How to Survive and Thrive Going From a Big Business Back to a Startup


How to Survive and Thrive Going From a Big Business Back to a Startup

Have you ever experienced a series of events that has changed who you are and what you do? One day your world is at your feet then ‘pow’ you’re taken out.

Imagine this scenario: you’re out with colleagues celebrating success when you receive a phone call, “Sorry to ring you but we need to meet urgently. You have potential fraud and it’s serious.”

Far out I know, but it happens. In fact, that’s what happened to me. This was the final event in a series that was the catalyst to losing my business. It’s real, and it happens. In fact, since this experience I’ve met many business owners that have been through similar times, some better, some worse.

But, when you give yourself time to heal, clear your mind, then work to uncover the lessons learnt you can begin again. Just like I have. I’ve stepped up, as a start-up in 2014 with my loss behind and success in front.

My first step was completely wrong

I made the decision to step up and re-start but then went into a panic. All my insecurities were released. The questions I thought I had resolved were back with a vengeance. I was questioning my abilities, and lacking the confidence I thought I had so it would be ‘safer’ to sign up as a licensee with another company.

The stories in my head kept telling me to do this because it was a safe option and a well-developed business model. I convinced myself this was what I needed. For 13 months, I kept pushing through. I had my happy face on but was exhausted. I was doing what I know but not what I love. I had to literally struggle to get jobs completed.

It took these eight simple words from an old mentor to jolt me back to reality… “What the hell are you doing this for?”

I am eternally grateful that the licensor was a wise and kind person that understood the ‘what and why of my predicament and released me from my contract’.

Starting yet again

I listed the lessons I had learnt and what I knew important to a successful business:

  1. Have a simple business action plan written for 3 years but review this every 12 months. Break my plan down into quarterly then weekly bites.
  2. Ensure a risk-proof approach to financials. Meaning, have the checks in place and never have the one person doing the invoicing, receipting and banking.
  3. Protect the business IP and manage employee access to systems and documents.
  4. Spend time working on my business with a helicopter view


  • List what ‘I would love to do’ in business. The skills I’m great at. This exercise alone gave me the clarity I needed to take my business to the next level.
  • I rewrote my business plan.  Not a wordy document to show others but a living, working document. One that reminds me of my vision and how I plan to evolve in twelve months to three years.
  • I listed my financial goals and broke them into small manageable, measurable chunks and how they will be achieved. This is a road map to follow with the ability to take a detour or revise my destination.
  • I researched my market and asked questions. “What keeps you awake at night in your business?”
  • The most difficult step.  Handle the tough stuff, be honest and if you don’t know how ask and get help. The only dumb question is the one you don’t ask, and the only dumb mistake is the one you don’t learn from.

Take time to decide and be clear what you offer in your business. Your business plan is a living, working document. Make sure it is your road map not just something you drag out to impress your financier. Nothing will impress them more than your success. Dig deep and go for it.

My personal actions for startup (again)

  1. Engage a business coach and listen to their advice. A no brainer I know but…
  2. Stay connected and make time with family and friends
  3. Take time out to de-stress and relax. A successful business is one where you make time to ‘just be’.
  4. Maintain my exercise – no excuses
  5. Choose to eat well – most of the time. Chocolate binges very occasionally.
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