What To Do When You’re At Your Lowest

Entrepreneurship isn’t always fun and profits (i wish). Sometimes, you’d hit a low or hard time, where you’re blamed for something that you didn’t do and cannot fix. Here’s 2 personal tips i learnt that kept me sane and pushing to breakthrough.

I’ve been an entrepreneur since 2008 and I am fortunate to only have had a handful of brutal business experiences that really hurt.

One particular event that was really hard, with 2 different parties that went out of their way to spread lies and hurt us professionally and personally. At the same time.

Those kind of blows, I feel that we entrepreneurs can take without batting eyelids (is it just me???) but what really stung was when our work friends and colleagues cutting contact and disappearing on us.

Messages were slowly replied and gradually no replies – we were ghosted.

One of them even said to my face they dont want the hassle to be associated with us and the challenges i was going through.

Lol i didnt even ask them for money….sigggggggggh.

M, those words really hurt.

When we help them make money, it’s all fine and dandy, but at the first hint of trouble, they’re gone. Poof.

Really convenient peeps.

These are the same people who i know and even their kids as we had group celebrations and events. It felt like the relationship i thought we had, was all a lie.

I can take lies and blows and cheap shots, but boy, that “looking away and cutting contact” thing? Stings.

Anyway, as promised, if you’re at a bad place right now in your business and you’re getting blamed for shit you didnt do, here are the 2 personal lessons i learnt:

  1. Capitulate and dont waste time arguing.

    I decided to ignore sunk costs, what the lies are and who said what shit – i just put my blinders on and set out to work and get back on track (or keep going). Plus, be aware that some people are liars and some like drama so im not going to feed that or waste time that i can use getting back on track.

  2. Reframe negative events.

    I was sad and frustrated and yes, i did cry a few times, but eventually realized that starting over wasnt bad – i had the experience, the skillset, the knowhow, and i get to do over without clowns this time. Not a bad reframe.



If you enjoyed this, watch the video with more 3 more personal lessons from breaking through my lowest moments in business.

Focus On Fixing The Problem Or Process, Not Blaming The Person

Since 2010, i mandated a ‘blame & fix processes only’ (ie dont blame people for mistakes) and this has helped improve productivity and revenue. I think its because it made people feel safe(r) to learn from mistakes and spend more time on actual business activities. Here’s what i learnt.

I have an employee who is so fearful whenever she makes a mistakethat she would either avoid answering or try to cover it up. I would ask her “what happened here?” or “this doesnt add up” whenever she lies to cover her tracks

and the funny thing is, the more she is fearful about making mistakes, the more mistakes she makes because she’s trying to avoid mistakes.

In fact, it took me more than 30-40 conversations with me telling her im okay with mistakes, just fix the process and the issues. Finally one day, the breakthrough came.

She started to realize that I am NOT baiting her or putting traps out to catch…and after a few weeks, when we found an error, she told “sorry i missed it”

And i said, okay, just fix it and we’ll look at the processes to help improve productivity and prevent errors

She was surprised when i said and did that.

I reassured her that i mean what i say, and say what i mean. She shared that in her previous employments, she had been terribly terribly scolded. So that’s why she tries to avoid and hide it now. Basically she is saying “she’s afraid of making mistakes” and it’s very clear to me.

i totally get it, i’ve seen such environments before and it’s not a productive working environment because people are spending energy, effort and time to NOT make mistakes and when they make mistakes they’re spending more time to hide it or throw someone else under the business who will then defend themselves

Do you see this ridiculous waste of time?

If you ever catch yourself or someone doing this, be direct with them and own your mistakes. Learn from them and move on.

Owning a mistake takes less than a minute, which you can then go on to do more productive things, rather than worry and be fearful.

Thats why i prefer to focus on fixing the processes, and creating a process-driven culture, when the process is right, the outcomes will be right.


Bonus story: this can be applied to any goals you want too, rather than work mistakes

An example, i personally know people who said that THEY are not rich because their parents didnt save money, invest or have a business.

So i know these people want to be rich. Funny thing is that i dont see them going out to learn how to earn more or invest more – the last 10 years i know them, they’re still going on how their parents didnt leave a lump sum of money for them…

Fix the process.

With this example, if one wants to have more money, then you have to study how to have more money. It may include learning a new high paying skill, starting a business, investing etc etc

How to stand out from your competition in your industry

We decided to only serve clients based on what we do well. Clients who wanted something we cant do, we refer them out (even to competitors) because it’s just good for clients. Surprisingly, “rejected” clients loved this and started to refer more people to us. It’s simple but it works well for us:

There are many people in my industry or in any industries who talk relationships but frankly it’s really bullshit – many of them just want to make your sale, make the transaction and move on – they pretend that they care about you and the relationship when the reality is that all they want is the sale and its done

A personal story that happened to me, in physical therapy, so we serve orthopedic surgeons. There was a particular surgeon who was engaged by a prior therapist who was with us and who had left.

