Category Archives: Gassbagging

Business Plans

Over the course of my career, I was asked to look over a large number of business plans and proposals. Some good, some not so good, some absolute belters and some complete duffers too. There were days when my desk might have resembled the television programme “Dragons Den” had I not steadfastly refused to let it get that way.

So let’s have a look at some and some not so good that came my way:

1) An investment scheme for graveyards/cemeteries. This one just freaked me out from the moment I saw the email header! The plan wasn’t too great either once I read it.

2) A private police force for the United Kingdom. This was by far the most political business plan I had ever come across. Aside of the political messages on every page. It was a very good business plan. I was not sure of the numbers and whether or not they could be reasonably stuck to. In view of some dealings with my local police force recently I think they might have something.

3) A waste management business in Wales. The only time a scam got on to my desk. As with all business plans, a certain amount of checking is done before I even think about going back to the sender. This guy said he had an MBA. I checked with his university. It was a no. Several other checks failed too.

4) An external claddings and coatings business. This arrived on my desk about 2 weeks after the Grenfell disaster. Poor timing. Needless to say, it was a no.

5) A chain of takeaway restaurants in the Far East specialising in British Food. I liked this one. I was unsure of the market size though. A takeaway offering such delights as cod and chips and Sunday roast to takeaway and much more. I know that things such as British produce shops (I was in one in Prague a few years back and they wanted the equivalent of £3 for a pack of walkers salt and vinegar!) and English pubs abroad generally do quite well but a chain of takeaway food shops? It was a fantastic business plan though and if the numbers worked I could see it doing very well indeed.

6) Online classifieds websites. I have seen so many of these usually with inexplicably wild numbers and fanciful predictions. I usually got a few these every month.

7) An Indian restaurant in London. I did this as a favour to one of my neighbours. The only time I ever got offered a “bung”! Well, the owner offered me a free takeaway meal every week if I could point him in the direction of funding. This was a well-written, concise plan, Being local to his chosen site for his new venture, I could see exactly where his income was coming from and how well-founded and how well-grounded his predictions were. I think he erred on the side of caution. I know now that the business pre covid traded above plan. I moved away so know little of its current status.

8) Bitcoin investment schemes. I usually got these 3 or more times a month. All utter tosh.

9) A property investment television channel. Looked great on paper but too narrow a market.

10) A farming business in London. Yes it transpired that is was probably “that” kind of farm. Straight in the circular filing cabinet.

I might write another blog with some more classics at some stage.

Delivery Drivers And Culture – The Security Threat

Lockdowns in the light of the pandemic have been a bonus for the delivery services and have been a veritable god send for the people using them. Deliveries have increased in every sector. These deliveries are vital for their recipients but I have noticed an undercurrent and security risk that should not be happening. This risk is not only antisocial but it is a benefit to burglars too.

I live in a block of flats with a front security door. This is what delivery drivers do and I know I am not the only one to witness this. They do not ring for the flat but try the “Trade” button. When this does not work. They try and force the door. Sometimes with success. Again anti-social but an open invitation to a burglar to walk straight into a secure block of flats.

It gets worse, as I have to pay for replacement doors in my service charge, which went up substantially last year owing to delivery drivers forcing the main door and will do again this year owing to the same.

Now I can sometimes see the security door depending on which room I am so I have compiled a list of the top offender of this crime.

  1. Amazon these guys are the most frequent and from what I have seen the most violent ones at my front security door. They have completely removed a secure closed door more than once! The Amazon drivers like to push past elderly residents as they are coming and going too. I have been told that they have broken glass in security doors at other blocks too.
  2. Hermes. Yes, when they actually deliver, they often leave the parcels outside or just visit to claim delivery! They give the door a good go.
  3. Yodel, not as violent as the other two but still guilty.
  4. Tesco. Often happens but their other crime is making a slightly damaged door much, much worse.

If we are going to name and shame the rotters we must acknowledge the good guys too. DPD are also frequent visitors to my block and I have never seen such behaviour from these guys. Always very polite too. No trying to push past people either. They wait until they are invited.

My biggest concern is that the behaviour of these delivery drivers invites other crimes. In fact, by damaging the security doors they are committing a crime in the first place. Criminal damage. I do wish someone would actually catch them in the act. Personally, I would like to see action in the courts and lots of it, as I think it is the only way that this practice can be stamped out. I know for one that I will be even more annoyed if my insurance premiums are impacted.

I actually just wish they would completely stop. It is actually everyone’s right to live in a safe secure home without the threat of crime.

Bye Bye Marlboro

Thanks to the website of The Evening Standard I have just learned that Phillip Morris will be pulling their Marlboro products from the UK within the next 10 years. A brand of cigarettes I smoked for 27 years until 2018 when I quit smoking.

I can sort of see what Phillip Morris are doing here. They want people to move to vaping products. I am still waiting for the UK government to tax the hell out of vaping products in the same way that they taxed cigarettes on the basis of anything to increase government revenue.

