How a Business Mentor can help cash flow

They say that  Cash is king. No wait … change that … cash flow is king. No matter what your situation, your place in life and no matter what financial obstacles you may face – if you have cash flow, you have hope. And regardless, asking how a business mentor can help cash flow is an important question.

And, if you have hope you then have a future. But I’m getting a little ahead of myself here. Most people don’t ever even think of cash flow. 

People who are in business have extra challenges with cash flow. In my experience, many businesses go broke, not because they don’t have enough customers but because they mismanage their inflows with their outflows. 

Research backs up my observations: managing the businesses finances is a key reason for bankruptcy.

And that’s not surprising, especially if you are new to being in business.  Your focus is on satisfying your customers, handling logistics, or any of a hundred other things.  As an experienced business mentor, let me tell you now – you need to be thinking day and night about cash flow.

 

How a business mentor can help cash flow

The advantage of having an experienced business mentor is that they have faced these problems before.  Here are the steps that I follow with my clients.

 

Diagnosis

Think of your business as being like a human body. Cash flow is the lifeblood of your business.

Your business bones are how you own and structure your business.  For example, is it a partnership, or a company whose shares are owned by yourself and other investors?  This ownership structure provides the skeleton for you to build your firm. 

The assets of your business are your muscles (aka the Balance Sheet).  These can be tangible items, like computers and desks.  Or they can be intangible, like Intellectual Property or a Patent on something special. The more you work on these, the bigger and stronger they get. And the stronger you are, the more you can achieve. 

But your cash-flow is your business blood. Your cash-flow brings nutrients to both your structure and your muscles. But it’s not enough to just have blood – it has to be moving for it to have any value. (And we have reached the limits of my medical knowledge!)

A business mentor, through looking at your financial records, can diagnose any potential problems.  There could be many reasons.  The most common ones I see are:

  • Generous payment terms
  • Profit margins that are too low
  • Poor planning  

Think of your business as being like a human body. Cash flow is the lifeblood of your business.

Prescription

Let’s assume that the problem is one of planning. The business has got a strong product and good marketing.  There are plenty of clients and prospects.  It is growing rapidly.  But there is never any money left in the bank.

There is a mismatch between income and expenses that is causing cash flow circulation problems.  A little like putting a tourniquet on your arm  – the pinching stops the blood from flowing.

As a business grows, cash flow timing becomes a very important issue. That is, simply having money available when you need it.  Matching the inflows from sales with the outflows to suppliers, employees and other costs. 

Over a year, a business might have an accounting profit – but during the year the bank account can run dry simply through lack of good cash flow management.

How does this happen?  It’s easier than you might think. 

Here’s one example: Your business makes a lot of sales and gets the money in (great so far!)  You pay some bills, buy some more stock… but don’t set aside anything for your sales tax (GST in Australia, TVA in Switzerland) or company tax.

The problem comes when the taxman shows up and there is no money in the bank. 

Expand your horizons beyond the next week and month and start to take in a time horizon of the next five years. This is exactly what businesses do when they look at cash flow for expanding their operations. 

Managing the timing of cash flow was one of the problems that my client Carl faced.  To help him address this, I developed a cash flow planner.

How a business mentor can improve cash flow

You can download your own copy (Google Sheet) by clicking here.

Of course, this is just one example. Every small business or start-up is different.  The advantage of having your business mentor to help you manage your cash flow is that you get a personalised diagnosis and prescription.

 

Implementation

OK great.  You know the problem, you know what to do to fix it.  But how do you implement?

As with most small business issues, doing something is the most critical step.  Let’s take the example above.  After completing the full cash flow budget forecast, we decided that we needed to do this:

  • Change payment terms from 30 days to 14 days with an upfront 50% deposit
  • Bring in a part-time assistant so that the owner could focus more on marketing
  • Reworked his pricing model to increase margins

Together we mapped out a plan for each of these steps and I held him accountable to that timeframe.  The result:  cash flow problems were solved, and the business was stronger and more robust.

 

Hiring a Business mentor

As you can see, a business mentor can improve cash flow.  Is it time for your business to have one?

