Is This The Ultimate Entrepreneurial Dream?

April 2, 2008

Image by Twayna Mayne.
Bondi Beach

Does the ultimate entrepreneurial dream involve living and working from wherever you want? Lately, I’ve heard many people on the Internet talk about their desire to work anywhere in the world, through freelancing or their own business. Does it sound good? The idea definitely appeals to me.

A few years ago, I thought about moving to America - probably Florida, for the wonderful year round climate. But, life takes unexpected turns and I never got round to it. So, lately I’ve been researching my options. And if you’re interested in living and working in a sunnier climate, you may want to check out a few of the great resources I’ve discovered so far:

The Australian’s Want Us

Recently the Australian’s began making it easier for immigrants from particular professions or trades to move into their country. The weather there is great - in fact, their winter’s are probably warmer than most summers we get in the UK. Monika Mundell emigrated to Australia to start a new life and get away from her negative family. It was hard work for the first few years, but now she’s living the life she wants and a few months ago, she was able to pack in her job and work from home. You should check out Monika’s blog, it’s really inspiring. And if you’re looking for an excellent writer, check out her website too: Monika Mundell.

Could You Sell Your Life?

On my quest for more research I stumbled upon this amazing guy who’s actually selling his whole life in Perth, Australia. It goes up for auction in June and everything is included: his home, furniture, jet ski, motor bike, sky diving equipment and even access to his friends.

Once the auction is over, Ian plans to go to the airport and jump on the first available plane to anywhere. He sounds like a really entrepreneurial guy. The auction has attracted heaps of media attention and traffic to his website soared almost as soon as he launched it. I’m sure he’ll go far. You can check out his site and read all about it here: A Life For Sale

What About Working On The Beach?

Eleven years ago, Mark Hayward and his wife Terrie moved from New England to the British Virgin Islands to escape the cold and the cubicle lifestyle. They have lived on four islands since then. However, in this post, Mark explains that he has only achieved half of his dream so far. Although he is running a business on a Caribbean Island, he is still to achieve his dream of creating passive income so he can work less.

Can You Travel and Work Regardless Of Your Occupation?

I did think that travelling while you worked would probably only be a possibility for certain professions. So, I was surprised when I read an article by Sterling, describing how his partner was able to continue practising as a lawyer whilst travelling. If you’re wondering if it could be a possibility for you too, you should check out his article as it has some great advice and tips: How To Travel and Work Remotely As A Couple.

More Great Resources

Two Texans Down Under:
A great blog by two Texans who emigrated to Australia.
Australian Department of Immigration: Lots of useful info, entry requirements etc.
What Became Of The Ten Pound Poms? After World War II thousands of British people where able to emigrate to Australia for only £10. Some liked it and some didn’t. You can check out their stories here.
Viva Almeria - A great site on Almeria, Spain with heaps of resources for people who are planning to live in Spain. The site is owned by a couple who relocated there from the UK.
Free Online Points Test For Eligibility To Immigrate to Australia.

The Best Places To Live In The World:
If you’re not sure where you want to go, this is a helpful resource.
Moving To The Caribbean: Great advice and info for anyone wanting to move to the Caribbean.
Free Emigration Starter Pack: These information packs are for people from the UK who want to emigrate to any country in the world. You also get a free magazine.
United Nations Report On Best Places To Live In The World: If you want to know where it’s safest to live and where you get the best healthcare etc, check this out.
20 Of The More Difficult US Citizenship Questions: If you want to emigrate to the USA, you need to brush up on your knowledge about their country. These are meant to be the hardest questions, so check them out and make sure you don’t get caught out.
Backpacking In Thailand: Great resource for anyone considering backpacking in Thailand.
Hawaii Immigration Information Office: Basic site with contact details for anyone wanting to move to Hawaii.

So, what about you? Do you share the entrepreneurial dream of many others who want to work from sunnier climates? Are you already planning a way to do it, or do you have concerns that are holding you back? Or, are you quite happy staying put?

Is Fear Stunting Your Growth?

March 31, 2008

Image by Chris Martis

No Fear

When we avoid trying different things, or accepting new challenges, in life or business, it is often due to fear of the unknown. But, if we don’t try new things, we don’t push beyond our comfort zone and we get stuck in a rut. It might be a comfortable rut, but it’s still a rut.

