If you're considering working with me or investing in any of my products, I think it's only fair that I share a bit about myself... who I am, what I do, and why I now spend my days helping freelancers to have more successful businesses.
I'm an engineer at heart...
I started my working life as a 16-year-old apprentice engineer, working in a Government explosives factory. I’d applied to be an electrician, just like my granda before me, and when I was offered the job, I was delighted.
But after a few months, I became evermore doubtful about what an electrician actually did, because I still hadn’t even wired a plug!
It turned out that I was actually an apprentice ‘tool and diemaker’ (mostly referred to as a ‘toolmaker’), not a sparky after all! This will give you an idea of how naive I was at that age – I hadn’t a clue! 😳
I was discarded like chewed gum...
It was the mid-80s, 5 years after starting my apprenticeship, and the economy was on its knees. Everyone was skint, Maggie Thatcher and the miners were at war, and we were limited by the amount of electricity we could use in our homes. My kids didn’t believe me, but it’s true – the country was in a real mess.
Anyway, the upshot was that all 16 apprentices who graduated that year, including yours truly, were binned quicker than you could say “Arthur Scargill”!
Jobless and devoid of savings, I did the only thing I knew, got another job as a toolmaker – eventually! It took 4 months to get that job and that was only because I was (somehow) related the woman who ran the HR department (I think she was married to a distant cousin of my mum’s).
It was a job I hated with a passion, but one that would prevent the building society from taking back my home and flogging it to someone else who had a bit of dosh!
The Americans saved the day...
After the most miserable 2 years of working hell that you could imagine, a large US tech company moved into the area and just about everyone I knew, including me, applied for a job there!
They had a role for practically everyone, or so it seemed, and I moved into a Quality Engineer role using my engineering background as leverage to get in the door. It was my ticket outa hell, and into a modern, clean, vibrant environment that exuded innovation, technology and a can-do attitude – very alien to me at that time.
After 3 years there, the world hit a bump on the road, global recession which necessitated redundancies – something that seemed impossible to happen there, did. I was now going through my second redundancy process and I’d only had 3 jobs!
It was at this moment I had a realisation – I was very replaceable and had little to offer any employer that they couldn’t easily find elsewhere.
Something had to change…
My wake up call...
Just like most of the 1,000 people working there, I was placed in the ‘at risk’ category and placed on a 90-day consultation period. But to my bewilderment, some people were not.
Why not, I wondered?
Well, it turned out these people did have skills that were much more difficult to replace – and on further inspection, it happened to be those who worked in the software / IT department. By the way, this was over 30 years ago, when software was a magic art, only understood by wizards and fairies.
So, with a stubborn and dogmatic approach to such things, I promised myself (and my new wife, at the time) that I’d never allow myself to be put in that position again – I’d do something to ensure that nobody could EVER make me redundant again!
So, instead of waiting to be pushed out the door, I applied for redundancy and enrolled myself on a software engineering degree – they’d never be able to get rid of me once I learn how to code!
I went full circle...
After 4 years of Uni as a ‘mature student’, I walked out of there with my BSc. Soft Eng, armed with everything I needed to land that role that nobody would be able to kick me out of!
But I needed a reference to apply for jobs.
So, I went back to my managers at the US tech company to ask for these, at which point they asked “Oh a software engineer? Would you like to interview for a role that we have here?”
I’d inadvertently found a new job, doing what I’d just spent 4 years learning, back in the same building I’d voluntarily left with a “They’ll not do that to me again!” attitude.
I was still an engineer. Just transferred from mechanical to software.
I realised I wasn't a good employee...
Even though I’d spent some great years at an amazing company, deep down the bureaucracy and office politicking was driving me crazy! Plus, from a financial perspective, I knew that I was only ever going to increase my income by the corporate standard 2%-3% per year, if I was lucky.
Enough was enough, it was time for another big decision, start my own business – as a software consultant, albeit one with limited experience. (Remember, nobody really had much soft dev experience back then!).
I tendered my resignation, registered at Companies House and off I went, looking for my first client (not recommended, by the way – have a better plan than I did!).
From that day until this, I’ve been starting, running, growing, and even selling businesses that have all had software or technology at their core, in one capacity or another.
Fast forward to today...
Having spent many days consulting inside a multitude of companies, some which were huge multi-national corporates, I realised that I’d replaced my employee-frustrations with self-employed frustrations – so I decided that enough was enough, no more trying to get POs raised, project managers assigned, meetings set up, IT clearance secured, permission to visit a site etc. etc…
I made my mind up to only work with people who have full control of what they do, who they work with, and flexible enough to work together in the best way for both of us – that’s why I now only work with freelancers (or solopreneurs).
It’s my sweet-spot. The people who ‘get’ me, and I ‘get’ them.
The people who are going through the challenges I’ve been through, and want to achieve things in their business that I know I can help them achieve.
Why email marketing...?
As I struggled to find my ‘niche’, as a freelancer myself, I’d found email marketing to be the most lucrative of all digital marketing channels I’d used in my businesses.
I grew one of my businesses to a 7-figure revenue, with 120+ staff, before selling it to a Canadian-based multi-national – something that wouldn’t have been possible without the power of email.
It’s also in my ‘space’ – it’s tech, it’s software, it’s systems-related, it’s engineer-based, and it’s what I’m most comfortable in – I just ‘get it’.
It’s my sweet spot. It’s where everything feels ‘comfortable’. I like working with people who ‘are’ the business. The people who have complete control over what it is they do, versus the ‘corporate’ world where most things can seem challenging (at least for me).
Working with freelancers feels like wearing that old pair of joggers and tee-shirt – just ‘comfy’.
Whereas working with larger businesses (which I’ve done a LOT of) feels like that uncomfortable formal suit ou can’t wait to get out of.
And I guess to main reason I enjoy working with freelancers is that I am one myself – I get the challenges, I know what it feels like being alone, having to constantly make micro and macro decisions about EVERYTHING… but it’s what I enjoy.
What about the non-business side of things...?
Well, I guess I’m pretty ‘normal’ when it comes to that. 🤷🏻♂️
Married for over 3 decades, we have two daughters and two granddaughters. We enjoy the sunshine ☀️, but since there’s not much of that in Scotland, we like to get abroad whenever we can.
When it comes to hobbies and downtime, you won’t find me far from my Macbook or iPhone, but I do naturally gravitate to Formula 1® (all 23 races in each season!), all things tech-related (especially email marketing tech), the history of companies (especially successful start-ups), The Masters (golf), and Wimbledon.
I’m also an avid collector of books (physical and audio), all non-fiction, and mostly around the same topics I mentioned above!
And if you really want to get my attention, say the words “penne arrabiata” or “bruschetta”! 😋
My idea of a perfect ‘just me day’ is whiteboarding a new business idea, building a web page (or even a full website) for it, an end-to-end email marketing system, including all email sequences, whilst watching the F1 Grand Prix on the 2nd screen! (I know, I’m a biz-tech-sado…!) 😁
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