You never stop learning

I celebrated my 5th year in business in May 2013. According to some experts, I’ve made it. Over 50% of businesses fail in the first 5 years, and yet here I am – 5 years and 3 months old. You would think I’ve seen and heard it all right? WRONG!

One thing I HAVE learned in the last 5 years is that you never stop learning. And I am not meaning bettering-yourself-learning, I mean learning lessons, learning about yourself, your business and your industry and life. People and life itself are the best teachers there are and the greatest of all is – they teach you for free! The bad part is, the lessons you learn are not necessarily nice ones. Rock bottom becomes your new best friend, the word “broke”, “help” and “stress” will flow over your lips daily. Friendships will shatter, promises will be broken and strangers will become your new best friends.

YouTube, Pinterest, Squidoo and the like are your new training ground because the mentors and coaches you always turned to, suddenly stops helping you. “You have to walk alone now – you are big enough.” And when you suddenly find yourself alone on this path called “success”, falling down is the most natural thing you can do. People expect you to fall, to fail, to flop. Everything you learned thus far seems light years away and you are lost. Not a nice picture I am painting is it?

At the end of 2012 I was on top of the world. My life, my business and I, myself was doing great. Work was coming in, income was excellent, clients were over the moon with my work and my friends were the best I could ask for. But there was one client that bugged me, one client that added that black blob to the colourful canvas and I needed to get him out of my life. Little did I know that by letting him go, my world would collapse. Suddenly all my clients stopped sending work, prospective clients did not want to work with me anymore. It felt like a dark cloud pulled over me and there was no sunshine to be seen… I tried everything I knew to get my clients back, to get new clients, but the doors were shut. The answer stayed the same. And 7 months later I found myself flat on rock bottom – a very hard, cruel and unforgiving place to be where people step on you, kick you and kick dust in your eyes while you are lying there.

I had no plan, no solution – I did not even know what went wrong in the first place, how can I fix it? 7 months have passed and I did not have anything to show for it! In May our little doggie died and the depression levels in our house were touchable. Getting out of bed was a challenge I could not face, so I stayed in bed. 7 months of hell were behind me and there were no prospects of it getting better. In South Africa, July is in the middle of Winter – cold, windy weather and with nothing to get up for, rock bottom became a place higher than where I was.

I have always had this Gummy Bear inside of me that bounce from time to time, give me ideas, energy, motivation, inspiration and makes me happy. Towards the end of July I felt my little Gummy stir. Only stir, but there was movement. I started to get up and switch the computer on again. There wasn’t any work, no friends – they all ran into the hills when I hit the bottom – but I would scroll through Facebook, and switch off again. Beginning of August we got our new puppy and she is a bundle energy with a bark! Now there is responsibility as well. As I was concentrating on the puppy, I got a new client – a stunning one! So I started to work with her and then another client came. And I could not figure out, what changed? Within 1 month, why do I now suddenly have 2 clients that I could not find in 7 months? And then it hit me…

Something I must still learn. I was busy with something positive – our puppy. I stopped thinking about all the negative things that happened and that was happening. And life happened. The clients found me. Some people might talk about positive vibrations or karma or whatever, but when you keep busy, you do not realise how fast time goes by, you do not stare at your empty email inbox and you do not wish the days away. And life will happen. We all know how fast a day can go by when we need more hours to do something, or how slow a day can go when we are bored. The same happened to me. I was depressed, wishing for a client, wishing for money and every day seemed like a week. When the puppy came, I was busy, concentrating on her and the days went by faster. Life was still no joyride, but it was much better!

You never stop learning – life will make sure of that. And the lessons are hard. I still do not have my friends back, nor do I want them back. I still do not have nearly enough money to pay back my debt, but I am working towards it. The depression is being barked at and I’m working again. And I went back to basics, things I did when I started my business 5 years ago – when you are not busy, market, market, market! That why I’m not just busy all the time, but I get my name out there for more clients. I even learned a new skill – Content Writing – that I now offer to my one new client!

What have you learned in the recent days? Will you remember the lesson or will it be a lesson that will be repeated? If I can give you one piece of good advice – never stop learning. Life is a journey full of experiences and the more you learn, the more you will enjoy it.

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