Your philosophy for life matters. Here’s why

Philosophy for LifeDo you believe your own philosophy for life is important dear reader?

What do I mean by ‘your own philosophy‘?

In this case I’m not referring to the fundamental nature of knowledge, reality and existence and people like Aristotle.

By philosophy I’m referring to your mind-set, whether it’s positive or negative, and how you choose to see the world around you.

I believe personal philosophy really does matter.

I think how you choose to look at life and the world around you will influence your life experiences to a greater degree than you might expect. It’ll also influence how happy you’ll be.

My own philosophy for life is simple.

Firstly I accept the world around me is the world around me. It is what it is. Stuff happens and I have little or no control over most of what happens. That’s just life.

Politicians will come and politicians will go. They’ll promise much but deliver very little usually.

Philosophically I accept that which I cannot influence directly. I see little point in worrying about any of it. Why worry about stuff you can’t change?

In my experience people will always look after their own interests first.

That’s fair enough if you think about it because why would they do otherwise? If they don’t look after their own interests then no one else will that’s for sure.

The underlying point here is that most of what’s happening around us is all just noise really. All we can do is work around it. And basically that’s what I try to do.

I focus on my own interests and those of my family and I always do my best to protect what’s mine. My family will always come first and I will do anything for them. Well, anything that’s legal at least.

To do the best for my family I recognise that I have to be the best that I can be. To have skills and knowledge that will allow me to add as much value in my work as I possibly can. So I take personal development seriously. That way the more value I can add the greater will be my income.

I’m a reader and a keen learner and I’m constantly working to add to my skillset and knowledge. Learning for me is a lifelong process, it never stops, and I will keep learning until I no longer have the energy to pick up a book.

I believe that the better informed we are then the better prepared we’ll be to excel in our chosen field of work. We’ll also be better prepared to seize any opportunities that come our way too.

Let’s face it dear reader, work is just doing stuff for other people in exchange for money.

We work in order to generate income. And we generate income to put bread on the table and a roof over ourselves and the heads of our loved ones.

Whilst work gives us a sense of purpose and adds value to our lives, we should not live just to work. The idea should be to work to live. Well I think so anyway.

We must work hard when we’re at work of course but we must enjoy life with family as much as possible too. As they say where I come from, we’ll be a long time dead.

My aim in life is to be financially independent with multiple income streams.

With multiple income streams there’s a reduced risk of not having any income at all. I think it makes sense not having all your eggs in one basket.

Essentially I see life as a game. And my aim is to become a master of the game of life.

We must look after our own interests because no one else will.

We must be prepared to be ruthless when necessary. By that I don’t mean being nasty or mean to people but if you don’t push hard sometimes, chances are you’ll lose out to those who are willing to make good use of their elbows.

My point is that we can’t afford to be overly sentimental and on occasions in making the right decisions for us it may prove to be less favourable for someone else.

If that happens, that’s life I’m afraid. We must make decisions that are right for us.

Sometimes you really have got to be prepared to use your elbows if you’re going to grab your fair share of life’s pie. Don’t be too willing to let other people go first. You might find there’s nothing left for you.

As always there’s a balance to be struck of course but never lose sight of your own interests and never do anything which works against your own interests.

There is no utopian place where all’s well and the sun shines every day. Life’s life. Some of it’s good and some of it’s not quite so good.

However in the end it’s what we make of it that counts. We get out what we put in. There’s no free ride for anyone. On Spaceship Earth we’re all crew.

All you can do with life is deal with it as best you can.

Enjoy the summers but make sure you’re prepared for the winters too. Winters always follow summers, so be prepared.

Enjoy the good times and when life gets difficult all you can do is take it on the chin and move on.

Worrying about anything you cannot control just steals your joy and spoils your day.

Life’s too short. Do what you can, with what you have, where you are and most of all enjoy every minute because the years all go by in the blink of an eye. So don’t die before you’ve lived.

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How to develop effective time management skills

Time Management Skills1. Time Management Skills:

Developing effective time management skills is an essential ingredient for success, I’m sure you’ll agree. You can’t add real value without making the best use of your time.

However making the best use is not always easy in practice, is it?

So, how good are you dear reader at managing your time?

Do you have a reputation for being ruthlessly efficient and productive or are you someone who’s always struggling to keep up?

When someone asks you to do something in the office, do you accept their request without question and simply add the task to your ‘To Do’ list? If you do, you’re not alone. Many people will do that in my experience.

Alternatively, perhaps you’re the type who thinks carefully relative to your priorities before you accept such a request? Now be honest. We’d all like to think we’re the latter, when in fact far too many people are the former I think.

