Category: Business Blog

Starting A New Business? Learn To Run It First

Starting-A-New-Business_-1-e1556038666744 Starting A New Business? Learn To Run It First

Starting A New Business?  

Learn To Run It First.

Many New Business Owners Fail Because They Are Not sufficiently Skilled At Running A New Business.

Written By Robert Viney @RobertViney
Want To Know One Of The Best Bit Of Business Advice For Starting A New Business, I Have Ever Been Given?
Business advice that shaped my 35 successful years as an entrepreneur and allowed me to go onto start and run seven successful businesses:


"Don't start your new business until you know how to run a business"


That was back in the early 1980's and it proved to be so very useful and so very right.  Without that, I would have started with poor knowledge, poor confidence and poor experience and I would surely have gone the way of many other business startups and have failed.
Most people, when starting a new business, start with a great passion for their business idea and their product.  They correspondingly put much effort into getting these right.
But importantly, they don't learn how to run a business properly before they start  -  and, there is MUCH to making this a success.
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What Things Should You Learn For Running Your Business?

Running a business can be very complex and the new business owner really needs to master many skills if he or she are to make a success of it, such as:
  • Selling products
  • Dealing with customers
  • Marketing and branding
  • Employing and managing staff
  • Creating a business plan and strategy
  • Controlling the money & creating a profit
  • Bookkeeping
  • Running an efficient back office
Let me explain these briefly as they would relate to you starting a new business:


Selling The Products

One big piece of advice I always give clients starting a new business is to 'test' their products or services on likely target customers.
One great benefit here is getting feedback on the products; too often, small businesses start with products that people do not wish to buy.
Whether your business idea is online or offline, this process is possible and it also gives you the opportunity to talk with likely customers.

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Dealing With Customers

Another good piece of advice, I offer to those starting a new business is to work in a retail shop or retail environment.  Such work will provide vital experience of dealing with customers, first hand and of selling to them.
Getting a paid job in a shop or even volunteering free to work in a charity shop can provide this, whether you are launching an offline or online business.
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Marketing and Branding

Marketing is essential for anyone starting a new business. But you really should learn how to do this well before you start.
The very least you need is a good website and good social media marketing.
A website is a must-have and I always advise clients to learn how to create their own rather than employing an expensive web designer to do it.  WordPress is the best option with cost effective hosting. There are loads of good tutorial videos on YouTube to show you how to do this well.
Social media marketing is also a must-have. It is free to use and easy to perfect. The best way is to watch what the best do in their businesses and to copy them.
Continual marketing before and after you start will create awareness for your business and will help you to create a strong brand.


Employing And Managing Staff

Hiring, employing and managing staff can be very tricky but if you can get some management experience before you start, it can really help.
I did this before I started and it was of massive benefit.
There are also many management training course available which can assist you, but, in my view, you cannot beat actual hands-on management of staff.

Creating A Business Plan And Strategy

If you are borrowing money when starting your new business, you will need to create a detailed business plan but if you are self funding the business, yourself, a short plan is only needed.
Importantly by creating a plan and strategy for your new business, the process should allow you to break your business down into parts.  This will allow you to work out how you will execute each part.
It will also allow you to create a good vision for where you are going, making you understand your business better and creating good focus on what is needed.


Controlling The Money And Creating A Profit

Knowing how your business numbers will work in your new business will allow you to control the money and will allow you, ultimately, to create a good profit.
Without a profit, you have no business and your business will fail.
Knowledge of how to optimise your sales volume and your gross profit margin is vital.  You will also need to learn to control your costs and the money leaving your business and how to maintain a healthy cash flow; always having plenty of liquid cash available to maintain the business is essential.

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Bookkeeping And Creating A Good Profit

Every business owner should learn bookkeeping skills before starting a new business.
Your money is crucial to your business success and without sufficient gross and net profit and a good cash flow, your new business will be doomed.
Many business startups don't bother here or they leave it to their accountant.  This really is a big mistake.  By doing your own bookkeeping, you can learn so much about your numbers and how to control them.
There are many good accounting software packages available, such as 'Quickbooks' plus good training to support these.

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Running An Efficient Back Office

Having a well organised back office, where everything has its place and you are on top of everything creates efficiency and reduces stress.
When starting a new business, it is easy to forget about this and often a messy back office can be the consequence with business owners not appreciating the relevance of an efficient back-office.


I Know You Will Be Impatient To Start

You are possibly thinking that you just want to get on with starting your new business and you are not prepared to spend the time and money learning to run it first.
Many have said this to me over the years.
But, almost without exception, these people have gone on to have a bad start and fail very quickly.
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It Is Worth The Delay And The Money

By starting my first new business FOUR YEARS late, it gave me a far bigger chance of success.
Importantly, when I did start, I was ready and the business had a great start - the business was making a profit within the first three months and a substantial profit after the first year. Subsequently, it went from strength to strength.
I never regretted the extra time and money.
You should aspire to do the same, if you wish to reduce the risk of failure.

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If You Are Not Prepared To Do The Same, Forget It!

If you are not prepared to do the same, then I strongly suggest you forget about starting a new business - otherwise, you will only increase the risk of failure.


In Summary

If you are starting a new business, please don't start too early.
Learn the right skills to run your business well and with confidence first.   Once your business starts, you will not have the time and energy.


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If you wish to talk more to me about this, please contact me below or email me:
Robert-Viney-e1524724492788 Starting A New Business? Learn To Run It First
 Starting A New Business? Learn To Run It First

Business Success: Have Control Of Your Business Numbers

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Business Success: Have Control Of Your Business Numbers.

Are You On Top Of Your Business Numbers And Finances?

If You Are Not, Better Control Could Give You Greater Sales And Profits.

Written by Robert Viney


If I was to ask you how much net profit you made last month or how much you paid out to your employees, could you tell me?
I really hope you could.
But when I talk to small business owners, on average, just THREE out of TEN can tell me, accurately.
Does this surprise me?


Failure Rate Is High

50% of small businesses fail and when you consider that failure occurs usually when a business runs out of money or cannot generate enough profit to pay its way, this poor lack of knowledge by business owners could be a big factor.
A great number of business owners say they wait until their accountant publishes their year-end 'profit and loss' accounts to see how much profit they have generated.
That does not work to control your numbers, though!
Say, for instance, your accounting year runs from April 2018 to March 2019, you might have your accounts published by June 2019.  By then, the accounts generated are very out of date.
Much would have happened in that time.
That is not much use for most businesses;  if a business has a problem in April 2018, for instance, the business owner needs to know about it quickly, so rapid action can be taken early on - not in June 2019!


Business Success: Control Of Your Business Numbers

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Much Of My Business Success Was Due To Control Of My Numbers

I attribute a big part of my business success down to my control of my numbers:
I analysed my sales, gross profit, expenditure, net profit and cash-flow every month and I memorised all of these, so that I knew all my business numbers without consulting my accounts.
But also, importantly, I knew how my numbers worked.

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Every Month I Would Go Through Them

Every month, this process would allow me to go through the records and numbers, making it possible for me to:
  • Control and grow my sales, month on month, allowing me to maximise my sales.
  • Optimise my gross profit, ensuring I made the best margin for my sales.
  • Control my expenditure, making sure money was not wasted and I got a good return for what was spent.
  • Optimise my net profit, ensuring I easily produced a double-digit percentage return on my net sales, i.e. greater than 10%.
  • Optimise my cash-flow, ensuring my businesses were rich in cash, giving me a financial cushion if sales dropped and giving me cash for reinvestment without the need to borrow.


Business Success: Control Of Your Business Numbers

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This Process Allowed Me To Flag up Problems

Importantly, though, this process allowed me to flag up any potential problems within a week or so, of each month finishing.  If, for instance, there was a slight drop in gross profit, I could immediately address the issue and restore things.
For a business with a £200,000 per annum sales, say, a 2% drop in gross profit is equivalent to £4,000 of annual sales.  If your annual net profit is expected to be £20,000, this £4,000 drop in margin will mean your net profit will only be £16,000, instead  -  a drop of 20%.
If you can spot this quickly, you may be able to save most of the £4,000 drop.

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I Would Project My Business Numbers

I also used my knowledge of my business numbers to project (up to 12 months ahead) future sales, gross profit, expenditure, net profit and cash-flow.
This process is really important, if you are to grow your business and if you are to avoid potential problems.


