Petes Weekly: Assessing 2012…

Assessing 2012…

The end of each year is a fine time to look back and assess whether one is on the right track. Or, in my case, not. Lest I sound like a self-focused ego maniac, let me explain why this might be relevant to you as a reader of this twelve year old weekly.

Twenty years ago I saw my gat, as Afrikaners say when they do not want to beat about the bush. There was no help in sight for a person closing a business, or fighting with the questions that lead to closure.

Twenty years is a lifetime ago. Since then the Internet has appeared. Steve Jobs has made Apple cool again. Mobile phones are no longer large, large bricks that only do expensive calls. A library was still filled with paper, unlike a Kindle. And Windows was still only 3.

But, two decades hence, you will still struggle to find a specialist therapist to help you through the worst experience of your life. You will struggle to avoid signing a personal surety. And you will still struggle to find any business advisor that thinks about you and your family BEFORE thinking about your business.

We (I) have dropped the ball in looking after the interests of the millions of self-employed folk around the globe. Officialdom is only interested in how many employees we will enrol, and how much tax we can pay. Nary an accolade for those fine people who have paid their own bills since leaving school, even if they have not employed anyone, or made enough profit to warrant a personal tax specialist.

And, no matter how pristine your record, it does not seem fair that a single mistake (like selling anything to any govt dept) can wipe out all that you own three years before retirement, as well as wiping out every penny of of the superlative financial credibility you once held.

I recently read Richard Branson’s unofficial biography a few weeks ago. Mr Branson really does not like the author who has looked past the superb Branson PR to reveal what has really/maybe happened behind the scenes. It is not as pretty as Mr Branson would like.

But I am heartened. Mr Branson has had so many near misses that he makes slaloming the Alps blind look easy by comparison. Much like the mistakes the rest of us try to hide, I think.

Search the web and the only references you will easily find to the concept of business owner risk refer to the risk inside the business – adequate capital, marketing, staffing, and so on. There is no shortage of advice on the subject. But look for help on closing down without parting with your home, or building a business without your wife and kids needing to lose everything when things go wrong, and there are lean pickings.

When we first start a firm we think that this first effort will be our only one: Our road to glory and fame. (This is that first effort in which we know nothing about running a business.) We do not see this first “project” for what it is: Our first and biggest learning curve.

And when that venture fails to turn into next weeks huge win, we deem ourselves failures. And we crawl back into a safe job because it is what our family wants. We hide our dreams. Well, stuff that.

I want to help folk rise above the challenges of this first learning curve so that they look forward to the second. And the third. Until they get us to where we want to be. (Or an acceptable facsimile.) The joy is not in the destination. It is in the pathways that take us there. It is in following those dreams as best we can. We work to become, not to acquire. (I wish those last words were mine, but they belong to Elbert Hubbard..)

I have about 15 years of useful working life ahead, and I want to devote that time to help at least one million people like you and me build robust entrepreneurial castles from which we can sally forth without fear that our families are ever on the line. My vehicle will be Business Warriors. See you there next year.

In the meantime, no matter how the year turned out, 2013 will still be there after Christmas, so don’t waste the break worrying about it. Enjoy! And do not underestimate your awesomeness., even if you have 10kg more of it than you really want.

All the best

Peter Carruthers

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