Listen to the brand guys… and change the name of your book!

books save livesSo the book is written… yes, it’s finished and off to proof reading next week.  Yipee!  One year and two months in the making.  That’s approximately three hundred 5 am starts, 70,000 words and a heck of a lot of late nights.  It ain’t no breeze this book writing thing.   But it’s done, my editor is happy (so far) and it moves onto the next stage.

Now we are into publishing and soon my baby will be off to be designed.  It will have a sexy cover and fabulous interior… can’t wait to see it.  But the question of what to call it came up again last week.  I’ve been calling it The Liber8 Factor – The revolutionary planning technique that will set every small business owner free.  Made total sense to me – it consists of eight stages, each with an exercise to take the reader step by step through my proven blueprint for building a business you can sell one day for millions.

But my brand designer says it should be called Liber8 Your Business.  Keep it simple, he says. This is what it does.  If it sounds like a duck and walks like a duck, call it a duck.  Call a spade a spade. Or something like that.

I’ve been sitting on it for a few weeks now and I’ve come around to it.  Liber8 Your Business… the first of the Liber8 Series.  Soon (well another several thousand 5am starts) there will be a series of Liber8 business books:  Liber8 Your Sales, Liber8 Your Marketing; Liber8 Your Team; Liber8 Your Social Media; Liber8 Your Presenting Skills… and many more besides (I’ll be taking a vote later in the year for the most popular title to come of the rank first).

I hope you like the title… I’ll be posting another excerpt soon.

Keep the feedback rolling in.

From the desk of liber8yourbusiness. Business mentors and publisher of Liber8 Your Business.

Business tip # 86 – Go boldly into the unknown… and make mistakes, they’re good for you!

shane bradleyRecently I interviewed Shane Bradley – former owner of GrabOne and founder of new online retailer  Shane’s top tip for small business owners was this: “if you’re not making mistakes, you’re not trying hard enough”.  He told me about his first business, which went under due to bad debts.  It was humiliating and humbling he said.  To go from being a big shot to a big nobody virtually overnight… not a nice feeling!  But he vowed to get back in business again… and boy did he keep his promise to himself.  His business career is full of bold decisions, where he jumped in the deep end and learned to swim very quickly.

I’m sure every successful business owner has horror stories to tell of the things they did badly.  Many of my mistakes happened when I tried to hire people.  I pretty much did everything wrong.  In my first business I wrote my own employment contract.  It was a personal grievance where even my own lawyer laughed at me that taught me this was not a good idea.  Later on, not following due process in a genuine re-structure cost me $40,000.  I learned the hard way to bring an expert HR person in to sort out my recruitment and management processes.

I also started off doing all my own data entry into MYOB… a copy writer doing accounts… mmm… big mistake right there.  Imagine the nightmare my accountant faced when it came to year end accounts!

The lesson is, to quote a famous brand, just do it.  Leap in, do the best you can and learn on the job. Like Shane I’m a believer in going for it, giving it your all and being willing to make the odd mistake.  I can tell you from experience, you only ever make the same mistake once.

Love to hear your mistake stories… when did you stuff up and what did you learn from it?


PS.  For more of the interview with Shane Bradley, buy this month’s copy of NZ Business Magazine and look for my column, The Exit Factor

From the desk liber8yourbusiness.  Business mentor and author of soon to be released book, Liber8 Your Business.

A business or a life-long job? Which is it for you?

guy-with-ball-and-chain1Here’s another extract from my book… to be launched late July…

 A business or a life-long job?

‘Successful and unsuccessful people do not vary greatly in their abilities. They vary in their desires to reach their potential.’

–          John Maxwell

One of the first questions I ask when I present to business groups is: ‘Why are you here? Why are you in business? Why on earth have you left the security of a job with regular pay to start your own business, with all the uncertainty this holds?’

I always get similar answers. Mostly, people say they don’t want to work for someone else. They don’t want someone else’s culture. They don’t want to be told how the way it should be done. They want to be in control. They want flexible hours and to spend time with their children. They want to be able to go on holiday when they want. They don’t want someone telling them how many weeks’ holiday they can have a year. They want to do something they really love.

These are all honourable reasons for starting a business. But, ironically, many business owner-operators end up with the complete opposite. They find themselves with little control. They discover their clients have the control and will often demand they work longer hours than they ever did when working for someone else. Most small business owners pay themselves less than they would be paid working for another company. Crazy, I know, but it’s true. You go into business for freedom and control and end up working longer hours and earning less. Sound familiar?

