The 4th of July, 2008, I took off. While still at university, I registered as an business consultant and realized my own long-foreseen Independence Day. My mind visualizes future structures very clearly, such as this one. I am a great checklist builder (and finisher), business process developer (and executer) and an opportunity geek. My brain seems to mind map all complex business matters into digestible pieces. Chop it and serve them with taste. It makes difficult terminology simple for entrepreneurs. Especially financial terminology became a hot topic during my first years as an advisor.
Although I finished my Master Entrepreneurship and New Business Venturing in 2009, entrepreneurship itself continued. Small customers kept growing and my customer portfolio did so too. Many of them requested a lot of financial expertise, in which I of course aimed to deliver perfectly. At a certain point, you feel there’s a wall coming. The “Wall of 24/7”. That’s it. The lack of time blocks any potential growth. Your attention becomes a scarcity and you need to choose.
At this point, I chose growth. I wanted to win even more for my customers and myself. Expansion! A good friend of mine was interested to join the business and we talked for 9 months before making the leap. Hello, extra synergy and second planner available. Double up! The 1st of January came along: off we went. Or not. Things went wrong. Terribly wrong. While she needed more time to process her past and switch to entrepreneurial mode, I encountered an incredible urge to finish twice as much targets and deadlines. On my own.
I had to stay on top of things. Stay pro-active. Save the AvH Synergy reputation. Keep doing things right. But I couldn’t. I COULD NOT. Summer followed. In an airplane to Tokyo, I made a keep-the-right-customer list with shaking hands. My mind was a mess, my body was even worse and an automatic pilot kept me alive during the work weeks. My relationship went through a dark phase, I cried my eyes out if I only had to attend a birthday party, and I felt so incredibly tired of the endless obligations. I lost track of my vivacious spirit, my distinctive force in entrepreneurship. Became one of the ‘machines’, instead of using my strengths. I could not even recognize any of my strengths anymore.
It had to change. Bend or break, or did I already break?
This was the first time in my life, I chose destruction instead of synergy. Horrible. Said goodbye to the business companion who took her own path. Said goodbye to many, many great customers. One day a friend of mine handed me a business card. He went to this executive coach, and she might be the right one for me too. After a few weeks of denial, I went. She was the right thing. She made me cry and smile at the same time. Let me find my true self again. Who am I and what do I want to achieve in life? And most of all, how do I actually realize this in a sustainable way?
At that point, I actually wanted nothing anymore. Just countless hours of sleep, in a quiet house on a prairie, with no one bothering me, please. That’s all. From that flight to Tokyo until today I have been completely destructing and rebuilding my company and life all over again. At first I felt losing precious years of entrepreneurship. Spend so many hours building this loyal portfolio of amazing customers, and kaboom, I blew it away. Who’s crazy like that? Right now, I can truly say this is the best thing that ever happened. I realized that working with numbers (hello, theoretical universities out there) is great, but the people make it happen. I repeat: the people make it happen.
After undoing myself of many obligations and catching up many hours of sleep, a tiny spark of my energy returned. First step was learning every damn thing about my body, my mind and the behavior of people around me. Recent years I have studied and practiced many neurological, psychological and systemic approaches. My knowledge has grown exponential in my renewed freedom. I can stop myself at night. I enjoy everything I do again. I can let go. I can focus again. And it works. It works big time according to my happiness and my financial results. Yes, it goes together.
My deeply rooted interest in the true entrepreneur and the team around them, felt like coming home. I have always missed a part of the business plan. While I was working with a theoretical ‘company circle’, I missed out on the all-embracing ring: YOU. That’s why I am at my best doing this, letting your genius thrive again. My vivacious spirit has returned. And guess what: it is stronger than ever. I have made that change with some great help. If you might need some too, let me help you. It’s the first, but most difficult step, which paves the way to a vivacious life. It's a choice.