The strategy was simple as you will find out but for the strategy to work you need to have these 3 key attributes:
COURAGE MOTIVATION FORESIGHT
COURAGE - I think leaving my job was the bravest thing I have ever done. Not only did I have a job, I had a career. A career with one of the most prestigious accountancy firms in the world, Deloitte & Touche. I was earning £30k+ which at the time was not bad for a 27 year old. My family were very proud of me working for this firm and amongst my peers I was considered a success. However inside I felt like a failure. A failure to myself. I was clearly doing something that I didn’t want to do.
So you can guess their reaction when I said I was going to leave my safe, secure, well paid job - "you must be mad!" Not mad, but brave. Brave enough to do what most people are scared to do, brave enough to try to do things my way and brave enough to forego life’s little luxuries and to expect no less than 100% effort from myself.
It is likely that you will not get much support from the people around you if and when you decide to leave your job. Its not because they are malicious or anything. They will just be scared for you. This is why YOU need to be courageous. You will never be 100% sure that leaving your job is the right thing to do and the people around you will only further erode your confidence. If you are looking for certainties then leaving your job will always remain a dream.
MOTIVATION – A successful business will not land in your lap! I’ve sat down and come up with over a 100 business ideas, implemented about 10 of them and succeeded with only a few of them. Its no good just coming up with an idea. You have to believe in the idea and take it to the next level. You need to know whether the idea will work and the only way of finding out is to actually implement it. This all requires effort!
I’m sure you’ve heard half-baked business ideas from people claiming that they’re guaranteed to work. Well if they were guaranteed why don’t they do it! Its easy to say “I don’t have the time” or “I don’t have the money” but if it was such a good idea you’ll find the time or get the finance. The reason they don’t do anything about it is because they are LAZY!
Now I’m no brain of Britain but the beauty of business is that you don’t have to be! It’s the laws of probability. If you try enough times you will succeed. But to try takes effort. I’ve come up with some good ideas and some really stupid ideas. I didn’t know whether they were good or stupid until I had chatted with people and/or implemented them. With hindsight I would never have bothered with some of them!
FORESIGHT – Now I’m not asking you to predict the future as this is impossible. What I’m asking you is to think about the future. You need to have some idea of where you want to be. Having a mental picture of where you want to be tomorrow, next week, next month, next year and next millennium! Having this picture then helps you determine your actions.
When I left work my goal was to replace my salary with my self-employment work. I knew I wanted to earn £1,700 per month within 3 years. I wanted this income without me having to do too much so I chose property investment. I refined my strategy so I could earn my target income. Within a year I got my target income. I was able to think about what I wanted, when I wanted it, how involved I wanted to be and what I was willing to do. I used my powers of foresight that we are all capable of using to help me determine what, when and how. Armed with these thoughts made it a lot easier to get what I wanted as I knew what I was aiming for!
My Previous Working Life
I met some great people at work who I would never of met if I didn’t work and I am grateful for that. I received some great training from my employer and I am grateful for that also. But apart from that I don’t think I received much else. Now its not my employer’s fault. They were good employers. It was my attitude. I didn’t want anything else. That was because I wanted things outside of work but I couldn’t get to them because I was at work!
I’ll let you inside my head for a day when I was at work:
8.30: [alarm clock goes off], oh no, don’t think I can get up. I think I’ll grab another 5 mins sleep.
8.35: Shall I call in sick? I can’t. I’ve already called in sick 2 weeks ago. My manager will be on my case if I do another sickie. My last excuse was pretty poor last time as well.
8.37: I suppose I’ll have to get up. Just another 5 mins sleep though. I can get in 5 minutes late today. I was on time yesterday. They won’t mind.
8.42: Just another 3 mins sleep. I’ll get ready faster.
8.50: oh no its 8.50! got to get up. Got to be in work for 9.00. I’m going to be really late. Hope there’s not too much traffic.
9.00: [get in car] Damn. There is traffic! I’m going to be so late. I’ll blame it on the traffic if anyone asks. I wish all the other cars on the road would disappear!
9.20: [arrive at office] I hope my manager doesn’t see me stroll in at this time. It’s going to be so embarrassing walking in this late. I’ll just walk in as if it wasn’t my fault. Oh no. My manager is in! And he can see me walking in. Just say hello to him and then get to my desk.
11.00: Its only one and a half hours to go to lunch. Can’t wait. I’ve got so many things to do in my lunch break. I just need to get all the things on my list done in my lunch hour. And I’m starving because I didn’t have time for breakfast.
12.00: only half an hour to go……..
12.30: hooray! Lunch is here and half of the working day is over. I’ll have to get my skates on because I’ve got so much to do – and I’ve only got 1 hour to do it.