Many business owner-operators don’t take holidays. They start their business believing they will be in charge of their own holidays, but they find they don’t go on holiday at all. I met a woman who owned a chain of motels with her husband. They hadn’t been on holiday for five years. When I asked her why she got into the motel business in the first place, she told me it was for the lifestyle. Go figure!

If you pay yourself too little, work long hours, and don’t take decent holidays, you can feel resentful. Worse, you can fall sick and be unable to carry on. A high percentage of businesses fail (and by fail I mean they stop; the owner gives up) within five years of start-up. Disillusionment gets the better of them. They go into business to set themselves free and find themselves with a virtual chain around their ankle. Not surprisingly, they decide they don’t want to do it anymore.

But that’s not going to be you, is it? Most people who fail to achieve financial freedom through their business do not have the right mindset. By the time you have finished this section of The Liber8 Factor, you will know how to develop this mindset and increase your chances of success.

The story of Julie and Fliss

I was having coffee with an old friend one day. Julie is an amazing lady who had started her first business and built it over 20 years until it was bought by a huge multinational group. She became wealthy and continues to build her wealth through angel investing and mentoring start-up businesses. She has a wonderful life. We discussed how special it was to be able to spend quality time with our kids after school each day and how we enjoyed helping other people learn to build a quality life through business.

We got to talking about a woman we both knew. I’ll call her Fliss, for the purposes of this story. Fliss opened a business at the same time as Julie. She is a dress designer and opened up a little retail store in the town where she lived. Twenty years later she still had that small shop and she was still making the dresses. Fliss was no better off financially and she still had to keep designing and making the dresses to sell in her shop. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with that as a life choice and as far as I know, Fliss is content in her life. I don’t want to appear scornful of someone doing something they love. If you’ve got a talent for design and you’re happy with a small retail shop in a small town, there’s nothing wrong with that – as long as you are aware that this is where you are at. But what worries me with the owner-operator mindset is that Fliss, like so many other owner-operators, will wake up one day and won’t want to do it anymore. As much as she loves designing dresses, something will happen that changes her ability to live off its income, for health reasons or, more likely, because she’s lost the passion for it. The danger of not having a plan to sell is that she can end up with a business worth nothing to anyone else, meaning she’s stuck with it. What will she do for income when her desire or ability to make dresses is no longer there?

Let’s look at the situations of these two friends. Why did Julie go one route and Fliss go another? The key difference was the mindset. One knew she wanted a business she could sell and create a lifestyle where she never had to worry about money again. The other wanted to make pretty clothes. They both made their choice; probably without even realising they had done so. Fliss chose to employ herself in a job she enjoyed. She did not choose to build a business.

We make choices every day. The most important choice is one you may not have given much thought to – until now. Are you choosing to build a business that will pay you back or are you choosing to work for a living? By reading this book and completing the exercises, you are making a choice to do something different. And that’s a great start!

For about The Freedom Mindset and an exercise on assessing and addressing your attitude to wealth and money, you’ll have to buy my book when it launches late July.  To pre-order a copy just email me at

From the desk of liber8yourbusiness.  Creating tools to set you free

Why bother with a company vision? If you’ve ever wondered why you need one or how to go about making one… read on!

My most inspirational role model ever!

My most inspirational role model ever!

Here’s an excerpt from The Liber8 Factor manuscript (book launching in 4 months time) about the importance of having a company vision.  Let me know what you think…

A vision is a common purpose, a reason for being.

For the most practical minded amongst us, a company vision may seem a woolly, ‘pie in sky’ kind of ideal that really has no bearing on today’s sales. And in some ways this is true. A company vision is something that exists way out in the future and will most likely never be realised. However, it plays a critical role in your business success. Let me explain how.

Firstly, a vision will inspire people. Your vision is not what you do, it’s the reason your business exists and how it makes a difference. Perhaps you’ll remember earlier on the book I talked about the two reasons for being in business. The first was to make money (and hopefully you are on board with this idea by now!). The second was to make a difference. A business that sets out to change something is a business with a purpose. And a business with a purpose is one that propels forward, gathers speed and brings people along for the ride… people who care about the same purpose and want to make that change too. The people that work for you, the clients you attract and ultimately the buyer who pays your asking price – they can all be inspired by the vision your business shows them.

Your desire to change something significant can form a powerful motivator. This change can be within your own industry, if you can see better ways of doing things that will transform the way your industry operates. It could be a difference made to your community, your city, your country or on a global scale.

