Now Let’s Organise YOU!

Working for yourself is hard until you get used to it. Even if you have no employees, you need to think like a boss. The first step is to evaluate yourself as your own employee. If you were your boss, would you be happy with the level of commitment and energy that you are giving to your business. Would you approve of you bunking off to waste time watching your favourite soap? Would you be happy with you bunking off to run an errand for your wife? Would you be happy with your timekeeping? Would you believe that you had your workflow organised as well as possible? Would you be happy with your attitude? If you can honestly say that you have everything organised then you are unusual.

It takes a bit of a mental shift initially but you will soon get used to it and it will become second nature. The best productivity tool I have ever used is Simpleology. This site created by one of the true internet greats, Mark Joyner, is designed to get you into the habit of organising your workflow. When he was taking on coaching clients, who were paying many thousands of dollars a month, he insisted they follow the first 21 day training before the coaching even started. There is a free level which is fine initially. I use the pro level which is $7 a month and all I need. Perhaps if you have million dollar a year goals, then the elite level at $47 a month may be worth it but certainly not needed when you are just getting started.


Believe me, you will be amazed at how quickly your productivity and focus improve if you just log in every working day and do the tasks. Several people I know have compared it to alchemy!

The next thing we need to look at is your understanding of your value. You may feel I am going off track here, but follow through and you will see what I mean. You may have heard people talk about the Law of Attraction. There has been plenty written about it and at least one film, The Secret, which all suggest that you can attract things into your life just by focusing on them. Most people, however much they try visualisation and other techniques, cannot get it to work. Yet work it does! Briefly, most people don’t understand it therefore don’t correctly apply it. The impression is that you can make anything happen just by focusing on it. Sadly for most people, what happens is that we worry about our problems so much that it is them that become the focus and a self fulfilling prophesy almost.

What your mindset can’t do is affect is things outside your own control. You can’t control who falls in love with you for example. You can’t control who is awarded a contract, other than by you producing the best tender. You can’t affect the economy. What you can affect is your own attitude and outlook on life, and some people believe, the physical world around you. However most of us are held back by our own valuations of ourselves. Our expectation of what we truly believe we are worth. Certainly there are forces at work that I don’t pretend to understand, and I can only present my experience as an example.

I spent a number of years training and managing direct salespeople. That has to be one of the most brutal ways of earning a living. The way it works is you get handed an appointment that has been generated by, usually, some form of cold calling. It can be miles away. You travel there at your own expense and do a presentation to the customer in their own home. Often they have never heard of your company until a couple of days previously, yet you are expected to emerge a few hours later with a signed contract for many thousands of pounds. Your pay is between 7% and 12% of the order providing it goes through smoothly, you have costed it correctly, It doesn’t fail finance, the surveyor doesn’t find any problems, if he does the cost usually comes out your commission, and it fits without problems. With conservatories for example there is also planning and building control permissions to factor in. There are also very few repeat customers, maybe a few referrals, but virtually every customer is a one time deal.

If you leave without the contract, the next day your sales manager is going to phone them, and offer the product with most of your commission stripped out of it. You may even have to waste your time going back to do the paperwork as a punishment. That costs you a lead, and puts you down the queue for the next lead. The top salesperson gets the first lead and so on down. It’s nothing unusual to leave a customer’s home at 11 o’clock at night with over 100 miles to drive home, knowing that the paperwork has to be in the office by 9 am the next morning. If you don’t get sales you will be working every day, if there are leads available, until you do. One company I worked for generated 30 % of their annual business from the January sales. Between Boxing Day and the end of January, you worked every day except New Years Day often from 9 in the morning until after midnight. Conducive to an active social life it is not!

Many of the top salespeople are in the six figures a year bracket. Remember that next time someone comes to sell you a kitchen, double glazing, or a conservatory.

Part of my duties involved doing appraisals, partly to check that salespeople were doing their job properly, partly to find out why some were so much more successful than others. It puzzled me when I watched some of the top earners. They seemed to have the same skills, the same attitude, the same professionalism yet one would be making £220k a year, another £80k and another only £35k. I began to wonder if I was missing something when several of the top earners told me it was because they were in partnership with their God.

What I discovered shook me even more. I analysed all their pitches, sales, and earnings. All three were writing roughly the same amount of business, yet the amount fitting and on which they got paid varied dramatically. I could find no reasons for the difference, and yet it was there year after year.