2. Productivity is what really matters:

In the world of work it’s easy to confuse being busy with being productive but these two concepts are not the same thing at all, are they?

For instance, you can be busy doing things that don’t really need doing at all. Whereas being genuinely productive means delivering real results from high value tasks which can only be done by someone with your skills.

And let’s face it, reputations are built by being productive not merely by being busy. It’s the results you deliver not energy you expend that matter most.

3. Time is your most precious resource:

How often do you hear someone say, “Oh, I would love to do that, if only I had the time.

And yet we all have exactly the same amount of time, i.e. 168 hours per week.

Time is simply a resource like money, albeit it’s more important than money. I say that because you can get more money but you can’t get more time. None of can do that, can we?

So you must learn to use your time wisely. Time is your most precious resource, so you must develop effective time management skills.

4. High value tasks must take precedence:

Modern pressures mean it’s easy for us to try to do too many things. We can all be a bit like that, including me dear reader.

Our lives are cluttered with too many activities, too many objectives, too many distractions and far too many demands on our time.

The result is that we tend to lose focus on what really matters most and in the end we don’t do anything as well as we should have done.

In my experience, in most jobs you’ll find that 90% of productivity is down to completing the top three or four major activities within that job. What I’d call high value tasks.

If you take the top three major activities, the high value tasks, associated with your job and focus on those to the exclusion of just about everything else you’ll almost certainly maximise your productivity and efficiency.

5. The most common time management mistake:

The problem is, when we’re working, we seem to find it easier to focus on minor tasks and random actions requested by other people.

We feel obliged to accept requests from others. It’s a common mistake of which we can all be guilty.

Now, whilst tidying up all those minor tasks might make us feel like we’re achieving some quick wins we’re usually fooling ourselves.

By the end of the day we’re usually left with a sense that we haven’t done all we should have done and that leaves us feeling stressed.

And that’s when we start to think about how we might improve our time management.

6. We can’t do everything, nor should we try:

We must recognise that we can’t do everything but we can be selective about what we choose to do.

And if we’re going to get those major tasks of higher value completed then they must take precedence over those low value, minor tasks, which can always wait if necessary.

High value tasks should always take precedence over low value tasks.

7. Work smarter:

People often think of time management as a skill which would allow them to work faster. Well let me tell you this, that’s not the idea at all.

Effective time management skills allow us to work smarter, rather than harder.

Instead of getting lost in the minutiae of everyday life, with effective time management skills, we focus on and prioritise those things that will add most value to our productivity. In other words, we focus on high value activity.

8. The law of three:

So. if time management is an issue for you dear reader, start by taking a good hard look at your list of daily activities and ask yourself these three questions:-

  1. What single task can only I do and when completed by me will add the most value to the business?
  2. What’s the second task on my list only I can do and when I’ve completed it would allow me to add the most value to the business?
  3. What is the third task on my list only I can do and when completed by me will add the most value to the business?

Once you’ve identified your list of three major, high value tasks then that’s where your focus should be each day before you touch any other minor tasks or accept random requests from other people.

9. The most powerful time management tool:

The point of work is to deliver results. You’ll deliver the best results if you concentrate on your top three major tasks first.

And never forget that you’ll be be judged by the results you actually deliver. No one cares what you had to do for someone else, they only care about the results they expected from you.

Your time is your time and you must decided how it is to be used most effectively.

Just because someone asks for a piece of your time doesn’t mean you’re obliged to give it to them at the expense of your own productivity. Never be afraid to deploy the most effective time management tool of them all.

And what is the most effective time management tool? It’s the word NO.

Think of the word NO as a baseball bat.

Whenever someone makes a request of you then NO is the means by which you can whack that request right out of the ballpark.

10. Be in control of your time at all times:

You’re not obliged to agree to a request even if someone asks nicely. It’s reasonable to be working to your own priorities.

All too often we feel obliged to do things for other people when actually we should have just said politely, “No, I’m really sorry but I can’t do that right now for you because I have to deliver this by 5pm and it’s a priority.”

If our personal productivity matters to us, and it should, then our focus should always be on our own major, high value deliverables.

Unfortunately we allow ourselves to be driven by the agendas of other people.

However that’s not good for our productivity, nor is it good for our well-being and stress levels.

11. People will take everything you’re prepared to give:

I can tell you from experience that other people will take everything you’re prepared to give and a bit more besides. That’s the nature of people.

However if you fail to deliver what you’re actually being paid to deliver, then no list of incidental work completed for other people will be accepted as an adequate plea in your defence when your boss wants to know why you’ve failed to deliver your own high value results.

