Posts Tagged ‘freelance’
In the penultimate entry in my Freelancing and Small Business Blog, I would like to return to the subject of quotations (or proposals). Having spent the last week sending out a dozen or so quotations, I have been reviewing my quotation template to make sure it is up to speed.
Quotation or proposal templates are great; they provide a base format for providing your prospects with estimates for your work, whilst reducing the amount of effort needed to put them together, and at the same time ensuring that no important element is forgotten (easily done when churning out multiple quotations).
My own template is in the form of two word documents – one called “Quotation Template – Basic” and “Quotation Template – Full Proposal”. The two versions carry almost the same elements, it’s just that the Basic version wording is cut down to a minimum whilst the full proposal has more details, more examples and provides more information.
As an example of the differences between the two versions, the “basic” version has a section called “How we work” which says (in a nutshell), “here is the quote, you order, we confirm order and delivery, we do work, we deliver, you pay”. The proposal has multiple paragraphs about all of this, but includes breaking the project into stages, use of my on-line project management system, staged payments, etc. In both formats, the text is pretty set, and very rarely do I need to amend these sorts of text blocks for a new quotation.
Which brings me to the subject of todays (almost last) post….
10 Things that your quotations may be missing
So as part of my review of my templates, I checked that my quotation templates covered in some way these important but often forgotten pieces of information that a client may need before raising an order:
- Currency – Let’s start with an obvious one, the currency of the quotation. It doesn’t matter if you use a £, $ or € symbol in the prices or state explicitly “All prices are in British Pounds”. A lot of companies are multinational, so prices can get confused as they move around.
- When can you start the work – Rather than putting in a specific date (and so making the quote invalid once the date is reached), it’s better to put something generic like “Generally work can be started within 4 weeks of an order/payment being received. But the exact date will be specified upon order confirmation”
- When the job should be complete – This will vary from quotation to quotation (unless you provide the exact same service each and every time), so you just need to check you have a heading or note for this area – and cover it when you put the quotation together in the format “…and will take approximately 7 weeks to complete”
- How long is the quote valid for – Your prices will change (I hope) from time to time so it’s no good your prospects trying to order a 4 year old quote expecting the same prices. My own templates state that “This quotation is valid up to the first day of September following the quotation date at which time we perform an annual price review. After the 1st September, the prices in the quotation may need review before an order can be accepted”
- Does it affect any support arrangements including cost – I have some customers who pay me a support and maintenance payment each year. For these customers, I have a clause (which I remove for non S&M customers) which says if/how it effects this years or next year’s support.
- Does it need any up front actions by the client- payment, hardware, specs, etc – Be clear as part of the quotation what is needed in addition to the order for work to start.
- Who owns the changes, code, designs – It saves the customer having to ask or make assumptions – if making designs, have template text which says who owns the changes, designs, code, files both before and after payment.
- When will you expect payment – In my quotation templates, I include a summary of my terms and conditions, which includes my payment terms, ownership, late payment penalties and other information. Don’t wait till the time of invoice to tell them what your payment terms will be.
- You have the right to reject the order – This may sound odd, but I have a sentence which states in a fluffy way, that I have the right to reject the order. Just because I quote and they raise an order, does not mean I always want to do the work. I may have fallen out with the customer (lots of bad payments), have more important work to do, or am no longer capable of doing the work (2 broken arms?!?).
- What you need to start work – The final thing worth adding to the very last part of your quotation template is the call to action – or what is the next action that you need in order for work to start. Be explicit, even if you have said it earlier in the quotation. Such as “Thank you for the opportunity to bid for this work. In order for me to get started, please send me a bundle of cash as soon as possible” (or whatever your next action is).
According to the Federation of Small Business, the economy across Europe and the USA is continuing to ‘fail to improve’.
In a new year report just published, the FSB says that whilst more jobs are being created (which is keeping unemployment down), wage levels are declining and the amount of money that businesses and individuals have available to spend is declining every month – with no end in sight.
