Members 65. Newsletter

“Lockdown. Reach out to your extrovert friends, they have no idea how to deal with this.”

My writing is supported by people like you. The remainder of this post is reserved for Members. Membership costs £12 per year. For this princely sum, you will get access to subscriber only posts, direct access to a members chatroom , and a digital copy of any and all work that I publish in the year. Become a member.

Going Solo 21. Exit

Exit. Sometimes, it’s time to get out. MTI (a company that I co-founded) was running well, making money and growing. However – we were aware that the business environment was changing. Looking ahead, we felt those changes would not be favourable to us and so explored our options for exit. Ultimately, we ended up selling the business. I have no doubt that we sold at the right time – even though it felt very strange at the time.

If you are building a project where the motivation is profit, it’s important to keep the concept of exit at the back of your mind.


Exit can influence how you set up your project. I keep my projects in completely separate buckets – whether they be legal entities or simpler structures. There are lots of reasons for this – but a key one is that I am able to exit any individual project without having to unpick it from another. There is nothing to stop me running Nero’s Notes from the same company as the anti money laundering and training consultancy, but it would make understanding how each business is performing much harder and if I were looking to sell one or other of the elements, it would be very difficult to agree a value.

Exit should always be an option. When completing a review of a project, all possible outcomes should be considered. From expansion, to continuation, to exit. Time is precious, and it is foolish to keep doing something that is not working.


There are many well-worn phrases around failure:

“If you don’t make mistakes, you don’t make anything.”

This is my favourite. I have pursued lots of different avenues and projects that turned out to be mistakes. Each of them has taught me something, some of them have been fun.

The key is not to let mistakes go on too long and be too costly. The review process has to be honest and ruthless. If exit is the right course, then decide upon it and take it. Obviously, if you have a saleable asset, things are complicated, but mostly, these miss-steps are simply things that you need to stop doing.

Move on

Measure, think, decide and move on. Some things don’t work out and that’s OK. Try to learn from the experience and see it as a a milestone on the journey

My writing is supported by people like you. Membership costs £12 per year. For this princely sum, you will get access to subscriber only posts, direct access to a members chatroom , and a digital copy of any and all work that I publish in the year. Become a member.


Going Solo. 3. Money. Can you afford to go solo?


On the next blank page of your notebook, write “Finances”. (Don’t forget to add it to the index.)

This bit is scary. Just writing that word is frightening, which in itself might spawn a series of posts: “Why we are so bad at money.” I digress.


Step 1 is to perform an audit on your personal finances. This process could definitely provide a hundred blog posts. If you are looking for a template/approach, you might do a lot worse than look at “You Need A Budget” (YNAB). What we are trying to work out is how much money we need to live each month. Write “Income Requirement” under “Finances”. Write down all your expenditures. Rent/mortgage, utilities, food, travel, everything you spend.

For most people, this exercise is, in the first instance, pretty simple. Very quickly, they arrive at the point, “I currently earn 1,000 dib-dabs per month, and I could certainly cope with earning 1,000 more, but if I earned any less, there would be trouble.” This post is for those people.

Side Hustle

Quitting your job tomorrow to focus on speculatively writing the script for “Star Wars 45 – Facebook Fights Back”, would be very dramatic, and we all love a dramatic gesture, but to be honest, it’s probably not a great idea.

Whether your solo project is a creative one, a business one or a combination of both, it is unlikely to finance next month’s rent. Almost always, going solo begins as a side hustle. You are going to start your new “thing” without giving up your current income.

You may already have known that, but stick with me. This exercise is not about the result, but about the process. You have documented not only your minimum monthly income requirement, but why it’s the minimum. If you have done this properly, you should already be feeling empowered. You know what you need and why.

Start-up capital

Now – aside from the income question above, let’s look at capital. Does your solo project need capital? Do you need a start-up fund?

I’m not talking about the money you might need in the future, I’m talking about the money you will need to spend to get your side-hustle going.

