By Steven N Adjei
Yeah I’m stubborn and bold
But sometimes it gets old
Fighting the voices inside my brain
I was trying to pretend I was fine
When inside it was war
With the stumbling beat
Of my heart and my feet
And the faults of my failure and pain
To think all of this time I had wings that were ready to soar
Give me the strength to let go…..
The strength to let go – Switchfoot, (Native Tongue) 2019
It was the night of the 23 November 2023.
I had to let go finally.
I got this letter above in the post the day before.
The official end of a decade of blood, sweat, toil and tears.
My company, BlueCloud Health had officially failed. Gone like the wind.
There was not a shred of evidence to show that it even officially existed. No website. No email. No trace on the Companies House in the UK. Offices in Johannesburg, London and Accra, all gone.
The only evidence was in my book, my computer and my iPad and in the scars, literal and metaphorical.
Ten years to build, a week to crash.
Experts say we should learn from failure. Look at it as a way to learn. Some even go as far as to say we should embrace it.
But the fact remains,
Failure is bloody hard.
I crumpled the letter, and nearly chucked it into the bin when I suddenly remembered a quote from Morgan Housel’s brand new book, Same As Ever.
Patience is often stubbornness in disguise.
In reality, BlueCloud began the inevitable decline after I had been rejected 250 times. It temporarily resurrected after I signed a contract for a million dollars just before I wrote Pay The Price. But the writing was on the wall.
Patience had turned to stubbornness.
But the same demons resurfaced.
The kind of pain I called in my book - White flag pain.
The death knell finally sounded last year in 2022 after one of the contractors sent out nearly out-of-date medicines and failed to honour their side of the contract, costing my client and me tens of thousands of pounds.
But other factors were in play. The market was dwindling. Clients were continuing to let me down. I was growing older (gulp!) I could never fully be in the company due to other commitments. I made some stupid decisions.
Failure was (and still is) tough. Very tough.
But strangely even through the pain, it felt like a weight had been lifted off my shoulders.
As UK grime artist Little Simz said in her song I Love You, I Hate You:
So much, I would give my life for this If the bullet was the beat I would probably die for this How many times did I cry for this? I would hate myself if I didn't at least try for this What's at stake is bigger than me Blood, tears, how it stains can't rid it with ease What we have in common is our pain We're given the keys To unlock what it takes to fight for what we believe in Hard to confront the truth of what you see in the mirror Some people you inspire and others you trigger Fightin' in blind faith, led by the internal voice You might not wanna do it but you don't have a choice
I love you, I hate you.
Maybe this was preparation for something bigger. I had officially joined the failed 90% of first-time entrepreneurs.
But I chose to learn.
To write. To express my pain through books, speaking, mentoring and consulting.
My company had failed. But I hadn’t. I learned skills both ways, both from the University of ‘Hard Knocks’ and an MBA from one of the best universities in the world.
I had tried. Put my best into it. Felt the initial exhilaration of my Honeymoon Period.
And now, I have become more resilient, more energised, more determined, and wiser than ever. And that resilience has led me to turn many companies from near failure to outstanding success.
I had opened a new chapter of my life.
So yes, I had failed. But the seeds of death of BlueCloud have now sown the resurrected seeds of experience, turned me into an award-winning best-selling author, a judge for some of the UK’s biggest business awards, and a mentor who had seen, experienced and felt every kind of pain known to man.
Yes, entrepreneurship, indeed, any venture is supposed to be hard. Everything worth pursuing comes with a little pain. The trick is not minding that it hurts, as Morgan Housel says.
Yes, it hurts that the end of a very fulfilling year ended with my baby officially failing.
But I didn’t mind that it hurt.
Because even more than that, BlueCloud had now become part of something bigger. A well-established, fast-growing firm, The Strategy Boutique, with offices and clients worldwide. I started with a company to do just healthcare in Africa. Now through its death, the dawn of something so new, so fresh, way beyond anything I had ever thought of. Leveraging the synergies and competencies of both entities, we hope to build on the legacy left behind by Blue Cloud, towards greater and bigger things
Because now, I could rise, dust myself down, and go again.
And so I have.
Welcome to the new venture(s), the new pivot.
And so if for you, 2023 didn’t turn out the way you wanted, I feel you.
If things went south for you, yes it will hurt.
But as one of my favourite artists, Pink says:
Aye, if you're alive Then it means that you're committed to survive That's enough to drain the life from you sometimes But I hold on tight
Oh, you can't help when your stomach sinks, see your life happen in a flash In your head, it could be so real that you almost feel the crash The panic is temporary, but I'll be permanent So when it hits, don't forget
As scary as it gets It's just turbulence...
Dust yourself down do some reflection, and rise again.
Steven. .Whilst you are here:
Let's do life.