Highs and lows of a 7-year entrepreneurship journey

I know some of you are considering starting businesses. This morning I felt inspired to write this and hope this is the right place and time to share it:

About 7 years ago I was fired. My sales manager at the time called me into his office where I met him and an HR rep who flew in from Vancouver, and I was told it would be an “uncomfortable conversation”. I received a healthy severance – I assume it was so I wouldn’t sue for wrongful dismissal.

I was angry as hell, and that moment I decided I would never work for anyone again. So, my entrepreneurship journey began.

My business started as a marketing agency, morphed into a web design shop, then a social media agency, and then a digital marketing consultancy.

I now call myself an artist, podcaster, teacher, photographer, maker, husband, professional speaker, motorcycle rider and digital marketer.

I only work with organizations who share the same values, and feel truly blessed and grateful for the opportunities, hardships and luck I’ve had so far.

Being an entrepreneur allowed me to:

Take care of my mom – in 2012, I took 6 months off to take care of my mom who was battling lung cancer. I would not trade this time for anything in the world.

Be there for our first baby – in February 2015, we are expecting our first baby, and I’m able to organize my entire schedule around our family.

Work on some amazing projects – I worked with non-profits who help victims of sexual trafficking, with health and tech startups, and several universities.

Almost go broke – On Christmas 2010-ish, I had two clients who strung me along and would not pay. I had less money in my account than the mortgage payment due at the end of December.

Meet and interview amazing people – In 2013 I launched 26K, a podcast where I interview entrepreneurs, artists and thought leaders like Pam Slim, Gavin Aung Than, CC Chapman and Todd Henry, on the topics of legacy, meaningful work and building an extraordinary life.

Be there for my dad – Couple of years ago, we found out my dad had prostate cancer. He’s currently on hormone therapy and doing pretty well. I’m able to see him almost every weekend and spend quality time just sitting together or going for walks.

Create art – I have the time, space and mental capacity for creative expression. For me that’s painting and building stuff. I gave away about 20 paintings and sold a few as well.

Fail at helping a client – I built what I felt was an excellent strategy, but it produced ZERO results. The client expected me to do all the work, while following only a couple of my recommendations. I gave them half their money back and almost missed another mortgage payment.

Help people change careers and build a better life – I teach at a couple of universities, and several of my students started their own companies after taking my classes, and many of them left jobs they hated for new, more rewarding positions in marketing.

Crash and burn a few business ideas – I started 3 or 4 other business ideas, which went nowhere! I lost money, time and clients because of bad timing and because I didn’t follow through. One of them was called QuicknDirty.ca haha… terrible.

Take month long vacations several times per year – Last year we went to Croatia for a month to get married. We’ve done a few week-long road trips, spent two weeks in the Okanagan and another two weeks on the Big Island.

Build a business around my life – I don’t care about profits or a fat account balance, the only currency that matters is TIME, and how you spend it. I decide how I’ll spend my time, and now have the opportunity to paint, ride, write haikus, spend time outdoors and be with my family, rather than “do” 8 hours a day.

Some years ago, I took a leap of faith. I’m incredibly grateful for the opportunities, luck and hardships I’ve experienced. Maybe it’s vain, but I feel that I have the opportunity and responsibility to contribute something positive to society.

If you are thinking about starting your own journey, I offer you this old irish blessing I heard once:

May the road rise up to meet you.

May the wind be always at your back.

May the sun shine warm upon your face;

the rains fall soft upon your fields and until we meet again,

may God hold you in the palm of His hand.