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Business success Positive action

Bullet point blogging!

It’s 12 days since I last blogged (where does the time go, hey?) and I’ve got LOADS to tell you.

So much, in fact, that I can’t possibly put it all in just one blog post.

So here’s my first attempt at blog bullet pointing!

Achievements and Events, July/August 2018

  1. Our luck seems to have changed!

Ok, so we’ve made a little money since the business started trading last October, but it would be fair to say that pretty much every job we’ve taken on since then has been pretty challenging. Every challenge has been different, and each one has given cause to eat into profit. I’ve got to admit I haven’t gone through the details of every job, I have known it wasn’t always good news and I didn’t always want to depress myself further. I’ve also known that this challenging time would not last for ever, it was just a case of getting our heads down and keeping going – and that seems to finally have happened, because…

  1. We did our first packages!

Along with our joint number one top employee, T, we’ve been developing various packages to offer to clients, fixed prices that we hope will appeal to people on a more fixed budget. It’s something I would have struggled to do.
Next though, we had to be sure we could deliver the packages – and make money doing them. So, we’ve just done our first two which we treated as a test. We’ve done post mortems on both jobs, going through how the labour worked out, how the products worked out, how the costings worked out and so on. And both went really well! We actually did them on time and…

  1. We’ve actually made some money!

We are still a very very long way from loaded, but the signs are good. We are DEFINITELY on the up and we seem to be over the worst of the problems. Much of that is due to…

  1. We have a third employee!

Part of the problem causing the challenges alluded to in point 1 was that we needed another staff member to join the bathroom team. And it was a challenge to find the right person. Really we needed another D – a good all-rounder with a wide range of skills and who jump on to any job, as a real team member.

We had a few people get in touch. When K rang I liked him immediately, but he was a bit smooth. I thought, you’re either the world’s biggest blagger or you’re perfect. He came to see us and he and D got on immediately, and he joined the team two weeks later.

It turns out, he IS perfect! He’s actually on his way to be our third joint number one employee, joining T and C, D’s son.

It all feels a bit too good to be true, but right now it’s working, he’s working and the team is working so the jobs are working. HUGE credit to the Law of Attraction, which I am sure helped bring him our way, he is a big part of the success alluded to in points one to three.

So it’s all good! So far so good!

Now we just need to do it all over again until we’re loaded!

 

 

 

Bob Proctor Business success Change your life

Bob Proctor M1 M2 M3 update!

Sometimes, it is so good to look back at how far you’ve come.

It is literally just over a year since I wrote about a YouTube film I watched featuring the wonderful Bob Proctor talking about M1, M2 and M3. Back then I knew I wanted to get to M3 but I was worried I wasn’t putting this into action.

In the film Bob explains there are three levels of earning and making money, and I’ll summarise them here.

M1 is the vast majority of people who get a job and swop their time for money. They literally work for their living which means their earnings will only ever be limited.

M2 people work for a living but also invest in assets that will bring them an income. This is just 3% of the population (I assume this is the US population, so it may be different in the UK).

I’m glad to say I have already shown M2 tendencies – I have a small portfolio of properties which bring me a modest rental income. In fact, this income has been my main source of income since we began our adventure to change our lives and control our own destiny. Without it I would have had to have a job and would not have had so much time to spend on our business and also on this blog.

M3 is where the money is! According to Bob, this group set up multiple sources of income and – this is key! – they get other people to do the work for them.

M3 is my goal.

In fact, it’s not only my goal. If I want to achieve a Success of my Life Project, M3 is my necessity.

But if you are reading this and thinking ‘I’m not there yet’ my best advise is not to panic.

In my opinion, Bob speaks a whole lot of wisdom and we can all take inspiration from his recordings and writings. But he speaks from his own individual experiences and journey. We must all remember that as well as absorbing words of wisdom and inspiration, we are all also on our own individual path. And sometimes that path can take its time, probably because we need time to grow with it.

A year ago I was worrying that I was holding our business back by being too M1 and not enough M3.

But it is crucial that we let inspiration and guidance support us forwards, not make us panic and doubt ourselves.

While on my project to life success I have discovered a ton of things about myself. Probably the biggest has been that I am an entrepreneur. My strengths are in big thinking, strategic planning and seeing opportunities. I struggle to do the daily grind of the more tedious tasks.

