Giving up on your dream of running your own business is a mistake that you'll never forgive yourself for. Here's why you need to keep working at making your dream come true, even when the chips are down.
When I was eleven years old my parents decided that the best route my life could take would be to follow in the footsteps of my father, mother and grand-father in the Royal Navy.
To be fair, it was always destiny calling anyway. When the most important people in your childhood lives - your parents - had taken the step of signing on the dotted line and serving their country in the Navy, it was rather inevitable.
The first thing they did at the tender age of 11 was to pack me away to a Royal Navy boarding school - The Royal Hospital School near Ipswich.
I can honestly say that I didn't enjoy one moment of it, even though I now look back with very slight rose tinted glasses at the whole episode. I was home sick. Badly home sick, and I would often cry myself to sleep missing my mum.
Anyway, from around that age I always knew in the deep pit of my heart that I was destined for a different direction. I was a quiet, reflective and creative young boy, and I loved dreaming up ideas and putting them into action. Most of the time those ideas were play-based. I'd concoct intrictate levers and pulleys to lift my Corgi cars off the ground. I'd create complex 'marble-runs' from large boxes to see how long the marble could stay within the box. I lived for creativity, and loved making things from scratch. I was a 'builder', but without the stereotypical alpha-male genes running through my veins.
Deep down I wanted my life to be this way - taking ideas and making them happen.
At the age of seventeen I too signed up on the dotted line and joined the navy for a life at sea, but even after just two of the five years I spent in HM's senior service, something was missing - my dream of creating something myself. In the Navy you have do do what you're told. You can't just make things up as you go along - your life is almost choreographed, and you need to jump when you're told to jump. For good reason, too.
Nevertheless, I put my notice in (it takes 18 months to get out of the navy), and decided to take control of my own life and pursue my dream, but boy did I stumble across some obstacles on the way.
The first spanner in the works was homelessness. Spending your nights in doorways, friend's sofas and grotty hostels wasn't fun, but it taught me a lot. To get out of the situation I was in, I went and bought a few toys from a wholesaler. They were the first toy mobile phones on the market - designed for toddlers, which would 'talk' to you when you pressed the buttons. They cost 67p each.
Thinking there would be a market for them, I went out door to door selling them for three quid each. It didn't take long - perhaps an hour - and I'd turned £2 into £9. "Ahhh, I get it," I thought. "Let's scale this up, go and buy double the amount of toys, then repeat the process". So that's what I did. By the end of the month I was selling £900 worth of these toys each week. That was a real head-turner. You can turn almost nothing into something if you have a dream, a process and plenty of persistance.
Now, let's skip forward fifteen years. By this time I'd spent plenty of time learning my skills as a digital marketer at various dot-com companies in London, Birmingham and Liverpool. My skills meant that I could not only design a website, I could code it and market it too. My first two websites, an events listings guide and traffic conditions service were a success, and they were generating a significant amount of cash in my spare time. This was my true calling. Planning, designing, developing and marketing my own websites was where I wanted to be.
The penny had dropped - I was doing what I REALLY wanted to do.
In 2010 I incorporated my very first business - CliqTo - a digital publishing company which had a couple of high-traffic websites under its belt. The dream was becoming a reality.
But the story doesn't stop there. In fact the story never ends, at least until I decide to give it all up, or when I finally get too old to keep tapping on a keyboard due to arthritis (hopefully voice recognition will be a BIG thing, then).
Since incorporating there have been several ups-and-downs along the way. Traffic to my websites plummeted as Google's algorithms changed, which I then had to play the game of cat-and-mouse to keep up and recover traffic. It isn't easy, but it sure was thrilling knowing that I was earning money in the bank as a result of my creativity. The best part of it all was the knowledge that I was lining MY pockets with money, rather than my bosses.
2016 is turning out to be a phenomenal year for me. Revenue is better than it ever has been in the past, my family are financially comfortable, and we can afford the finer things in life. Things look rosy.
Now, what would have happened if I had given up my dream?
There's little doubt that I would not be as financially secure as I am today. OK, if I'd have stayed in the Royal Navy and done the full 22 years I'd be sitting on a nice lump sum and pension. But what about my desire to create my own destiny from utilising my creativity? Nope, that wouldn't/couldn't have happened in the navy.
"How does your little story relate to me?", I hear you say.
The overwhelming message on this blog post is about how abandoning your dream isn't the best option. Just because you think it can't be done, doesn't make it a fact. You might aspire for greatness. You might desire wealth. Or finding true love might be your calling. Don't give up hope. You never know what is just around the corner. All you need to do is to keep going - keep trying - keep persevering and I promise you that eventually your dream will come true. You just need to stay focused on your dream and don't let the nay-sayers convince you to abandon your dream.
Because, when your dreams come true, you'll look back and say, "That was worth it".
Dreams do come true, when you don't give up. Good luck.