Welcome to my page ! This will be regularly updated with my thoughts, opinions and experiences, which I hope will amuse and enlighten, or annoy.....!

Persistence is so important in business - whether it's in building or maintaining your vision, or debt collecting, like I have been doing this week !  I have been in business for 7 years now, and the number of people I have networked with who have disappeared or changed jobs or closed down is amazing. You really do have to stick at the same thing, all the time, for a long time, to be a success. Frank Sinatra was once asked about the secret of his success, and he said much the same thing; "like a cop" He said in 1986; "he walks the beat a lot. you have to keep doing it "(11/1/11)

I have long resisted the internet - and still am not on Facebook, Twitter or the like - but have to say that this website, provided by the brilliant Bob Clements at Immediasite, has boosted my profile and profit enormously. And the LinkedIn website is another valuable business tool; my internet presence is, obviously, perpetual, ensuring that my business is always open, even when my mouth isn't !  (19/1/11)

In  7 years of running my own business, I have always got ALL my work through networking - attending business breakfast , lunch and evening meetings to meet new contacts and gain more work. Business Biscotti is a new event which is growing all the time, and has really worked for me - I have attended twice and gained new contacts and new business each time. Visit their website - www.businessbiscotti.com for details of your local group. It's FREE to attend , and well worth the effort ! (27/1/11)

I have many new projects lined up for 2011, including starting a new business, expanding my voice-over work and writing a book, available from this very site!! Keep checking this part of the site for all the latest news (27/1/11)

I have, throughout my self-employed career, only ever had three bad debtors. This is because I have a good relationship with my clients, am happy to negotiate the price of my services, and understand business cashflow problems only too well !! However, please always read my Terms And Conditions before you engage me - I ALWAYS pursue bad debts through a legal debt recovery process, should all other reasonable communication fail. (29/1/11)

 I have never come across such poor customer service as I have just experienced with the Orange phone network. They are unhelpful, uninterested and unwilling to solve a relatively simple problem for a long standing customer. The staff at the Cornmarket Street, Oxford, branch are particularly unhelpful; I would recommend you switch to another phone provider, as I have done :It's an appalling company with no interest in it's customers beyond taking their money at point of sale. (2/2/11)

So, let's balance that with some recommendations; Harvey and his great team provide a superlative service at NFU Mutual Insurance in Summertown, Nick White at Printing.com Oxford provides great print at good prices, and is a great photographer; Stuart Mabbutt is an excellent gardener with over 20 years experience, and available for work throughout Oxford; OxFlooring are THE best flooring experts in Oxford and very cost-effective; Darbys are a brilliant law firm, and Immediasite the best website specialists around - they are all on the web, or just contact me if you need their contact details

I have worked with a huge variety of business - from printers to flooring companies, insurance agencies to gyms. But I would never work for a business coach - they're all shysters - there's an opinion for you !

The American actor Jack Lord - Steve McGarrett in Hawaii Five-O - was asked by a journalist how he felt about the success of the show and his character, after three seasons  , in 1971. He said that handling the success was easy - the real acheivement was reaching that point, having been a largely unrecognised actor for over 20 years previously. He was 48 when he got the role, and it was his last shot at a leading part - this was 1967- before age relegated him to character actor status. " My real success has been to survive" he said. He also said , in the same interview, that "if this show goes 5 years - and I think it will now - I will be in the position to be able to do anything I want for the rest of my life " The show 'went' 12 years; Lord never worked again and retired at 60 when the show finished in 1980, and when he died was worth $40 million. The moral here being that if you persist, and are sure of your ability, you will succeed, no matter how long it takes ! (8/2/11)

Further to that, the great Bruce Forsyth has finally got a Knighthood - he''s always been one of my favourites ! and has always made me laugh - which probably explains a lot.......(13/6/11)

 

The lovely Barbara Bradbury has put a very generous - and very true, obviously -  recommendation of me on Linkedin - have a look ! (7/2/11)