Twelve months ago, I was doing everything. We simply didn’t have the money to employ other people. Unless you have a ton of money to throw into your new business, you will probably do everything too.

But what I have found is that back then I needed to do everything. With no business background or experience, I needed to learn the what, how and why of business. And learn them I did, on an exciting, overwhelming wave of exhilaration.

Gradually, over the past year, I have gently dropped some of the things I was doing.

I no longer do payroll, although I am glad I did because now I understand how it works. This was outsourced to an accountancy firm, and I blogged here about it.

I no longer price up jobs, I wasn’t very good at it because numbers aren’t my strength, but I’m glad I did because now when T is pricing up I know exactly what he needs to add and – most importantly of all – how best to explain to and work with customers when delivering prices.

I no longer do the End of Project Guide that we always deliver to customers. T also does this, and when we employ someone under T they will do it.

I could go on, but you probably get the picture. I can see here that although I was so nervous about employing T it was the BEST thing we could have done, and our business has literally boomed since he joined us.

(In fact, problems we have had recently have come mostly from mistakes I made when pricing up and agreeing works just before he joined us, or mistakes he made in his early days. He has been able to see just why we have put certain systems in place, and we have been able to fine-tune our processes together.)

I think I’m waffling, and I hope you’re getting the picture.

To summarise, I am slowly becoming M3. I’m not there yet. But I am on my way.

My fears from my post a year ago were valid but unnecessary. I wasn’t holding us back, I was just on the right path, going at the right speed for me.

I WILL get to M3, I know it. I HAVE to! And it is sooo good to be able to look back on a year and see progress. I am soooo grateful for this incredible journey – and I can’t wait to look back on this in another year’s time, who knows where we will be then!

 

 

 

Attracting Success Business success

Blowing my own trumpet

Let’s make no mistake here, it’s not often I get to sing my own praises by blowing my own trumpet, or indeed any musical instrument. So when I do, I like to play it loud and clear – because it actually seems that part of my plan (or if not a plan as such, at least a crazy stab in the dark) might just be coming together.

The phone call marking the result was from someone who only a few weeks ago would have brushed me away with an irritated smile. Today, though, her tone was very different.

“I’ve been thinking about what you guys are doing, and what we’re doing,” she said. “And I was telling [business owner] what you’re up to and saying you know we really should get together and have a conversation about how we could work together.”

It was a satisfying moment, not just because we could potentially do some good business together, but also because I have a little history with her company, a local letting and estate agents.

We used this agency to set up the tenancy for our property here, the half that was renovated first (after we split this big property into two) and which has been home to a sweet family for just over two years. The manager was very capable and experienced and we had a good experience with them. So when I saw their advert for a job vacancy, just two days a week maternity cover, I decided to go for it.

It was a basic role, mostly admin, and was part of a twofold plan – firstly to get to know the area, make contacts with trades and other professionals – and secondly to learn about business. After working in television production for nearly two decades I had barely any experience of a ‘normal’ job.

It was enjoyable, quite the learning curve, and altogether a good experience. They had some good systems in pace some of which I have adapted and implemented here. But it was also a strange place to work, a very disjointed business where the management had almost nothing to do with the departments beneath them. It is the only place I have ever worked where, aside from the one or two people I worked with, not one person ever asked me a single question about myself, not even where had I worked before, which I would say is basic chit chat.

When the lettings manager left, her replacement was completely unsupported, and the department descended into a disaster waiting to happen. When it did happen, she again received pretty much zero support, nearly had a nervous breakdown and left. The entire lettings department with several hundred properties on its books was left to me and my other part time colleague to run, working alternate days so there was barely any continuity. We worked lots of hours overtime to keep on top of it, but there was no way the equivalent of one full-time person could cope with that workload.

The legal requirements of letting agents on behalf of landlords are huge and leaving a department to two part-time admin staff was a risk I could not believe a business like this was prepared to take. But unbelievably, no one ever said anything to me or my colleague about how things would work, about what we were expected to do, about anything really. No one asked if we were coping. They just carried on as normal and, a few weeks in when I told the business owner things weren’t happening because we didn’t have time, he got really annoyed.

