Mark Fords Story – Part 4

Mark Fords Story – The Home Business Owner Lifestyle

In this article Mark Ford continues his story by delving deep into the lifestyle that he has created for himself through the flexibility of being a home business owner.

mark ford

Mark Ford

Hello, Mark Ford here and I can’t believe we are at day 4 of my story. By now you should be building a good picture in your mind of the person that I have become through what I have shared with you so far about my life, my family, my career and the home business ventures that I have entered into and been successful at.

Today is a little bit more relaxed because I want to paint a picture of just what kind of lifestyle that you could build for yourself if you were to take the leap of faith and become a home business owner. To do that I think the best place to start is with the lifestyle that I enjoy, after all it is my story that you are travelling through. However, you can paint your too!

Lets start by going back to 2006 as this is where it all began as a full-time home business owner.

As you know I left a highly successful legal career of 29 years because I felt unfulfilled and disillusioned with the whole corporate way of life that I had been involved in and millions of others are still experiencing, and that is just the United Kingdom. Coupled with the fact of long commutes into work, fighting the traffic no matter what form of transport you use, if you had a car at least you had the element of comfort and privacy but most of the time public transport can be less desirable, stuck in a capsule full of other individuals not looking forward to the day ahead and not in a healthy environment, people with sniffles, colds, the flu and god knows what other ailments.

Well when Poolefod Properties was born that was taken out of the equation for me as I converted one of the rooms in my house in Staffordshire to our office. I lived in a quaint village called Bradley and the peace was deafening, birds singing and fresh air, totally different to the sound of car horns and pollution that people must endure if they work in large towns and cities.

I have always been good at creating systems, especially in my legal career, and soon realised that now I worked from home I had to create a daily method of operation, a checklist so to speak so that I had a solid structure to work to so that all the tasks that I needed to complete each day were done on time. This is my first tip to creating a home business lifestyle, you need to have that structure in place. Also you need to form habits which will take some time to bed in but give them time, one of my habits was to go for a

Bradley Church, Stafford

Bradley Church, Stafford

walk around the village after breakfast, with a piece of fruit in hand I would spend around 15 – 20 mins filling my lungs with clean fresh air, saying good morning to people out walking their dogs and generally being grateful at mother nature as everyday come rain or shine is different, even after living there for many years you always spot new things that sometimes can be a source of inspiration for ideas to explore for your business.

I also set the hours that I would work to. It can be easy to slip into working 16-hour days and there are times when you may need to do this especially when you are starting out, but it is very important for your health that you create a work/life balance. Burning the candle at both ends isn’t a recipe for disaster but it certainly doesn’t help with your productivity.

Another thing to consider is your appearance. When you work from home you don’t have so much contact with other people and I have seen it over the years where people forget about their general appearance. You may have read articles where you can work in your pyjamas, well that is true, but I think it is a sloppy way to conduct your business. You should always make the effort, be clean and tidy, you don’t have to be suited and booted so to speak but at least take some pride in yourself.

What I am doing at the moment is just laying some ground rules for working at home because when you make that decision to become a home business owner it is how you set your stall out that will determine whether you are successful or not. Having a home business is not a hobby that you can play at, it is serious stuff and when you do it right you will then start to reap the rewards of what a home business can do for the quality of life.

Nice Money PublicationsWhen I started Nice Money Publications in 2011 it was in a totally different industry to property. This is digital marketing so there are no boundaries to hold you back. You are living in a virtual world where business and transactions can happen in a split second which is completely different to the property business because that was more localised and when set up is more about managing the business.

You may have heard of a term called the “laptop lifestyle” but do you really know what it means? In plain English you have a portable business at your finger tips so wherever you are in the world you can operate your business as long as you have an internet connection. It can be from a hotel room, a local coffee shop, your favourite beach or 35,000 feet in the air on a plane.

I will just back track a bit to say you can even use your computer if you are offline. There may be occasions where you can’t get online but then if this happens, due to the business I run, I can still create information products such as reports and e-books which can then be digitalised when I can get back online so in effect there are no restrictions.