1.40: oh no late again. I’m glad my manager isn’t here to see me come in late.
3.00: Its nearly time to go home. Two hours to go……..
3.30: I’m so bored with work. Work is boring. I wish it was 5.00pm.
4.30: Its nearly home time. I’ll do my last burst of work and then get ready to go.
4.50: Come on 5 o’clock! I won’t leave yet – I don’t want to be the last to arrive and the first to go.
5.00: I can’t go at 5.00. Its too obvious that I’m clock watching. I’ll wait 10 mins.
5.05: Oh sod it. I’m going to go now. At least I wasn’t the first to leave.
5.07: Ah, relief, I’m free.
5.10: Damn. Traffic again! I wish everyone would get out of the way (again!)
5.40: I’ve got 5 hours now to do what I want. I think I’ll have a drink with my pals.
7.30: [After dinner] I’ve got 3 hours to enjoy myself because I’ve got to be up in the morning and I don’t want to be late.
8.30: [Arrive at pub] Only 2 hours left of enjoyment. I wish I didn’t have to go in to work tomorrow.
10.30: I don’t want to go home. Some are going on to a club. I think I’m going to go. I’ll just get less sleep. But I will get up because I can’t afford to be late again!
12.30: Its really late. I’m so going to regret this in the morning.
01.30: [Settle down to bed] I am a silly boy. There was no need to go out and stay out so late! I hope I get up in the morning……
My life seemed to be regulated by time. I was controlled by it. I was a slave to the clock. Everything I did was tainted by the fact that I had to be in for work at 9.00am and I could not do anything else for the 8 hours that followed – 5 days a week! My Friday afternoons were heightened by Friday nights. My Sunday afternoons were blighted by Monday mornings.
Now you might recognise some or all of these inner thoughts. Do not be ashamed of these thoughts. Man was not built to be regulated by time. If you were then you would be called a machine not a human. Being regulated by time so rigidly is contrary to how a mind flourishes. Flashes of genius do not come out when you set out to do so. They come out when the mind is free. Free from the chains of regularity and rigidity.
Through my work I meet a lot of employed people all looking for a way out of employment. They tell me of similar thoughts and feelings and they just can’t take it anymore. But its no good saying you want to quit but still want the lifestyle that your salary brings. You need to sacrifice, change, get inspired but more importantly – WORK HARD! I hope this book will act as a catalyst to create these sacrifices, changes and inspirations but for this whole formula to work I do need a little bit of effort from you. I hope I can rely on this from you.
My Life Now
The lifestyle I have now is worth more to me than money can buy – even though it makes me more money than any employment could ever give me! I wake up when I want and I go to bed when I want and in between I do whatever I want! Its as simple as that. Everyday is a Saturday. My life is similar to what I used to do on a Saturday but replicated every day. Some days I will work and other days I won’t. Its like when you set aside the weekend to do some DIY work, wash the car, fix the bike etc. and you do it because you want to do it. You work to your own time and take breaks when you want to.
Ironically I work harder now than when I was employed. This is because I love my work and the line between work and pleasure is very blurred. I find myself researching things out of my own interest that become very relevant to my work. Writing this book and sharing my knowledge is an interest of mine. It just so happens that writing books falls under the definition of work!
Here are some other lives. These are people I actually know. See if you can identify with any of them.
Brian has a well respected job for a venture capitalist company in London. He earns £45,000 a year and works a 50 hour week minimum. He has just met the girl of his dreams near where he lives who he thinks he could marry but then gets told by his employer that he’s got to go to South Africa for two years. They offer him £70,000 US $ tax free as a salary and living expenses which he finds difficult to say no to. They offer to pay for flights every weekend for him to come back so he accepts.
In this scenario he gets to earn £70,000 US $ tax free, equating to around £45,000 take home. He ends up spending his week in a country that he has no ties to, away from his friends and family and from the girl of his dreams. He spends all week working, some of the weekend travelling to and from and the rest preparing for work and getting back to the airport – what a life! Okay he gets to save a significant chunk of what he earns but is it really worth the sacrifice he makes?
If his intention is to save his salary and invest it in a business then yes. If his intention is to use it as a deposit for a home then no! Lets say he does use it as a deposit for a home then he has just bought himself a liability – not an asset. People may tell you a property is an asset but its only an asset if it generates income like RENT! If he buys a home to live in then he has to maintain a mortgage payment for the next 25 years. This could mean that he will have to remain a slave to corporate life and be at the mercy of his employer for at least 25 years. This is why people remain at work for longer than they wish – because liabilities are bought under the disguise of an asset.
