The Multiphase Omnishambles of my 40th Birthday

I am not exactly what you’d call a miserable bastard. I am not far from one, though. As my significant other likes to put it – a borderline miserable bastard.

As such, I am not a big fan of birthdays, especially my own. Sure, I don’t mind having a few really good friends over for a nice meal, but anything more than that and it’s quite likely I’ll get annoyed.

A few years ago, with my 40th approaching, this birthday-averse nature of mine led to a multiphase omnishambles of a month which (much to my surprise) ended in quite a nice party, actually.

The following are not actual entries from my diary (I don’t have one), but I figured they make for a nice literary device.

Phase #1 – I’m feeling a bit blue

About a month before my 40th birthday

We get old. I get it. I’ve never had a problem with that.

I have been in a loving marriage for almost 15 years now. I have two kids who seem to be turning out to decent people (mostly thanks to my wife).

Sure, my knees and back take turns slowing me down and I have a bit of a paunch, but I’m mostly healthy.

I finally made that leap and started my own marketing agency (it’s still early days).

I know that a birthday is an arbitrary point in time. I know that there is not much difference between turning 40 and turning 39 or 41.

So, why am I feeling down?

I don’t think I’ll even celebrate my birthday. Maybe everyone will forget about it.

Phase #2 – The crisis is over

About 25 days before my 40th birthday

Crisis over. Not feeling blue any longer. Feeling a bit silly. Probably shouldn’t, but do.

I might actually invite a few really good friends over for a few drinks. We’ll have a little birthday meal, down a few bottles, talk well into the morning.

It will be nice.

Phase #3 – About those few friends…

About 24 and a half days before my 40th birthday

Talked to the missus about those few really good friends and she told me that’s not the best idea I’ve had. Today, not in general. I think I get it. It is a round birthday and I might want a bigger thing.

When I really think about it, there are quite a few people we don’t see as much and I actually miss them.

I told you I wasn’t a complete miserable bastard.

I might start looking for a place to organize the party.

Phase #4 – Behind schedule

About 20 days before my 40th birthday

I should really start looking for a place to have the party.

Phase #5 – Behind the schedule part deux

About 15 days before my 40th birthday

I should REALLY start looking for a place to have the party.

Phase #6 – A Eureka! moment. Or is it?

About 15 days before my 40th birthday, while looking for venues for the party

Hmmm… I got something here; I really think I got something here. What if I make this party a bit about my new marketing agency also? Invite a few business contacts from the past, the cool ones?

Nothing too pushy or daft, just letting them know I run my own agency now.

I’m there, they can talk to me.

I’m a nice guy, not a miserable bastard at all.

Hmmm…

Phase #7 – Yes, a Eureka! moment

About 15 days before my 40th birthday, a few moments later

Talked to the missus. She likes the idea. It might actually be a good idea.

Phase #8 – F**k

About 15 days before my 40th birthday, another few moments later

F**k, how am I going to find a venue now!? Oh, and catering and all that. And letting people know and getting everything organized. Argh.

Wait a minute. Event planners. Yes, those wonderful, wonderful people who make parties materialize out of thin air.

What was the one we used… Ah, yes. Kevin Rowe Events and the team. Better give them a call.

Phase #9 – A spectacular sight of relief

About 15 days before my 40th birthday, twenty minutes later

They can actually do it. They can actually save this miserable bastard from himself. It’s going to be a close one with the invitations and all, but they can actually pull it off!

Phase #10 – S**t

The day of my 40th birthday, 9 a.m.

S**t! This is a bad idea. It will feel forced. Friends and business contacts in one place. Half birthday party, half this agency promotion thing. Who do I think I am?

Oh, and David. David is going to try and chat up one of the business contacts, I just know it. Is it too late to do a dry party?

Oh, my cousin Emma. She’s definitely going to try and chat up one of the business guys.

This is the worst idea ever.

Phase #11 – Well, this went well

The day after my 40th birthday, 3 a.m.

