Monday, 19 December 2011

Lies, Bias and the Regional Press

It's not often that I'm pushed to anger by a regional newspaper, especially one that I rarely read. But I'll make an exception in the case of the Northampton Chronicle. In fact, based on their moderation of one particular article, I am actively advising that people think very carefully before wasting their money on this particular blot on the journalist's escutcheon.

I keep track of Kleeneze's news appearances; it's an old habit made easier by the advent of Google Alerts. So, when I discovered a nice little story about Peter and Jillian Griffiths and their fund-raising efforts, I was delighted.

That is, until I read the vitriolic and incoherent comment posted by an individual calling themselves "CitizenNorthampton". Amongst other bile, he accused them of profiteering, greed, dishonesty and scamming their customers. He also claimed that Kleeneze is seen as a scam by others.

Intrigued, I went through the weird signup process and posted a response. I'd love to cut and paste that response here, but I can't. The reason I can't is that it was removed by a moderator. A moderator who is happy to have the Northampton Chronicle's website peppered with potentially libellous comments from a disgruntled obsessive.

My deleted comment pointed out that Kleeneze distributors are self-employed and that Kleeneze is a legitimate business. I pointed out that, after overheads, petrol, carrier bags, replacement catalogues and postage are taken away from the retail profit figures that he quoted, an extra 10% cash donation to charity is a very nice gesture and not something deserving of vilification. I questioned the original post's figures. I also congratulated Peter and Gillian for their efforts. No reason to delete that, you would think. I wasn't promoting Kleeneze per se, I didn't link to a business website; I merely tried to redress the balance. Unfortunately, that wasn't good enough for the moderator, or the anonymous CitizenNorthampton.

Because CitizenNorthampton responded to me, not once, but twice. I had suggested he might be bitter about Kleeneze (a reasonable point given the nastiness of his original post) and that he might be an ex-distributor. He claims to be an ex-customer of "one of the unnamed people in the picture" and denies having been a distributor. He claims to have a new distributor who "explain[ed] ... in great detail how this business works".

Let's stop there for a minute. How many of us distributors have explained "in great detail" how the Kleeneze bonus structure works to a customer? How many customers have asked us to explain? Am I the only one who doesn't believe this guy's explanation and justification for his vitriolic comments?

Because they are vitriolic; yet again he claims Kleeneze is a scam, that Peter and Jillian are profiteering and he threatens them with reporting them to the charities commission. His final comment, posted at 15:39 on Saturday (at a time when my original comment was still there) still claims that Kleeneze is a scam.

And the moderator, and presumably the Northampton Chronicle management, are happy to let their bias show and let those lies stand. I think Peter and Jillian have enough grounds for a letter before action, asking for those comments to be removed.

I certainly won't be advertising in that paper and I wouldn't advise my team to do so either.

Thursday, 15 December 2011

90-Day Plan: D-1 - Plan Review Time

So, it's D-day minus 1 and I'm trying to do my initial review.

Looking at yesterday's figures, I've got some serious work to do with this plan, to set me up for the end of 2012.

On Monday, I put 180 catalogues out to an area that had been blanket dropped by three other distributors within the previous 2 days. Needless to say, I only found that out yesterday when a couple of very nice people let me know their opinion of the three other distributors. (I'm still receiving calls complaining about catalogue spam today; Betterware and Avon also hit this area over the weekend).

180 catalogues gave me £55 of sales and that's only because I was smart enough to put the New Year's Sale brochure in with everything else. Normally I'd get at least £100 - £150 in for the same number of blanket-dropped catalogues.

Now, I fully support and appreciate the freedom that Kleeneze's business model gives me; I'm not tied to a specific area like Avon representatives are. The inevitable downside is the seasonal catalogue spam caused by distributors converging on a likely area to blanket drop. Catalogue spam is always worse around Christmas. It puts potential customers off and those of us who stick with trying to build a solid retail base spend the following few months calming our regulars down, who often don't realise the realities of building a Kleeneze distributor customer base.

Anyway, back to the review:

1. Do I know EXACTLY what I'm doing for each of the next 90 days?

I did. Until I got the third lousy retail result in a row. Yes, I'm annoyed. I'm also focused on getting £1600 of sales every period from now on. I have a list of roads to start dropping and presenting to; I may need to amend that on a weekly basis during this plan to build a solid retail base.

If I don't get the retail sales, I can't invest in recruitment. It's that simple. So I need to come up with FREE ways of getting leads. I'll need to amend my recruitment plan on a weekly basis as well.

2. Does my family know and understand what I'm doing?

Yes, and they don't believe I can do it. Welcome to the real world.

3. How am I tracking my activity?


Catalogues out, in, order quantity, order value, average value per order, average value per catalogue, number presented, number blanket dropped, which roads, when, who looks, who doesn't look but hands back, who 'loses', who refuses, who orders, which other distributor.


Type of lead generation, quantity of leads in, quantity of information packs out, results of calls and follow-up calls, who's not interested, who are tyre-kickers, who want a PAYE job, who want supplementary income, who want to be active, number of signups, which type of signup.

4. What are my back-up plans when/if Life! gets in the way?

Life! has already got in the way. I'm used to it. This is more down to being self-disciplined, something I need to continue working to improve. So, a list of incentives to stick to the plan, and a big fat chart of the money I owe are on my study wall right now. I have built in a little slack to my plan so that, should I need to deal with Life! for a few days in any period, I can do so and still achieve my targets.

5. How exactly will I get back on track if I drift away from my planned activity?

I cannot afford to drift away from my planned activity. If I do that even once, I won't achieve my targets. Self-discipline is key, yet again.

6. How will I reward myself for goals I have achieved, and when?
I have a few incentives planned, but I also have a big incentive, which I can only pay for if I achieve every goal I've set for myself: - being taught to sing in a masterclass by one of my heroes. For me, that's a major goal.

90-day plan, here I come!

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Congratulations, Stanley!

Well done to Stanley Stewart for being a finalist in the Direct Selling Entrepreneur Awards this year. And congratulations on getting his story in his local paper as well.

Stanley went full-time with his Kleeneze business in 1997 after starting part-time in 1995. He obviously puts a lot of work into inspiring and supporting his team and has been rightly rewarded for doing so.

