I can relate to this. At age 8, I used to make my way by train from West Acton in London to nearby Ealing Broadway to go to school. One day I ended up lost walking around Paddington station having to ask a stranger for money to call home. I knew then what Paddington Bear must have experienced sitting there on his suitcase with a note saying "Please look after this bear. Thank you."
At age 10, I diced with death on a day trip in the Arabian Desert when the bus driver lost his way for hours and hours and didn’t admit it. Only the awareness and eventual panic from the young mothers brought it into the open, and together the party shut the air conditioning in the scorching heat to save fuel and finally navigated to a truck stop that wasn’t on any map with little more than vapour in the tank.
At age 14, I was part of the army cadet force at school, and on a night exercise with little more than moonlight, a sudden cry to run to a safe space led me to run head first into a tree, knocking me out cold.
Are all of these just childhood incidents? Apparently not.
I chose to become an entrepreneur because the opportunity to create something and make an impact on the world was incredibly appealing. Little did I know where things would lead.
My first company ran adrift with the venture capital backed leadership team unable to admit they were lost. We lost a billion dollar opportunity and to be known alongside PayPal and others of the dot-com era.
My second company, a fashion business loved by celebrities like Rihanna and Paris Hilton, hit the wall of the financial crisis in 2009. It was heart-wrenching shutting down a business that we’d nurtured for seven years only to be scuppered by things out of our control, narrowly missing out on a $5m funding round.
It felt like I was back at Paddington station when I arrived at Newark Airport with a one-way ticket back to London and just $5 to my name after getting the stopping bus from New York City.
Turns out that this is not uncommon. Every single day, businesses shut the doors on brilliant ideas, with money and livelihoods lost. I started my career with the very top names of universities, consulting and banking and ended up staring into the abyss. Career ruined, reputation lost, dizzy from the stress that took me to the low point of my life in the middle of the worst economic crisis in history. Imagine rocking up head-in-hand to your mother’s house in that state.
Back in London, I decided I had to figure this out and realised we never had a roadmap for those adventures. Despite my MBA, regular consumption of business books at Barnes and Noble at weekends and getting advice here and there, nothing actually showed you practical ways to manage and sound personal alarm bells to get you back on track. And there was still nothing out there the way I imagined it could be.
So I decided to create the CMS360 program to guide my own future ideas as well as for 1,000,000’s of others in this world that are on a similar journey.
In this program, I provide a practical system for management that shows you what you should do, how you should do it and why you should do it.
By showing you what to focus on you get clarity, power, understanding and more certainty which in turn will lead to taking better actions and building a more sustainable business.
Overall, if there’s one thing I want to do now, it’s to help as many people as possible avoid those same black-holes of the abyss, instead, creating the life you dream of.
There’s nothing wrong with wanting to build a company or take a day trip across the desert, but doing so without a roadmap and compass is just not necessary in today’s digital world.
Don’t become the next Paddington Bear. Join our community and enjoy your journey.
Azfar Haider, Founder, set up Creative Media Systems Limited and the CMS360 program in 2016 with the aim of helping creative firms around the world get established, scale successfully and become operationally strong. Having successfully launched the world’s 1st Cloud SaaS company in New York in 1998 and then subsequently launching a highly successful fashion brand in 2004, Azfar has unique experience spanning online technology services and manufactured products.
With his prior experience at Accenture and Deutsche Bank as BPR Champion and Global Product Manager for Private Banking, Azfar also also brings deep insight into software development, product launches and change management practices.
Having lived through multiple down-turns, being duped by co-founders and seeing many companies fail when they should have succeeded, Azfar established Creative Media Systems to make sure entrepreneurs don’t fail on the simple stuff. “90% of start-ups fail, so half the battle is good management as opposed to being in the top 1% of the innovators” he says.
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