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And the business evolves... Becoming employers Hiring your first employee Leap of Faith

The Big Goodbye – and New Beginnings!

Crazy times! An ending, a beginning – and a leap of faith over a canyon so wide I can’t even see the side I’m supposed to be landing on.

So we’ve done it. As every evolving, growing, business needs to, we have crossed a huge employment milestone. We’ve dismissed our first employee.

We took C on in July 2016, back when we were general builders and knew that to grow we needed someone. But who? The very fact of being general made it hard to recruit anyone. Taking on an apprentice wasn’t an option for that exact reason. We knew few people around here and because we didn’t have much money we knew we could only afford to pay our employee minimum wage.

Then we met C, working behind the counter of a local builders’ merchants. I could see he was good with customers, reliable, appeared to work hard. Over the months of being served regularly by him I learned he wanted to do more. It was a case of why not him?

He has been a great employee in many ways. Loyal, steadfast, reliable. He’s been generally very amenable and done most of what we ask. He claimed to be an experienced decorator but it soon turned out he wasn’t, in fact he had little experience in most areas, but after years of working alone it’s probably fair to say D was a control freak and so they were probably well-matched. I am really grateful that our first experience of employment was such a positive one.

The problem is, as we have grown, and as D has evolved, C hasn’t really.

He promised us he would be learning to drive soon, which hasn’t happened.

He is slow and steady, but sometimes sloppy, which has been frustrating.

Last year, as we specialised in bathrooms, we took a gamble on him and paid for him to go on a course. Before it began we spoke about how we didn’t want him to stay on minimum wage forever, we were looking for someone to become an equal member of the team, to work hard and fast with us and to earn decent money once the business was on its feet.

He did well on the course, but his performance since then hasn’t been great. Constant, regular, mistakes. Working so incredibly slow. And no progress whatsover on the driving.

So, after the fourth job in a row where sloppiness caused a major issue, we had a serious talk with him. We gave him a month to improve – to get faster and to get better. Beginners’ mistakes are one thing, not doing what you have been told to do several times is another. He is a fantastic second man, but as a small business we only have room for first men right now, and so on Wednesday, after two more major mistakes, D verbally gave him notice. Contractually we only need to give him a week, but because he’s been so good in other ways he gave him two weeks from Friday – just under two and a half weeks.

I followed it up in writing the next day. It has all been very good-natured, but I know things can change when you’re working your notice so I am a little nervous about the next couple of weeks and I will be glad when he has gone.

He has also always been a little bit weird around me. He worships D, which is fair enough, but often I have arrived on a job and he has ignored me. It’s strange as I am his boss just as much as D is, and it’s frustrating. I  don’t want to turn this into a rant about sexism, because it might not be, and some men are weird around women, like the guy I blogged about here, but he has definitely seen D as his boss, not me, which is odd because it’s me who runs the entire business.

On Thursday he was working alone in the yard, filling the skip. I asked him to come and talk to me – clearly I was going to discuss money and what was owed/owing – and he refused, saying he and D had sorted it. I asked him to talk to me three times and every time he looked at me, shook his head and said there was no need, he and D had sorted it all. I even said D doesn’t know about money, how can you have sorted it and he shook his head and said no no, it’s cool. It was strange. Rude. And totally not anything I have ever come across before – I have never in my working life refused a conversation with my boss.

So part of me is glad he is going, because I will definitely feel more comfortable going to sites knowing that he won’t be there.

So, you might be wondering, what are we going to do now? Believe me, much discussion has gone on about how we would cope, and both D and his eldest son, C2, who joined us back in November, felt that C1 has actually been holding us back, slowing us down on jobs and stopping progress. They both feel they will go faster as a twosome, which is crazy!

I wrote here about how one of our suppliers, T, a showroom manager, had been made redundant, and how a couple of months earlier I’d mentioned to D that I thought he would end up working for us at some point.

I’m not sure how we are going to do this, but we’ve recently been talking and I am absolutely of the belief that we NEED him. The business NEEDS him. We cannot afford NOT to take him on.

So, somehow, it will happen. We will let the dust settle after C’s departure and then he will join us – taking over the parts I’m finding hardest, pricing, selling products, project managing. Possibly part time very very initially, but he doesn’t want part time for long and so maybe he does several jobs – sales, ordering products, managing the orders, project managing the job and also mucking in manually where required.

I am in effect doing myself out of a job but that’s fantastic, I’m really not enjoying that side at all. Weirdly, for someone who has never been good at numbers, I am finding the accounting/finance more and more of interest, and so I may go down that avenue.