If you want to know more about what a business mentor is and how they can work with you, you find a lot of information right here.  

I would love to hear your own story  -what cash flow challenges do you face in your small business?  Would you like to see if I can help you?  You can drop me a line here. 

3 Simple Steps to Choose your Business Mentor

I’m going to assume you have chosen to get a business mentor to help keep you accountable for success (smart move!) But what steps can you follow to choose the right person?

It’s not as easy as it might seem. After all, this person has to understand you but also hold you accountable.  They need to be friendly, but not your friend.  They need to help you effectively work on your business, but not work in your business.  

However, you might need a coach or a consultant rather than a mentor.  The difference can be subtle, but crucial. Check out my post for more info on the difference between a business mentor, a coach, or a consultant for more on this.

 

So here’s my 3 Simple Steps to choose your business mentor:

 

Step 1: Be Prepared

 

Preparation is not just for Boy Scouts – preparation in choosing your Business mentor is key.  

 

Understand why you want a mentor.

The first time you ask this question, the answer may seem obvious to you.  If so, great.  Now, ask yourself this same question a second time, and then a third.  This technique is an excellent way of understanding your true motives for needing a mentor.  In turn, this will help you get the best value out of your mentor.

As an example answer, the first time you answer this, you might say: ‘I want a mentor to help me make the best choices for my business’.

OK, a good start, but why and how?

Example answer, second time: “I want to grow my business but it’s hard to find good people to work with.  I’m not sure exactly where to start though.”

Getting better. 

Ask yourself one more time, why do I want a business mentor?: “I want a mentor to help me identify the key aspects of my business that I can delegate, then hold me accountable to my plan for doing this over the next six months.  My mentor will understand my business drivers but also empathize with the difficulties I face is letting go to a degree.” 

The better you can know and express your motives, the more time you can save in briefing your mentor.

 

Understand your working rhythm:  

Knowing what you want from your mentor is one thing.  Deciding how you would like to work together is another.  For example, will weekly sessions be right or too frequent?  Would monthly sessions be too far apart?  

Often I will have a ‘sprint’ at the start of an engagement where we do weekly sessions for the first two months, then monthly for the rest of the time.  

 

Decide on your budget:  

At least have a range of what you can afford in mind.  I get it, money is often tight, especially if you are in a start-up.  And sure, if your potential mentor offers a freebie at the start – take it!  However, trying to save money by getting a cheap mentor is a false economy.  Paying a fair price ensures you value the advice and make sure that the mentor delivers value too.

But given that, according to the Wall Street Journal, more than half of businesses fail within five years, having a mentor who can potentially help you avoid that fate is a smart insurance policy.  

A good rule of thumb:  expect to spend 5% of your turnover on professional services, which include mentors, book-keepers, lawyers.

Preparation is not just for the Boy Scouts. Preparation in choosing your Business Mentor is key.

Step 2: Do this when choosing a business mentor:

 

Decide what attributes they need to have.

Do you need someone with specific technical’ ability?  Or are you looking for overall business ‘savvy’?  

The issues that Business Mentors deal with are usually more strategic and so don’t require specific technical knowledge, but it can help.   Still, if a prospective Mentor has had a career in large corporations and you run a small business, there might be gaps in understanding. Make a list of the skills and experience your perfect mentor would have and use this as a checklist when making your selection.

 

Get a pool of three candidates

It’s a good idea in business to never choose from a selection pool of one.  Try and meet at least three potential mentors before you decide.  I recommend starting with searching online services – for example, Growth Mentor or ask on Reddit.  

Then, ask a few business-people who you admire who their mentor is.  This is often the best recommendation (I get 90% of my work through referral).

 

Ask about their business successes – and failures

There are a lot of so-called mentors out there that talk a good game.  But have they achieved anything themselves in the past?  The whole point of a mentor is to learn from their experiences.  No-one knows what winning is like except a winner.

Equally though, you can’t get your toes a little wet without making mistakes.  It’s pretty good to have a mentor who has made a lot of mistakes because it means there is more for you to learn from!  