Monday, 5 December 2011

90-Day Plan: D-2 - The Plan Takes Over My Life!

Oh, heck, this was NOT what I expected.

When I decided in one of my more insane moments to dual-blog on 90 day plans for 90+ days, I completely forgot to factor in my son's activities.

Now, he's doing his GCSEs this year, so he should be able to look after himself? To a point, but not when it involves me slotting in school and extra-curricular taxi duties, not to mention having to waste most of Saturday waiting in for a parcel because he slept over at his sister's house on Friday night.

Seems I'm NOWHERE near organised enough yet. Hopefully, I'll have improved on that at the end of the next 90 days.

Anyway, let's look at creating this plan, as per my instructions on my other blog:

1. Get the year planner up on the wall and draw a border around the 90 days you'll be working your plan.

Nice and easy - the wallplanner was bought a couple of weeks ago and is already up. Mind you, thanks to using a cheap generic version of BluTack, it's now sellotaped to the wall and I need to repaint bits. The border is drawn. I'm adding the last 2 weeks of Period 13 to a full 3 periods next year, to make sure I start my next 90 day plan at the beginning of Period 4 2012.

2. If your business 'weeks', 'months' or 'periods' don't line up with the standard Sunday - Saturday or Monday - Sunday options, mark those out on your planner as well.

Done. Kleeneze weeks run from Fridays to Thursdays. Go figure. Presumably a historical reason regarding staff payments.

3. Mark out ALL commitments for the 90 day plan duration on your wall planner.

Luckily, that's fairly easy this year. Chipping Norton Folk Club once a month, a choral workshop in Chippy and (gulp) my second attempt at singing in front of a Music Festival Adjudicator. Plus, of course, Christmas and birthdays. If you want to know why a Rugby woman does a two-hour round trip to Chipping Norton once a month when there are closer folk clubs.... well, it's a long story.

4. Take your 90-day plan template, which should be marked out in 30 minute blocks from 6am to midnight.

Unsurprisingly, got one of those.

5. Block out periods of time for all normal activity - bathing, exercise, meals, housework, gardening, travel to/from work/higher education studies and, of course, the day job/lectures.

Done that. Blocking out the basics is surprisingly easy and leaves some sizeable chunks of time free in the evening.

6. Block out periods of time for all other commitments - family events, club meetings, holiday away from home.

That was nice and quick, too. You might find you've got more events, meetings and holiday than I have.

7. Block out your business activity for the next 90 days. You will be sticking to this plan; make sure it's sustainable.

Now, this is where it gets interesting. My tendency would be to block out what suits me, but for every block I allocate, I have to consider the youngest son and my partner's needs as well. That turned a simple exercise into a juggling nightmare. There's no point doing this if I'm building up resentment about my focus being elsewhere and, like many women, I'm used to experiencing resentment when I focus on "my" (aka my business) needs rather than theirs.

7a. Take a 7 day plan template and block out your business activity for each day. This time, be more specific. If you plan to hand out leaflets, deliver catalogues or do surveys on a particular day, write down the streets or area now. If you don't use a template, this information needs to go in your diary for those days.

Oh dear lord, THIS is a killer. I've never been this organised before in my life, and I'm not sure I like it! Mind you, I'm sure I'll get used to it, not to mention sidestep it when necessary.

7b. Repeat 7a for all 13 weeks.

I thought 7a was a killer? This is worse - not only do I have to work out my standard activity, but I have to try to preplan extra blocks of streets to make sure I'm always able to hit my targets. This is probably one of the key reasons I've never stuck with a 90-day plan before now.

8. Block out your business activity on the year planner; one simple way to do this is to use stickers of different colours, shapes and sizes depending on available time and type of activity. Remember to create a key to those stickers and display that on your wall, too.

Fell down at this hurdle. I'm shopping tonight and will have to get some stickers and then revisit this step.

9. Create activity tracking sheets for each type of activity you intend to undertake and ensure you have enough copies to cover 90 days of activity. You will be using these every day, in conjunction with to-do lists, to maximise your time and effort.

I had the templates already, but creating 13 copies of each, complete with dates etc., took several hours and had to be done around other activities, such as housework, taxi service for the youngest and Kleeneze catalogue rebagging. It's times like these when I need to do this business full-time.

10. Make sure that you have a central store for all your planning and tracking paperwork, be it in a computer folder or in a filing cabinet or lever arch file. Don't give yourself opportunities to fail.

Now this one was simple, and the filing cabinet is ready and waiting, as is my Kleeneze tracking folder.

Better late than never. I've readjusted my plan to start on Friday 9 December, to give me time to complete the review stage comfortably around my business activity this week.

Fingers crossed!

Wednesday, 30 November 2011

90-Day Plan: D-3 - Organisation - My OMG Moment

Me, organised? I can be. I just never seem to sustain it. My organisational capabilities flare up when required and then tend to subside just as quickly.

Part of the problem is a desire not to be seen as this hard-nosed, obsessive, managing control freak. Which is what I turn into every time I have a flurry of organisational activity. I need to change and when better than while implementing 90 days of new habits?

You're getting used to this by now - the hard facts can be found here; my pitiful attempts to live up to my own teachings are below:

1. Set up a dedicated email account, don't flood it with subscriptions.

Dedicated account set up. Unfortunately....

OK, fine, I will unsubscribe and change to RSS feeds where I can. This will have to be done in parallel with other activities as I've WAY too many subscriptions for comfort.

2. Email/Mail - Deal with it, dispose of it, decide what to do with it and when. Keep the inbox bare.

Easier said than done, but the more I try to do this, the better I'm getting at it. It's still going to take time to work through my 3,000 emails though. Yes, I know. You don't have to tell me...

3. File receipts as soon as you get them.

This is my biggest area of failure so far. My filing system at the moment is chronological and there are strata of unopened envelopes that were probably delivered by pterodactyls. I've spent an hour filing by year into manila folders. Next step, set up a proper filing system.

4. Set up a business bank account.

I've currently got a separate account for business purposes. Chalk one success up to the Kleenezelady.

