When they say an entrepreneur’s life is feast or famine, they’re not joking. My life over the last 20+ years since I started out in business has been one of bouncing from poverty to excess with all the shades in between. This past week has only served to demonstrate this madness.
I’ve always been one of those people who have had their money working for them, either re-investing back into my digital agency or buying up property for my buy-to-let portfolio. Whilst on paper this has led to a substantial net worth which is the bit other entrepreneurs measure you on, it always meant we had nothing in the bank, no family holidays, no respite from the constant stress of winning business and growing accounts.
We coped pretty well with this, almost savouring the drama that was our lives… until Jon got cancer. At that point I was ready to sell up everything, go live in a little semi somewhere cheaper and say goodbye to the life we’d known.
Fortunately, with excellent care from the NHS, Jon came out the other side cancer-free but it had given both of us a new sense of what was important, so we put two properties from our portfolio on the market to give us a good sized cushion against natural economic ups and downs.
It took a year for the first one to sell, and thirteen months for the second one (this week) – not the quick fix we’d had in mind. With the first property, the money instantly evaporated into the ether and we eliminated a sizeable overdraft. With the second, we’re about to use much of it to minimise our other commitments so that we do have the cash in the bank we’ve long known we’ve needed.
The 39-year-old me cannot cope with the same levels of stress as the 32-year-old me, that’s for sure. But I realise that whilst I grieve the property empire that has been diminished by selling these houses, I also have an opportunity to now aggressively grow the business I love without the daily anxieties and distractions that come with poor cashflow. This is a fresh start.
I also need to appreciate how lucky I am right now. I have the most beautiful home with a fabulous bungalow in the garden in which my parents live. We have our wonderful children and in the last year have finally begun having those memory-filled holidays you see on TV adverts. I am not driving a Bentley (again) right now, nor am I mortgage-free but these are definitely closer luxuries now that my mind is free to focus 100%.
For a long time, whenever I planned for big pushes in the business or my life I’d begin “When the house sells…”. I no longer have that excuse. That time is now. Our time is now.