 

Step 3: Don’t do these things when choosing a business mentor!

 

Pay by the hour

Yes, you can meet by the hour but don’t pay by the hour.  You want to have a relationship with your mentor.  Nothing stifles a relationship like the knowledge that the meter starts as soon as you call her for help on an issue.  Rather, see if you can negotiate a price per month.  This can include several formal meetings but also the ability for you to contact them for help at any time.

 

Don’t be vague:

Bottom line: you want to be the sort of a client a really good mentor would want to work with.  Define exactly what success looks like for you, as a result of having a mentor.  Decide how long you would like the initial period of engagement will be.  This means that you will get the best out of your mentor.

As a mentor, I promise you that we love it when a client says things like:

‘I’d like to work with you for three months to improve my cash-flow and make some tough decisions to increase my product margins.”

Or

“I have been working 50 hours a week, sales are up but I just don’t seem to see any improvement in my bank account. I can’t go on like this forever

But we silently groan inside when we hear:

“I think I need a mentor, would you mentor me?”

Life is too short to be vague.

 

Don’t ask a friend to mentor you

It might seem like the easy solution – but don’t.  Just don’t.  Sometimes, a mentor has to show some tough love in a way that a friend may not.  Combining the two roles is just asking for trouble.

 

A Business Mentor is an important choice

If you follow these 3 Simple Steps to choose a business mentor, then you are not only ahead of the completion, you will also enjoy the journey.

Choosing a business mentor is an important decision, but one which will help you maximize your success.  Want to know more?  Contact me today.

Choosing between a Business Mentor, a Coach or a Consultant – Advice for Start-Ups

Choosing between a Business Mentor a Coach or a Consultant

Advice for Start-Ups

When you are starting a business, you need all the help you can get.  You are consumed with the workload and trying to do a million things at once.  You are smart enough to see the value in getting some input from an external source.  Usually though, as a start-up  you only have money – and time – for one.  Choosing between a business mentor, a coach or a consultant is an important decision.  But what is the difference?

Everyone has their own definition and interpretation of what a mentor is, what a coach is, what a consultant is.  That’s cool, but let me explain how I see them.  My perspective is based on over 30 years building and running my own business.  I have engaged coaches and consultants galore.  Interestingly,  I could never find a real mentor that suited me, that could both understand me  as a person and also comprehend how my business worked.  Which is why I now serve as a business mentor myself.

 

What a Business Mentor is not

When making this choice, it’s imporant to understand that a business mentor is not a coach – although we do coach in the course of our work.  Tony Robbins is a pretty impressive guy.  He defines coaching as: A life coach encourages and counsels clients on a range of professional and personal issues. Life coaching is distinct from giving advice, consulting, counseling, mentoring and administering therapy.” 

In my experience, the starting perspective of a coach is that the coachee (that’s you) already has the answers they need to resolve any given situation.  The skill of the coach is to draw out that knowledge.  That way, the coachee themselves can come up with a plan to resolve or address a given situation.

This can be really useful, as I discovered when I engaged a coach.  You don’t need to be out of start-up mode to take advantage.  He had the best questioning technique that I had ever experienced.  His queries helped create a process through which I could select and prioritise all the options that I was facing.

The downside: he knew nothing about my business in particular, or business in general.  He didn’t know to get a legal review on an important contract or how to negotiate a pricing agreement.  There wasn’t an appreciation of the challenges of balancing stakeholder expectations whilst hitting growth targets in a highly regulated environment.  That wasn’t his fault – it was just outside his area of expertise.

I could never find a real mentor that suited me, that could both understand me as a person and also comprehend how my business worked.

A Business Mentor is not a Consultant

Equally, a business mentor is not a consultant, though they do provide specific and structured advice. 

I have had plenty of business consultants during my career.  They can quickly identify areas of business improvement and provide options for how to solve these problems.  They can be invaluable – in Australia, Business Health were instrumental in helping my business win the FPA Professional Practice of the Year award.    

