Welcome back World

I am no longer using the brand, Successful Solo.

I have closed down / ceased to renew other sites operated by me / connected to me including London Web Builders, Millionaire Coaching Academy, Digital Youth Academy, and Small Business Solutions Ltd.

I have closed Small Business Solutions Ltd and am no longer trading commercially.

However, I will still comment on this site from time to time. More will follow.

Employee Engagement Explained

You know it when it happens


After eight years spent advising businesses on how to improve employee engagement, reading hundreds of white papers and studies and leading a research project on what impacts it and how to best measure it I’ve finally figured it all out.

I needed to be away from the ‘problem’ for a few months to really see the wood from the trees.

You cause employee engagement in your business simply by hiring people passionate about life (their own and others) and committed to leveraging their innate and/or learned skill set to be as one employee shared with me ‘good at life’ in ‘the job that I choose’.

You can spend hundreds of hours and millions of dollars articulating a purpose for your business and identifying values to give it foundation and structure but if you hire inappropriately it’s all inconsequential investment and effort.

How they choose a job is up to them……

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May 2015 General Election – It’s already started. 

Who was it that said truth is the first casualty?

Well it’s the same with electioneering.

This time we have a host of parties to choose from but the half truths and misleading facts have already started to tumble into the news papers onto T.V. and social media.

How can potential voters sift the truth from lies?

Many of the lies are connected with statistics, particularly when it comes to showing the growth that the economy has had or has not had.

Some of the tricks involve selective choice of the start and end dates to show the results that the particular party is seeking.

The use of percentages can so mislead and you often have to look hard at the fine print to fully understand what you are being told.

At the moment the debates are centring around the health service, education the economy and immigration.

In the health service it is the inability to be seen by a doctor either at your local GP or hospital that is causing the most debate it is only recently that evidence has emerged that this year’s flu jab has only been effective 3% of cases to prevent flu.

Add to this the 100s of vacancies in the London ambulance service and it is no surprise that we currently have demand out stripping supply.

Oil prices are down and fuel prices are falling. However prices of food stuffs have gone up and down and wage costs are beginning to rise.

It is difficult to see whether we are becoming better off or worse off.

The gap between the mega rich and the poorest in our society continues to widen and part of the debate is starting to focus on taxing wealth of the wealthiest rather than incomes of the highest paid.

Voters should take care when reading or hearing any propaganda from a particular party and be wary of believing headlines.



If any of you have examples of deception please comment below.

The Importance of Small Business the the UK Economy

The importance of Small businesses to the UK economy there are over 4 million businesses in the UK employing from 0 to 50 employees.

Since 2008 they have created the majority of new jobs in the private sector while there have been reductions in both

the public sector and in the head count of many large private businesses such as banks and retail businesses.

Individually the 3.5 million organisations that employ no one but the owners and family members may not appear on your radar as they are so small. However combined together they create around 40% of private sector wealth and economic activity and around 35% of private sector employment.

If you want your local community to be more prosperous then shop local. Research indicates that for every £1 spent at a local business over 64p remains in the local economy whereas if you spend a similar £1 with a national or global company around only 40p stays local.

In many cases small business provide outstanding value and even for consumer goods can have prices for branded products below those in your local national or international supermarket.

They can even offer better value when it comes to services as in most cases the accountant, solicitor, architect, optician that you see will be the owner of the business rather than a hired hand. Someone who understands their reputation is based primarily on the work they do themselves than work done by a junior member of staff.

I would also be surprised if your local business can afford top quality tax and legal advice that ends up with profits either not being taxed at all or enjoying the benefits of some exotic tax haven or even Dublin.

In the case of family businesses, built to last for generations, there is much less likelihood that you will find the levels of fraud and greed seen in some multinational retailers and banks.

Shop local, shop well and do yourself and your community a good deed, not only on small businesses Saturday December 6th but all year round.

A Better London not a Bigger London.

For everything there is a Season and for every City there is a size, an optimum size.

