We Make Our Own Inheritance

4 MIN READ

I believe that unpredictable adversity is one of the only things we can count on in life. Even though we can never know how or when the next trial will come, we can be assured that it will. Instead of avoiding unexpected hardships I value them in all their forms, because they offer unique opportunities for refinement. Our journey is the inheritance we give ourselves.

The finance side of things is something that I rarely speak about. With my working class background, and the divisive nature of the money topic, I tend to steer well clear of these conversations. But recently, someone asked me about how I recovered the business I shared with Alec. In sharing with them I realised just how powerful the story is to illustrate what I have learned about driving all of my resources towards the fulfilment of my passion.
Melbourne Based Professional Speaker

The passion we have for our vision is our greatest asset.

I knew within a day of losing Alec that I would write a book and develop an inspiring message to help people transform changes that leave them gutted. My brand new vision was born fast, and it grew in clarity over the first few months. My passion for this vision was my greatest asset.

When Alec died, he left me in lots of debt. It was so big that he had not been able to clear it for over a decade. For years every overdue account simply rolled into the next, multiplying and gaining momentum as they went, like a gigantic green snowball. It was the story of our lives and it was awful. For years I was unaware of the depths of the dark whole we were in, but in working more closely with Alec since 2013, I came to know exactly how much we owed. I kept the records in my handwritten diary which functioned as my day-to-day budget book. On May 30, 2014, two days after Alec died, I owed $49,474.99 to suppliers and contractors. This was equal to about six week’s worth of supplier invoices.
Picture the proverbial deer in headlights. It was change fast or go bankrupt. I had to accept being widowed, but I refused bankruptcy with everything in me. Luxuries like take away food, clothing, and entertainment were instantly out of the question. I cut my grocery bill back to less than half of what I used to spend. I barely ate for the first few months, and I only wanted simple foods anyway. This was not a hardship for me. I was in mourning and living in shock, and then its afterglow, for months. I didn’t want to feel good.
The problem was in our business accounts, not our personal funds, although if you have ever been in a small business you know that the two go hand in hand. We were certainly not flush with personal cash, but the financial suffocation was coming from overdue work invoices that couldn’t be paid. I got to work immediately. My warehouse power bill was reduced immediately, because I didn’t use the heater once that winter. The money I spent stock was slashed dramatically, because I ran most product lines down to zero. The only exception to this was in our top ten sellers, which I continued to buy in larger quantities to obtain bulk-buy discounts. Even these orders though were for the smallest quantities offered by my suppliers. I simply couldn’t bear to buy stock I wasn’t actually selling.
This resulted in delays with filling customer orders. After a few months, about 85% of our paid orders went onto back order while we waited for stock to come. This brought its own stresses of customer complaints and challenges with managing the receipt of stock and dispatch of orders, but there was no other way if I was going to redirect the cashflow. Receiving supplier deliveries often turned into a dispatch bonanza, where the stock that came in never even touched our warehouse shelves.
I also decided to stop offering international shipping, which reduced my account fees with Australia Post. While this was a choice that saved me some money, this was more about saving time, and ending the headaches that come with trying to serve customers overseas. Supplying orders that were often lost or held up in customs was absurd.
I needed to pay wages of course, but this expense fluctuated as my staffing shifted. My English-born warehouse assistant left about six weeks after Alec passed away because his work Visa expired. My warehouse manager had been Alec’s best friend for about twenty years and he was gutted by the loss. He had an overseas holiday book and paid for in June, so after a couple of weeks without Alec, he took that five week trip. The man who came back from that holiday was empty and in deep despair. It was only a few months later that he too left to embark on the next part of his own journey. The cash I saved on wages was by necessity only. I would have gladly paid staff to help.

In all of it, I worked damned hard to hold things together, because my vision was greater than my circumstance. I worked at least eighty hours every week, encouraging myself daily with the belief that persistence always equals progress. Above all else, I learned to live in the moment. I pursued my vision by fanning the flame of my passion. I reminded myself constantly that there is no one day that I ever arrive, nor any day that I come completely undone. I persisted and I restructured, and on December 1, 2015, I sold the business that I had made into my own inheritance.

Since then, I have used the profit from the business sale to get started in my new business as a speaker, author and coach. I love the synchronicity of this investment. The hardest work I have ever done launched me into the life of my dreams. I made my own inheritance.