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Showing posts from 2015

Successful Entrepreneurs Don't Aim to Make Money

Of course all entrepreneurs want to make lots of money. Who doesn't? But the difference between entrepreneurs who do make money and those who don't, is that successful ones don't focus on making money. They focus on building their businesses. And that relies on having an attitude of pouring any money their businesses do make, back into them, rather than rubbing their hands and taking it out as soon as they can. True entrepreneurs are gamblers and thrifty by nature. Given the choice of a holiday of a lifetime versus the chance to create a great business, they'll always choose the business - and take it for granted that if the business does eventually make surplus money, they can have that holiday - although entrepreneurs can become so hooked, holidays become a guilty wrench away from the businesses they need to protect. I didn't have a single days holiday, or off sick, for 10 years after I started my first business. I probably could have afforded it (in fact my wif

Brexit is a very bad idea

There's not long to go before the British people will be asked whether they want to leave the European Community (EC) or not. I predict most will say leave. We're proud to be British and nobody likes interference from abroad. We are also a net financial contributor to the EC, so voters are being told we'll immediately be better off if we leave. But we won't be. In fact it will quickly cost us very dearly indeed. There are plenty of arguments for and against leaving, but for me the biggest issue will be the probable loss of export trade. The argument for Brexit is that we're a big market so why will the rest of Europe want to put up export barriers to sell their stuff to the UK? Why will they want to cut off their nezs to spite their visages? The answer unfortunately is that while 50% of our exports are to the EC, only 10% of theirs are to us. In other words, we need them more than they need us. But the biggest threat will be from revenge. There are two types o

How to Value a Start-up

How do you value a start-up business, especially when it's seeking investment? Well-established companies can be valued in a number of ways, but traditionally you would multiply their latest reported annual earnings (sometimes called EBITDA or PBT) by a multiple known as a PE (Price/Earnings) Ratio. Google's is currently 32 and General Motors is 13. The multiple might be large if the company is in a growth sector like technology, or if the company has a solid history of growth that buyers of their stock believe will continue. The multiple might also reflect the size of the company which is an indicator of stability and probability for steady profit, and therefore dividends (something you should never expect from a start-up). There may also be speculation that the company might be an attractive acquisition, which might temporarily push the PE ratio higher until the rumour is either dismissed or proved. On the other hand, if a company has a history of falling profits, then its mu

We're Already Infected. Resistance is Futile

I started my career in the online, or digital world as it likes to be called today, in the mid 1980s. In those days we used incredibly slow modems to connect crude computers via phone lines at a whopping 240 bits a second. There are 8 bits in a byte, so that's just 30 bytes per second. You would watch the magic of characters slowly scroll across the screen as they were revealed one by one. Pictures wouldn't be transmitted for another decade or so and video took another twenty years to become widely available. Only a few people knew how to connect to it or what to do with it once they were. The forerunner to the internet was little more than email and a bit of data between banks. Very few of us guessed what was about to happen. 30 years later we think little of instantly accessing YouTube on our 4G mobiles. And with 5G just around the corner there will be nothing stopping full instant on-demand whatever zapping into our mobiles, watches or glasses. We've all very suddenl

Why England Lost the Rugby World Cup

Actually it was worse than that. We were the first host nation ever to be thrown out at the pool stage. We didn't even get as far as the quarter finals and the knock-out stages. To be fair, Japan are hosting the event in four years time, so we're not likely to be the last either (unless they can build on their amazing performance in beating South Africa this year). So why did one of the strongest rugby teams in the world (we beat South Africa, Australia and New Zealand within the past couple of years as well as all of the European nations) lose those vital pool matches against Wales and Australia? Wales at least were vulnerable having lost several of their star players to injury. Admittedly Australia were always going to be hard to beat, but even Scotland managed to come within a point of beating them in the QFs. Firstly all credit to the Taffs and Aussies. They threw everything at us and played dogged defensive games. There was a great deal of criticism of Stuart Lancaster