For London this ought to be no more than 10 million people within the boundary of the M25.
Any more than this will become increasingly dysfunctional. We have already gone over the top by planning Cross Rail and an extension to a London Airport.

Further extension should only be allowed in the suburbs for the next 10 years and policies put in place to devolve more activity to the Regions to spread economic growth, reduce London house prices and the cost of living in London for its citizens and visitors.

Traffic congestion/Trains and tube over crowding
The Speed of London traffic seems now to be below the 7mph enjoyed when we had a horse and carriage. As for the overcrowding on trains tubes and busses, particularly during periods of high visitor numbers the situation is bordering intolerable.
Do we really want to saddle Londoners with a debt of £1.3 Trillion by 2050 (the equivalent of London Olympics every three months for the next 35 years) to get out of this mess.
House Prices
As more people work from home we should continue the change from office premises to home and office conversions and increase the supply side of the London housing mess.
The plans for 50,000 new homes every year and 600 new schools and colleges need to be cut back – we simply can’t afford it.
The London infrastructure plan 2050 is a plan for a disaster that assumes population will rise to over 11million
The London assembly and the Mayor seem to have gone mad, and created an unaffordable nightmare with no clear indication of who will pick up the bill other than the assumption that 60 billion of investment for infrastructure will be related to the railways.
Bullocks to Boris let’s have a better London not a bigger London and if that means relocating more central government office activity beyond the m25 so be it .

Major reform is needed of the recruitment and training of Civil Servants.

A major activity today is Commissioning Services by way of Public Tender and then properly monitoring the performance against targets and taking action when projects go “off plan”.

There is now a strong body of evidence based on National Audit Office and other reports that the Civil Service as a whole is in extreme danger of being “Unfit for Purpose”.

This criticism has been made of certain departments like the Home Office for years.

More recently Business Innovation and Skills, BIS, had the Post Office privatisation issue and, separately, it has been reported to have too few senior staff with business or relevant experience relating to the activities of the Department with too much reliance on outside consultants for advice.

It was also identified as having below average morale.

Last year there was strong criticism of the Transport Department in relation to the West Coast franchise allocation.

DWP, Department of Work and Pensions, is rarely out of the news for under performance of Work Contract providers, poor value and delay on the introduction of the Universal Credit project and in the last week the early discontinuation and poor achievement related to the Youth Contract.

Over at the Justice Department there were problems with supervision of provider contracts for prison and offender management services.

Boarder Security, the Passport Issuing Service, the Health Service have all been in the firing line for poor operational performance and / or poor contract management.

The Education Department has had so many reforms and initiatives that teachers are very upset at the level of interference and the public are disappointed at the poor performance of young people in international comparisons and the failure of Colleges and Universities to adequately prepare young people for the world of work with the skills that employers need.

None of this comes as a surprise to me.

The public sector as a whole is providing poor value for money and an inadequate return on investment.

Change, reform and improvement are too slow and too costly.

The structure of the Civil Service, the culture, the management style and inherent inefficiency and ineffectiveness can no longer be tolerated.

There is inadequate scrutiny internally and the National Audit Office, on behalf of Parliament is under resourced for the task it faces and badly supported by MPs.

There are political mistakes and MPs and Ministers must take part of the blame but the real culprits are the Civil Servants.

Ministers cannot be expected to take responsibility for all the staff in their department. Senior Civil Servants need to be held to account for their failures, particularly in policy execution, as well as policy advice.

A recent article in the Telegraph highlights the current issues that result from an inappropriate tax system, largely created by Civil Servants.

Let’s all join the taxation debate but also widen it to a debate about the Structure and Performance of the Civil Service because in one way or another the taxes they raise and spend represent almost 50 % of our GDP.

Tax Collection

A recent National Audit Office report looked at the UK tax system and commented on Tax Allowances and other things that reduce the tax take.

In the case of Inheritance Tax, the total amount of allowances (mainly because each individual is exempt from the tax on the first £325k of assets and a couple can claim £650k exemption) exceeded the amount collected.

