Hope Is Not A Plan

4 MIN READ

On the day my world changed I faced a rebuild that felt almost insurmountable. For twelve years I had been married to Alec, the love of my life. We had grown our family, our business, and our community together. And we had grown each other too. In losing him I had lost my best friend, my companion, my lover. I have never known a loss so gutting

In practical terms though, I had a financial crisis on my hands. Alec was a spendthrift, big time! Yes, he could make sales, close deals and win new clients. But when buying stock for our online retail business, he was like a man possessed! For a decade, he didn’t see the cost, he only saw the potential for profit. Stock could be bought at $3 and sold for $15, or sometimes even $20 or $30! … His eyes had hearts on them like an emoji as he pored over bulk offers in supplier catalogues. His last hurrah on this front was to become an importer, which had us receiving stock by the container load from China. Our cash flow was choked by supplier debt.

I made the systems that released me to my passion by turning hope into strategic real life action steps.

I was in serious trouble.

We were a team of four who had become three. After a couple of months my English warehouse assistant had to return home, leaving me with my warehouse manager, who was Alec’s best mate. He took the loss so hard that he too needed to leave and find his own way forward soon after.

From this mire I have emerged. I paid that decade’s worth of rolling supplier debt off in six months, and a year after that I sold the business for a profit that was equal to the debt I had been left with. I have published my book, established myself as a speaker and small business trainer, and opened a venue where I run my own events and support others in building theirs.

I am often asked “How have you done this?” Every day I live my dream and work my passion plan into reality. I get to help people to find new beginnings and new endings by doing the things I am good at … the things I love. This is true freedom.

The day after Alec died I experienced a clarity with my passion that cut through the haze of the loss. At that time I didn’t know how, but I knew what. I knew that I would transform my adversity into a freedom that would inspire others, and that I would empower people to follow their passion. Although it felt like I lost everything, I came to this season armed with a first class honours degree in education and eight years of teaching experience right through to university level. I also had spent fifteen years in business, and had a natural flair for breaking down complex tasks into simple, step by step strategies that anyone can follow. When people ask “How have you done this?” what they are really asking is “How could I do that too?”

“How could I move from where I am now, choking on the daily grind of my small business?”

I had hope that day, but I needed a plan to get out of that quicksand. You need a plan too. Here is how you can turn your hopes for your future in business and in life into a system for your passion:

Delegate: Get help!

Find one job that someone else can do for you. This brings clarity and a broader view of the possibilities in your current situation. My sister helped by answering my phones for just a few hours per day to release me to my systematic restructure.

Document: Create an instruction manual for routine daily tasks.

Duplicate your work by documenting the steps of the job and assigning it to someone else permanently. With my sister answering calls my first task was to document how she should answer the phone! I wrote up the script of what she should say and what to do with messages. Then I created step by step instructions of how she should respond to the most common inquiries. Then I just kept on going to document my processes for customer service, order fulfilment, stock management and site management. These instructions became hundreds of pages worth of manuals still used to this day.

Automate: Install software to do the job for you.

A few weeks after Alec died I had inventory management software installed to manage our stock and shipping processes. My desperation triggered THE change I needed. It reduced my workload by 20% and transformed my cashflow. There is software to automate most of what needs to be done in any small business. Take a deep breath, learn something new and release yourself into a new work mode.

Outsource: Third party service suppliers can do it all for you

With my tasks delegated, my work duplicated, and my system automated, I was ready for my final step to freedom: Outsourcing. I had invested six months to restructure my system which allowed me to contract the job to a third party supplier. I sent my two new team members to work from home, and closed my warehouse altogether. This was seven months after losing Alec.

Without embarking on this strategic business restructure my hope would never have become a reality. As small business owners working from our garages or kitchen tables we can get buried in the jobs, and one day we suddenly realise we don’t own our business … It owns us! We had always hoped that it would be different from this. Well, it can be. If you turn hope into systems for your passion.

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