And if T takes over the things I’m finding hard, and I’m soooooooo slow at, that will free me up to crack on with the things I am best at – thinking big picture, coming up with new ideas, marketing, networking, building us up. Because this business, passionate though I am about it, is only the first of many. There are so many ideas in my head!

And although it seems crazy to be talking about taking on someone expensive when common sense says I should continue doing it and learn the trade, my heart tells me that taking this gigantic, terrifying leap of faith is the best thing we could be doing.

 

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 Hiring your first employee HMRC Start a business

No more paydays!

For years, payroll was a mystery to me.

I knew how to make payments online, of course, but how a company actually made the action of transferring sums of cash into its employees’ accounts was shrouded in the deep unknown.

 

When we took on our first employee, Craig, in July 2016, I looked into finding someone to do the act of payroll for us. I asked around.

Our accountants wanted around £250/year for the privilege of doing it. And, of course, they strongly advised we took them up on the offer.

But others, both real people and those online, assured me it wasn’t hard at all and there was no reason why I couldn’t do it.

I watched several HMRC YouTube videos which helped explained the process.

The advice team at the Federation of Small Businesses, which we had joined a couple of months previously, were really helpful. (I recommend joining this fabulous organisation if you are considering going into business, if only for the free legal advice line alone).

And so I downloaded HMRC’s free software, Basic PAYE Tools, and got started. It really was quite straightforward. I followed simple steps and suddenly we were away.

Things that had been completely mysterious to me before suddenly started to come clear. A tax code is the bracket each person is put in so HMRC knows how to tax them. The amount of National Insurance and Tax that needs to be paid is clearly outlined to you once you have inputted those details. Payroll is paid when a finger on the hand of a person’s hand presses the ‘Pay’ key. Quelle mystique!

And so we continued. Until things got a little more complicated. Basic PAYE Tools is fabulous, but it doesn’t allow you to print payslips, and, try as I might, I could not find payslip software that worked with Apple Mac.

Then when we registered our new limited company this summer we decided Craig should be dismissed from the partnership business we had previously run, and be immediately hired by the limited company. In an attempt to tidy up the payment process, I set up payroll on Xero, the online accounting system we started to use round about October last year.

It took me some time to get used to Xero but once I did, I found it superb – slick and straightforward. Unfortunately, the payroll section was not quite so clear. Without realising, I made a mistake that meant that Craig’s earnings from the previous financial year were added to his current earnings for this year, and on our October pay day he was taxed heavily.

It was time to let the experts take over!

Our new accountant, Mark, recommended a payroll firm and I made contact with them. Through several long conversations – the one thing you realise is that tax is a complicated subject and even the experts can need to take their time to ensure they have fully understood it – things eventually became clear.

Nothing of course moves quickly in the world of tax and HMRC. For a new accountant to deal with your affairs HMRC needs to send you an authorisation code. You then give it to the new agent and HMRC will then recognise them. It’s all standard security practice, of course, but it doesn’t half take forever when you are anxiously waiting to hear that everything will be restored with the next payday. Craig had taken the disaster pretty well but I knew his patience would not extend into a second month.

The authorisation code finally arrived two days before payday and the new accountants were able to send me proper payslips. As I printed them out, it felt like we were once again moving up another step into the world of running a successful business.

So am I glad I decided to do our own payroll?

Yes, I am glad that I took the decision to do my own payroll – at least for a short time.

Craig, of course, may not agree with this because I know his month was a stressful one (so was mine, but differently!)

In hindsight, I enjoyed doing payroll but I am glad and relieved to have passed the responsibility on. I am so glad I did it for just over a year, because now I understand the process enough to go forward and it will help me deal with any potential future issues.

But, being very honest, handing over is a relief. No more pay day scrambles, and no more panics over getting things wrong!

One thing to remember is as an employer you are expected to be almost super human and never to get anything wrong. Employees and their family and friends have a remarkable ability to forget that employers, especially start up business owners, are people just like them, on a huge journey of learning and discovery.

The responsibility of funding someone’s life every month is a big one, and definitely, DEFINITELY not for the faint-hearted.

 

 

 

 

 

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!

 

 

Attitude of Gratitude Attracting Income Attracting Success Business success Habits of Success Property Xero online accounting

Rocking the online accounting!

These days, Fridays don’t signal the end of the week, because weekends are as busy and full as any other day.

(I’m hoping this won’t last forever, y’know, but for now that’s just how it is).

