore it and move on.

Further Reading:

If this article has whetted your appetite for learning more about receiving feedback then there are some good books on the subject. One you might look at is Thanks for the Feedback: The Science and Art of Receiving Feedback Well by Douglas Stone and Sheila Heen.

This is a well-written book which is full of sound advice and plenty of examples which should make it easier to understand and follow. I found it useful and motivating and I think you might too.

You can check it out if you CLICK HERE.

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10 shocking quotes guaranteed to make you think

Shocking QuotesThere are many categories of quotes. One category I’ve not explored until now is shocking quotes. That is quotes where authors refer to something which to them is shocking.

Well today I offer you 10 shocking quotes guaranteed to make you think.

What do you think? Are the authors right to be shocked? I’d love to hear from you but not before you’ve had chance to consider today’s quotes.

Shocking Quotes:

  1. The most shocking fact about war is that its victims and its instruments are individual human beings and that these individual beings are condemned by the monstrous conventions of politics to murder or be murdered in quarrels not their own. ~Aldous Huxley
  2. The writer of originality, unless dead, is always shocking and scandalous; novelty disturbs and repels. ~Simone de Beauvoir
  3. A shocking crime was committed on the unscrupulous initiative of few individuals, with the blessing of more and amid the passive acquiescence of all. ~Tacitus
  4. To me, the most shocking thing about grit is how little we know, how little science knows, about building it. Every day, parents and teachers ask me, ‘How do I build grit in kids? What do I do to teach kids a solid work ethic? How do I keep them motivated for the long run?’ The honest answer is, I don’t know. ~Angela Duckworth
  5. The way we allow children to be advertised to is shocking. Eating is a learned behaviour, and we’ve made these kids sitting ducks for all the bad messages about industrialized food. The fact that we allow that to go on is horrifying. ~Ruth Reichl
  6. The poverty one still sees in America today is more shocking to me than anything I have seen in Ethiopia or Calcutta or Manila, and has made me, as someone living in a society of great wealth and someone who’s never had to worry about the next meal, think seriously about what universal responsibility really means. ~Pico Iyer
  7. It’s very shocking, I think, for people caring for the dying to realise how unsaintly they feel, how much anger is mixed up with their grief. In fact, often I think the anger that they feel is a form of grief; it’s a kind of raging against what’s happening. ~Helen Garner
  8. It’s shocking to me that it’s easier to buy a gun at Wal-Mart than it is to buy my record. ~Marilyn Manson
  9. I’d rather get a good clean laugh with good material, than an easy laugh by swearing or shocking. That’s not clever or comedic, anybody can get a laugh that way, it’s too easy. ~Jim Dale
  10. I think it is shocking that 15- and 16-year-olds leave school unable to add up and with the reading ability of a four-year-old. ~Joan Collins

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7 inspirational quotes about people

Today I offer you some quotes about people.

Love them or hate them we can’t live without them, can we? That’s because as human beings we’re social animals. We’re not solitary animals like cats. We live in communities and we need other people in our lives because we depend on each other.

So value the people in your life. Don’t neglect them; make time for them. Life is short and if you ever get really sick or infirm you’ll need them.

Your career is all very well but it won’t take care of you in difficult times, your friends and family will.

Work is important of course but people are more important. So get the balance right because life goes by all too quickly and if people think you have no interest in them, one day you’ll find that they no longer have any interest in you.

Value your family and friends and make time to enjoy their company.

If you have good family and friends you are wealthy indeed.

Life is very special when you have other people. If you don’t believe me try loneliness. You’ll soon realize how much you enjoy the company of other people, regardless of how much they might drive you nuts on occasions.

Here are seven inspirational quotes about people to reinforce my point.

