Friday, 30 November 2012

Three skills......

As a teenager trying to build a career as a tennis player November and December were the months of no competitions, rest and time to plan the coming season. The process involved reviewing the year’s performance and putting a plan together to improve in the coming year. Although injury put an end to the tennis dreams, reviewing and setting goals is a habit that stayed with me for life.

For me, goals are something I work on every day but in November I put in that extra special effort to make sure they can all be ticked off my list as achieved by December.

This year my key goal has been ticking along but not with the gusto it needed for me to reach the final target. The main reason for being behind has been lack of focus. It’s easy to make excuses but the second half of 2012 has been traumatic, with my focus shifted to family issues the goals got left behind. November was a wake up call. Reviewing my goals I realised I was about to fail big time with my key goal. The main problem was the amount of work I still needed to do in a very short time to achieve my targets. Quite frankly, there weren’t enough hours so help had to be drafted in. It was time to start thinking outside the box.

I pride myself on being a good planner, well organised, focused and determined. Yesterday 30th November, I achieved my goals 100%. Looking back I see there were three skills that helped me achieve them with the assistance of my husband and daughter - begging, nagging and bribery!

Monday, 12 November 2012

Admin Support for Landlords

It started as a way of being able to charge out the time I spend on administration.  It went on to become a business idea.  And now after months of building the infrastructure is finally open for business.

So what is and how can it help you?

If you are a landlord in England or Wales you will understand how much paperwork is involved with having a property to let.  First you need to have Energy Performance Certificates or EPC before you can even begin advertising your property.  You need Gas Safety Certificates, Inventories, Property Manuals, Tenancy Agreements and Deposit Protection before your tenant moves into the property.

Once the tenant has moved into the property there is on going maintenance checks, inventory checks, tenancy renewals and annual gas safety certificates.  And what happens if you need to evict the tenant for whatever reason?  You find yourself waiting weeks or months for solicitors to put some urgency into issuing notice to leave and very little if any change out of £500 for the service. is an admin support service for landlords guaranteeing quick turnaround time for a fraction of the cost of a solicitor.  Between us we have 25+ years experience in managing residential properties and all staff and directors of the company are either NLA accredited landlords or LAW (landlord Accredited Wales) some of us even have accreditation with both.  You can be sure we are up to date with the latest rules and regulations.

So if you are a landlord in England or Wales why not give our admin support services for landlords a try.  Think of us as your own personal secretary.  We are sure you will be happy with our quick turnaround service and the savings you can make on legal documents.  Visit for further information or contact our offices on 0845 337 0509

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

In Support of National Adoption Week

It is National Adoption Week again and this year the emphasis is on adopting older children. It is a very sad fact that out of 36,000 older children in the UK waiting to be adopted on 80 were adopted last year. So, I write this blog in support of adopting older children.

In 2008 my husband and I adopted our daughter. She was 9 years old. To be honest we got all the ‘don’t do it’ comments from friends who had adopted and experienced problems. But here we are 4 years later proud parents to a 13 year old teenager.

Is she a perfect daughter, far from it? But then are we the perfect parents? What I do know is we are typical parents nagging our typical teenage daughter to clean her teeth, have a wash, clean her bedroom, tidy up her mess and get a move on because she is running late for school.

While there are many horror stories about teenage kids and adopted kids we are very lucky to have such a beautiful well behaved loveable daughter.  Her school teachers and our friends can't praise her enough. Even the friends who encouraged us not to adopt have nothing but praise for her. I would encourage anyone considering adopting to think about an older child along with the joys and pleasure they give.

I certainly wouldn’t want to miss the hugs and kisses I get every morning as she leaves for school and every evening before she goes to bed; the moaning and groaning every morning when I try to wake her up for breakfast. The laughter she brings to the dining table every evening with her stories about kids and teachers from school. The pleasure I get from watching her growing into a beautiful confident young adult.

I dread to think what we would have missed if we hadn’t adopted our daughter and can honestly say I have never regretted the decision to adopt an older child. 

So, if you are thinking of adoption please consider an older child.

Friday, 5 October 2012

Do I or Don't I?....

