There is no secret to success. It is the result of preparation, hard work and learning from your failure—Colin Powell
When September came, as predicted by my inner voice, I was given 3 months notice before losing my job.
Having been pre-warned, the news didn’t surprise or send me into a spin; on the contrary…I felt totally prepared.
I had a new office that I had begun to decorate, I had an apartment ready to move into and I had a company in the process of being registered.
Losing my job this time wasn’t at all bad news!
By December when my notice period ended, Edge Textile Trading Shanghai was born. I had business cards and fabric hanger heads printed with the company logo designed by my graphic designer friend Gille Renaud.
I’d spent the months between September and December arranging meetings and visiting fabric mills in and around the textile regions across China.
And I had sourced a comprehensive range of fabrics ready for Spring/Summer 2009.
When I returned home to London for Christmas in December, it wasn’t just for the holiday festivities, but also for meetings I had set up with buyers in the UK to show my range.
By the end of January 2009, Edge got its first fabric order.
The process from the first meeting with Alesa to getting my first order had gone so smoothly that I was sure this business was exactly what I was meant to be doing.
But I would soon discover that doing business isn’t easy and certainly doesn’t always go so smoothly—it demands time, effort, patience, a little bit of luck and lots and lots of money.
In hindsight, I could say I was naively confident of success, feeling sure the money would soon come pouring in, so I didn’t make any contingency plans…
In the end what I realised is that the processes we go through are simply about having life experiences. It almost didn’t matter whether I was successful or not in my venture—What was important were the lessons I learnt while having my experiences.
But I digress—So coming back to the story…
I employed staff and I think it was around the beginning of February that I had my office opening. My old boss Alesa cut the red ribbon with me—I was so proud and excited.
I was on my way to riches and success—Or so I thought.
Edge got off to a flying start and our business blossomed. We had orders on our order books and orders in process. In the first year, I had a team of 3 staff and I paid an outside company to manage the office accounts and taxes.
We got a large denim order with an American retailer, which in total became a 150,000m order—It was problematic, but we managed to process it all.
We also had enquiries yet to come back with firm answers so there was no reason not to be confident our business would grow.
In the middle of 2009, I returned to the UK due to my father’s death and I think it was a few months after his funeral that my business fortunes suddenly started changing.
By the beginning of our second year in 2010, I started noticing that we weren’t winning many large orders anymore, you know the sort of quantities that could really make us money.
We had what I like to think was a beautiful, creative fabric range so we got many fabric enquiries and very often got enquires for big orders such as 100,000m 200,000m or even in some cases a 1,000,000m.
We would run around excitedly doing all the work required by our customers—but somehow time and again the enquiries never materialised into firm orders.
We had one or two orders over 10,000m but the majority of orders on our books were for quantities between 2,000-5,000m and sometimes much less than that.
Don’t get me wrong, I was pleased with every order we got, but such small quantities were not enough to sustain the company much less make us profitable. We needed to pay the rent, bills and staff.
We certainly couldn’t survive if something didn’t radically change.
When I worked for others in Shanghai money was no object. I earned a 4-figure tax-free wage, so I could buy what I wanted when I wanted—now it was a totally different story.
The monthly salary I paid myself was just 3,000RMB equivalent to about £300 a small fraction of what I used to earn.
This huge reduction in salary also meant big lifestyle changes for me. Gone were the many nights of clubbing, eating out in Shanghai’s swanky restaurants and shopping. Having become vegan in 2008 I saved money by spending more time cooking at home.
It was also around this time that I discovered meditation and Deeksha. This once weekly fix of meditation and receiving the Deeksha energy transfer was the healing tonic I needed to help me get through the daily stresses of running my business.
I needed to think up new ways of improving Edge’s business.
So I started looking into sourcing other products such as garments, home textiles and accessories. I extended the range of our customer base to include Germany, Australia, Hong Kong and of course the local Chinese market.
But every attempt I made to improve our order books seemed to fail… it really felt like treading water…something was blocking our success.
Even with our new customer base and a diversified product range we were still only getting pitifully tiny orders that couldn’t sustain us—it felt hopeless and frustrating.
Then to make matters worse we got hit with a 26,000RMB (£2,600) tax fine for filing our monthly tax declaration a day late.
Could the situation get any worse?
It came as no surprise that by the end of 2010, we had used up all the capital investment I’d made in the company.
And with such meagre profits from our orders, we quickly started running out of money. So just as quickly, I started borrowing from everyone I could.
In total I think I borrowed over 100,000RMB over £10,000 from friends and family from the end of 2010 to mid-2011—it was the only way I could keep the business afloat.
Then in a desperate bid to save my business and in order to repay my rising debts, I put my house in the UK on the market.
Luckily the house sold after 3 months in September 2011, so after paying my debts—I immediately left for India.
6 months after becoming a Deeksha giver, I decided to go to India for the two-week course to become a Deeksha trainer in November 2011. I left my ailing business in the hands of my assistant and went to the Oneness University for the first time.
I did this in the last-ditch hope of receiving some inspiration or insights that would help me understand why my business fortunes were going so badly.
The information I received at Oneness although eye-opening, was hard to absorb at first, but the information would eventually make complete sense to me. I’ll share more about the Oneness University in future posts.
I discovered during the many processes in the course and through the teachings given by Sri Bhagavan, the founder of the Oneness University, that there were, in fact, many reasons why my business was destined to failure from the onset.
The reasons pointed back to my childhood and upbringing, to my relationships with my parents, to wealth consciousness, to my perceptions about money, to the quality of the seeds I had sown throughout my life and in my business and to the life conditioning that had made me into the person I was.
These were all factors that had played key roles in all the decisions I had made throughout my life and up to that moment in time.
I was unfortunately totally ignorant of their impact.
The course helped me look back to my past, bringing to light situations where I could see these aspects in action.
What I learned at Oneness is that I had extremely strong unconscious beliefs about my own ability to be wealthy—concepts I formed as a child and which were still holding me as an adult.
I also understood that my relationship with money like everything else is merely a perception and luckily all perceptions can be changed.
But of course, in order to change something, we must first know it exists, a process that can often take time.
So in summation if nothing else, I can say the failure of my business helped me understand my relationship with money.
It was a very costly exercise, but one I have no regrets about. I chalk it down to just another of life’s many experiences. My understanding continues to unfold to this day.
So to all who helped me during the difficult times, to my customers, suppliers, friends, colleagues I say a big thank you for all your help and for all you taught me.
To Kallum (You know who you are) I say thank you for sewing the seeds.