However, it was outside the remit of any of these consultants to try to understand me as a person, except as that immediately impacted the business.  They looked at my situation purely from the metrics of the business.  Things like my profit margin, return on equity, client funds invested, etc.  

What they struggled to understand is the deep loyalty I had to clients who had been with us 20 or more years.  These clients weren’t profitable any more because they had drawn down their funds.  Sure, I might lose money on them, but my personal values wouldn’t let me cut them loose.  They still needed advice and there was a relationship of mutual trust that had been built up.  They  weren’t just clients – they were friends.

Consultants simply aren’t paid to consider business karma.

 

OK, so what is a Business Mentor?

A business mentor is someone who understands your goals and priorities.  This means what is important to you, not just in business, but in life.  They also place a huge importance on knowing your values, beliefs and morals.  As a start up, you will be pulled in all sorts of directions and it is easy to lose your compass.

A business mentor has proven experience in business.  They understand a P & L, a Balance Sheet, can spot a cash flow squeeze from a hundred metres away.  They know the principles of good corporate governance.  They have the wisdom to know when to be cautious and when to be bold.

Just as importantly, a good business mentor will understand the accounts of the heart.  These are the intangible aspects of business that mean while you build a business, you also build a character.  A business mentor will understand that success is more than a bank account balance or winning awards.  A business mentor possesses the skills to understand you well enough to ensure your actions are congruent with your best version of you.

If you want to read more, let me recommend this blog post from Growth Mentor.  Like me, they love working with start-ups (so if I am not your cup of tea head over there!) 

With that background, a business mentor will work with you to identify your clear business goals, with an agreed timeframe for achieving them.  We will also clearly define what success looks like.  From this, you will design a plan.

But it doesn’t end there – the key value from mentoring is having accountability for your action to someone who only has your best interests at heart.  

 

Choosing between a Business Mentor, a coach or a consultant.

What’s Next?

All three – a business mentor, a coach and a consultant – can play an important role in a life of a start-up.  You need to choose the best service for your particular circumstances.  If I may offer some unsolicited advice:  at least make a conscious choice and take action.

If you think you can benefit from my experience, I would love to hear from you.  

So, what’s next?  You tell me.  You can click on, or you can click here and start our conversation.

Business Mentor Case Study: Marketing Consultancy Start-Up

The Client

Carl* is the founder of a digital marketing consultancy that helps companies integrate client relationship and marketing systems into their business.  He was a superb designer but a novice businessperson.  Although Carl is very experienced, his business was quite new. He launched on a dream but his only financial capital was his savings.  These were fast disappearing as Covid caused his clients to shut their wallets. 

Carl couldn’t face going back to being an employee in someone else’s business.  He needed to make fast progress to stay in business.  I was referred to Carl by a business contact.  During an initial, obligation free Zoom call, he told me his story and challenges.

The Business Mentor Need

As the business founder, Carl faced a number of issues normally associated with small businesses, especially in a global pandemic:  

  • Where is my next client coming from?  
  • How do I manage cashflow and access capital?
  • Where do I find the right team members?
  • Will I be able to spend enough time with my family?   

He also had issues with some of the subcontractors he used – they were letting him down in terms of quality and turnaround times.  And there simply wasn’t enough time in the day –  between business development, covering for the mistakes his sub-contractors made, and doing his own work with clients, Carl was exhausted.  His relationships with his family, especially his three adolescent kids, were suffering. 

The Business Mentor Engagement

I believed I could help Carl, and I presented him with several options on how our business mentoring could work.  We agreed on a three month, high intensity mentoring engagement.  This included two scheduled meetings per week, with additional unlimited phone/email support.

At the start of each session (which lasted roughly about an hour) I would outline and get agreement on our agenda.  At the conclusion, we would agree on next steps and who had responsibility for what.  

In between, Carl would occasionally call me to ask for guidance on client and supplier matters.  Other times he sought simply a sanity-check or to review draft client presentations.  I also arranged some introductions ot my own contacts where I thought there would be mutual benefit.

Carl was exhausted. His relationships with his family, especially his three adolescent children, were suffering.