I’ll be the first to admit that the fear of trying something new bounces back at me time after time. For example, two of my favourite bloggers have asked me to guest post for them - Albert of Urban Monk and Kelly of She-Power. I was ecstatic that they asked me, as they both have brilliant blogs and I have a great deal of interest in the topics they cover.

But after the initial excitement, the doubts began to infest my mind. What if I make a hash of this? What if I write an awful guest post and readers fall out of love with these wonderful blogs because of me?

Then my imagination began to run away with me and I started seeing the negative comments and awful hate emails coming my way after writing the said terrible posts.

Almost as soon as the doubts began to creep in, I was able to stop myself. I knew that I’d been at this particular crossroads many times and I’d never been flattened by a truck. So why am I having such negative thoughts to begin with? Am I not learning from past experience?

The simple truth is - I don’t challenge myself regularly enough. According to Brian Tracey, in his book - Million Dollar Habits, we should try to do one new thing which makes us feel slightly uncomfortable everyday. This helps us grow as a person and gives us more confidence as we try new things.

Small things that make us “feel slightly uncomfortable” on a daily basis sounds a whole lot better than doing something death defying that scares us half to death each month doesn’t it? But - how on earth are you supposed to come up with a new challenge for every day of the year?

I think the answer is to make a list of all the things you’d like to do - things that would be beneficial to you, if you didn’t procrastinate on them.

And I’m guessing it would be best to prepare these lists a week in advance. Planning a whole year in advance would be fruitless. As you push yourself beyond your comfort zone, the things you avoid doing now may be no trouble to you at all in six months time. In fact, if you stick to your daily challenges, your goals will probably be a whole lot bolder by this time next year.

I’m going to begin the challenge this week - I’ll add something that makes me feel slightly uncomfortable to my to do list on a daily basis and measure my progress over a year. Are you willing to stretch yourself? Are you going to try this too? Or do you have other methods for reaching beyond your comfort zone that you would like to share?

In the near future, I’ll be writing more on overcoming fear and helping you achieve your goals. If you enjoyed this post, click here to subscribe in a reader and make sure you don’t miss it.

10 Weird Or Annoying Types Of Customer

March 28, 2008

I’ve had the pleasure of dealing with all sorts of weird and annoying customers over the years. Here’s ten that made me wish it was perfectly legal to shoot annoying people:

The Landlord From Hell: I’ve worked on a few jobs where the customers needed work done because their property was vandalised by tenants. And I have to say that every single one of them probably deserved it.

The Persistent Caller: Some customers will call you persistently on a Sunday, at 5am, or late in the evening with non-urgent queries. I don’t know if they’re just lonely, awkward, or they really like speaking to me. But some people just don’t seem to grasp the concept of 24 hour EMERGENCY service.

The Sexual Predator: These folk range from sad to scary. They’ll answer their door half naked, ask you to stay for dinner, put false tan on their legs while they’re speaking to you and try to insist that they won’t have anyone but you for follow up appointments. Do yourself a favour, if this happens to you and send someone else next time - preferably someone you don’t like.

The Mean B..tards: Some customers complain because they’re stressed and they’re having a bad day. But the ones who whinge and moan during every single phone call and visit usually do it because they’re mean b..tards. If you can’t sack them just grit your teeth. And pray for that shooting law to come into effect.

The Optimists:
It’s sometimes difficult to gage the extent of a customer’s problem over the phone. Some of them will say there’s no rush, and there’s little damage to their property. So you leave it a couple of days, at their request and arrive to find that their house is practically falling down.

The Drunk Callers: Customers will sometimes call when they’ve been drinking. I had one guy who called at about 8 in the evening for several days in a row. He always sounded absolutely hammered and each time he was calling to moan about a small problem that had already been rectified a week ago. The trouble was he was so plastered, he appeared to forget that he’d already called the night before - and the night before that.

The Idiots: Customers who set their homes on fire, or cause other types of havoc, through some stupid act of their own will often treat you as though you personally torched their home. Just ignore them - they obviously can’t help being stupid.

