Coming Out Of A Crises – And Succeeding

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In 2007 I decided it was time for a change. After a few years of living in Spain and two different businesses, I was looking for another challenge. I wanted to do something exciting with people and related to IT. But I wasn’t quite sure what it should be.

A good friend of mine helped me at the time to identify the areas that could work well for me.
By the way, this is how the Entrepreneur Academy’s Sweet Spot Discovery Tool came into light. It’s based on the same principles I applied to myself at the time.

Coming back to 2007, times were great. There was money around, opportunities everywhere and I felt it was the right time to make that switch.

I decided to start a company developing websites and integrating with upcoming Social Media platforms. I always had a thing for web development and I enjoyed creating great looking and working sites for my businesses in the past. So why not make a business out of it?

I started my company at the end of 2007, full of energy, great ideas and the goal to make it big.

From the top of the world to rock bottom

In 2008 the financial and economic crises hit the world with real thunder and lightning – and from one day to the next most of my then-clients canceled their contracts with me. I’d just got a loan from a bank and invested over 100.000 Euros into IT equipment, office space, and fees for several freelancers. I was on cloud nine until the crises hit.

It went really fast. Within one month I lost most of my contracts and couldn’t find anyone interested in the services I had to offer.

If you are long enough in business you too will have gone through one or more difficult situations and challenges.

This crisis wasn’t just a challenge, it was a deep bottomless hole and I was free-falling.

I lost almost everything paying off my loan. All the hard work I’ve done over the years down the drain.

These are the moments when you need to be an entrepreneur.

I knew I had two choices. I could either give up or use this situation to my advantage. I wanted to get something out of this but didn’t know-how.

One thing I learned over the years is “If you need help, help!” Sounds strange? Read on. I decided that the only way out is helping other people to get out.

I wasn’t the only one impacted by this. Most service-based businesses struggled and most of my previous clients were hit really hard.

It became clear that this challenge cannot be tackled with a conventional business model. It needed something different to turn this around. It also needed the belief that this is just a blip and better times are ahead.

Climbing out of the crevice

I came up with the idea to offer my services for free to my clients until they reach some success. I approached my previous clients and discussed my proposal. The only thing I wanted in return is a commitment to pay when the business allows it.

It was risky and fully based on trust, but I believe that most people play fair and are happy to give back when they can.

Of course, I had to finance this somehow, so I went freelance to keep my family and life going and worked in the evenings and weekends for my clients. It was hard work, but I also enjoyed it. It is an amazing feeling when you see that your effort comes through.

Over the following two years, some of my clients didn’t make it, but most of them recovered from the crisis and were able to start paying me for my services. Either way many became great friends and we are still in touch today.

If you need help, help!

Today I make it my business to help others to become successful and overcome the challenges time throws at them. I still don’t charge for my services if someone is in real need until they are successful and able to pay.

After 10 years I still work with clients every day, developing services and products proven to work for a price most people can afford.

With the Entrepreneur Academy, it is my vision to help one million businesses – directly and indirectly – in the multi-cultural Europe to strive and succeed.

If you want to be one of them, our doors are open. Come and join us!

John Di Stefano

An entrepreneur at heart and founder of the Entrepreneur Academy in Brussels, Belgium. He is teaching and supporting entrepreneurs in the skills every entrepreneur needs to create a better life for themselves and the people around them.

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