This Process Creates Good Discipline

Carrying out this process every month is good discipline.
If, however, your sales are low, say, below £50,000 per annum, you could probably relax the timeline to every three months. Any longer would be bad business practice.


Don't Think You Don't Have Time

Many business owners have told me that they don't have time to generate the numbers each month and don't have time to analyse them.
This response never impresses me and my usual answer is:
"You will have plenty of time when your business fails due to your lack of control"
Others say that they are not good with numbers.
Again, this never impresses me & my usual answer is:
"Really you should not be running a business.  It is very possible to learn basic book-keeping skills and learn how to analyse the numbers"
These are very poor excuses.


Business Success: Control Of Your Business Numbers

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Good Software Packages Exist

Some very good accounting software packages exist that can make the job very easy for you. You or someone else just needs to input your numbers and then let the software generate a simple trading report for each month from it.
Then, you should spend a couple of hours looking through the numbers and analysing them.
Surely everyone can do this and surely everyone must agree this would be time spent well, especially if it allows the running of a better business with a greater profit.
Furthermore, many accountants would prefer to receive your yearly accounts from your software package, saving them time and saving you on their fees.
I cannot really understand why more businesses don't do this!

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Please Acquire This Process Now!

If you don't already do this, please acquire this process now - generate regular monthly numbers and analyse them.
Create more control of your business numbers and give your business profits a boost!
If you wish to talk further with me on this matter, please email me: or contact me below.

Contact-Robert Business Success: Have Control Of Your Business Numbers


Robert-Viney-e1524724492788 Business Success: Have Control Of Your Business Numbers

Business Success: Know Your Competition

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Business Success: Know Your Competitors.

A Comprehensive Understanding Of Your Competitors Will Enable You To Run Your Business Better And To Boost Your Business Sales And Profits.

Written By Robert Viney
My first business was a public house called The White Hart Inn in a nice Somerset village called Trudoxhill near Frome in the U.K..  The business was very run down with just a few 'locals' supporting it, when we took it over.
But the pub was originally a 17th coaching inn with loads of character and loads of potential.
This was 1984 and back then pubs were not permitted to trade all day, as is the case now, but just lunchtimes & evenings.  Our first lunchtime, we took a worryingly low £14 but a year later, we had built the annual trade to exceed £500,000 and the pub went on to become the market leader in the locality.
This success was very much down to much hard work but was also the result of doing things in a smart way and there was one smart way, in particular, that gave us a great boost very early on in the business:


Know & Understand Your Competitors

That smart way was KNOWING & UNDERSTANDING OUR COMPETITORS and this process was crucial.
It gave us so much:
  • We knew everything about our competitors
  • We understood the trading market for The White Hart
  • We understood the customers that we needed to attract
  • We understood what products they would buy
  • We understood what prices they would pay
  • We understood what customer service we should provide
  • We understood what customer experience the customers wanted from us

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We Researched Exhaustively

For three months before we took over the White Hart, we researched our competitors exhaustively. We studied every pub in our trading locality in great detail.
We eat and drank in each one and we sat and watched how the businesses were run and we watched the customers in each.
By the time, we took over The White Hart, we had devised food and drink menus offering great products similar to those we saw people buying in the other pubs locally and we priced everything competitively.
We knew that to create a good profitable business at The White Hart, we had to take a very large number of the customers who bought from our competitors and this process ensured we did this and quickly, too.


We Added Something

But we added something extra.
As part of the process, we identified the strong points of our main competitors and we copied these and incorporated these into our own business model.  But, just as important, we identified areas where our competitors were weak and we focused heavily on making these areas strong in our business model.
There were SIX main areas that all our competitors were weak in.  They offered:
  • poor customer service
  • small meal portion sizes
  • poor quality
  • poor value for money
  • poor choice
  • poor customer contact
Poor customer service was common to all our competitors, so we set out to offer EXCELLENT customer service to everyone.  Many of our competitors offered a limited choice of meals and these meals were often small, of poor quality and provided poor value for money.  In response, we offered a large menu with choices for all tastes. The meal portions were large of high quality and were great value for money.  And, we and our staff set out to talk to everyone who entered The White Hart and we made a point of getting to know everyone.
Despite the shortcomings of our competitors, several of the pubs were busy and were well supported by the local trade, which indicated to us that the local market was big enough and robust enough to create a viable and profitable business at The White Hart.


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This Process Gave Us Confidence

This process and our intensive research gave us the confidence and knowledge to build the business and to turn it into a success.
This process worked really well. The competition did not know what had hit them.   We took most of their customers and, literally, every day the pub was full to overflowing.
Importantly every customer, we served, went away excited by what they had received from us and that fuelled a rampant 'word of mouth' - we were the local HOT topic of conversation!
The only marketing that we did was one £30 advert in the local newspaper informing everyone that we had arrived. That cheap advert and the rampant 'word of mouth' created £500,000 of annual revenue in a year, in a time when there was no social media or internet to spread the word.
Failure rates for new and existing businesses is alarmingly high;  but I am convinced that if more businesses were to carry out this process in the same intensive way as we did, they would enjoy more success and the failure rate would come down.


This Process Is For All Businesses

This process is not just for a new business but for existing businesses, too - I recommend every business should carry out this process every 3 years.
Because trading conditions change, customers change, product demands change and competitors will enter and leave your trading market.
And, the reason you should do this?


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You Will Learn So Much

You won't just learn about your competitors, you will learn much about your trading market and much about trading and running your business for a good profit.
In short, you will learn:
  • who your competitors are?
  • how your competitors trade?
  • what products your competitors sell?
  • The prices their products sell for?
  • What customer service your competitors offer?
  • who their customers are?
  • how much spending ability their customers have?
  • why their customers buy?
  • what customer experience they gain?
  • what levels of customer satisfaction each competitor enjoys?
  • what complaints each competitor receives?
  • what marketing your competitors use?
  • how effective their marketing is?
  • the strong points of your competitors?
  • the weak points of your competitors?


You probably could add more to this list, but hopefully this gives you a good idea.


Use The Information Gained

Importantly, though, when you have collected all the information, you should adjust your strategic planning accordingly:
  • make your business better than your competitors in every respect
  • copy their strong points but be better
  • exploit their weak points and avoid these yourself
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Whether you are starting a new business or running an existing business, you should carry out a similar process, irrespective of what business you run and the products you sell.  And, with the internet, social media and review websites etc., it is much easier than it used to be when I first started.
You Can Do This
Anyone can carry out this process - yes it will take time, but it will save you time in the long run and I guarantee, it will give you a real boost to your sales and profits.


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Give You Confidence And Reduce The Fear Of Failure

Low confidence and the fear of failure can be common with small businesses but this process and the knowledge you will gain from it, will give you confidence in your eventual success and it will reduce your fears.


"Making me do this process ensured I had a good start to my business. If you had not made me do this, I would only have done a fraction of the research. It definitey works" 

Words from Brian Spence, Tilleys Gluten Free Bakery


One of my clients, Brian Spence had a particularly good start to his new business using the very same process that I have described here.  Had I not advised him to do this, he would have only done a fraction of the research and he would have had only a mediocre start to his business.
Sadly he has had to give up his business due to suffering a stroke, after an excellent start to his business.
Follow this same process and I am absolutely certain you can replicate what Brian Spence achieved.


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Best Of Luck!

I hope you give this a try.
Please let me know how you get on.
If you would like to talk to me further about this process, please do contact me below or by email:

Related Reading:  6 Customer Rules Guaranteed To Grow Your Business

Related Reading:  Want To Boost Your Customer Numbers?

Related Reading:  Boost Your Business Success By Making Your Customers Happy


Contact-Robert Business Success: Know Your Competition

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20 Top Free WordPress Plugins

20-Top-Plugins-e1550337497333 20 Top Free WordPress Plugins

20 Top Free WordPress Plugins.

A Comprehensive Appraisal Of Some Of The Best Free Plugins That Could Really Boost Your WordPress Website Or Blog.

By Robert Viney

Amazingly only 50% of businesses have a website but of the ones that do, 40% are WordPress Sites.
A WordPress website is very versatile and relatively easy to build and maintain with a large selection of free themes that you can use to customise it with. WordPress is also free and if you choose the right host, very cost effective, too.
WordPress websites also invariably perform well in Google rankings, so really small business owners have no excuses not to have their own website.