Well, this went better than I thought it would. The friends and the business folks really got on well. People might actually be nice. David wasn’t that bad. Emma… well… Emma is legally considered force majeure; you can’t really do anything about her.

But it went really well. The food was great. The band was okay.

I think I’ve even managed to set up a few promising meetings.

Wait, what’s that sound?

‘Emma! Emma! No, don’t… He’s trying to close up and go home! Ah, for f**k’s sake Emma… ‘

Home Upgrades that Will Boost the Value of Your Home

Selling your home is a complex and tiring process, but the biggest problem is that you can’t always get as much money out of your buyers as you’d like.

That’s why lots of homeowners who are planning to put their homes on the market in the near future start investing money in their property and actually trying to raise its value that way.

The point is, of course, ultimately making more money, and these home upgrades could do wonders for your home and the entire sale process. So, if you too are thinking about selling your home soon, here are a few upgrades you might want to check out.

Fix the Curb Appeal

Beautiful house entrance with trimmed grass

This is the first thing potential buyers notice when they come to your place – what’s more, if your curb appeal is anything less than perfect, they might not even get out of their car and actually walk inside your home!

Therefore, most people invest time into boosting their curb appeal and making sure it’s spotless. The best thing about this project is that it’s easier to handle than it seems. All you have to do is mown your lawn and trim your hedges regularly, as well as fix your front door and repaint your fence. This way, the buyers will fall in love with your place even before seeing all of it, and that’s always good.

Mind the Paving

Beautiful black gray and white paving

Once the potential buyers understand how amazing your curb appeal is and decide to give your home a chance, they’ll want to explore the rest of the outdoor space as well. Having a spacious backyard is instantly going to make your property appealing, and regular maintenance is going to make it even more attractive.

Don’t forget to pay attention to your paving, though, and opt for only the best choice of stones for this project – cobblestones, pebbles and gravel are all amazing options, so just find the stones that suit your garden, and you’re good to go.

Build a Deck

Deck with great view to ocean

All buyers are looking for cosiness and comfort in a new home, and nothing says cosy like a nice little deck behind the house. This space is perfect for spending your free time, hanging out with your family, entertaining your guests and even organizing barbecues and dinners.

Building a deck is therefore always a great idea, and you could probably do it on your own too, but be sure to consult an expert first, just in case. After all, this is the area where kids usually spend lots of their time, so it needs to be absolutely safe and protected against all weather conditions and other dangers.

Update the Kitchen

Update the Kitchen

Most people love being in the kitchen, and homebuyers are no different. They have a tendency of hating places that feature small, stingy and old kitchens, and simply opt to buy a home with a modern kitchen instead. So, don’t be afraid to dedicate some time to your kitchen and update it a bit.

Install some new cabinets, upgrade your appliances, add more storage space, build an island and lay some new tiles – most of these things are easy to handle on your own, so you’ll actually save some money in the process as well.

Upgrade the Bathroom

Bathroom

This is another space all potential buyers are going to check out, so you’d better be prepared. Updating the entire bathroom could be a bit pricey, especially if you wish to install a spacious bathtub, a new vanity and a few state-of-the-art fixtures, so plan your budget carefully and try to respect it as much as you can. At the end of the day, you don’t have to update every corner of the bathroom, but it needs to be clean and decluttered if you wish to attract more buyers.

Replace Old Windows

Replace Old Windows

Old homes are usually perceived as cold and unpleasant, and the biggest reason why that’s the case is those old windows they feature. No matter how big they are, they’re probably not as efficient as they should be, and that creates problems with regulating indoor temperatures no new owner is going to want to deal with.

So, replacing your windows might boost the value of your home more than you can imagine, particularly if you opt for those double-glazed windows that come with a number of various advantages.

In the end, most people don’t realize that you have to spend money now to make money later, and lots of them aren’t willing to do it.

But, if you don’t take these home upgrades seriously, you won’t be able to ask for more money when selling your home, and you might end up not selling it at all.