I wonder if it is worth the bother of collecting.

Of more interest were comments on Corporation Tax. Much is written about the rates payable in different countries and the increasing amount of “corporate Tax Tourism” by some Internationally active businesses to minimise the amount they pay – all quite legal and part of tax avoidance .

Equally of interest were sections on Tax Evasion- the criminal activity to defraud, covering examples of how it was done in relation to VAT scams and the paper creation of non existing debts to reduce the value of an Estate to evade tax due.

What Economic Growth?

  Britain is still Basically Bust.

All this talk of green shoots and growth is just so much smoke and mirrors from the Coalition to help them do well in the May Elections.

 We have not left the recession behind by a long way.

 Liquidity may have improved (it generally does when you give money away) but efficiency, exports, solvency have not improved.

 The rate of increase in national debt may have slowed but the Government Deficit is still going up.

 More people may be employed in the private sector but only because there are now 5 million so called self employed, of whom at least 2 million are earning less than the minimum wage for themselves because they can’t become employees.

 As for the tiny increase in GDP – GDP itself is now a misleading economic indicator when it comes to a way of measuring real national wealth.

 And as for Labour, their misguided policies will only make things worse. Nationalising the railways, price controls (no mention of wage controls – yet) and more borrowing for public sector projects is going backwards rather than forwards.

 They are right to say wages have risen slower than prices (except for those at the top of the Banking and Finance trees) and most people are now worse off than they were in 2008 but stronger Trade Unions and striking Tube Workers are not the answer.

 I don’t even want to mention UKIP – Unconsidered Knowingly Illogical Policies.

 Western Europe and the USA seem powerless in the face of events in Ukraine and the Middle East.

 We are fighting a losing battle for democracy across the globe because democracy, as we currently know it, is failing to deliver what people want.

 Inequality of wealth is getting greater. The prosperous middle is now squeezed. Among the mega rich there is a growing feeling they no longer need to obey the law as they are above such things and money can buy anything, while some of the very poor mistakenly believe they cannot afford to obey the law if they don’t want to starve.

 Politicians need to raise their game and come up with new ways of thinking about and dealing with excessive inequalities of wealth, opportunity and dignity.

 They should start by restricting credit and getting the current generation living within its means and not mortgaging the present by imposing ever bigger debt on our children and future generations.


Housing Horrors in London

Affecting Property Owners, Local Authorities, the Homeless


In London today we have a strange paradox, rising house prices yet a shortage of houses to buy.

It seems the free market isn’t working. Supply is not meeting demand despite a rise in prices.

Existing home owners are getting wealthier without personal effort. In the last 5 years my house has earned more from just being there than I have from working hard.

Older, private property people and pensioners like me with under occupied large houses are blocking younger people, many with young children, getting onto the property ladder.

The Government is making it worse by subsidising buyers with cheaper mortgages, thereby further increasing London house prices and bringing about a major transfer of wealth that benefits banks and existing house owners, including landlords, and disadvantages aspiring achievers seeking somewhere to live.

There are many factors that have led to this problem, including those that distort a free market in housing, like planning regulations, the community charge, business rates, the rise in the number of empty properties, both in the private and public housing sectors and the commercial property market.

Most people in London, particularly the young disadvantaged, think this is wrong and something should be done.



Increase the supply of housing rather than fuelling the demand.

How would I do this?

1 Stop subsidising house buyers, using Government money, to pay lower interest rates and provide cash for deposits.

2 Use the money saved to subsidise those who will be building new houses, who could then reduce prices and maintain profits, creating additional employment in the construction sector along the way.

3 Allow local authorities / the Mayor of London to levy a new “Excess Inflation Charge” (based on the difference between the sale price of the house this time and last time, (as recorded by the Land Registry) adjusted for general inflation, on all sales of existing domestic property (but not new build sold for the first time), from a certain future date (say January 1st 2015), perhaps collected at the point of sale by estate agents/ solicitors and handed over to the local authority to spend on getting additional houses built.

