Sunday, 28 July 2013

I Don't Want to be a Slave

How come a family live could live quite happily off one income 30 years ago but nowadays it would be a massive struggle?

How come society had enough money to pay for Tony Blair, Gordon Brown and David Cameron to go to University but your Kids are going to have to shell out £8000+ per year thereby sadling themselves with a sizeable debt whilst still young?

How come that degree, although inordinately more expensive, will be treated with less respect by employers?

How come the production of natural gas has hit an all-time high and yet the price of my bill keeps going up?

How come LPG and other alternative sources have not yet been adapted by the car manufacturers to any great extent?

The answer to all these questions is that it is interest of the most powerful people for this to be the case. The system is designed so that Joe Public is kept down via a Spider's Web of debt.

The only way to break out of the trap by either shunning modern society and living in a tent, or by making so much money through residual sources that you create enough time for yourself to grow your own food etc.

Don't be a slave.

Saturday, 27 July 2013

6 Free Business Books.

Seeking an Outcome Culture

   Long term readers will know the outcome I'm after. Imagine it - low outgoings combined with surplus income from investments mean that you can choose to spend your time as you like. Want to go for a 6 week tour of America? Fire in. Want to stay in bed until noon? Go for it. Fancy going back to University to study the History of Art? Fill your boots.

   The problem of course is that it is not as easy as it sounds! If I were a single man right now, having gained some maturity, I would cut out all the crap from my spending. On the other hand I am a married man with 3 kids and another on the way. All hell would break loose if I could rid of my TV. In light of this I need to do the best I can without causing a riot. Incremental actions are the way forward.

   Moving things forward incrementally is the answer to so many questions. Always remember that the way to eat an Elephant is bite by bite. To continue the Jerry Springer wisdom, the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.

   Despite my frustration and my constant worry I am actually a long way into my journey. I have businesses which provide me with ongoing residual income. I have property. My current residence is absolutely perfect for my aims. I have a lovely family who try their best to help me out. I live in the greatest country in the World - SCOTLAND!

   Over the next few posts I am going to spell out some steps that you could take if you want to follow in my footsteps or share the dream I have. I'll call these "Steps to Freedom". They might be nonsense. They most certainly will not be in any order BUT if I ever get round to it I can gather them all together and try to get some usable content out of it.

Friday, 26 July 2013

Amazon FBA - my recent experiences.

   I have been trialling Amazon FBA for the last month or so. I sent off about 175 books to Milton Keynes and have sat back to watch the results.

   So far I've stayed in profit and managed to shift a book a day. There have been issues but nothing that I couldn't have avoided if I had actually put the effort in to read the instructions! The guys at Amazon have been helpful and patient with my queries.

   My next steps are to:

  • Send in another batch of books. This time I am going to send my highest ranking books rather than my last batch which were all based on selling price. I'm hoping the increased sales enjoyed via FBA will cover the lower ticket price I'll get.
  • Click to allow European sales. I got halfway through doing this when my printer ran out of ink, and a signature was required.
  • Look into how FBA can fulfill sales I make on Ebay. Amazing but true. Even though my books will be held at Amazon, I can still sell them on Ebay and Amazon will deliver.
FBA is the Future.

I take my hat off to this Business Idea......

From The Daily Mirror:

Friends come straight out of university and into new start up business

Working as tour guides lead to great business idea for best mates Charlotte and Richard
Busy: Richard and Charlotte
Busy: Richard and Charlotte
Finishing university and ­struggling to make ends meet spurred Charlotte Nicol into setting up her own business.
And when her friend returned from Europe, where he’d been a tour guide, it made sense for them to join forces.
One year on, hundreds of visitors to London are enjoying bespoke literature, arts and opera tours arranged by Charlotte and Richard Purchon.


