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How I failed spectacularly.



This is not the easiest thing to write about and own up to especially as I help others with their businesses (oh the irony). The vulnerability and fear of being judged badly and negatively are alive and well in my head - however, I am going to do it anyway, what's the worst that can happen, right!



Over a decade of literally blood, sweat and tears I built a franchise leading car body repair shop. A business created to work without me, a team built to serve the customers powerfully and a sales and marketing machine creating more and more work. We were growing, albeit slowly and painfully.


Then the franchise contract was ended and needed renewing. The new contract was very one-sided and wanted to take all the profit I was making for the franchisor and shareholders which left me with a lot less. Needless to say, I was not happy so I contested it, we all fell out and I decide to go it alone and went about rebranding and changing the company, fast.

That was the big mistake - the non compete clauses and various amendments over the years left me in a pickle. A big pickle to be honest.

Within 3 weeks of the 'new' business, I was hit with a pretty scary solicitors letter for being in breach of contract and I was threatened very robustly by them. All the creditors got spooked and called the loans in against the personal guarantees. It was a hot mess and an extremely frightening time. Then it got really bad, all the staff were gone, the keys were taken off me, bank accounts were frozen and some insolvency lawyers wanted large fees when I had nothing left to give. It was all gone and no way to salvage it. I'll admit I cried several times as I felt it all being taken away and the depth of the debt and responsibility hit me like a sledgehammer.

There is no fairy tale ending, the business went and I ended up with nothing and months of being extremely scared and worried about my family and our future. It had wiped us out financially and it took a big chunk of my confidence and self-belief for good measure. Writing about it now brings all the feelings flooding back and I have to say it's not been easy to do.

Those feelings of failure at that scale were so new to me that there is a scar on my thinking and emotional condition and I can feel them rising every so often to this day. Something triggers me and I have to wrestle those thoughts into submission through better thinking and distraction.

What I have come to learn though is that they are just thoughts and all that pain is long behind me and I survived. It's the thoughts that create the feelings and it's the feelings at any given moment that we live in. You see the business folding was just a thing that happened it was my thinking about the business folding that hurt so much.

What have I learnt?

A lot. I think! Oddly it's quite hard to put my finger exactly on what I've learnt, however, I think it's been more about the strength of the human spirit and the ability to recover over any actual business lesson. These phases of life are just that, a phase, that will pass with a new phase beginning, this is a truth I hold onto - the certainty that time heals and new opportunities present themselves when we are open to them.

Now, it was only a business and it's only money all of which can be re-created again - however this time I know I am creating something very different, very special and for completely different reasons and I blooming love it.

There you have it, that's how I failed spectacularly and thankfully I am at peace with it and glad it happened. (ish)

David Greenaway

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