5. Make sure you have all contact details available at all times for customers, team members and prospects.

I've ordered a daytimer (early Christmas present) and I will be transferring details to that as soon as I get it. Plus, my new mobile upgrade is a smartphone, which should help as well.

6. Set up activity tracking for all business activities.

Done. Getting into the habit of using the tracking will be the key, though. That, and not letting my laptop spontaneously combust again...

7. Ensure the family answers the phone in a professional manner or divert calls.

Call diversion is on. Enough said. Kleeneze provide a great voicemail system (and yes, I need to clear a backlog of messages on that as well....)

8. Use a whiteboard/family calendar to keep everybody updated on what you're doing.

Already doing this as well. It works really well, when my teenager isn't trying to be clever.

9. Invest in a cashbox and bank your takings before spending them.

That's a habit I need to get into.

10. Develop a routine so that your family, team and customers know what to expect.

And again, that's a key habit that I need to develop.

I'll be planning the next 90 days out tomorrow. I'll keep you posted on how it goes.

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

90 Day Plan: D-4 - Preparation - The Reality

Over on my other blog, I'm documenting 94 days of 90-day plan activity; this is where you get the reality check!

Today's topic is preparation; something I've tended to fail miserably at in the past - usually because I let life get in the way.

This time, I'm determined to prove I can be more than just a disorganised, hyper-active Type A single mum. Not only that, but I can't lead if I can't prove that what I am coaching about works. So here goes.

Looking at my other blog, there are ten points I should be considering:

1. What do I want, in generic terms, at the end of the next 90 days? List 10 to 15 items.

This isn't as easy as it looks. I'm disorganised, short of cash, trying to support my partner's university fees and expenses and trying to juggle life, the universe and Kleeneze. And I'm not used to setting goals. But, in general, my wants are:

a. More money. A lot more money. My best monthly income from Kleeneze so far has been around £300. I haven't done that this month. It needs to improve.
b. More team members. I can't juggle work and Kleeneze and achieve what I want on personal part-time retail alone. I need to recruit and coach others.
c. A happy family. I won't be able to do this long-term without their continuing support.
d. Proof that I can build a business in my spare time without sacrificing everything around me.
e. Deposit saved for the next family holiday.
f. Car repairs paid for - no idea how much this will cost, but my current car is now cutting out whenever I change gear. I may need the money for a different car at this rate.
g. An end to money worries. Yes, I know, harping on about the lack of money again. Guess why I started my own Kleeneze business?
h. Increased self-confidence. I have serious telephone phobia, for example. I'm shy of presenting catalogues. I know I need to change my behaviour here.
i. Increased savings. I was saving £200 per month. I'm currently saving nothing, partly due to a lack of pay-rises over the past few years, partly to my needing to start again with my Kleeneze business.
j. A reduction in debt. Yep, money issues again. This time, credit cards.

2. What are my 5 specific goals?

OK, I'm getting the hang of this a bit. Specific, Measurable, Achievable (very important for my self-confidence), Relevant and Timely, or SMART, objectives are something I understand from both project management and performance reviews.

So, specifically:

a. Present 50 catalogues per week for 13 weeks (91 days, but who's counting?) That's 50 catalogues handed over, not 50 "No thank you"s. I will also be blanket dropping. That should sort out my presenting nerves.
b. Recruit and coach 4 active distributors, all of whom are retailing £500 per month. That lets me coach them towards their 10% VP in the next 90 day plan. That also allows for the ones who I recruit who don't retail that much. That means I have to cope with my telephone phobia and start learning to deal with it.
c. Achieve a personal retail target of £1600 per 4 week period. That gives me a 13% volume bonus and a combined 4-weekly income of around £336 retail profit plus £133 bonus, or around £469 every 4 weeks. That's before I factor in team-based bonuses. That's a vast improvement on my previous personal best.
d. Save £250 from Volume bonuses only. I will invest £100 per 4 week period back into my business from my retail profits and the rest goes towards paying off debts/bills etc.
e. Pay off one long-standing debt of approximately £500 from my retail profit earnings.

All specific, all measurable, all achievable and relevant.

3. How will I achieve each of these 5 goals?

a. Set aside 50 catalogues for presenting purposes; decide which groups of streets I will present catalogues on, list those streets and go to to use the address finder for the street numbers. Repeat as required.

b. Print out all previous enquiries and phone every single one of them. Follow up as necessary. Set up an autoresponder and keep the interested "not yet" ones in the loop on new offers. Advertise for new leads and follow up responses in a timely manner. Coach according to their abilities and needs.

c. Ensure that I put out "enough" catalogues every week to hit my targets. Depends on the time of year, the area and my reputation as a trustworthy distributor.

d. Savings are based on hitting my 10% Volume bonus for the first 8 weeks and hitting 13% in the last 5 weeks.

e. See point d.

4. Collate all of my diary events for the next 90 days, including those of my family, friends, social groups etc.

I'm working on that. I have the main events blocked out (school holidays, birthdays etc.); I can't collate everything due to my partner's job being somewhat sporadic. I may have to add things in later and re-jig some of my plans.

5. Check I have everything I need, so I can concentrate on the first 28 days of my 90 day plan.

I have almost everything. What I'm missing are a reliable autoresponder and a sizable part of the house to act as a dispatch/office area.

6. Identify any gaps/omissions in what I need and identify when/how I will fill those gaps.

I'll take a look at autoresponders over the next 2 weeks and make a decision based on income and cost. In the meantime, I'll send updates manually.

As far as the sizeable part of the house is concerned, I'll have to make do. I need a bigger house.

7. Take a good look at myself and identify any issues that may stop me achieving my goals in the next 90 days.

I procrastinate to a stupid degree. I'm so scared of phoning others, it's crippling. I get side-tracked easily. I try to do too much and then beat myself up about it when I fail. I'm worried about letting others down.

8. Decide what I'm going to do to prevent those issues.

I will track my behaviour on a daily and weekly basis and use star charts to motivate myself. Well, if it works for stubborn 4 year olds...

9. Write down my baseline results so far. Weekly, monthly and quarterly.

I need to go through back emails to track this, due to my previous laptop spontaneously combusting and taking that data with it to the great scrapheap in the sky. I will post the results once I've done the analysis.