Quotes about people:

  1. Goodness is about character – integrity, honesty, kindness, generosity, moral courage and the like. More than anything else, it is about how we treat other people. ~Dennis Prager
  2. I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel. ~Maya Angelou
  3. Let us be grateful to people who make us happy, they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom. ~Marcel Proust
  4. People may hear your words but they feel your attitude. ~John C. Maxwell
  5. The key is to keep company only with people who uplift you, whose presence calls forth your best. ~Epictetus
  6. I used to think that the worst thing in life was to end up alone. It’s not. The worst thing in life is to end up with people who make you feel alone. ~Robin Williams
  7. Stay positive and happy. Work hard and don’t give up hope. Be open to criticism and keep learning. Surround yourself with happy, warm and genuine people. ~Tena Desae

Please share these quotes with your friends:

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© Roy J Sutton and Mann Island Media Limited 2019. All Rights Reserved.

7 inspirational quotes about trust

Quotes about trustToday I offer you some quotes about trust dear reader.

Trust underpins any relationship, if it’s to have any longevity. Strong relationships are built on trust. However trust is something that can take years to establish and only seconds to destroy.

One thoughtless act is all it takes; one moment of weakness. And once destroyed, trust is almost impossible to win back, certainly to anything like the same degree as before, because people can never quite see you in the same way again.

To secure someone’s trust is a privileged position to be in because it means you’re held in the highest regard. To them you’re someone with integrity and you’ve won their respect.

So trust is a very a special thing and, once established, it should never be abused. Not if you value a relationship and/or your reputation at least.

If you’re in a relationship and for you it’s not all you would like it to be, then it’s perfectly reasonable to be honest with someone, explain the situation and move on. They may be upset by your actions but they’ll appreciate your honesty in time.

However when you truly value a relationship and you’ve won a person’s trust then think long and hard before you consider doing anything that might destroy that trust. To do otherwise would mean, almost certainly, you’ll regret it.

And remember this; everything you do, however small, honest or dishonest, says something to the world about your character. So how do you want to be judged; trustworthy or otherwise?

In my opinion, it’s better to be known as someone who’s honest and trustworthy, rather than someone people feel they cannot trust.

No amount of personal gain will compensate for having a poor reputation. I don’t think do anyway.

Here are seven inspirational quotes about trust to help you reflect on its significance in relation to your reputation.

Quotes about trust:

  1. Trust is the glue of life. It’s the most essential ingredient in effective communication. It’s the foundational principle that holds all relationships. ~Stephen Covey
  2. To be trusted is a greater compliment than being loved. ~George MacDonald
  3. Trust is hard to come by. That’s why my circle is small and tight. I’m kind of funny about making new friends. ~Eminem
  4. Whoever is careless with the truth in small matters cannot be trusted with important matters. ~Albert Einstein
  5. A blessed thing it is for any man or woman to have a friend, one human soul whom we can trust utterly, who knows the best and worst of us, and who loves us in spite of all our faults. ~Charles Kingsley
  6. I cannot trust a man to control others who cannot control himself. ~Robert E Lee
  7. Most good relationships are built on mutual trust and respect. ~Mona Sutphen

Please share these quotes with your friends:

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7 inspirational quotes about travel

Quotes about travel

Today I offer you some quotes about travel.

Travel can be an education and certainly it broadens the mind, wouldn’t you agree dear reader?

I have had the privilege of travelling to more than 70 countries. In fact I’ve been fortunate enough to live and work in some of them. And I can say this; I’m not the same person I was once quite simply because of those experiences.

I see the world differently now. I know from real experience that people are the same wherever you go.

There may be superficial cultural differences of course but deep down people are all just people. We eat; we sleep; we laugh; we cry; we’re happy; we’re sad; we all have dreams; we all have fears; we love our families, even when they drive us mad, and we want the best for our children. And of course we all share feelings of vulnerability at times too.

There are good people in this world and there are not so good people but mostly people are honest and decent and they’re just trying to get through life as best they can. Treat them with respect and they’ll reciprocate or at least that has been my experience.

So travel as often as you can but remember this; there’s a difference between travel and tourism.

Tourism is simply taking in the sights and a little sunshine perhaps.

Travel is a much more enlightening experience. It goes beyond the superficial and it’s about trying to understand people and the reality of life as it is for them.

Here are seven inspirational quotes about travel to get you thinking.