As a result, companies and individuals continue to tighten their belts and are on a constant lookout of ways to cut costs.
Whilst I am constantly reviewing all of my spending (both personal and within my Small Business), we as small business owners always need to be wary of cutting costs too far and on the wrong things, which can lead to damaging the cornerstones of our business.
Keeping our Business Cornerstones Intact
Regards of the type of business you run, the size, how successful your business is, or the services/products you offer, there are a few things which every company needs to do to stay viable; marketing, sales, invoicing, accounts, payroll and paying taxes. Without any one of these, a business will soon hit problems and start to die.
So whilst cutting costs are fine, trimming the fat in any of the cornerstone activities can lead to problems. Take marketing….
When times are tough and money short, it’s a very easy decision to cut back or kill any money spent on marketing – adwords can be cancelled, postage is saved by not sending out mailshots, transport costs reduced by no longer attending networking events. Or we may just decide to stop marketing to spend 100% of our time doing billable work. Cutting costs in marketing can see an instant win in terms of cash flow and reduced costs – but what will be the impact in the future?
You may have work at the moment, but what happens if one or more of your existing customers cancels work, goes under or cuts their own costs (with less work for you). Marketing effort takes time, and by the time you realise you need more work, the damage will be done and it may take months or years to start finding new customers again.
Taking advantage of the downturn and avoiding the future hits
One of the advantages of the continued down-turn is that with other companies cutting costs, competition is fierce. This competition produces a double win for a company willing to keep investing in their cornerstones.
Firstly, with less companies spending money, there is less demand for services so offers are on the table. If you use services such as Google Adwords (or the Bing/Facebook equivilants), this reduced competition means that advert placement is cheaper, which means you can now get more exposure for the same money (in my own adwords campaign, I am getting almost 13% more exposure for the same money as last year simply because there are less companies bidding on my key words).
In addition, the fact that people are spending less means that for the savvy shopper, there are plenty of deals to be snapped up should you need to invest in outside services, training, hardware, rental or finance arrangements. You just need to be wary of headline ‘discounts’ which are not quite as good as the advert pretends to be.
But the main concern in cutting costs on the key aspects of your business is that it could lead to more costs down the road. For instance, trying to save costs by putting off paying taxes (PAYE, VAT, corporation tax, etc.) will lead to all kinds of future pain including additional late payment penalties, interest charges and more detailed scrutiny in the future on top of the actual taxes which still need to be paid.
So by all means, continue to review your costs and outgoings and trim the fat where it makes sense to do so – but always have another eye on the cornerstones of your business, and the ability to take advantage of the downturn where your available cash allows.
Now first off, we have to assume that you have provided an estimate based on a project cost (rather than a day cost). If the customer is paying by the day, then you have to let them know when you think you are going to take more time than agreed or budgeted, so that a higher than expected invoice will not come as a surprise. But if you are using a cloud based project management system, this is an easy task and they will be alerted by the system automatically as tasks slip.
But project based under estimations are a different ball game altogether. When such a project takes longer than you estimated, you could end up making a loss on the project – or cutting corners which means the customer will end up unhappy and unwilling to pay the bill.
Keeping Track to spot problems
First of all, its critical to both you and the customer that you keep track of the project progress in terms of the work agreed, the work you have completed, and if the work is on track. Again, project management software will allow you to do this, so everybody knows what is going on all the time.
The important thing is to spot slippage or extra work as soon as possible. There may be elements that you thought the customer would supply but you are now being asked to deliver, or a misunderstanding of requirements, or a delay from unavailable resources (either on your side or on the customers side). But again, the important thing is, the moment you spot a problem; that is the time to take action.
I have seen too many projects where the project manager thought things could be made up towards the end of the project, either in cutting corners elsewhere or everybody ‘working harder’ to make up the lost time. Yes, this could work – but generally this is just making a situation worse or delaying the pain. Much better to start having a conversation and coming up with a solution sooner rather than later.