Starting Is Relatively Simple

For those who do not have a WordPress website, the process of setting up is quite simple. Just follow this process:
i)   Select a good reliable host for your website to publish it onto the internet
ii)  Choose your domain name or transfer your existing domain to your host
iii)  Download WordPress onto the host's platform
iv)  Choose a free WordPress Theme from for your website and download this into your new WordPress website
v)  Go into the plugin section of the site and start adding your plugins to drive your website
vi)  Start adding your content to your website
My WordPress websites and those of my clients are hosted by -  their hosting is very reliable and cost effective starting at approximately £40 per annum including the cost of the domain.
To help you, there are a good selection of YouTube videos offering WordPress tutorials, here is one of the best from Tyler Moore.

Comprehensive List Of The 20 Top Free WordPress Plugins.

Here, I offer a comprehensive list of 20 Top FREE WordPress plugins that I have been using for the past three years or so on my own WordPress websites and my clients' WordPress websites. Each plugin is fundamentally essential for the good functionality of your site, and I recommend each.
To help you, I have included screenshots of some of the plugin pages and some good tutorial videos.


1. AMP, the official WordPress AMP plugin

AMP stands for Accelerated Mobile Pages. This plugin has several functions but primarily aids the mobile loading functions of your site, making your site quicker and making the user experience enhanced, primarily.


2. Page Builder By Site Origin

The second of my 20 Top Free WordPress Plugins is one of the best and most popular page building plugins that greatly simplifies building posts and pages and allows you to arrange everything in an orderly fashion. It also allows you to rearrange your content simply by moving the individual boxes between the rows. This plugin works well with WordPress widget bundles or you can add Site Origin’s own excellent Widget Bundle Plugin, listed 3, below.
This screenshot shows the rows and widgets for a post page.
.Site-Origin-2 20 Top Free WordPress Plugins


This video is a good tutorial for showing you how Site Origin Page Builder works.


3. Site Origin Widgets Bundle

WordPress already comes with its own widgets bundle that can be added to the Site Origin Page Builder format but you can also add Site Origin’s own Widgets.  This is recommended, as Site Origin’s widgets are generally superior and a good way to add written content, images and link buttons, to name just a few of the functions.  In this screenshot, some of the Site Origin's widgets are shown with the blue icon.  I personally use the editor and image widget a lot in my posts.

Site-Origin-widget-bundle-2 20 Top Free WordPress Plugins.


4. Classic Editor For WordPress

WordPress recently changed the editing format which is not very user friendly (in my view & the view of many others, too!). This great plugin restores the editing back to the ‘better’ original version and has a rightful place in my list of 20 Top Free WordPress Plugins.


5. WP Smush by WPMU DEV

Images are a great asset to your site, enhancing the user experience but they can take up a lot of storage space, meaning images, especially large image files can slow your website loading. This plugin automatically reduces image sizes, compressing them and optimising them, as they upload into your media library. It is compatible with JPEG, GIF and PNG formats. You can also diminish file sizes further in the media library. I try to get all my image file sizes below 50KB and ideally to about 30KB.


6. Wordfence by Wordfence

The next in my list of 20 Top Free WordPress Plugins is an absolute must. It provides a firewall and malware security for your site plus a scanning tool to highlight problems. I receive, on average, twelve rogue login attempts from robots in China per day plus other random attacks and Wordfence stops these. Wordfence features hacking firewall protection, malware scan and blocking. It also allows live traffic monitoring where you can see what security threats your site is facing and where they are coming from and it allows you to take action to prevent these.
This screenshot shows the scanning page for Wordfence.

wordfence-2 20 Top Free WordPress Plugins


7. WP-Optimize by David Anderson, Ruhani Rabin & Team Updraft

Another must-have plugin for cleaning up and optimising your database. General use of your site can add data to your database and a large database can seriously slow your loading speed. This plugin can remove all spammy comments, trackbacks, pingbacks and post revisions as well as clearing other unwanted stuff. You should clean your database every day, if the site is a busy one.
This screenshot is the result of selecting 'Optimisation' in the 'Database' setting - here by clicking on the 'Run Optimisation' button, unwanted data is removed.

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A second choice in the 'Database' setting is 'Table' and in this screenshot, the database is broken down with a total of the size of data base shown at the bottom. In this case the size is 9.6MB.  You should always try to minimise the size of your database, as this will determine your website's loading time.
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8. W3 Total Cache by Frederick Townes

W3 Total Cache is another important plugin and the top rated WordPress Cache plugin. WordPress caching is one of the best ways to improve website performance. In simple terms, caching stores the website data temporarily in the cache so that it loads faster the next time the user opens the same page. It features page cache, data caching, object caching, browser caching and much more. It also can minify and HTTP compress many of your files, saving significantly on bandwith. From time to time you will need to clear the cache out and you can purge it with this plugin.
This screenshot shows part of the 'General Settings' page where you can set the caching parameters.

W3-Total-Cache 20 Top Free WordPress Plugins

It is imperative you get the settings right for this plugin to work right.  Here is good YouTube video tutorial to help you and to take you through the set-up stages.

9. Yoast SEO by Team Yoast

Another must-have plugin from my list of the 20 Top Free WordPress Plugins is essential for getting the SEO of your pages and posts right. This will allow you to get your Keyword density, page titles, meta descriptions and readability right, as well as other stuff. The free version does not include the XML sitemaps function and for that you will need number 10. You should also use the free Google Keyword Tool in conjunction with this, to ensure you use the right keywords, etc.. This plugin is very simple to use, once you get into it, but can be invaluable for getting your posts and pages right.
In this screen shot, the bottom of a post or page is shown, illustrating the meta description for the page, readability and keyword, etc..

yoast-2 20 Top Free WordPress Plugins

SEO is fairly complicated but getting it right is important, so I recommend you view this YouTube tutorial on how this Yoast plugin can help you.

10. Google XML Sitemaps by Arne Brachhold

This plugin improves the SEO by creating sitemaps of your website and submitting these to the major search engines. The plugin is supposed to do this automatically, but I found you need to also submit your site to Google, Bing and Yahoo manually too, at least for the first time.


11. UpdraftPlus by

Another must-have plugin that allows you to back-up and restore your files. WordPress can be fickle and can be susceptible to random attacks, so keeping a back will allow you to restore your site, if you get stuck. It is a good practice to back-up before and after each change to your website or when you optimise your site in 7, above. The feature allows you to store your back up on your website or remotely on Dropbox or Google Drive, etc..

12. All In One Security by Tips & Tricks

This plugin adds additional security features especially that of blocking Spam. I use this plugin on all my clients’ websites very successfully but you must go into the settings to activate the anti-spam function. A good alternative is the free version of Askimet, but beware it is only free for personal use, not for business or commercial use.

13. GDPR by Trew Knowledge

Number twelve in my list of the 20 Top Free WordPress Plugins is one that ensures you are GDPR compliant. This creates a cookies consent banner and the ability to display a cookies and a privacy policy. Easy to use and very effective.

14. Really Simple SSL by Rogier Lankhorst

You should be moving your site to HTTPS/SSL to make it more secure for yourself and your visitors. This will also help you avoid the horrible ‘NOT SECURE’ warning from Google for Chrome browsers who visit non-HTTPS sites. The most cost effective way to do this is to use a hosting company that provides free SSL certificates, such as  Then, activating this plugin does the rest. As the name suggests, it is ‘Really Simple’.


15. A3 Lazy Load by a3rev Software

If your site features many images, these may take a while to load which risks losing the impatient visitor, increasing your bounce rate. This plugin solves this problem. It replaces your post and page images, post thumbnails, gravatar images and content iframes with a placeholder and loads the content as it gets close to entering the browser screen. In other words, the images only display when the user scrolls to that part of the page, thus speeding up crucial loading time. This plugin also saves precious bandwith, boosts optimization and SEO and works with text widgets and embedded videos from YouTube and Vimeo. Particularly good for mobile users of your site.


16. Google Analytics by MonsterInsights

Understanding the visitors to your site is paramount, if you are to grow it. This excellent plugin will provide much information including who your visitors are, where they come from, how long they stay, which pages they visit, to list just a few of the many functions. To make it work you will need to link it to your Google account and your ‘Google My Business’ account - if you have not created the latter account yet, it is a good move to do this.


17. Jetpack by Autommattic & WordPress

Another good plugin from my list of the 20 Top Free WordPress Plugins provides a number of widgets and tools that takes care of your site security, website performance, traffic growth, image optimization, website appearance and a lot more. It is also a good alternative to the Google Analytics Plugin (16) for a simplified analytics tool.
In this screen shot, some of the widgets from Jetpack are shown when selecting 'Add Widget' button in the Site Origin Page Builder function.