It was a superb example in how not to run a business!

I pushed them to recruit someone full time and offered to leave, because our building business was getting very busy, and as soon as they had someone, they were keen for me to hand my notice in, which I did. On my last day I emailed the business owner and said we should stay in touch as we would be doing more and more in property. I never heard anything back – of course, I never expected to – but I wanted to give him to the opportunity to confirm my suspicions! It seemed so silly, and lazy, and small-minded, not to send even a brush-off reply to someone who had gone above and beyond and who could be a potential source of income, but that was just typical of this company.

The new manager started soon after, and I tried to keep in touch, popping in occasionally to the office. But it was clear I wasn’t wanted, they were too busy to stop and chat and she viewed me as a nuisance. So time slipped by and my time with the agency slipped into the past.

Then last month our tenant told me she was buying a house and would be vacating. I called the lettings manager and asked her to value the soon-to-be-vacant house, also the property we currently live in (which we hope to move out of at some point) and then I also threw in the small terrace house just up the road that we’ve just renovated for a client.

My plan worked. She clearly and suddenly realised I was potentially a tad more interesting than she had first viewed me. And so today’s phone call was sweet. I just love being able to surprise someone!

I said I had been thinking we should have a conversation about who we should refer clients to when they ask us which letting agent they should use. Was she looking for more business, and she assured me she was. I heard £££ signs chiming in front of her eyes. And that’s fine. They chime in front of my eyes too, sometimes.

She also suggested perhaps they could be pushing our services, both within the sales and the letting departments, which was, frankly, quite fantastic to hear. I told her we are developing bathroom packages, makeovers on varying budgets which we are currently testing and which we plan to offer to landlords looking for a cost price new look, and she made a noise that sounded quite interested.

Business is just so exciting! Even more so when other businesses start to take you seriously and want to work with you. It’s like verification that you’re on the right path and going somewhere.

This isn’t a revenge post, I just happened to work there during a really difficult period, although it did expose deep flaws in their management. It is a however a post celebrating the success of my plan to get another professional to sit up and take us seriously. And it’s also a reminder that really good things can come out of trials.

And now all we have to do is take advantage of the improvements in our position, and make the most of the ride!

 

 

Attracting Success Business success Positive action

So angry at myself

Seriously, I am so annoyed. It’s two weeks since I last blogged and every day something happens that I should be recording.

And yet, I. Am. Not. Flipping. Doing. It.

Because I am not flipping doing it, when I do finally get around to writing a post, it’s only ever a general catch up, or I miss 99/100 of the things that have just taken place. How can I possibly remember fourteen days’ worth of the myriad of details, challenges and triumphs that are greeting us each day?

And yet I should be recording them, every single one! No matter how small or apparently trivial, every step is helping us, forcing us to evolve. As we stumble our way over each obstacle, we grow new awareness, introduce new systems, get better in every way. And although I write ‘we’ I mean this in a persona sense too.

I don’t want to sound trite, or, erm, way out, but since we started out on this path, it literally feels like the energy created by our actions has created its own energy. Seriously, doors have opened, people we needed have come into our lives at just the right time and things have magically aligned. This has made it all feel incredibly meant to be and as though we are heading towards some amazing destiny. (I’m sorry if this sounds ridiculous but that is just how it feels.)

I guess where I’m going with this is that as we hurtle towards whatever this destiny is that awaits us, all these challenges we are facing are turning us into the people we need to be to cope with our destiny, at just the right time. Again, I appreciate this sounds a bit, y’know, fancy.

The road we travel

So, back to my first point, why on earth am I not recording each one of these magical steps? Especially if I’m right and they really are all part of some great celestial plan.

I’m busy, yah yah. So is the rest of the world. I can’t really be that busy, because I still have time to scroll Facebook. And Instagram. And occasionally Twitter.

So here goes. I’m going to try again, blogging daily, when possible. Because one day, when hopefully our journey has reached a different level and we have achieved a level of success, it will be so good to look back on.

And as for today’s lesson/challenge/step/growth opportunity?

Quite a biggie, if I’m honest.

