Even when you’re unstoppable, you can still burn out.
When you feel you’re being crushed under the pressure of
debts and taxes, and you still come out from under it all alive
and kicking, you’ll know that you are unstoppable. You’ll understand
what being unstoppable truly means to you.
I’ve been an entrepreneur since I was 17 years old. At first
everything was pleasant, fun and exciting. Later in 2002, I was
23 years old and had just finished my obligatory army service
in Finland. The IT bubble had just burst.
Thanks to my army service, I was in good physical condition.
My company employed 17 people. When the IT bubble burst,
my company’s volume of orders fell and we had a serious cashflow
crisis. Things became much less pleasant, fun and exciting.
I couldn’t sleep because I was worrying about how I could pay
salaries to my employees. I was mentally burned out. I crashed.
In fact, I almost went crazy. I had to make a choice between
two bad choices: should I file my company for bankruptcy, or
should I try to continue the business? I honestly didn’t want
bankruptcy, so I thought about the latter option.
I didn’t want to give up. So I started thinking – what is the
worst thing that can happen to me if I fail trying to save this
company? Well, I realised the answer was option one, bankruptcy.
Regardless if I failed at saving the company, or didn’t
even try saving it, the worst-case scenario was that my company
would go bankrupt. Luckily, my own house was not collateral
on my company debts, so my own private property was
protected. I calculated that I could save the company by downsizing
the amount of employees and by handling all the sold,
but still open, cases well.
I called the tax officer and made a deal about the payment
terms. One of the debtors took some of our office furniture
as payment for their bills. With a heavy heart, I had to lay off
12 people, including some very good friends and my son’s god father.
I saved wherever possible. I couldn’t even pay my own
salary for many months.
This challenging downsizing period finally ended 14 months
later, when I paid the last unpaid tax payment. The pen dropped
from my hand to the floor. I was exhausted. But I didn’t
give up. I survived my first big business challenge. It was diffi cult
– a real-life course in “Business and Economy University”.
In high school we didn’t have courses called “How to lay
people off ” or “How to survive and manage a cash crisis”.
Still, my business survived without these kinds of courses. And
I continued on as an entrepreneur despite this challenge. I gave
entrepreneurship a second chance. To this day, my business survival
experience gives me the courage to take on new challenges.
Everything will always be all right in the end, and if it’s
not all right, it doesn’t mean it’s the end.
Those that risk nothing and do nothing get nothing.
Being unstoppable requires a never-give-up attitude.
It also requires conscious actions: regular self-reflection, self management,
development and leading others.
You are unstoppable when you face challenges and perceive
them as opportunities to learn something new.
Protect yourself financially and don’t take risks too big to
While reading this blog, remind yourself why you do the job
you do. What is your mission and what is your company’s mission?
Think about how you lead yourself and how you lead
You only have one life, so live it!
Have a successful life!
Ilkka O. Lavas
serial entrepreneur and CEO at Improve Media and 61st fastest growing media Group City Digital.
Author Profile at Amazon: http://amazon.com/author/ilkkalavas
Unstoppable Entrepreneurship book: http://www.amazon.com/Unstoppable-Entrepreneurship-unstoppable-entrepreneur-become-ebook/dp/B00ON3Z7L2/