Jetpack-2 20 Top Free WordPress Plugins


There is much to this plugin and this excellent video explains much more.

18. Social Media Follow Buttons Bar by Space-X-Chimp

There are many social follow plugins available, but I have found this is a neat one that works well and is easy to add. It  also has a ‘floating’ share option, too.  It is important to persuade your visitors to follow you on Social Media, to increase your exposure and this plugin makes that easy. A good addition to my list of 20 Top Free WordPress Plugins.


19. Sassy Social Share by Team Heator

Sharing your content is another great way to increase your awareness.  Again, many social share plugins exist but I find this works well. You can link to more than 100 platforms, making it really useful. The plugin also creates its own widget which can easily be added in Site Origin’s Page Builder.


20. Contact Form 7 by Takayuki Miyoshi

This is a great plugin where it is possible to create a customised contact form to suit your website and needs without additional extra coding etc..  Nice and simple!
This YouTube video tutorial shows you more.


My List Of The 20 Top Free WordPress Plugins Provides The Basic Essentials

There are loads of other good plugins available, but in my view, this list of the 20 Top Free WordPress Plugins represents the best WordPress Plugins for providing the basic essentials for improving your site SEO, optimizing loading speeds, providing hardened security, for marketing your site and for making you site work efficiently and effectively.
Plugins can interfere with each other but this selection all work together well without conflict for most themes.
These are the basics and if you want to customise your website further, such as adding an ecommerce or membership function, for instance, you will obviously need additional plugins.
When adding new plugins to your site, always ensure the plugin is compatible with the theme you use. Each plugin will state whether it has been tested on your theme. For every new plugin, you should read the notes and reviews etc., included, and you should go through the settings to ensure each plugin is set up right and will work right for your site.

20-Top-Plugins 20 Top Free WordPress Plugins


Regularly Update Your Plugins

You should also only use plugins that are regularly updated and have been updated within the past three months or so. These updates are improvements that can also contain the latest security coding to guard against the latest virus and malware threats. It is good practice to update all plugins as soon as the updates are issued.
All plugins might contain weaknesses that could allow access to your site by rogue external threats and it is important to think that the more plugins you have, the greater the risk. Plugins can be big files and can slow down your website's loading, so you should be mindful to only use the minimum number required to ensure good functionality of your site - ideally no more than thirty in total but nearer to twenty if possible.
Please note: The screenshots shown in this article may differ or change as the respective plugins are updated.


This List Is Designed For Small Businesses

This list is designed specifically to help startups, new businesses and small businesses to get started or to improve their sites.
If you have any questions or comments, please contact me below or by email
Also, if you have any great plugin suggestions, I would love to hear them.

Related Reading  -  How Targeted Is Your Marketing?

Related Reading  -  7 Strong Reasons Why You Should Build A Strong Brand

Robert-Viney-e1524724492788 20 Top Free WordPress Plugins

8 Step Goal Setting Process For Success

8-Step-Goal-Setting-Process-For-Success4-e1548933729486 8 Step Goal Setting Process For Success

8 Step Goal Setting Process For Success.

The most successful in business have many secrets to their success but many will say that one of the most effective tools has been GOAL SETTING.

Written by Robert Viney


Personally, I have always used GOAL SETTING and I am absolutely certain that I would not have started and run 7 highly successful businesses without the benefits that this process has brought me.

Generally, very few people use GOAL SETTING and this is one big reason why fewer than 1% of entrepreneurs achieve real business success.

I strongly recommend the process, if you are intent on building your success.


Goal Setting Can Create Many Benefits

Achieving GOAL SETTING, yourself, will bring the following benefits are:

  •  It will create something to aim for in your life or in your business and it will bring a vision of where you are going and where your journey will take you.

  • It will create clarity, allowing you to see more clearly what you are trying to achieve for yourself and your business and how you will complete your journey.

  • It will give you greater focus on every part of your life and every part of your business. 

  • It will create drive, determination and momentum and will allow you to move forward constantly, making good progress.

Many Get Lost In Their Businesses

It is very easy to get lost and overwhelmed in business.

In my experience, many entrepreneurs get lost because they don’t have the vision of where they are aiming for and they lack the clarity of how to get there.  Many also lack focus and are easily distracted, leading to procrastination and a lack of drive, determination and progress.


Goal Setting Can Get You Back On Track

Goal setting can get you back on track and can keep you there, powering you forward.

If you don’t set goals, I strongly urge you consider using this process  -  I think you could be surprised by the transformation, you could achieve.


Set Personal & Business Goals

If you have read any of my previous blogs, you would know that your personal attitude and mindset is just as important as your business strategy, if you are to achieve business success.


Related Reading ~ 8 Ways For Overcoming The Fear Of Failure

Related Reading ~ 7 Ways To Achieve A Positive Attitude


For this reason, you should set personal goals for your own personal development as well as business goals for your business.

You are the power house of your business and for you to get through the rough times, you need a strong mental attitude, so setting personal goals, such as being more positive and less negative can do that.

Business goals such as setting targets for sales, profits and product launches, etc. can really project your business forward.

 Goal-Setting-Adds-e1549281598743 8 Step Goal Setting Process For Success


Steps For Goal Setting

I have always used the following GOAL SETTING PROCESS and I suggest you adopt this, too.

Firstly, list FIVE PERSONAL GOALS and 5 FIVE BUSINESS GOALS that you would like to achieve in the next year.  Write them down in the present tense as if you have already achieved them.  This helps your subconscious mind accept the goals and will allow you to action them.

Secondly, prioritise the ONE PERSONAL GOAL that would bring the greatest benefit to you, personally, if achieved, and prioritise the ONE BUSINESS GOAL that would bring the greatest benefit to your business, again if achieved.

Thirdly, follow the following 8 STEPS to achieve your goals.


Step 1

Write your goal down clearly in detail.

Step 2

Set a specific date deadline.  If it is a big goal, set sub date deadlines and write them down in chronological order.

Step 3

Break your goal down into small steps that you need to perform and, if necessary, break each step down into sub steps.  You should include as much detail as possible to create clarity.  As you think of new steps, add these.

Step 4

Create an action plan for each step and sub step.

Step 5

Think of possible obstacles and challenges that you will need to overcome on the way and list these.

Step 6

Place all steps, sub steps and obstacles in chronological sequence and order.

Step 7

Take action each day on each goal. Don’t stop and keep the momentum going until you have achieved your goal.

Step 8

Read and review each goal each day and make sure that you really understand the steps involved. If your strategy changes requiring changes to the steps and sub steps, make these changes.

Follow-this-process-e1549282872608 8 Step Goal Setting Process For Success


If you follow this process, I am certain you will be surprised how much things will change for you. 

You must be patient, though, and don’t expect change overnight. Let the process take its course and execute each step and sub step in the correct way.


Read & Review Each Goal Each Day

It is vitally important that you read and review each goal each day and that you take action every day, too.  By doing this, you will maintain momentum and dispel any doubts you may harbour about your ability to progress your goals.

As you think of new goals add them to the original list, you made originally, and as you achieve each goal, select a new high priority goal to replace it and apply the same 8 Step process to it. 

 8-Step-Goal-Setting-Process-For-Success-6-e1548932880753 8 Step Goal Setting Process For Success


Make Goal Setting A Habit

Make goal setting and goal achieving a HABIT.  You will find that you will become far more productive and your confidence in your own ability and in your business success will grow.

But importantly, you will see yourself and your business make good progress.


Best of luck!

Please let me know how you get on.  

If you wish to discuss this further with me, please email me:

Contact-Robert 8 Step Goal Setting Process For Success
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8 Qualities Of The Success Mindsets Of The Most Successful In Business

Successful-People-Are-e1547633673565 8 Qualities Of The Success Mindsets Of The Most Successful In Business

8 Qualities Of The Success Mindsets Of The Most Successful In Business.

Ever wondered why some people are more successful in business than others?

