Business Lessons I learnt from being skint!!

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Until about 15 years ago, I made a healthy living with a recruitment consultancy in the Financial Sector. It was a job and a business I loved and thought would be my sole source of income for the indefinite future — until something happened.

That something occurred in late 2000, when one of my colleagues suffered a stroke at age 35. This caused me to take inventory of my life and ask the tough question, “What would happen to my family if something happened to me?”

I decided it was time to take control of my life and begin my entrepreneurial journey toward building a different sort of income and life style.

During the next five years I watched my bank account dwindle as I spent more than I earned month after month.

At one point I had a maxed up overdraft limit and less than one month’s salary remaining in the bank and I was never sure if it was going to stop.

In spite of this, I have learned there are reasons why running out of money makes you a better entrepreneur.

You ask better questions, and get better answers.

As a business owner you are going to experience extreme highs and extreme lows. When your back is up against the wall and the future of your business is in jeopardy, maintaining a positive attitude is not easy.

During those challenging moments, you should pay attention to the questions you ask yourself. Instead of playing the victim and asking, “Why does this always happen to me?” choose to ask a more productive question like, “What lesson can I learn from this situation?”

Up until the moment I asked myself this question, I had not realised how lavish my lifestyle had become.

Time and money were wasted on things that did not matter, and the things that were most important to me, like time with my family, often fell by the wayside.

By asking better questions, however, I was able to analyse what mattered most in my life and business and ensure that my most valuable resources were allocated appropriately.

How can asking better questions make a difference for you?

You get back to the basics of what made you successful.

As you achieve more successes in your career, and things get comfortable, you tend to forget the little things that made you successful to begin with.

One day you wake up and you’re in trouble. In these moments, business owners often seek counsel from mentors.

When I was at my own lowest point, one of my mentors — David — suggested that if I were to change the way I looked at things, the things I looked at would change. I took this to heart, as he too had been down this road.

David had been very successful in business, becoming a millionaire before the age of 30, before his life spiraled out of control. Looking back, he realised he had stopped doing the things that made him successful to begin with. It took losing a lot of money and almost losing his family to wake him up.

As I considered David’s history, I realised I was traveling down the same path. I had stopped doing the basic actions that made me successful.

In that moment I felt very grateful that it had not taken losing all of my money and my family to arrive at this realisation.

So, should things get rough in your own life, ask yourself,

“Am I still taking the actions that made be successful to begin with?”

You may realise that you got comfortable and lost your way. If so, it’s time to get back to the basics.

You are the problem, and hope is not a plan.

Looking in the mirror and evaluating yourself and your situation objectively is not something that comes naturally to most people. When you face adversity, you hope your situation will change. Unfortunately, hope is not a plan.

In 2001 – 2005 I spent more than I made every month, and never developed a plan to get back in the black.

The sales were not rolling in as they used to and I did not have a plan to rebuild my income. I drifted from day to day hoping things would change, but they just got worse. Finally, it took a financial crisis to wake me up and force me to take action: to form a plan that would stop the financial bleeding and rebuild my ambition and desire to use enterprise to make a difference.

As an entrepreneur or business owner you’ll discover that one of your most admirable qualities is the ability to create something out of nothing.

But the thing that holds you back from taking an idea from creation to fruition is often yourself. The best entrepreneurs recognise this fact when times get tough.

Learn to drop your ego and look at yourself objectively.  Where could you do better? Where are you falling short?

Got some answers? Now go put a plan in place and create the life you deserve.