Moments of Shame – and why it is worth going through them
Don't believe everything they tell you online.
Don’t believe everything they tell you online.

Confession #2: I will never forget the shame and embarrassment when I had to collect my first ever payment summons from the “Betreibungsamt” (collection office).

You have to know that I am trying to be a “good” person in the roman-catholic sense of the word. I often disappoint myself. While I am doing a lot of the right work, serve my clients, help them improve their lives and run my own “charity” on the side, I sometimes get lost and slightly over-confident.

I tend to overspend. I learnt this the hard way. I never, ever in my life was really short of money. My life was always filled with luxury as long as I had a corporate role. Since I started my own business being short of money is the default.

I reached a point in year 2 of my business where I thought I had to “discipline” myself and ensure that all my expenditure is paid out of the income of my business account. In an effort to have it all I invested more than planned in office style and running costs. Some of my clients (large multinationals) suddenly adopted a policy of paying small business owners like me as late as possible and I had hired a few part-time consultant to work on “non-billable” work (so that I make faster progress on my work).

The cash slowdown and moments of Shame with a capital S

I ended up in this bottleneck of cash slowdown. (You have probably only heard of cash flow…so imagine a roaring, wild winter river that suddenly becomes a small trickle of water in a hot summer. Yes. That’s cash slowdown).

Do you feel embarrassed as a business owner? You do not have money to buy new clothes, you do not have money to go to the hairdresser? You avoid doctor appointments as your health insurance won’t cover those standard procedures? You have cut down on presents for your children, nephews and parents?

I know, it’s sad. You feel you need to justify and they look at you and ask “Why did you quit your job?”

I live in one of the most expensive cities in the world and my monthly rent is the same as the money I make running a four months career coaching programme. I work with dedication but I never seem to make “enough” and my pride forbids that I am asking husband or mother or friends (Oh the horror) for support. So I struggle on.. .

We do not like to hear these stories because the Internet is full of “success” stories. I believe though that people do not learn anything from success. We learn from failure. I never want to feel ashamed like this again. So I need to find a way to be able to pay my bills on time even if my clients are late with their payments. I can accept a certain level of embarrassment but there is a line. This line I will define for the future. As a business owner you need to juggle many balls.

  • You will face embarrassing situations.
  • You have to negotiate for good solutions.
  • You will work for “free” to win a client’s heart.
  • You will “volunteer” even though you do not have enough money to pay your rent.
  • You will meet potential clients for lunch or a coffee even if you cannot get cash from the bank machine.
  • You will stretch the limit of your credit card and get into a fight with your bank.
  • You will get angry and close your account and move to a different bank.
  • You will spend more time managing invoices than you ever did in your life.
  • You will pay an accountant more money than you can make in month just to make sure that you are not breaking a law.

Face it: That’s what it’s like to run a business (in the real world).

It’s part of the process. It’s also part of being a “good person”. It’s a part of growing up, of taking charge, of being independent and free.

You might think now: “I am not made for this.” And many people will tell you 1001 other reasons why you should not start a business and quit your well-paid corporate job for it. I tell you though that all the embarrassment is worth it. Freedom has a price. The price is that you will have moments of shame, moments of tears and moments of anger. What you win though is worth more than money can ever buy: You are free. You are creative. You change other people’s lives. You can spend time with your loved ones. You will have a smile on your face when you “go to work.”



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