BLOG#10 The Two Best and Worst Reasons to Quit Your Job and Start a Business

I’ve always had a voice in my head whispering (sometimes shouting):

“Don’t settle for an average life”

So in 2009 I left a well paid career to start working for myself. To start building an extraordinary life.

I can’t begin to describe the immense ups and downs life has thrown at me since then. Its like starting work on a jigsaw puzzle where you don’t know what the final picture is supposed to look like and you don’t know how many pieces there are.

Around 2 years ago, my puzzle really started to come together. The massive (and I mean massive) number of mistakes and new problems I faced (and still come up against), forced me to learn more and work harder than I thought possible.

(Bearing in mind I’d just left a 72 hour / week job working for a year in the middle of the desert)

I now know that all the lessons were pieces of the puzzle, each one seemingly unconnected to another. But as I reached the tipping point, everything new I learned fit together with something I already knew. Problems were easier to solve and mistakes that had prevented progress started to become increasingly bigger steps in the right direction.

The picture was starting to take shape but I couldn’t believe how long it took for things to start getting easier. There were a handful of moments I sat staring out of my office window with tears in my eyes and felt like a failure to myself and my family. But those are in the past and now (even just this morning) I have quiet moments of real pride and satisfaction from my work.

Starting a business isn’t for everyone. It’s easy to start a business and be miserable, anyone can do it! But if you really want to take a step up from the average 9-5 life, looking back at my own reasons and having studied what makes businesses success for over 5 years now, I think there are 2 very good reasons to start a business and 2 very bad reasons.

Very Good Reason #1 – To Create Personal Freedom
If you want full control over everything you do in a working day. If you hate having to answer to others. If you want to do things your way. If you want to decide the hours you work and the work you do.

Starting a business for freedom means you’re going to need extreme drive and commitment to work harder than you’ve ever worked. To get started you may need to do work you don’t enjoy and you need to be willing to learn a huge amount to become very good at it. The quality and speed of your learning dictates how quickly you’ll progress, so you also need to accept it may take a while before you see the benefits of your business translate into a better life than full time employment could give you.

From my personal experience I can promise you that your hard work and persistence will pay off big time because one day you’ll realise the 9-5s that you envied when things were tough are now envious of the freedom you’ve created for yourself.

And when you reach that point, you never stop learning so life just keeps getting better.

Very Good Reason #2 – Passion to Improve People’s Lives
If you believe something should be done differently. If you believe you can do something better. If you believe something isn’t being done that needs to be done.

People who start passion businesses are the people who change the world. They are the people who believe in something so firmly that they make it come true and the only thing that can stop a passion business owner is losing belief and giving up before they succeed.

You will have to accept that practically everybody you know including close family, will tell you that it’s not going to work out. Persistently. The reason is partially because they care about you and don’t want to see you hurting from failure, but also because they’re subconsciously reassuring themselves that you aren’t capable of something they don’t have the balls for. Fact.

The stories you hear of businesses that were rejected by Dragons Den investors, who went on to become a huge success? Those are passion businesses, where the owner didn’t care what they were told, their belief and determination made their vision a reality.

Very Bad Reason #1 – For an Easy Life
You will have to work way harder for yourself than anyone (even the slave masters of the Egyptian pharaohs) could ever legally work you. Add to that the fact that nobody can tell you exactly what to do to succeed and you won’t earn enough to live until you figure it out, working for yourself is harder, more stressful and more demanding than just about anything you can decide to do.

The one benefit of starting a business for an easier life, is that the laziness that drove you to quit your 9-5 will be cured faster than you can say TGIF.

Running a business does 2 things for you. Firstly it highlights the worst parts of your character and forces you to fix them. Secondly it brings out the best in you, usually when your back’s hard against a wall, you get to see what you’re really capable of. That can ignite a real transformation in some people.

Very Bad Reason #2 – To Get Rich
Your income is directly proportional to how much value you’re providing (to your company or to the world). That means if your goal is just to get rich (i.e. a 100% selfish goal), your goal is to provide zero value to anyone else so you will struggle to survive.

The irony here is that the worlds most successful investors will tell you that starting a business is statistically the best way (in terms of ROI) to get rich. But (and this was a major part of reaching the tipping point for me) the more focused you are on providing value than earning money, the richer you will get. That’s why people who run passion businesses are some of the wealthiest of all, because their primary intention is to improve people’s lives.

So my advice if you want to get rich is either climb the corporate ladder or start a passion business (for the right reasons). Don’t make the mistake of starting a business just to make a lot of money or you may end up miserable, trapped in a prison of having to do something you hate to keep the cash flowing, which in turn makes your miserable because you don’t have the freedom to enjoy your cash. Depression is big business and the reason is that a lot of people have fallen for this trap (rich and poor).

My own jigsaw puzzle of life becomes clearer and more detailed with every new piece I add and I realise now that I’ll only see the finished picture on my final day. Which means there are no limits to how beautiful a picture I can make.