Do I or Don’t I?…

It was a dilemma, do I or don’t I cancel the training for Wednesday? It was a small crowd of 15 people coming from around Wales and England. Was it fair to let them down by cancelling at the last minute?

My step-dad died on Sunday after being in hospital and care since Christmas. It was unexpected. He had a temperature Saturday night and was taken into hospital. Seemed fine but within a couple of hours was gone.

In addition, we are still reeling from the burglary and all the repercussions that involves with the police and insurance companies. The thought of trying to put on a smiley happy persona in front of 15 people was the last thing I wanted to do.

I decided to go ahead and turned up with my folders and pen in hand. It didn’t take long to realise what a great, motivated and enthused crowd we had.

I’m really pleased I made the decision not to cancel. The session started quietly, as they always do, as people wary of one an other at the start begin to relax. Within 40 minutes there was a buzz around the room which grew for the remainder of the session. It was a good crowd and fun and the energy was so infectious I thoroughly enjoyed the training.

So I have to say a big thank you to everyone who turned up. I hope you got something from the training. I know you gave me a lot.

Sunday, 2 September 2012

Cwmbran Health & Safety Gone Mad..

Why has health and safety gone mad?  Initially, there to protect workers it seems to have gone totally the other way now creating health hazards rather than improving them.  I'm talking about the new motorcycle barriers along the Monmouthshire and Brecon Canal.

In July, I was full of praise for sealing the tolpath from Pontnewydd in Cwmbran up to Pontypool Wharf.  It made such a difference to the bike rides our family enjoy.  No more bumping along stoney paths or muddy routes. 

With August spent on holiday yesterday was the first chance I had to ride the tolpath in a month. What a nightmare!  I spent more time pushing my bike than riding it.  With barriers stopping you from cycling under bridges I found myself along with a numerous other users of the tolpath having to cross uncontrolled roads and negotiate steep steps with a bicycle all in the name of Health & Safety.  I'd love to know which numbskull came up with the idea to barricade these bridges.

Is there a secret agenda to help the law profession get more customers through the personal injury compensation scheme?  My family's supposedly enjoyable Sunday bike ride resulted in my daughter twisting an ankle, my husband damaging his bike and me tweaking my back.  I watched parents with pushchairs struggling up banks and across roads as they were unable to take the natural route under the bridge.  Joggers cursing as they struggled to get through the barrier so narrow even my daughter couldn't squeeze through.  I dread to think what happens when someone in a wheelchair or on a mobility scooter goes along the path.

For hundreds of years, generations of family's have enjoyed walking and cycling along the tolpath.  No more, with Health & Safety gone mad another peaceful family pursuit is curtailed.

Friday, 24 August 2012

Great Service

I frequently write about business in the UK and poor customer service.  Well, some companies deserve a mention for the great service they provided this week.

My story starts on Tuesday when we left the French Alps for our 14 hours drive home.  With temperatures in the high 30C's the air-conditioning pump on our Jeep seized and in the process shredded the fanbelt.  We managed to get to a garage at Saints Geosmes a small community in the North East of France.

The staff at the garage were friendly and tried everything they could to find us a fanbelt but with no luck.  A lot of French businesses shut down during August for their annual summer vacation and the nearest Jeep supplier, 65 kilometres away, at Dijion weren't answering the telephone.  It was now lunchtime in France and everything shuts down for a couple of hours for the traditional lunch or siesta break.  Stranded, we did the only thing we could think of and rang home and spoke to the motor supplier in Cwmbran that we frequently deal with  Mon & Border Motors.

Explaining we wanted a smaller fanbelt than the norm for our jeep as we wanted to bypass the air con pump Mon and Border came up with 3 possible sizes that might work.  They ordered the 3 belts and received them within a couple of hours.  By 4pm (UK time) Fedex had collected the parts.  The next morning by 10:00am (French time) Fedex delivered the parcel and we were back on the road by 10:30am.

So a big thank you to several businesses who provided great service and got this traveller back on the road in less than a day. 


Saturday, 14 July 2012

Boris Does It Again

As Boris Johnson once again puts his foot in it by claiming people who work from home are skivers, I'd like to add my tuppence worth about home business.