Quotes About Travel:

  1. To travel is to discover that everyone is wrong about other countries. ~Aldous Huxley
  2. One travels more usefully when alone, because he [or she] reflects more. ~Thomas Jefferson
  3. A good traveller has no fixed plans and is not intent on arriving. ~Lao Tzu
  4. Certainly, travel is more than the seeing of sights; it is a change that goes on, deep and permanent, in the ideas of living. ~Mary Ritter Beard
  5. People who don’t travel cannot have a global view. All they see is what’s in front of them. Those people cannot accept new things because all they know is where they live. ~Martin Yan
  6. Perhaps travel cannot prevent bigotry but by demonstrating that all peoples cry, laugh, eat, worry, and die, it can introduce the idea that if we try and understand each other, we may even become friends. ~Maya Angelou
  7. The traveller sees what he sees; the tourist sees what he has come to see. ~Gilbert K. Chesterton

Please share these quotes with your friends:

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© Roy J Sutton and Mann Island Media Limited 2019. All Rights Reserved.

20 stock market tips for beginners

Stock Market Tips for BeginnersGetting a return on cash deposits these days is virtually impossible, as I’m sure you know only too well dear reader. That’s certainly true if you’re looking for the value of your money to keep pace with inflation, at the very least.

So in today’s post I offer you some tips to consider if you’re thinking about investing in stocks and shares.

It’s not intended to be a definitive statement on all you need to know about investing. You cannot learn all you need to know about investing from a single blog post. That would require a comprehensive financial education.

This guide is simply a basic primer to get you started. It will provide you with some guiding principles to bear in mind, and in that sense it should help you to get started on the road to investment success.

So here are my 20 stock market tips for beginners.

Stock market tips for beginners:

  1. Buy low; Sell high.
  2. Don’t chase performance. If you judge a stock or fund to fit within your investment strategy, then buy on the dips.
  3. Run your winners. Let any profits roll up and don’t be in too much of a hurry to say goodbye to your best-performing investments.
  4. Cut your losses before they become excessive. When buying a stock you must establish a ‘stop loss’ figure beyond which you won’t let the price drop before you sell to minimise your loss. In my opinion if a stock loses 25% of its value, particularly in a rising market, then that’s a significant warning sign and I would seriously consider selling to avoid further loss at that point. Occasionally I might get it wrong but mostly that philosophy has stopped me losing even more money.
  5. Never get emotionally attached to any stocks and shares you own. You have to be very business-like and hard headed. If you judge it to be the right time to sell then act and act quickly.
  6. Think long term. As the great Warren Buffett once said, “Never buy a stock unless you would be happy with it even if the stock exchange closed down for the next ten years.
  7. Regularly review your stock portfolio. Make sure there are no ‘dogs’ and make sure that there is some balance in your portfolio too.
  8. Reinvest your dividends. The power of compounding will make an enormous difference to your overall returns.
  9. Don’t put all of your eggs in one basket. This is a simple idea but one which a surprising number of people ignore. Diversification will help you to limit your risk profile.
  10. Holding for the long term can be a good strategy. However that doesn’t mean you want to hold a stock forever. It’s not a good idea to buy a stock and then forget about it completely. Essentially stocks and shares are for buying and selling. At some point it might makes sense to sell. When you reach that point you must act.
  11. Remember; investing in stocks and shares is not just about buying. Occasionally it makes sense to sell. You need to know all about the companies you invest in and you need to follow them carefully. You need to spend as much time thinking about when to sell as you do about when to buy. Many investors neglect this discipline. Avoid over-trading of course but when you judge that it no longer makes sense for you to hold a particular stock then don’t be afraid to take action quickly.
  12. Make sensible use of any tax-privileged investment vehicles. In the United Kingdom these would include things like pension plans and ISAs. However never let the tax tail wag the investment dog.
  13. If you don’t understand how a particular investment works then it’s probably not a good idea to put any of your money into it.
  14. Don’t be afraid to ask “What if?” questions. For example a question relative to a particular company might be, “What would happen if an expected outcome failed to materialise or worse, performance were to fall off a cliff?” How might the answer to this question impact on the value of the stock?
  15. Be flexible and don’t back yourself into a corner. If you bought a stock for £5 and it’s now priced at 50p, don’t stubbornly hold on to it indefinitely in the misguided belief that it will recover its £5 price given time. It may never do so. The question you should ask is, “Would the money I currently have invested in this stock be better invested elsewhere?” What you’ve lost is what you’ve lost, you can’t change that. However you might get a much better return by putting that money somewhere else.
  16. Don’t be afraid to go against the crowd. As the great Warren Buffett once said, “Be greedy when others are fearful.” Some of the most successful investors have been contrarian investors.
  17. Never be influenced by special offers, such as discounts advertised by fund managers for purchasing funds within a certain deadline. It is far better to invest in the right fund at a fair price than to invest in the wrong fund at a discounted price.
  18. Ignore all stock market tips. The risk is that where there’s a tip there’s a tap. Before you buy a stock you should understand why it makes sense to buy it. You should have some sensible measure against which you are judging this stock in terms of how it represents good value.
  19. Never get too carried away by investment euphoria, whether it’s stocks and shares or property. Nothing keeps going up for ever. At some point there will be a correction in the market.
  20. REMEMBER: If something looks or sounds too good to be true then almost certainly it is. Don’t get so greedy that you fall for a Boiler Room scam with promises of untold riches by simply investing in companies which are completely unknown to you and everyone else. Just because someone tells you over the telephone that it’s a good idea, doesn’t make it a good idea. In fact alarm bells should start ringing in your head. These scams work by exploiting our greed and our gullibility.

