So you might think Cuba is a rather sad place with not a lot of hope. But that's not the Cuba I saw. As if buoyed on by its musical heartbeat (Salsa and Rumba are everywhere) I saw a Cuba where the human spirit is very much alive.
I still run my business from home and never once has the fact that my office is based in my back garden been a barrier to achieving new clients or new global licensing deals. Your office address is just words on the bottom of your headed notepaper or your invoice. What really counts isn't where you conduct your business, but how you conduct it.
The key is understanding how our lifestyles have evolved over the past 250 years. Back then when the industrial revolution started, people worked labor-intensive jobs such as farming, manufacturing and mining. Physical activity wasn't a problem it was a way of life as it became integrated into their everyday duties. Most workers were independent, they were either land or business owners.
Events don't always have to be held in a conference centre. You can hold them anywhere, and a more imaginative location will spark creativity amongst attendees. Why not source a derelict (but safe) vacant space, or even hold your event outdoors?
If you are not keeping up with trends and developments in the wider market, you are only creating problems for yourself... Customers are becoming more and more demanding in terms of what they expect, and as entrepreneurs, we need to act accordingly.
In my experience, the first rule of business is to pay your lawyers, accountants and all your professional advisers well. Always pay well for the best advice because it ends up being cheaper in the long run.
We need mental toughness to overcome the insidious business disease of 'corporate helplessness'. This is a condition where people abdicate responsibility to others for their failure to perform. Symptoms include "I haven't been on a training course", or "No-one has shown me", or "We've tried that before."
Make the journey more important than the destination. In other words, don't automatically buy into the mantra that 'there's no gain without pain', instead allow yourself to experience the 'joy of the getting there' while also enjoying the 'here and now' too.
You don't have to look too hard to find substantial information that supports the effectiveness of having a positive mental attitude, whether it relates to health and well-being or business objectives.
Remember, freelancers are their own bosses. Their reputation for efficiency and quality work is their lifeblood, so they will be driving themselves. Every second a freelancer has that commission in their lap, it's their one and only focus.
I applied for a job a few years ago and I got down to the last few candidates. I was very excited as it was a 'big brand' and at the final 'papal nod of the CEO' stage he began to ask me what I thought was an odd line of questioning. It started pretty early into what became the longest half hour of my life. "So Mark, have you always been overweight?" he asked.
As Stanley Kubrick's classic The Shining tells us "all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy" and this still rings true today; employees that spend too much time at work will find their social lives suffer.
If technology allows us to virtually participate in meetings that take place anywhere in the world, is it so important that we are there to shake hands in person? As the cost of power creeps ever higher, I would imagine that priorities will shift out of necessity towards conducting more business through digital channels.
Never mind that 20% of small ventures go under in the first year and 50% don't make it past their third birthday. This is presuming the owners of said companies haven't smoked or drunk themselves into an early grave before then, thanks to the gigantic amount of stress involved.
Our balance of payments deficit is far too high. In fact we have not had a surplus on our trade in goods since 1982 and we have not had an overall surplus in any year since 1983 - 30 years ago. As a result, we are unable to run our economy at full throttle.
Data from the CMI (Chartered Management Institute) and salary experts XpertHR that shows the gender pay gap is hitting professional women aged 40-plus hardest. This group is hitting a 'mid-life pay crisis' as they earn 35% less than men in comparable, full time roles.