“We put our heads together to find a niche market and came up with an idea for a specialist tour company,” says ­Charlotte, 25.
“Our guides range from an opera singer who sings her way round a tour to a published poet who reads poetry as he takes clients to literature high points.”
The duo, who met in Huddersfield at 16 but now live in London, have received rave reviews on Trip Advisor and other websites and hope to roll out their sightseeing firm nationwide.
“It’s been a roller coaster year, but we’ve learned so much so it has been worth every second of it,” says ­Charlotte. “I’d studied music while Richard studied history and French. When I finished I desperately needed a job and started working for a small recruitment company.
“It wasn’t what I’d dreamed of, but I worked out that the best way to make money was to be your own boss.”
When Richard, 25, returned to the UK, they got together for a catch-up in the pub. By the time they were leaving, they had come up with the “crazy” idea of setting up a specialist tour firm.
Charlotte says: “We went on tours to see what was missing. We felt that most lacked enthusiasm.”
The pair started exploring the idea of performance-led tours taking in the capital’s cultural highlights and ­Charlotte entered ­entrepreneurial contests to raise money. “After three or four attempts, we won £1,000 from Shell LiveWIRE, which was crucial,” she says.
The twosome also got a mentor and support with business plans, accounts and more from Leeds Business Link.
After a friend helped create a website , ­Charlotte and Richard started taking people on free tours to get feedback.
They started slow, but grew so quickly that Charlotte knew they had to start recruiting. “With only the two of us, we knew we had to hire to expand the business,” she says. “When we started officially, we were rushed off our feet.”
They subsequently took on performing artists to run tours and have not looked back since.


Charlotte says: “We were surprised we were busy over the winter and that it wasn’t just visitors who went on tours – Londoners enjoyed them too.”
Since becoming established, their company has been asked to arrange bespoke tours on everything from suffragettes and canals to street art.
“It’s fantastic knowing that we can create just about any tour that anyone wants – there’s so much scope for the business to grow and we love it.”

Going it alone

Whatever sort of business you want to start, you are more likely to make a success of it if you enjoy the work.
Get as much advice about the sector as you can before you start. Check at the Jobcentre if there are any local organisations or groups that could help you.
To find customers, consider online selling, street markets, shops and word of mouth.
The Prince’s Trust ­Enterprise Programme supports potential young bosses, aged 18 to 30, and grants and advice are available.

Charlotte's advice

  • Get advice, help and information from every single person or organisation you can think of – and be prepared to be flexible, don’t lock yourself into one idea.
  • Use social networking such as Twitter. It’s free and very useful.
  • Keep trying and working hard, no matter what happens.
  • Network with other business people and relevant organisations.
  • Apply for grants and loans where needed.
  • Research your market as much as you can so you know what you’re getting in to.

Check out all the latest News, Sport & Celeb gossip at
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Wednesday, 24 July 2013


   Today I made an enquiry to a magazine publisher on getting a recent back issue. I was told that back issues are no longer sold and that I should subscribe in order to get online access. I bet that this is not an uncommon thing nowadays.

   No wonder there is such a big market for magazine back issues on Ebay. If you have access to a supply of old magazines then it really would make sense to start saving them up and listing them online. They will sell!

Start a "Mechanic" Business

      Ages ago I wrote about how someone could basically trade as a solicitor without actually having to go to Law School. All you would have to do is pick up all the non-regulated activities associated with a Lawyer and then be careful on the wording of your business card and advertising. For example, you could carry out conveyancing and IVA's without spending one day at Uni.

   I was thinking the other day about how the same could almost be said about being a mechanic. With a little practice and judicious wording you could trade without the 5 year apprenticeship. All you would need to do is focus in on the less technical aspects of the job. For example you could specialise in:

  • Oil changes
  • Tyre changes
  • Spray Painting
  • Valeting
  • Window Tinting
   If you are handy with cars and are looking for an earner on the side, this could be an easy way to make a little extra cash.

   You could start small by advertising on your local Gumtree for free and then expand if the level of business warrants it.

Sunday, 21 July 2013

A Small Win

   I had a small win this weekend. I won a packet of Caramel Shortbread from Lidl Yay!!

Working every Square Yard of Space

   I have been extremely lucky in finding the property I am currently living at. When I moved back from England to Scotland I could've ended up paying through the nose for a modern box. Fortunately for me an old friend had just built a new home and was looking to rent his place. The property is a 100 square metre raised bungalow with roughly another 300 square metre of land.

