Reintroducing a classic blog trope…
This was a regular update I used to blog, through 2016 when I left Shirlaws business coaching to set up Real Estate Grow (what eventually became #RealReach). It was an opportunity for me to share progress towards the Personal Vision I had redesigned at the start of that year. The potential merger of my business with businessDEPOT in late 2016 put an end to that process – a lot of the specifics became very different, plus it was starting to share other people’s financials not just my own.
Having shifted my role from Director to Consultant at the end of 2018 though (specifically, I’m now Concierge & Coach), those excuses no longer apply. Part of my regular Christmas reading was a binge on Tynan’s blog, and it was this post as well as the ongoing contributions of the excellent Niall Doherty that motivated me to commence the monthly update blogging again.
Let me know your favourite note. (This is also where I’d link to last month’s and next month’s blogs, if they existed.)
I’ve been successfully business coaching since 2006, a wonderfully flexible career that has taken me around the world. For the first 10 years I was licensed (read: had my own business within) an international group of coaches called Shirlaws. When my business vision and theirs diverged, it was a great opportunity for me to do this Vision Board exercise.
The key aspects of what I’m creating, in conjunction with my beautiful wife, can be described as LIFI – Location Independence and Financial Independence.
Location Independence means being able to work from wherever in the world we choose (if that appeals to you, google ‘Digital Nomads’ to find plenty of people who are doing this). Financial Independence means being able to work by choice – our investments would be such that we could live off them forever, so no more punching the clock or taking on lousy clients.
Some of the key milestones in that 2016 Vision:
- $12,700 monthly income
- $20,000 monthly income that’s location independent
- World-wide relationships
- Friends along for the ride
- Love where we live every day
- Financial Independence
- Growing, if we choose, to bigger milestones like $45,000 per month portfolio income, $5 million + in assets, and ‘celebrity’-style fame in the business world thanks to my transparency and generosity.
So how’s that working out for us?
The hardest part of that 2016 vision to re-read is the short piece right at the bottom, where I acknowledge that having a family was a huge part of what I wanted to create and yet it was beginning to seem that that wasn’t going to happen for us. So I am incredibly excited right now to be preparing for our first child, nicknamed (by our specialist) baby ‘Flash’, due in early April. She was the creation of IVF Round #9, a five year journey that also saw several losses and two ectopic pregnancies that robbed us of any chance of a natural conception.
While most of my monthly musings are going to focus on finance and business, I’ll put the Family category at the top as a constant reminder that money is only ever a means to an end. Yes, LIFI is important to us, but we’ve now spent 6 years back in Australia and are out of pocket about $140,000 because children are even more important to us. It was entirely possible I’d be writing this update sharing how we’d given up, it was that close. But here we are!
This also means 2019 is the first year, probably ever, where I haven’t set myself higher revenue and income targets – instead, prioritising time and emotional availability at home.
The Location Independent (LI) plans stem from our love of travel. Like most people, we returned from our first big overseas holiday (our Italian Luna di Miele in 2008) inspired to find a way to keep the holiday going! By mid-2010 I’d managed to get my LI income to about $100,000 so we moved to London. Thanks to the global financial crisis, 3 days before we got on that plane the project work was suspended and we landed at Heathrow with nothing! (Read more about that here.) Our London life over roughly 2.5 years was fairly excellent, and in 2012 we visited 25 countries (while working!) before returning to Australia to start a family.
Since then we’ve managed an international holiday every year (New Zealand, California, Hawai’i, Scotland, Jordan, and my beautiful wife returned to Europe for 6 weeks when we thought ‘relaxing’ was the fertility trick we were missing) but my focus has been re-establishing a LI business so we can travel properly – without long haul flights and constricted timeframes.
Now, if you think a newborn is going to stop us, you’ve got another think coming. We’re going to be responsive parents of course – all things going to plan, 2019 will include our next big Europe trip with Flash (and hopefully a set of our parents also) coming along for the ride. We’ve been relieved to hear that travelling with a newborn is much easier than travelling with a toddler – one will sleep and not much else, while the other wants to run around the whole plane ride.
Income & Equity
OK, how’s that $12,700 target going?! I’m pleased that this figure now looks a little puny to me, even given this year is about stable income not lots of it.
For 2 of the past 4 years I’ve even managed to average (revenue) the $20,000 a month mark, though really that’s a net profit target not a topline goal.
This year’s household budget and my consulting business expenses mean I’m aiming for about $14,500. Cash flow is going to be a little tight initially – when I tested the businessDEPOT merger I legally became an employee (albeit a director) so ploughed my excess business cash into shares; moving back the other way, and wanting to keep those investments, I’ll be drawing on personal cash reserves for January and February to get business savings up above our monthly disbursement goal.
In January, thanks to a big one-off leave payout, the actual figure was $18,250. An auspicious start!
