This post is needed I feel. I am packing in a business that I spend 4 years ‘working hard’ to build up, and I am packing it in to travel. I have managed to save a fair bit of money from the business and until now it was sat in the business account and I watched over it with all my business acumen, making sure it didn’t start to decrease. I became a miser for sure.
I used to think that I could never just blow all the money, even on a justified business expense, an asset even, and it just sat there in the account making me feel successful. But having been to Thailand for a month over Xmas, I couldn’t think of a better use for that money.
I haven’t thought what it will feel like to spend all that money on something completely intangible but material things never interested me much and the money has been sitting stagnant, not really increasing for a good year or so now.
A lot of people have been surprised when I say I am shutting down the business, and assume I will be upset to do so, but it is the absolute opposite. I am not only excited to start travelling, but the perks of running the business had reached their peak a while ago and the work was beginning to become a bit repetitive, however I never took the time and financial freedom for granted, that was, and still is something I am hugely grateful for.
A few of the reasons I started the business were:
- not having a boss (not good with authority)
- not having to work the same hours every day (monotony is a silent killer)
- not having to work the same days each week (even working just two days a week in a bar killed me. Each Sunday when I finished, I was filled with dread knowing I would have to do exactly the same thing in 5 days time)
- being able to take short breaks when I wanted
- not having to ask a boss when I could take said breaks
- being able to take more than a month off each year
- being able to choose the type of work I do
- being able to travel
- not having to wear a shirt (a proud moment for me was going to a meeting at Financial Time head office to organise a set of workshops, wearing clothes that were covered in paint)
- being able to hang up or answer back to rude customers, and not get fired for it
I achieved everything I wanted to, the only thing I couldn’t do was travel more than a few weeks at a time, which got to me, but at the same time I could do everything else I wanted in life, so I couldn’t complain. Then it happened that the business is now paying for me to travel for a very long time, so actually that objective was met in the end.
I feel I accomplished everything I wanted:
- I paid myself a wage I could live and travel on (£12,000 p/a plus travel/food expenses, plus….cash)
- I moved out and could afford my own place on the proceeds of the business
- I had a studio to run the business from – which was a huge milestone for me
- I had a variable schedule which kept me happy
There were many points over the last 4 years and 4 months that I wanted to shut down the business; ‘quit’ and go get a job. But I am glad I didn’t. Leaving the business on a bad note would have been a dark cloud over me for the rest of my life, but leaving it at a high point, using the proceeds to fund what will be an awesome three (at least) years of travelling is more than I could ever ask for.
Oh and here are a few things to show that occasionally I did work really hard at the business:
- I once hand wrote 500 addresses on envelopes for a marketing campaign targeted at schools. I hand wrote them to make sure the school at least opened the letter. The campaign was lucky. I got one massive workshop from a school which more than paid for the campaign. I also got a small workshop at another school which turned out to be my first major fuck up. I had planned to do quick workshops with marker pens. There was not enough time to do anything worthwhile in the time we ended up having, and the markers leaked everywhere. The head mistress was a bitch though so I didn’t feel so bad that I had ruined their changing room wall. She gave me a telling off in her office and I drove home having learned to plan sessions better. It was funny as I could tell even before I met anyone that she was a twat. There was a chair randomly sat outside a door. And a sign was stuck to the chair that said ‘do not move this chair, it is there for reason’. And to me that said ‘I have made a rule, I am not going to tell you why, but you are to follow it anyway’. Moving on.
- During the first couple of years I got a lot of school workshops up North. I had a fair few days where I spent 8 hours just driving, as well as a full school day teaching workshops.
- I had a lot of days off, but when I did work, especially at workshops, it was rarely less than 12 hours
- In June or July 2014 I had 3 days off during the whole month. It was one of my busiest months. One day I remember being in London til the afternoon, followed by an early morning drive up North the following day.
- When the graffiti bedrooms were in full effect I was doing three days in a row, and 2 or 3 bedrooms per day each week.
- I didn’t pay myself for the first two years. In the third year I paid my whole wage (about 9,000 i think) to myself at once, and spent it all on a car and a single car garage (so I had storage whilst at uni in Bristol. I then rented out the garage when I moved from Bristol). In year four I paid myself 1000 per month plus travel expenses. So I certainly never got rich off the business.
My competitor once emailed me trying to get me to take down images of graffiti bedrooms I had done. I had basically copied their website layout and marketing style, but kept my bedrooms priced just under theirs. It made me loads of money and clearly pissed them off massively. I sent their email to my friend who did law. He told me they were chatting shit so I emailed them back to that effect. They replied with ‘I’ll be consulting my attorney and be getting back to you.’ Needless to say I never heard back from them. I sort of knew I wouldn’t when they got the name of a solicitor wrong
It was kind of funny as I had actually once directly copied one of their designs but they never found out about that one as I never uploaded the photos. Karma struck though as the lady from that bedroom called me about a year later saying she was an interior designer and her house was featuring on a BBC design show. She was asking if she could let them film the bedroom….so I had to admit then that I had copied it. Nothing came of it though, but I missed out on some TV air time which was a minor set back.