Written by Robert Viney
Have you even wondered why some people are mega successful – the likes of Richard Branson, Peter Jones and Deborah Meaden?
The strategies that they use in their businesses are, without doubt, a big reason for their success but fundamentally, they each possess a SUCCESS MINDSET that gives them the power to succeed.
The Harvard Business School has continually reported over many years that their most successful students were the ones with the strongest and most positive attitude and mindset and not the most able.
  1. Each Is An Eternal Optimist

The most successful in business are all eternal optimists and they have great belief and confidence in their ability to succeed and to create good outcomes for everything they do.
Almost certainly, each would not have started with strong optimism; their confidence would have grown as they would have achieved more good outcomes on their business journey.
  1. Each Is Resilient

Things don’t always turn out right, though, and many would have experienced set-backs and failure on their success journey.  But each would have learned from the experience and each would have bounced back, stronger.
Importantly each would accept that failure is part of the success process.
  1. Each Is Open Minded

Everyone is very open minded, particularly to new ideas and new ways of doing things. Each accepts that if they and their businesses are to progress, they must keep developing and adapting.
They know that if they are resistant to change, they will get left behind.
  1. Each Is Mega Positive

Each one knows that if they are to be creative and to be able to develop, they need to be surrounded by positivity and to live and work in a positive ‘bubble’.
Many would have experienced negativity, at low times of their lives, and each would know its detrimental effects.  Most would have learned how to dispel negativity from their minds and their lives and how to permanently work to create positivity.
  1. Each is Highly Determined & Persistent

Because their desire for success and their unwavering expectation and optimism for their success is so massive, this creates a huge determination and drive in the relentless pursuit of their ambitions.
Their strong resilience and their ability to bounce back makes them highly persistent, with a ‘never give up’ attitude.
  1. Each Is Highly Disciplined

Their determination and persistence creates strong discipline.
Being disciplined means things are done when they should be done.  Even the most passionate in business will have parts that they dislike about their businesses but the most successful know that everything must be actioned in the right way and at the right time, if they are to keep progressing.
They know that procrastination and delay will slow their journey, so nothing is ‘put off’ or delayed.
  1. Each Is Resourceful

Each one learns to be resourceful and each one learns to make the best of what is available to them to progress. Everyone would have struggled, particularly in the early days of their business journey, but each would have worked hard to develop their skills and abilities and each would have created good progress in spite of limited money, skills, abilities and other resources.
  1. Each Is Happy

Doing what they love to does primarily create their happiness and contentment. The fruits of their labours would allow them a lifestyle to pursue interests outside their business life.
But each knows that ‘money’, itself, has not created their happiness  -  they would consciously have worked to create their happiness before the ‘money’ arrived. The money merely would have enhanced their previously happy state.
Being happy would have also strengthened their positivity and optimism and further strengthened their SUCCESS MINDSET.

Successful-People-Are 8 Qualities Of The Success Mindsets Of The Most Successful In Business


These 8 Qualities Are Fundamental To A Success Mindset

These EIGHT qualities, amongst others, are fundamental to the SUCCESS MINDSET for every successful entrepreneur.  If you possess these same qualities, then you have the right mindset to succeed in your business.
If you don’t possess these same qualities or you only possess some of these, it is possible to acquire new ones and to strength what you already have.
Think about each quality and think how you can acquire and strengthen each.
If, for instance, you want to strengthen your positivity, you should maybe assess what situations are making you feel negative or less positive and try to remove these from your life.

One Last Thought

I want to close this article with one last thought.
Many of the most successful in business would NOT have started their business journey with a STRONG SUCCESS MINDSET; they would have consciously created it by first assessing the parts of their mindset that were holding them back and then would have worked hard to strengthen each.
Very often the best way to gain these qualities or to strengthen these qualities is to take action. When things start to happen with positive outcomes, the confidence and self-belief grows.

You can do the same as the most successful!

If you would like to discuss this more with me, please email me at or contact me below.  I look forward to hearing from you.

Robert-Viney 8 Qualities Of The Success Mindsets Of The Most Successful In Business

6 Customer Rules Guaranteed To Grow Your Business

6-CUSTOMER-RULES-e1544276237178 6 Customer Rules Guaranteed To Grow Your Business

6 Customer Rules Guaranteed To Grow Your Business.

Tried And Tested Business Ways That Have Been Shown To Work, Time And Time Again.

written by Robert Viney


It would be stating the obvious to say that customers are the 'life-blood' of any business.

But, they really are.

Without sufficient customers, you will have insufficient sales and profits to sustain the business and eventually your business will close.

Every business owner should keeping thinking how they can get more customers to their business.

Here, 6 TOP CUSTOMER RULES guaranteed to grow your business are discussed:


1.   Always Welcome Your Customers

Customers should always feel welcome to your business.  This particularly applies if your potential customer actually physically enters your business, such as a retail business  ~  here, generally, retail businesses are very poor at 'welcoming' people.

It just needs a simple "Hello" and a smile to make a customer feel comfortable and to make the customer feel wanted by the business.

Whatever your business you should think how you can make your customers welcome.


2.   Always Say “Thank You”

The same as a nice "welcome", a business should always say “thank you” whether that person has bought something or not.  If it is a retail business, a nice “thank you” is the last thing that that person remembers when they leave.  If their customer experience had been good, this will reinforce their memory of the experience.

If you operate a non retail business a nice message at the check out after a purchase or when someone leaves your website can leave a lasting memory.

Whatever business you run, give your “thank you” some thought and think how you can possibly improve it.

The second of our 6 customer rules guaranteed to grow your business is to say "Thank You"


1.-Always-Welcome-Your-Customer-2 6 Customer Rules Guaranteed To Grow Your Business.

3.   Always Be Transparent

Customers hate surprises such as hidden costs etc.  In nearly 40 years in business, I have learned that the more transparent and open you are with your customers, the more they will trust you and the more they will buy from you.

Always be transparent on prices for your products but be honest about extra charges such as delivery etc.  Don’t let customers find out at the check-out, for instance. This is a good way to lose them.

You should never over promise, just to get a sale – for instance, don’t promise a delivery time of 5 days when the true delivery time is 9 days.

The answer for success is always UNDER PROMISE & OVER DELIVER.


4.    Never Disregard Complaints

Every business will get customer complaints from time to time but how you deal with them could put you above your competition.

Some business owners will ‘bury their head in the sand’ and either ignore the complaint or out off dealing with it.  Neither way works.

The quicker and better you deal with the complaint to the customer’s satisfaction, the more you are likely to keep that customer.

Surveys consistently show that 70% of customers who complain will return to buy again, if their customer is dealt with to their satisfaction. I know, from own experience, that is very true.

So deal with your complaints quickly and efficiently as part of our 6 Customer Rules Guaranteed To Grow Your Business.

1.-Always-Welcome-Your-Customer-4 6 Customer Rules Guaranteed To Grow Your Business

5.  Always Focus On The Customer

I said at the top of this piece that the customer is the ‘life blood’ of your business. In fact without enough customers you will not have a profit for your business.

This makes your customer the single most important part of your business.

With such importance, your primary focus should be your customer and not your company or business. Your company should be run around the needs and musts of your customer, including:

  • Which products you sell

  • The prices you charge

  • What customer service you offer

  • The customer experience, you offer

Always make your customer you primary focus.


6.    Always Deliver The Best Customer Experience

If your customers enjoy the experience they derive from the products and service that they buy from you, they are more likely to buy again from you and they are more likely to tell their friends.

Many businesses go wrong by not thinking enough about the Customer Experience and how they can improve this.

Your customer experience should always be prioritised.

6-CUSTOMER-RULES-e1544276237178 6 Customer Rules Guaranteed To Grow Your Business


Here is a short description of 6 CUSTOMER RULES that I know really do work.

As with everything in business, it is all down to how you think about your business.  Give these 6 CUSTOMER RULES some though and think how you can enhance each for your business.

I am sure over time, your sales and customer numbers will grow.


If you wish to talk more with me about this, please do contact me at: or contact me below.  It would be great to hear from you.


Contact-Robert 6 Customer Rules Guaranteed To Grow Your Business

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Visualise Your Business Success

Visualise-YourBusiness-Success-e1550662475297 Visualise Your Business Success

Share Our Blog To The World

Visualise Your Success.

See How Visualising Your Goals Could Boost Your Business Success Prospects.

Recently a client of mine won a prestigious business award from ex Dragen’s Den, Theo Paphitis.
Charlotte Kleban of Hand Drawn World ( is a very gifted and award-winning graduate textile designer who specialises in hand print design but two years ago, when I first started to coach her, she harboured some doubts in her ability to build and grow her business.

In order to strengthen her self-belief in her ability to eventually make a success of her business, I introduced her to VISUALISATION.