Control scope creep or customer based delays
One of the major problems with projects for paying customers is scope creep. This is where the scope of the project is agreed up front, work is started, and then the customer will want more than agreed. This can come about from comments such as ‘But I thought it would do this as well….’, or ‘When you said A, I thought you meant A, B, C and D’. Then there is the external customer influence factor, where your main contact will say things like ‘Just got word from Joe in Marketing, who insists it should do this….’.. Good project scope documents should have a good limitations clause to avoid such problems, but lets assume its too late for that now.
In this situation, it’s important to control the creep. Say “That’s a great idea, but why don’t we deliver what we agreed on, and then we can look at B, C and D after the initial delivery“. This is called change control – and the beauty of change control is that you can then create mini-sub-projects after the main delivery, all of which are chargeable (or at least have the changeability discussion after the customer has paid for the main part of the project).
Customer delays can also come about when they promised to deliver something (data, specifications, resources, hardware, whatever), and fail to do so – or at least, they deliver it late. Once again, having the customer based tasks on a cloud based project management system will stop this from happening. Their responsibilities are scheduled, they are informed of the upcoming requirements, and automatically nagged when it goes overdue.
When customers are late, you have every right to ask for more money if it means delays or additional work for you. I would phrase it along the lines of “The project agreement was that you would provide a widget by the start of November. Unfortunately, the failure to deliver has impacted the project delivery and has resulted in xx lost days which are outside of the original estimate. We are therefore in the unfortunate position of having to bill for these additional lost days at the end of the project”. Again, do this as soon as possible, as this will mean fewer delays in the future (they will not want to get caught out again).
They may of course object to the extra charges, but now you have turned the discussion into a haggle or negotiation. You could of course be the good guy and agree that “Ok, we wont charge you THIS TIME, but will have to in the case of any more delays.”
How I would tell them about under estimation
So now we come down to the tricky business of what to do when you have agreed work and you find that your estimate is nowhere near the amount of work that will actually be required.
Of course, the first option is just to bite the bullet, accept you have made a mistake, learn from the mistake and continue with the project to completion. Deciding to take the hit will need to be based on how much money you will lose, and how much future work is likely from the customer. Generally speaking, I personally side on the rule of “bird in the hand is better than 2 in the bush” and never assume that the customer will provide future work (even if they promise it). If the lose is acceptable, then I will just stay quiet, but if it’s a major hit, then the difficult conversation has to be had.
I would recommend that the conversation never be held either by email or on the phone. When going cap in hand to the customer, a face to face meeting is really the only option that will work. If that is not possible, try to get a face conversation with Skype, otherwise a phone call. An email is going to be last route you should try.
The conversation with them needs to be honest, lay it on the line, and start a negotiation. Try and find an additional payment which works for both you and the customer. They will of course be deeply unhappy, and may force you to complete the project at the agreed price – in which case your only option would be to walk away and make a total loss (with the possibility of legal action against you, subject to whatever legal document you drew up prior to starting work).
I would always try to get a balanced agreement – you are in a bad situation, so your aim would actually be an ‘everybody looses’ balance (e.g., you pay me more, and I will throw in free training and support). The agreement will vary depending on your situation, your project, the customer and your own charisma. But, I would start the conversation with something like:
Here is the situation. I produced the estimate for delivery of the project based on my understanding of the requirement. I am sorry to say that as we worked on the project, my knowledge grew clearer and as a result, I have realised that I have underestimated the effort required to deliver this. We need to talk about reshaping the project, either by re-estimating the effort and cost required to deliver to the agreed scope, or by shrinking the scope of delivery to fit with the agreed budget.
Then, stop talking, and listen to what they have to say. Negotiate!
One thing I can guarantee is that yours will not be the first project that the customer will have ordered that will have gone over budget, and I can also guarantee, yours will not be the last.
There I was; with an email landing in my inbox saying that they wanted me to provide services, there was the purchase order number, there was the day rate we had agreed, lets get cracking. And I said no.
I thought it was worth sharing this story – in case you ever find yourself in the same position.
The history with the prospect is not complex. They had found my company via a Google web search, I had gone and visited them, we had talked terms, agreed rates, and then the emailed order arrived.