I hope these tips have whetted your appetite for improving your financial education. The more you know the better the investor you’ll become. Investing can be interesting and it can be fun too, providing you know what you’re doing and you don’t throw all your money away on bad investments.

Further reading:

There are plenty of excellent books on the subject of investing and here are three which form the cornerstone of the financial section of my own personal library.

  1. Think and Grow Rich – Napoleon Hill
  2. The Intelligent Investor – Benjamin Graham
  3. The Zulu Principle – Jim Slater

You can take a look at all of these books on Amazon by just clicking on the links.

Reading these books really improved my own personal knowledge of investing techniques and I still refer to them all regularly.

I can recommend them all highly and you should seriously consider purchasing you own personal copies now.

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Disclosure: This post includes Amazon Affiliate links, meaning I will receive a modest commission should you make a purchase from Amazon via one of the links included in the text. However there would be no additional cost to you in making any purchase. These commissions serve only to help with the cost of maintaining and operating this website. Your understanding in this matter is truly appreciated. Thank you.

© Roy J Sutton and Mann Island Media Limited 2019. All Rights Reserved.

8 Top Business Tips for Success

Tips for Business SuccessIntroduction:

I read an article recently about a guy with a college degree who was feeling disillusioned because he couldn’t find a job. At least not one that met his expectations relative to the type of job he felt his degree merited.

Well it’s a tough world out there, as I’m sure you know only too well dear reader, and despite what some people may think, the world doesn’t owe us a living. The world owes us nothing and it’s down to us to make a life for ourselves.

Work is just doing stuff for other people in return for money and there will always be people with stuff that needs doing. So rather than seeking a job, perhaps we’d all be better off if we focused on seeking customers for the services we could provide.

That’s at the heart of what business is all about, providing people with solutions to their problems for profit, and there is much to be said for becoming an entrepreneur.

The advantages of self-employment:

There are many advantages to being self-employed.

For instance, not having to deal with office politics is a big advantage for a start.

And of course being the beneficiary of all of the proceeds of your efforts is another good reason.

Instead of making a lot of money for other people, you make it all for yourself. The harder you work the more you make for yourself too.

Unless you’re a lawyer or an investment banker, the chances are the only way you’ll ever make serious money is through building your own business. Building a business that one day you’ll be able to sell for a lot of money.

However remember this; you might think that if you’re self-employed then you’re your own boss. Well that’s not true. The customer is the boss.

Serve customers badly and you won’t be serving them for very long, that’s for sure.

The first rule of business is that you must ‘know thy customer’.

You must gain a deep understanding of the products, services and marketing that will appeal to your target customer.

One size will not fit all and each market will require a different approach.

Now going into business is not for the faint-hearted. You must be prepared to work very hard, at least in the early days.

However, if you can provide your target customers with real solutions to real problems then you can make serious money.

