As some of you might know, last weekend was V festival and along with enjoying some great music on Sunday with Catherine, we enjoyed some great returns on our serviced apartments.
While we sat back, relaxed & watched the main stage including Emeli Sandé, Ellie Goulding & Clean Bandit, our systemised and outsourced business created us an income with none of our time.
While Jason Derulo played ‘Wiggle, Wiggle, Wiggle’ and our little one wiggled in Catherine’s belly, we didn’t have a second thought about our business as we knew we had set-up everything for it to run smoothly without us.
Our serviced accommodation business currently takes me approximately 4 hours to manage a week, 2 hours meeting with our Property Manager, discussing mainly growth & scaling, and another 2 hours responding to investors/finance companies, analysing the figures and answering a few questions from the team. I’m still working to get this time down so I can manage all three of our businesses in this 4 hours and I am aiming to achieve this in the next couple of weeks.
This is what is possible, with focussed work and a clear vision, for anyone who wants it. You just need to choose and commit to doing it.
Anyway, getting off my ‘Inspirational Iguana’, my ‘Motivational Monkey’ (I couldn’t think of any better animal alliterations like ‘High Horse’) back to V weekend and what it generated for our business:
In summary a great weekend for our business that required some thorough preparation to ensure it went smoothly. To help those that are running SAs or considering this strategy, here are my Top 7 Tips (DANCERS) when it comes to big events in your area:
So that’s my DANCERS – 7 top tips to having a successful SA business during a big event.
As always, I hope you find it useful and you can take some learning to implement in your business. Please ask any questions or share how you get on with big events in your areas.
Enjoy your week everyone,
This week I had some things go to plan... And some not!
I'll structure this blog in the format that works best when giving feedback, the sh*t sandwich. I'll start with want went right, move on to what didn't go to plan, which was all to do with getting to my 4 hour work week next week, and then end on a positive again!
So, at the weekend, I enjoyed the sun, went on an 8 mile run before football training on Sunday and enjoyed some relaxing time with Catherine.
Monday we finished our 'baby classes' so now after NCT and Hypnobirthing sessions we're feeling as prepared for the arrival of our little one as we can.
And Wednesday I spent time at Columbus School and College helping out look after the special needs children playing football with them. I love the fact that we've created businesses for ourselves that gives us time to give back, and I really enjoyed being able to bring fun to all the kids there.
So, what didn't go to plan?
What have I learnt?
With the management of VAs, if someone goes quiet and it doesn't seem to be working as well as you hope, usually there is an issue that needs addressing. In this case, it was overwhelm. I believe the role the VA was working in does not have too much work to complete in the 40 hours per week, unfortunately though, the tasks involved did not match up with the strengths of the VA. This caused our VA to feel overwhelmed, go in and out of communication until finally resigning. I'm happy to say that she is resigning on good terms and I think this was down to me providing a lot to support to her during her time working for us, especially when she went quiet. In the end, she has resigned and will find more job satisfaction in a new role, I re-advertised and have had over 30 applicants apply that I'll be shortlisting, interviewing and hiring next week.
At least this happened now and not a month or two down the line where I could have ended up interviewing applicants in between nappy changes!!!
Secondly, I tend to think things will take less time then they actually will, especially when it involves people (which is probably why in a recent dream I had, our baby’s first words were a very formal “Good Morning”).
Anyway, I essentially needed to hire my expanded team earlier than I did to get the results I needed now. I knew there would be a learning curve for the team and I produced processes, improved KPIs and detailed team descriptions to help reduce this. However, I didn't do enough to reduce the learning curve and achieve results by now. Although I underestimated this time needed, I can see and acknowledge how much the expanded team are producing within a month of working for me and in the businesses.
And lastly, although I planned fully for the 4 hour work week to start next week, I did not plan for the unexpected. This caused tasks to crop up that were important and urgent (for example further improved processes and answering questions - all needed for the new team to work effectively and accurately) which pushed out my important but not urgent tasks (the completion of our online course).