Trouble with my Gut
Now, I could say there was something wrong with the prospect. I could say that they tried to beat my rate down or demand too much bang for their buck. But no. The problem was with me – or to be more specific, it was my gut.
The logic of wanting to earn money and have a new customer was telling me to take the work, but my gut said… something was not right.
I could not put my finger on it. I have never had the bad feeling twinges about a prospect that I was getting about this one. Not ever!
I discussed the situation with my wife and some business friends, and when they asked me why I didn’t want to work with the prospect, all I could say was that it didn’t feel right.
I even tweeted my worries:
Jaffa Brown ?@JaffaBrown
Today, i am having a hard time deciding whether to take on a prospect as a new client. Something seems wrong, & my gut says No, run away.
And got a great reply from one of my twitter friends:
@idea15webdesign The measure of your business’s quality isn’t the projects you take on, but the projects you turn away.
Confirming and attempted work around
So for the next day or two, I worked with the prospect to try and work out what was wrong. But as soon as I started to talk about working practices (rather than the work to be done or the day rate), it threw up even more concerns.
They started talking about being available for out of hours phone calls, free consultations, multiple levels of approval for work, and paying by the day with full record keeping. The worries started to crystallize. My gut feelings maybe were making me more weary than I should have been, or see problems which were not really there, but every moment the sense not to work with them grew.
In the end, I sent them a very polite email in reply to their order of work saying “Sorry to disappoint, but…..” with a few reasons why I could not work for them. At the end of the email, I said “For these reasons, I feel that it would not be prudent for us to form a working relationship at this time. However, if you are still looking for assistance, I would be happy to suggest some alternative freelancers who could assist you”.
Once I pressed send on the email, I honestly felt so much better.
The take away
Let me be straight; I may have got this very wrong. It may be that the prospect would have been a great customer, caused me no problems, would have paid their bills, and everything would have been great. But, my gut said something was wrong. Call it gut instinct, sixth sense, sub-conscious decision making or a guardian angel, but whatever it was, it was shouting to get out of there, and out of there I got.
As business owners, it is far too easy to say yes when trying to win new business or earn money, only to find that we have taken on the customer from hell which will cause us sleepiness nights, grief and lost money.
My advice for fellow freelancers, contractors and small business owners is: If in doubt, try and work the doubts out. But if at the end of the day, your gut or heart has concerns, just say no. Saying No is not just a decision which is exclusive to the customers, we freelancers have the right to say No as well if it’s the right decision.
I recently had a dinner with my business mentor.
I have great respect for my mentor. He has been in business for over fifty years, and worked his way up from a 1 man band business, to his current position of owning and running three major IT companies with a joint turnover of over £50million a year. When he gives advice and thoughts, I listen.
During the course of the meal, we started talking about social networks media. After all, every other blog post, tweet and conversation seems to be about one form of social media or other.
His thoughts on social media were as follows:
It’s great – for what it is, but think of it this way….
In Africa, wildebeest, zebras and antelopes travel in packs. During the big migrations, these packs can number several million animals. The reason they travel in packs is protection. By traveling in a pack of so many animals, all the same, all in the same direction, the chance of being picked off by a lion or hyena is a lot slimmer. The lesson for such African ‘cattle’ is- do what others do to blend in.
BUT, in business, you don’t want to blend in. Being another zebra amongst the other 10,000 zebras is bad. How are customers supposed to tell one zebra from another? And shouting how different you are, when there are 9,999 voices raised in the same pack, all shouting there own message – well, your message just gets lost in the noise.
And social networking is just like zebras in a pack – yes it’s useful for some situations and it serves a purpose (and should not be ignored), but you will never stand out from the crowd if you are doing the exact same thing as everybody else
So whilst all the social media advice is to create blogs, create twitter streams, facebook pages and the like, maybe the best way of gaining attention is standing away from the crowd.
Again using my business mentors words, when everybody else Zigs, its time for you to Zag. In other words, time to revisit those ‘old school’ marketing techniques that everybody else is now ignoring.