10. Tell my family I'm committing to a 90 day plan of activity.

Done. Not sure they believe me. I need to show them, then.

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

UK Government Wants Employees To Become Entrepreneurs!

That's the only conclusion I can come to after reading today's PR spin and the Telegraph and Independent coverage.

The left-wing press are wrong about one thing, though. Dave's not interested in pushing the employed back to Victorian times. He's not interested in us at all. He doesn't seem to be interested in getting re-elected either, if the 'reforms' of legal aid and employment rights are anything to go by. We're galloping towards the tail-end of the 18th century for anyone who doesn't have the wherewithal to survive life's idiosyncracies, only this time we've got smartphones.

Still, we're stuck in a society where it's obvious that we and our children will need financial independence to do anything more than just exist, so what do we do about it?

Readers of my other blog will know I'm in favour of focused action rather than vague, disorganised tent-ins. In this case, it makes sense for those who are now even more worried about keeping their jobs to start looking at other options.

If you could run your own business in parallel with your current job,  would you be interested?

If you could earn an extra income in exchange for about 10 hours of your time per week, would that be useful?

If you could slowly, but surely, build your business network into a productive team until you matched your current salary, would that help you?

If you want to know more about how I can help you, let me know.

Monday, 21 November 2011

Pre-Christmas Blues

Christmas Star

 Thanks to a combination of circumstances, I'm rebuilding my Kleeneze business from the ground up at what is, in this area at least, probably the worst time of the year to do so.

"But it's Christmas!" I hear you all say. "They all want to buy presents! How can this possibly be the worst time of year?"

Simple. My town has a couple of dedicated distributor teams who believe in recruiting locally at key times of the year. Christmas is one of them. Which means that certain areas get swamped with new distributors, and we all end up tripping over each other in the pre-Christmas rush.

Not surprisingly, a number of the new distributors won't stay the pace. Me? I'm in this forever. I spent yesterday reorganising a room so I can have a dedicated work space, not just for my Kleeneze work, but also my writing and music. Tonight I'm delivering orders, working on my 90 day plan and doing some self-coaching.

I may be starting again, it may be slower than I'd like, but I'm not stopping until I get where and what I want out of life.

Hope you all have a powerful day today.

Thursday, 13 October 2011

OK, I Can Take A Hint!

Sometimes I need to get kicked in the ankles before I do, though...

My day job has been so intensely busy since June that I've let my future slide. I got caught up in the professional pride of exercising a set of skills that very few people in my company have, buoyed by the acknowledgement of my peers at an IT conference.

Well, pride goes before a fall.

Today, I endured the humiliation of sending an apologetic email to the entire team after the team manager told me to do so. The reason? Because a team member who should have known better chose to take some general advice as a set of explicit instructions, and did something he shouldn't have done. Not only that, but his defence was "I was only doing what Anna told me to do". The fact that I hadn't told him to do it, that he was endangering the stability of mission critical systems and that he wouldn't listen to my concerns, led me to raise my voice in public.

Now, I'm not excusing myself here. I know better than to shout at another person; I should have taken the conversation into a separate meeting room. I didn't because this issue was sprung on me. Not good enough. The team manager was right to criticise my conduct.

Unfortunately, I left the meeting with the team manager knowing that, yet again, my concerns were being ignored. I was threatened with a negative performance review and a block on my applying for other roles if I did not send an apologetic email to the entire team. The fact that I'd already apologised in public to the team member was deemed inadequate.

To say I'm heartbroken is not overstating the case. I'm good at my job; I take pride in my skills and have confidence in my technical abilities that is completely lacking in almost every other area of my life. I feel like I've been staked out in front of a firing squad who have the ability to take potshots at me whenever they feel like it.

I get the sneaky feeling I've added another 50 points to an already dangerous life stress score.

But there's another view I can take on this whole mess.

I originally started my Kleeneze business due to issues with my day job. Since then, I'd forgotten how bad I'd felt about getting passed over for promotion when I knew I had the ability to do an excellent job in the new role. I'd forgotten how much I hated the office politics that sprang up every few weeks whenever certain people saw me as a convenient springboard for their ambition. I'd forgotten the sinking feeling I experienced as I realised that being myself was not good enough; that I was expected to behave like a demure little doll instead of a vibrant, passionate woman.

I can't be something I'm not. I've tried, professionally and personally for over 30 years and all I've got out of it is two divorces, an abusive relationship and day jobs where I'm treated as a doormat when I'm not being vilified for not being girly.

I want a life where I succeed on my own terms, where I am responsible for who and what I am and where I am able to look other people in the eye and say, passionately, I am proud to be me.

Today, the universe gave me a reminder that I'm not there yet. But I will be. Watch me soar.

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

I Should Be Dead!

Or insane. Or both.

