In 2010 I competed in my first triathlon. I trained, worked hard and thought I was ready for the big event on the day. However, nothing could have prepared me for the actual experience of pain, sweat, tears and at the end – accomplishment, pride and success.
My entrepreneurial journey is so similar to the Triathlon. Starting from a small town girl in Canada to serial entrepreneur with locations spanning North America, South America and Australia. I experienced the scrapes, the failures, the bruises and scars that lead me to the ah-ha moments the tears of joy and the confidence to truly explore a search for my true purpose.
At age 22, I had completed my degree and started my career working for a large oil company. This was short lived, it was clear this young Canadian girl did not fit into the big corporate world. I decided to follow my entrepreneurial spirit & start my first business – recycling electronic equipment.
Similar to the Triathlon training, I thought my degree in Business would have prepared me for this venture. I was so wrong… I had no idea what I was doing. It was hard work and like all start ups, I wore many hats. From purchasing & sales & bookkeeping, to driving the forklift & loading containers for export, those early days consisted of considerable hard work, worry and self-limiting beliefs.
Seven years later an incredible decision to stay as a successful private company or expand with an exit strategy was presented. Our executive team made the big decision to “go public”. This changed our position drastically and subsequently, we acquired a company in Silicon Valley, expanded to three locations in Canada, opened a facility in Mexico City, and completed a Joint Venture in Chile. One year later revenue had escalated, however, despite an increase, our company was dismal at integration and implementation of our business strategy.
This is of course were the road became bumpy.. In 2002, our company went from recipients of business awards such as Small Business of the Year to experiencing a major fall. It was a harrowing time and my defining “Aha!” moment happened late one night when my six-year-old son asked me, “Mommy, mommy, mommy did you get the money today?” I replied, “No son, I didn’t.” My once successful company had become yesterday’s news, and was slipping fast. Valued employees were leaving for greener and more dependable pastures. We had run out of cash and our investors were scared. I’d drained my once bottomless energy by spending endless hours at the office, ended my marriage, and my two young children were being raised by a nanny. Beneath the daily “game face” I put on for employees and customers, my emotional and physical health was shot. I was devastated.
When I was young girl, my father would tell me, “Shelley, nothing comes easy, you have to work hard for it.” But in this instance, it didn’t matter how hard I worked, I just couldn’t fix this. It truly was terrifying, with no options left, we sadly closed the doors.
I took time out after the fail. It’s so often said, that it’s not how hard you fall but how quickly you get up, but I needed the rest. Once healed, I realised that my losses both financial & emotional were worthless unless I understood “WHY”. Sometimes failure can be a gift, providing lessons that prove invaluable for the future. So, I started again, a small private company, low overheads, an experienced loyal team that allowed me flexibility and balanced lifestyle to be active part of raising my children. 8 years later I sold this company to my biggest client.
Through the continual experience sharing and support of EO, I discovered my personal purpose of helping others achieve greatness and recently started my new business Maxum Corporation, helping entrepreneurs achieve their own greatness through coaching and storytelling.
Being a part of something bigger than myself is the most rewarding experience I’ve had as an entrepreneur and if it wasn’t for my bruises, scrapes, and knock downs, I wouldn’t have searched for more.
5 lessons I learned at the beginning of my entrepreneurial journey that helped me succeed.
The most important lessons that I have learnt by far is to stay focused on what matters, money doesn’t equate to happiness, intuition is a fantastic leader and purpose trumps everything.
I find that greatness happens when I can connect the power of intuition with my purpose.
Reflecting on two decades as an entrepreneur, I realize time is limited. I am where I am in life from the decisions I make every day. Now I maximize every day, and make decisions as if I only have a limited time to be great!