So we’ve just done a refurb of a bathroom and utility room for a lovely, very busy couple. It was the first job I’ve not been really involved with, as T and D went out to it shortly after T joined us. We priced in for some electrical work, just connecting/disconnecting the shower.

When M, the electrician in our regular BNI group, turned up to disconnect the shower he discovered the property needed more work than the basics, this was arranged with the client but unfortunately we did not take control. What needed to happen was a three-way conversation on site with us, the electrician and the client, agreeing how much we would pay for and what would be additional for the client to pay for. Because it didn’t happen, the electrician has emailed me today asking me to make sure that the client is expecting a separate invoice from him, and is not expecting us to pay for it, etc.

Basically, it’s all gone a bit messy and unsatisfactory. The clients have an elderly relative’s birthday party tomorrow so I can’t contact them until Monday, so for the next three nights it will hang over us, a worry.

I just got extremely passionate telling D all about what should happen, and of course he then thought I was having a go at him. Which I honestly wasn’t, I was just seeing, so strongly, so clearly, what needs to take place so this doesn’t happen again. The three-way conversation should have cleared things up, and then we (T or I) should have sent an email reiterating this. But that didn’t happen, and so now we have a slightly messy situation in that I have sent our final invoice today which covers the basic works for the electrics and not the extra works, and the electrician has emailed me asking me to check that the client is expecting an invoice from him (and, more importantly, is going to pay).

It all feels just a bit messy and amateur.

But, it isn’t the first time and it won’t be the last. No doubt difficult and messy situations will happen again, (and again, and again, and again) and each time you can bet that I’ll be taking the actions to hopefully prevent them from being repeated.

Making mistakes sucks.

The only way to make a mistake is to learn from it to ensure it doesn’t happen again, which we will. It doesn’t change that I’m feeling a bit rubbish about it, so here are a few quotes about Learning from Mistakes, and the people who allegedly said them (I wonder if they really did?):

“Experience is merely the name we give our mistakes,” Oscar Wilde

“Making mistakes is a lot better than not doing anything,” Billie Joe Armstrong

“It isn’t making mistakes that’s critical; it’s correcting them and getting on with the principal task,” Donald Rumsfeld

“Mistakes and pressure are inevitable; the secret to getting past them is to stay calm,” Travis Bradberry

“Mistakes are a part of being human. Appreciate your mistakes for what they are: precious life lessons that can only be learned the hard way. Unless it’s a fatal mistake which, at least, others can learn from,” Al Franken
and… sorry, couldn’t resist ;):
“All men make mistakes, but married men find out about them sooner,” Red Skelton

 

And the business evolves... Becoming employers Business success Change your life

Recruiting again!

Yup, we are moving up a notch – another one – and it’s still scary, overwhelming, advancing, exhilarating, terrifying… all the feels in one.

It’s almost three months since T joined us and despite my hesitation at the time I knew the only way we would move forward would be with him on board. Since he joined us we’ve gone from strength to strength.

His expertise and experience in selling bathrooms has been worth every penny. He is able to visit potential clients and price jobs in about a quarter of the time it used to take me. He accompanies them to showrooms and is able to advise on the products in a way I could never do.

He still needs work and support in project managing, because he has never done that, but with his initiative and erm, for want of a better word, what my Grandma used to call ‘gumption’ I have no doubt that won’t be far away.

I guess my only concern, although that is too strong a word really, would be that I have to keep reminding him to fill in the wall boards and our online sheets, updating on the progress of each job. He’s not brilliant at that and while it’s not so much of an issue now, when we have 10 people in his department it is going to be imperative that each one knows exactly what is happening with every job. I don’t want a business where a client rings and is told the person working on their job is off that day, I want everyone to know what’s happening. So that needs working on, but I am not concerned exactly.

Yet we have a problem. The bathrooms need to get faster. D and C are doing great but C is still very young and slow at many things. T joins them half the time as an extra pair of hands but he also has no experience, his enthusiasm only goes so far. We have a situation where D is still doing everything but also training two newbies and we can’t fly like we need to.

We need the impossible – someone of D’s caliber and experience. Cloning D isn’t possible right now so I did a Facebook advert last week and sat back to see what would happen.

And then it struck us. Sheezle this is taking things to another level! Suddenly it has all become real – again. Taking on young beginners is one thing, taking on equals – as with T – is another.