And I have two new Testimonials on the appropriate page on this site;  independantly confirming the fact that I offer a cost-effective, reliable, professional service. I do charge an hourly rate, won't ever work for commission only, and won't deal with timewasters. I am, however, happy to negotiate, work the hours that you need, when you need them - one of my USPs - and offer advice. But I AM  a professional, which means I work for money, and wouldn't consider doing otherwise. (14/3/11)

And, talking of money, Clive Taylor of Total Credit Management is THE man to call if you have debt collection problems or cashflow issues. I have known Clive for a number of years and unreservedly recommend his services; check his website - www.totalcreditmanagement.co.uk, or email him at clive@totalcreditmanagement.co.uk (26/4/11)

Two of my current clients perfectly illustrate my ongoing theme of persistence - see above ! - I was recently contacted by Cilla McKay of LSN - a collegue I have networked with occasionally over the past 7 years - and am now involved in a long term telemarketing campaign with them , and it is very nice to be back at Jack FM, having worked previously for Passion and Six TV in the same building some years ago. (28/5/11)

The lovely Lynsey de Paul - I have known her for years, and interviewed her more than once, - now has a news page on her site - www.lynseydepaul.com -but it's less opinionated than this one ! Where I lead, others follow ! (28/5/11)

I send out monthly offers and newsletters to everyone on my database, and if you don't wish to receive these you can always unsubscribe. I have, just this morning, received an amazing email from Max Mason, owner of the Big Bang restaurant in Oxford, a man who I have had few dealings with, in response to one of these unsolicited marketing excercises, saying that i am  ' a revoltingly greasy' man and I make 'his skin creep';  This outrageous statement is nothing to do with the marketing literature sent, is totally unprovoked, and this is from a businessman who surely should appreciate the value of marketing, and who could just unsubscribe, rather than fire off a needlessly insulting response. Needless to say, I won't be patronising his restaurants, and wouldn't encourage anyone else to, either ! What, exactly, does this say about Mr Masons' attitude to his potential customers ? contempt, possibly?; and while I am pleased to have made an impression, Mr Mason's ignorant and rude response says a lot more about him and his business practices than it does about anyone else ! (15/8/11)

Since the 15th, I have learnt that Mr Mason received my email on the day that he learned that his Oxford Restaurant was to be closed by the council, thus proving that you never know how your marketing is going to be received and there is never a good or bad time for promoting your business. It explains the circumstances of his reaction, but still.... (23/8/11)

Sat 27 sees the return of Dr Who to BBC1 , a programme that stands as a testament to the power of marketing , and is good for the mind - as escapism always is . The great Jon Pertwee remains much missed though, at least by me - and I suspect, him too !  (23/8/11)

I would have thought, by now, that my aversion to accepting 'commission only' work - where businessmen offer me the opportunity to become a millionaire in return for me giving them my time and talent and resources to expand their business completely free of charge - was well known, but to reiterate once again, NOTHING I do or provide is available on a commission only basis; i.e for free .. I would rather stay in bed all day and claim the dole than give you the opportunity  of having me work for you for nothing. Don't even bother to ask me about 'commission only' work as you'd be wasting your time and mine. And that includes the provision of databases. I cannot believe the audacity of people who assume otherwise. To be quite plain -I DO NOT WORK FOR COMMISSION ONLY. EVER. UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES .WITH NO EXCEPTIONS. (3/9/11)

I am now on Twitter !!! I'm @mrsteveblack, so have a look ! Still not on facebook or anything else, thoguh I am slowly being dragged into the 21st Century !! (2/11/11)

I'm really enjoying Twitter,actually; as well as plugging the website, I've argued politics with the lovely but left-wing Frances Barber; echanged agreeable tweets (twits ??!!) with Michael Winner, and proved that Jeremy Vine has a sense of humour when he retweeted to his thousands of followers my comment that he was inane and a lefty !! Great fun ! My opinions should always have the maximum exposure of course ! ( 27/11/11) and it's great for topical jokes !!