Issues faced

Let’s face it – Carl is a start-up dreamer who is super at his craft but naive and inexperienced in commercial matters.  Importantly though, he is smart, hard-working and persistent.  We faced some big challenges:

  • Business Plan: finalising a Value Proposition and Ideal Client definition as well as a cash flow budget.
  • Pricing:  Carl loved what he did, but he undervalued it, like many small business owners.  Too often, it seemed like he simply broke-even on a job.  
  • Marketing:  Design and establish a digital marketing strategy
  • Support team:  Existing subcontractors were unreliable – they had to go and new ones recruited
  • Business infrastructure: Poor contracts needed replacing
  • Balance Sheet: Sell rental property to free up personal capital

Actions we took Together

First, we finished his business and marketing plan and identified the number of new clients and revenue he needed to live the lifestyle he desired.  Ironically, as a digital marketing consultancy, Carl didn’t have a great digital marketing plan himself.  Working together we identified a good outsourced solution to produce and manage his digital marketing in a manner congruent with his own brand.

Next, we put together a pricing model to ensure that Carl got not only paid for his time, but also got a profit margin for the risks he was taking as a business owner.  Simply having a consistent methodology added efficiency.  Now, he had a process for pricing work – not just relying on gut feel!

As a new business, Carl uses sub-contractors as required for projects, rather than hire employees.  However, some of them were not performing to expectations.  We rationally reviewed their performance.  I referred Carl to a new lawyer that was better suited to his needs, who then drew up new supplier and client agreements – no more white-anting of clients!  We broke off engagement with unsatisfactory suppliers and established a process which allowed Carl to find three new and better subcontractors.

Growth through Mentoring

Carl had a specific business opportunity in the UK with an Australian client that had offices there.  We identified a partner director for him to collaborate with, incorporated  an office in the UK and won the UK business of the client.

We reviewed his personal balance sheet and compared it with his revenue needs and business capital requirements. In particular, we ran the numbers on a couple of investment properties he owned.  One wasn’t performing, so  Carl decided to sell one that was absorbing a lot of his time.  This freed up capital for business investment, but also took away a lot of stress and gave back valuable time that he could then devote to his family (he also got $60,000 more than he had valued it at).

Next Steps

In the three months I was Carl’s business mentor, we completed a lot of work and made many positive changes.  In addition to the above actions, I’d been able to refer him to some new clients which more than covered the fees he paid me.  It was time for Carl to now focus on cementing the gains he had made and build on the momentum.  The business mentor engagement was done for now – we now touch base quarterly and he engages me on an ad-hoc basis.

You can read more about Business Mentoring here, or better yet, drop me a line to start our discussion today!

 

*Names and some details have been changed to protect privacy.  Personal references always available on request.

 

Template

What do you bring to the table? 

In my work as a business mentor, I am lucky to meet a lot of people who are desperate to be their own boss  – but don’t know where to start.  They are usually very hard-working, have some good ideas, but don’t know if they have what it takes to be successful.

That’s cool – it’s pretty scary to start a business. Many, many factors go into creating a successful business.  They can seem endless.  

First, you have tangible items.  Finance, products, goods, premises, website.  Then, there are the intangible items.  Persistence, dedication, education, wisdom.  The list goes on.

Both are important.  It’s also true that many people measure their success  – especially in running a small business – in non-financial ways.  Many business owners tell me that it was things such as lifestyle, the freedom to be their own boss and flexibility that led them to start their own business.

The bottom line: unless the income is more than the outgo, you won’t be in business very long.  Therefore, we need to boil all this down and secure the 3 critical success factors for business that you need.

I know, because I have learned the hard way.

 

3 Critical Success Factors for Business

It was back in 1999 right at the height of the dot-com boom. Even in Australia people got a little carried away. 

I was working hard at my job as a financial planner – at this stage, I had zero equity in the business.  One of our clients, Will, had come up with a great idea. He had a background in insurance and had listed an online insurance sales website business on the Australian Stock Exchange. 