How much are we paying? Well, we don’t know! We didn’t know who was going to come forward.

As when T joined us, we can’t afford to take on anyone else, but we know we have to, so we must, and we will make it work. Probably we should be sitting down and going through the budget and allocating a wage but we don’t seem to be able to work like that – yet. It is still a case of the business catching up with the workload and the workload creating the profit. I still find numbers and budgets a bit confusing and hard work and I am aware I need someone to work through it with me.

Off the back of our advert some fantastic people have come forward to join us. We are in a superb position and I am so grateful. I did actually use the Law of Attraction again this week, heavily thanking the Universe for the amazing and perfect people who were coming into our life. Once again I am convinced it worked. A couple of people came forward who we already knew but never expected to hear from. One guy – no one we knew previously – came for an ‘interview’ on Friday and I think he might just be the one.

So, exciting times again! In the midst of it all life continues as normal, whatever normal is.

 

 

 

Business success Goal setting Habits of Success How to run a business Positive action

Holiday – Disaster – Plan!

This is a frickin rollercoaster, folks!

I wrote here – only 11 days ago, for goodness sake – about my latest confidence crisis and how we seem to have overcome.

We ended 2017 (funny how old that already feels) with a tricky client and a job that was hard to price, a mix of various different jobs, much of it very bitty. As some of our jobs do, it has run over the estimated timescale, by quite some length.

Being so busy with our own house I put off doing a final count up of days (yes, ok, I was putting it off, because I knew it would be bad news). I finally did it yesterday and sure enough, it’s bad news.

So late last night I worked myself up into a meltdown which exploded over D today. We so needed that job to go well. Ok, correction. She was always going to be difficult, so the job was never going to make us much. But it needed to make us something. I stared at the final costings and knew there was no way I could charge her the final amount. We’ve simply taken far too long over it.

Last week D’s dad went into hospital so he was away for three days and the job booked for that week was pushed back.

The week before, I decided to book a few days for D and I to go visit my parents for my dad’s birthday – in France.

So we’ve gone from losing money on a job to having to postpone the next job and then booking ourselves on a trip to take us even further from actually getting any work. Talk about a catalogue of disasters. Talk about January being a write off.

Now, we absolutely 100% need a break, so I am looking forward to getting away.

But today I gave D an ultimatum. He needs to step up and get involved with the financial side, which he shies away from because it doesn’t interest him. But then he is detached from the reallity of the job and loses the urgency that he needs to be constantly driving the team forward.

Secondly, he needs to be planning the jobs in advance. As in, writing a list of the daily tasks needed and ensuring they get done. It’s something we started doing but again it doesn’t interest him so it stopped happening. I’ve written a few times about the importance of setting goals and here we have, in perfect clarity, a superb example of what happens when you don’t – there is nothing to measure progress against.

If he/we had planned this job he/we would have been able to identify it was running over. Also, the team would have had something to refer to and measure themselves against. It sounds so simple, and it is. So why haven’t we been doing it?

(I’ve got to bring in the renovation of this property here, it has been a massive distraction. But we could have taken 20 minutes to plan, so there’s no real excuse there.)

So in less than two weeks I’ve gone from thinking that we are going to make it, to sheer panic and the distinct possibility that the business may not survive beyond March.

Just two days ago I wrote about having to get a bit tougher when dealing with the team and with trades. Oh yes.

When we get back next week, I will be talking to the team. In no uncertain words. It’s 100%, 100 mph or nothing. Certain people will get an official warning to improve their performance or they will be out. Each job will get a written plan and that will be checked off at the end of every day to ensure we are on schedule and everyone is playing their part.

And I need to step up. Forget just doing all the office side, I need to be managing the team too. I need to be ensuring the management (D) can feel my boot hovering not too far from his backside, keeping him and the team on their toes and on track.

Or in March we both start looking for jobs. It really is that serious.

I am so glad this has happened now, when there is – just – time to turn it back round. But my gosh it’s scary.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Business success How to run a business Overcoming Doubt

The Three Day Wobble

Remember when 2018 felt like it was ages away? Yeah, about that…

Happy new year! I hope you had a good one, wherever you were.