The gentleman earning over £200k told me he had been earning that amount for over ten years because he had made a commitment to provide £80k a year for his village back home in India. He knew he would earn that amount. It was his expectation. The person making £80k had been made redundant from a middle management job and needed to make that to maintain his lifestyle, pay his children’s school fees, etc. He expected to be able to replace the £70k salary that he had been making.

The third person said how well he was doing for a kid from a council scheme who had left school at 15. He said £35k was meeting his wildest dreams. It meant that he could have everything he ever wanted!

Yet all three covered the same amount of appointments, had similar closing rates, sold roughly the same percentage of finance deals and wrote the same amount of business. Yet each earned his expectation!

The God thing appeared to be more about the belief structure that religious people had, more than their actual spirituality. If you truly believe in God then it is easier to believe that you have the God-given power to control things than it is if you have no organised belief structure to begin with.

I have since seen the same sort of results in other circumstances. It would appear that whatever you do, your earnings are limited by your honest belief in your own worth and your own expectations.

That brings us back to worth. If you are doing a job that only pays £9 an hour that doesn’t mean that that is what you are worth. For a start there is 25 days a year holiday to take into consideration as well as 12% employers National Insurance. That takes the cost to your employer up to £11.15 an hour. Now let’s take a simple example. Say you are one of four mechanics working in a small garage. As well as the mechanics there is the boss and the secretary. Neither of them produce anything directly. They are just administrators. The cost of rent, rates, fuel, telephone and their wages all have to be met from the value of the work that the four mechanics complete, as well as create the profit for the business. As a general rule in the private sector, if you aren’t producing a minimum of 7 times the cost of your wages, you won’t have a job to go to. That means that the person on £9 an hour has to be generating somewhere around £63 an hour. A person on £15 an hour must generate £105 an hour. That explains why the labour cost of any job is always so high.

So if someone earning £9 an hour has a true worth of at least £63, if they could instead retain that value themselves for a 35 hour week, working only 42 weeks a year, ie during term time, they would earn £92,600 a year. Even retaining only half their true worth they would be on £46,300, well above the average national wage. That of course is the reason why the vast majority of rich people run their own businesses. It gives them the opportunity to retain their own value.

The next thing I am going to look at is practical strategies for increasing your own valuation of your worth and ways of increasing your self-esteem, confidence, and expectation.

Starting Out – Putting The Framework In Place

If you intend to start earning your income online then there are a few things that you need to consider. These are mainly technicalities but you need to get them right.

The first thing to consider is how you are going to trade. By that I mean are you going to form a company or operate as a sole trader.
The easiest thing is just to trade under your own name, but that will depend on your plans going forward. I have operated as a sole trader for some years but for this exercise I am forming a limited company.

In the UK it’s very easy to do. As I don’t want to use my own address as the registered office I chose to use a company called 1stChoice Formations.
You pay £20 up front and then after a year  it will renew at £39 + VAT each year to keep using their registered office service.

The reasons I chose to use a limited company are as follows:
1. It’s a separate legal entity so if I choose to sell at a later date then it has it’s own bank account, Paypal account etc and all I have to do is transfer the shares to the new owner.
2. If it’s as profitable as I hope, there are distinct tax advantages. You don’t need to pay your self all the profits as salary, and you can keep cash reserves so you are in far better control of your income.
3. It looks much more professional, important if you are hoping to JV with other people, and many suppliers will only give wholesale prices to companies.
4. Trading as a limited company provides protection of your personal assets so anybody suing you can only go after business assets.
We are living in an evermore litigious society and people are more inclined to use the legal system than ever before, particularly if you are trading with customers in the USA.
5. If you need support from your bank, if you trade as a limited company the bank can take what’s called a Floating Charge. This means the bank gets paid before any unpaid PAYE or VAT which can
improve the chance of bank support. They will almost certainly ask for a directors guarantee as well, but that can be negotiated. You haven’t much chance of bank support until you have two years figures, but you should be planning ahead.
6. If you are raising cash from investors, you just issue shares.
7. You can register for VAT voluntarily which makes you look more established. (You can also do that as a sole trader but why?)

The one downside is that there are extra costs, like you really do need to use an accountant, but they should pay for themselves.