Muttley's Lament

This won't mean much if you don't know me, but some of my friends (?) call me Muttley.... because apparently I have a tendency to grumble a bit. This ditty was penned to thank them all on my 60th birthday which we recently celebrated together at a chateau in the Loire . So what's he got to moan about? Of what is he afraid? His wife, his cash, his health, his looks, the fuckers got it made. Why does he whine, what is his gripe when tantrums he doth throw? Pin back you ears, listen carefully to this tale of Muttley woe. He's driving down a country road, not Littleton it's plain, When around a bend his brakes lock up. Those lycra twats again! They're slow and wobble side by side. They really should be shown The roads are meant for cars you sods - fuck off and find your own. His kids are great but drive him mad, his wife is not impressed He's ignored at best or shouted at when opinion is expressed. The kids come first, no matter what, it's re

UK Immigration Crisis Sorted!

I've got the answer to the UK's dilemma of needing to provide sanctuary for a sensible number of refugees without opening the floodgates:- Prioritise atheists who can prove their indifference to deities by drawing cartoons, eating bacon sandwiches or simply stating 'there is no god'. Sod respect for antiquated tribal beliefs. Beliefs in fantasies are what lie at the heart of the tragic mess these poor people find themselves in. Providing refuge from the hells they are trying to leave means not letting them bring with them the potential for turning their new home into the same hell they left behind. Why let them in if they don't renounce the key factor that created divisions in their own societies. And as far as making our borders safer from terrorist infiltration is concerned, can you see a budding jihadist willingly risking the wrath of his deity when confronted with a test of faith? Keeping your fingers crossed when you told a lie used to be a get-out for school

Investing your Pension in Start-ups. How to Beat the Odds.

I was invited to contribute to a magazine article offering advice about using your pension to invest in business start-ups. My immediate reaction was: 'Don't do it. It's far too risky for something as important as a pension'. Not only does the business have to survive - and a high proportion simply don't - it also has to become saleable and then achieve that exit by being acceptable to the majority of the shareholders - otherwise your equity is only ever going to achieve modest dividends and then only at the directors' discretion. So you might get nothing - ever. Angel investing is not an easy way to make money. And presuming you're considering using some of your pension because you've retired, you've now fewer earnings options than you used to have to feather that retirement nest. Pensions are about being sensible with what you and your dependents will need to rely on for the rest of your lives. They are the last things you should punt on finding

"You cannot help the poor by destroying the rich" - Tory soundbite? No. Abraham Lincoln.

From the man who ultimately gave his life by standing up for fairness and equality. It's brilliant and it's why I voted Conservative. Not to prevent a mansion tax or to preserve some sort of privileged society for the 'haves', but to help others help themselves.

Is Iran our New Chum?

We all know that Islamic revolutionaries are dangerous people. Clearly there's plenty of evidence to support this. [As an aside, I rather enjoyed "What do you call an Islamic revolution in Texas? A Yihad!"]. But now we're completely confused in the West as to which particular sect of Islam we're meant to fear most. Well we all hate Isis. We can all agree on that. But they're Sunnis. And Sunnis are funded by Saudis, with whom we are chums (but only while they sell us oil and buy our weapons or London property). And we mistrust the Shia who are funded by Iran and who attacked Iraq before we 'rescued it from Saddam' and where we're now relying on the Iraqi army, ironically now unofficially supported by Iran, to prevent Baghdad from falling into the hands of Isis. Meanwhile Syria, governed(ish) by an Alawite president, is fighting both Sunnis and Shias but probably favouring Iran for help rather than the West's chum, Saudi - who are helping Syrian

To kill or not to kill.

Had an interesting discussion with a Muslim friend today about the ethics of killing. Could it ever be morally justifiable? Abrahamic scriptures, especially the old testament, are awash with murders and killings, some sanctioned by the prophets and assorted mouthpieces for god. Some killing is even mandatory. For example all Jews are instructed in the old Testament to kill everyone belonging to the 7 Canaanite tribes for example - Deut 20:17 , or to slaughter Amaleks, especially their children - Deut 25:19 . So accepting for a moment that these draconian instructions were written in times when tribal leaders had fewer options available to them with respect to managing miscreants and maintaining some sort of law and order, I suspect that most people today would agree that killing people is a bad thing and should not be condoned except under extraordinary circumstances. My friend and I then proceeded to try to list those circumstances. We started with self-defence or perhaps protecti

What's behind the trend to remove vwls?

