Riches To Rags: The Reverse Story Of Entrepreneurship No One Speaks Of
"There is no happy ending yet. And its uncertain if there will be."
Everyone talks about successful businesses and the shining stars that go on to become unicorns in the startup scene. But no one talks about failure or at least, what happens after failure.
Failure in business is something that is actually MORE common than the successes. Hundreds and thousands of businesses around the world fail everyday, and we hear nothing of it.
But this man bares all in a heartfelt reveal on Quora.
What comes after failure?
Here’s what Derek Gallimore, founder of Outsource Accelerator (his new venture) has to say about failure.
He started off as a self-employed personal trainer at 16, raised enough funds to buy his first property in London at 24 and went into property development.
From there, he moved into the serviced apartment sector. Over the next nine years, he grew his company to employ over 70 employees and £12m in revenue. But his company had to be shut down and liquidated.
At 40, Gallimore is starting from zero.
In an answer on Quora, this is what he says on what he did after failure:
I was a millionaire. Now, I have no career to speak of, I have few assets, virtually no cash; I have no wife (though I do have a nonplussed ex-wife), and no children. I’ve lost 90% of my wealth and have blown up a business (that employed over 70 staff, and left many creditors, owed millions in its wake). This is a riches to rags story. It’s a story seldom told. I am Derek Gallimore, and I’m a few months away from turning 40.
A tough year
His downward spiral started around 2015. He went through a divorce, his business was facing its inevitable death, he lost all of his investment properties and to top it off, he also ruptured a disc in his lumbar spine (losing most function in his leg).
It was an intense 18 months of his life, going from the founder of a company with over 70 employees to an unemployed 40-year-old with no health care plan, no country to call home, no credit rating, no family and his health in shambles.
To think, just a few years before that, things were booming. It just goes to show that you never know when things are going to change (for the worse).
How it all began
As a young, ambitious and knowledge-hungry boy, Gallimore moved to London, hoping to catch a break. And true enough, with his gusto, he worked hard and saved up enough money to buy his first property.
Soon after that, he bought another one and another one. And that’s how he started in the property game. By his late twenties, he had become a millionaire.
Then the global financial crisis happened in 2008 and he needed to find new opportunities, which is how he got into ‘serviced apartments’.
The expansion was quick. It was an exciting time for Gallimore and this excitement lasted for about eight years. The company was raking in US$20 mil in annual revenues, he had 70 staff in two countries and 220 apartments under management.
Then the tides changed
Then Airbnb happened. By 2016, Airbnb was everywhere and Gallimore’s business was in trouble. Things were looking bleak.
Just like Kodak, it was Gallimore’s time to pivot. But he had not done so and faced an inevitable end.
“The last 18 months of the company life was a soul-destroying journey. But I always had reasonable optimism that we could strategically manoeuvre out of it. I was looking for a sale or merger, and by the end I was offering the company for only £1,” he wrote.
Warren Buffet famously said “It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you’ll do things differently.” It took 20 years to build a company for Gallimore, and he lost it all in 18 months.
“Towards the end, I sold all my properties. I liquidated everything that I had built prior to this company. I sold my properties at fire sale prices, and sunk all the proceeds into the business. Within nine months, it was all gone,” he says.
Picking himself back up after failure
After everything collapsed, Gallimore had time to reflect and this is what he says about his failure: “I only blame me. I believe that we only ever have ourselves to blame. But I did the best I could.”
His father died when he was 64, after a two-year battle with a degenerative disease. “I remember vividly in his last winter, he spoke of his personal ambition to see the coming spring. He loved his garden, and for him, to see one more spring was a pretty heady goal,” he explains.
“When I was young I wanted to “be the richest man in the world”. In my dad’s last year, his goal was to simply make it to spring.
Now, as I ponder the future, I have a different sense of what matters to me, and my goals reflect that.”
Since then, he has seen the world a little differently. “Ironically, despite now being at the bottom, and a long way from where I want to be, I’m at one of the happiest stages of my life. Maybe my utopia isn’t success, maybe its peace, health and happiness?”
And this is where this tale ends, he writes.
“There is no happy ending yet. And its uncertain if there will be.”
What do you think of Derek Gallimore’s story on what comes after failure? Let us know in the comments.
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