Even so, it’s hard not to feel just a little Friday Night Fever… even if that means switching the TV on and having a cuddle with the dogs, not a full-on downing 20 pints and heading into town with my gladrags on (as if I even could!)

Today, though, I allowed myself a little more Friday night fever than usual. Because, my dear, dear reader, today is the first day I think I can fully say that when it comes to online accounting, I, Have, Got, It.

Just about.

And it feels amazing!

When I took my part-time, temporary, job in a letting agents, which I know went against everything I had vowed not to do, namely not ever having another boss, this feeling was exactly what I was hoping to achieve.

Because I had never had what I would call a ‘proper job’, one where I dealt with income, with cashflow, with profit and loss, with looking into the accounts,  etc etc, I literally had no idea what to do in that area. Working in TV I was pretty much protected from anything like that, it was all about people, stories and pictures.

And of course I was never taught anything at school that might have come in useful in that area – and don’t even get me started on this – why on earth would you not want to equip children with skills that might help them make and manage money later in life?!

So back in those first few weeks and months of getting my head around all the different systems that make up running a property management agency, I avoided looking into the money side of the bespoke property management software*. Franky, I was busy enough dealing with tenancy sign-ups, leaking toilets, snotty landlords and the rest.

But in the past six weeks or so I have steadily forced myself to venture into areas called ‘Property Ledger’, ‘Tenant Ledger’ and ‘Landlord Ledger’. Instead of just looking like a blur of gobbledygook, they have, slowly but finally, begun to make sense.

And, in turn, I’ve been able to bring that awakening to Xero, the online accounting system that we use in our business.

It is still with its challenges – some of which are caused by Xero, because it is not perfect – but I finally feel that I understand what Xero is going to be able to do for us.

Part of learning anything is the learning of how that thing can work for you. Give a calculator to someone who never went to school and they would look at you blankly – they would need to learn maths to understand how a calculator could be useful. Ok, that’s a little extreme but until very recently I felt that I also stared blankly at Xero, not quite understanding what I should be getting from it.

Today our accounts assistant Ade and I – Xero was new to her too, although she had used Sage before – looked at each other and agreed that we are nearly, practically, just-about, almost in a position to say we are sort of getting there!

Actually, I think we’re further on than that, but setting up a new business (well, 3), and setting up a new and unfamiliar accounting system, on top of everything else has been challenging.

Then there seem to have been millions of interruptions and distractions that have got in the way.

But, maybe, just maybe, on this quiet, dark little Friday night, I really can celebrate a milestone.

Even though it has been really tough fitting in the job, on top of the business(es) and everything else, I am so glad I took it on, and so very glad I stuck with it, and so very grateful that it has worked out as well as it has done.

And who knew it would ever really be possible to love online accounting!

 

*I don’t want to name the property management software that my bosses use. It’s not great, and while that isn’t necessarily such a bad thing, I have found them as a company extremely unresponsive to suggestions for ways to improve. Many of the processes are clunky and very time-consuming/wasting, and could be made so much easier, but it seems they have grown too big to care. So, I won’t name the software, but if you are considering investing in property management software feel free to email me at success@projectlifesuccess.com and I will happily name and shame!

 

Project: Life Success

Changing career aged 40+, learning about and building my own business, losing weight, building passive income & finally making a success of my life!

 

Attitude of Gratitude Attracting Income Attracting Success Cashflow Change your Mindset Foxy Loves Positive action Positive Thinking Start a business

On the up!

Hurrah! We got paid.

I knew we would, it was just  matter of time. And after weeks of scrimping and holding my breath (and wallet) it makes it all the sweeter!

So I celebrated, with a walk across local field with the dogs, on a beautiful frosty morning. Because we have money – and all is well with the world!

I also just had to share our beautiful lurchers Foxy and Frankie running across the frosted wintery fields – they had so much fun!! Foxy Loves Frost, we discovered!!

If you have a half-second to subscribe to my YouTube channel and show me some support, I would be so grateful!

 

Project Life Success – changing career aged 40+ and building my own business!

 

 

Attracting Income Attracting Success Business success Cashflow Change your life Change your Mindset Foxy Loves

A challenging few weeks

I mentioned in my last post that we have had some challenges recently in our quest for business success, and I promised to explain them in more detail.

The challenges we’ve been experiencing are nothing new to any business, I guess, but they can be crippling. Mostly, they come down to uneven cashflow and late payers.

When I started on my journey to build a business I hadn’t expected quite how emotional it would be – or how extreme those emotions would be. On the good side there are feelings of empowerment and elation. And then there are the not-so-good feelings of isolation and fear.

