It was a leap in the dark at the time, but boy was it worth it.
It all started...
…when I saw an advert for a book called “The Lazy Man’s Way To Riches”
After I read that book I didn’t actually do anything at the time but my eyes had been opened and the entrepreneurial spirit in me had been well and truly ignited.
From that moment on I was constantly thinking of possible products and businesses I could start. I couldn’t settle for a mundane 9-5 existence, for me there was much more in store.
Although I was far from lazy, I liked the reference to “Lazy” – giving the impression it wasn’t going to be difficult; and I liked the sound of “Riches” – I could certainly do with some more money at the time!
Like so many other people though, I guess I was just dreaming of what “might be” and I didn’t take any action.
For me it was never really about the money. I thought it was, but I was wrong.
Like most people I got caught up on the “work hard, earn more to spend on more glitzy rubbish I don’t really need treadmill” of modern life.
And then something comes along that totally changes your outlook on life. I don’t know you well enough to tell you about all of that yet, but if it ever happens to you you’ll know exactly what I mean.
When it happened to me, I immediately realised it’s all about lifestyle and absolutely nothing to do with “things”.
Of course, money is important. You can’t get by without it and most of us hanker after the usual comfortable house, flash car, phone, camera, computer, holidays etc.
I’m no different – I still have those targets but without the lifestyle none of it matters!
Hi, I’m Mark Wilson and I’m sure I’m not much different to you!
Maybe we’ve taken a few different choices in life so far but I know you won’t be reading this unless you have that same spark of desire inside.
That belief that it is possible to control your own destiny.
That belief that you don’t have to just “settle” for anything.
That belief that you can break free from those limiting beliefs imposed on us by our education and the expectations of society.
If that’s you, we have much in common…
When I think back now to those days I shake my head in disbelieve! I’d leave home before sunrise, stand on a crowded train (having paid a fortune for the displeasure) to reach an office to work in until late only to return home, eat and do it all again the next day.
That’s not living – that’s an existence!
At the time I read that book, I worked for a bank and several years later it all came to a head when I was given another batch of new school-leavers to train. I hadn’t interviewed them. I wasn’t involved in the recruitment process. I had no say in who was taken on nor was I given any power to fire any of them who didn’t perform.
Oh no, but it was me who had to carry the can when things they did went wrong and customers complained.
And went wrong they did, because most of them were paid next to nothing and had less than zero interest in the job they did – they were just living for the weekend.
All this was extremely difficult for me as I have an absolute passion for good service and making sure customer expectations are exceeded. We were falling far short of the mark and yet nobody else seemed to care. The bank was only interested in “pushing” more products and keeping costs to a minimum. Sound familiar?
I tried to stay positive but with so little control and being held responsible for everything that went wrong it was hard, especially since I knew we should be doing so much better.
Maybe you find yourself in a similar position today.
Enough was enough. My life was being wasted away with frustration. That was no way to live – I had to change.
Incidentally, I know many other people feel the same way as I did, just look at this Facebook post from Humans of New York and the number of Likes, Shares & Comments it received:
I’d like to say the next step was part of the master plan, but to be honest I just needed to change and it was simply what I chose to do next.
SIDENOTE: I do, in fact, believe that everything we do happens for a reason, so in a way, what I did next taught me many things that I needed to know before I was ready for my next step – even though I didn’t know this at the time.
It was an area I already knew quite well – financial planning – and an opportunity arose to promote an new start up subsidiary of American Express.
It was a real eye-opener.
For the first time in my adult life I had control over my own destiny and time. It was a brilliant move for me. I was winning monthly competitions and going on all expenses paid “sales conventions” all over the world. I had a great time but there was still something not quite right. I had sales managers and the weekly “tick box” exercises drove me nuts. I saw the amount of income they were receiving compared to mine and yet they were not bringing anything in to the company at all.
I woke up one day and realised that I (along with a few other of my more successful colleagues) were in fact funding the whole company!
My eyes were opened wider still. So that’s how business works!
I decided right then that this job wasn’t for the long term – the only way to benefit 100% myself for my efforts was to go it alone.
3 years on and I knew I had to move again.
I thought about different ideas and possibilities for products I could base a business around but as I needed the income felt I had no option than to do what I knew. So for the next 20 years or so I ran my own financial planning business, working from home for most of that time. I met and helped hundreds of individuals and small businesses, explaining complex issues and ensuring they understood what was right for their circumstances. My whole business was focused on my clients and providing a service so exceptional they would never dream of going elsewhere and would willingly introduce their friends and colleagues to me. I still believe passionately that any business that provides superior service will be massively successful.