If you’re painting my house I’ll measure you on the quality and timeliness of your work, not the amount of help you gave to my neighbour by, say, looking after her dog.

What you do for other people is irrelevant to me, should you fail to deliver what I’m actually paying you to deliver.

12. Focus on your priorities:

In reality if your colleagues can’t get something done by you they’ll simply ask someone else. So let them.

Why worry? Just be very polite when faced with a random request but say NO firmly. I can tell you this, you’ll have to be disciplined but it’s a habit well worth developing.

We can all be guilty of expending far too much of our energy helping other people achieve their aims, to the detriment of our own interests and our ability to deliver our own high value results.

To achieve anything of significance in life we must be focused on our own major activities.

We must concentrate on completing our big three major high value deliverables daily and focus relentlessly on working towards achieving our own goals generally.

13. The need for balance:

If you’re asked to do something then it’s perfectly reasonable to say NO, if to do otherwise would prevent you from delivering the results you’re being paid to deliver in a timely manner.

Yes of course, occasionally there will be tasks you’re obliged to accept for whatever reason.

However mostly being firm in declining such a request is a sign that you’re assertive and in control of delivering as much value as possible.

Another polite but firm response to a request might be something like, “Sorry I would love to help you with that but I cannot right now because I have my hands full with the deadline for this project.

As with everything there is a balance to be struck of course.

Sometimes it’s in your interests to do someone a favour because one day you might need them to return that favour. That’s reasonable, providing you always retain a primary focus on keeping your main things, the main things.

14. Conclusion:

You should always ensure that you’re making progress towards achieving your big three deliverables and your own goals generally.

It’s perfectly reasonable to have your own agenda and a desire to achieve your own goals and add the greatest value only you can add.

If you want to make a difference, focus on your big three major activities.

Those activities which only you can do.

And to ensure that you’re doing that, don’t be afraid to use the most effective time management tool  of them all whenever necessary. The word NO expressed politely but firmly.

15. Further Reading:

In writing this article the aim was to convince you of the importance of your need for a transformation, should one be necessary for you to achieve better time management.

However you might feel you could use a little extra help. That’s fine and it’s always useful to add a good book to your personal reference library. And one book you might consider on this subject is:-

How to set your Personal Boundaries: Learn to say No and Protect Yourself from Overwhelming Stress by author Josie Baxter

In this book the author Josie Baxter explains in digestible chunks how we can learn to set boundaries and be able to say no when necessary.

She recognises that what should be a simple thing is in fact often quite difficult.

She acknowledges that it’s natural that people care about other people but potentially that can put us at risk if our tendency always is to say yes.

The risk being that we take on too much which can add to our stress levels and stop us from achieving our own goals. In turn this can lead to exhaustion and burn out.

Josie Baxter explains that it’s not selfish to care for ourselves first.

In fact she notes that it’s actually quite sensible.

The advice in this book is useful for all areas of your life and you’ll find it invaluable if you’re someone who struggles to set firm boundaries. It’s an excellent book and well worth considering.

You can take a look at it if you CLICK HERE.

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How to build confidence and self-esteem

How to build confidence and self-esteemRealizing your full potential would be an excellent definition for success, wouldn’t you agree dear reader?

Unfortunately that’s easier said than done, of course.

For many, if not most, people what’s going on in their head can be the greatest barrier to achieving their full potential. Could you be one of those people dear reader?

You want to achieve success but you’re full of self-doubt?

You don’t believe you’re worthy enough, perhaps?

You just don’t believe you can do it and generally you find it hard to believe in yourself?

And then there’s that old chestnut from which we all suffer occasionally, namely the fear of being found out.

It all boils down to lacking self-belief, a lack of confidence and low levels of self-esteem.

Ultimately all those negative thoughts prevent you from achieving your full potential and they’re a drain on your confidence and self-esteem too.

Negative self-talk not only drains your confidence, it also drains your emotions and it can rob you of the energy you need to work towards achieving your goals and becoming the person you’d like to be. And becoming the incredible person you really could be too.

Within us, we all have enormous potential.

That’s a fact that many people fail to appreciate.

We have so much to offer but for many people that potential goes unrealized.

Essentially many of us just waste so much of the potential we have to offer.

How to build confidence and self-esteemSo how do we become more confident and increase our self-esteem? Now there’s an important question.

The late, great Jim Rohn used to say, “Work harder on yourself than you do on your job.” And he was right in my opinion.

The more you work on yourself, the more confident you’ll become and the greater will be your sense of self-esteem. It really can be that simple.

In the embedded video included below, Oprah Winfrey gives us her views on why it’s important to work on yourself.

