Being Almost Broke and In Debt Can be Pretty Cool


Time For a Reality Check

  • I am close to being broke
  • I am in debt
  • I have 3 mouths to feed
  • I have not had a steady ‘paycheck’ for 1.5 years
  • I am happy
  • I am doing fun shit
  • I am pioneering a mind-set shift in Japan
  • Things are pretty damn cool!
  • But wait…I am close to being broke, I am in debt, I have three..

Get the picture?

Let me make something clear. In no way am I advocating loafing around, living on someone’s couch, and mooching off of family and friends. Nor am I suggesting to just quit your job, abandon family responsibility, and frivolously spend your life savings. Neither of these are cool.

What is cool, however, is making the conscious decision based on some ‘general’ blueprint to live your life according to the way you want to make an impact. 15 months ago I made that decision when I left my safe corporate job to be a solopreneur in Japan.

Grit – The Great Equalizer

Now, making a choice like this means that unless you have a boat load of cash squirreled away or a rich uncle willing to invest in your dream – I had neither by the way – then you will need to embrace being almost broke and in debt. As scary as this can be, and I know this feeling all to well, it can be the fuel for success.

The key word here is CAN. Ultimately the power lies only within you to have the unadulterated tenacity to forge ahead. This really is the great equalizer. Julien Smith refers to this simply as having GRIT – going past the point when most people would just quit. Certainly being almost broke and in debt is a reason to quit!

  • “Maybe I should just throw in the towel.”
  • “Maybe I have to give up on the dream.”
  • “Screw it. I guess I should just go back to the life I despised because at least I got a steady pay check.”

I would be lying if I said I have never had such thoughts. I frequently face the proverbial fork in the road: Do I go down one path back to the life I hated or down the unknown path which will certainly be a maze of wrong turns and dead ends?

Navigating the Maze

As with any maze there is built-in uncertainty. Is this the right way? Am I going to hit another dead-end? Haven’t I been here before? What keeps me going is knowing that there always is a way out.

“What we choose to do when we hit the dead ends in our business is the real test.” Tweet This!

There is no shortage of people who claim they know how to navigate a maze. But what frustrates the hell out of me is that these ‘experts’ have no freaking clue which maze I am in! They have no idea which dead-ends I have already faced and which ones are before me. But they are quick to offer immediate advice such as

  • You need to write an eBook
  • You have to create a ‘product’
  • Why don’t you have any webinars?
  • Affiliate links are a sure-fire way to make money while you sleep!
  • Of course you know content is king so you gotta be blogging every day!
  • Get out there and network. If you are not seen you are not heard.
  • You have no credibility without authoring a book
  • Blah, blah, blah

Uugh! The noise is deafening. As my friend Tea Silvestre said in her recent post The Un-Sexy Side of Internet Marketing:

“Take all this marketing advice with a grain of salt. Keep your BS meter on (and check the batteries often). Slow the heck down. And listen”

Stop, Breathe, and Get Back to the Basics! 

To be fair, there are many experts out there who I respect because they try to understand my maze before suggesting how to get out.

And you know what?

These are the folks who always remind me to stop, take a breath, and get back to the basics! One such expert is Sharon Gilmour-Glover who just launched a 4-part video series on Business Results and the need to step back, reflect, and evaluate.

So this is exactly what I am going to do.

I am taking a bit of a break. I am going to slow down and I am going to listen. Rather than worrying about what ‘thing’ I am supposed to be doing because that is what everyone else says I should be doing, I am going to reflect on where I have been. Where did I make the right turns in my maze and where did I hit a dead-end? How can I make an impact and not just noise?

I will capture all of this in what I am calling my ‘Navigating the Maze’ annual report / manifesto / white paper / or whatever the heck it is that I am supposed to call it! Stay tuned for the release by the end of the year.

I have had a pretty good year and I have done some damn cool stuff. I am certainly not rolling in cash and my debt never seems to get any smaller. I have not found the way out of my maze and it may take me another year or two or even three before I do. But for now I accept that being almost broke and in debt can still be pretty damn cool! (Now if any of you have any rich uncles who have cash to throw around just send them my way!)

How do you navigate the maze of your business? Would love to hear from you. Share your ideas below.

About the author

Peter Sterlacci Peter Sterlacci is known as “Japan’s personal branding pioneer.” In a country where fitting-in is the norm, Peter’s mission is to pioneer a ‘cultural shift’ by helping Japanese to stand out in a global environment. An avid cyclist, he combines cycling imagery with personal branding strategy to empower his clients to shift gears and sprint to career success. Follow Peter on Google+