Dung into diamonds

real life alchemy

Over the last couple of days, I shared some of my past in uncomfortable detail.

(Day 1)

(Day 2)

To sum up: I started a new business and found early success, but it quickly became a quagmire that challenged my ethics and values.

Here’s the conclusion-

In the beginning of 2019, we were riding higher than ever. Booking multi 6 figure sales like this one:

But making promises like this also multiplied our headaches, big time.

Did we ease up?

Nope, quite the opposite.

We doubled down and booked even more sales like this one.

And since we didn’t have enough capital to hold this kind of inventory in stock, we had to find and purchase the inventory after the sale was booked.

And pay for it using the profits from the last job.

Basically, we kept rolling the dice and doubling our bet each time.

Millions of dollars, all on red.

Forced to keep spinning the wheel.

Unsurprisingly, my mental and physical health began to suffer.

Couldn’t sleep, drank too much, gained 10 pounds.

We were all in way over our heads.

Then one day, one of my partners (the CEO) didn’t show up to work.

Or the next day.

Or the next.

We’d always run a very casual shop, but as 1 week stretched into 2, then 3, I started to get worried.

And pissed.

Our business was so small, that we deeply relied on each other. Everyone had a role, and someone’s absence left holes we could not plug.

My partner was gone for a total of 3 months, and the other partners and I had no choice but to fill his role as best we could while still doing our own.

And remember, we’d never been busier or under more pressure.

Everything was on the line.

We were making larger sales, but spending far more as well.

Everything depended on delivering our orders and getting those checks and wire transfers.

(You see, almost no one paid 100% upfront. Can’t say I blame them.)

To be honest, I do not know what went on with my partner for those 3 months.

I know a little, but it is not my story to tell.

However, I can tell you that I have never felt so betrayed in my life.

I lived each day with burning, toxic resentment.

Not a healthy work environment.

I felt I had no choice.

I could not be in business with someone so unreliable.

At the end of 2019, I told my partners I wanted out. Quickly.

I got them to reluctantly agree, but with harsh terms for me.

Basically, very specific conditions had to be met for me to retain my ownership stake during the transition, or I would lose all of it.

(All due to a short-sighted operating agreement I’d signed years ago.)

My exit was planned for November 2020, 12 months out.

But I never made it that far.

Remember the beginning of 2020?

Yeah, that.

Our clients vanished.

Orders were cancelled.

We had 4 partners and 5 employees on payroll, and not a drip of revenue for 4 months.

In April, I left.

Simply walked away.

I pivoted fully into eCommerce and email marketing, which I’d been slowly building for years. It was terrifying, but I made the numbers work.

But as a consequence, I lost my 34% stake of a multi-million dollar company.

Poof. Gone.

But considering that decision saved my sanity (and maybe my soul), it’s a trade I’d make again without question.

And I still left with something priceless.

Over that 7 year stretch, I learned how to walk into almost any crappy situation and turn dung into diamonds.

Real life alchemy.

Now it’s the basis of everything I do.

Next time, I’ll tell you about how I foolishly bought a business with almost no due process, in 3 weeks start to finish.

And how a clever deal structure let me do so with no money out of pocket, saving me from losing my @$$.

This is when I learned to dig really deep into email marketing, discovering the magic of the eternal cash machine called an email list.

I’ll send that out next week.

Hope to see you then,

Greg

P.S. I’ve been on a monologue streak this week, hope you don’t mind?

But let me know below:

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