I’d like to tell you a story about a Father’s Day, some 15 years ago. This is really the birth of self-employment for me. It’s a story that some people know, but it’s not one that I’ve shared and I’ll tell you why. It’s one of those stories that you question if you should tell or not. Anyways, I’m telling it today.
My Corporate Experience
In 2002, Debbie and I moved to Canada from the UK. I’d worked in our family business, Corporate, not-for-profit and moved to Canada. My goal was eventually to set up my own business. Debbie and I had a business a long time ago in the late eighties to early nineties and it’d gone horribly wrong. The economy tanked, interest rates doubled, disposable income disappeared right out of the window. So, what did we do at that time? Rather than going bankrupt, we pretty much sold everything we had, including our house and my car. We moved in with my parents for six months (God bless ’em) to try and recover a little bit. Then we rented for a couple of years and later moved to England in ’95. But that’s not the story.
The story is, I came to Canada, got a job as everybody does. I got back into corporate and ended up working for a long-standing Canadian retail chain, back in that corporate world, working 70+ hours a week. Every Saturday I’d leave the house long before the children got up, and would get home just as they were going to bed. It was kinda crazy and I wasn’t really enjoying it, but I was good at it. I got a number of promotions, a lot of responsibility and I was making the most of it.
Anyway, you know that phrase about you can’t have a square peg in a round hole or a round peg in a square hole? I guess I was that round peg in a square hole that just wasn’t big enough. I ran my company store the way I thought it should be running. The reality of it was, I couldn’t really fit in and with the best will and intentions of the senior management, we just didn’t see eye-to-eye. I could see what needed to be done, I could do it, but didn’t fit their system.
“Goodbye” to Corporate Life
In 2004, on the Friday of Father’s Day weekend, I was let go, for no real reason, no cause, just that I didn’t fit with the company. I’d only lived in Canada for two years, we hadn’t really got ourselves together financially. It took a lot of money to move here and a lot of time to find the right job. We had already exhausted our savings and had just started topping them up again. Suddenly we were out again, nothing – not a good place to be! Father’s Day weekend of all times. I remember calling my parents, who were still alive back then, and said “yeah, I lost that job.” My mom was just distraught. I explained to her that “it’s okay. In fact it’s gonna be better than ever”.
In my heart I believed, that but in my head it’s like “how the heck?” But that’s where faith comes in, where sheer grit and determination comes in, and that’s where friends rally around.
Making the Leap
Very quickly a friend of ours from the school that our kids went to, left me a message and said “hey, we’d like to talk to you, we have an idea about our business that maybe you could help us with”. Gosh, within a month, I was working for them. It became my first client. I also received some really good advice about setting myself up in business and becoming self-employed. The great thing I guess about being let go rather than resigning was that I got onto what’s called EI (Employment Insurance). I’d never had a disciplinary in my life, let alone being let go. Never claimed anything from the Government at all and suddenly I’m in this line-up claiming Employment Insurance – kinda humbling, kinda bizarre.
Moving forward, I started my business and I was told through EI about this special training that I could get through Douglas College. So I applied with a business plan, along with an idea of what I wanted to do to set my business up. My interview went well and I went back to business schoolI So, through the summer right through till September of 2004, I was in self-employment school. I had mentors, I had a peer group, we were all finding ourselves in this place for one reason or another. I was also helping out that not-for-profit charity just to get some workplace practicum in.
In the fall of 2004, the Jonathan Christian Consultancy was birthed. It should have been Jonathan Christian and Associates, but everybody was doing that and it just didn’t sound right, so Consultancy it was.
That was 15 years ago. Would I have started my business that quick? Probably not. The universe did have a plan for me that said, “Hey boy it’s time to get out of corporate, it’s time to see more of your family, it’s time to treat the family the way they need to be treated”. Well here I am, 15 years later reminiscing a very awkward, difficult Father’s Day back in 2004.
Fast Forward to 2019 and I had an amazing Father’s Day. I live in the most beautiful home here in Abbotsford, and we have an incredible company. So it comes down to this, having a great plan, a great idea, a boatload of talent and a great work ethic is all it takes to begin. If you can get those pieces together, you can set up a business. Sure you need some working capital and clients. I wasn’t charging very much for what I did because I had to prove my worth, but when I did, oh man, has it changed.
We now have six full-time employees added to our tribe. Debbie and I get to travel all over the world, as I’m now an international speaker. I just got booked for a gig in Las Vegas in the fall and have a couple of other gigs coming up potentially in India, London and of course in Canada.
So that’s one of my many stories, that I’ve not shared before.
Thought you’d be interested in it and hope you all had an awesome Father’s Day, now go #MSH!