Equity-wise, I’ll also keep you updated on our FIRE (Financial Independence / Retire Early) goals. In a longer post I will set out how these targets were developed, but briefly:
- Our FIRE target is $1,794,197
- I don’t actually plan to ‘Retire Early’ – I enjoy running my own businesses too much, and suspect that enjoyment (and the opportunities I target) will increase when I no longer have an income target to feed the family
- As of the end of January, we are 42% of the way there
I spent some time earlier this month reviewing our financial planning in the light of having children. It will definitely add years to our working life – not so much because kids are expensive (they don’t have to be) but because we will make some different choices – the most obvious example being my beautiful wife taking 12 months maternity leave from her job, and me lowering my income targets to ensure I have the emotional and physical energy I want at home.
So it now looks like, unless one of my businesses takes off in a massively profitable way, the best case scenario sees us ‘retiring’ at 46. I’m OK with that!
On a side note, through my LIFI Vision you can see my fears about the respective FIRE and Digital Nomad communities. Lots of people pursuing FIRE as fast as possible, learning to live on less than $30,000 a year so they can quit working – I’d rather work more than spend 60+ years living a life that frugal. And don’t get me started on the Nomads with zero wealth or retirement planning, aspiring to move to Thailand and one day hope to earn $1,000/month. This is my stuff of course – everyone ought to live the life they want, so it’s not that mine is objectively better.
Activity: Clients / Marketing / Businesses
This section is an opportunity for me to share any significant wins in either my businesses, or my clients’.
Yes, that’s my businesses – plural (although, as you’ll see in Lessons below, I’ve had some big shifts in this space over the past year). If you don’t know me…
1) I’m an international business coach – still my primary business, my most valuable skill set, and the majority of my income. I have clients on 4 continents, all part of being LI of course!
2) I’m a keynote speaker and professional MC – an additional service that I’ve dabbled with over many years, and finally got serious about (thanks to Jacqueline Nagle at SpeakableYOU) in 2018. Yes, there’s a big difference between a coaching presentation and a keynote address, and the bigger the crowd the happier I am!
3) I’m the Editor-in-Chief at #RealReach, an online coaching and training platform dedicated specifically to real estate Principals and business owners. This is my youngest business, and the one with the greatest potential given the decades of industry experience my partners, expert team, and I can bring.
4) I’m also the Concierge and Coach at businessDEPOT, having stepped down as a Director to create time for other priorities (mostly baby and travel). This is an energetic and focused role that allows me to connect entrepreneurial spirits with exactly the right person from our Collective network who can help them #MakeItHappen.
I’m definitely forgetting some – if you haven’t read my article on Key Partnership Questions, take a gander and know that several of the anonymous examples there are actually about me and potential partners!
What am I most proud of right now? My weekly video series Blackboard Fridays – more than 100 episodes in, and completely free so you should subscribe right now. Off the back of those and my Concierge role, we’ve also just launched the #MakeItHappen Masterclass series for 2019 – the first event is February 14 focused on Lead Generation, and I’m co-hosting with my mate (and Director of businessDEPOT Marketing) Tys Cobb. Check it out here.
I won’t pontificate too much, so see this first edition as the exception.
The two greatest lessons I’ve had over the past year – and, as always, I must acknowledge my fab business coach for her support and wisdom – were my fear around ‘flying solo’ (in business) and recognising that I was hanging in the wrong room.
Despite having had my own business for more than a decade, and being quite the introvert, I do place value in having people around. I feel that helps my clients – they’re investing in more than me – and it absolutely helps me from being sucked into a vortext of my own thoughts or limiting beliefs. I worked as part of some great teams at Shirlaws, in Australia, in the UK, and on some global clients like HSBC. I believed that, even with plans to travel the world with my work and family, I needed a home base, a rock I could be tethered to, a platform, security, comfort blanket.
Plenty of business coaches, consultants in general, get caught in the trap of being a ‘one man band’ and thinking they need to play all the instruments themselves. I wanted to avoid that trap, but in doing so I fell into another. I lost faith in my ability to create things independent of a formal partnership – instead of a tether that allowed me to safely soar into orbit, I built myself a leash that tied me to my past limitations.
This connects with the second lesson about hanging in the wrong room. Towards the end of 2018, I realised I was increasingly operating in a fixed (rather than growth) mindset. I wasn’t working alongside peers in my coaching business, I didn’t need new clients so was working mostly with clients whose businesses I knew intimately, and frankly I had too many people blowing smoke up my arse about how brilliant I am.
If you’re the smartest person in the room, the others better be paying you. And that was how I was spending a lot of my days – in the past 3 years my average client size (their business and their investment in coaching) had halved. I was spending fewer days surrounded by people (clients, partners, friends) who had ten or a hundred million dollar visions and instead was hanging with people aspiring to earn $150,000 – $200,000. Now, that’s a fine income to target (see my Digital Nomad fears above). It’s just that I’ve been consistently in that for a few years now.
I do believe that, in many ways, you’re the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with. (As my father LINK taught me, “You are who you hang with”.) My comfort zone was bringing my average down. It was time to find a new room.
Have I found it yet? Not fully … but my energy has shifted enormously in the past month, and I’m once again excited to be learning and trying new things. I’m also flying without a safety net – but really, in a profession where few people survive, I’ve moved countries, changed brands, embraced a recession, and always earned enough for my family. Why do I doubt myself?
Let Jacob be Jacob, and hang with those cool worldwide relationships.
See you next month.