 

We celebrated like true icons… in bed. D asleep, me trying to sleep but all plans for breathing hjacked by the four gallons of treacle someone had injected into my chest. It didn’t work, so by 12.03 am on January 1st I was standing by the window watching a display of eight fireworks set off by a group of teenagers in the park close to the house.

This was especially challenging as, trying to teach the dogs not to fear fireworks, I had to keep my breathing slow and regulated at all times. Well it was slow, but I may have pushed the definition of regulated.

I was however hoping that the sticky start to 2018 meant the year might finish in triumph. But it’s the end of day three and already I’ve had a major wobble!

The crises in my own confidence are nothing new, they regularly drop by to fill my doubtful head with helpful stuff like

I can’t do this…

I’ll NEVER be able to do this…

I’m not cut out for it…

We’ll never make money…

I should just get a job…

We should both just get jobs and give up while we still have seven pence between us and financial devastation…

Oh the humiliation of giving up…

The humiliation will be worth it for the relief…

And so on.

Probably mostly due to being ill, but don’t ever underestimate my ability to self-sabotage even the safest of bets.

Today I dragged my sorry flu-ridden backside out of bed at 5.30am (ok, 5.45am) and staggered into BNI. By the time it came to do my 60-second presentation I was barely able to see the words.

After BNI I staggered across town to pay in a cheque, a deposit for a job we will be starting later this month. We’ve joined a well-known high street bank for our business banking and frankly they’ve been a major disappointment. There was me thinking the world of business ran slick, huh?

That list of disappointments was to rise even further this morning when the cheque was rejected at the ATM for being ‘faulty’. And of course, on Wednesday’s they don’t open until 10 for staff coffee and idle chit-chat for staff training.

I looked NOTHING like this guy running through the streets

 

At least the bank disappointment meant I was a whopping two minutes early for my new year new start meeting with our accounts lady. After three hours of chasing long-lost receipts and missing payments I drove home in a daze, climbing over two rested and newly-energetic but disappointed dogs and disappearing beneath my duvet in a feverish slump, feeling too worried and panicky about money to rest properly.

At 3.30 pm I sat bolt upright, grabbed my laptop and began listing our regular business monthly expenditure.

Insurance, memberships, fuel, taxes, advertising, accounting, wages – oh yeah, those.

The figures started to climb and my heart skipped a couple of beats.

I added a small weekly amount for me.

I took the monthly amount and multiplied it by 12 to get the expenditure for a year. Ok, bad idea. But then I divided the monthly total by 22 – the average number of working days per month.

I stared at it. It was a high number. But it wasn’t crazy high.

It was actually pretty much where we had been aiming at.

A breath of relief left my lungs, travelling more freely than any had for some time. In the midst of my terror came confirmation. I had needed to do this for some time and now I had done it.

And the figures were ok.

You know what? As long as we carry on carrying on, and we carry on with how and where we are carrying on to, I think we’ll do this.

To 2018! And the next crisis!

 

Business success How to run a business

A dilemma

I have a dilemma. Quite a nice one to have, but a dilemma all the same.

I have the opportunity to replace myself. Which was always my plan, because I want to go on to do more, but I wasn’t expecting to be in this position until at least well into 2018.

For the past year or so I have been learning how to run a business. Firstly, a building company and then, since October, our bathroom and wetroom business.

It’s been a steep learning curve in how to run a business. My twenty years’ experience making TV programmes gave me practically no business experience so that has all been new.

Business admin, payroll, taxes, bookkeeping and so on were all fresh ground.

Pricing up, handling materials, running credit accounts and so on were VERY scary even 12 months ago.

Even though I’ve been self employed in the past, I was still working for other people, generally on a fixed rate, so it was really like being in a job.

And although Dean was a builder, a sole trader, he worked on one project at a time, generally working alone.

So we have scaled on, scaled up and scaled out beyond anything either of us knew about before.

It’s going well. But I’m struggling. I LOVE running the business. I love managing systems, coming up with new ones that make us more efficient or effective or both, managing money, building and growing relationships.

If I’m honest, I’m not so keen on the other stuff. The managing of individual jobs, clients and costs.

It would probably be correct to say that in that area I am holding the business back.

I’m definitely not pushing us forward like I could be.

