Kelly Clifford - A Big Bold Step Into The Unknown - Leap of Faith -

My Reflections: A Bold Step Into the Unknown

So there I found myself standing a very important intersection. I had big decision to make. There are only two paths in front of me. On the signpost in front of me, the one pointing left read ‘continue doing what I’ve done and dropping the idea’ and the other ‘a big bold step into the unknown’. But as I stood there, all I felt was fear. Fear that if I pursued this it could be a very costly and monumental failure. Fear that I would let both myself and loved ones down. Fear that I don’t have what it takes to ultimately pull it off. All the doubts and head trash came flooding back. I needed to assess the path ahead in a purely objective way – attempting to put emotions aside for it otherwise I would be frozen by the fear.

So how did I do this?

Based on the suggestion of my mentor, I asked myself the following questions for deciding if this a smart risk or not:

  1. Am I crystal clear about what I am taking on if I go this way: what problems I will have to solve, what investment of time and reputation involved, and what compromises I am going to have to make in other areas of the business?
  2. Is the potential upside with the personal and financial investment?
  3. Would I back myself to pull this off more than five times out of ten, even if circumstances (economic and competitive conditions) I meet are a good deal less favourable than I am assuming?
  4. What would I have to believe to think this would successful – do I believe that?
  5. Can I afford to fail at this without fatally damaging my ambitions – either because I can’t afford the write off or because it would leave my reputation in tatters?

My answers to the above questions were a resounding YES but that didn’t square away the fact that I didn’t have access immediately to the full amount of money to cover the build cost. I believe I have managed to get the build cost as low as it is going to get when everything is factored in as it is a very complex and detailed turnkey solution I want to have created. I went out to tender in the UK for peace of mind about this, and putting aside the relationship and execution risk from not working with the people that did the design work with me and helped produce the technical specification, I was delighted to find that the cost to build it offshore with my identified partner as I was planning was 75% less than any comparative UK quote saving well over £100,000 (Approx US$151,000).

This was reaffirming but I still didn’t have access to the full amount required for the whole build. I was also reluctant to go the equity raise route at this time because the proposition wasn’t proven. I also believe that retaining as much equity for as long as possible is the golden ticket. One thing I feared more than losing my money, which I can cope and recover from, is losing other people’s money when something isn’t yet proven. I wanted to prove up the concept first by having a working platform. Now, I am not ruling out a future equity raise, in fact it is very likely, but it will be for growth and I will get a much better valuation so have to relinquish less equity than I would should I have done it before the beta platform was operational.

I still had a funding gap to address so I worked with the developer to rejig some of the proposed build plan so that modules would be delivered progressively and be capable of being fully operational and potentially revenue producing whilst the remaining modules are built. This could mean that the release of the earlier modules could generate revenue to fund the rest of the build commitment and beyond.  I also wanted to ensure that the developers had a vested interest in seeing the project through to successfully conclusion and not lose interest and momentum once they had say 90% of their money.

So for this I negotiated to have 25% retained from each milestone payment and deferred to the very end of the project when everything is completed. This effectively pushed 25% of the funding commitment out by about 7 months, which helped bridge the gap! So having successfully secured a loan for 50% of the build cost and combined with the above, I was ready to press the GO button.

Eeek…. there was no turning back now! Over 12 months of idea development, design and detailed planning later… the contracts were signed on 1st July 2014 for the official build of Profit Pod to begin!!!! The build will likely take 7 months. There is no certainty on the outcome but for the first time in my life I am properly backing me with very meaningful investment to deliver a game-changing outcome with Profit Pod.

In making this commitment, I also committed to taking the good with the bad over the ensuing months and to do whatever I need to do to overcome the inevitable challenges along the way but above all to embrace, have fun and enjoy the journey ahead. Whatever happens… I will know that I gave 100% to it.

Next Instalment To Come: My Reflections: The Lessons I Have Learned So Far

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