This week I have been enjoying a nice mid-week break at Champneys Forest Mere and I want to tell you about my run on Wednesday (and how it relates to running your own business).
As you may (or may not) know, I enjoy running and the odd Marathon (see my first blog) and currently I am training for the Chelmsford Marathon in October. Part of this training is a mix of fast 800m runs and slow 400m runs to complete on Wednesday this week, total run about 3 miles. Even though it was raining, I went out there and thought 3 miles should mean a couple of circles of the ‘lake’ outside and I’ll be back relaxing, with plenty of time before lunch. As it’s raining and a simple run around the lake, no need for my phone or headphones, I’ll enjoy some quite nature time.
So, I went out and felt great, bombing it down tiny trail paths through the forest round the lake and then up a hill into some MOD training ground. Running along that trail for a bit more before coming back down hill and looking to turn back around the lake and back to the room. Only, I couldn’t find the lake and ended up in a country estate.
No problem, still had plenty of time before lunch, about 90 minutes, so I asked someone in the car park where Forest Mere was. She said “about 6 miles if you follow the road to the end, turn right, through the lights round the roundabout…”. I thought I haven’t done 6 miles to get here, I’ll go the shortcut through the forest so asked what general direction was it. She pointed and off I went.
Two and a half miles later I’m now lost in Foley Estate and decide to ask the bin men where to go, they pointed the direction I just came from but to turn right at a junction. I sighed to myself (ok, a lot more then sighed!) and started bounding back the way I came, following the directions they gave, through another forest and I popped out on another road where I saw a runner.
I quickly shouted “Hey, are you going to Forest Mere”, she said “I was going to ask you the same, but I think it’s this way”.
I thought great, ran alongside her for a bit and then got excited that my run had almost finished so sped ahead to the top of the road so I could get back, showered and ready for lunch.
Only, I got to the top of the road, looked left, put my head in my hands and went “I’ve already #*?!#*? been here”. 3 miles later and I had ended up back at the County Estate. First I thought are you kidding me, then thought about where I can get a taxi, or whether I could steal one of the golf buggies. In the end we asked at reception what the best way was and they said the road route, and it wasn’t as long as 6 miles.
Admitting failure, I opted to run the road route and almost 5 miles later I was sprint finishing towards Champneys, running 15 minutes late for lunch and ready to apologise to Catherine for getting lost (again!).
if you're trying to spot mile 3, it's behind mile 6!!! yep, 3 miles to the same spot.
In the end, I loved it, I love getting lost and not knowing where I’m running to. Maybe I would’ve liked to get back a little earlier, but I did enjoy the run and being lost takes your mind off the actual running!
So, what lessons does this teach in relation to business:
Thanks again for reading and if anyone wants to join me in the Chelmsford Marathon on 22nd October, I’ll see you there.
Have a great weekend,
Last weekend I was in sunny Scotland enjoying a bit of down time, a catch up with family and some handstand practice on a beach. When we were driving back down south I happen to notice quite a few wide-load vehicles transporting houses!
When I thought about it, I didn’t see any on the journey up which made me think that no-one builds houses down south and transports them north, only the other way round. My reasoning was that it’s clearly more expensive in the south, which I’ve experienced when comparing other peoples refurb/buying costs of property compared to the HMOs, flips and serviced apartments we’ve done in Essex. There may be a simpler reason in the fact that the ‘house building factory’ (I’m sure that’s the technical term) is located in the north, and this again would be due to the cheaper commercial property & labour.
This got me thinking into the value of money and how readily available it is to spend/invest in places where it is valued more and you can get more for your money.
Take for example VAs (Virtual Assistants). I have recently just hired a fully qualified accountant to be our businesses full time Finance Manager.
In the UK this would have cost at least £2-3K per month, probably more when you take into account employers NIC, pension contributions, insurance etc.
In the Philippines, which is where I hired our Finance Manager from, it costs 35,000PHP per month, £540, which is almost double what they would earn in an office job doing the same work.
What does this allow me to do?
Hiring VAs or outsourcing using fiverr is just one way of being part of the world economy and being able to be smarter with your money. It has its limitations (I’m sure I can’t quite get a house built in the Philippines and have it shipped over yet) but for online businesses this is perfect.
I hope that you find this useful and start to consider what tasks you could be better off getting done by someone else for cheaper.
Thanks again for reading,
Ok, maybe not married to, but fully committed to?
What gets you up, out of bed in the morning and motivated to get going?
For me today, it was the start of my marathon training (Ok, the 14 week programme officially starts Monday but I thought I’d get a head start and dust off some cobwebs with a run around Gretna Green so come Monday I can hit the ground…err...running!).
What I’ve also realised is that I am so committed to learning and continuous improvement that it is without question or hesitation that I listen to an audio book whilst on my run. This morning I started re-listening to The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey.