If someone else is already offering a solution to the target problem then your solution must be better than theirs in some way if it is to sell.

Creating great products and offering great customer service is the route to business success. However never forget your reputation and image. These things matter too.

Make sure you create an image that will appeal to as wide an audience as possible. Running your own business will be a challenge but it can also be extremely rewarding, both financially and in terms of a sense of achievement.

Remember also that running a small business is not a whole lot different to running a large business. The only real difference is one of scale. The key issues are always the same.

So here are some tips for would-be entrepreneurs:-

Business Tips for Success:

1. Control your costs:

Money comes into your business and money goes out. It’s that simple.

However fail to ensure that the former is always greater than the latter and trouble will follow at some point, whatever the size of your business.

A bigger business might be able to weather the storm a bit longer but the consequences of expenditure consistently exceeding income will be the exactly same. Keep losing money and eventually your business will go bust.

Take every opportunity to maximize your revenue and always keep your costs as low as you can. And never, ever lose sight of cash flow.

Don’t spend money unless it is absolutely necessary.

Ask yourself, do I really need to spend this money? What will I get in return? Can I achieve the same result at less or even no cost?

It might surprise you to learn how frequently it is possible to avoid cost, whilst still doing all the things big businesses do.

The key message here is that you must keep an iron-grip on costs and you must manage the flow of money carefully.

2. Do your own market research:

Every product should solve a problem for your customer and you should have some idea of what that problem is and how your product will solve it relative to the products offered by your competition.

Just because you think you’ve got a great product, doesn’t mean you have in the eyes of customers. Your opinion means nothing if there are not enough people willing to buy your product at the price you’re trying to charge for it.

If your product won’t sell then potentially your business could be in trouble.

Perhaps you think you’ve spotted a gap in the market?

If it’s a genuine gap then you might be on to a winner. However a gap in the market doesn’t always guarantee that there is a market within that gap. Maybe there’s a reason for the gap which you’ve yet to understand.

In business, the trick is to find out what people really want and then offer it to them.

How do you find that out?

One very good way is simply to ask them yourself.

I’m not referring to your family and friends here. They’ll be far too polite to give you any meaningful feedback.

You must talk to real customers, if and when you have them, and potential customers.

You can conduct some of your own market research in your local shopping mall or wherever you think your target customers might congregate. And don’t be shy. Only by actually talking to people can you confirm whether your ideas have real potential.

So identify some basic questions, stand there with a clipboard and just start asking people, as politely as possible.

Often they’ll be far more helpful than you might expect.

And don’t forget you can always use the Internet too.

Search engines like Google have keyword search tools which are free to use. These tools allow you to get a ‘rough and ready’ measure of what people are searching for and how frequently.

Market research doesn’t have to be expensive. As a small business entrepreneur it is possible to do it yourself. You don’t have to spend a lot of money on this activity but it’s essential that you do it.

Your results might not be quite as scientific as those produced by the professional market research people but they will provide you with a rough guide and that’ll be good enough in the first instance.

3. Advertising costs money: is there a better way?

It’s true that visibility matters. For your business and your products it’s essential.

Your products might be the best in the world but they won’t sell at all if potential customers have no idea they exist. Surely that much is obvious.

The question is, how does any business ensure that customers have visibility of its products? The obvious answer is advertising of course.

However media advertising can be very expensive and it’s a cost which new businesses often cannot afford.

One small advert in the back of a glossy magazine can cost you a lot of money and yet you have to ask yourself whether that would be money well spent?

How often do you notice the small advertisements in the back of a magazine? In my case, the answer is not very often.

With so many advertisements competing for my attention I tend to filter them all out. I’m willing to bet that you do too dear reader.

So, if you’re not careful, money spent on advertising can be money wasted in my experience.

A better approach might be to use some creative thinking with a focus on public relations.

Smart entrepreneurs know that business is show business. It’s all about getting noticed.

For example the entrepreneur Richard Branson is a brilliant exponent at getting media attention at little or no financial cost to his business.

It helps that he’s a likeable guy of course but he’s also clever and creative in his approach.