For many years a packet of Marlboro used to share pocket space with my keys or my mobile phone and there was always a spare pack in my briefcase. God only knows how many packets of Marlboro I have smoked. My bank manager suggests the number may be substantial! From time to time I still miss the cigarettes. I get that moves are being made to make smoking more and more acceptable. It is about 14 years since the smoking ban came into force in England.

All the same, it is a shame to see a once favoured brand disappearing. Unfortunately, so many older and much-vaunted brands have their writing on the wall at the moment. There is a lot of change going on and some brands are starting to struggle.

It will be a shame to see Marlboro disappear.

Fear not I am returning to smoking. I am happy with a vape!

Introducing Mike

I would like to take this opportunity to introduce my friend Mike Jones. Mike is an old friend and webmaster with bags of experience who will be helping me keep this site and a few other web-based things such as my Nextcloud instance up and running and in order from now on.

Mike and I have been friends for more years than I care to remember. I will be be creating the content for this site mainly by using a dictation to text tool but he will do most of the uploading and site care and maintenance.

This step in keeping this site live is necessary owing to continued failing of my health.

Mike can be contacted by using the contact form below.

    End June 2021 Update

    Well its been a while since the last update, so what has been happening? Well, the website recorded its 100,000th visitor for 2021. This website also celebrated 9 years of being based on the WordPress platform. Nothing more has been broken or damaged and as such it has been a very, very quiet time since the last update.

    Truth be told I have spent more than 50% of the time sleeping. Tiredness is getting much worse.

    There is nothing else really to add.

    I will write another update if there is content for one next month.

    Band 5 Bullshitter Update

    Since I started spreading the term around a little I have been asked by quite a few people if I am setting up either a band 5 bullshitter discussion forum, name and shame board or band 5 bullshitter ratings board on this site.

    The answer is no. Even though I am retired I simply don’t have the time to develop and administer such a thing either on this site or on any other. Any website needs regular administration and maintennance and those based on CMS’ platforms need maintennace on a more regular basis which I cannot commit to.

    I am in favour of a ratings board or name and shame board or similar and I think it could be a good thing. The band 5 bullshitters could be ranked from minor bullshit through to cretinous and life-threatening.

    If someone developed such an animal they will get an introduction blog written by me, a link in the blogroll/bogroll section and if it is totally anonymous I will add the 100 or so I have on a list in my desk file here.

    Remember a band 5 bullshitter dosen’t just have to be a band 5 nurse. It could be any NHS employee from a toilet cleaner right up to a chief executive or chairman.

    Belated Happy 9th Birthday To This website

    Well its official birthday was 12th June. For 9 years this site has been run on WordPress. Before that it was just a holding page for many years.

    In the past year the site has shrunk somewhat. A lot of the old downloads have gone. Podcasts are temporarily away. The old Trade Counter shop has been removed taking with it around 6,000 items of content and a few other things have been removed too. There is still over 8,000 individual items of content on the site which is a good thing. Before the shrinking, there was over 20,000 items of content.

    Even though I have retired this has been one of the busiest years for the Court Guinness website as we have already 100,000 visits. There has been a Court Guinness since long before its WordPress incarnation and until 9 years ago this was just a holding page with a few links on it. Since 2012 readership has steadily grown. Mathematics suggests that this site might make 200,000 visits in 2021. I am not too sure but it is certainly a milestone I would love to see reached.

    There are no real plans for this site for the next year as yet. A template change may happen shortly but that’s about it. I know from some visitors that they would like to see certain things return including the Trade Counter and the magazine but unfortunately that’s not possible.

    I would like to close by taking this opportunity to thank all visitors for popping by. I really appreciate it.

    Thanks and best regards

    Court

    Vans

    I was considering some new wheels recently and started to look at the space requirements. For example I need to carry quite a bulky mobility scooter occasionally along with some other stuff such as overnight bags or supplies. I also prefer 4 wheel drive cars. I view 4wd as a safety feature.

    I looked at a few cars and got quite concerned about boot space even with vehicles such as the Peugeot Rifter and Ford Tourneo Connect. The Rifter is my favourite choice here and I do like the look of the GT premium model. Peugeot don’t do a 4wd but they do have grip control, which is close and has some rave reviews.

    I decided to start looking at vans. Now I don’t need a full size Transit, Transporter or Vivaro. A much smaller van will do. This where I started tearing my hair out. Big thing I want the cab or cabin to be as comfortable as a good car. You know, heated seats, a must for my medical conditions and a few other treats.

    This where it started to unravel. You see with all the options I needed the van started to turn out as very expensive and in some cases very difficult to configure using the manufacturer’s configuration tool on their website. Peugeot are a good example. I still cannot work out how to configure a normal length Peugeot Partner with the 130 bhp engine and grip control.

    The next thing is that I cannot get close to getting all the treats I would either expect or want to add as options in the van.

    Maybe I am in a limited market in wanting a small luxury van and I would not be at all surprised if this is the case. But, there must an easier way to specify vans as I found some configuration tools for vans more confusing than configuring a car!

