In April of 2014, I quit my job and launched my own e-commerce business. I was very optimistic and thought that I had every reason to be. I had done what I considered to be a tremendous amount of research on my target market (drummers), my product (drumsticks), my competitors and my suppliers. I found a fulfillment center to handle all of the shipping and returns, etc., to free me up to worry about growing the business. I was ready to live the 4 Hour Work Week dream!
For those of you who don’t know the 4 Hour Work Week, it is a book written by Tim Ferriss that details how you can escape the corporate grind and start a “muse” business that provides you with income but also doesn’t suck up all of your time. Hence the name 4 Hour Work Week.
One of the exercises that Tim recommends in the book is to write down what your worst case scenario is, how likely it is to happen and what steps can you take to correct course should your worst case scenario come to fruition. Most of the time, our worst case scenario is just that; a one in a million chance. Reading those words, I can now see why there was optimism in Lloyd Christmas’ face in Dumb and Dumber when he said “so you’re tellin’ me there’s a chance?”
Suffice it to say, my worst case scenario has happened. My business lasted 10 months with just over a whopping $500 in sales. I had spent over $4k in website fees, marketing, buying product and shipping so that left a net loss of close to $3500. I had to cash out 17K in my 401k for living expenses and added another 25K in credit card debt on top of that. I had to go find a job that paid $14.04 an hour just to have some income coming in.
That was always my worst case scenario, that I would go broke and have to go back to a “real” job. What I didn’t anticipate is that I would lose my house (because we rent, not own) and that I would have another child on the way (birth control doesn’t always work).
Now I’m staring at 75K in debt (student loans, credit cards, car payment), $900 in the bank, no place to live, no opportunity for advancement in my current job and very little job prospects because I live an hour away from the nearest metropolitan area and I don’t know very many people who live and work there. I know that there will be brighter days ahead but it’s hard to see clearly when you feel like you’ve been buried in an avalanche.
I’m not writing this for pity because I don’t care if you pity me or not and I’m not making excuses. Looking back, I know there are things that I could have done to help prevent or stop my downward spiral. I should have operated the business and stayed at my old job even though I was sure I was going to get fired. I should have been looking for a different place to live rather than the uncertain situation that we had.
They say you have to play the cards you are dealt. Since I love poker, I agree. However, sometimes you can play the cards perfectly and still lose. It’s a feeling I know all too well.
It’s a struggle to try and stay positive in a situation like this. Things aren’t exactly rosy on the home front with all of this going on, as you can image. However, I do have some positive linings. I think.
I’ve been writing a lot about fear on my blog, conqueringmyfears.com, partly because I have many of them and partly because I have overcome several of them. I used to be afraid of flying but I conquered that. I was afraid of failure and although it sucks, I know that I can survive if need be. I was afraid to quit my job and I took the leap. I was afraid of what people thought of me and I clearly conquered that or else I would have never shared this post online. I have done a lot of research on fear and so I’m making the transition to be a “fear coach,” where I help others overcome their greatest fears. I’m available if you’re interested!
Oh, you’re good ☹ I understand.
However, I want to conclude back where I started. In the title I asked “What Do You Do When Your Worst Case Scenario Comes True?” Unfortunately, I ask that question looking for suggestions. I don’t know what to do because I’m still living it. Maybe after it’s over I can write another post and definitively answer that question.
Until then, I try to take solace in the fact that one day (assuming I live that long) I will look back on this time and know that it was instrumental in helping me overcome adversity and build strength and character. I will hopefully look back and see this time frame as the time when the seeds for something great were planted, where I learned valuable lessons and took steps to right the ship, so that I could sail my way into success and prosperity!
Or I’ll get hit by a bus. I guess there’s always a worst case scenario.