Watch This Short Video

On receiving the award from Theo Paphitis, she sent me a message:

“I visualised myself winning so many times and it’s finally happened”
The ‘Small Business Sunday’ Award (#SBS) is the most recent of a long string of business awards that she has won and arguably this is the most prestigious of them all.
Every award has built her confidence and self-belief and has created much needed and positive exposure on social media and other outlets.

Exhibiting Her Products Was Important.

Charlotte Kleban creates and sells a large portfolio of products from Teapots and tea-sets to socks and greeting cards and exhibiting her products to potential customers and talking to these people was a major part of marketing her business.
I remember her texting me just before exhibiting as a trader at The Manchester Youth Market, saying she was a bit nervous.
I texted her back and said:
“visualise yourself talking to your potential customers and visualise them loving your products and buying them”
… she succeeded in winning a Highly Commended Trader Award at the event.

constallation-e1542715665918 Visualise Your Business Success

Now her business is going from strength to strength with a strong demand for her products and she is in a ‘good place’.  As I write this article, she messaged me to say that she had just enjoyed her best week of sales, ever.
I am sure Visualisation has worked its part in her success.

When I First Started, I Doubted Myself

When I first started in business, I doubted my ability to grow a business successfully and I used visualisation to boost my self-belief and self-confidence.
I wanted to own and run my own public house, but I am a naturally shy person and knew I had to be able to talk to people.
And, that was difficult for me.
I repeatedly visualised myself talking to my customers, serving them with beer and them loving my public house.
It was tough at times, but I achieved it and the White Hart was a great success, with the business growing to include a total of five public houses and a brewery, building to an annual turnover of £5 million.
Much of this was down to my use of visualisation to boost my self-belief.

Many In Business Suffer From Self-Doubts

Many business owners can suffer from self-doubt and the lack of belief in their ability to grow their businesses into a success.
If you have the same self-doubt, you are not an exception.
Importantly, though, you can do the same as Charlotte and myself did  -  and it could be easier than you think.

Visualise Your Goals

Create yourself a goal or a visual image and keep thinking about it and keep visualising it in your mind.
It could be:
  • Selling to customers
  • Talking to happy customers
  • Receiving a business award
  • Seeing orders flooding into your ecommerce site
  • Receiving good customer testimonials
  • Seeing a bank statement with a large cash balance
  • Buying a nice car, you have bought from the profits of your business.
The process works by visualising any positive situation, positive thought or positive image that you can picture in your mind; it must relate to a good, positive goal being achieved or a good successful stage within your business being attained.
It could be something you have achieved in the past or something that you wish to achieve in the future.
By thinking about something you have achieved in the past, it can give you the confidence to know that you can achieve good things, especially at times when your self-belief is minimal.  By thinking about something in the future, it gives you a goal or target to reach for in the future, in the same way that Charlotte visualised winning the award from Theo Paphitis.
Importantly, visualisation can be used to create development in yourself and in your business, thus driving yourself and your business forward.

You Must Keep Visualising Repeatedly

It is important that you continually visualise your positive image or positive thought (past, present and future) literally many times a day.  By doing this, your sub conscious mind will gradually accept it and it will make it easier to use the image or thought for your benefit.

Our Subconscious Minds Are There To Protect Us

Our subconscious minds are very powerful and are there to protect us.
Going back thousands of years to when we were in the jungle, our subconscious minds worked to protect us from dangers such as wild beasts and our tribal enemies, etc..  When confronted with a ‘dangerous’ situation, our subconscious minds would automatically kick in to move us away from the danger, without us consciously thinking about taking action.
These days, it can work differently to protect us;  it can, for instance, work automatically and spontaneously to keep us inside our comfort zones and away from difficult situations, without us thinking consciously.
If confronted by a situation that makes us feel uncomfortable, our subconscious mind will stop us getting into that situation.

We Can Override Our Subconscious Minds

It is possible, however to override our subconscious minds;  by repeatedly thinking about and visualising a situation, thought or image that takes us outside our comfort zones, we can program our subconscious minds to accept that we want to experience an uncomfortable situation.
Eventually it will allow us to do this.
For me, it worked by allowing me to enter a bar full of customers and to talk to them.  For Charlotte, it allowed her to talk to people at her exhibitions and it allowed her to have the courage to put herself and her business forward for business awards.

Visualisation Helps Focus

Repeated visualisation also allows us to maintain focus on our goals and our business journey.
When the goals involve personal self-development and growing our businesses, the continual visualisation ensures we are continually focused on moving forward; then continual progress forward is achieved.
Focus is really important, if business success is to be attained.

Visualisation Can Cancel Out Negativity

Very often, doubts can manifest themselves when negative comments are recieved or a negative situation arises.
Mentally, it can only take one negative comment to cancel out the positive feelings created by a large number of good comments or one negative situation can cancel out the effect of many positive situations achieved previously.
By using visualisation, you can cancel out a negative comment or a negative situation.
When a negative comment is received or a negative situation arises, for instance, you must first deal with it, then you must visualise the many good comments and good situations that have occurred in your business, previously.
This then should divert the focus from the negativity to the positivity.

Here Is An Example

At The White Hart, complaints were very rare.
I remember one situation on a Saturday evening when we received one complaint about a meal after serving 300 meals  -  the staff were feeling a little dejected because they were focusing on the ONE complaint.
We had been showered with compliments that night from the other happy customers and I said to my staff:
“Please focus on the 299 happy customers NOT the one unhappy customer”
That comment changed their mood, completely, as they visualised the happy customers, that they had served, and forgot about the one unhappy one.
It is very easy to focus on the negative – we can all do it.

white-hart-2-e1527324160102 Visualise Your Business Success


Try Visualisation Today, Yourself

If you do lack self-belief or self-confidence, you can use visualisation, yourself, to bolster your self-belief by setting and achieving goals.
Use this method:
  • Make a short list of your main goals
  • Choose the one or two most important goals
  • Break each of the chosen goals down into the steps, need to achieve each goal
  • Write down each goal and the steps required
  • Visualise each goal and its steps in your mind
  • List the challenges on the way and visualise you combatting these
  • Visualise the benefits that you will derive from achieving each goal
  • Write notes to remind yourself of these goals (and steps) and leave them in strategic places in your home and office – even the loo!
Breaking your goals down into steps will allow you to see how your goal can be achieved and this process should give you some confidence to think that the goal can be achieved, eventually.  There will be difficulties and challenges along the way and you should visualise yourself combatting these.
Each goal should be big enough to create ‘benefits’ for yourself or your business and you should visualise the benefit that will come from achieving each goal.

Use ‘Post-Its’

‘Post its’ are a good way to remind yourself of your goals and the steps  -  try leaving them anywhere that will prompt you, several times a day.
Gradually your subconscious mind will accept your thoughts and goals and it will allow you to act out the steps to achieve your goals.

Visualise The Benefits

Visualising the benefits can be very powerful.
If, for instance, your business is making a trading loss, this situation could creat worry and stress for you  –  can be a ‘horrible’ feeling.
You could set a goal to gain a certain number of new customers to stop the losses and to create a profit.  Here the real benefit would be greater sales from the extra customers and hopefully the creation of a profit.
You could imagine the ‘nice’ feeling of making a profit replacing the ‘horrible’ feeling of worrying about having a trading loss.
I hope you can see how visualisation can work.

Go Back To Your List Of Goals

When you have achieved your first goal or goals, then go back to your original list of goals and choose more and repeat the process.

Visulaise-Your-Success Visualise Your Business Success


Give Visualisation A Go

I hope you can give Visualisation a go to move yourself and your business forward  -  whatever your situation, I am certain it could make a difference.
This is a very short explanation, but if you wish to talk more about visualisation, please contact me below or email me:

Contact-Robert Visualise Your Business Success


Robert-Viney Visualise Your Business Success

Achieve Double-Digit Growth In Your Pension

Achieve-Double-Digit-Growth-In-Your-Pension-e1537442590214 Achieve Double-Digit Growth In Your Pension

Achieve Double-Digit Growth In Your Pension.

Want Better Growth On Your Pensions & Investments?

Here Is A Good Way To Do That.


You have worked hard to create a good profit in your business.  You are investing in a pension for when you retire.
You get your annual pension statement and the growth disappoints.
Have you been there?
I know many have.
Here is a way to get better growth – at least double-digit growth


Many Have Lost Money

Recently, there has been some press concerning pension scams, where a number of people have been defrauded out of large sums of money and, in some cases, their entire pensions.
This is incredibly sad when a person has worked hard and paid into a pension for some time, then to have it taken away from them by some rogue organisation or scam.
Talking to many business owners over the years, it is evident that many are too busy to think about their long-term pension arrangements and, when they do, they invest into pension schemes that have poor returns.
I thought it might be useful if I shared some good advice on how I have invested into a SIPP for the past 4 years and where I have achieved a minimum of 15% annual return each year.

