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Do I need Keyman Insurance?

As I’m creeping up in years, and the business grows, I keep coming back to this question. Do I need Keyman Insurance?

I have a sickness plan. I took it out over ten years ago and it’s with a company called CETA. The renewal comes every year. The money goes out of the account and I don’t even look at it.

I started the policy when I was worried about paying the mortgage, fifteen years ago but I think I’ve out grown it. This leads me to ask, do I need Keyman Insurance?


I’m not a financial advisor, I have no qualifications in this area. So don’t do anything without talking to a professional


However, I am a real person, in a real business that has real worries about what happens if I was taken out of the business. So now it’s time to look at the big picture.

Keyman Insurance

Simon my employee working away

My employee is a good guy. he runs the show when I’m away and does a good job.

This arrangement works well, however, long-term, I realise I need a plan. Keyman insurance may well be part of this plan.

What is Keyman Insurance?

According to some internet reasearch, (and we all know how that can be) forty six percent of businesses stop trading if the key person in the business dies, or becomes terminally ill. That’s not good.

So Keyman insurance pays out a lump sum to the business upon death of the insured person, and this is supposed to comfort the blow of losing the most important person in the business. But does this help me?

If I’m taken out of the equation, the business would be sold and my wife would get a payout for what it’s worth.

It’s never been our plan for her to keep running it, so is there any benefit to a cash injection into the business once I’ve gone?

I’ll be researching this over the next few week. I have a meeting with a professional and will report back.

I know I need something more to help Caron and the kids, but despite the hype, I’m not sure that this is it. The main thing is deciding what is right for you. There will be lots of people, trying to sell you lots of stuff. Do you really need it?

Look out for updates over the coming weeks and months and

Thanks for reading





So who are you?

I watched the paramedic scan the room. He knew the poor gent had died many hours before, so instead of saving a life. Now he had to step into his other role of breaking bad news. But before he could do that, he needed to ask this poor gent, who are you?

Days earlier, I’d visited this house to replace lost car keys. The gent was very old and looked poorly, but he was up and about with the aid of a stick and opened the door to me. His breathing was heavy, but when I asked if he was ok, he told me ’it’s just me chest laddie, been like it years’.

Who are you?

There’d been a problem ordering the key. The car dealers needed ID before I could order the key for him and explained the dealer needed proof of ‘Who are you and is it your car’.

‘No problem’, as he struggled to stand and sort through his mountain of documents.

Eventually I left him, photos taken, and I assured him I’d be back the next day with a key. ‘No problem laddie, I’m not going anywhere’.

Thursday came and there was a problem getting the key. One of the documents I’d photographed was too old, so I dropped back in and knocked the door, but this time there was no reply. It was midmorning, maybe he was having a lie-in. Looking through the window, he gestured to me from the sofa, come on in. He was on the sofa, his breathing heavier.

‘I’m back but no key yet, I need a newer document, sorry.’

‘No problem laddie just find it yourself, in the kitchen dresser. ‘

I knew where they were from the previous day. Searching years of bills and bank statements, I finally found something relevant.

‘I’ll be back tomorrow with your keys. Are you sure you’re ok? ‘

The television was loud, the fire was on full and although the winter day was chilly, the living room was an oven.

‘I’m ok laddie, do you need money, there’s some in the dresser. ‘

There certainly was, there were hundreds in notes, and as a self-employed person working with the elderly, this position of trust we’ll discuss in another blog post.’

‘No money today, I’ll be back tomorrow’

‘No bother, I’m not going anywhere’

The Who are You?’ Day

A cold, dark gloomy Friday came, and time was running away with me, but I had a key and I’d promised the gent I’d be back. So late afternoon, at dusk, I arrived at a house in darkness. I could see the television on, so to save him being disturbed twice, I went into the open garage, programmed the key, and got him mobile again. All that was left, was to give him the key, but when I knocked on the door, there was no reply.

I peered through the glass, deciding whether to come back the next day, but then saw him laid in the darkness and feared the worse. I went in to try and help him, and I’ll spare the details, but this poor gent had fallen and died. Ten minutes earlier I was programming my last car of the week, now an ambulance screamed to a halt and suddenly I was part of his last days.

Back in the room

So now were back in the living room and the paramedic is Sherlock Holmes, piecing together clues, searching for address books, bills, recent mail. All the while asking, ok, so who are you? He’s calling people asking for information, tracking down who he’s allowed to give the news to. All this time, he should be out saving lives, but instead he’s playing detective. I’m struck by how wrong this seems, how difficult it’s all proving.

Then the police arrive and they’re asking me now, who are you? what are you doing here?  Finally, once my statements made, I’m free to go. Then the paramedics stand down, they’ve finally found a relative, but it hasn’t been easy.

So, this has ran around in my head for a while, and I realised how much easier it would’ve been if there’d been a ‘break glass in emergency’ book or card. It just needed a few details, who he was, who to call and that would have made everything so simple.

The ’Bad News Book’

So, I’ve created the ’Bad News Book’, a simple, helpful document that tells everyone what to do in a disaster. How to break the bad news, who to tell. Then how life carries on in the short term, and what happens to the business afterwards. This week is my first stage and it’s breaking the bad news.

The van now has a sticker on the glovebox. Imagine a crash, a heart attack, a stroke, and a paramedic finding myself or Simon. How much easier would it be, if they could open the glovebox and have all those questions answered? So, this is our weeks project. The sticker tells them to open the glovebox and Who are you? ID card including a photo, name, address, who to call. This way the paramedic or police doesn’t dance around on the phone.  No more not saying the wrong thing to the wrong people.

