“Life is queer with its twists and turns, As every one of us sometimes learns”
That’s a line from the poem “Don’t Quit” by an anonymous author.
If you have read my About Peter Wright page and some of my previous posts, you will know that my life has had its twists and turns, ups and downs. Adventure and adversity.
After my heart attack in 2010 put an end to my agricultural business, my income has been similar to a politician’s truthful campaign promises, inconsistent, infrequent and unreliable, but I have survived.
In my post on 14 November I wrote about the risks of taking a bold leap into the unknown to follow a passion and how some of us don’t have the luxury of thinking about it or of taking the safer route of starting our new business as a sideline.
Before my heart attack, I had been slowly building up my internet knowledge, started this blog, become active in many social media platforms, dabbled in various other on-line “opportunities” and had enough exposure to Network Marketing to decide it was not what I wanted to do. Not knocking Network Marketing, there are many examples of people being very successful at it.
Although I did not make much money out of all those activities, I did accumulate a lot of knowledge and experience, I also discovered several types of business that were not for me and a few that were. I was convinced that I could survive financially in the short-term and make a good income within a few years.
In my previous life, my big successes came from using skills and contacts built up over years, to exploit new opportunities. More a change in strategy than a complete change in direction. Laying the groundwork for the new bits while continuing to benefit from a stable income from the old for a period, then taking the big, bold step.
This time around, I did not have that luxury. I had no assets to use as collateral or liquidate after leaving Zimbabwe as a virtual refugee because we lost everything in the chaotic, violent and illegal farm seizures. My income from my pre-heart attack business in Canada was a fraction of what I had been earning from my farm in Zimbabwe or my businesses in South Africa before that. I had no savings and was stupidly carrying some debt as a result of buying a new vehicle a couple of years before.
The decision not to try to resurrect the farm consulting business was largely made for me between the doctor’s advice, no physical strength or stamina and my clients making other arrangements. I was not sufficiently in love with the business to fight all that and truth be told, had been planning to get out of it anyway.
At age 60, and now with a major health concern and no track record in the corporate sector in Canada, I was virtually unemployable in a conventional marketing or management job. Taking a lower level job, although giving me an immediate income (if I could have found one) would not have been in line with my long-term goals.
Taking the leap
I took the leap, determined to succeed as a writer and internet affiliate marketer.
Has it been what I expected? Yes and no. Having been self-employed for many years, I had no problem with the self-discipline needed to remain focused on business when working from home. Quite the opposite, I tend to work longer hours and more over weekends than if I had an office away from home.
I know that many first time solo entrepreneurs find the transition from a busy, supportive “job” environment difficult.
Another benefit from my periods of self-employment and more so as a farmer, is living with uncertain and fluctuating income. Learning how to quieten those butterflies when bills are accumulating faster than receivables or fees, when there is not enough in the bank to meet payroll a week before month end.
This is one of the most difficult worries to overcome for most people. It is worse when you have children to feed, clothe and educate. We all have different tolerance levels for financial adversity. My experience is that we overcome them incrementally. Each financial meltdown that you avoid, makes you more resilient to overcome or divert the next one.
Which brings me to the point of this post, no matter how good your planning and execution, it is rare for any new venture to take off from day one and continue to grow without a few hiccoughs along the way.
Curved balls will come flying at you from the most unexpected directions, in the most unusual ways and at the most inconvenient times. Inability to survive those is what causes most of our failures.
That is when we have to keep our faith in ourselves, our ability to endure, overcome adversity and sometimes a blind faith in God or the universe.
What inspired me to write about this is my own experience over the last month or two.
Business had been a bit slow in October and as often happens, expenses a bit higher than anticipated. November was not looking particularly promising and Christmas fast approaching. Our sons have paid for Sue to fly to the UK and Zimbabwe to see three of our collective children and four grandchildren.
Although no major cause for concern, and far less serious than I have survived before, I have to admit that the tight cash flow was occupying my mind more than it should. The prospect of being on my own over Christmas was not helping either. Long term, I am supremely optimistic and have been since I set out on this latest adventure.
I had been preparing a contingency plan to get me through the next couple of months if necessary, but I did not let my belief that I would succeed waver. I kept the faith.
Then in the last two days, new business has come in from two totally unexpected sources. Not a huge amount and certainly not enough to make me rich, but enough to get me over what was looking like a tight period and a bleak Christmas.
When I look back on my life, it is incredible how often this has happened. I wrote about one of them in this post: Salvation of Small Miracles. Sure I have had a couple of huge disasters but even then unexpected good things happened to move me forward again.
What helps me when the future looks bleak, is to think of the even more frightening or difficult periods in my life that I did survive. Moving to a new country with no money, surviving and feeding my kids in a new country by selling on commission, completing ultra-marathons, surviving intimidation and detention in Zimbabwe and many more.
I also realise how lucky I am to have survived many encounters with adversity, through accidents, illnesses and a heart attack. To still be fit and strong enough to walk every day, ride my horses live a normal life, have clean water to drink, a roof over my head and an indoor toilet. Unlike a friend who is terminally ill, who might just survive to share a last Christmas with his children and is only 47.
All that helps put relatively minor money worries into perspective.
If you have ventured out on this road of following your passion, self-determination, chasing your dream or whatever you want to call it, recognise that you will also have your ups and downs, twists and turns. You will have your periods of self-doubt, perhaps even periods of absolute terror when you cannot see any way past the hurdles in front of you.
That is when you need to hold onto your faith in yourself, remember why you started this journey, remind yourself of all your past successes, revisit all your strengths and focus on the vision you created for yourself before you started. Then you will find a way over, around or through those hurdles.
Wishing you success.