He’d issued a prospectus, raised some capital, come up with a fancy ‘dot.com’ in the title (this was virtually compulsory for a tech company in the early 2000s) and was sitting back watching the shares skyrocket. And skyrocket they did, along with everything else that had the word ‘tech’ in it and didn’t earn any revenue.

There was a huge buzz around their project and because Will was a client he made sure even little old me got into the initial public offering. I managed to scrape together the minimum amount of $2,000 and held my breath for when they went public.

 

Deal me in!

All of this was tremendously exciting to observe – the innovation, the hype, the possibility of changing the face of Australian insurance distribution. It wasn’t just this project either; every day new ideas were being put forward and new businesses launched. It seemed as long as you put the letter ‘e’ in front of the name, or it ended with ‘.com’, you were on a winner. 

How could I get involved in a project like this? I loved my job but it seemed staid and boring: there was ‘gold in them thar hills’!

I got some time to talk to Will so I asked him what he thought. I will never forget his question to me: ‘Patrick, you are a nice guy.  But, what do you bring to the table?’ 

In other words, why should anyone want to get involved in business with me? Sure, I was a nice guy but so what? 

3 critical success factors for business

It was time to face reality and realise that actually, I brought very little to the table in terms of adding value to a business enterprise.

 

Business is also all about who you know, and how you can connect those relatinship networks to create economic value.

Critical Success Factor 1: Money

Yep.  You can’t escape the fact that money is the lifeblood of business

Back then, I had to face the facts. I didn’t have any money and, while I wasn’t broke, it was only a few years back that I’d been cleaned out in my divorce. All in all, I was in a rebuilding phase. I’d just bought another house so I was loaded up with debt, not equity. 

I was struggling with this critical success factor. Short of an unknown inheritance or winning the lottery (spoiler alert: neither happened), it was going to be a long haul to get enough money to create a business. 

Importantly, I was taking all the small steps that would add up over time:  

  • I was spending less than I earned.  
  • Every pay, I was saving extra into super, 
  • My home loan repayments were ahead of schedule and
  • I had a small amount invested in the stock market. 

Yes, this was going to be way slower than I would have liked, but all I could do was simply persist in that area, and let compound interest take care of the rest. 

The counter-intuitive realization is that there is more money available than ever before.  For the right business idea, there will never be a shortage of dollars.  

Your challenge with this critical success factor is to find the smartest place to get the money you need, at the lowest price.

 

Critical Success Factor 2: Networks

People do business with people they know and like.  Yes. Even in the internet age.  

For example, an overarching strategy in this business mentor blog is to give you the reader, an insight into who I am as a person, to accelerate the development of trust in me.  How’s that working so far?

Business is also all about who you know, and how you can connect those relationship networks to create economic value.  

If money is the blood, relationships are the veins and arteries that make it flow. When you can connect people and introduce others, that can add value to an enterprise and in turn, you also become valuable to that business.

Again, back then in my situation, the reality was I also was lacking in this critical success factor.  I had no network.  However, I could build relationships, starting today. I was always hearing about networking groups and clubs so it was simply a matter of getting off my butt and doing something about it.  This plan is still yielding results today in my work as a business mentor.

Your challenge with this critical success factor is to have a process in place that allows you to build relationships with others so that you can add value to them and your business.  

 

Critical Success Factor 3: Skills

Also known as Intellectual Property (IP). If you have rare talents or you are acknowledged as a maestro in your field, you will be welcome in any enterprise that requires those talents.

What about my skills back in 2001? Well, I knew how a small financial planning practice worked practically but I had no formal qualifications in management. I had a Diploma in Financial Planning and was a Certified Financial Planner.  

To be honest, although I was a Certified Financial Planner, I hadn’t achieved anywhere near my potential academically.  I was about a 3/10 for this critical success factor.

There was no way I had come close to achieving what, I knew deep down, I was capable of achieving. But deciding what and how to study, as well as paying for it, was going to take some time to plan. 

It was time to stop procrastinating on this and start shaping the development of my future skills. I started to plan for going back to study and this eventually manifested in (among other things) my master’s degree.  

Academic qualifications don’t necessarily guarantee success, but my experience as a business mentor tells me they don’t hurt, either. 