What this means is that my 4 hour work week is delayed by about 2 weeks (and has provision for an extra 2 hours per week to stay in communication with new team members).
I'm very happy that I committed and planned the 4 hour work week for next week for a number of reasons:
If you read my blog a couple of weeks ago (The 5 P's to a #4HWW), my failure to meet the deadline comes down to:
And to finish on a positive...
Our Serviced Accommodation business continues to grow with expansion into Ipswich and London, we provided some great returns for our investors and we have business meetings lined up with more partners to further our growth around Essex, Kent, Suffolk & London. Great work by our Property Manager.
Thank you for reading, I hope you enjoyed it and I really hope you can take some learning away that you can put in to place in your business.
Have a great weekend,
Before I get in to the nuts and bolts of this weeks blog, I’ll quickly update you on what I’ve been up to over the last 7 days; Marathon training of 13 miles (as you do before 10am on a Saturday!), Antenatal classes (me & the Mrs), fell asleep during the relaxation practice in our hypnobirthing class (clearly I’m well practiced!), continued work towards the 4 hour work week and hit a few stumbles (I’ll get on to this in next weeks blog). Oh, and managed to handstand for 9.5 seconds (the half second is all important).
Now on to the nuts and bolts part.
We are often asked why we rent our home instead of buying, especially as we sold our first home that we owned, invested in property, but then moved into rented accommodation. Following a comment on my last blog, plus the many people asking us so often why we rent, I thought I’d answer this question in full in this week’s blog.
The main reason of ‘why rent’ over buying is financial, which I’ll detail later, but here are my top 5 reasons for renting:
There are some downsides too, and it depends person to person and what is most important to them whether these downsides outweigh the upsides:
Now on to the financial element of ‘why rent’. I’ll try to keep this simple with rounded figures.
So, let’s say you have the choice of whether to buy or rent:
Buying your own home
25% deposit of a property (£240K) is £60K
Estimate of buying fees and stamp duty, etc £5K
The house is ready to move in to so no refurb £0K
Total capital outlay £65K
Mortgage (on interest only) £600 per month
Investing in a buy to let property
Ok, so let’s now look at putting that money into an investment property instead.
25% of a house needing work (£200K) is £50K
Estimate of buying and stamp duty etc £5K
Refurbishment costs £10K
Total capital outlay £65K
Mortgage (on interest only) £500 per month
The type of property will depend on how you can let it out, and the monthly profit can range from £250 to £1000+ after all costs. When we sold our home and invested the money instead, we achieved £1000 profit as we were letting it out as a HMO (house of multiple occupation) and self managed this.
Your home living budget is now the £600 (which you were initially going to pay in mortgage payments) plus the £1000 you are making as profit from your investment property. £1600 can then get you a really nice rental property along with a few hundred pounds change each month.
What I have not included are property price rises on either your own home or investment property, or the additional profit you make from adding value to the investment property from refurbishing it. These are nice bonuses, but cash is king!
The other benefits of investing:
That pretty much sums why we chose to invest in property and rent ourselves.
I hope you found this interesting, any questions please ask in the comment box.
Thanks again for reading,
This past couple of weeks I have made a lot of progress towards my 4 hour work week, which is good as it is planned in my diary to happen in just 2 more full weeks!
So what exactly have I been doing to make it happen? Here are the 5 P’s I’ve been working on:
Planning is very important to reach a 4 Hour Work Week (4HWW). If I hadn’t planned the 4HWW out in to exactly what makes up those 4 hours, I would not have known exactly what it needs in order for me to stick to 4 hours.
As a reminder, my planned 4 hours are:
By planning this I can visualise what is needed to get me from ‘where I was’ to ‘where I need to be’, and more importantly by actually planning it in to the diary I have a date to achieve it by.