© Lyn Baxter
Since the beginning of July, I've had the following life events to deal with:
  • Partner's career change (he's going to university for a year)
  • Partner's lack of funding (I need to support him to the tune of an extra £10k)
  • Partner's 3 months of indecision re pursuing his master's degree due to his lack of funding
  • Partner's daughter and grandson moving back in with dad
  • Partner moving half his furniture into my house, due to daughter not liking it
  • Partner stressing over daughter moving back in, and there being nowhere in my house for his furniture
  • Daughter's split with her partner, who is my granddaughter's dad
  • Daughter's house move (mainly performed by me and partner)
  • Daughter's ex-partner's house move (95% performed by me and partner)
  • Eldest son's change of address (wholly performed by me and partner); it took us 8 weeks!
  • Youngest son's psychological reaction to being the only offspring left at home
  • Redecorating larger bedroom (including new carpet, new bed, new desk etc.) for youngest son, funded by partner before he realised how limited his financial reserves were
  • Needing to pay back best part of £750 to my partner
  • Moving some furniture into smaller bedroom, soon to be part office
  • Middle son's ongoing battle to show loyalty to his dad, which has led to some seriously hurtful texts, facebook messages and a general air of distrust on his part
  • A holiday with partner and my youngest and middle sons (!)
  • Mother's ill-health - ulcers
  • Mother's ill-health - thrombosis
  • Mother's ongoing ill-health, which was a background issue before the extra problems, including heart failure, scarred kidneys, etc.
  • Mother got burgled
  • Partner's best friend died aged 54 (same age as partner)
  • Partner's other best friend dealt with his grief by being so horrible, partner has now refused to have any more to do with the guy, so partner now mourning loss of two friends rather than one
  • My day job work responsibilities changing
  • My day job's team responsibilities changing
  • New day job boss
  • New team member, sitting next to me, who twitches whenever he's worried and knuckle-cracks whenever he decides to do some work. He's worried about 95% of the working day, including when he decides to start something new.
  • Reshuffle of desks around the office, to suit the new boss's idea of how the team should be structured
  • Notification of new team job (tailor-made for me) which I would have to interview for, which has spun off some good quality office politics amongst others who want their preferred candidate to be selected
  • Car shunted by woman director in company BMW who refused to provide insurance details
  • Car written off
  • New car immediately developed the ability to stop the engine whilst driving along in third gear.
  • Laptop - with all of my Kleeneze routes on it - spontaneously combusted the day my written off car was due to be collected.
  • Had to buy new laptop and am still catching up with recreating my lists a week later.
According to the Holmes & Rahe Life Stress Test, I ought to be extremely ill by now - and the test hasn't kept up with today's stresses - half my stress triggers aren't even on the list. I've had to "best guess" what certain triggers would cost. My stress count for 2010 was around 850, where 300+ is bad news. My stress count in the past 3 months is 437! My partner's reaction when I told him was to point out that he'd got worse stress than me! I'll give you three guesses how that improved my stress levels...

Needless to say, I've had to focus on all of the above instead of building my Kleeneze business. So much so, that I'm effectively starting again from scratch.

I don't see that as a problem. It gives me  a chance to plan properly for the rest of this week, to better make use of the limited time available to me right now whilst making sure I have a decent plan to maximise income.

Any suggestions on how I can do better? Comments are always welcome. I'm just glad to be back!

Tuesday, 5 July 2011

1400 New Opportunities?

Bombardier didn't win its bid for the Thameslink contract and is making 446 permanent staff redundant. Over 900 contractors will have their contracts terminated. Shedding contractors like that has been standard practice in the UK for past 20 years with the rail carriage manufacturers - I've worked for Railcare 3 times, both before and after it was bought out as a joint venture between Bombardier and Siemens, then sold off to Alstom. Contractors get brought in en masse once a contract is awarded, then renewed on a rolling weekly basis until the contracts run out.

This is not good news for Derbyshire as another 1400 skilled engineers swell the ranks of 15000 unemployed. I'm hoping that none of the people I worked with in the '90s are affected.

If you've landed on this page because of the redundancy or Derbyshire links and you're worried about your future, consider taking a look at my Kleeneze business and please get in touch. I've worked in the rail industry, I understand the challenges and you never know, we may even have mutual friends.

Thursday, 30 June 2011

Kleeneze Works - Newspaper Features Mike, 71

Mike Harle (pic: Daniel Gilfeather)
© Daniel Gilfeather
 This smiling gent is Mike Harle, 71, who became a Kleeneze distributor after using his savings in retirement to eke out his pension.

You can read the full story in the Mirror. He invested £156 in 200 catalogues and made £800 sales in his first 3 weeks, netting £280 income and a fast-start bonus.

That's not unusual for Kleeneze distributors. I'm still disorganised, still juggling family, work and a Kleeneze business, yet in the past 3 weeks I've made £832 of sales. Just by putting out catalogues, collecting them in again and delivering the goods when they arrive.

I'm on target for my 13% Volume bonus - my goal is to reach 13% by the end of Period 8. After watching the videos of the Kleeneze Live training in Falkirk, I'm determined to get more organised, so I can start building my team on solid foundations. Unfortunately, I won't be attending the Kleeneze conference in September and I'm gutted. I'm on holiday with my fiancé and two of my sons and the last week in August is the only week that all 4 of us had free. We travel back from South Devon on the day of the conference.

Still, as my mum used to say, "There are some things you want to do, then there are the things that you have to do." I see little enough of my fiancé as it is due to his international contracting, whilst my 17 year old is now living with his dad and neither my youngest son nor I see enough of him any more. There will be other Kleeneze conferences, and I will be at them with my team.

Thursday, 16 June 2011

Change Your Focus - Change Your Life

Isn't it amazing how a change in focus can trigger all sorts of changes to your personality and your lifestyle?

Yesterday, I collected a grand total of 93 of the 108 catalogues I'd put out on Monday. All these catalogues went out to people who had either ordered or looked at my Kleeneze catalogues before, so I knew they would be welcome.

Despite the usual 5% of catalogues that weren't looked at this time, plus having to gingerly remove a set of catalogues from a bag that looked as though it had been targeted by an incontinent duck, I got 17 orders, totalling just over £250.00. That's an average of £2.69 per collected catalogue, or an average order value of £14.71. Not bad for 3 hours work.

Today, I got head-hunted by a recruitment agency, wanting to put me forward for a job in Coventry. Normally I don't bother to answer agency calls; they're typically the ones that don't display a number or display a generic 0844 code. But this one displayed a Stratford number - so I answered it. Why?

Because I thought it might be somebody interested in building their own Kleeneze business!

I am truly focussed on making my Kleeneze business work. The reason I've survived everything life has thrown at me is - I never quit. I may limit myself in some areas so that I can take care of other priorities first, but I never, ever quit.

I am going to succeed with my Kleeneze business. My mind is focussed on it. I wouldn't call myself the Kleeneze Lady if I wasn't in it for the long haul. See you at the top!

Monday, 13 June 2011

Personality Power - The Kleeneze Lady Way

Over on my other blog, I've written about the power of your personality and the importance of living life according to your values.

In the past couple of days, I got a nice reminder of just how valuable that is.

On Friday, I finally managed to deliver an order to a new customer. After a number of texts re-arranging a date and time, I arrived at her house to be invited in to the garden for a much appreciated glass of Cabernet Sauvignon. We spent a lovely 45 minutes discussing elements of our lives and I left with a warm glow that wasn't alcohol induced.