A digital business like mine can be set up to run automatically. I have mentioned on a few occasions that I am good at creating systems and this is the key to online success. You must systemise your home business because when you do it creates the time freedom that I now enjoy today.

Here is the comparison to a traditional business and a digital business. Generally with a traditional business you must be at the point of contact with your customer for it to function, either in a shop or office where people come in or if you have service industry you would probably have to go to the customer. This means that there are only so many hours in a day you can trade. With a digital business which sells products and services online you are open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Yes, even on Christmas day you can make money but this all hinges on systems, when you have them in place and the marketing skill sets you can write your own paycheque and have the time to enjoy it.

mark ford on a pleasure boat in cyprus

Mark Ford On A Pleasure Boat In Cyprus

So my lifestyle now means I can be spontaneous. I have homes in the United Kingdom and Cyprus, so I can choose where I want to be at any point in the year. All I need is my laptop under my arm and take my business with me. It doesn’t stop there as I also travel the world within my role of being a top-level coach and mentor to other aspiring entrepreneurs, which as a side not I will talk more about tomorrow.

I travel to exotic locations to help run exclusive retreats for our members where we mastermind new ideas, network with each other and lay on practical activities to develop team work as well as go on fun excursions. So it is work but not in the general sense, more like a working holiday where I get to be with exciting and open-minded people who are creating their own digital lifestyle of freedom and choice. This is a great passion of mine in respect to helping other people achieve their dreams and goals in life.

A home business lifestyle then allows me to follow my other passion in life which is the game of Cricket. Over the last few years I have travelled the world following the England Cricket Team on their world tours, I won’t go into too much detail of what I get up to on these tours here because I have set up my own website called MarksCricketTours.com which showcases much more what having a home business can do for the quality of your life. Make sure you check out the website because it also explains what makes it all possible.

marks cricket tours

MarksCricketTours.com

A home business makes two things possible. The first is choice to do what you want and the second is freedom to do it when you want. Also you can control your earning potential, if you need more money to maintain the lifestyle you create then you just need to set up another system to generate another income stream.

I hope that today I have given you an insight to my life and how I lead it. Your ideal lifestyle will be different, but you can absolutely achieve it through having a home business and there are plenty of opportunities available to you, one of which I will introduce you to tomorrow so make sure you come back then.

5 Smart Ways to Stay Afloat During a Freelance Writing Slump

Grab a coffee with your favorite freelancer writer, and before your latte’s gone, chances are she’ll have mentioned her roller coaster income — whether to humblebrag on a particularly lucrative month or lament a particularly paltry one.

Because, as someone who’s been doing it full time for almost two and a half years now, let me tell you: when it’s good, freelance income is really good…and when it’s bad, it’s nonexistent.

Of course, this same bipolar income scheme applies to lots of folks besides freelance writers, from those who work in the travel-season-dependent hospitality industry to independent contractors in other industries.

But all these folks do share something in common: the need to figure out how to hoard some of those acorns in the times of plenty to withstand the inevitable slumps.

Although I can’t speak for bartenders or landscapers, I can offer some of the lessons I’ve learned over my two years of supporting myself as a full-time freelance writer. Here’s how to get ahead of the lean times so you can fully enjoy the fruitful ones.

1. Don’t spend everything you’ve got

Although it’s easy to siphon off every single dollar as soon as you’ve got it, that strategy will leave you with nothing when the bad months come. (That is, nothing but a weeks-long stress headache.)

Make putting money into your savings account one of the top items on your monthly budget, not something you do with whatever’s left over as an afterthought.

We’ve all got bills to pay, of course, and sometimes it’s a struggle just to make ends meet. But as a freelancer with a variable income, when you do have any kind of disposable income, it’s imperative you pay yourself first. Savings should come before things like restaurant meals, bar outings, or even Netflix and fitness classes.

Yes, it’s important to live your life — but as a freelancer with up-and-down income, it’s even more important to ensure you can do that whole eating thing first.

