Breakthrough Observation

I had lost over one million dollars. That left me with the confronting truth that I had done so as a sole director in complete and utter control of my own destiny. How could someone with my skills and experience have blown it so badly?

Suddenly it felt like the only thing I had going for me was my lovely wife and two beautiful children (at the time two boys). I was depressed and could not see a light at the end of the tunnel.

Then suddenly it dawned on me that I had in fact made some clear and memorable mistakes. When I reflected on these, I realised that my successful past business associates and mentors would not have made these mistakes because they were more disciplined and more mature in their outlook. Their maturity meant objectivity in every decision they encountered.

This was a demoralising insight. I had learnt so much from some of the best minds in the world on how to strategise, change, market, grow, lead, manage, and run businesses. Yet once I was out on my own and in total control, I failed to deliver for myself what I had achieved for them and their clients.


I started to realise there were elements I experienced working for these business masters that were fundamentally different in their own personal leadership styles. However, there were other less obvious elements or key attributes as well and it were these that were more fascinating which required further understanding.

It appeared to be a combination of the obvious and the not so obvious. Surprisingly, there were many obvious failings such as being motivated by top line revenues rather than profits, expanding too quickly and hiring expensive employees rather than patiently growing a lower cost (and far more loyal) team from the ground up.

Expensive employees sometimes bring selfish motives and little loyalty other than to themselves and my lack of a formal business plan and strategy meant I had no defined model or any idea of what success would look like once achieved.

The not so obvious included my lack of business wisdom, my financial illiteracy (no accounting or other relevant degree) and no appreciation of the fine line between success and failure.

Until you have lost it all, your opinions are only theories rather than beliefs. However, once you have failed miserably you gain an entirely new appreciation of what is important in business and what is not. Growth can be like a drug - addictive and dangerous.

Being out on my own and having not been burned beforehand meant that I had no idea how much financial damage I could cause for my family or how long it might take to recover.

I had failed to include many things in my approach and therefore I started wondering: was I destined to fail or is there more to it, or could there be a formula, a recipe of key ingredients that makes all the difference?

Perhaps worse still was that my wife, Kimberley, had sensed my impatience and even mentioned a few choice observations along the way before it was too late, but I knew better!

In my darkest hours, it was not easy to be optimistic about these new insights because I was in survival mode with >$1M in debt and no way to pay it down. So further exploration needed to be placed on hold for four years until I recovered financially. extract from John Peterson's book "The Entrepreneurs Guide to Business Mastery"




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