Taking Control Of Your Own Destiny
I guess, like many entrepreneurs, my business journey started out of a need to solve a problem. My problem was that I had been made redundant!
When I was 19 years old I was kicked off the Travel and Tourism course at college and told I would not amount to much - which was something that truly and deeply upset me. My Father was an educator, so I believed that a strong knowledge base was the path that everyone needed to take in order to succeed in life.
So, bitterly, I left college and thought to myself “I will show those b***ds that they were wrong about me”. In my family home there would be no allowance for wallowing in self pity or taking some time to ‘find myself’, so it was straight out, hitting the pavements to find a job.
And, for me, there was only one place I wanted to go…
From a young age, I didn’t just like the leisure sector, I absolutely LOVED it, so I went straight to a local travel agency, CV in hand; minus the mention of my recent drop-kick out of college of course!
And, to my delight, they agreed that I would be a good fit and I was in! On the shop floor, stacking the brochures, chatting to customers, generating sales, making the tea; learning my trade and craft!
Terry ‘the failed student’ was now Terry ‘the travel professional’. But the excitement and adulation was short lived, just a few months into the job the store hit financial difficulty and eventually they had to close the business.
I was out.
This, in my mind, was my second travel-based failure in quick succession and garnered a drive in me that I still, to this day, credit with a lot of my subsequent successes.
The day that I walked out of that store for the last time, with my P45 in my hand, I made a silent but sincere promise to myself, never again would I work for someone else, ever.
Never would I be at the mercy of someone else's decisions.
That was it, I was done having my dreams dictated by external forces. There and then I decided to take control of my own destiny.
If my life is ever turned into a movie (in which I will cast George Clooney as me of course!) that moment when I left that shop will be accompanied by inspirational music, lightning and a dramatic slow motion angle of me looking up to the sky! I might be making the moment sound a little bit more dramatic than it actually was, but the impact on me was genuinely life-changing.
Even at the tender age of 19 I could see why that store had gone bust.
The people who ran the business were lovely, but the management was terrible; the store layout made no sense, the racking of brochures didn’t create a good flow for the customers, the staff weren’t incentivised to sell the most profitable destinations, there were no beneficial deals with operators in place to increase margin etc.
I could see all the holes in the business as plain as day and I thought that was how everyone saw business? Turns out maybe not!
With the confidence of youth and a ‘not taking no for an answer’ attitude I decided that not only did I think I could do better, I knew I could. So I put my money where my mouth was… well, actually at the time I managed to convince my Dad to lend me £4000 in startup capital which - even though I eventually retired him when we were acquired by Going Places - he thinks I still owe him!
That £4k got us up and running, we were in business - my friends thought I was nuts, but I was convinced (and committed) to my mission and vision, we were going to build an empire, and I guess, in our own small way, we did.
I won’t go into that whole business journey here in this article, but there are two elements that I believe are key to this tale:
I committed to myself to taking control of my destiny - I had a fire in my belly that nothing and no one could or would extinguish. … and then
I took massive action constantly and consistently to achieve the desired outcome.
All too often I hear entrepreneurs, founders and business owners loosely state their goals and aspirations but they either don’t fully, truly believe it, or they just don’t take the relevant action to make it happen.
Taking control of my destiny was one of the most liberating and fulfilling decisions I ever made, but don’t be fooled into thinking that all of the journey will be filled with rainbows and unicorns if and when you decide to become the captain of your own circumstance!