Lee Rotbart

Posts Tagged ‘fear’

Back, and in at the deep end

In Getting the mortgage on October 20, 2010 at 11:51 am

You’d think that no time had passed at all. Back from a fabulous holiday I was secretly hoping that all would be sorted, that I would sashay gently into an exchange and move. Ignorance really is bliss.

Don’t get me wrong, things have moved on a little bit and we are now the other side of a successful survey and valuation; yet it still feels like there’s a long way to go and the bank still need this, that, and the other before making the official offer. The key problem at the moment being that they’ve suddenly decided they would like evidence from my current company that I will be continuing to freelance for them once I move to Cornwall. Hmmmm… difficult. Considering that I haven’t actually handed my notice in yet, I’m not quite sure how that conversation would go…

“Excuse me boss, just wondered if I could run something by you. I’m planning on leaving at the end of February but don’t want to hand in my notice now just in case it all goes tits up and I end up not wanting to leave after all. However, if I DO leave (and I fully intend to) I would like to continue to work for you so if you could just write a letter saying if I leave you are happy to let me do freelance work that would be ace, because that would help me get the mortgage and help me leave. Obviously, this is on the understanding that if it all falls through you should just forget all of this ‘handing my notice in’ rubbish, and I will continue to stay on at the company. Thanks so much.”

It’s a bit of a Catch 22 don’t you think?

Am hoping that the bank will just take my word for it, and this will not be a deal breaker.

Meanwhile I have since decided that I have far more to worry about, and last night ‘The Fears’, or as my Mum would say ‘The Willies’, hit me like a ten ton truck. In no particular order:

  • Fear that this will fail
  • Fear that my marketing skills are all well and good when they’re for someone else, but putting my own business on the line is a different story
  • Fear that no one will want to stay
  • Fear that we will go broke in the first year
  • Fear that I am leaving behind all my friends and family and won’t have a support network
  • Fear of going it alone
  • Fear that we have massively underestimated the cost of all this and we won’t be able to afford to do what we need to do

Being quite risk averse as a person I am appalled to find myself in a highly risky situation. Luckily Danny, who is possibly the most optimistic person I have ever met, doesn’t actually believe that this could fail; suggesting that this entire scheme is a ‘no-brainer’ and through the powers of persuasion and a winning smile managed to convince me that my fears were all unfounded.

I suspect it was reading all the mortgage jargon that sent me into a tailspin; triggering the realisation that we are ploughing EVERYTHING we own into this venture. We are selling our flats in London, we are leaving our jobs, we are basing our whole future on the fact that we think we might be able to market and run a guest house, and we think we will be able to do this without killing each other. (Don’t tell the banks this, according to our business plan we are highly confident, skilled individuals that will be running the most successful guest house in the world within 3 years).

Tonight we are writing a pre-opening budget and once it’s all in black and white I know I’ll feel better, I just need to keep the final goal in mind, not forget why we’re doing all this, and fight the temptation to just settle for what I know, and what’s comfortable.

Never has the following expression ever rung so true.

‘Experience – something you get only after you need it’

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Tiptoeing into uncharted waters

In Getting the mortgage on October 4, 2010 at 12:53 pm

This morning there was another tube strike and I walked 4 miles into work. During this walk I composed a ranty letter in my head to Bob Crow while fantasising about walking along the coastal path.

London looks like Gotham City in the grey light of a wet morning; and along with a touch of light rain – the kind that’s not heavy enough to warrant an umbrella, yet gets you very wet really, really slowly – I can think of better ways to start the week.

20 minutes after breakfast I received a phone call from our mortgage broker. He asked me if I was sitting down (of course I was… that’s all I do 9 – 6, Monday – Friday) and I knew then that this could be the phone call we’ve been waiting 3 1/2 months for. He then proceeded to inform me that Lloyds Bank have agreed – IN PRINCIPLE – to our commercial mortgage application. There’s a bit of work to do yet, a survey, a valuation, and maybe a few other things that involve us paying out lots of money; but we’re over the second big hurdle (the first one was getting them to look at the proposition in the first place), and into uncharted territory.

It went like this: Excitement, followed by ‘I must tell Danny’, followed by more excitement, followed by ‘I must tell my folks’, followed by more excitement, followed by terror.

For the last few weeks Danny and I have been making lists, choosing furniture, and fantasising about breakfasts; and now it’s a reality. Now we’re really going to have to do it. Somebody somewhere has deemed that we are responsible enough, and our business plan comprehensive enough, to lend us lots of money; and I find myself in that place where I think that someone is going to come up behind me, tap me on the shoulder, and say:

“Excuse me, Miss Rotbart. Hello. We’re sorry to disturb you but we’ve identified you and your partner as people who are pretending to be adults, you haven’t done a bad job of it but we have found you out. We got our first clue last year when we observed you making monkey noises at the gorillas in London Zoo, our suspicions were aroused when you went to London Zoo without any children. We also noticed that you skipped across the road in the New Forest last weekend, again, not really behaviour befitting the 34 year old you’re pretending to be. In conclusion, while we love your enthusiasm, we really don’t think that you are grown-ups and therefore cannot lend you this money”

As much as I don’t want anyone to do that it would be the easy option, it would give me the opportunity to RUN. Run like the wind in the direction of a salaried job and a mortgage that isn’t reliant on people wanting to stay in my spare bedroom. Run back to a world with no buildings insurance (I have a leasehold) and a location where I have friends, family, and a solid network.