This would be likely to reduce house prices in the medium term as the “excess profits” made on the sale would not go to the individual property owner but the “community” by way of the local authority.

It would also reduce the demand for loans / mortgages by those individuals and property companies (the new asset strippers) that buy, refurbish, resell at a higher price and pocket the profits.

4 Make more land available by relaxing planning regulations that restrict supply, such as that relating to the Green Belt and rules that restrict land use to non domestic housing.

5 Make more property available for conversion to domestic property use by reforming planning rules.

For example, if an existing property (shop, warehouse, factory, office building, catering establishment, school etc) remained empty and unused for more than 5 years, then the owners could be granted planning permission to convert the property to domestic use.

6 Tax the owners of domestic and other property on an upward rising scale that remains unoccupied and unused after 12 months with the tax going to the local authority for use in new house building or renovation.

Big problems need Big solutions to put things right.

Do you agree?





Government Not Doing Enough for Young People

What’s Wrong


Young people are the future of this country and we are failing them by giving them poor education and not enough jobs.


This Government is too political and doing too much for Pensioners (who are highly likely to vote) and not doing enough for Young People, who are less likely to vote.


Successive Governments for at least the last 15 years have been failing young people at all levels of education from Primary School to University by not preparing them adequately for the world of work and have wasted millions in the process.


Many young people at the age of 16, 18 and even 21, do not seem ready for work.


Many employers don’t want them; one report said 10% of parents, if they had a business, would not even employ their own children.


Government statistics indicate that around 1 million young people aged 16 to 24 are NEETS – Not in Education, Employment or Training. Where they and what are are they doing?


More importantly, what has the education system being doing, what have their parents being doing?


Job vacancies are rising again but employers are rejecting young applicants as not being fit for purpose.


Those aged 16 to 18 living at home are not entitled to state benefits. What do they live on? Are they just being given enough money by their parents to vegetate at home watching TV, DVDs and browsing the Internet?


State funding for 19 to 24 year olds is also hard to get. They are encouraged to undertake training but many Colleges are now rejecting them for Apprenticeship courses as they need to be in a job to do an apprenticeship and the Colleges will not be paid if the College cannot find an employer to host them.


The Government flagship Traineeship programme is poorly funded, badly designed and hardly anyone is doing it.


Unemployment rates amongst graduates of several subjects are rising. Starting salaries by subject differ widely from £12k a year to £24k.


Student debt is rising. The Student Loan Company now expect to recover only 50% of the loans made, with the tax payer picking up the bill, rather than the student borrowers paying the interest on the loans or even the capital in many case.


Hopefully their parents and grandparents will be as cross as I am for failing a generation.



What Needs to be Done?


They must now massively cut funds to Universities and cut University undergraduate places by at least 50% in the next 3 years. The traditional University is dead; long live the Virtual University with local support.


We don’t need young people to go far away from home, sit in big expensive buildings, rent local accommodation when they could stay living at home and get the same quality of teaching using modern technology and blended learning for less than half the cost.


Grandparents, please stop your grand children going to University, even if they have good A levels and if they are already at a poor University and not doing well pull them out.


Don’t waste any more money on fees and don’t let them take out a loan, which could saddle them with massive interest and debt repayments if they do get a good job or cost the taxpayer if they don’t get a job at all.


The real beneficiaries of expanded University places are local landlords of student accommodation and the University staff and Vice Chancellors at the top, some being paid over £400,000 a year by taxpayers.


More reform is needed in FE Colleges to better prepare those aged 16 to 24 for the world of work.


However, even more change is needed in our schools and homes so that young people get the examples, support and help to become better and more useful human beings.


Parents need to encourage their children to get some work experience from the age of 12 onwards and new legislation is needed to allow this to happen without employers breaking the law.


Part time work for a few hours a week can be very valuable for those aged 16 to 20 and is widespread in other countries like USA and in Europe.


Parents need to talk to their children more about the world of work – many young people don’t seem to have a clue how their parents earn money.


Please, let’s have your comments