I also know a lot more about the current issues facing the public sector, which has left me much more sympathetic to the problems they face regarding pension contribution increases, etc. Not everybody has sufficient disposable income to cope with having to pay more into their pensions to realise the same projected value, which means many will have reduced pensions.

On Sunday, I accompanied my mother to the wettest hog roast I hope to experience. Whilst there, I was greeted with genuine friendship by Gwen Hotten, Rugby's Mayor, who I haven't seen for years.

I must be doing something right if I generate that sort of goodwill in both complete strangers and old friends.

I choose to believe that it's my personal values shining through. It's a great confidence booster, too!

Friday, 10 June 2011

Does Your Team Deserve Success?


Then become more successful yourself. Lead the way, so they can believe it's possible and follow you.

Craig White, Kleeneze's distributor of the year, was awarded the UK Direct Selling Association's Direct Seller of the Year award, by leading the way for his team.

Listening to him on the KleenezeHQ YouTube channel is a great experience. He advocates using simple weekly targets of £250+ sales orders and 1 new team member per week, plus coach and care for your customers and team.

Funnily enough, those are the targets I'd set myself a few weeks ago. I must be planning something right, at least.

I've got renewed motivation to follow my 90 plan - I'm following in the footsteps of successful Kleeneze distributors like Gavin Scott, Chris Mason-Paull and Craig White.

Who inspires you to do better?

Wednesday, 8 June 2011

How Do You Drive Your Business?

Stick shift or automatic transmission?

Are you running your business on automatic pilot, or are you in control of where you're going and what your business is doing?

I've just regained control, after months where I let my Life! The Soap Opera moments take over, and I've had one of my better weeks of retail orders because I changed my viewpoint.

There are two reasons for the change. Firstly, a CD set by Darren Hardy, a man who is becoming more and more of a mentor with every replay of his audio and reread of his books - Making The Shift. A brilliant compilation of timely advice; I can't recommend it highly enough.

Secondly, I took control of my overactive flight v. fight response and got myself a self-hypnosis CD - Develop Your Self Confidence (Diviniti). Fear is a natural part of our lives, and our reactions can support our growth as well as safeguard us, but in my case, my reaction to any stress stimuli got out of control. This is due to a rather nasty relationship that ended 19 years ago. Unfortunately, I'd been programmed by then. Death threats can do that to you. So can the uncertainty of not being able to trust those closest to you.

I'm delighted to say that I can feel the difference to my self-confidence already, after only 9 days. I'm slightly calmer, a little more open and I'm feeling a lot stronger within myself. I feel able to stand up for myself where before, I would have either over-asserted myself or morphed into a human doormat. I'm sure there's a lot more self-healing to do, but I can see a way forward for the first time.

I have an inner certainty about myself and my Kleeneze business that was lacking before. That can only be good for both me and my team.

Thanks to Gavin for seeing the "more in me than I can see". I won't let you down.

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

Do You Want to Break Free?

I want to break free, I want to break free
I want to break free from your lies
You're so self satisfied I don't need you
I've got to break free
God knows, God knows I want to break free

I've fallen in love
I've fallen in love for the first time
And this time I know it's for real
I've fallen in love (yeah)
God knows, God knows I've fallen in love

It's strange but it's true
Hey, I can't get over the way you love me like you do
But I have to be sure
When I walk out that door
Oh how I want to be free, baby
Oh how I want to be free
Oh how I want to break free

But life still goes on
I can't get used to living without, living without
Living without you by my side
I don't want to live alone, hey
God knows, got to make it on my own

So baby can't you see
I've got to break free
I've got to break free
I want to break free yeah
I want, I want, I want, I want to break free

© Queen

It suddenly struck me, that's a pretty apt set of lyrics for somebody trying to move away from their current negative mental programming to a more positive self-image.

And, of course, it's a good opportunity to remind everybody of the Kleeneze Break Free option.

Have fun breaking free today.

Monday, 6 June 2011

My Kleeneze Website Rocks!

OK, so that's a provocative statement - after all, it's "just" a corporate microsite, customised to my Kleeneze business details.

It's so much more than that.

All active distributors get one of these websites - nicely designed with clean pages, and all the relevant information is there in front of you:

You get a chance to look at our introduction to the Kleeneze business opportunity video:

You can browse our catalogues.

You can visit our shop:

But it's what we distributors can do behind the scenes that makes my Kleeneze website rock. We have contact management tools for both customers and prospective team members. We can personalise our introduction text. We can decide where we want to build our Kleeneze retail business - anything from a 5 mile radius:

to a 40 mile radius!:

The tools provided for us by Kleeneze just keep getting better! When I was in a previous network marketing business, I had to pay £40 per month for this sort of website. Kleeneze provide this service at a fraction of that price - just one more reason to join our team!

Friday, 3 June 2011

Time Management, Kleeneze Lady Style

As anybody involved in the early phases of their network marketing business will tell you, there comes a time when building your business assumes a greater mental priority than working on furthering your 9 to 5 job prospects.

My problem is, I get paid too much in my 9 to 5 job to just quit - I would need to have a turnover of around £10,000 per 4 week period to come close to my current salary. That means I need to build a good team.

However, as I've discovered over the past few months, making the transition from being a disorganised retailer to an organised team builder isn't easy. I've make two serious attempts at building a team after day job hours and all I've achieved so far is missing out on my Volume bonus.

It's time to get serious about working with spare moments within my day job.

I've now blocked out short periods of 15 to 30 minutes during my working day, during which time I will focus on my Kleeneze business activities. These blocks of time could correspond to company lunch breaks, tea breaks, etc. I'll be inputting orders, contacting prospective team members and catching up on paperwork.

The rest of my day will be used to ensure that I am ahead of my workload, which in turn could free up extra short blocks of time in which to contact more people.

I've revised my 90 day plan accordingly. I'll let you know how I get on.

Thursday, 2 June 2011

I'm An Apprentice - Get Me Out Of Here!

Over on my other blog, I've posted about the Mastery Learning Curve. It's that developmental process we all go through, regardless of whether we're building a business or learning a foreign language.

Now, my projected journey looks more like the wavy line below:

How do I see myself? I'm a Mastery Apprentice, although I've come very close to being one of the Unsupported in the past few months.

