I've been running businesses virtually all my life, and for over 25 years working from home. Here are some of the things I've been involved in, and the kind of lifestyle that they have enabled me to have.

(This is a transcript from part of a Workshop I presented recently - it will also give you an idea of the style of the event)

Right, so, now I’ll just quickly tell you about some of the enterprises I’ve been involved in. Before I moved back home and set up running my business from there, I was doing it in very much the way that everybody has as the concept of a business. You know, you have premises, you have staff, you have a whole lot of stuff - assets and equipment and stock, and the rest of it.

But, what I did next was; my son was born, and I expect most of you know he is here today, and I wanted to live at home, with him, and Gina. And, so this is where I moved my business to.

And, at that time, it was very difficult to get people to even take you seriously if you were running a business from home. I mean, now, it is kind of understood that lots of people do it, and it can be a real business. Now the ironic thing is; that I made, in my best years, astonishingly more working out of a little room in the corner of the house, than I ever had, you know, with those industrial units and those high street showrooms. And, and when we look at the quick overview of business, I think you’ll see why that might easily be the case. And, and, I can tell you some absolutely dramatic stories of people taking home based businesses to astonishing levels that you probably wouldn’t believe.

So, I’ll just say a little bit about the kind of lifestyle it’s enabled me to have. I mean, how many of you, somehow or another, managed to get on a mailing list where you keep getting all this junk mail from people promising you all these wonderful business opportunities?

So anyway, one of the things I was going to say is; a common theme when you get these business opportunities offers through the mail, is that they’re very quick to tell you, you know, that they’re millionaires and that they travel everywhere first class, and they spend half their life on the beach, and all this stuff, right? I don’t know how many people that it really works like that for. I mean, good luck to them if it’s true, I’m certainly not going to tell you that I’m a multimillionaire, and I travel everywhere first class, because I don’t. But, I will tell you about some of the aspects of the lifestyle that this has been able to give to me.

That is, time with my family…

That is, doing my sport, I’m a highboard diver - that’s me on a ten metre platform.

I’ve been competing in what they call, politely, Masters Competitions, which means people of more advanced age than you normally associate with this sport. In the realm of Masters Competitions I’ve been County Champion, Southern District Champion, British Champion and European Champion. And I’ve also been Hampshire Champion taking on even the teenagers. Not only that - this is, as far as I know, the first dive that was ever taken off that board. And that board wouldn’t have actually been there without my lobbying furiously, because Southhampton City Council had no notion that were going to build another diving pool when they demolished the old one. They had plans for purely a swimming pool; cheap, easy, no problem. And, and I lobbied the council, I went to council leisure committee meetings, I had meetings with the officials at the civic center, I lobbied the ASA, the sports council, the lottery commission, we got a ten million pound lottery grant, we built that pool, and now that’s where the Olympic training program happens.

I’m not saying that would have been impossible, if I’d had a nine to five job, it would’ve been pretty difficult. I also taught diving from beginners up to elite level, and that’s one of my divers who was a National Age Group Champion. I was one of the British National Squad coaches for two years.

When it came to rebuilding our house, I could take time out and actually do it. Whether that was a cost effective exercise or not, I don’t know, but it means I got a house that’s got a whole character that it would never have had if we hadn’t been hands on.

(laughter)

And, fortunately I survived. Now, I’m going to move on and talk a little bit about some of the business activities that I did since working from home. This is a stage lighting desk; it’s called the Avo Lights QM500. I was the the principle design consultant for the design and development for that desk. And, it was the first really successful computerized stage lighting desk, targeted at the rock and roll industry.

And, there are variations of it that were then developed for theater and opera and various other things. But, it was mainly for rock musicians and, in case you’re wondering which one’s me, because the years have gone by, I’m standing there in the middle. And, this was the very first one of those that we actually got all in one piece and fully functioning. It had to go to a trade show, and as usual, we didn’t quite get it finished in the time that it would have taken to freight it there, and so, the managing director and the marketing director of the company I was developing it for, had to put it in the back of a van and drive through the night to get it to the show. (giggles from audience) And they then sold that desk to the production company that was doing the 1984 Michael Jackson World Tour, and that desk went out on that tour. And, then duplicate models of that desk essentially did every major rock tour for about the next ten years. And here’s another point, needless to say, the guys who were manufacturing and marketing it, made a lot more money out of it than I did. So, that’s another point to know.

And this picture, this is at the Tamar bridge.

This is, you know, undoubtedly my single biggest, most successful project. I designed the toll system for that bridge. Obviously this is a very tiny part of it. That, that console connects into a microprocessor rack, which monitors which operator’s logged on, when they started and finished their shift, how many of each category of tolls they collected - that’s sent back to the main office. And, it’s all correlated onto a computer and reconciled with how much money and how many tickets they do and don’t have at the end of their shift.

Now one thing I want to, to say before, before anybody’s starting to think, “Well, actually, am I in the right seminar? I couldn’t do any of that stuff.” I just want you to relax, this is just, you know, giving you my background and letting you know that apart from anything else, my main business isn’t teaching other people how to run businesses.

Alright, and in fact I solved whatever real world problems, that were necessary to bring that project to completion sucessfully. Incidentally it’s run - since 1986 when it went in, so that’s twenty years - twenty-four hours a day, three hundred and sixty-five days a year, without any system level breakdown and without any loss of data. You know, so it can be done, whatever you hear about these computer projects; and it’s not even that difficult. That’s the astonishing thing, when you hear about these large scale balls-ups that cost millions.

(laughter)

Anyway, the point is, as I tell you little stories about what’s been involved in some of the things I’ve done, what I want you to be listening for is; how can you apply that to the business that you’re committed to creating for yourself?

And incidentally, if you wanted to go into the business of finding high tech solutions to practical challenges that people are facing out there; by the end of today you’ll know how to do it, even if you don’t know anything about computers or technology. Because, that’s the part of this distinction I’ve come to: between – “what is the essence of a business?” - and “what is the apparent essence but is actually peripheral?”

I said that I’d looked, long and hard, to try and get to the bottom of why my own success was so erratic. And, there’s a lot of dross in the information that’s offered on this topic. The reason I took on having this seminar today is because; about four months ago, I came to a seminar in this very center, in the room just across the hallway. And I just thought it was so unfair, so callous, that people were actually offering a seminar, and then they gave very little in the way of really useful information that was appropriate to the audience they had. And they then tried to sell them stuff for thousands and thousands of pounds at the end of the day. Which is just a totally cynical exercise. As I say the quality of what’s on offer is highly variable. But, the best of the education that’s available is just phenomenal.

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