Now, what did Mike, my Bank Manager tell me that day…
Remember in my first post I told you how I asked my bank manager, Mike, about what business habits separated the successful businesses from the failures?
One of the most important of those he mentioned was getting control of your money and in particular your business cash-flow management.
At that time – 2003 – I had both the hotel business and the wealth coaching business so I had to get a grip. My multi-millionaire mentors then taught me how to manage my cash-flow through a simple spreadsheet based money management system I still use today.
(If you would like to find out more about that, I share that system in my Amazon best-selling book “The Business Success Factory“)
While, by that stage, I had tried many, many systems and book-keeping software programmes, none had given me the control and foresight I needed. My multi-millionaire property investor friends used it to run their entire business and I was amazed by how simple it was. Gives you total control of your cash in about 20 minutes a week.
Just before buying the Acacia Hotel in Worthing I’d trained as a life coach but knew I wanted to teach people on how to make more money; it was a journey I was on myself, after all.
So I started to share what I was learning via a simple email newsletter (Gary Vaynerchuk calls it “documenting” now) and then, as I was getting requests, coach people in the daytime after cooking the hotel breakfasts and after the kids went off to school.
I knew how to build a mailing list, market yourself online and get sales, but didn’t know how to grow a business past the point of just paying my own salary and into mega success. I was also doing pretty much everything else in my business, so hardly ever had any time for thinking about the strategy for growth, working ON my business rather than always working IN my business.
Even when Steve Watson, then manager of my favourite restaurant in Worthing, came to join me working as the manager of the hotel, it was still a struggle because by now, I was a single mum, having (fairly amicably, thank goodness!) divorced my husband.
Even when I had some time, I still didn’t really know what to do to grow the business.
So I asked one of my Money Gym clients Judith Morgan, to become my business partner and her arrival made a huge difference not least because she took on the day-to-day managing of the money, making sure we were always cash-flow positive and current with the VAT and Tax Office. Just that lack of worry about money made it possible for me to be more creative and focus on the marketing.
Judith had grown several businesses from scratch and had been accountant and finance director to many more, so she brought solid financial sense to the business, but she brought something more. We brought Steve in as another partner, he was a genius at organising things, operations and by then he was teaching himself web design and online tech, so becoming a real asset.
Working with those two gave me a new energy and a creativity, a love for people and helping them and an ability to think much bigger than I ever did. All those years, while I had been embedded in survival mode, Judith was firmly ensconced in abundance mode and that is an amazing quality to work with.
Since then, I’ve been introduced to some amazing business concepts and tools, including some awesome ways to think differently, solve problems and bust through obstacles. There is much more to building a successful business than just starting one with a great idea.
It’s an ongoing process which is both rewarding and challenging at the same time. Being an entrepreneur is deeply fulfilling and utterly terrifying if you are doing it on your own. There’s nobody to talk to, nobody to ask, nobody to run ideas past. Ideas that may be the best thing to happen to your business, or the worst business mistake ever.
I still have regular dreams about being back at The Acacia, just before it sold, and in those dreams I have the strong feeling that I could make it work this time because I know so much more about business and what makes business success now.
We closed down the Money Gym, the wealth coaching business in January 2010, immediately after it’s best year yet, for lots of reasons largely arising from the worldwide recession and credit crunch and I spent two years nearly in the wilderness wondering what to do next.
I went from having a mission to not having anything again. But I knew I would never give up, that I would never stop striving to become a successful entrepreneur because it’s who I am, not what I do.
To keep my hand in until the next idea or opportunity presented itself, I interviewed loads of successful people and wrote my second book. I did a lot of journalling, listening to podcasts, reading and strived to get control of my mind because it’s always what’s between your ears that makes the difference.
I’ve come to believe that nobody can tell you how to succeed, you have to figure it out on your own.
It truly is “The Hero’s Journey” in Joseph Campbell’s words.
I’ve gritted my teeth and kept going and gradually I’ve rebuilt everything again. I’ve recovered my confidence, I built a thriving Internet marketing mentoring business and I had private clients for whom I manage their entire online strategy.
Then in June 2012, I was offered the deal of a lifetime, to partner with one of my favourite mega-successful entrepreneur friends supplying business websites and internet marketing services to, among others, clients of a nationwide printing chain.
And all the while I will be building a business that can be sold one day for a multiple of profit, working alongside someone I admire and respect.
How exciting was that? Suddenly, again, I was earning more than I had ever dreamed of as a kid.
Except it didn’t work out! It really didn’t suit me, not being an equal partner in a business and having no ultimate say in how things were done.
So I was back to square one. Luckily I had some mentoring members going still, so that paid the bills while I waited for my next idea. Which came within 6 months and it was a BIG ONE!
How about if I could set up an agency simplifying and productising a Facebook Ads service, like WPCurve had done for WordPress development tasks?
Zero to a six-figure turnover in under 6 months seemed to show early promise and it was all going great guns, I was gunning for the seven figures this time and nothing was going to stand in my way.
Then my best friend and life companion, Steve Watson (yes, he of the restaurant and hotel management fame), well, he got sick and died very suddenly at the age of 49.
(That picture of us above is one of my favourites, taken at Wildlife Festival in May 2015. He was that kind of guy, making me do spontaneous things like that! We’d been having a quiet bar-b-q at home listening to the music but then he decided we should go…)
His death was another massive blow, coming out of nowhere. I’d not lost anyone that close before and I didn’t know what hit me.
Just think, in January 2015 I had launched ClicksAndLeads.com, we hit the six-figure MMR (monthly recurring revenue) by early July while Steve was actually in hospital for the first time. January 2016 was our best month yet, taking in over £20k in new recurring revenue business, then by March 2016 he was dead.
Suddenly everything seemed worthless and pointless and I just didn’t give a rat’s arse about building any business much less a seven figure businesses.
After six months of grief and misery, and trying to keep things going but struggling, my sister Sarah and I decided to up sticks and go live in Greece for 6 months, house-sitting for a friend. We figured that a change of scene, lots of sunshine and taking the pressure off would be good for me.
At the same time, a long forgotten pension matured which helped.
(By the way, did you realise that you get taxed immediately at source, on any lump sum you take out of a pension that you 100% paid for out of after-tax earnings? Think about that for a minute…)
I decided to give myself a six month holiday from life and work out what I really, really wanted to do with the rest of my life. Work and business. But I know I’ll be back!
Starting to write this story has been a journey in itself, having to leave out more than I put in. It was never a choice, for me, being an entrepreneur, it’s in my blood, I’m unemployable really and at least it means that I can lay on my deathbed and say
“Bloody hell, what a life! Didn’t I have fun!”
I hope that you think it will be worth following my story, as I write it. I shall share what drives me, what works, what doesn’t, what success and business tools I use and anything else I can think of that might help YOU in your journey to success.
p.s. Do feel free to visit over on Facebook and let me know what you think of this Memoirs series? Is it helping?