And let’s face it, Oprah Winfrey is extremely successful by any measure, so she’s one person to which we should all be listening, or at least those people for whom success is a goal.

If success is your aim, listening to successful people on a regular basis is a very good idea. Find out a few of their secrets and copy them and you’ll be well on your way to achieving and sustaining success yourself.

This is an excellent video and I can recommend it.

Working on yourself:

If this video has roused your curiosity about Oprah Winfrey’s ideas then she’s written many books and they’re all worth reading. You’ll find them all on Amazon. JUST CLICK HERE

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Why an investment in knowledge pays dividends

KnowledgeAn investment in knowledge pays the best interest. ~Benjamin Franklin

You don’t get paid for the hour; you get paid for the value you put into the hour. It’s important everyone understands that important distinction dear reader.

You get paid for the value you add.

The more value you can add the more you will get paid.

It’s that simple really.

If you can solve problems for people with the skills you’ve got then you can earn a very good living.

The question is what underpins your skills? The answer to that question would be knowledge of course.

Knowledge comes from learning and learning is a lifelong process.

The quote at the top of this post from the venerable Benjamin Franklin reminds us of the importance of learning. Learning is an investment in ourselves.

We all have enormous capacity to consume and retain knowledge in our heads and that knowledge is then a currency with which we can trade. The more knowledge we have the more value we can add.

When it comes to investing, nothing will pay you a better dividend than making sure you have a good education.

And it’s not about whether or not you go to college or university. Important as they may be, learning can be achieved in many ways.

Knowledge can be gained through reading books; listening to audio and video tutorials; and challenging yourself to master anything that appeals to you. Learning from hands-on experience, making mistakes and learning the lessons you can take from any mistakes you’ve made.

In particular, if you want to master the game of money and all matters financial then you need to become a seeker of financial knowledge and know-how.

You need to become a reader and a keen student of finance. To be successful in investing, of course you really need to know what you’re doing. You need a financial education.

Ignorance can prove to be very costly indeed. And that’s true in every aspect of your life.

Education may seem expensive but it’s nowhere near as expensive as ignorance.

So, if you’re not already, become a reader.

The investment in yourself is well worth the effort and it’ll pay you a handsome dividend.

As the late, great Jim Rohn once said, “Work harder on yourself than you do on your job.”

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3 things you need to know about money

things you need to know about money

Today I’d like you to think about things you need to know about money dear reader. In other words, think about what it all really means.

It’s natural to dream about being rich of course.

Most people dream about being able to buy whatever they want and go anywhere and everywhere they’d like to go.

The attraction of having that pot of gold is why a lot of people will chase every rainbow.

However, whilst money is necessary to sustain life, there are some things you should really understand about money. Here are three of them:-

1. Having money brings its own pressures:

A great fortune is a great slavery. ~Seneca

It’s reasonable to want to create wealth and build a fortune. As suggested above, we all want to feel financially secure don’t we? Why wouldn’t we?

However being financially secure doesn’t mean you’ll have a life without problems and worry.

You’ll just have different problems and different things to worry about.

No one goes through life without problems. Dealing with problems and challenges is an inevitable part of the human condition.

Put simply, having money brings its own pressures.

Once you’ve got money your biggest concern will be to ensure that you hang on to it.

Inevitably that means you can become a slave to managing your money, preserving its capital value and protecting your fortune.

Being wealthy may be the nice problem to have but it’s no less of a problem for that.

So keep it all in perspective.

2. Money can never be more important than people:

We love to earn money, who doesn’t? It gets you things. ~Katie Price

Earning money is great and it does allow you to buy the things you want and the things you need. However money won’t take care of you when you’re ill.

Yes, it might enable you to buy in some hired help.

However that’s not the same as having someone around who genuinely cares about your well-being. That someone for whom you matter much more than money ever will.

In my experience, whilst money is important, nothing in our lives matters more to us than our friends and loved ones. Human beings are social animals and only people matter to us really.

So never focus on money to the point where you neglect the people who should matter most to you. Forget about them and eventually they will forget about you.

You can have all the money in the world but without friends and loved ones you will have nothing at all.

Go out and earn your money by all means and enjoy it too.

However always maintain a sense of balance in your life and make sure that you allocate some time for the people who matter most to you.

An investment of your time in the people you love is an investment that will pay dividends.

3. Money is a precious resource so use it wisely:

A penny saved is a penny earned. ~Benjamin Franklin

I make no apology for repeating Benjamin Franklin’s money mantra frequently repeated by generations of well-meaning parents to their profligate children. It’s as valid today as it was in his day.

Whether Franklin was referring to money saved when making purchases or money saved from income is not obvious in his statement but that doesn’t matter.