That's not a comment on my upline, but on my personal circumstances - it can be hard to motivate yourself when you're a single parent, spending 12 hours per day out of the house working on your day job and your business, then starting afresh on everything else in your day. I choose to nurture, to have a clean home and a reasonably neat garden, to be there for my family when they need me. Occasionally something has to give, and in my case, it's my social life. I haven't got one anymore.

Recently, that got to me more than I thought it would. I burnt out; but I've learnt from that. Vitamins help. I'm getting more organised.

I'll be up there with the Superstars within 5 years. In the meantime, I have a lot of self-development to work on.

Wednesday, 25 May 2011

Wheelie Bins and Charity Shops - Clues to A Nation's Wealth

You wouldn't think of a wheelie bin as an indicator of economic performance, would you? How about considering the existence of charity shops as a key factor in an area's economy?

Well, in Rugby at least, they are.

I walked into the town centre with my children over the weekend and discovered two new charity shops. A town of around 70,000 inhabitants now has 2 British Heart Foundation shops plus one each representing Shelter, PDSA, Oxfam, Cancer Research, Scope, YMCA, Sue Ryder, Rugby Bareboards Trust, Warwickshire Air Ambulance, Myton Hospice and Age UK.

Add to that the 3 pawn-brokers, the half-dozen shops that accept pre-owned goods in part-exchange for credit notes or new purchases and the plethora of cut-price bargains in national chain stores catering to the minimum-waged and you get the picture of a retail shopping crisis. We are losing our independent retailers and with them, variety and personalised service. Those with credit and debit cards shop online or drive to out of town malls with free parking; those with cash and no car have fewer and fewer options.

As for wheelie bins - this time last year, there was outcry at the imposition of fortnightly bin collections. Overflowing bins were put on pavements, emphasising the need to return to a weekly routine. Now, the collections are still fortnightly, but the bins are no longer full, and not due to an evangelical approach to recycling. We are, as a town, just using less, which means we are buying less.

Apparently, according to figures released today by the IPPR, the only reason we're not officially in a recession is because our exports last quarter were greater than our imports. That's more because we're not buying as much from overseas, than because the exchange rate is working in our exporters' favour.

Charity shops are flourishing for a number of reasons, including reduced business rates and a lack of funding from other sources which means they have to rely on retail footfall and donations of goods.

In the meantime, there is no deterioration in Kleeneze orders - the range of goods and the personal service provided by Kleeneze distributors are filling a void that our customers are keen to let us fill. There's never been a better time to build a Kleeneze business.

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

Rising Petrol Prices? Kleeneze Can Help

I filled up my petrol tank on Monday and discovered that, even using the cheapest petrol I could find (133.9p per litre), it now costs me £82 for a full tank of petrol.

Makes the £10 a week I was getting from the girl I was giving a lift to seem paltry, really.

It's getting to the point where I need to consider my day job options. I can't afford a new car - I get 36 mpg with this one and can't do better unless I spend money I haven't got on a much more up-to-date model. I may have to find another job closer to home.

At this rate, anything I earn in retail profits from Kleeneze will be topping up the tank!

When I started work at the fashion retailer's Head Office in December 2009, petrol was 108.3p per litre, or £4.82 per gallon. By August 2010, it was 116.5p per litre, or almost £5.30 per gallon. In January 2011 it was 128.3p per litre - £5.83 per gallon. The latest figures, for April 2011 are horrific. At 135.8p per litre, we're now spending £6.17 per gallon of petrol.

It really doesn't matter what has caused these price increases; what matters is we're currently stuck with them.

That's where Kleeneze comes in. It's extremely simple to earn the cost of a tank of petrol every week - all it takes is consistent action and a little self-discipline. How much peace of mind would an extra £80 per week give you?

Wednesday, 11 May 2011

Back On The Retail Track

After a poor month last month, caused by my spending too much time on recruitment activities, paperwork and Life, I'm happy to confirm that my retail is back on track.

My Kleeneze Group Sales Analysis report (all my own work, at the moment) shows that I've got my 10% Volume bonus this period.

As in previous months, I managed to do that with 3 weeks worth of retail.

My next SMART goals are:
  • To write up my new 90 day plan for the next 3 periods no later than 10pm on Thursday 12 May 2011.
  • To achieve 13% Volume bonus by the end of the next 3 periods, based on personal retail.
  • To add another 200 regular customers by the end of the 90 days.
  • To contact every person on my current active warm list by the end of the 90 days.
  • To add 1 team member per week over the next 90 days.
Now, to do all of that, and juggle being a single mum, working full time and supporting my fiance, who's working overseas again after 2 weeks in this country - that's going to be fun!

Stress, what stress? This is what I do best - setting goals and sticking to them.

Tuesday, 10 May 2011

The Secret of The Kleeneze Gene

Despite my best efforts, I've yet to get onto one of Gavin Scott's conference calls, despite receiving the invite every period. This period was no exception - I made sure I was sitting ready to dial in when a family emergency blew up and I was off in full support mode again.

What was even more annoying was the fact that I missed Chris Mason-Paull talking about how to build your Kleeneze business - Chris is somebody I've never met, but I deeply respect him because of the effect he has on Kleeneze distributors I've talked to.

Thankfully, Gavin provided his downline with a link to a recording of the conference call, so I caught up with it today. I am so glad I spent my lunchbreak listening to it.