Whatever you decide, you really do need a business bank account to keep business expenses separate from your own living expenses and any wages you may be earning.

The second thing you need to do is set up at least a basic form of book-keeping. Even if all you have is two spreadsheets showing income and expenditure. Get used to filing invoices/receipts for everything you buy for your business, from the stationary to the drawing pins.
It’s very easy to buy things without thinking, but you need to get into the habit. Often it’s just a few pounds here or there but it quickly adds up to a substantial amount. £20 a week is £1000 a year. Taking that off your profits reduces your tax bill by at least £180. If you are a sole trader it would be at least £290 and could be as much as £470 by the time you take tax and national insurance into account. The last thing you want to do is pay more tax than you have to. You really should take advice from an accountant.
It needn’t be extortionate, for example Cheap Accounting offer plans from under £30 a month, and that includes your accounting software. (None of the resources mentioned come with any recommendation.They are provided as examples only.)

Thirdly, Check whether there are any restrictions or licenses required for what you want to do. For example, do you need to register as a Data Controller with the ICO if you are building a mailing list? If you are processing data probably. It’s only £40 a year so you would be silly to risk a criminal record and an unlimited fine.

As part of this you should check what info you are required to give out. If you are in the UK and use a limited company, then the registered office and registration number need to be on all business communications and case law already says that includes any emails. If you register for VAT, you must have a contact address and VAT number on your site. Everyone outside the EU is breaking the law if there is no contact address.

Equally anyone selling digital goods to any consumer in the EU should be charging VAT unless you are in an EU country where there is a threshold.
In the UK It’s £85,000 a year, so no need to register for UK VAT under that, yet bizarrely you need to register, charge and account for VAT on sales to anyone in any other EU country. They have recognised the stupidity of that and intend to reform it but it could be years before that happens.

Currently most people from outside the EU don’t bother about VAT, but every OECD country, that’s every developed country in the world basically, signed a treaty in March 2014 that they would enforce each others taxes, so they should.

What else will you need on your site? In the EU you need a cookie notice that tells visitors about cookies. You will probably need terms and conditions that cover how people use your site, a disclaimer that nothing on your site should be regarded as advice, a notice about spam, a privacy policy and a DMCA form to protect against copyright problems.

Depending on what you are doing there may be other things as well such as refund and returns policy etc etc.
You also of course have to comply with spam legislation. This is the USA legislation. This is where it can get tricky. US law requires your mailing address, UK law requires a limited company to include Registered office and company number, Canadian law is even stricter meaning if you sell to a Canadian customer you must get them to opt in to get further mailings if they use a .ca address. It also requires a phone number . Unsubscribe links also must work for at least 60 days. If you always seek express consent then you won’t go far wrong.

After you have got your head round that lot, the next thing is to get yourself organised and I’ll deal with that in my next post.

Organising Your Work And Yourself

The first thing you need to do is work out where and when you will be working. You don’t need a lot of space, everything could be done from a laptop or even a tablet, but it’s easier in my opinion to have a fixed work station so you can add external drives and other peripheries.

When you first start working for yourself, you will probably discover that, unless you lay down the rules, other people won’t respect your working time. That applies to partners, (and ex partners) children, and friends. Because you are free to choose your hours, others tend to think that they can impose on you anytime.

If you are unlucky enough to have a partner that assumes you are free to run errands any time they want, if you can’t get them to accept that your working hours are sacrosanct, then if you want to be successful you need to find a new partner.

Often if you work for yourself it comes down to a choice between your business and your marriage. You must have your other half’s support and blessing or you are better just staying in a job if you want to stay with that person.

If you are just starting out I would strongly recommend that you allocate the times you will be working on a calendar.
Just doing that one simple thing will make you much more motivated and likely to take your endeavour seriously.

The next step is to organise your computer.

Make sure that you have a folder on your desktop where you store everything related to your business. Create new folders for each project and part of each project. Name them and date them so you can easily identify them. Make sure you back them up somewhere on a regular basis. Cloud storage is now a cheap option.

Now that you have your workflow organised it’s time to get to work on yourself. Without a doubt, this business is all about mindset. Nowadays nobody thinks it at all unusual for top athletes to have psychological coaches and it is becoming more common in business as well but there is still a huge number of people that view it as new age mumbo jumbo.

Let me tell you, there is nothing further from the truth. I will be going into that further in my next post.