Investment Funds

It involves investing in the global stock market but not by buying individual stocks and shares, such as BP or Shell, but by investing in Investment Funds, that are made up of many good shares, through a reliable and trusted platform called Hargreaves Lansdown.
You possibly have heard of Hargreaves Lansdown, as their representatives often appear in the business press or on the BBC, Bloomburg or CNBC with advice on pensions, investing and other business matters.
They operate a platform where you can buy and sell individual shares and investment funds. I have used this platform for the past 4 years and, as I have said, have achieved good returns on my investments.
Through this platform, I have three investment accounts:
1.    SIPP pension
2.    Tax free ISA
3.    Other investments
Prior to 2014, I had my pensions invested in several orthodox institutional pension funds but I noticed the return was slowing, despite promises of good returns.

It Was Very Simple To Do

I was very simple to start.
I opened a Hargreaves Lansdown account and arranged for my pensions to be paid into one SIPP account.
I also had ISA savings which were doing very poorly too and I transferred these into another account, but this time an ISA account, free of tax.
In addition, I also had shares in a number of FTSE 100 and 250 companies and transferred these into a third ‘other investment’ account that was outside the SIPP and ISA wrappings.
Everything was done online through the Hargreaves Lansdown website.

My Average Return Has Equalled 15%

Since then I have achieved an average of 15% growth, year on year.
But also for four years now, I have had all my investments in one place and whenever I log into my online Hargreaves Lansdown account, I can see instantly how much each account is worth and what my total portfolio is worth too.
Then, with just a few clicks, I can see how each investment within each portfolio is doing, too.

Before I Transferred Everything, I did My Homework

Crucially, though, before I transferred everything, I did my homework for about 6 months before I took the plunge.
The Hargreaves Lansdown website allows you to research investment funds before investing, which means you can follow the performance of selected funds before you invest into them.
You just register and set up a ‘watchlist’ by adding Investment Funds to the list and monitor how the funds do.
Simply go to the Hargreaves Lansdown website,


Hargreaves-Lansdowne-For-Pensions-e1537443311566 Achieve Double-Digit Growth In Your Pension


I Have Invested In More Than 40 Funds

During the past four years, I have researched very heavily the best funds to invest in and have invested in more than 40.
Investment values can go up and down, and it is possible to lose money, if you are careless.
The key is to spread the risk and this makes the whole process reasonably low risk.

An Investment Fund Is A Conglomeration Of Many Shares

An Investment Fund is a conglomeration of many different company stocks and shares, nominated by an expert fund manager. These funds could constitute as many as 25 or more shares in companies, sometimes from different parts of the world.
The idea is simple - if several shares decline in value, the whole value of the fund may not be affected as the risk is spread.
You can then spread the risk further by investing in a number of different funds. Then, if one fund value does drop, the others may not.
The one exception to this could be if there is a universal drop in all global markets, such as in 2008/9 banking crash and after the Brexit referendum.
Since I have been investing, I have reduced the number of investment funds down to less than 20 currently and I now have a very good idea of the ones to invest in for the best returns:

My Top 5 Investment Funds

Here are my Top 5 Investment Funds, currently:
  1. Lindsell Train Global Equity Class D Fund ~  last year’s growth 27%
  2. Fundsmith Equity Class 1 Accumulated Fund  ~  last year’s growth 18%
  3. AXA Framlington Global Technology Accumulated Fund Class Z  ~  last year’s growth 33%
  4. AXA Framlington American Growth Accumulated Class Z  ~ last year’s growth 33%
  5. Baillie Gifford American Fund Class B Accumulated  ~  last year’s growth 45%
The growth for all these funds for the past twelve months is very good, but each fund has also provided good growth for the previous two to three years, too.
Each fund is very well established and each is managed by very experienced fund managers, who really know their stuff.

How The Investment Fund Price Is Determined

Put simply, the total value of the fund is the total number of shares held multiplied by the value of each share. If the number of shares and/or their share price increase, so the total value of the fund increases and the fund price increases. Conversely, if the number of shares and prices decrease, so the total fund value decreases and the fund price decreases.
Many of the shares that make up the funds will pay dividends as cash or shares which go into building the total value of the funds.  Some these of dividends can be paid out as cash – these funds are known as ‘income funds’
When the dividends are not paid out, and all or most the dividends are reinvested into the fund, this will also add to its total value – these funds are known as ‘accumulated funds’.  


I Am Presently Favouring Non Uk & Non EU Funds

At the time of writing (September 2018), I am favouring specific non-UK and non-European funds because of Brexit and the doubts in these national economies. Some of my recommended funds do still feature UK and some European stocks, but these are in the minority.
I do think, however, if we have a hard Brexit or a ‘no deal’, all investment funds globally will decline in value.
I am tending to favour global funds that invest in several countries, especially the US but also technology funds that include the likes of Apple, Amazon, Facebook, Netflix and others.
Here, too, there could be threats  –  from President Trump’s trade wars and trade tariffs and the authority’s clampdown on the Technology companies.
You have to be mindful of what is happening.

I Have A ‘Plan B’

When I think values of one or more investment fund might drop, I will sell and will move the money into one relatively safe investment fund:
6.  Royal London Sterling Extra Yield Bond  ~  last year’s growth 6%
This is a 6th top tip and my ‘Plan B’.
The fund constitutes primarily UK bonds and its value and its price has a low spread but pays a healthy 5.5% dividend - so if the value of the fund does not rise, you still get paid a dividend which you can either reinvest into your portfolio or take as cash.
The price of this fund tends to move less than the prices of the other investment funds.


Achieve-Double-Digit-Growth-In-Your-Pension-e1537442590214 Achieve Double-Digit Growth In Your Pension


One Other Tip:

I obviously keep an eye on the financial press to see how my funds will perform and each day, Hargreaves Lansdown will email you to alert you to trends in the markets. They also offer other expert advice, too, which is very useful.
I also tune into CNBC, when I can, at about 8.50pm to view a programme called ‘Closing Bell’ – this is transmitted as the US stock markets close and usually for the first 30 minutes or so, it includes views from many experts such as Investment Fund managers and share traders on the state of the US and other markets. 
Here, you can get an analysis for the reasons into the market moves for the day and you get an idea of how the markets will move in the future, which is also really useful.
Many of my investing decisions have been based on this programme.

One Final Tip:

All markets will move up and down – this is a normal cycle.
The rise and falls can be plus or minus 2% - 3% in the prices of investment funds.
This is good for investing.
I always buy into Investment Funds when the markets dip, or when the price is low, then as the market naturally rises, my investment can grow quite quickly.  
By doing this, I can gain 2% to 3% in as many weeks or months.
The time to sell is when the market prices peak or when you get the highest or best price.
If you are really clever, you can sell at the peak of a natural cycle (when prices are highest)  and buy the same investment back (when prices are lowest). The skill is predicting the cycles and when peaks and troughs will occur.
You won’t always get it right  -  I have not.
But if you get it right most of the time, you will win.

Charges For Investing

Hargreaves Lansdown and the Investment Funds do charge to use the platform and to invest, but these are modest, usually about 1% or so per annum and if you are clever, you can easily cover this cost.

Look At The Hargreaves Lansdown Website

Take a look today at the website, register and have a good look around.
Then create a ‘wishlist’ and load the funds that I have recommended from this blog and monitor the price etc. over a 6 month period.
Maybe load other funds that may interest you, too.
Then, when you have a feel for things and the prices are right, maybe start investing.  The minimum investment is £100.
So you could start slow.
Best of luck!

More Information And Advice

This blog is a very simple explanation of what can be achieved and is only a simple summary.
If you would like to talk to me about this or you would like to know more, I would be very pleased to help you get started.
Please contact me below or email me at

Contact-Robert Achieve Double-Digit Growth In Your Pension

Robert-Viney-e1524724492788 Achieve Double-Digit Growth In Your Pension

Boost Your Customer Numbers Through Engagement

Customer-Engagement-2-e1533711443948 Boost Your Customer Numbers Through Engagement

Want To Boost Your Customer Numbers?

Engage with every customer & treat them like a 'guest' visiting your home.