We put a lot of effort into starting projects; from nurturing prospects through to agreeing terms and requirements. But what about when projects are completed – how do you wrap up and complete projects?
In order to keep a good relationship and possibly win future business with the customer, doing a project hand over is just as important as the project start.
What to include in the hand over
Depending on the type of work that you do and the size of the project, a face to face hand over meeting may be required. If this is the case, it should normally be agreed from the start and factored in your initial work assessment and quotations.
Regardless of whether the project hand over is a face to face meeting, or is performed by email, some of the hand over aspects which you may want to factor in include:
- Training – Depending on the skill level of your customer, some degree of hand over training may be required. This of course could be factored into the initial quotation, or could be offered as an after-service when the project is completed (with an additional fee). Just remember that if you train them *too well*, they may not need your services in the future.
- Support and Maintenance – The flip side of training is support and maintenance (for me, the icing on the freelance cake). If you can charge your customer a regular yearly amount in advance for fixing problems and answer questions, well, that’s how companies grow and big profits are made. If support and maintenance is a consideration, you will need to think about what form the support will take and what the limits are.
- Problem Resolution and Warranty – As part of a hand over, your customer will want to know what to do if they hit a problem. Let them know how long you will support them for (if at all), what to do if they need changes, and how to contact you (you may want them to use a separate support email address for instance). This then ties them in to the support and maintenance agreements. Be clear about what will be free corrections, and what will be chargeable.
- Suggested Next Steps – Without being too pushy, it is worth providing them with a suggested set of next steps (how their product, web site, documents, etc could be expanded for more value). This is one of my key ways of generating future business.
- Passwords and source code – If you have provided them with a product (software product, documents, art work or web site), they will most likely expect to receive the source code. If there are associated web domains, passwords, or accounts, don’t forget to document these. It will save a lot of problems in the future.
- Time Periods – For most projects, you will have copies of their designs/source/art work on your computers and their projects on your project management systems (you do use a project management system to save time and money, right?). It is well worth stating clearly how long you will retain these copies for before you delete them. This is important as you don’t want to find yourself in a situation where they delete their copy by mistake, and expect to come back to you in 5 years time for another copy (which you no longer can provide).
Thank you – Don’t forget to say a big thank you for their business. You don’t need to go over the top, but in today’s climate, a simple thank you will go a long way.
- Survey and Referral – The end of the project is a perfect time to arrange an end of contract customer survey which covers all your dealings with the customer (from quotation to invoice), and also to ask if they would be happy to provide either a reference or a referral.
- Contact Branding – And don’t forget to brand everything with your company. It should be clearly stamped with your company logo, name, address, web site URL, phone number and email address. It may be that your main customer contact may leave in the future, but your documentation will remain on file for others to get in contact for future work.
Get it right, repeat and evolve
This may all seem like a lot of effort, but the secret is to create a generic project hand-over document (or set of documents), which can be used and tweaked for each project. Once you have a template, the updating of a hand over document becomes part of the project closure, and takes a lot less effort in the future.
As with all other documents your company produces (such as the quotation templates, questions list, etc), this can be a living document, that evolves (and improves) over time.
Preparation and submission of the handover document soon becomes a natural part of your project delivery structure.
Maybe now is not the right time to sell
One thing to bear in mind is that the project handover process and documents are there to present subtle messages of next actions, professionalism, and to keep your company name in front of your customer. However, I have found in the past that coming out and asking for more work directly as part of the project handover very rarely works.
The customer will be too wrapped up in getting to grips with the product or service you have just delivered.
It is far better to present the hand over, and at the end, agree a scheduled call or meeting as a ‘follow up’ (to check everything is still ok) in a month or so’s time. That is then the perfect time to raise the ‘next steps’ you have suggested and to look at fishing for the next project.
Put it another way, what happens if a prospect from a few years ago knocks on your door and expects you to honour the quotation you produced which is based on your 2006 prices? Do you honour it, or do you expect that you can refresh the quotation with the current prices and everybody will be happy?