I’ll give you a clue. The answer, at this point, is “No. I do not need capital.” I have raised money in the past, to start a new venture, and we’ll come back to that, but at this early stage, we’re talking about a side-hustle.

I often hear objections to the above.

So, let’s deal with those now. Continue your Finance pages with, “Start Up Capital Requirements”. List out all the things that you actually need to start your side hustle and your estimate of their cost. Knock your self out. Enjoy! In minutes, you can get yourself to 50,000 dib-dabs. A new computer, business cards, mobile phone, website, stationery, a desk, gardening tools, new suit. The potential list is endless, and of course specific to your business idea.

Wasn’t that fun?

It’s a useful exercise, and I do not doubt that you do need (or want) all of these things. I believe in you. You will have that Mac Pro. Just not yet.


Before you buy anything, work out who will pay for it.

The device upon which you are reading this post is what you will use to find customers. You may even have more similar devices. Even if you have none of the tools that you need to deliver whatever it is you are going to do, first, get customers. Get commitments.

Before buying a rake for 5 dib-dabs, have someone who is going to pay you 5 dib-dabs to rake their lawn. Then borrow a neighbours rake and get your first job done. Then ask the neighbour if they want to sell you the rake for 3 dib-dabs.

This is important. It’s also not about capital. It’s about a mindset. If you have some money laying about, that you want to invest in your side-hustle, don’t. You’ll just buy stuff you don’t need. Trust me. I know this for all the wrong reasons. You also won’t learn anything. I am prepared to take on trust that you are really good at spending money. We all are. I, for example would consider myself an expert on spending money. What you need to learn is, can you hustle? Can you generate income with nothing more than words?


You can afford to go solo. Because you are not going to spend any money.

Time? Yes. That’s next week’s post.

My writing is supported by people like you. Membership costs £12 per year. For this princely sum, you will get access to subscriber only posts, direct access to a members chatroom , and a digital copy of any and all work that I publish in the year. Become a member.

In a time warp


What Ho!

It has been almost a full month since I last wrote.

An exciting and exhausting month in the new business @ pocketnotebooks 

Even Nero is feeling the pace.

Mags has had carpal tunnel surgery on her right hand. In true Margaret style, she has twice had to return to A&E, but we think all is well now. It will still be several weeks until she has use of the hand.

Anyone who has been involved in a new business (new to me at least) will have experienced time-warp. All of my focus has been on getting the webshop stocked and reassuring the very loyal customer-base that it’s business as usual. Days have been long, and to-do lists longer. I have found myself chasing people up:

“Have you completed that task yet? I asked you ages ago.”

“Umm…you sent me an email at 2120 last night. I’m just reading it with my first coffee.”

“Ah. Right. Sorry.”

As the month draws to an end, I have become marginally less unreasonable, although the to-do list shows no signs of getting any shorter and I still never have enough time.

Talking of which…

Keep smiling!

Pocket Notebooks


Sorry I’m late.

I promised to update you yesterday.

I am now the proud owner of Pocket Notebooks

I completed the transaction yesterday and spent the day doing all of the things that you have to do on day one of a new business. I believe that I managed to get through the entire day without breaking anything.

The website was setup by two cracking guys from the North East. They have another business, and as it took off, by their own admission, Pocket Notebooks suffered a little.

The site sells Notebooks. No, not powerful, miniaturised computers, but paper notebooks. I never go anywhere without a notebook, and I don’t always have a briefcase with me. So, I’m a big user of pocket-sized ones.

There is a renaissance of pen and paper. It is not a rejection of technology, but rather a recognition that for some things, technology is brilliant, but that for others, the analogue way still works best.

So, my new company, Loggedoff Ltd, will be offering a place to come and buy some old fashioned technology; Pocket Notebooks. You can even subscribe for a regular delivery of a curated collection of notebooks.

It will take me a few weeks to get everything stocked up and firing, but as I write I have two new lines in transit and some old favourites on their way down from the North East.

P.S. Forget the App, there’s a Pocket Notebook for that…