Did I just waste five years of my life?
How Covid nearly ruined five years of my life.
Five years of my life wasted.
That's how I felt when we had to shut down our just-opened hotel because of Covid.
Five years of dreaming, planning, building, and facing - and overcoming - countless obstacles and setbacks to open the doors of a one-of-a-kind nature lodge near Medellin, Colombia.
All at risk of being for nothing.
We had opened just a few months before the pandemic and were looking forward to a full March.
But the pandemic came so fast that we went from preparing for our first wedding and for a visit by one of Colombia’s top social media influencers one week, to being completely closed the next.
With employees, and debts, and no way of knowing when we’d be able to open again, or if we’d survive long enough to reopen at all.
And not just one business affected.
Our travel agency lost every single booking for the rest of the year.
2020 was supposed to be the year we finally saw some stability in our lives.
Got a dividend from the travel agency.
Paid ourselves decently for the first time in five years (and from hotel earnings not investment dollars).
Except it was all gone.
The profit from the travel agency went to keep the hotel afloat.
My two co-founders and I took a pay cut to zero so we could help keep all our employees on payroll (which we did - at reduced wages - for the entire four months the hotel was shut down).
It was an inflection point for me.
I was already struggling to take care of my young family. We had one child, and another would soon be on the way.
I had given everything I could to make the hotel a reality.
And now any hope I had of a return was years into the future.
Unfortunately, after five years of experiencing the freedom of entrepreneurship, I couldn’t imagine trying to find a job, and jobs weren’t exactly plentiful at that moment.
I had been looking for a side hustle to help support my family.
Now I knew I needed to pick one and make it work.
As CEO of the hotel company, I was responsible for marketing. I had learned valuable skills I knew I could use to help others, and I could do it remotely.
So, I decided to hang up my shingle as a digital marketer.
For months I did my best to support the hotel as well, but it eventually became clear I could not do both, and I resigned as CEO and withdrew from hotel management and operations.
One of the most challenging things I’ve done was letting go of that dream.
But it was the right thing.
And even though it didn’t work out as I had planned, I didn’t waste five years of my life.
I got the most valuable type of business education you can get.
Far better than if I had gone to a fancy grad school for an MBA.
Rather, I got an MBA in the hard knocks of building a real business in the real world.
I also learned I have grit.
There were so many days when I wanted to quit, when I couldn’t see the path ahead or how we would ever get the thing built and open.
I often repeated to myself “the obstacle is the way” and “the only way out is through.”
And just kept going.
It’s a lesson I’ve applied in my current business as well.
Nothing is as easy as the gurus and bro-marketers will have you believe, with their slick promises about scaling to six and seven figures in some unreasonably quick timeframe using some secret or other that you have to pay them $5k, $10k or more to learn.
Building a business - of any kind and for most of us - is hard work and takes far longer than we expect it will.
I’m still on that journey.
But I’m farther along than many, and blessed to be able to help others on their journeys as well.