If you have an interesting back story perhaps the local press, local radio or even television might be willing to run a story on you and your business and the products you have to offer?

Social media can be a very powerful medium for gaining attention for your business too.

Social media is also a useful way of driving traffic to your company’s website, particularly Pinterest which is an incredible tool.

Then there’s using search engine optimization (SEO) techniques on your website content to ensure you drive traffic to your site from the search engines.

Let’s face it you do need to appear on the first page of a Google search if there’s to be any chance of anyone noticing you and your business. However if you can make that happen you can get enormous amounts for traffic from Google and other search engines, like Bing and Yahoo.

Make sure you offer visitors to your company website the opportunity for signing up to a regular email newsletter. And give them an incentive to sign up.

This could be a free report or perhaps a discount code for one of your products.

How about running a competition using your company’s fan page on Facebook or your company website?

The price of say a smartphone or a Kindle or other electronic device as a prize would be cheaper than the cost of a small advert in a glossy magazine but it’s more likely to get noticed and it’ll probably generate a lot more excitement.

If you have a car or van; don’t forget that it can be emblazoned with your company logo, your website details and product information on the back, sides and front. Even on the roof.

It would be free advertising as you’re driving around.

Park your vehicle at a big event attended by thousands of people and you’re beginning to master the art of guerrilla marketing.

The bottom line is that creative thinking and public relations can produce powerful results in your quest for visibility at a fraction of the cost of advertising. The key message is; be creative.

4. Don’t make yourself indispensable:

The biggest mistake any entrepreneur or business manager can make is to think that every decision should be made by them.

If you’ve started a business from scratch you tend to form an emotional bond with it. It becomes your baby and you become very protective of it.

That’s natural of course but as the business grows you’ll have so many things to do that you couldn’t possibly do them all. You could try, of course. However if you try to do everything you’ll find yourself falling behind in key areas like product sourcing, sales and keeping your accounts up to date.

Fall behind and it becomes very hard to catch up. Potentially it is also very damaging for the business.

So you have to learn the art of delegation.

A good start would be to document every task and process within the business and then create an Operations Manual. This can include everything from the preferred method for answering the phone to completing invoices and dealing with complaints.

It can also include the degree of flexibility which you are delegating to staff, so they can get on with basic tasks allowing you to get on with those activities which are much more important for achieving business success.

No business should be dependent solely on one person.

If it is and that person gets seriously ill or has an accident then obviously the business would be in trouble very quickly and it would struggle.

Delegate basic activities to your staff and you can be sure that the business will continue to function even when you’re not around.

It will also give you a bit more thinking time for steering to the company towards bigger and better things.

The key message here is that you must delegate. Never delude yourself into thinking that only you can do a particular task.

5. Charge sensible prices:

It’s easy when you’re a small business to undervalue your products and your time. The result is that you undercharge for what you have to offer.

This is particularly true when professionals are selling their expertise and time on the basis of a consultancy arrangement.

It’s common for first-timers to lack the confidence to charge what they might perceive to be a high rate for their services.

The problem is that selling things cheaply can be counter-productive because customers then think they’re getting an inferior product or service and can be put off.

It is a fact that price can often be used as a proxy measure for quality when your business is being judged.

You have to be very business-like when considering the pricing of your products and services.

So look at what your competitors are charging and then analyse where you think your products and services fit into the market.

If you struggle with that idea then you can always seek guidance from someone else, like a fellow business owner or your accountant.

However you must always remember that you must believe in your products and services. If you don’t then why should anyone else?

You must project confidence.

If you don’t have the courage of your convictions then the chances are that your business will never succeed.

Believe in yourself and charge what you’re really worth. Sell yourself on the basis of the value you bring.

6. Make the best use of technology:

Sometimes small business owners think that because they are small they can act in a small way. However that can be a mistake.

Don’t be afraid to invest in your business. For instance investing in up-to-date technology like the right phone system and websites do not have to be expensive but they can be the difference between a customer contacting you or not.

These days no business, large or small, can operate without a website.

And that website needs to be as user-friendly as it possibly can be.

Make sure your website provides customers and potential customers with the opportunity to sign up for a regular email newsletter. And as suggested earlier, offer them encouragement so they do sign up.