I wonder if others who go into business on their own have these kind of fears. They must do, surely, but just choose not to talk about them.

I do want this, I really do, the thing is I want it NOW, I want it QUICKLY, and I want it without having to go through all the stuff I’m dreading, like packing and moving (I hate packing more than I hate the aforementioned Bob Crow); setting up the internet / electricity / phone lines / fire systems; having the inevitable arguments over decor; living through the moments when we realise something is suddenly going to cost £5000 more than originally budgeted; need I go on?

I want to be like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz, I want to click my heels together, say the magic words, and end up in a beautiful, fully-booked guest house in St Ives. In other words I want the rewards but none of the reality.

Just in case you’re curious as to my state of mind I should tell you that I am ecstatic. Sitting at my desk overlooking a Soho back alley (you’ve got a window seat – count yourself lucky!) I have a bubbly feeling in my belly. It’s a bubbly feeling that foretells of a life with no tubes, no smog, no desk job, and no hamster-style running machine. I just need to keep the ‘one step at a time’ philosophy close to my heart and all will be good.

Loyal readers, friends and family, it seems we are full steam ahead into the next part of our journey.

Freak Out #1 and #2

In The beginning on July 13, 2010 at 3:05 pm

As those of you who know me well can testify, I have been prone to the odd ‘freak out’ in the past.

As a rule, I’m good with the big stuff – divorce, death, break-ups, etc. it’s the little things that make me insane. Things like fuses blowing when I walk in the door, the internet not working, the aerial falling off the TV; and bureaucratic nonsense and their associated call centres are always a killer.

With all that in mind I think I’ve been relatively good over the last few weeks. Not as good – I might add – as my, virtually horizontal, other half but, for me, not too bad. It’s all gone to pot now however as I suffered two quite ridiculous freak-outs in the last 3 days.

#1 occurred at 12.30am Friday night / Saturday morning. Arriving home at 10pm full of the joys of the forthcoming weekend I, in a devil-may-care mood, insisted that we watch an episode of Fawlty Towers, ‘to relax and have a laugh’, before embarking on our pre-arranged paperwork party. While I did this with the best of intentions, I did not envisage the amount of forms I had to fill in to sell my flat (the deeds – where the hell are the deeds?).

After spending 90 minutes filling in 4 very thick forms I encountered an unexpected fifth which, while it sounds ridiculous, sent me over the edge “I can’t fill in another form” I wailed as I sat at my desk…. “There are just so many, it’s ridiculous”. Tiredness turned to self-pity, turned to a full-on strop as I railed against the legal processes that meant that I couldn’t sell my flat in 10 minutes or less.

Learning #1: when filling in paperwork start early, be prepared for it to take a while, and try not to drown in self-pity, after all, I’m not the first person to sell a flat and I won’t be the last.

#2 took place about 4 hours ago when my long-suffering estate agent phoned up with the good news that someone had made an offer on my flat. Not just any offer either, they offered what I was hoping for. Add to that they’re not in a chain, not bound to a long-term rental agreement, and have their mortgage offer, I should have been over the moon.

Ha. Not likely. Instead I used it as an excuse to berate my estate agent for being too pushy, phone up my long-suffering partner to rant about said estate agent; and generally not only look the gift horse in the mouth but count its teeth and fillings while I was there.

Learning #2: Employ a brain to mouth filter when speaking to estate agents, and check levels of insanity before picking up the phone to anyone else.

I’m hoping we’re done for a while, I’m hoping that I’ve taken those learnings on board. After all, it’s not going to get any easier over the next few months and I can’t be freaking out every time I have to fill in a form, or every time I feel the fear.

It’s at times like this that I’m very glad there’s two of us in this, and one of them isn’t prone to behaving either like a child in a sweet shop or Gordon Ramsay in a dirty kitchen.

Full steam ahead

In The beginning on July 7, 2010 at 6:05 pm

I don’t think I quite believe we’re actually doing this.

I’m planning awards we’re going to win while my more realistic other half is thinking about escalating interest rates, I’m mind-mapping additional services when I should be thinking about selling my flat, and I’m planning long walks on the beach with a dog we don’t have, before writing emails to solicitors who we’ve instructed to represent us.

Focusing on the stuff that’s miles ahead is safe, it assumes a certain amount of ‘rose coloured glasses’ thinking, it also means I can put off doing what needs to be done right now, more importantly, it assumes that the business is already a success without any of the hard work that goes into the basics.

If I’m thinking about cream teas I’m not having to think about the possibility of this failing, if I’m contemplating packed lunches for walkers I’m not considering an empty house in March, and if I’m dreaming of a dog (name: Jasper Penworthy) then I don’t have to fill in a load of Excel spreadsheets or think about a business plan. I am keeping reality a safe distance away (just how I like it).

Every few hours I start doing something practical and that’s when the fear hits me. That’s when I start worrying about public liability insurance, cooking breakfast that doesn’t send guests heading for the nearest bathroom, health and safety regulations, accounting, mortgage repayments, and just about everything else. The big picture is terrifying!

I really need to start living the ‘one step at a time’ theory, rather than just paying the sentiment lip service.

What’s the ‘next’ thing I have to do… and then do it. Then, and only then, do I allow myself the luxury of thinking about the next thing (and only the next thing). It’s quite hard planning for the future and living in the moment at the same time; and, just for a change, I’m struggling with that balance.

How do Buddhist retreats manage their business plans? And is that a book someone’s written, as I need to buy it.