Recently I’ve found that I’ve been putting off contacting potential customers because I wasn’t sure what to say to them. And experience has taught me, if I constantly delay doing something then it’s just not for me. Not the end of the world, I told myself, it’s just something I need to work on and get better at. It could be a year or more for me to get good enough at it to build it into something I can hand over to someone else and move on to other things.

And then… along comes T!

We’ve built a good relationship with T, the showroom manager of one of our suppliers. I don’t know him very well but he seems to share our values and passion (we truly care for our customers and want them to have an amazing experience with us, not feel ripped off or compromised in any way).

A couple of months ago, randomly I had a feeling that T would work for us one day. I told Dean what I felt, because of some of the amazing things that have happened to us since we began this journey to change our lives.

Then two weeks ago, Dean went to pick up some materials and came back with the news that T is being made redundant in January – the company are closing the showrooms.

WTF?

It’s crazy. Months earlier than expected, and yet here it is – the opportunity.

The perfect person – at least I think he is – to start doing all the stuff I am finding hard. Someone who sells bathroom products every day, who already juggles quotes, figures, all those things that are still another language to me.

But how can we afford to take him on? I blogged here about how we’ve just taken on our third member of the team. So that’s three people currently supported by this baby business which is still finding its feet. Still funded by my somewhat erratic pricing and amateur invoicing.

(I am currently funded by my rental income, not really taking any salary, just the odd snippet here and there.)

We are by no means rich, just getting by and learning the ropes which change every day.

And yet, if we somehow make it happen for T to join us, I suspect he will move us all forward so much faster than if we do it alone. I am seeing him as someone to head the sales, then manage the bathroom refurbs, ordering materials, managing stock, booking subcontractors and so on.

I could step back and manage the business, do all the networking and the marketing and the things I really enjoy and am good at.

Plus, at the same time I could continue with all my big ideas and, in time, start all the other new businesses I passionately want to see up and running.

It is a true dilemma!

We are meeting up in early January and I’ll let you know how it goes!

 

Becoming employers Business success HMRC

How did we come to this?!

Somehow, we have become employers of TWO people.

This shocking development was what we needed – we wanted – needed – to build a team of Dean plus two – but even so, this is getting scary!

Scary and exciting!

Our second employee’s name also begins with C, so from now on I will call employee one C1 and employee two C2. Just chronologically, to be clear, there is no favouritism here.

Our hiring process looks nothing like this!

We Need to Grow!

We were both very conscious that the only way to grow was to add numbers. The eventual plan being for Dean to be able to step back and come off the tools and into a more management role.

So, we need to build a team we can trust and who know each other and work well together.

Our first foray into the world of employment went unbelievably well – rather a non-event for everyone except us, if I’m honest. We managed to absorb the wage. The holidays, the sickness, the responsibility for another human being was a bit of an eye-opener, and I wrote about doing my own payroll and what I would say to someone wondering if payroll is easy to do here. C1 was on the whole an easy first employee – loyal, reliable and a decent chap. He was and still goes at a frustratingly slow pace sometimes, and that’s something we need to work on with him. But, generally all has gone well.

So now that we have two people on the books does that mean double challenges? Certainly the dynamic in the team has changed, without problems so far. Having two people working for and with him will push Dean closer to a management style, even if he doesn’t realise it.

And of course, it means finding three wages every month, not just two (Dean is on the company payroll, even though he is a director).

Employing people is not cheap. On top of their salary we also have to pay their taxes plus additional tax – just for the privilege of paying them. So an employee will always cost you more than their wage. That’s something I didn’t realise.

We considered at length just working with other self-employed people. In the end, it hasn’t worked for us – there are too few available around here and they are too expensive. We both feel that the only way for us to grow is to nurture our own talent in-house.

And so – we grow! With all the new challenges and opportunities that brings. Be careful what you wish for, they say, and we certainly wished for more!

Now we just need to make sure we have the work booked in to keep the three amigos busy!

 

 

 

 

Business success Positive action Positive Thinking Start a business

A Look Back on October

As with life, business is full of unexpected twists and turns, flips and fuggles and October 2017 has been just that.