The underlying point is that you have to be careful with your money because saving money is the key to building wealth and becoming financially successful. No one ever got rich by wasting their money.

Money like time is a precious resource, so use it wisely.

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What makes a great idea?

What makes a great ideaWhat makes a great idea?

How is it that one idea can be successful and another idea less so?

Why has the iPhone been so successful and yet the Blackberry has all but disappeared?

How do you know when one of your ideas might just make big a difference?

The key ingredient for a great idea is timing. Ideas are a dime a dozen. The trick is to know when one of your inspired thoughts is right for its time and therefore how hard to push it.

If you’re too far ahead of other peoples’ thinking, that inspired thought you believed was great will only be ignored because it won’t resonate with people.

If you’re too far behind, then it will be ignored because they’ve seen it all before.

However if you can hit that sweet spot between the two extremes then you can generate value from your idea because it will capture the imagination of the people who are ready for it.

An idea whose time has come is a truly great idea. Though coming up with one is not so easy, of course.

It’s because great ideas are so rare that they can become so valuable. And that value is why it’s worthwhile to seek out great ideas constantly.

Should you decide the world is not quite ready for your inspired thinking then don’t worry. Not ready now doesn’t mean the world will never be ready.

Keep a journal and make a note of all those flashes of inspiration. And add your journals to your own personal library. Never throw your journals away. Go through them occasionally and see what ideas you’ve had for which the time might now be right.

Your personal journals could be a source of pure gold in the future so make sure you buy quality notebooks that you can add to your personal library as you fill them with your thoughts and inspiration.

My personal preference is for the RHINO A4 160 Ruled NoteBook which can be purchased from a great selection of notebooks that Amazon has in stock.

You might consider this notebook to be a bit expensive of course but buying cheap notebooks is a false economy.

In keeping journals you’re creating value. And value starts with a good quality notebook which you can BUY HERE.

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The secret to being a successful entrepreneur

The secret to being a successful entrepreneurHow often do you hear people say that they’d love to be an entrepreneur?

People will tell you that they’d love to be a success in business, making a difference to peoples’ lives with great products and services.

Then they’ll add the caveat that unfortunately the time’s not right for them at this moment. One day they’ll have a go but their circumstances won’t allow it at present.

However very few of those who say they’ll have a go, will ever actually have a go. They don’t really have the desire and they probably don’t understand the secret to being a successful entrepreneur anyway.

The only way to get rich:

As an entrepreneur, success is measured by the money you make. Let’s face it starting any business is all about making money for the owners. Otherwise why would anyone bother?

And starting your own business can be a fantastic thing to do and, for most people, it is the only way you’ll ever have the chance to make some serious money.

Certainly you’re unlikely to get seriously rich working for someone else.

However to succeed in business, first you must get started.

The critical ingredient to success in business is you getting off your butt and actually doing something about it. And the best time to do it is now. Last year or the year before might have been better but otherwise now is always the best possible time. It’s simple really.

The secret to making money:

Getting off your butt is one thing but how do you make money as an entrepreneur? Well dear reader pull up a chair and listen carefully for the secret is very simple.

The secret to making money as an entrepreneur is to solve problems for people. To make their lives easier in some way.

Solve problems; make money:

Every product you sell must solve a problem for the customer.

So if you can identify problems for which people need a solution and if you can offer those solutions, otherwise known as products, at value for money prices then you can make money and you can be successful.

Remember this too; you don’t necessarily have to be the first with a solution either. If you can improve on an existing solution in some way then you can still make some serious money. If you can ‘build a better mousetrap‘ then people will buy it.

For instance, Steve Jobs and Apple were not the first to offer cellular mobile phone handsets, and nor were Samsung. Yet these two companies both dominate the market for smartphones right now.

The secret to being a successful entrepreneurMake a difference:

Has your appetite for business been whetted dear reader?

Do you have any ideas you think might make a difference? You do? Then you have to be prepared to take action. Having ideas means nothing unless you take action.

Ideas are ten-a-penny. Plenty of people have good ideas that never see the light of day.

Occasionally people will have good ideas but just leave it all too long and then someone else comes along with the same idea and beats them to the draw.

Having ideas is easy. Implementation is the tough bit and there are too few people with the drive and determination to turn a good idea into a business opportunity and then make money from it.

So you must take action if you want to be a successful entrepreneur.

Not tomorrow; not next week; not next year; but right now.

Become a ‘doer’:

In my experience, true entrepreneurs are doers, they’re not dreamers.

So go on, get started right now.

Solve peoples’ problems and you’ll be on your way down the road to riches. Good luck.

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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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© 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.

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.

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© 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.

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.