On the flip side of this, do you produce quotations and fall foul of saying “this quotation is only valid for 90 days from the date of quotation” (or other such words?) After all, if a prospect wants to raise an order on day 91, I am sure you will be happy to take their money.
For me, the compromise is to reference the date of your annual (hopefully scheduled) rates review, and make that the cut off date when quotations will be valid up to.
Something along the lines of:
This quotation is valid up to and including the date of our annual rates review, which is scheduled on the 2nd of August each year. On the next review date after the date of this quotation, the prices shown will need to be refreshed with any amended prices to be valid.
In my house, we have a wooden plaque with our coat of arms – a merged coat of arms created from my wife’s family crest and my own (with a few whimsical touches thrown in for good measure to make it “us”). On this plaque there are two phrases included which are our family mottos (me and my wife – not our historical family’s).
Every so often, my 10 year old daughter looks at the plaque, runs her fingers over the crest and words, and repeats the phrases to herself – fascinated by their meaning (which we explained when she was very little).
These phrases are not only our family mottos, not only the way we do business, but also the way we ‘do life’.
The phrases are:
“Te Dormio Te Amittere” – which is below our family crest. It’s Latin, and when translated to English, it means “you snooze, you lose” (in other words.. DO IT NOW)
And the other phrase is….
Ask for Nothing and you shall receive it in abundance – not sure where this quotation came from, but it’s very powerful (for us).
Both of these quotes are about the same thing – getting what you want by asking for what you want – and asking now!!!
The Power of Asking
Which leads me on to asking – or more importantly, the way you ask. This can make a huge difference is business and life.
When I was at university studying psychology, I remember this professor giving a series of lectures on the method of asking – and it has stuck with me today. He taught my class that a few choice words can be the difference between getting what you need/want, and not getting anything at all.
Let me give you an example….
Suppose tonight, you have a craving for a steak for your dinner – oh yes, a nice big fat juicy steak – with chips (or fries for my American friends) and all the works – now doesn’t that sound good?
Well you could go home and say “What’s for Dinner?” and hope that in a very unusual alignment of the stars, your partner just happens to want the exact same thing – its not going to happen.
Better would be to say “I fancy steak tonight. Can we have steak tonight?”- which says what you want. But hold on, this still gives lots of other options. You could get a response of “sure thing” (great), but you might also get “no”, or “were having fish” or a host of other replies. So the question is good, but not great.
So what about something more demanding, that says what is going to happen such as “I am going to have steak tonight – want to join me in a steak?” – which says that you are definitely getting your meal of choice – but what about your partner? Well they still have a multiple choice of options including “yes”, “no”, “I have fish here – were having fish” etc. So better, but still not there – you still may be feasting on Mr Fish tonight.
The best way to get what you want is to ask with the assumption already made. “I’m in the mood for steak – yeah, steak is what I am going to have tonight. Now, what time shall we eat our steaks? You hungry now?”. It says your having steak – and it assumes your partner is going to have steak – but it still gives them control about what time to eat – so everybody feels that they have a say. Of course they can still go down the “I don’t want steak” or “Looks, here’s fish” option – but it’s a better conversation to have than the “What’s for dinner?” question.
You have set your position – the rest is down to negotiation.
All of this applies to business questions and more importantly, to selling. You just need to check your customer for feedback to make sure you haven’t crossed the line (in which case, pass it off as humour and take a selling step backwards). But isn’t a conversation which starts with something like “Well here’s the quote – now that we have gone through it, when would you like to schedule the project setup meeting and order the hardware?” a good conversation to be having?
As per my last Freelancing verses Contracting post, with contracting we are being paid for our time, not for the products we produce. So when I contract, it makes sense to me to ensure that I leave their offices each day as soon as the agreed hours have been met.