 Written by Robert Viney


I am certain that if you greeted a visitor into your home, you would be courteous, polite and friendly.
Am I correct?
When an existing or potential customer visits your business, do you extend the same courtesy?
I would hope you would.
But if you do, I think, quite possibly, you could be in the minority.


Many Businesses Do Not Treat Their Customers As Guests

In my experience, many businesses do not do this.
And, sadly, these businesses are missing out on new customers, more sales and more profits, as a result, and they cannot see it.


A Sure Way To Grow Your Customer Numbers Is To Engage

A sure way to grow your business customers, sales and profits is to put yourself out and to engage with everyone who comes into contact with your business.
Then, over time, many of these people could be converted into paying customers.


Convert Guests Into Customers

I know, for certain, that this works.
For more than 30 years, I have practiced making people feel like ‘guests’ and I have been able to convert many of these into paying customers.
In all my businesses, it has never failed to work.


I Often See Businesses Not Engaging

Constantly, I see businesses not engaging sufficiently.
Let’s look at the retail trade …
I am continually disappointed by the reception that I get when I visit high street shops.
It does not matter where I am, I often get the same reception … or the lack of reception.
More often than not, there is no engagement from the staff or owners of these shops.
Not even an acknowledgement!


I Expect This In Larger Shops

Sadly, I expect it in larger shops owned by large chains, but I often see the same action from smaller independent shops when the owner is present.
So many make no effort to engage, not even a “Hello” or even ‘eye contact’
I take that as being very rude and this action can make it uncomfortable for the customer to be in the shop.
I certainly don’t feel like a ‘guest’


For me, my thought is often this:
“If the owner cannot be bothered to engage, then I cannot be bothered to browse their shop and spend my money”
So, I leave the shop and I know many of my friends and associates feel and do the same!
Have you had this experience too?
These businesses are losing potential customers and sales and they cannot see it.


I Have Worked In Retail Most Of My Working Life

I have worked in retail most of my working life  –  I have run public houses and high street shops  - and engaging with customers has been easy for me.
When a customer is in front of me, making eye contact, saying “hello and welcome” is a spontaneous reaction.
I have always felt not to talk is VERY RUDE.


I Have Always Made The Effort To Talk

I have always made the effort to talk to them.
It does not have to be a long conversation, just a few words to make the customer feel welcome.
I have treated them as if they were a guest in my own home.


Most Customers Want To Be Welcomed

Most customers just want to be acknowledged with a nice “Hello” to break the ice.
Surely, in that situation, there is really no excuse on the part of the business owner or employee not to engage when the customer is just a few feet in front of them.
No engagement is very rude!
No engagement is ruining businesses and losing business owners customers, sales and profits.
No wonder the High Street is dying!


It Does Not Have To Be A Long Chat

The skill of the retailer is knowing whether the customer wants to just a quick “Hello” and a short chat or whether the customer wants a longer chat.
Not all customers are the same, but all customers deserve the courtesy and politeness of at least being acknowledged.

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I See Poor Engagement Everywhere

It is not just retail businesses where I see little engagement, it is everywhere.
There is the telephone …
I have had more poor experiences than good ones, here.
Many times, I have experienced an unhelpful person on the other end of a telephone line, who keeps engagement to the minimum, making me feel they don’t really want my business.
Have you had this experience too?
I am sure you have.
The good telephone operative should be able to make a potential customer feel like a ‘guest’ by making them feel welcome to ‘visit’ their business, even though it is on a telephone line.


I See It Online Too

Online offerings from businesses can be similar.
The customer’s journey starts much earlier than it used to before the internet came along.
85% of customers will view a company’s website and their social media output and read their customer reviews, etc before buying from the customer.


But Many Are Not User Friendly

But, too often, the online offerings, such as their website or social media sites are not user friendly or are sparse on detail and don’t draw visitors into their businesses.
Half of businesses still don’t have websites (incredibly) and many of those that do have a website, do not seem to prioritise them by regularly updating them and making them easy to use.
Social Media is a great platform to engage with people before and after they buy, and many businesses are not taking advantage this great facility -  much of which is free to use.


Many Are Out Of Date

I often see websites and social media output that are not regularly updated.
One bad practice for social media is what I call ‘post & go’ – here a piece of content is posted about their business and then the business owner disappears, often ignoring corresponding comments and questions or not responding quickly to them.
That is no way to engage and this poor level of engagement puts people off the brand.


People Should Be Made To Feel Like ‘Guests’ On Line, too

When someone visits the online offering for a business, they should be made to feel welcome and again be made to feel like a ‘guest’ – but sadly many don’t.
If a visitor feels like a ‘guest’, they are more likely to stay on a website or a social media platform and have a good look at what is offered and be tempted to make contact or buy.


Some Businesses Try To Sell Too Hard

Other businesses make the mistake of posting content that tries to sell sell rather than educate on their Social Media accounts.
These businesses do not realise that customers want to learn about the products and the business selling them before they consider purchasing.


People do NOT want to be sold to

All target customers want to learn about a business, its products and the benefits that can be experienced.
And, they all want this before they buy.


People Want To Learn About The People Behind A Business

Furthermore, people want to learn about the people who own and run the business.
If social media marketing is done right, it is very possible to gain an insight into the personalities of the owners and the culture of the business.
All of which can influence a purchase.


Engagement Does Work

Not all businesses are poor at engagement.
Many do it very well, some incredibly well, but sadly, from my observations, such businesses are in the minority.
But, I know with great certainty that the businesses that engage and talk well to their customers, always achieve higher sales and profits.


Why Does Engagement Work?

The reason engagement works is very simple.


People Buy People!

A person is more likely to buy from a business if they know and like the people who own and run it.
It is basic psychology.
When a customer likes the people behind a business, they will buy more of their products, be loyal to their brand and they are more likely to tell others about that business.
Conversely, though, when people feel no affinity for a business, its brand and its products, they do not buy.


I Ran A Delicatessen Business For 12 Years

For 12 years I ran two very successful delicatessens/sandwich shops in Torbay. Myself and my employees engaged with all visitors and customers to the shops.
I say ‘visitors to the shops’ as I was not bothered if people entering the shops bought. Everyone received a nice greeting and each was made to feel welcome and, importantly, there was no pressure to buy.
Each visitor was made to feel like a ‘guest’
PICKNICS-OF-DEVON-TORQUAY-SHOP Boost Your Customer Numbers Through Engagement
My philosophy was simple:
Get to know people through engagement and then build up a relationship with them rather than try to sell to them.
On average, 8 out of 10 people always returned to buy eventually.
And, when they did buy, we were always keen to thank them and to engage further, encouraging them to return and, I am very pleased to say, most did.
In this way, we were able to build up a huge army of loyal customers who returned to buy more and more.


Businesses That Engage Are Busier

Any business whether, retail, non-retail or online that adopts this same procedure of engagement are always busier with larger numbers of customers and sales.
It always works, if done right.


For Your Business, Set A Deliberate Strategy To Make People Feel Like ‘Guests’

If you don’t have a strategy of engagement now, set yourself one now to create greater engagement and make your customers and potential customers feel like ‘guests’.
One of the biggest tips that I can give you is to think about how you interact and engage with your customers:
  • Before a purchase
  • During a purchase
  • After a purchase
Look at all the contact points between your business and your customer  -  even make a list of each contact point and critically analyse how you and your employees engage and interact.
Whether a contact point is direct or indirect engagement with your target customer, review this contact point.
Does it make your target customer feel welcome and comfortable within your business?
Does it make them feel like a ‘guest’?
Look at your website and social media channels and ask yourself if you sell too hard.
Do you educate or sell?
Ask yourself if you provide enough information about your products or services to enable the potential customer to make an informed decision about buying.
Will your potential customer understand everything that they need to know before they buy and is this information easily accessible and presented well?


80% Education To 20% Selling

I think, from experience, an average ratio of 80% education and 20% selling is a good ratio that can be very effective.
Try to adopt this ratio in your engagement.

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Think How You Can Develop Long Term Relationships

This approach has successfully created thousands of long-term relationships with my customers and these relationships have been a large contributor to me being able to build up an army of loyal customers with each returning to buy more from my businesses, time and time again.
You can do the same.


Want More Advice?

If you would like to discuss this article more with me, further, and how you can develop more engagement within your business and how to make your customers feel like ‘visitors’ and ‘guests’, please contact me below or by email:
Robert-Viney-e1524724492788 Boost Your Customer Numbers Through Engagement