    The other thing I find strange is not being able to specify 4wd with these smaller vans. I cannot really go up to price levels of a Land Rover Defender or Discovery Van (Basic £36,000 ex VAT – which I will have to pay) and I think I would hit the same issue of not being able to specify some of the nicer Land Rover treats to enhance my driving experience. The only thing that would not be in Doubt with the Discovery or Defender are its 4wd credentials.

    Then we get to the next option. Customisation. There are so many after market customisation options available that it seems that a whole industry has grown up around van customisation.

    Again, very confusing.

    So its back to the drawing board.

    With best regards

    Confused of Warwickshire.

    08/06/2021: Throwback Tuesday – Career Changers

    This throwback looks at Career changers and the original article is from 2017.

    I talk a lot here about career changers who want to buy lifestyle businesses.

    I openly advertise for people who want to sell their lifestyle business to contact me as I have buyers available. I receive enquiries on a weekly basis from potential buyers who want to leave their current careers behind to work on a lifestyle business for me to act for them in a confidential capacity.

    Who wants to quit a good career for a lifestyle business?

    Who are these people and what do they look like?

    I took my last 12 months data and extrapolated some figures from it combined with checking some facts with the individuals involved. This data is also compiled into a 27 page report which can be made available to qualified parties.

    So Let us take a closer look at these people and their profiles.

    First of all we can look at age groups:

    Age rangePercentage
    under 302.13%
    30 – 4016.31%
    40 – 5040.43%
    50 – 6029.08%
    60 +12.06%

    Here we can see that the desire for change peaks between the ages of 40 and 50. Much of this age range will have worked for over 20 years. This is one driver for change.

    Nest we can take a small glimpse at life at home.

    Home LifePercentage
    Single7.80%
    Co-Habiting28.37%
    Married21.28%
    Married With Children42.55%

    The full report reveals that the stronger the home life in terms of family the desire for a quieter life away from London life strengthens.

    Let us now take a look at the staff grade of these people.

    GradePercentage
    Non-management Junior Grade2.13%
    Manager51.77%
    Director21.28%
    Vice President6.38%
    Other senior grade18.44%

    At manager level the desire to change career peaks.

    Let us also look at their working locations.

    Work LocationPercentage
    Canary Wharf28.37%
    Home4.96%
    London City35.46%
    London Other9.93%
    London West End14.18%
    Other7.09%

    When I started looking into this I did not expect Canary wharf to show such a high result.

    As we carry on looking at the current make-up of the individual looking to change career in to a lifestyle business we can now take a look at annual salaries.

    Annual SalaryPercentage
    < £50,0005.67%
    £50,000 – £75,00029.08%
    £75,000 – £100,00055.32%
    £100,000 – £200,0005.67%
    Over £200,0004.26%

    We can see from these figures that the desire for change is strongest in the £50,000 – £100,000 pay bracket.

    Just before we move on from who wants to change career let us look at the sectors that they work in:

    SectorPercentage
    Banking24.82%
    Legal10.64%
    Accountancy14.18%
    Professional Services35.46%
    Other14.89%

    I was surprised by the figures here when I added everything up. Professional Services features more highly than banking. However I remember some of my earliest clients in the lifestyle business sector who are also career changers. Mostly 40-50 years of age. Manager Grade. Settled or married mostly with children and earning up to £100,000 a year!

    Now that we have looked at who the career changer is. Let us look at where they wish to be in life.

    First of all let us look how much they are looking to invest in a lifestyle business.

    BudgetPercentage
    Less than 50,0004.26%
    £50,000 – £100,00021.28%
    £100,000 – £250,00024.82%
    £250,000 – £500,00039.01%
    £500,000 – £1,000,0008.51%
    Over £1,000,0002.13%

    A number of people we speak to take into account the difference in price between housing cost within reasonable commuting distance (<1 hour) of their primary working location and their desired location when changing career.

    Lastly for this part of my report let us look at the locations where people are looking to relocate to and base their new lives.

    Preferred LocationsPercentage
    Central England8.51%
    Europe4.96%
    International (Non Europe)3.55%
    Ireland (Northern and Republic)5.67%
    North East England7.09%
    North West England6.38%
    Scotland14.18%
    South East England14.18%
    South West England24.82%
    Wales10.64%

    It is worth noting the following. Those considering relocation outside of the mainland (England Scotland and Wales) generally have very strong family and social ties to their preferred location. Scotland also sees this trend with the South West being an idyllic and profitable choice, whereas South East England is seen as a “safe bet”.

    This is all for this part of my report.

    I have compiled a lot more data and will share this on this website in due course.

    I have a full report available to qualified parties, please fill in the form below.

    I will be giving a talk around this report in London in September, please use the form below if you would like a ticket to attend.

    If you are interested in working with the career changers I work with or would like to sell a lifestyle business to my client base then I would be delighted to hear from you. Again please use the form below to contact me.