My Digital Business Angel

Some Fire and Security directors start their business using an Angel to provide them with a life-changing financial investment.

Lollipop began after an Angel invested something rather different. But his life was cut far too short. Here is the story:

An introduction to internet marketing

Just as he had pushed me onwards to a black belt in karate 3 years earlier, my fabulous friend, Graham Wendes, dragged me to my first internet marketing experience for a weekend in November 2009. He had booked and paid several hundred pounds for the full four days – Thursday to Sunday – and had received a ‘free’ ticket for a friend.

At the time I was a recently-separated, Menopausal lollipop lady, who needed to find a job to supplement her income sufficiently to be able to eat. He knew that I loved to learn so he asked me to come along and be ‘his second set of ears’.

My job meant that I couldn’t get there until the Friday night and he insisted on booking and paying for my hotel room for both Friday and Saturday night. When I tried to offer recompense, he launched into one of his regular rants about wanting to help people – he had just been made redundant and had plenty of cash.

However, in just 36 hours, he had managed to spend the best part of £4k on ‘vital tools to get started creating an online business that would provide us both with the proverbial 6 figurrrre income’.

By Saturday afternoon, I was sitting on his, now empty, wallet so he couldn’t bash his credit cards any further.

These events consist of a large number of ‘expert speakers’ who spend 45 minutes giving you helpful tips to create an online business. This is followed by another 20 minutes telling you a sob story about how they started with nothing but now have a 6 figurrrre income. And this segues nicely into how you can have one too… if you purchase their magic product with thousands of pounds worth of extras for the tiny investment of £1500-2k. The NLP is astonishing – there were people running up the aisle with £50 notes desperate to be first in the queue to buy.

Sadly, most of these tools turned out to be poorly set up and definitely not “the only thing you will need to get started with your online business”. But, of course, we didn’t find that out until later. I think it was this experience that formulated my ongoing hatred of certain types of internet marketers and my determination to be something different. Not just there to establish my own 6 figurrre income!

Gray and I had a fabulous bonding weekend over bacon breakfasts and fish and chip suppers. We learned loads and came away full of energy and enthusiasm for our new business and a fantastic future.

A few months later, Gray was really struggling with trying to make sense of the sub-standard tools and learning how difficult it was to get his money back since he was outside the cooling off time limit.  

We went to a couple more free ‘events’ and learned more ‘stuff’ – without buying any more products. Each time we saw many of the same people, repeating the process of spending thousands of pounds on magic bullets that they hoped would get them rich without having to put in any effort.

The problem with the training – even from the best experts – was always joining it all together to make a business that could help people rather than just fleecing them of their cash.

It was exhausting. And that’s when Gray was offered a job in the career that he knew well but hated. He decided to return to that industry because the redundancy money was running out and it was better the devil you know…

Internet Marketing for local business owners

Because of what we had learned, I knew there was an opportunity here if I could just find it. It was only after I started talking to the local business owners on my crossing about their internet experiences that I realised the gap was right under my nose!

There were tales of terrifying web designers who charged £100 just to answer the phone and door to door salesmen who tried to bully business owners into spending money on online directory ads.

That’s when the penny started to drop. Gray was constantly there, pushing me on to form Lollipop and make it happen. He wanted me to live Life 2.0 and, after a few shoves, I was determined to succeed.

I was just one in a long list of people that he helped to grow a new business, whilst he continued to make the best of a career that he had always despised.

He was determined to leave every job a better and safer place than when he had joined. His Facebook posts held readers enthralled with his engrossing stories of day to day events and some of his earlier experiences became a semi-autobiograpical novel “When The Laughter Fades”. I read one of the first drafts and keep a copy of the published version on my bookshelf.

Death of a salesman

In 2016 we learned that Gray had cancer. People talk about hard-fought battles against this awful disease. But Gray was having none of it. He defied the illness with his curmudgeonly and caustic ‘Aint Dead Yet’ sarcasm. We went through Life 2.0 and Life 3.0. He ran a marathon just to spite the Big C. But then he went quiet. There were no more ‘in yer face, cancer’ Facebook posts as he struggled to eat or even breathe. And he passed away on 17th July 2017.

His Facebook page bore the thankful memories of over 450 people that he had helped in some shape or form over his 56 short years. They were from all walks of life and across the UK. His keyboard had reached them all if he couldn’t make it in person. His great gift was selling a dream and facilitating the reality.

For myself, the 3 Lollies and 2 support freelancers now have work thanks to his generosity… and nagging.

He wasn’t around to see us become students of the best sales and marketing gurus in the world. Or to comment when we made the transition from generic digital marketing agency to full-time pay per lead generation for Fire and Security companies. But I know he would have approved. He taught me to always seek out the best teachers. And to use the techniques and strategies that would bring the best success in a particular situation.

I miss him more than I can ever truly articulate… and whenever I have difficult decisions to make, I can hear him in my ear: “Is that a black belt you’re wearing, son…?”