Ensure also that your telephone system allows customers to reach you at their first attempt. Certainly customers won’t make too many attempts to call you before they will simply go elsewhere.

If you don’t know how to do all this yourself then go on a course or seek guidance from someone with the right expertise.

Good communications will pay handsome dividends over time.

7. Set goals:

You have to know what it is you’re trying to achieve, if you are to have any chance of successfully achieving it.

Never set your sights too low either. Set yourself a challenge and then put all your energy into achieving it.

Once you’ve set a goal then you need to establish a plan as to how it is going to be achieved.

For instance if your goal is to achieve a certain level of turnover over the next year, you have to break that down into the small steps you will need to take for it to be achieved.

How many sales will you need to achieve each day, each week and each month?

What implications will those sales targets have for production?

Do you have enough sales staff to generate that amount of business?

And so on.

Always create a plan and review it regularly making adjustments as and when necessary.

8. If you got a great idea then do something with it:

How many great ideas never see the light of day because the person with the idea fails to do anything about it?

And how many times does someone with an idea see someone else come along with the same idea and beat them to market?

Procrastination stops many entrepreneurs from cashing in on a great idea. Don’t let this be you.

If you’re waiting for the perfect time to do anything you will be waiting for the rest of your life.

Now is always the perfect time.

Don’t wait until you think the economy will be better or your children have left home or some other arbitrary barrier.

The right time to start your business is right now.

So go for it. Yes you’ll make mistakes. You won’t get everything right first time. You won’t become an instant millionaire either.

However by getting started you will be heading in the right direction and you will learn along the way.

Hard work combined with implementing good ideas will get you there eventually.

Concluding Remarks:

I hope these tips prove useful to you dear reader.

It was not intended to be a comprehensive guide for entrepreneurs and I recognise that you may many of your own ideas.

I love to hear them, so please feel free to share them with our readers.

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If you found this article useful then please share it on social media with your friends. When you share, everyone wins.

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Other articles you might also find interesting:

© Roy J Sutton and Mann Island Media Limited 2019. All Rights Reserved.

How to find the right job for you: Simply Explained

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.

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If you found this article useful then please share it on social media with your friends. When you share, everyone wins.

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© Roy J Sutton and Mann Island Media Limited 2019. All Rights Reserved.

11 tips for improving quality of life

tips for improving quality of lifeLife has never been easy but it seems to get tougher with each passing year.

We’re all constantly juggling the conflicting demands of work and family and trying to squeeze in a little ‘me time’ whenever possible.

It’s that elusive thing known as work-life balance. Most of us aspire to it but few achieve it.

How would you describe the quality of your life right now?

This is a question we all ask ourselves occasionally.

A reader asked me recently whether I could offer some tips for improving quality of life. It’s a subject close to my heart, so I am only to happy to oblige.

So here are 11 memorable tips which I hope will help you improve your life’s quality:-

Top tips for improving quality of life:

1. Keep it simple

There really is a lot to be said for simplicity. Complexity can be stressful. So keep everything in life as simple as possible. Ditch the clutter; buy only what you really need and can actually use; and learn to appreciate what you have rather than fretting about things you think you’d like to have but don’t right now. Nothing matters much and actually very few things really matter at all. If you’re lucky enough to have family and a handful of genuine friends plus food on your table and a roof over your head then what more do you actually need? Keeping life simple will reduce your stress levels and that’s important.

2. Treat people with respect

I believe that only people matter. Yes having a nice house and a nice car is great but as human beings we are social animals. We are not solitary animals like cats. We live in groups and we need other people in our lives. And key to having friends is being a friend and treating other people with respect. Treat everyone as you’d prefer them to treat you. Not everyone will appreciate that approach of course but the ones that matter most will and surely that’s what counts. Treat people with respect and generally other people will treat you with respect. And if we could all treat each other with respect then the world would be a better place.

3. Actions speak louder than words

We are judged by what we do and not what we say. Anyone can talk a good game but not everyone can deliver real results and deliver them well. If you want to impress people then it is only your actions that will count. If you can do what you do well then you will be well on your way to achieving success.