John works for a large successful solicitor firm. He’s worked his way up to one below partner level. He’s happy where he is. He’s high up enough to choose his own cases but not troubled with the overall performance of the law firm as he’s not a partner. However the other partners of the firm are far from happy. They think either John moves up or gets the hell out! John is then stuck between being either taking on a position that he doesn’t want (although it being very highly paid) or leaving his job. Forced in that scenario he takes the job he doesn’t want.
John now finds his work load increased, his responsibility increased and his social time decreased! He has been forced in to something he doesn’t want even though his pay has significantly increased. This helps us understand the diminishing returns of money. He earned £95k pa quite comfortably. He now will earn £180k pa but have even less time for himself. Suddenly leisure time becomes a more valued commodity that an £85k pay off doesn’t compensate.
Richard, 32, is an investment banker earning £50,000 a year. His boss and his boss’ bosses earn significantly more. Many of them earn greater than £200,000 per year. Richard knows that if he stays within the firm he will earn this too. It may be in 3 years or it may be in 10 years time but he is confident that he will get it at some point. However, he realises that he’s not getting any younger. Many of his friends outside of work are earning in excess of £200,000 already from running their own business. Five years ago Richard was considered a success and at the top of the pile. Now compared to his friends he was bottom of the pile. Richard was finding it difficult to get in to work and stay motivated as he knew he could do what his friends have done.
Michelle worked at a Housing Association. She found tenants, collected rent and evicted tenants if they didn’t pay up. She was very good at her job. In fact she was so good that the rent she was able to collect compared to the maximum potential rent possible was 99%! So void and bad debt expenses were kept to an extremely low level. Michelle made her employer very cash rich but not Michelle herself! But Michelle was not stupid. She set up Landlord Income Services which was a business that focused on the eviction of tenants. Its her first year of business and she hopes to clear £10,000 profit – and this was done all in her spare time. She may be able to go full time in 2 years and make herself an income of what she’s worth.
Nick is self-employed property investor. He has a target of £2,000 monthly income. So he knows that he has to buy 20 properties to provide him with £100 per month profit per property equating to £2,000 per month. So Nick acquires these properties with the full expectation of receiving £2,000 per month. What Nick doesn’t budget for is the tenants not paying him! So his £2,000 per month target soon turns to an irregular income of £3,000 loss one month to a £1,500 profit for another. With Nick living in London, in a flat costing him £800 per month and running a BMW it doesn’t take him long to realise that he’s heading for bankruptcy.
What Nick hasn’t done is control his fixed costs of living and be prudent (and realistic!) of his likely income. He has to either reduce his costs of living by ditching the flat and the BMW, have better credit control or expand and buy even more properties to lower the overall risk of non-payment of rent.
Anna told me that she was so good at their job that they didn’t even have to try! I asked her how good would she be if she really tried at something. She looked at me confused. I don’t think that it ever crossed her mind to really give something her all. So I asked her what she would do as a vocation if money was no object. She said she’d love to run her own restaurant but I don’t have any money to start it off. I asked her if she knew much about the restaurant business. She didn’t. I asked her if she had considered working in a restaurant. She said NO WAY. She then protested that she is a professional, with a batchelors degree and a masters degree. So I asked her what had these degrees got her. She said a professional job paying £33,000 p.a. that doesn’t even require much effort from her.
If Anna could step back and look at herself she would realise that she is doing a job that she doesn’t want to do, clinging on to her status and not doing a job that she really wants to do. She has now subsequently left this job to go travelling around the world for 6 months. I hope she comes back with the intention of doing what she wants to do rather than what’s expected of her.
Sonia worked at a major telecommunications company but was fed up working in an environment of threatened redundancy at all times. Instead she took voluntary redundancy and decided to pursue her passion of life coaching. She got trained up, got some business cards and a website and got out there promoting her business. She used herself as the best marketing tool for her business. Her rationale being that the procedure of choosing a life coach will be based on whether that life coach’s life is sorted or not. Because she was pursuing her passion it wasn’t difficult to see that she was sorted! As a result, in one year, she amassed over 20 clients and several links with other businesses providing further introductions.
If you want to know what its like to never take a financial risk then look at my Auntie. We all love our Aunties I’m sure but my Auntie’s lifestyle disappoints me considering she worked for 40 years. To her, the thought of losing even £1 of her hard earned cash through an investment was too painful for her. As a result she never made an investment and would be living on a basic state pension of £263 per month if it wasn’t for her children. This fear of making an investment, the potential to lose money, had not been thought out properly as she thought only of the downside. I am thankful that her pessimism didn’t rub off on to me. My Uncle is a heavy gambler which means he takes extreme risks and I’m glad I didn’t take on his optimism also!
Do you recognise any of these situations? May be your situation is worse? Hopefully my lifestyle has wetted your appetite to free yourself from the rat race. So lets start with Step 1 – Wake Up!