From january  2012, I will be increasing my hourly rate and  changing some of the terms and conditions, so have a look. I don't work for commission only, am happy to negotiate, and will continue to provide a valuable, cost-effective service. (16/12/11)

I am also coming down very hard and very fast on late payers. See my terms and conditions, but basically; PAYMENT IS DUE ON PRESENTATION OF INVOICE. WITHIN 7 DAYS AT THE VERY LATEST.. Any payments made later than 7 days incur a 5% interest charge for every 7 calendar days that the invoice remains unpaid. (3/2/12)

I have just been sent an unwanted email from a business coach advertising his 90 day 'action' plan, for which I have the opportunity to pay him £300 to have him 'help' me plan my business. He's the slimiest crook in Oxfordshire, and I wouldn't waste 90 seconds on him. If you're a business 'coach' DON'T send me your crap. ; I am quite capable of running my own business without paying you !! (9/2/12) 

The Bury Knowle Health centre in oxford is the most INEFFECIENT , useless, example of the NHS I have ever encountered. I'd have all the admin team shot if I thought that the doctors were competent enough to attend to them afterwards. So, because of this inefficiency, I have to waste ANOTHER couple of hours next week, for the THIRD time, providing proof of ID in order to get a routine medical proceedure carried out in order to detect a possibly life threatening condition. . (23/2/12)

Great interview with Gilbert O Sullivan on Vintage TV last night . Often  overlooked, he was actually the biggest selling UK male vocalist in the world in 1972. In the world !! ; wrote some great songs, has real musical talent, and was comfortable doing the showbusiness side of the music industry too, which is a different side of the business altogether . . (27/2/12)

And have just realised  that, although I mentioned this on twitter at the time, it's worth noting that at her pre- Superbowl press conference, Madonna was asked what advice she would give to aspiring singers, and she said;

1. You have to enjoy what you do. If you don't you'll NEVER be successful at it.

2; You have to work hard, all the time

3. you have to face - and accept - rejection, all the time

4.You have to take advice, but ignore negativity, as there will always be people who want yout to fail.

Wise words indeed. Sinatra used to say the same thing, point for point. and it's all true., and Madonna is living proof of that .(1/3/12)

Michael Winner, Frances Barber,  Boris Johnson ,Charlene Tilton  and Morgan Brittany all follow me - @mrsteveblack - on Twitter  ! Why don't you ? (8/3/12)

I have now expanded my portfolio of NFU Mutual offices  ! The Oxford, Cheltenham and Moreton branches all use my telemarketing services to gain renewal dates - usually at the rate of 4 dates per hour. Check my testimonials page for affirmation of this, and contact me if I can do the same for you ! ( 19/4/12)

 I learnt a long time ago, that life is too short to do something you really don't want to do. In my case, it was working for The Courier newspaper group in 2002, where I eventually did a fantastic 'take your job and shove it ' and walked out. I was reminded of this yesterday seeing Victoria Beckham at the Spice Girls press conference. She clearly didn't want to be there. She was the last to arrive, first to leave, and stood apart from them the whole time.You shouldn't have done it, love. You've got enough money to refuse to appear - and even if you hadn't, it clearly wasn't worth you being there . (27/6/12)

I won't work with business coaches or anyone selling cheap business to business telephone 'solutions' they're all crooks in my experience. So if you work in either sector, don't even ask me to work for you ! (12/7/12/)

As Usual, I am increasing my hourly rate this year. All prices remain competitive , and I will continue to provide a cost effective service. (2/1/13)

Very sad to hear of the death of Michael Winner; a great character; great food writer, and we often visited the same establishments in London . We spoke often on Twitter. (23/1/13)

I have a new regular client - A-Plan insurance in Newbury. (1/2/13)

I have, just this week , been approached AGAIN by a lead generation company. PLEASE NOTE - I NEVER, NEVER, BUY LEADS !!!!!!!!! - I don't need to ; I've also had a text message from a local business 'coach' promoting his crap,and I would NEVER use a 'coach', as I know much more than they do,  (22/

 I am now so busy - through regular clients and referrals, that I am booked up for the foreseeable future; certainly until the end of  August 2014 - upcoming projects include working with a leading Oxfordshire letting agency, helping to set up the new local TV station for the county, and more work for regular clients , including NFU Mutual

I am now permanently employed by 3 seperate companies, and am not looking for any further work, and this is solely because I am so good at what I do (20/6/13)