Your challenge is to identify the specific skills and talents that your business will need to thrive and grow to the next level.  

 

So how do I improve these 3 Critical Success Factors?

It’s simple, but it’s not easy.  

Whether you are already in business or wanting to start, you need to be honest in assessing where you are right now with each of these 3 critical success factors.  Then, you need to plan to bridge the gap.

How you do this will vary for each of the 3 critical success factors.

If it is money you need, this can be raised through savings, or debt (borrowing) or equity (bring in partners).  The starting point is to ask two questions:

  1. What money do I need to buy assets right now?
  2. How much will I need to pay running costs over the next 12 months?

Building networks starts with meeting and then helping others.  The best question to ask yourself is ‘who can I send a referral to today’?

There are now so many places where you can learn the knowledge and skills you might need. As well as the universities, there are amazing sites like Skillshare and Brilliant.  

The good news is though, with a plan and with accountability that you can design with your business mentor, you can overcome. 

Some people do this on their own or with their team. 

Others prefer to work with a business mentor like me, to inspire, encourage and hold them accountable to their actions.

Like to know more about how I work with my business mentor clients to achieve their goals?  Contact me and tell me your story!

THE PRICE JUST WENT UP

“Winning has a price.  And Leadership has a price.”  Michael Jordan, The Last Dance

Like most of the Western world in lockdown, I’ve been watching ‘The Last Dance’ over the past few weeks.  It’s been a great trip down memory lane.  Who didn’t love the Chicago Bulls in the 90s?  Who didn’t love Michael Jordan, who didn’t want to be like Mike?

I remember taking my kids to Space Jam and enjoying it even more than they did.  Still in my 20s, nevertheless I would still try and do double-pump lay-ups (I’d already learned that I had a white-man’d jumping ability so forget the dunks), imitating MJ and Scottie Pippen in the weekly neighbourhood scratch matches.

But watching Michael Jordan – both then and now – reminds you of the utter focus and dedication it takes to be successful, a real winner, in this world.

The thing is, back in the day I only saw the highlights, the last-second-nothing-but-net game winning shots.  Now, I understand that all that glory doesn’t come for free.  Winning and succeeding has a big, big price, regardless of your field of endeavour.

 

BUILDING BLOCKS FOR SUCCESS – HOW I WROTE MY FIRST BOOK

Planning is key. Whether you’re managing your finances or writing a book, it is the most significant building block that will help you reach your goal.

Just recently I sat myself down and decided to write a book. I’d always wanted to be an author, but of what?

In the past, I had given fiction a few attempts, but it was clear to everyone (including me) that I was lacking in talent when it came to imaginative storytelling.

Over the years, I’ve met a lot of people who were settling for less than what they really desired out of life, simply because they didn’t have a blueprint for their financial future, and so More Than Money was born.

I did what I knew best to kick myself off – and that was piles and piles of practical planning. I even found myself looking through books similar in length to what I thought was ‘right’ and counted the words.

I had to start writing eventually, though, and in the beginning this was somewhat overwhelming. How could I make it different to other ‘money’ books and reflect my own experiences?

Ideas began to take shape and evolve in my mind before finally spilling out, page after page, onto my computer.

My top 5 self-help books

1. How I Raised Myself from Failure to Success in Selling  by Frank Bettger

My sales manager at National Mutual gave me this book to read as a young man in 1987.  I remember thinking: “How can a book about a life insurance salesman in New York in the 1940s help me?”

Well it did, and still can help you too.

Sure, it was a different world, but every principle he displays from personal organisation, to setting goals, to helping people buy something they want rather than selling them something they need, still rings true today.

His personal story of overcoming adversity is worth it alone.

 

2. The Little Prince  by Antoine de Saint-Exupery

This is a childhood classic for grown-ups. It’s one of the most inspirational and beautiful stories I have ever read.

It reminds me that, as the Prince says: “What is essential is invisible to the eye.”

It’s easy in life to get wrapped up in work or striving, and this book gives balance in showing the essence of who we are is indestructible and loved.