If you've read any of my previous blogs you will know I am an advocate of home business.  I've been self-employed for 23 years during which time I have created 15 businesses all started and run from home.  I'm not unique in this, just look at how many successful entrepreneurs started their business from home. Here are three that easily come to mind: Simon Dolan worth around £74 million started his accounting business from home.  Andrew Reynolds worth around £30 million started his niche marketing business from home.  Kevin Green who I guestimate is worth in excess of £20 million runs his business from home.

Running a business from home offers low start up costs, flexible working hours and in my opinion a much greater opportunity for success.  My working day starts when I wake up.  This morning it was 4:00am, by 9:00am (when the family start stirring) I will have managed 5 hours solid work with no interruptions. The rest of my day is then free to spend with my family, afterall, it is a Sunday and it is school holidays.

On a normal work day ( when my daughter is in school day) I start around 4:00am, wake the family up at 7:00am. Once breakfast is out of the way and daughter safely in school I'll be back at work by 9:00am work through to 3:30pm (I don't eat lunch) when I collect my daughter from school. When we get home I'll do some more work while she does her homework and I'll finish around 6:00pm.  Total hours worked on average 11 per day. When I was an employee a typical day for me was get to work for 8:30am, morning tea around 10:30, lunch at 1:00pm, afternoon tea at 3:15pm and finish work at 5:00pm. The total number of hours worked around 7 per day. 

Working from home has increased the number of hours available to work as I am not stuck in traffic jams at the start or end of the day. My commute to work is out of bed, down the stairs and into the office. Working from home does require discipline.  For me, I'm a naturally early riser around 4:00am each morning but I wonder how many people would enjoy staying in bed for a couple of extra hours sleep. I rarely eat lunch but for many working from home it is the chance for extended lunch breaks. These become some of the perks of working from home as well as some of the downsides to productivity. 

Creating a balance between work and family time can be difficult.  Jobs that take 5 minutes can lead to spending and hour or so doing additional things while I'm on the computer but the flexibility of working hours that suit me is really important.  When my daughter is on school holidays so am I.  I might start work at 4:00am but when she gets up around 10:00am work stops and I am free to spend the rest of the day with her.  A few months ago my daughter commented on how lucky she was to have parents who worked from home as a lot of her classmates spend their holidays with grandparents or at school clubs while their parents worked.

So, I say to Boris Johnson, think again before you criticise people who work from home.  Many of us create the businesses that are so important to this economy and are the taxpayers who keep you in a job.


Saturday, 28 April 2012

The Compound Effect

If you are only ever going to read one book then 'The Compound Effect' by Darren Hardy should be near the top of your list.

Darren was the guest speaker at a function I was scheduled to attend in March.  Unfortunately, last minute family emergency meant I was unable to go. But, earlier this month I got the opportunity to watch a video of the event.  Darren's speech was funny, entertaining and motivational.  So much so, I searched online for his book 'The Compound Effect'. I enjoyed it so much it has become my book of the month.

The Compound Effect discusses how little actions or choices made today can have a large impact on your future.  You may not notice immediately but in 1 year, 5 years or even 10 years down the track you can see the results of the choices made today.  As someone who uses compounding interest principal in my day to day investments I particularly liked the analogy between having a magic penny that doubles in value every day or being given £3million in cash.  Very much like the story I tell of the Fairy Godmother and the magic train.

Paul J Meyer, has had a big influence in Darren Hardy's life which is noticeable throughout the book.  I also use the teachings of Mr Meyer and particularly like his Effective Personal Productivity programme.  However, reading The Compound Effect, I realised how much I have procrastinated in some areas of my life.  A look at the waist line in the mirror confirming as much as did the dust burning on the treadmill motor as I used it for the first time in several months.

The Compound Effect has provided a much needed wake-up call.  While, I have been successful with investing and creating an envious lifestyle I have let procrastination settle in forsaking the skills and disciplines that have provided my successes to date.  The past week has been spent reviewing my goals, aspirations and a new energy or 'Big Mo' as Darren calls it has been reawakened.

I now eagerly await a copy of Darren Hardy's other book 'Design Your Best Year Ever'.  I'm sure it will be as inspirational as The Compound Effect.  

