I've made many seemingly reckless decisions in my life. I've traveled for months without a schedule, simply finding my next destination by how soon the next bus is arriving or teaming up with a traveler I've just befriended. For me, these experiences just felt right in my gut. I follow my own compass and instincts and I've done so my entire life.
You see, people take action when an aspect of their life feels painful. Ever since I was a teenager, I've believed with all my heart there was a different path for me in the world than to live in the suburbs, married with children and a nice "safe" job (if such a thing even exists anymore). Before I receive hate mail, let me say that there is absolutely nothing wrong with leading a family life in suburbia, it's just not for me. In fact, I now realize, I've spent the last 15+ years making decisions that will take me as far from that reality as possible.
In 2004 I made a decision that would change the course of my life forever. I quit my well paid corporate job and bought a one way ticket from Australia to Mexico City. For the next 6 months I traveled throughout Latin America, finally ending my journey in Bolivia when civil unrest (imagine countrywide road blocks, fires burning, large groups chanting in the streets) made me re-evaluate my situation. On March 8, 2005, I walked into an American Airlines office and bought a one way ticket from Bolivia to Toronto, Canada.
To this day, I'm still living in Toronto and I've since received my Canadian citizenship (I now proudly call myself Can-Australian :) But when people hear my (now somewhat mixed up) accent I inevitably get THE QUESTION - "Why would you give up Australia for Toronto?" My honest response is that it was the people I met within my first summer that kept me here, wanting to stay longer. Within the first month I made a friend, who would eventually become a business partner. I met many other entrepreneurs too, opening up access to a world I'd always wanted to know. You see throughout the course of my life, I'd always wanted to be self employed, to steer my own ship and live on my own terms. In Toronto, I met a number of individuals who were doing exactly that. I strongly believe the way to achieve your dreams, is to find people that are already doing it, who understand your mindset and can help and encourage you to go there too. So you see, I had to stay. I had to find out where this would take me.
In 2007, I launched Brio Risk Management Inc., a management consulting firm specializing in business process improvement & change management. A year later I launched two other local businesses; an organic beauty salon & spa (2008-2011), and a social event management company (2009-2011). I grew all three of these businesses from $0 to multiple 6 figures within the first 12 months on shoestring marketing budgets. In 2010, I was working full time on corporate consulting projects and running two other businesses (it was crazy but fun times!).
I have since sold the two local businesses to free me up to do the work I love most, helping entrepreneurs and executives create massive impact strategies for their businesses. My entrepreneurial experience led to the release of my latest book "Smart Marketing for Local Businesses", the creation of coaching programs for entrepreneurs and I was recently recognized as one the top 20 Small Business Coaches of 2013 by Clear Simple Marketing.
So that's my story, I'd love to hear yours. Feel free to share it with me in the comments below.