   Having so much land provides potential opportunities. Here are some of the things going through  my mind:

  • Grow your own. I already have 3 x Vegetable patches and a greenhouse but I could easily double all that space. How far could I go towards becoming Self-sufficient? If not self-sufficient then how much of a dent could I put into my food bills? Could a product be produced for selling at Car Boots? For example I can see already that I'm going to have tomatoes coming out of my ears this year. How many tomatoes do you need to make a bottle of homemade Ketchup?
  • Storage. Storage is big business in the UK. People are living in smaller and smaller houses yet they are accumulating more and more junk. Nostalgia means they would rather pay for storage than chuck stuff in the skip. There are practical reasons for storage too. Last month when I was at Stirling University I was amazed to see the amount of leaflets on the wall advertising storage companies. Students leave their gear with a storage company during the summer holidays rather than dragging it back and forth across the UK. There is plenty of room at Caroline House to tuck a few six feet deep containers away in the corner.
  • Renewable energy. I am informed by my landlord that the solar panels on the house are producing more cash than any of his other sets. That got me thinking as to other ways that cash could be generated from renewable energy at the property. Could the outbuildings be fitted with solar panels? Could the trees in the back garden (there are 10 trees of about 30 feet in height) be cut down either to power a biomass generator or to be used as firewood? Is there any wind potential on the site? Is there enough ground for a heat pump to be fitted? Could trees be grown as a cash crop?
  • Tourism. I would never have thought that my area was big on tourism but I am reliably informed that the local holiday cottages are consistently booked out. I suppose the hills and the proximity to Stirling could prove attractive. A couple of years back my wife and I went to stay at a log cabin in Hay-on-Wye. It was simple but perfectly fine. That log cabin could fit into part of the drive at my current place never mind the garden. I think the trick would be to keep things cheap and cheerful. Now imagine if you were to take things further. Imagine you had a holiday cottage and a wooden teepee for "Glampers". You could deck the garden out with a Hot Tub and Fairy Lights to make it look fantastic. Suddenly you've got a really niche boutique offering.
  • Industry. Time means Money. Space could mean Money if used correctly. Having the space could allow you to undertake industrial projects. I'm no Dick Strawbridge but I do have access to Dick Strawbridge videos on Youtube!
  • Livestock. Keeping chickens is an obvious option but what about breeding rabbits or ducks for food? What about building a wormery?
  • The raised bungalow. I mentioned that it is a raised bungalow. This immediately gives me two strange ideas: (i) Is a composting toilet a worthwhile addition to the home? (ii) how expensive would it be to create liveable space in the void below the property? This could be used as a rentable space, a man cave, industrial space etc.
  • WebCams. Say I got the garden looking really ace and had all these different projects on the go. I could set up webcams in each corner and charge people to have a peep inside my "Secret Garden".

As you can see there are opportunities everywhere. There are acres of diamonds out there if you look hard enough.

Tuesday, 16 July 2013

I Love This Story.............

From ""..............

I am always looking out for creative ways to make money to report on for my websites. I recently found a fun one in a great little true story, written by a man who had certain survival talents and decided to demonstrate them. He was dumped in the middle of a large city with no money on him. Soon he had a nice hotel room and some cash. The things he did deserve the warning, "Don't try this at home," but they're good examples of the possible.

He first went to the drive-through windows of a few fast food restaurants to collect the change that inevitably drops on the ground as it is passed from cars to cashiers or vice-versa. When he had a dollar in various coins, he went to a store and exchanged it for four quarters. With those he bought a newspaper from a coin-operated paper box, but when it was open he took all sixteen papers. I should note that he claims to have repaid the newspaper company in full after this experiment in survival.

Hawking them on the street, he sold the sixteen papers at full retail of a dollar per copy. He then took his sixteen dollars to a bar he already had in mind and ordered the cheapest beer available, and started a conversation with the bartender. After his first beer he made what is commonly called a "bar bet" with him for the next drink. Although I don't remember which trick he used, there are many that can be learned from various books. You can make a nickel go through a hole in a piece of paper the size of a dime, for example, without tearing the paper, and there are the usual card tricks that can be learned with a bit of practice.

He won the bet, got his next beer and then got a few of the other people in the bar interested in his tricks (he knew a lot of bar bets). After a ten dollar bet or two, which he naturally won, he found other "targets" who were willing to bet even higher amounts. That evening he had enough to pay for a nice hotel and still had $5 or so in his wallet.