Wednesday, 1 February 2012

Be Prepared......

As an investor January 2012 has proved to be an interesting start to the year.

Gold closed in December at $1563.15. Everywhere I was reading the gold bubble was over and we were in a bear market. January saw gold close at $1733. Now at the start of February gold is at $1748, definitely going up not down as many predicted. If you followed my suggestions and bought some gold you would be sat on a nice little profit. I don't believe the rally is over yet so there may still be plenty of opportunity to increase your commodities (Gold, Silver and Copper).

Interest Rates - The Feds chairman, Ben Bernanke said US interest rates were likely to stay at zero for a long time. Many analysts have interpreted this to mean rates won't rise until 2014 at the earliest. He also hinted at QE3. In the UK the Bank of England (BoE) kept interest rates at the record low of 0.50%

In the UK the Office for National Statistics confirmed what we have all known for many months. The economy is shrinking and we are on our way to a double dip recession. BoE minutes show members are already thinking of new QE measures to try and reduce the impact. Although, in my opinion QE has done stuff all so far except cause inflation and line the pockets of bankers. Isn’t it time for Governor Mervyn King and his merry men and women to try and find another way of trying to boost the economy?

Retail - we have lost several well known brands from the high street. RBS much to the amazement of Barclays bank and other supporters pulled the plug on Peacocks, a profitable business and forced them into administration with the loss of thousands of jobs. A buyer was found for the Bon Marche division but that has resulted in 160 stores being closed and hundreds of jobs lost. La Senza, Blacks Leisure and Millets are some of the other casualties of the new year. With UK businesses closing at a rate of 1100+ a week will there be anywhere left to shop in the near future?

Europe - Greece is again in the headlines as it asks for more debt to be written off and cheaper loans in the hope that by 2020 it will be able to reduce its debt to 120% of GDP. The annual meeting of the wealthiest business leaders and politicians at Davos, Switzerland brought to light one thing, there are no decisions being taken on Greece or other countries. Their attitude is to sit back and wait and see. Hoping Greece will leave the Euro. The attention on Greece has given other European countries a bit of breathing space to work on their debt problems out of the public eye.

9 European countries had their credit ratings downgraded which will mean more expensive borrowing in the future when they try to raise more funding.

France introduced a financial tax ‘as a shock move’ says Sarkozy in an attempt to force other EU countries to do the same. A move Britain is frantically fighting as it would mean around £45bn loss of income to the Chancellor who needs every penny he can get his hands on at the moment to try and balance the finances.

Balance – Austerity measures is the catch phrase of the decade. But austerity measures do nothing to increase sales, productivity, exports and confidence all necessary to have a growing economy. As we head towards a worldwide depression we are looking for a bold leader to come forward and kick some sense into our fumbling politicians.

You First -More than ever it is now imperative for people to stop relying on bankrupt governments to fund them. If you are lucky enough to still have a job start putting your financial plan in place by reducing any debt you have and start increasing your investments. If you don't have a job, create one. Turn a hobby into a business, start a network marketing business, just don't rely on the government to look after you. It can’t as it doesn’t have any money. The best person to look after you and your family is you. So it’s time to start putting you first.

In my book 'Surviving 2012' I discuss how to reduce debt, build assets and create cashflow. All the skills you will need to get through what is going to be another very turbulent year. In bad times there are many opportunities waiting to be seized and despite all the doom and gloom 2012 has many opportunities available for those willing to grab them.

In January, I started mentoring some new students. These are students who can see unlimited potential for their future. These same students have increased their cashflow and net worth within the first couple of weeks of starting the program. If you want more information on my program contact me on . Don’t let another month pass you by.

Saturday, 21 January 2012

Why Home is Best ...

Why is there still so much stigma associated with working from home?

I hear all sorts of comments about lack of professionalism if you don’t have a high street presence, a factory outlet with your business name blazoned around the four walls; an office where you can meet customers and suppliers; it will stop people taking you seriously. These are just some of the so called ‘expert’ advice offered every day to people wanting to start new businesses.

