Friday, 6 January 2012

The year of the black dragon

2012. The year of the black dragon. 6 am,  on the train on my way cross country to the first board meeting (im a shareholder in a small legal services business) of the season.  I'm sitting here wondering what kind of year it will be.  2011 was a watershed year for me, a year where my wife and I defied the economic trend and spent/invested like never before, we got involved with a couple of businesses and they were, on balance, successful. I released myself from some of my old demons and could, for the first time in a long time, get a decent nights sleep without worrying about EVERYTHING and nothing. To all those aspiring entrepreneurs out there, who can build great things but forget all the smaller bits in the process, my advice is; get yourself a good wife (or husband) and a good accountant and let them manage what you can't or won't, it will do wonders to your sanity. It's been 2 1/2 years since I quit my job (one of those jobs where you spend most of your time on office politics) and turned myself into what some would call an entrepreneur but is much better described, by one of my customers, as a middle class hobo. For two and a half years, I have not had a week with 5 days in the same office, I have worked less, earned more and spent an enormous amount og my time in coffee shops.  During this period, I have worked for 3 different employers simultaneously. I dont have any debt and I rent EVERYTHING, so its very easy to pick up and go somewhere else.  When we have more, we spend more, when we have less, we cut down a bit. When there is work, its 24/7, and when there isn't we spend time together. We have also had a freedom to travel a lot, start new businesses and generally do what we want to do. However 2011 ended with a stark reminder that we, perhaps, can't live this way forever. We have illnes in the family now and it will require our emotional and financial support and I therefore started to consider taking a full time job again to get some more regularity into our life.

Financially this year could really go either way. Judging by the amount of communication, I have received over the christmas holidays and particularly the first few business days of january, my business partners have decided to come at 2012 all guns blazing. I hope we will all do that. Do what we do just a little bit better, and let our optimism rule the fear. Lets tame the dragon and ride it to more prosporous times. The Chinese certainly think it will be a lucky year and 1 billion optmistic workers and consumers might be just the medicine the world needs.

Officially the year of the black dragon doesn't start until February, so I will continue my hobo lifestyle a while longer until I get a chance to gage what kind of beast we are dealing with.


  1. No other way to go than with all guns blazing.
    I'm sorry that you have illness in the alters life in more than just financial ways.
    Good luck all round.

    1. @the fly: Thanks very much. All the guns have certainly been blazing and I'm happy to report I'm still alive, with only minor injuries (swollen eye, stiff neck, indigestion), got to remember to visit the gym and eat some proper food, if I am to make it all the way to 2013.

  2. Spending more time in coffee shops sounds great! How are things shaping up now we're nearly 1/12th of the way through 2012? :-)

    1. @Michael: I think it’s fair to say the Jury is still out.

      The two first weeks of January:

      1) The meeting I was going to, in the legal services business, was pretty crap, we didn’t agree anything, people were a bit grumpy and our sales director resigned (which could be why they were grumpy) and we therefore had a huge gap to fill with a very important presentation a few days later. I have to say I was just about to decide it wasn’t worth the hassle and just hand over my shares.

      2) Over the Christmas holiday, we had also all been breaking our backs preparing material for a private equity fund that was going to invest a huge amount of money in a really exciting project; I for instance answered 25 mails on Christmas Eve. We didn’t mind doing this because the investment committee would be a formality, the founder and CEO was presenting our proposition and, we were told, the committee had never gone against him, the director from the investment bank that is brokering the deal came back early from his family holiday in Switzerland to be ready to put his signature on the contract and then… the investment committee rejected the project… WHAT?? fuck fuck fuck.

      So it was a pretty bad start but in a strange way it made us pull together, pull up the socks and I think we have generated a great momentum and I’m very positive now. In replacement of the sales director (who had quit) we had to send one of our non-exec’s, he is 68, retired and spend most of his time on playing golf, sailing his boat, and constantly on holidays and he didn’t know anything whatsoever about the IT system he was going to present 2 days later. So I had to prepare the whole system presentation on video for him to bring. Needles to say we didn’t have great expectations. But he went, did a fantastic job, and they want to start a pilot as soon as possible 

      On the failed committee decision, the investment bank advising us was as peed off as we were, quickly drafted a list of alternative backers, we have already had some very good meetings, and I think we might actually end up with a better, more sympathetic, backer.

      And then we have started negotiations with a couple of large companies about acting as specialists advisors to them, I’m confident we can close a deal within a month or two and it could also be very interesting work.

      So there haven’t really been much time for coffee shops (or blogging or anything else), we haven’t made a dime, but there is so much going on that I’m still cautiously optimistic.

      And let me just say. It has just been Chinese New Year. so technically we are only a couple of days into the year of the black dragon.