It’s my first step, and already I feel better that if something should happen, some of the guesswork is taken care of. It’s the beginning of the Bad News Book that deals with the worst possible outcome, so that when its finished I can get on with the rest of my days without worry.

Next week, who’s going to sort everything out. Well talk about that.


It Went to Plan

There are days when it all goes wrong. As a business owner it’s easy to feel that there’s a conspiracy. Job after job has problems, you’re not getting paid and its eating up your time. It’s easy to have a day where nothing went to plan.

However, when we have a day where it all goes right, how often do we stop and think how good it feels?

This Saturday was one of those days. Customers came, they were chatty and grateful. Everything worked and we earned some money. It all want to plan, a blueprint for a good day.

As I pulled down the roller shutter and set the answer machine, I took a minute to be grateful. We can take sucess for granted, but when it happens we should enjoy the small moments as much as we can.

When you’re planning your new business and you get a win, celebrate. Go for a drink, meal, or maybe just a run. Share the news with your partner so they don’t just hear the bad news!

Enjoy, it all went to plan.



Will anyone pay money for it?

There are many great ideas percolating in our heads. Once we start down this road of finding business ideas, it seems like they’re everywhere. When you’re getting ready to leave the forces, or any secure, well paid job, it’s easy to believe that fortune awaits. When I’m thinking about a new idea, the honest question I ask myself is, will anyone pay money for it?

I’ve had many of these lightbulb moments. The excitement of realising I’ve stumbled upon the most brilliant idea, why hasn’t anyone thought of this before? It gets inside my head and all I do is look for ways to use it and make money from this discovery.

And it’s not just me.

A few years ago, we were at a friend’s house, for a summer BBQ and beers. He was also self-employed, and our inventing machines were at full power as we bounced off ideas, looking for one that was going to make us rich and famous. He announced his lifelong idea, the one he’d been sitting on for years.

The problem it solved was valid. How can we get more into our recycling bin? He had four kids, it seemed his bin was always overflowing and all he could do was take the excess to the tip. His idea was a machine, that sat on top of the bin. Engineered to compress it down to nothing. With his invention, you could double or treble bin capacity.


Yes, it solved his and many of our problems. Yes, we could all do with a bit more room in our recycling bin. However, realising it would need some heavy engineering, and it was unsuitable for home use, we developed his idea into a weekly round. Customers would pay us £2 a time for us to compress everything flat, problem solved. But the acid test was, would anyone pay money for it?

This business idea, the one that was going to raise enough profit to pay for the wages, vehicle, machinery and running costs, would anyone want to pay money for it every fortnight? For that matter, would I?

The excitement faded as his sober wife pointed out, he could simply order a bigger bin. Problem solved, and luckily we hadn’t started on our waste compactor machine purchase.

It’s good to dream, to have ideas and follow these ideas to the logical conclusion. If your idea requires investment, always ask the question, ‘will anyone pay money for it?’. If you can’t find ten people that will, you’ll have saved yourself a fortune.

Safe job in a bank?

We all have money, and we need somewhere to take care of it. In the good old days, if you wanted a job for life, where better way than a safe job in a bank?

Yesterday, RBS (Royal Bank of Scotland) shocked the market announcing it was shutting branches. Alot of branches.

Basically, it’s’ our fault. We’re not using the branches, we’re banking on-line, it’s time to cut out the waste and downsize. Gone is the safe job in the bank.

How will it feel for any bank teller in any bank now? To know that in one day, nearly two hundred branches and eight hundred staff are no longer needed. Will this catch on? Are more closures on their way?

Many of these bank staff will have years of experience. The problem is who will employ them? Will there be another bank to go to? I doubt it.

Planning where to spend our post forces days is getting harder. The ‘job for life’ days are almost over. The skills we need as we leave are no longer just an approved course. As we move our lives on-line, a whole job sector dies. If we choose to work in retail (as I do), we should all be ready for the change that’s coming.



Plastic-free coffee

The plastic-free movement is gathering steam. Last year’s introduction of the 5p charge for a supermarket plastic bag changed everything within months. It’s led to shoppers looking like they are on ‘Crackerjack’, balancing items to win prizes, trying not to spread the coleslaw all over Asda car park.

This week there’s news on the reduction of plastic in every field. India closing factories as it pledges to be plastic-free.

Vending machines spit out ‘once only’ cups all over the globe. The leading chains of Starbucks and Costa sell millions of disposable cups every week. It seems the industry has disposable cups at it’s heart. However, this week, a coffee chain took the lead and announced it wouldn’t sell coffee in disposable plastic cups.

The ‘Boston Tea Party’ have twenty-one coffee shops in the UK and have pledged customers must change their habits. The choice is either bring their own plastic mug, or buy one. This is a massive, brave step from a business point of view. It’s also a perfect example of how a business is reaching out to a niche audience, separating itself from the masses.

Plastic-free Tribes

Want to take our coffee away? Show me the money. Want to be a member of our plastic-free club? You’ll need to carry around a plastic coffee cup all day, to be a member of this Tribe. (Watch this fascinating TED talk to hear more about Tribes

Concerned about the environment? Come and get your coffee from us, we also care.

Will they sell more, or less coffee? This will be fascinating to watch. Is there a way that we can all follow this in business? It has my attention. I’m already wondering whether we can go plastic-free?