Being self-employed was not something I had planned to do. My husband had quit his job over a dispute with management. This was on a Thursday by the following Tuesday the word was out that he had left the company. Our home phone started ringing with his old clients asking him to continue working just for them. Our first business was up and running from home by the end of the day. My husband was dealing direct with the clients and I was dealing with the admin, marketing and infra-structure. From our spare bedroom we grew our business to eventually employ 19 staff. Customers weren’t concerned with where we ran our business from they wanted the skills, knowledge and service our business could offer. Within 18 months we had 85% market share. Not bad for a little business run from a spare bedroom.

Today, I still run my businesses from home and love being home based. There are numerous benefits:

• I’m an early riser often up at 4:00am. I don’t want to be worrying about getting ready to go to work and disturbing my family in the process. Instead I pull on my dressing gown, go down stairs and get a few hours work done before my family wake up.
• Flexibility is really important. I can work around my daughter’s school days and when she is on holiday so am I.
• When the weather is fine I work in my lifestyle garden. When it’s wet I’m indoors.
• No worry about opening an office or making sure I have staff coverage.
• I don’t employ staff anymore instead I use the services of self-employed people who want to run their own businesses from their own homes enjoying the benefits that I do.
• I have a network of successful business people working with me. As we are all home based the relationship is different to employer/employee or business owner/contractor. We get together more as partners/friends and discuss work in progress and ideas for our businesses over a cup of coffee.
• Lower overheads means my businesses are more profitable
• My productivity is better as I’m not commuting to work or tied up in management meetings and staff meetings.
• My outsourced work is of a better quality as it’s done by home based self-employed people whose next job is dependant on satisfied customers.
• Technology has made it much easier to work from anywhere all I need is my laptop and mobile phone and my office goes everywhere with me so I can utilise my spare time better.

So, no matter what you are currently doing, think can it be done by a home based self-employed person easier. I’m sure it could. Home based businesses are definitely the biggest growth area today and for the foreseeable future.

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

What's going wrong?......

We are currently faced with the worst economic situation in a generation. In the UK, the National Statistics Offices says businesses are closing at a rate of over 1100 a day. That figure doesn’t tell you how many people have lost their jobs and are now dependant on the ever decreasing value of benefits for their survival or that the number of people unemployed is expected to reach 3 million this year or that money is scarce.
As businesses release their Christmas retail sales figures it is apparent that people just aren’t spending and more businesses are giving notice they will be filing for administration over the next couple of weeks. Walk down any high street and they are quickly becoming ghost towns with numerous shops shut and very few shoppers.
It is basic economics if you want to be in business you need to have customers. If you don’t have customers then you can’t sell your product or service and you don’t have a business.
So, I have to ask the question that when so many livelihoods are at risk with so many businesses fighting for so few pounds and with so many businesses failing everyday why do we have such lousy customer service?
Yesterday, I was in a shop waiting to purchase an item. There was a queue with 5 people in front of me waiting to be served. Why was there a queue? Because the shop assistants were so busy having a talk about personal matters they weren’t serving the customer. I dropped my items on the counter and walked out without making the purchase. I wonder how long it will be before that business becomes another ‘business closed’ statistic.
I am currently in the process of renovating a property and the work has not been progressing as it should. So I called a site meeting for 10:00am on Monday morning. Of the 4 businesses I expected at the meeting only 1 turned up. Needless to say, I am currently looking for 3 new businesses for my project. The sacked businesses forgot one important rule. The customer always comes first.
During December I went with a friend to John Lewis department store in Cardiff. To be honest it is a very long time (years) since I have shopped at a John Lewis store. I was impressed with how in every department a sales assistant came up to me and asked was there anything they could help me with. I left the shop with several purchases. The store provided me with good customer service and I’ve been back a couple more times and made more purchases. Interestingly, John Lewis is one of the few companies to post improved like for like sales during the Christmas period. I wonder why?
So I say to businesses think about your attitude to customers and if you employ staff train them to start putting the customer first. It doesn’t cost anything to give a prospective customer a friendly welcome; be polite when serving a customer and thank them for their custom. The most important person in any business is the customer. If you don’t have a customer buying your product or service then you don’t have a business. Good customer service could make all the difference between the success or failure of your business.