As we approach the final day of the month – Hallowe’en (which as someone with a phobia of zombies is really not much fun at all) it is surprising how much things have changed in just 31 days.

And then I suppose that is life itself – you can tread water for ages before suddenly a huge wave comes along that sweeps you somewhere completely unexpected, leaving you tumbling headfirst into new waters trying to catch your breath and hoping your swimsuit hasn’t ended up in a compromising position.

We hadn’t been treading water exactly. The last few years have been full of steady growth – of us, as well as the business. But this month, our first month trading officially as our bathroom business, has definitely been all about swimming in a very different ocean from before.

So we were always due to hit a few waves as we crossed into new waters.

In short, October 2017 has been challenging, rewarding, terrifying, frustrating, demanding and – overall – exciting!

We started our first job under the new company banner on October 2nd. A dated, traditional bathroom to be transformed into a luxury shower room for its elderly residents. It was always going to be a challenge to complete within two weeks as they also wanted a storage unit to be built in one corner, but it was just about do-able.

It wasn’t just the new business name, this was the start of our new way of working, our new approach of scheduling jobs into timescales and making them happen, as opposed to a less confident, slightly airy-fairy approach of things taking as long as they need to take – impossible to plan around. Dean and our newly-trained employee Craig were fired up and ready for the new challenge.

Meanwhile, in my office I was feeling pleasantly smug that we were in a seriously good place. Carla, our wonderful VA, and I had some highly polished systems and we were ready to get busy! We got on great, the time difference between the UK (me) and the Philippines (Carla) completely irrelevant. Her loyalty to us and her excitement for our future matched mine.

And then, the worst happened – she became ill. A few days off turned into a week, then, because she hoped to be able to come back, stretched into a few weeks. I have no reason not to believe her – she has sent me the medical documents, although I didn’t ask – but sadly it looks like she will need surgery before things will improve.

At first her work sat undone, waiting for her return. But when she did attempt to work, it was clear she wasn’t able to concentrate and mistakes were made. Eventually, last week I had to tell her that we would find someone else – someone temporary – in the hope that Carla can return to work eventually.

I called a lovely lady who runs an admin support service, who I had met at a networking event, and as I type this she is beavering away at the mountain of receipts that has mounted up as I waited for Carla’s return.

Staffing, and managing staffing, and knowing how to manage staffing, will be one of the biggest challenges ongoing, I can tell!

Back to the bathroom, which proved to be extremely tough. Once the bathroom was stripped out, everything that could have been tricky or challenging proved to be. The pipework was strange, the drainage challenging.

Dean made a couple of silly mistakes, that he kicked himself for, including prepping the room for a shower tray that measured 160cm in length.

Missing out the crucial extra 20 cm that he needed for the 180 cm tray ordered and paid for and waiting in the couple’s garage!

Actually I may have kicked him for that one, too.

A replacement tray was ordered, and the couple agreed they would be happy with the smaller size. I reduced their bill for the inconvenience – it seemed the right thing to do. Other challenges were – eventually – conquered – and they are pleased with the outcome. We need to go back for one more day to fit the storage unit doors and fit a last trim to the splashback around the basin. We have lost a lot of money on this job, and it will hit us hard.

But the learning was priceless. Even as we pushed our way through it all, both Dean and I had a strong feeling that everything that was happening was right and was happening because it needed to.

As a result, we have sharpened up our practices, improved the wording of how we go to price up jobs and – hopefully – put a few systems in place to prevent silly mistakes from being made.

The next two jobs – one completed and one still ongoing – another elderly couple going from bathroom to shower room – have both gone completely differently. We took the learnings from the first job, and both have been much kinder to us anyway.

As a result of receiving so many inquiries from older people, we also decided to register for VAT sooner rather than later. It was – still is! – a complete unknown for both of us, but October 1st was our start date and so October 31st will be the date of our first return. Gosh. Kind of sums up the whole rollercoaster of a month.

Oh and in between it all we are working on our own house. We finally have some heating installed, the kitchen is ripped out and the skeleton of the downstairs is being revealed – stones and timbers that haven’t seen the light of day since approximately 1790. What a gift to have the opportunity to transform a property. What an honour.

Oh! The learning curves can be breathtaking at times but the journey is spectacular! Here’s to November!

 

 

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