To get my weekly meetings with my Property Manger down to 1 hour only on new business, I knew I needed to ensure all systems were in place and running effectively, that he had experienced weeks without my input, to slowly decrease the time of each meeting each week, to focus on not solving problems once as they occur but creating processes that solved it and solved them as they occur in the future.
I knew my RAP on a Friday needed to be extremely effective. I need to have all KPI (Key Performance Indicator) data in an easily readable format so I quickly review them, make decisions, ask questions and put plans into place for the following week/month.
To achieve a 4HWW without people would not work! My businesses rely on customers being satisfied which would not be the case if I had an out-of-office email reply and voicemail stating:
I am currently out of office, please contact me between 10-10:30AM on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Emails over 10 lines will be ignored, conversations after 5 minutes will be cut off. Good luck…
Not a lasting business model!
Therefore, I knew I needed the right team around me and as I do not have an office (nor want one) I needed the majority to be virtual.
Over the last few weeks we have hired in a fully qualified accountant to be our Finance Manager for all businesses (and also the person that compiles all the KPI data for me to review on a Friday), a UK based virtual PA to manage emails and oversee the rest of the team and an Online Marketing Manager to keep generating sales for our Amazon based business and the Serviced Apartment business.
To ensure I had a team all working towards the same goal I needed to:
Products mean a variety of things.
The products we sell - I could not reduce my working week if the products we were offering customers were poor quality. I needed to make sure all the products were top quality, as the customer expects (and beyond) and that all my team understood the benefits and features of them all, and why we were selling these.
The products we use – this is mainly online technology. Without efficient online tools I would need to be spending more hours in the business. These range from:
A lot have been tried and tested for weeks, months or years and a lot have come from recommendations from our network & team members who were using them.
Positivity (& Possibility)
Without a positive attitude this would not be possible. If I thought a 4HWW was not realistic, or not possible, and that a virtual team could not be trusted, or that the businesses needed me to survive and the team would not be able to cope – then all of these limiting beliefs and negativity would have lead me to not push myself to where I need to be and it would have stopped me when I needed to commit to expenses.
Positivity and the belief that it will all work (along with all I have put into place) drives you on to succeed in your goals. It also rubs off on your team creating a more positive, trusting and committed team.
Persistence (& Perseverance)
An attitude to keep going no matter what, because you know it’s possible and you will get there is definitely needed.
Not everything goes smoothly, our first KPI reporting run was about 50% complete, of that about 10% was incorrect! I did not think “this was not going to work” and take it back and do it myself. Instead I took full responsibility for the result, knew that I needed to further clarify each KPI, where people should be getting the information from, the exact reporting time for them and improved the communication to the team to achieve the desired result next time.
There will always be stumbling blocks and things that go wrong, so it is important to stay tuned in to the bigger ‘Why’. Why are you doing all this? Why are you putting the time in to make it this way? And then keep at it until it works, continuously improving processes and the it will happen.
Now, there you have it, my 5 P’s of getting to a 4 hour work week.
Having recently re-listened to Life Leverage, by Rob Moore, there are 3 ways to use your time. Waste it, Spend it or Invest it. The 5 P’s above are great examples of how I’ve prioritised investing my time to get passive and recurring, long-term benefit.
I hope you find this useful, please let me know if it is too general and needs more detail and I will cover it in later blogs.
Have a great week and thanks for reading,
p.s. As I tried wakeboarding this week for the very first time, here are the 5 P’s in relation to this:
Planning – I got told to bring swimwear and a towel!
People – I would never have tried this if it wasn’t for the mastermind group I’m part of, 2 of whom regularly wakeboard.
Products – We got given a wetsuit and a wakeboard!
Positivity – When I fell off straight away, and then again after being lurched from the wakeboard, I didn’t feel down or disappointed, I knew it was part and parcel of this and enjoyed it.
Persistence – If I gave up the first time I full on face-planted the water (or even the tenth) I would not have had the satisfaction of going from on my knees, to going round the lake and then finally achieving a length wakeboarding properly and standing up. A big thank you to the mastermind group for arranging a great day.