So, investigate these ideas, see which ones suit you the most, and start investing your money and time into them as soon as possible.

Getting Yourself and Your Home Ready for Winter

Every part of the year has its advantages, but we can’t all be in love with every single season. Me, I’m a guy who likes winter – scratch that: I love winter!

And I especially love winters in Dublin, because the streets look amazing, the air is crisp and you can get warm and cozy with a pint of Guinness basically at any corner.

However, winter also requires some preparation and I like being on top of my game, which is why I’m getting myself and my home ready for the winter a month or two in advance.

If you’re just like me and don’t like being surprised by the first snow, here’s what you need to do in order to welcome winter adequately.

Check the Insulation

House cover in snow

Winters in Ireland are tough – to be honest, the weather here can be tough all year long, with all the wind and rain – which is why you need to be 100% sure your home is ready for it. Checking the insulation is first on my order of business and I know how important being protected against the harsh winter conditions is.

I actually realized a couple of years ago that my home isn’t as cozy and warm as it should be and started looking for a reason. After some time, I understood that my insulation isn’t effective at all, so, a couple of days later, the problem was fixed.

Using foam board insulation, I managed to elevate the temperature in my rooms quite significantly, and this is something you too can do on your own, so there’s no reason to avoid this project.

Check the Fireplace and Chimney

Brown Beside Fireplace Near Brown Wicker Basket

My fireplace is one of the most interesting and visually attractive features in my home, and something I love a lot, particularly in the winter. It’s located in the middle of the living room and I just love sitting in front of it and catching up on the latest John Grisham (a very guilty pleasure).

ut, if you want your fireplace to keep you warm from November to March, you have to give it some love first.
I know that cleaning the fireplace is tiring and boring, but it’s just one of those things you have to do, whether you like it or not.

n the end, if you want to use it all winter long, you have to make sure it’s spotless. The same goes for the chimney too – hire a chimney sweeper to check if everything’s all right before the winter comes. Remember to do that every year and you’ll be able to enjoy the fireplace in the years to come as well.

Start Moisturizing

Man face wet

Look, I know this isn’t something every guy likes doing, but it just needs to be done. Trust me, I’ve had my fair share of teasing from my friends at the pub, but when the winter comes, guess whose skin is perfect – mine, not theirs! Moisturizing is an important part of skincare and something you need to do all year long, but it’s especially important in the winter.

No matter where you live and how old you are, the wind, snow and cold are going to attack your face, dry your skin and mess it all up – unless you do something about it first, of course.

I thought this was a bit funny several years ago, but I got quite used to using a moisturizer and now can’t imagine welcoming winter without it. It makes my skin smooth, fresh and younger, but it also protects me against the low temperatures, and that’s something I love more than anything else.

f I am really looking for a splurge, I will sometimes look into a treatment at Auralia. Long since have gone the times when men were be ashamed of taking care of themselves!

Fix Your Beard

Well dressed man with a beard

Once you reach a certain age, you simply stop paying that much attention to the way you look: you have other things on your mind and you just want to feel comfortable in your own skin. Nevertheless, you can’t look scruffy if you’re a professional running his own business, so you have to take care of your facial hair even in the middle of winter.

Since Dublin winters are quite cold, I prefer trimming my beard instead of shaving it completely. This way, I still look elegant, manly and professional, but I’m not as cold as I’d be if I shaved my face morning after morning.

Also, frequent shaving can irritate your skin and cause acnes in certain cases, and that’s definitely something you need to avoid in the winter.

As you can see, preparing yourself and your home for the winter isn’t as hard as it sounds. If you take care of your health and maintain your living space all year long, you won’t have a problem adapting to the cold weather.

Consistency is the key, both in housekeeping and personal hygiene, so don’t neglect your skincare, even if you don’t think that’s the manliest thing in the world.