What's with the current trnd to msspll wrds by tkng vwls away to create business and product names like Flikr and Tumblr? There's a crowd funding website I'm being encouraged to use, annoyingly called Crowdbnk. I can understand making up words. Google is a good example. Story goes that Larry and Sergei thought they'd registered a word that means a large number (10 to the power of 100). But that's a Googol. So why this trend for removing vowels? Creating names makes them memorable, easier to find internet domains for and to register as company names and trademarks. I long ago discovered using numerals to create business names like marketing4motorsport, 2nd Byte, 10ACT (pronounced tenacity!), R9 (when spelled out as rnine looks like the word mine - and therefore cost me less to buy the URL), and my latest business calls2account. But deliberately misspelling a word by leaving out vowels annoys me. It looks like a mistake. I love atention to detail. ;-) Removing l

Split the Euro?

It would seem Euroland can be divided into two regions. Those with relatively weak economies and lax tax regimes who need the Euro to be strong so they can afford to buy imports and keep borrowing, and those with strong economies who need the Euro to be weak so they can export more. Unfortunately the stronger the economy, the stronger the currency. So Greece, Spain, Portugal, Italy and eastern European countries are all suffering because the Euro has been been strengthened by the relative economic successes of Germany, France, Holland and others. These countries are relying on the failing economies to keep the Euro weak to help them export. Clearly this arrangement isn't working for Greece who can see Germany in particular is benefiting, and it isn't working for the UK, the US and others outside the Euro who are competing unfairly with Germany who quote for products and services in devalued Euros. Why don't they split the Euro into North and South? A N-euro would enable

HSBCgate and the Myth about Swiss Banks

So thousands of British people have bank accounts in Switzerland - including a few wealthy Labour donors it would seem. Now Miliband is implying that these people are "dodgy" tax avoiders or worse. There was a time when people who held money and other valuables in overseas bank accounts and vaults probably did it so HMRC and other law enforcement authorities would have difficulty finding out what was there, who controlled it, and how it got there. One might assume that if this was their only reason, then they probably did have something to hide. Fair enough to call them 'dodgy'. Of course 'dodgy' people still use overseas bank accounts to hide their money and to evade or avoid tax. But Switzerland is no longer a sensible place to conceal your wealth and identity. Criminals and tax avoiders today would probably choose other jurisdictions. So why do thousands of law-abiding, honest and probably largely charitable people still have Swiss bank accounts? Well

Jews are a race and have no choice. Muslims have a choice.

I've been stunned in the past weeks about the ubiquity of misunderstanding in the press and even amongst friends about what is a Jew and what is a Muslim (or a Christian come to that). It's very simple. Jews are a race, Muslims (and Christians) aren't. You can't choose to be a Jew (or not to be one). How many fewer might have been selected to be murdered in the Holocaust if the Nazis had excluded anyone who simply didn't want to be a Jew or were prepared to prove they didn't believe in Judaism. Islam, Christianity and Judaism are all religions which you are at liberty, assuming you haven't been permanently brainwashed by your parents, community and teachers, to follow or not as your conscience or fear of reprisal demands. This is why comparing antisemitism with islamophobia is like comparing apples with pears. Actually it's not even that close since they are patently both fruit. Jews can only be Jews if their mothers were Jews. Curiously Jewish fathers

Children deserve a future, not a past.

There are around 1,500,000,000 muslims, 1,000,000,000 christians, just 14,000,000 jews (it surprises most people how few) plus assorted other faiths on our planet. What they all have in common is an allegiance to outdated thinking and a nervousness about waking up and moving on. A tiny few are so nervous, they believe they are sanctioned by a mystical deity to kill people who suggest their books are out of date and should be considered historical curios rather than offering some sort of enlightenment. All sentient species develop faith. They need constructs to explain the world they experience and to establish safe, reliable strategies to deal with them. A chicken knows not to go into water because it can't swim and will therefore drown. It doesn't know why it can't swim, nor what drowning is. It just has faith that water is bad news. Likewise humans who live in far more complex environments and social groups have developed a vast range of constructs to ensure that they s