During that time however, I still hankered after “The Big One” and became involved in a number of other business ventures with varying degrees of success.
The birth of the internet made matters worse for me. I saw all kinds of opportunities but because I had a young family by then I found it difficult to justify giving up what had became a very successful consultancy business. But I was smitten and knew this “new” platform was the way forward for me!
In what spare time I did have, I researched what was going on online – how people were making money; how to build a website; what auto responders were; how they were being used etc etc. I became a kind of sponge, lapping it all up but not ever doing very much with it. For sure, I was making some money online and that was a great thrill to do something once and see money coming into my bank account every month but I still didn’t have the time to devote myself to it full time.
Or, to be honest, I suppose I didn’t have the bottle to just go for it.
It must have been about 2006/07 when, by chance, I got involved with a guy named Randy who I had met in an online forum he ran. He was setting up a new website and asked me to join him. “Blogging Beginners” was launched where we taught people how to use WordPress to build an online business and provided on going video training and support.
Randy was great at SEO and the technical side of websites and by then I’d become a bit of an expert at using WordPress. With my background of explaining things “simply” we made a great team.
At last I had an online business that was really going somewhere.
We had a year or two of rapid growth and everything was going really well BUT, I had made a massive mistake.
It was easily done and could happen to anyone but I really should have known better and done something about it before it was too late…
Randy was based on the Virgin Isles and unfortunately became very ill. He wasn’t able to spend much time online and eventually he was unable to even respond to emails or any other form of communication. And that is when my mistake became evident…
You see, I had trusted Randy explicitly and hadn’t given a second thought to some of the “What Ifs” I really should have thought about. The kind of things any sensible business person would think about…
I muddled on for a while but then one day everything just disappeared. The site – gone. No access to anything other than a few of our customers I had made direct contact with.
No contact from Randy since – I looked everywhere and asked as many people who might know but no matter how hard I tried I couldn’t find him. I can only assume the worst happened.
I never felt sorry for myself – these things happen – I just regret not being able to talk to Randy more about his situation – he was a real gent.
So I was back to square one with my main online venture and all that coincided with some dramatic changes in my personal life between 2008 & 2012. My business suffered massively as a result and led me to making a really difficult decision to cease “advising” at the end of 2012.
It was another of those “Leap In The Dark” moments.
But this time I knew I had to ensure everything I did going forward fitted totally with what I really wanted.
No more compromise.
I was sick of all of the rules, regulations and compliance that was strangling my business and draining my energy dealing with “stuff” that I knew nobody was going to read.
I wanted to play more golf when the sun shined and work when it suited me.
Due to my situation I had many things to take care of during the day but time free later in the day and evening.
So I designed a new working life around “me”.
And within just a few months I had total freedom.
Freedom from bureaucracy and time commitments that meant I was free to do what I chose when I chose.
And that is the ultimate.
I decided to use all of the experience I had gained working online over the past 10 years or so to focus on helping entrepreneurs and small business owners start or improve their business.
Was everything I had done up to that point leading me here? It certainly felt like it.
I’d seen success and failure along the way and I’d learnt some hard lessons personally. But more importantly I had run small businesses from home for around 15 years. I knew what it takes – what worked and what didn’t. I’d seen all of the challenges and difficulties people face in the early stages of running a business.
But more importantly, I’d learnt about the things that most people starting out (certainly if there’s an emphasis on working online) find so difficult – the technical side of getting a website live, creating opt-in forms and auto responders and where to turn to for help and honest guidance.
Sure, the missing pieces to the puzzle are all online somewhere but they’re hidden amongst the total junk and glitzy over-priced hyped up product launches.
It was time for me to make life easier for people starting out without it costing them a fortune.
My technical knowledge was now extensive and everything I wanted to do dovetailed into place with my previous experience of working with small businesses.
Because of my personal circumstances I needed to continue working from home and be totally flexible with the hours that I worked. I had been self-employed for around 25 years and that had given me the freedom to work when I chose and to take time off when it suited me.
I couldn’t possibly change that.
And that is probably the biggest life lesson I learnt along the way…
“Never compromise on the lifestyle you know is right for you.”
So in 2012 I found myself at another crossroads.
The road I took led me here and to start Brilliant Little Business.
And that is exactly how I see my business and I’d love you to see yours in the same way.
If you’ve read this far, something about my story must resonate with you and you have to conclude that there’s a reason for that!
If you are starting out and need some honest, personal help from someone who has seen it all and probably knows exactly how you feel, we need to speak!
If you think we’re on the same wavelength and need help with your website, technology and generally being online get in touch – I’d love to talk with you about your business.
Whatever you decide I wish you every success and thank you for taking the time to read my story.