The general tone of my blog posts have been heady and optimistic because that was how I felt while writing and it is also partly by a conscious design. Writing about muck only mires me more in it.
Yet, there should be a way of examining where the muck came from. It is only then I can escape being besmirched by it again.
My misadventures with finances and money are aspects I have always avoided looking at – like the proverbial ostrich. May be it is time I looked at and admitted the shame I brought to myself and the company – at least for my clarity and understanding.
For most part of the last 13 years Service Square performed quite creditably. There were years when business was very good and we had healthy profit on paper. Yet our bank and cash balances reflected a state of penury.
Money went out from different directions like water through a sieve. Right under my nose, dishonesty flourished while the company languished. So, in the times of prosperity on paper, I borrowed.
People trusted me enough to lend me huge amounts of money as life support oxygen to our company which at one time had about 100 people. In addition to the borrowing from family and friends, I sold my house. Then I sought refuge in loans at punishing interest rates. In one such transaction, I lost my car, not able to repay a small loan.
My credibility was at its lowest before my own eyes. Banks, friends and even some clients experienced my inability to stick to commitments. Nothing seemed to work and inefficiency ruled the roost at Service Square. I was more a bottleneck than a contributor. Mathan and a few others in the organization kept the show going, while I watched from the sidelines. There is no poetic justice when it comes to inefficiency and financial indiscipline in business. It corrodes the organization’s vitals, mercilessly.
Naively, I nursed the belief that life in the parched lands would end soon. Though I am not a believer, I expected Providence to end my years of misery and shower me with abundance. I laboured under the illusion that being a good human being would be enough to attract great results in business.
Such beliefs only brought about more miseries and troubles. The Universe is an exacting place. It does not work on the basis of mercy and prayer. It rewards only those who sincerely seek abundance with commitment and hard work, guided by a calm, believing mind.
We had the best known corporate organizations as our clients for a long time. When the financial meltdown touched our shores, Service Square lost a lot of business. We also stopped the business of our largest client when we discovered its habitual delays in payments were like a millstone on our neck. From around 100 employees, the company staff strength shrank to under 20.
That was when we came to grips with controlling our destiny. Sometimes, less is more. Shorn of the frills and fluff, we valued and treasured the little we had. From roughly the time of Sumathi’s death in April 2010 I put an end to borrowing. It stayed that way till the very end of 2013. Besides, we also managed to repay some of the loans we had taken.
Towards the end of December 2013, we again had to resort to borrowing, after more than three and a half years. We needed a tidy sum to pay service tax arrears before 31st December. Payments which we expected from our clients did not reach as expected. Mortified about the humiliation of asking friends and relatives again for funds, I waited paralyzed, till the last moment for a miracle to happen.
No miracle happened. The last minute scramble with friends reduced the shortage, but didn’t muster all that we needed. Desperate, I approached a financier late on 30th December. For at least 2 hours, Mathan and I waited, quelling the man’s anxieties about paying back his money. At the end, he relented and gave a cheque at around 8 pm. We did not take it as we didn’t have enough time to encash the cheque and pay the dues the next day.
I returned knowing the shortage will be made up somehow the next day and the tax would be paid. That evening’s humiliation will stay in my memory for a long time.
Early morning, the next day, as I was heaving myself into calling friends for help, Mathan called me to say that he was pledging some jewels he had, to make good the shortage. I am ashamed I said yes to that. I was genuinely grateful and relieved. The service tax arrears were paid on 31st December.
I have known the best of times and I have also known what it means to plumb the pits. I have lived on the fringes of hell for a long time. Being without money is an invitation to being hugely discounted as a human being, to the outside world. One becomes vulnerable to looking, feeling and sounding like chaff when reduced to less than zero, financially.
I hope no one who chances upon this blog post will read more than is intended. Blanking out the low points of my life is like hiding part of my story. Besides, I am writing more for myself. This is also an exercise to feel the pain enough to move into more serious action. I do not deny however, displaying my vulnerable area to others is hugely disconcerting. That is precisely the risk I invited when I decided to go public with my blog. I didn’t then know it would feel so bad.
What I a want to tell my friends reading this is, don’t get alarmed, things are vibrant at Service Square now. I dream big with confidence these days. People – that includes me – work with a sense of mission and passion. We are in touch with our customers and we give them the best service possible. Almost all those who use our services are wowed by the goodness of our teams.
Money is a beautiful thing to have. Having it will launch and fuel rockets of desires – to share, to possess and enjoy the various treasures of life it hides. Valuing money is a virtue and habit I will cultivate.
At Service Square, money is coming in nowadays. It is a great feeling to invest money on equipments and staff. We have the best paid housekeeping staff in the city. And they have their big dreams too.
The dreams will be fleshed depending upon how I see them in my mind. Cultivating a calm, believing mind is as important as stretching at work with great systems and plans on a consistent basis.
I feel a surge of gratitude for the wonderful present and for the gifts on the anvil of creation.
It has not been easy writing this blog. It has taken me several days. I am glad I am done with writing about the most painful and shameful aspect and period of my life.
The act of looking back in tranquility shows up the major stress points in my life and business, as gifts in disguise. I have grown and am a better human being now. That, is a matter of significance.