That may sound harsh or inflexible, but look at it this way – if a contract for resource time is for 7.5 hours a day and you end up skipping lunch and staying for an extra 30 minutes at the end of every day, that can add an extra hour or 90 minutes of effort a day. Over a week this can add up to 7.5 hours – or an extra day of work. You are not being paid for that time, so what you are effectively doing is either discounting your rates by 20%, or you are reducing the length of the final contract by a day a week. If you do an extra week a month of unpaid work, its one week sooner when the contract will end (or wont get renewed).
Of course one of the problems of leaving on time is that you are running out of the door when the permanent workers may still be working. But wait a minute – they are doing that not for the love of the work – they are doing it in the hope of a pay rise, or to further their career or just to keep their jobs. As a contractor, you have none of these to worry about. So why shouldn’t you leave on time?
I have found the best method of easing into the ‘leave on time’ is to initially work the hours agreed plus a bit more for the first week, and then to explain to everybody how I will miss a transport connection by leaving after the agreed time (oh the traffic is so bad after 5:15pm around here, oh I just miss my train connection, etc). Then make sure you leave on time. But to signal the exit by setting a discreet (but audible) alarm on my watch to signal and remind me when its time to end the day.
That way you do the hours, do the job, but your alarm is the one nagging you that it’s time to go.
Of course some contracts do pay overtime – in which case this is not needed. But generally that’s not the way contracts work – you have a day rate for a fixed length of day. So stop robbing or short changing yourself, and get out of the office on time.
PS – In case you are worried that this may effect any contract extensions, I have used this system on all my previous contracts, and never have I not been renewed or extended.
“Physical fitness is not only one of the most important keys to a healthy body, it is the basis of dynamic and creative intellectual activity.”
John F. Kennedy
I was looking at some trends recently for the self employed, and there has been a sharp increase in the weight of IT Workers, Americans and in particular, freelancers throughout the world.
Maybe it’s because we are all so busy working that we catch quick (but unhealthy) meals, or we don’t have time to exercise, or maybe it just goes with the territory. However, as we all know, weight problems can lead to other problems, which can lead to the inability to work, which then leads to a lack of money.
But, I am not going to sit here and preach about getting healthy. What I am going to do is talk about an option which may interest you… so please bear with me for just a while longer.
The World Is Stuffed Full of Secrets
What if I told you, the world was full of secret places, and hidden items – would you believe me? What about if I told you a world-wide game of hide and seek was being played right now, very close to where you live and work? Maybe right outside your house and office.
What about if I told you there was a way of getting a little exercise which is fun for you, fun for your family (and dog if you have one), and is not going to end up with you going down the gym or starting some major exercise regime?
Now what about if I told you its free?
I am talking about an activity called Geocaching.
Geocaching is a real-world, outdoor treasure hunting game using GPS-enabled devices. Participants navigate to a specific set of GPS coordinates and then attempt to find the geocache (container) hidden at that location. I am not talking a virtual container here – I mean a real physical box with items inside.
There are tens of millions of these boxes hidden all over the world – all hidden from people who are not playing the game. I can guarantee if you have left the house today, you will have walked or driven past a dozen or so without realising it.
If you have a modern mobile phone (iPhone, Android or even Symbian based), there will be a free Geocaching app which uses your phones GPS to guide you in this treasure hunt. You simply pick a nice area, follow the guide and find the hidden containers (caches).
The containers can be in woods, parks, city streets, buildings, amusement parks, near rivers – anywhere.
Why I love It
Now the reason why I love it – it gets me away from work. My family and I will go out for an hour or so, and we will go treasure hunting. For that hour (or eight hours if we do it on a weekend), the family get quality me time, we all get some exercise, we all enjoy the challenge and I still get to use a gadget (to play the game).
Because we are always seeking different caches, the hunts take us to places we didn’t know existed. We have discovered new pubs (bars), restaurants, woods, countryside paths, rivers, sights, historical buildings, walks, views and even people who we would never have known about if it were not for Geocaching. We no longer have to visit the same places over and over again.
And being away from the normal work area means I have time to think, to plan, to recharge. All whilst getting some exercise and staying fit enough to work.
Why not give Geocaching a try?