10 Things Really Amazing Employees Do

   According to a recent web article, here are the ten traits that any great employer should recognise and reward instantly:

1) Enthusiastically learn all aspects of the business.
2) Steward the company.
3) Generate viable opportunities.
4) Resolve issues before they are issues.
5) Tell it like it is.
6) Demonstrate high standards with low maintenance.
7) Grow themselves and others.
8) Stimulate happiness.
9) Research, Apply and Refine.
10) Facilitate Amazing Bosses.

Thursday, 4 July 2013

Don't Be a Busy Bastard

A recent letter in the Financial Times:

From Mr Mark McCartney

Sir, With reference to Andrew Hill's article "Work-life balance is not just for women" (March 12): most of my professional life has been spent working with "busy bastards" in a sector renowned for it - PR consultancy. Sadly, I would say at least half of all my time at work was wasted. Wasted in long pointless meetings. Wasted writing and responding to pointless emails. Wasted in working on tasks which resulted in little consequence. I sense that I am not alone. Furthermore, I have a hunch our current financial crisis has been caused in large part to this addiction to being busy in which rational, intelligence people check their emails over and over again during the day and spend more time talking to colleagues and customers on their smartphone than talking with their family at the dinner table.
This brings to mind the line from Richard 2nd: "I wasted my time, and now doth time wastes me". How many of us can honestly say that today we absolutely worked on the most important tasks and didn't get sidetracked by the myriad distractions that grow by the day, largely due to technology and our growing addiction to it.
This is why I got out. And will stay out. Why I want to help employers and employees challenge this addiction to "busyness".

Ice Cream Entrepreneur Story from The Daily Telegraph

Sitting among the vintage crockery and furniture stalls at a fete in West Didsbury, Manchester, is an unmissable pink 1997 Ford Transit ice cream van, Ginger’s Comfort Emporium. Even on a cold, rainy April afternoon Claire Kelsey, 35, its owner, has a queue.

Kelsey makes ice cream for grown-ups, selling it at food markets around the country, but mainly in and around Manchester, where she lives. She delights in unusual combinations such as liquorice root, coriander leaf and camel’s milk, and her bestselling 'Chorlton crack’ (peanut butter and salted caramel). Her imaginative menu has not gone unnoticed. In 2011 her roasted banana, salt caramel and peanut ice cream won the British Street Food awards’ 'best dessert’, which she won again in 2012 for 'marmalade on toast’ – marmalade and caramelised breadcrumbs with orange blossom tea sorbet. Kelsey’s first job in food at the age of 21 was as a kitchen assistant in Raymond Blanc’s Brasserie in Manchester. She worked in restaurants for four years before becoming a food stylist. By 2009 she had decided she wanted her own business. 'I looked at restaurants but it’s such a massive risk,’ she says. 'I thought a mobile unit would be perfect because I could take it to festivals with my friends and it would be a party vehicle.’ Using her savings she found an ice cream van in Brighton for £8,000, which her father helped her paint and refurbish; a friend designed the logo. 'A week later I had an ice cream van in my drive with no real business plan,’ she says. 'I didn’t know exactly what I wanted to do. I thought, “Well, I’ll start making ice cream, I’ll probably get bored of this in six months,” but I really enjoyed doing it.’

She taught herself how to make ice cream by hand, without specialist equipment, learning the best methods for freezing without a churn. But last year Kelsey bought a second-hand Carpigiani, a commercial ice cream machine, which she found on Gumtree. 'I’m still finding my way,’ she says.

'I don’t want to sound like an authority on machines because I’m not; I’m a home cook who’s had to upscale and it’s quite scary.’

Her ingredients are sourced from local producers where possible; the milk and cream comes from a Manchester dairy, the cones from a bakery in Eccles, and the grain for the malt ice cream is from a microbrewery in north Manchester. Her flavours are seasonal and Kelsey buys slightly overripe fruit from markets to make her compotes, jams and caramels that are then used as a base for many of her ice creams. She also welcomes contributions. 'I’ve got some lovely customers who will bring me weird things I’ve never seen before such as mastic and wild orchid extract.’

Tuesday, 2 July 2013

Pet Crematoria

   Did you know that even the PDSA charge £250 for a Cat cremation?

   If you live in a secluded spot then a Pet Crematorium business could be a Money spinner.

Access 2 View

   I'm in the hat for a freelance role at Access 2 View