There were so many nuggets of information, including:
  • There's no limit on how high you can go with Kleeneze. 
  • You're allowed to do as much as you want - you're also allowed to do as little as you want.
  • There's a myth that you can only be successful in Kleeneze if you have the "Kleeneze gene" - if you've got a special talent that gets people to buy from you or sign up with you.
  • That's not the case - if you sit down next to somebody like Chris Mason-Paull or Gavin Scott and do the same things as them, you will get the same results as them. Success is not down to who you are, but what you do.
  • The three most important things are - get really excited, take consistent action and train as much as you can.
  • Everybody wants what Kleeneze offers. Everybody wants to retire early, to pay off their mortgage early, to grab that one chance to become wealthy.
  • What they often don't believe is that a Kleeneze business can do that for them. It can be seen as too simple. The catalogue does the selling for us; the more you put out, the more income you get.  Once you've learnt how to run your own business, all you need to do is teach others to do the same.
  • A successful Kleeneze business can give you financial freedom.
  • When you go out retailing and it's cold, wet and dark and you're soaked through, it's very difficult to relate that activity to what your business can ultimately bring you. You need to stay focused on the outcome.
  • There's a point in every learning cycle when you suddenly realise how little you know and how much you still need to learn. It's very easy to quit at that point; whether you do or not determines whether or not you will be successful.
  • Ask yourself this - why is it that whenever you hear reasons why somebody isn't successful, they never blame their own actions - they always blame external influences?
  • Let your dreams run wild - become a child again and dream without limitations. Set goals based on those dreams and work towards reaching those goals.
It was a brilliant half-hour and I've got a lot to think about. Which part inspires you the most?

Monday, 9 May 2011

I Need to Quit My Day Job!

There just aren't enough hours in the day to do everything - I'm not complaining, just stating a fact.

As shown in a previous post, I juggle being a single mum with running a Kleeneze business, a two-hour round trip commute five times a week, and working full time.

This week, my eldest son, despite being dependent on public transport, has been sent by his company on a fork-lift training course in Burton Latimer, just south of Kettering. That's an hour away from Rugby by car, and a minimum of three hours away from Rugby by train.

In fact, to get there by train for 7 a.m. means he needs to leave Rugby at 11 p.m. and wait overnight in a railway station for the first connecting train to Kettering, followed by a taxi ride to the industrial estate.

After prompting from me, he raised this issue with the personnel manager, who has arranged a lift for my son and a colleague for 4 out of the 5 days of the course. I may have to take Friday off to get him there so he can finish his course.

I really do wonder what planet some managers live on.

If I could run my Kleeneze business full time, this wouldn't be an issue. What an incentive to work harder at building my business.

Thursday, 5 May 2011

Kleeneze Supports Rural Communities

At a time when local councils are cutting their budgets, which means village residents can no longer rely on their, admittedly limited, range of public transport - it's nice to know that we're there to help.

My online Kleeneze shop is available to anyone living in the villages around Rugby, including:

Church Lawford
Long Lawford
West Haddon
Harborough Magna
Long Itchington
King's Newnham

To name just a few.

We have over two thousand products for you to choose from with the knowledge that your order will be delivered direct to your door. No more waiting in all weathers for buses that don't arrive, only to find that the nearest town doesn't have the items you wanted. Just shopping from home, in comfort.

Why not have a look now?

Wednesday, 4 May 2011

Back On Track

After an abysmal month last month, caused by my trying to do too much with too little time and resources, I've gone back to basics.

As a result, my retail is back on track with a 10% bonus just a few points away. 25% of my warm market has been contacted directly and pointed at my Kleeneze website and the new Kleeneze online shopping experience; the rest are being contacted by email or via my Facebook and Twitter accounts. Thanks to a nudge in the right direction from my day job (see this for details) I'm well and truly focused on running my Kleeneze business.

The sooner I can resign from the day job and focus on my Kleeneze team, the happier I'm going to be.

Monday, 11 April 2011

Failing Your Way To Success

Well, I've screwed up big time this month.

I decided to increase my sponsoring efforts and as a result I'm not getting my retail bonus for the first time in 6 months.

I need to find a way to do both with the limited hours at my disposal. Looks like it's back to Review, Revise and Refocus.

Still, I've learnt that I can either put out catalogues (this time, with recruitment flyers in), or I can put out recruitment flyers. I don't have the time for both. I'm having problems finding the time to fit everything in as it is.

My typical week goes something like this (with the exception of trips to Heathrow; that only happens once every 3 months):


Get up, breakfast
Get up, breakfast

Get up, wake son
Get up, wake son
Get up, wake son
Get up, wake son
Leave for Heathrow, wake son
Leave for Leicestershire, wake son by phone
Get up, wake son
Son's paperround, breakfast
Son's paperround, breakfast
Son's paperround, breakfast
Son's paperround, breakfast
Son's paperround, breakfast, Travel to Heathrow
Son's paperround, breakfast, travel to Leicestershire
Son's paperround, breakfast
Travel to Chichester
Rebag catalogues
Drop son at school, car share, travel to work
Drop son at school, car share, travel to work
Arrive at Heathrow
Car share, travel to work
Car share, travel to work
Travel to Chichester
Rebag catalogues
Arrive at day job
Arrive at day job
Collect fiance
Arrive at day job
Arrive at day job
Travel to Chichester
Travel to Oxfordshire
Arrive at Chichester
Arrive at Oxfordshire
Family day out
Lunch with fiance
Family day out
Lunchtime phone calls to prospects
Lunchtime phone calls to prospects
Rest of day with fiance (just back from overseas contract)
Lunchtime phone calls to prospects
Lunchtime phone calls to prospects
Family day out
With fiance
Family day out
With fiance
Travel home
Weekly talk to fiance in Kazakhstan
With fiance
Travel home
Weekly talk to fiance in Kazakhstan
With fiance
Travel home
Evening meal
Arrive home, get changed, start Kleeneze recruitment
Arrive home, get changed, start Kleeneze retail
With fiance
Arrive home, get changed, start Kleeneze retail
Arrive home, get changed, start Kleeneze retail
Blanket drop flyers
Blanket drop catalogues
With fiance
Collect catalogues
Blanket drop catalogues
Evening meal
Review weekly activity
Blanket drop flyers
Blanket drop catalogues
With fiance
Collect catalogues
Blanket drop catalogues
Plan weekly activity
Arrive home, evening meal
Arrive home, evening meal
With fiance
Arrive home,  rebag catalogues
Arrive home, evening meal
Input customer orders, eat




I have virtually no social life and consequently a very small warm market. That's due to being a single mum, who works full time. All I've done is swap surfing and TV time for Kleeneze time. My fiance lives 55 miles away, so we only see each other at weekends when he's not working overseas.

I know I need to work smarter; I know I'm still a Kleeneze apprentice and I'm learning all I can. I just haven't worked out how to improve my organisation and time management skills.

But I will, and when I do, I'll be on my way to achieving my goals.