Investigate then initiate

Having spent 9 years as a Police Officer and another 3 as a Private Surveillance Investigator, I can see now with hindsight how those experiences were perfect preparation for starting an online business and working off a laptop.

Now granted this is my perspective, but the list below can just as easily cover any variety of jobs and careers.

In no particular order;

Research, due diligence and analysis

Lets face it the online world is full of useful information, useless information and confusing information, and that’s just the surface web we use every day.

It all depends on what your are seeking, then sifting through the content to see what fits for you, what serves you, and what feels right. We are inundated and bombarded with online information every day, not to mention social media.

We owe it to ourselves to determine whats legitimate and whats not.

In policing and investigation information preparation is key. Fact checking, profile building, link checking. Progressing from one step to the next, the cogs fitting in place. Creating a road-map with directions to your intended destination or outcome.

Most of us know that we can trust the online brands and businesses that have established reputation and good user experience over a period of time. For other sites and businesses we need to look a little deeper.

There was one instance in the Police when I was on plain clothes proactive patrol. A call came over the radio to be on the lookout for a male walking with a stolen laptop along the road we happened to be driving along. As we area searched further along the road we were driving on, a man with a black laptop bag over his shoulder appeared. We stopped to talk to him at the side of the road.

He didn’t seem the sort of gentleman who would be walking to Costa Coffee to sit down with his coffee and start his laptop lifestyle day. He didn’t seem to have any interest in recreational use for the laptop either. Of course these were just perceptions. Cops have an instinct in certain situations though.

The request for information from the stolen laptop report provided the make, colour and description of the one this gentleman had in his possession. It was enough to bring him in.

In the interview following arrest, this gentleman went to great lengths to repeatedly tell me, ” You know me Officer, I wouldn’t do this”

I didn’t know him, and it turns out he would do this.

Analysis of the laptop showed various images of the same car. The licence plate check of the vehicle in the image produced the owners details. The vehicle owner was the former owner of the laptop. The laptop sitting in a sealed bag labelled evidence in the exhibits lockup.


If we think about it we all probably feel more comfortable communicating with others in a particular way. Whether it be in person, over the phone, messaging, social media messaging, emailing. Maybe a combo of these with one form favouring another.

I prefer speaking personally one on one rather than in a group setting. I really don’t enjoy speaking to large groups front and center.

I had instances where I had to stand in front of a room full of cops, some I knew, some I didn’t know at all. Then run through an entire search warrant operation.

From the intelligence break down, to what evidence was required, to assigning roles for Officers to gain entry and search. I hated it. I was relieved I only had to do it every so often. 

When we had to do football stadium duty hundreds of Officers had to congregate for the pre match briefing. During the home games in the season – and the season went on for months and months – one Officer would have to stand up on a stage in front of hundreds and rattle off the evacuation procedure for the stadium. This had to be memorized in advance. It was a good five – ten minutes of speaking in front of colleagues and higher ranks.

The officer chosen in advance for it had usually screwed up in some way during the week, and had been nominated by their inspector, or higher ranked officer. No one knew who it would be until his or her name were called to come up and present themselves on stage. 

Easy enough for someone who enjoys public speaking. Heart palpitation paralysis for someone who doesn’t.

Through sheer luck I never had to get up there and do it. I’m sure though that the universe will probably see to it that I experience public speaking at some point. I know it cant be dodged forever.

Decision Making

I had just come off a very successful undercover operation lasting several months. I was back in my home force and on my unit. I jumped into a search warrant operation and volunteered to be on the forced door entry team. We briefed and went out to the location. I entered the block of flats with my colleagues, located the flat and slammed the metal battering ram into the front door. 

A successful entry. If it had been the right flat. The actual address was the door to the left. 

Fortunately the door I hit contained an empty council flat. What was far more embarrassing for me was the inspector overseeing the warrant was the very same inspector who oversaw the undercover op I had just come off. 

I really wanted that continuity of good work to continue but sometimes the wrong decision is made. What I learnt though is to concentrate on absolutely everything going forward. Although there were no numbers displayed on those flat doors a floor plan had been shown with the position of our door. 

The finer details can sometimes mean success versus non success. Failure doesn’t exist, its just another opportunity to try again.

Preparation and Anticipation

Patterns. Noticing them and anticipating them can be very useful.

Knowing whats around the corner literally and figuratively.

I worked a private surveillance where a guy would leave the house in his car regularly throughout the day. Sometimes with his dogs, sometimes not.

As the town was relatively small I anticipated the patterns in his routes and adjusted. If he exited the town from the left or right of his house I used a parallel road and picked up his car at the end. At the end of the roads we had both taken, he would either drive past me or exit away from me. My vehicle was never behind his until we reached busier roads.

Being prepared and organised serves you well in the online world too. Being a digital entrepreneur has a creative and technical side. Gaining a clear understanding and anticipating your tasks in priority makes things much easier.

Down the road you can always outsource certain tasks, but you will clearly know what someone else is doing for you.

Planned Objectives

What does your ideal life look like, and can you achieve it working for someone else?

I really enjoyed Police work and investigation.

I really didn’t enjoy the shifts in the Police. Or the never ending commutes with Surveillance investigation. The cycle of early mornings, lates, and nights. There have been numerous articles and studies highlighting the adverse mental and physical problems associated with shift work and commuting for work. Its just not good for you. Plain and simple.

In the police my working life was under the control of the logistics department. Even on a plain clothes unit with investigations to complete. An incident would inevitably happen, and before I knew it our unit was rostered into a set of uniform patrols.

This essentially amounted to a high visibility presence. Useful in some ways. A waste of resources in others.

These days I work online and the freedom is a blessed relief. As long as the discipline, focus and work ethic is there – and it is, I can pretty much work on my own terms. The flexibility is a great feeling.

My goals are time, financial and location freedom. Without restriction.

What are yours?