The Perks of Setting up a Business in Dublin

Starting a business, any kind of business, can be daunting or outright scary. I know this from personal experience. That is exactly why I wasted far too many years working for and with others, despite the fact I carried most of the load and could have spent that time building my own company.

At one point, my dislike for working for others overcame my fears and I realized that the time was right for me to finally start my marketing agency. I have always read that Dublin is one of the best places in the world to start a business and I decided to put this to the test.

Unfortunately, despite my sudden burst of enthusiasm, I had no idea how to actually do it. I had never been much of an entrepreneur and I tended to tune out when people spoke about the business side of running a company.

I know there are plenty of people out there like me and that is exactly why I wanted to write this – A quick guide to starting a business in Dublin if you’re not really sure how to start a business in Dublin.

Am I a Company? Am I a Trader?

Man standing

Before we go any further, I should confess to something – my best friend is an accountant and she made my life so much easier from the get go. And I do mean get go. You HAVE TO find a reliable accountant before you even start thinking about starting a business.

They’ll help you make the first major decision for your business – should you start off as a sole trader or a limited company straight away? Because my friend, how you register your company will become very important as soon as the first invoices start rolling in.

Basically, when you’re a sole trader, your business is tied to you as a person and it entails less red tape and fewer expenses. When you start a limited company, you become a shareholder in a corporate entity and it’s a whole different beast.
I myself wanted to go company straight away, but my friend advised me to get things going as a sole trader. You can read more on this here, by the way.

Once you decide, you have to register your business name with the CRO and find out about the taxes you’ll need to take care of in the future. You can find pretty much everything on this here.

Finding the Money

Regardless of how small you start off, you will be needing some money to get things going. I myself had the foresight to put something aside over the years and I didn’t have to take out loans or look for alternative funding.

For those of you whose situation is different, don’t despair. Dublin and Ireland, in general, are among the very best places in the world to start a business and a lot of it has to do with the availability of funds for new entrepreneurs.

The Local Enterprise Office is the perfect place to start, if nothing else then for the enormous amount of advice and tips you will get from the lovely people who work there. Despite the fact I wasn’t looking for any additional funding for my company, I got in touch with them and they helped me immensely. The good people at LEO really know their stuff.

I could write a 3,000 word article on all the other programmes and grants that are available for entrepreneurs in Ireland, but that is a story for another occasion. Instead, I’ll point you in the direction of this extensive list of funding options for Irish businesses.

Finding Office Space

Office Space

Depending on the type of business you are starting, you will have more or less choice when it comes to finding the best office space. For instance, I was perfectly capable to work from my parents’ house for the first few months and later from my apartment.

Of course, once you start meeting with clients and getting a bit of traction, you might need more and this is where coworking spaces come in. Dublin is great when it comes to coworking spaces – I worked from CoCreate for a while and also from The Brickhouse (really cool, although a bit more expensive).

The important thing is not to rush it and go renting out office space from the very start. Until you bring on more people, you don’t really need an office.

Of course, this doesn’t hold water if you are starting with a couple of people already. If you do need to get office space, make sure to do your research. You don’t have to be located at the IFSC or the Docklands.

Take Advantage of Software

Settings button on the screen

Okay, this one’s not really Dublin-specific, but I feel it is so important I would be remiss not to mention it. Namely, one of the best things about starting a business these days is the abundance of software that is available for pretty much every aspect of your business (especially if you are in the digital arena).

You name it, you’ve got it – lead generation software, business analytics software, HR software, project management software, CRM software, etc.

For a new company with a limited number of customers and accounts, much of the software can be free or really, really cheap. This often helps you keep your overhead low until you grow a bit and start bringing in more revenue.

Another tip – shop around, there are often small players who are doing stuff as well as the big, expensive companies, but at a fraction of the price as they are trying to carve a space for their company in the marketplace.

Closing Word

In this article, I covered the very basics that should leave you with a company that is registered and can operate legally. I intentionally left out hiring people and finding your first customers, because these require special attention.