Your vision gives you a clear point of difference to aim for

A well considered company vision can also stamp your mark on your industry in a way your competitors may not have thought of. My vision for Red Rocks was to ‘transform the way advertising agencies treated their clients’. I had spent my entire working life in an agency, most of this as a creative person. My experience told me that advertising agencies treated their clients almost with a level of distain. The client was a pain to be tolerated on the road to a creative award and quite literally a meal ticket, needed to cover the costs of excessive long lunches. The agency would take the client’s brief and disappear for several weeks while they worked on the big idea. As a copywriter I was mostly kept separate from the client and had to rely on the brief from the client service person (or ‘suit’ as the industry nicknamed such roles). There was, in my view, a big disconnect between the clients, who had all the industry knowledge, and the creative people who came up with the clever ideas. Surely we should all work together to get the best solution? I hated the arrogance that seemed to go with my own industry and the way clients were kept out in the cold. So when I started my own agency, it was with a vision to change this… and make a difference to the industry that would live beyond my own tenure as the agency owner. The vision had our clients’ best interests at heart and we made sure we used this to our advantage when pitching against our larger competitors. Did we point out the arrogance that bothered me? Of course we did, and positioned ourselves as the opposite. On many occasions it worked extremely well for us.

‘You’ll find what you love by observing what you hate’.

Robert Kiyosaki said the above words to me as we sat having dinner one night during his Business School for Entrepreneurs in Hawaii. I’ve never forgotten them, nor stopped admiring the work Robert and Kim do to this day to make their difference in the world. If you take a look at Robert’s web site you’ll see his vision right there on the home page: “Elevating the financial well-being of humanity”. It’s a vision that flows directly from his hatred of poverty and the terrible impact it has on people.

If you can find something that is frustrating you and other people out there, you can steer your vision towards fixing it. Our vision for our pet care company was ‘to make the world a happier place for pets’. This was clearly a global vision and one inspired not only by our love of pets but also by our hatred for any kind of animal cruelty. Although our core business was walking dogs and feeding cats, we saw our role in the world to be much bigger than this. We envisioned ‘an army of Pet Angels across the globe’, all committed to making a difference. Our vision enabled us to think and act on a much bigger scale than our core services. We became involved with raising funds for our local animal shelter, petitioning for more dog lighting in dog exercise areas, creating pet first aid and emergency training guides, teaching pet handling safety in schools. Everything we did was measured against our vision and enabled us to keep asking ‘will this help make the world a happier place for pets?’As a result of these activities we often found ourselves in the newspapers, or being asked to comment on important pet related issues. We had a voice bigger than our services, and we championed a cause that many people could get behind.

Think bigger than your own lifetime as owner

From a CEO point of view your role is to keep focus on the vision to drive the business forward. Ultimately your company vision is what unites your people around a common purpose that goes beyond the money. It’s about doing something you love and wanting to change the world. It’s most important role is to inspire.

My vision for my work with The Liber8 Factor and other liber8yourbusiness programmes is “to set all small business owners financially free”. Of course this vision will never be achieved in my lifetime, but by making this my ideal I am clear that everything produced under the Liber8 brand must increase the chance of this vision happening. There are millions upon millions of small business owners in the world, so whatever Liber8 does must be accessible to as many people as possible. This vision will inspire me and those I work with to keep thinking of more ways to bring the Liber8 message to business owners everywhere.

The Pet Angels vision ‘to make the world a happier place for pets’ was an ideal both my business partner and I loved and felt inspired by. We never intended that it be measureable or even achievable. How could we ever know if we really did make the world a happier place for pets?

This is the key difference between a company vision and your business goals. Your target and goals are there to be achieved within clearly defined timeframes. Your company vision, however, is there to inspire, not be measured. Most company visions are created to have a life beyond that of the original owner.

Another of my business super heroes, the late Anita Roddick, created a global empire around her anger about the way human beings treat the planet and other animals. I love this quote from her about her vision for her business:

“I just want The Body Shop to be the best, most breathlessly exciting company – and one that changes the way business is carried out. That is my vision.”

Anita wanted to change the way ‘business is carried out’ by demonstrating that business can have high ethics, values and a greater cause behind everything her company did. In her lifetime she may not have changed the ethics of every business on the planet, but she certainly demonstrated how a business can combine financial returns whilst championing a cause for good.

I hope from the above you get a sense of how important it is for you, as the business owner, to be a visionary and create an inspirational vision for your company.  For an exercise on how to do this, you’ll have to buy my book, The Liber8 Factor.  You can pre-order your copy now by emailing me

From the desk of liber8yourbusiness.  Creating tools to set you free.