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BLOG#6 For a Better Day Eat the Frog First

My work days have gone a lot better since I started eating the Frog first.

The Frog is that important thing you really don’t want to do, the thing you’ve been avoiding because it’s going to be uncomfortable.

The Frogs in your life are what has made you an awesome procrastinator.

But eating the Frog first thing in the day has 2 beneficial effects:

Firstly, as Mark Twain once said:

“If the first thing you do each morning is to eat a live frog, you can go through the day with the satisfaction of knowing that it is probably the worst thing that is going to happen to you all day long”

Secondly, in my experience, the Frog never tastes that bad. What makes it a Frog isn’t the uncomfortableness (that’s definitely a word spell check!) of dealing with a task or situation. How can it be when it hasn’t happened yet?

What really makes it a Frog is the story you’ve been telling yourself about it in your head and the longer you put it off, the more detailed and real the story of discomfort becomes.

I’ll admit I still put some things off for days that I should just deal with.

But on the days when I eat the Frog first thing, they’ve never tasted as bad as I imagined (some surprisingly positive things have come from them) and the satisfaction of getting it over with has made the rest of that day a breeze.


BLOG#1 3 Words to Start Liking Your Work

Last Wednesday afternoon, as I stood in the eye of the commuter storm in the centre of London’s Paddington train station, I thought for the first time:

“How many people do I know who really like their work?”

I’d say someone who likes their work (not all the time, but more often than not) looks forward to working, they like week days just as much as weekends, they will happily spend their free time thinking about and learning how they can be better at their work, their eyes light up when they tell you about their work with genuine enthusiasm… you get the picture.

I couldn’t think of one person, although in the week since I’ve managed to get to a couple of maybe’s (out of everyone I know).

Don’t you think that’s mental? (no offence intended if you are actually… mental, at least you have a genuine excuse)

With our most valuable resource, the only thing we can’t get any more of – TIME – the majority of people settle for a life that gives them 2 out of 7 (or 29%) satisfaction.

What makes it even more insane is that we wouldn’t dream of settling for that level of satisfaction in anything else in life, even the most mundane and meaningless things we do.

We won’t watch a movie with anything less than a 3 stars, we only buy from Amazon sellers with a 90%+ rating, a single unsatisfactory experience in a restaurant (or pretty much any business for that matter) will lose you as a customer and there’s no way you’re getting to a 3rd or 4th date in a new relationship if more than one hasn’t gone well.

So my case is made: the majority of people settle for miserable satisfaction with their most valuable resource (time), but scream and kick and cry when much less important things aren’t close to perfect.

Never pointing out a problem without offering a solution – If you are one of this majority but would like to start tilting the “life satisfaction” scales a little more in your favour, then I have an idea for you to try:

I think a big part of enjoying your work – or anything for that matter – comes from the feelings of 1. being good at it (the feeling of achievement) and 2. getting better at it (the feeling of making progress or improving).

Feeling like you’re achieving and progressing with your work is entirely within your control and to start on this path the first thing you need to do is think about your job from a new perspective. A bit like giving your attitude a swift 1-inch punch to the nuts.

Your attitude, or perspective, is simply how you describe something to yourself internally.

So instead of thinking about your work in terms of “what I do…” or “what I have to do…”, think about your work starting with:

“I get to…”

Describing what you do like this will tell you exactly what your value is to your company and the people you deal with in your work.

Understanding what’s valuable about what you do allows you to do 2 things:

Firstly, you will immediately know if you’re doing a good job or not and, if you’re not, it will be very clear what you need to do to get that feeling of achievement.

Secondly, true innovation is finding new and better ways to become more valuable (as a person or as a company). So the internal mindset of “I get to…” will tell you what value you provide and switch on your mind to find ways of becoming even more valuable (i.e. improving or making progress).

At the risk of over-simplifying: An example to get you on the right track could be someone working as an office receptionist. If you asked them what they did, they might say “I answer the phone, make / manage appointments and deal with customer complaints”

Sounds pretty miserable no?

Well if that receptionist thought about it hard (and without being cynical), I bet they could come up with some I get to’s like:

  • “I get to… make the first impression that our business gives to potential clients”
  • “I get to… control how much income (from appointment scheduling) our company makes each day”
  • “I get to… generate repeat business by turning bad customer experiences into positive ones”

Now, I’m not telling you to get a permanent smile tattooed across your face and dance around the town singing about your job. This is simply a way to start thinking about your work so that you can begin to enjoy what you do more and more.

From the 3 phrases above, its clear what makes a good receptionist:

One that makes a positive first impression. One that fills appointment schedules every day. One that makes unhappy customers happy.

It’s also clear that there are an unlimited number of ways to innovate (improve / make progress) in all of these areas, new skills that could be learned and an endless series of ideas to test every day.

So if you want to start enjoying your 5 days as well as your 2 at the weekend, an “I get to…” mindset could be a good starting point.

Just a thought.


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