The Rip Off Merchants: If you go out of your way to give extra help to customers and do additional work for them for free, they’ll often see you as a soft touch and try to rip you off - even little old ladies. Here’s a story about a little old lady who tried to rip me off: How To Shoot Your Customers Part 3 - The Scammer.

The Compensation Fruitcakes: I had a customer complain that one of my machines had eaten not only her nightdress, but her hair too. She was deeply disappointed when I pointed out that the machine only blew out air, it didn’t actually suck anything up. And if she had managed to somehow stick her head in it - it would have scalped her.

And I had another job where the house had suffered such extensive fire damage that half of the roof and upstairs walls were missing. The fire brigade then soaked the property and the loss adjuster in charge of the job claimed that it was somehow our fault that some of the plaster was coming off the walls.

Folks Who Don’t Remove Personal Stuff From Drawers:
If your belongings need to be put into storage, you’d normal pack any really personal, or hugely embarrassing items yourself wouldn’t you? Some people don’t and it’s difficult to look them in the eye when you know exactly what they get up to when they go to bed at night.

* Special Mention: I couldn’t publish this post without personally naming the worst customers I’ve ever had - Steve Dolman of Adjusting Associates in Caerphilly and Arab German Insurance. They owe me over £30,000 ($60,000) for work we began in 2004. Arab German Insurance are thieves, who hit the headlines when they tried to avoid paying many people and Steve Dolman is a gobshite who changes his story every time he opens his mouth.

If you ever get a customer like this do what I’m in the process of doing - take them to the cleaners and make sure nobody else gets stung by them.

Have you met any weird or annoying customers? Do you think their should be an annoying customer blacklist? And how do you think we should punish persistent offenders?

Is The Information Business Worthless?

March 27, 2008

Image by Sarah Harris
Fountain of Knowledge

Recently, I’ve heard some people say that they see no value in much of the Internet - particularly in blogs. Some people have even gone so far as to say that you can’t build a real business on information alone.

I’ve pondered these ideas a great deal. Can there really no value in information? Is a business built on information alone truly worthless? After all, the sharing of information and knowledge has been pretty popular since the Phoenicians first developed an alphabet in 3500 BC.

What would the world be like if we couldn’t communicate or share information?

So, language hasn’t been invented - you get up in the morning, then what?

Breakfast with your family:
That would be a pretty strange affair. How would you communicate with them if language hadn’t been invented? And what would you be eating?

So you go to work: Or do you? Would there be any jobs available if nobody could communicate?

Maybe you could just watch TV:
So who invented the TV? And how did they tell other folks about it if there was no means to communicate? And would there be anything exciting to watch if nobody spoke the same language?

So How Valuable Is Communication and The Sharing Of Information?

It sounds as though we’d be in the shit without it right? There probably wouldn’t be a lot going on in the world. In fact, I’m guessing we’d still be living like cavemen without communication. What do you think?

But Do People Still Value The Sharing Of Information?

Obviously, different people value different things. But how important is acquiring knowledge and sharing information in the whole scheme of things? And can businesses really profit from information alone?

In 2007 Amazon did $9 billion in media sales alone: I doubt whether all those book buyers order from Amazon, just to look at the pictures, or admire the beautiful book covers.

By the end of 2007, 1,319,872,109 of the World’s population were using the Internet - that’s a lot of people looking for information.

Popular blogger Perez Hilton gets millions of viewers a day and is rumoured to earn around $2 million a year from his blog - so there’s a lot of people looking for information on celebrities.

Ask The Builder provides information and advice on DIY. Site owner Tim Carter makes over $30,000 a month in Google Adsense revenue alone - there must be lots of people looking for DIY information on the Internet.

Of course, there’s many more popular sites that provide information. Do you use the Internet to find information? What sort of information?

Are you Skeptical?

Do you still believe a business selling products or services is more important than one which provides information?

What do you do when you want to make a reasonably large online purchase? As soon as you log on, do you go looking for someone who can sell you the product? How do you go about choosing which one is best for you? Do you take the word of the seller?

And how do you go about choosing the seller? Do you just pick the website that looks the most interesting and cross your fingers that they’ll be ok?

Or do you look for information first? Do you look for the reviews and opinions of real people - people who have already purchased that product?

Do you sell products or services online or offline? How do you think potential customers will go about finding you in the future?

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