Isolation because, when you are owed money but you’re scraping your bank account to pay your suppliers or your employee, I don’t think there is any loneliness that can match it.

Fear because, well, the thought of not being able to pay your employee or your suppliers, not to mention yourselves, is frankly pretty terrifying.

Everyone knows the statistic that most businesses don’t last more than five years, and I bet many of those that go down, do so because of a lack of cashflow.

There has to be a way around this. The biggest owers at the moment are two insurance companies. Everyone we work with signs a Terms of Business form in which they agree our payment terms of three days (but ideally on completion of the job). It’s harder with insurance companies, and certainly their employees won’t have any idea of what it is like to wait for a cheque while everything falls to pieces all around you (ok, slight melodrama there!)

One of them received our invoice over six weeks ago. I know that is a fraction of the time  some companies will expect to be paid in, but for us, it is potentially catastrophic. And yet we can’t start grilling insurance companies on their terms before we agree to work for them… or maybe we can, and should, the next time we get one in. But then will they hire us? Probably not.

The biggest problem is we’ve just started another job this week (for another insurance company, groan!) and have had to pay thousands up front for materials and scaffolding. It’s the first time we’ve worked with several of the suppliers, so payment upfront was a fair enough demand. And because I am new to business and finance I haven’t felt confident in opening and handling credit accounts – that’s something I will have to grow into. Right now, I like to pay what we owe when we owe it, not carry things over several weeks and risk forgetting about it or not allocating the right funds.

Now, this insurance company has agreed that interim payments “are possible” (their words, not mine), but refused to be drawn on their payment terms. Maybe I could/should have pushed, and maybe next time I will do. But, once again, every barrel is pretty much empty and we just need to keep our heads down and keep on keeping on. D is working on another job tomorrow to bring some extra cash in, and I have editing to do and hopefully some more sales will come through Foxy Loves.

Until things change I am listening to mindset-changing affirmations, mostly about building wealth, in the hope that some magic gets in there!

Here’s my vlog about all these fun and games:

Onwards and upwards! xx

 

 

 

Project Life Success – changing my life in my 40s and aiming for business success
Attitude of Gratitude Attracting Income Attracting Success Business success Change your life Positive action Positive Thinking Start a business

EEEEEkkkkkkk!!!!

We’ve done it! We got the job!

When I started out on my journey to change my life and build a business (or four), this was one of those goals I could only dream about.

Last night there was a knock on the door. When I opened it, standing there was a local businessman who asked us to quote for a big insurance job on his property back in July.

We went to look, priced it up, and sent off our quote. There were a few questions from the insurance company, which we answered, and since then it has all been quiet. About two weeks ago I went through the spreadsheet of jobs and nearly scratched it off, thinking it had obviously gone to someone else.

But we’ve got it! And he wants us to start ASAP!

This is going to be our first proper, big, job. One in which we will hire contractors, be fully responsible for Health and Safety, plus everything else!

It’s a little scary but it’s going to be good – I hope. If all goes well, it should put some money in the bank, confirm all our systems and boost us in confidence and experience.

I’M SO FREAKING GRATEFUL!!! AND HAPPY!! AND EXCITED!!!!!

Ohhh, and in other news I just skyped my new Chinese shipping contact… regarding the next product we will be selling on Amazon (we being me, plus the dogs). There’s a big holiday coming up in China in the first week of October, so we’ve agreed to wait until after the holiday to ship. It means our cartons will sit in the Chinese warehouse for another two weeks and then we will be under pressure to get the product live for Black Friday and the holiday shipping season, but better than our packages getting lost somewhere in the South China Sea.

I also just downloaded the photos I shot last week of Foxy modelling what will be our third product (I borrowed a neighbour’s home), and I’m about to send them off to the designer for him to work his magic ready to post on the Amazon listing.

Also, the wonderful editor I hired has just sent through the lastest cut of one of the films we are making for our client – it looks great. I’ll wait until she has finished the second in the order before sending off to the client for feedback.

And now D and I will sit down together and go through dates, upcoming jobs and aim to get a start date for THE BIG ONE. All this while our employee Craig sorts out D’s van, tidies up the outhouse and makes a basic inventory of all tools, materials and sundries. Something that normally D would have had to do, or just would never have gotten around to doing.

So, from elation to shipping to images to clear-up to films and strategic planning. And it just turned 1 pm. I don’t think that’s bad for a morning’s work!

 

I’m changing my life and building a business of my own in my 40s – follow my journey!

 

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