2. Prioritize creating an emergency fund

Which leads me to my second suggestion — which I offer with the caveat that, although I have about four years’ experience writing in the personal finance space, I am not a financial professional.

There’s a longstanding chicken-or-egg-type question in personal finance regarding which should take precedence: paying down debt or creating an emergency fund.

While having a cushion is critical, interest acts as an anchor, keeping you from meeting your savings goals…which is why different financial experts sometimes disagree on which objective should be your priority.

But as a freelancer, I recommend prioritizing the emergency fund, even if you’ve got sky-high student loans or even high-interest revolving credit card debt. It’s not ideal to spend more money in interest than you have to, of course…but again, if you have a low-income month, you’ll probably be happier to have money to buy groceries than a $0 balance on your Visa.

3. Find easy ways to save

Given that the first two items on this list are basically the same, fairly obvious, injunction (“save money!”), you may be wondering how, exactly, you’re going to meet those savings goals on a freelancer’s up-and-down salary. After all, you’ve got to keep a roof over your head, and electricity and running water are pretty great, too.

Fortunately, there are some fairly painless ways to save up a significant nest egg without feeling like you’re living in a convent.

Take, for instance, you grocery bill. The USDA calculates average grocery costs on a monthly basis, and taking one look at that wide range is super revealing. In February of 2019, a single female in the 19-to-50 age bracket might spend as little as $165.90 or as much as $329.80 per month on home dining. That high number is almost double the low one!

That’s a ton of wiggle room — and you don’t have to subsist solely on Cup-o-Noodles to be closer to the bottom of the spectrum. Shop sales, clip coupons, use rebate apps like Ibotta, and strategize your go-to store by figuring out which one carries your staples the cheapest. (You can spend an afternoon figuring that out using a price worksheet like this one.)

You can also look into automatic savings apps, like Digit, which stow away tiny increments of cash into a separate, invisible account, helping you save without even realizing it. Usually, these apps do charge a small fee for their services, but $3 a month is a worthy investment if you struggle to save unaided.  

4. Don’t forget about Uncle Sam

As an independent contractor, you’re responsible for paying your own taxes. (Hey, it can’t all be sleeping late and wearing yoga pants all day.)

And although you do get to make lots of nice business deductions, if you’re not careful about saving up a separate stash for Uncle Sam, you could be facing a total meltdown come April.

Along with state and federal income tax, you’re also subject to a 15.3% self-employment tax — the freelance equivalent of the Medicare and social security contributions usually split between you and your employer. And depending on where you live, you might be subject to even more surprises…like I was when I learned about gross receipts taxes only after relocating to New Mexico. (Sigh.)

If you’re already just barely keeping afloat, facing down a four-figure bill from the IRS is going to be even less fun than it sounds like. So be sure to set aside about 30-35% of your income into a separate account as you earn it. Yes, that’s on top of the savings we mentioned above. Sorry!

5. Keep abreast of new opportunities, even when you’re swimming in work

It’s a lovely feeling to have a full slate of work for the month, to know that you’ve got enough coming in to cover your bills and maybe even some fun extras.

But short of a contractual freelance position (and sometimes even then), nothing is guaranteed.

So it’s important to keep looking for opportunities, even when you don’t actually need them.

Along with helping you find replacement gigs if one of yours goes south, searching for new opportunities can be a great way to increase your freelance income. You might trade that eight-cents-per-word client for one who pays 15 — or even find a remote staff position, if you’re into that kind of commitment.

Not sure where to look? Don’t worry, we’ve got that part covered. That way, you can focus on the important stuff: your hustle. (Along with the sources covered in that post, we also highly recommend Sonia Weiser’s Opportunities of the Week newsletter. She basically spends hours raking Twitter for all the best pitch calls so you don’t have to, which is totally worth the $3 per month she’s asking.)

Now what are you waiting for? Get writing — and saving!

Photo via Andranik Hakobyan / Shutterstock 

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