This habit I have formed is great and starting the day with a run and an audio book definitely sets me up for the day. And that’s all this is, a habit that I’ve formed.
So what can you start each morning that will set you up to have an effective, productive day that you can form into a habit? What Morning Routine can you form?
Apparently, the average amount of days to form a habit is 66 days. I would guess that this varies hugely dependant on the level of commitment and enjoyment of the task. I found it very easy to start and continue to listen to audible and learn. Why? I’d been highly recommended to start listening to audio books (I was enrolled), it was using up no extra time and I enjoyed the first book I listened to.
On a side note, I recently started to track my habits using an app called… ‘Habits’! It’s user friendly with widgets you can put on the home screen of your smart phone to easily tick off when you’ve done them. Is anyone using a different app to track habits and how have you found it?
Anyway, back to commitment and what are you married to?
In business, I found that:
The realisation of the true commitment in what you do and why you do it can help drive you on to reach your goals, and having the commitment in line with your values will make it easier to keep working at it day to day until you get there.
Creating businesses, that eventually do not need me in order to run, link to my values of family, freedom and travel – without the businesses needing my constant input gives me the freedom to spend time with my family and travelling. Planning out my 4 hour work week and structuring how I’ll get there, keeps me on track, motivated and in tune with my commitment and goals.
So, link your commitments to your values, get “married” to the idea, link those to goals that drive you, create an empowering context around the whole thing, and go out there and achieve it.
Thanks again for reading and have a great week,
It’s a lovely sunny Friday morning and I’m in Costa at 7am, on a wonky table which is threatening to spill my coffee, listening to Massive Attack (as YouTube recommended it) writing this blog.
Last week, my first blog, I covered my background and the structure of my planned 4 hour work week (just 6 weeks to go now) and said that I will this week go into how I have got to this point. I was pleased to see that people read my first blog (shout out to the person who read it in Brazil!!) and someone asked a question. Well Ben, I’m not at 4 hours yet and the amount I earn from my businesses is a bit personal, however I can say that my businesses have allowed me and my wife (who is my business partner across all businesses) to travel to 26 destinations across the world over the last 2 years since leaving my day job and removing myself from the day to day running to get down to 4 hours per week will not reduce my pay but increase it.
So, how am I here?
Before I quit my day job as an Corporate Finance Manager in London, I was part of a monthly mastermind and listening to a lot of audio books. The combination of these allowed me, from an early stage of setting up our businesses, to focus us on being business owners and not create new jobs for ourselves. This meant I was focussed on processes, people and leverage.
This, unfortunately, didn’t mean I could outsource everything straight away and we struggled through the grind of starting up businesses doing the tasks for every role.
This grind probably went on for longer than it could/should have as we were starting & growing two businesses at once, neither of which I had a passion for (property and eCommerce). Being passionate about your business can definitely make it easier to run and succeed, but it can also keep you stuck in the day to day running of the business as this is what you enjoy. So as property and eCommerce were just businesses to me, they grew slowly at first and I knew that I didn’t want to be doing any of the day to day running of them.
We quickly hired our first VA to assist us. A VA is a Virtual Assistant and ours was (and still are) based in the Philippines. The great thing about our businesses is that a lot can be done online and with people in the Philippines wanting to work from home freelancing there is a lot of skilled labour to choose from.
Since our first VA we have had five more come and go. Our first VA was a great hire and only left us due to a move to New Zealand. Our second was great at web design but we needed more from the role so kept him on only for a specific project. We have had two come and go that were not suitable/skilled enough for the roles and we now have two great VAs in place (one of which recently managed to secure a month long direct booking for one of our Serviced Apartments, managing it from start to finish).
We are now in the process of hiring two more full time VAs to remove me completely from operations and into the position where I can just review results & KPIs each week that will be sent to me in easily, readable reports.
Our other, extremely good find was our property manager. With no prior experience we took a risk with him and were prepared to reward him generously based on profits. We knew we could teach him the business and he had the right skills to be able to run the operations and grow our serviced apartment portfolio. We now have serviced apartments across Essex and huge plans in place. And more importantly, I meet up with our property manager on a Monday morning each week to go through the businesses performance, challenges and growth and this is generally the limit of my work on this business (apart from the odd couple of emails during the week). The challenges within the business are becoming less and less as our property manager gains more experience and by the time it comes round to my 4 hour work week the meeting will be down to one hour focusing solely on growth. I will review results and KPIs on Fridays and send a quick email with anything that I think needs addressing. Job done!
The key tips I can offer based on my experience are:
I hope this gives you some insights into how you could free up time and earn more in your businesses. If you have any questions on specific areas please feel free to comment and I’ll answer them in next weeks blog.
Have a great week and thanks for reading.
p.s. Some audiobook recommendations specific to this blog: 4 Hour Work Week, The E-Myth, Work The System and Life Leverage