4. Ask questions

Intelligent people ask questions. Don’t be afraid to ask a question or to request a clarification about something. If something doesn’t sound quite right then don’t be afraid to challenge it. Ask questions and you’ll learn; fail to ask questions and a life of ignorance lies ahead of you. Only a fool would proceed in ignorance.

5. Look forward; never back

The past has gone and it is important only insofar as the lessons it has taught us and the memories it has given us. The future is where we will spend the rest of our lives. Therefore we should always be living in the present and looking to the future. And above all our focus should be on forging the future we really want. Live your life by looking through the windshield not the the rear-view mirror.

6. Create your own future

We can’t change the past but we can influence our future. We can have a vision of what we want to achieve and how we’d like it to be. We don’t have to accept what is given to us. We can go out and get the things we want. It takes hard work, as well as determination and discipline but it can be done. Create the future you really want and don’t just settle for anything that comes along.

7. Don’t be afraid to change direction if necessary

There will be times in your life when you head off in a particular direction only to find that it doesn’t turn out to be quite what you imagined it would be. There’s nothing wrong with that as you won’t always get it right. From time to time you will make mistakes or perhaps you’ll misjudge a situation. However once you realize something is not quite right for you then don’t be afraid to change direction.

Just take it on the chin, change direction and move on. Don’t worry about what others might think. They’ll think whatever they think but who cares? It’s your life not theirs. It’s only what you think that matters. If you’re not happy with a situation then it’s better to take action than to live a miserable existence because you’re worried about what others might think.

8. Face your fear and just do it

From time to time we all face challenges in our lives. They can often seem daunting and more than a little scary. However if life was always easy then we’d never grow as people. By facing up to a challenge we learn and we grow. That’s how we build our character. That’s how we toughen up. Yes we’ll make mistakes but it is better to have a go and fail than not have a go at all.

Face a challenge and achieve a result and we have done something of which we can be truly proud. Face a challenge and get an outcome we didn’t really want and at least we’ve learned a valuable lesson. That is how we build experience. And if nothing else we can be proud that at least we had a go.

Fear is the body’s way of warning us to proceed with caution. It’s natural to feel fear but courage is our ability to act despite feeling that fear. Have courage and face every challenge as it comes. However hard it might appear at first, you’ll be glad you did.

9. Look after your own well being

You can’t enjoy life to the full if you have health problems can you? So take care of yourself and look after your health. Eat sensibly, drink in moderation, get plenty of exercise and avoid things like tobacco and other recreational stimulants. You might think it doesn’t matter but it does. One puff on a cigarette won’t kill you but the effect of regular smoking will have a cumulative, detrimental effect on your health. You might think ‘you can handle drugs’ but that is the wisdom of a fool. Regular use of recreational drugs will affect you in time. It is only a matter of time. If you don’t look after yourself then no one else will.

10. Learn to manage your time effectively

Time is our most precious resource. We all have the same amount of time, 168 hours each week. It’s how we choose to use it that matters most. Just because someone wants a piece of our time, it doesn’t follow that we should just give it to them. Allocate your time very, very carefully.

If something doesn’t need to be done, don’t do it. If someone else can do it, let them do it. If it can wait, let it wait. And if it absolutely must be done now, get on with it.

It is all about your priorities and those actions where you and only you can add the most value. Identify those things that will allow you to be most effective and they will form the basis of your priorities.

11. Have fun; life’s too short

We all need to ensure that we take time out for ourselves occasionally. We all need a little ‘me’ time; time to recharge our batteries and relax. Work is important of course, as it gives us a sense of purpose in our lives. However it is essential that we have a little fun too.

Life is far too short to be constantly working. So having a hobby or pleasurable pursuit is a very good idea, as is spending some quality time with the people who matter most to you. Have some fun and make sure that you have it regularly.

Polite request:

If you found this article useful then please share it on social media with your friends. When you share, everyone wins.

Please share it now and I’ll be ever so grateful. You’ll be helping a keen blogger reach a wider audience.

Thank you.

Other articles you might also find interesting:

© Roy J Sutton and Mann Island Media Limited 2019. All Rights Reserved.