 

3. True Grit  by Charles Portis

What? A book about a John Wayne movie? Yes, indeed.

Success often comes down not to talent, not to luck, not to networking – but to True Grit.

And the heroine of the story, Mattie Ross, shows such grit in a manner that reminds you that you can succeed in adversity, against the odds – if you refuse to accept what the world tells you that you should accept.

Read this book – and then watch the 1969 movie for which the Duke won his only Oscar!

 

4. Conversations with God  by Neale Donald Walsch

In a low place in your life? Blaming everyone else but don’t know how to take the first step to recover? This is the book for you.

A friend gave it to me when I was lonely and depressed after my first marriage failed.

I gave up on it as spiritual quackery after the first chapter. Then another friend gave me this same book, and I took it as a sign that I better read it.

Regardless of your spiritual beliefs, this is a challenging and motivating book for change – as God says, if everything you believed got you to this point, isn’t it insanity to not want to change things?

 

5. 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos by Jordan Peterson

Reading essays that are well-researched, cogently argued and gracefully constructed is, for me, bliss for my brain.

These 12 essays are simply magnificent in examining the human condition and showing that yes, we possess the ability to live the life we want, if only we have the courage to be honest with ourselves.

 

My top 5 rock albums

1. Alive! by KISS

This is the album that really started them on their road to fame, and the album that introduced me to KISS.

What a brilliant piece of marketing and packaging, as well as of course the amazing live energy that they previously had failed to capture on vinyl.

The archetypal characters that they played, and the accompanying ‘notes’ on the inside of this double album, completely captured the imagination of this 11 year-old – and made me certain that the bass was the coolest instrument in the history of the universe!

 

2. Bad for Good by Jim Steinman

I think the story goes that this was supposed to be Bat out of Hell 2, but Steinman, who wrote all of Meatloaf’s songs, got tired of waiting for him.

Whatever. It has all the bombast, wailing guitars and long songs with storylines of love, rebellion, heartbreak and glory – all delivered with Kasim Sulton’s bass and Todd Rundgren’s guitar solos. I still know almost every word of each song.

 

3. Grace by Jeff Buckley

If you put me on a desert island for the rest of my life and said I could only take one album, this would be it.

Buckley created a modern masterpiece with his soaring vocals and huge dynamics.

Songs of love, death, surrender… it just doesn’t date and I’ll bet that this album is just as popular in 100 years.

 

4. Desperate by Divinyls

This second album announced the quintessential Aussie 80s rock band to the world, and what a band, what an album this is.

A rhythm section with the genius and seriously cool Rick Grossman on his Steinberger bass provided an unstoppable backdrop to Chrissy Amphlett’s unreal vocals.

I was lucky enough to see the Divinyls a couple of times in pubs. Chrissy was almost frightening to be close to, she was so in character – yes, I was a little scared just watching her!

If there is any justice in the world, this band will be the next INXS.

 

5. Ghost Mile by Voyager

If you like your music hard, intelligent and with great melody, then Voyager are for you.

Amazing musicianship doesn’t hide their sense of joy as they deconstruct accepted wisdom on what a song should be, and then put it all back together in a way that makes you think: “Why hasn’t anyone done that before?”

 

ROCK N ROLL FINANCES – TURNING A BAND INTO A BRAND!

“From the get-go, KISS understood that we were a business”

-Gene Simmons-

It used to be that someone with passion and talent would write some songs, try and get played on radio and, if they were lucky, sell enough records to make a living. Nowadays, you need to get the business model and marketing right if you want to have any chance of your tunes cutting through the noise.

When KISS started, they toured incessantly to get fans to buy their records. This is where they first made all their money…Records nowadays? Well they’ve only released two new albums in 17 years, and in concert they may play one song from those records.

In other words, KISS has turned a band into a brand. Their music is just an excuse to create the concert event, an experience that you as the customer can choose to taste in many different ways. From the budget seats in the nosebleed stands to the platinum rock star ‘meet and greet’ (with tickets around $1500 each!). And KISS charge you EXTRA just to have the right to buy those meet and greet tickets, such is the demand!