So there was this surgeon texted me and he was very nice, very charming, courteous saying that he had sent me a number of clients and he expects “some love back” if not he wont refer anymore.

I thanked him and told him that all his patients are served with good care and that we will do our best to send him, we have placed his profile on our website so that he can get more leads, but most of our cases are actually referred in by other orthopedic doctors and we cant send those to him

He stopped referring, and frankly I was happy to not work with him anymore

You see he contacted me

  • not because he cared about me
  • not because he cared us
  • not because he cared the patients of his we that served well
  • not because he cared or the business or the relationship

That wasnt important at all to him – I realized we were just a number on his spreadsheet, and it’s not a good thing. Clients and patients aren’t just numbers on spreadsheet, they’re people i care about a lot, and hence the philosophy has diverged a lot between mine and his.

If you actually care about building relationship then actually build relationships.

I remember when i first started out in private practice, it was important for me to be honest and consistent so when clients (both doctors and patients) came up to me and tell me they wanted me to do these A, B, C, D and E.

I would tell them I’ll do A and B as I am good with those, proficient in C but for D and E I’m not good at all they should see so-and-so for that who’s really good with that and I’ll be happy to partner with them.

This is a standard practice – we turn away and refer clients who dont need our services to people who can serve them better, even if they are our competitors.

The reason is because it’s the honest truth plus it’s good for the clients.

I dont want to hoard patients just so i can make money from them especially when i’m not proficient in what they need – my clients are people who trust me and im not going to betray their trust.

This philosophy has revolutionalized my life and my business.

It made clients want to do business with me and my brands even more. I think my clients like my approach because they dont have to second guess with me, I’m not posturing or inflating myself. They know what i was good at and what i can deliver.

Honesty just makes work and life so much easier and frictionless.

And we’ve all had that experience – where you wanna hire someone and they go “eh i’m not good with that, i’m good with this, here, you contact this person for what you need”

Let me share with you personal story – it happened to me recently, i’m looking for a place to rent because we need to move nearer to a school to get my son into the primary / junior school there.

And we have someone we know as a friend, who’s a real estate agent and we asked her to help us search for one that suits our needs and price. She said okay, and set out to search and will give us updates regularly.

A couple days later, she told me, Nigel, i give you a few contacts, and you contact the agents directly. Seems as though the market is hot and the landlord’s agent dont want to share with me.

What she is saying is that she is willing to forgo her commission but will continue help us look for a property to rent that suits our needs and budget.

What do you think that made me feel?

I feel that i can trust her even more to watch out for my interest, and all i want to do is for her to work with me and help me sort out my other property to rent out or to sell.

I know that she’s looking out for me.

And that’s what builds a relationship. Honesty and sincerity.

You know, honesty is such a hard thing to get especially in a transactional or numbers business. It’s so easy for people to just become a number in the spreadsheet.

And when you actually find an honest business, all you want to do is to help them build their business even though you may never work with them directly.

A lot of business owners who are short termed cant get this because it seems that honesty may seem to slow down your business in the short term, but if you are willing to be patient and consistent, you will build a raving fan base who love you and would refer their friends and family to you

They trust because you are honest first.

What to do when you feel like you want to give up

When my 3rd landlord played me of rental contract AFTER i built my clients, I was frustrated, tired and ready to quit. Fuck, I even cried myself to sleep. I refused to give up, restarted for the 4th time in 2011, and it finally worked. 6-figures, then 7 then acquired. Here’s a tip on not giving up.

The quick scoop on bad landlord experiences during my early start up days:

  • Landlord 1 (2009): didnt tell us they had termite infestation. found out termite activity AFTER renovation and business launched, with clients. Had to close shop because it was risky for us (2nd floor that was wooden was starting to SINK) and clients. Lost most of what little life savings we had there.

  • Landlord 2 (2010): joined a group practice where CEO brought us in with and promised to help with marketing and group support. Fuck, his team didnt support us at all. We did all our own sales and marketing, billing and even had to hire our own receptionist at our own expense. To make it worse, the fucking finance gave us a lot of grief by withholding the revenue we generated by our own sales and marketing for at least 3+ months every month…on top of paying them rent out of our pocket. Basket.

  • Landlord 3 (2011): a surgeon who rented me a space where i built a client load and kept delaying the contract. I thought because landlord was a respected surgeon there may not be funny business, but boy was i so wrong. he kicked me out because he found someone willing to pay more so i had a weekend to move out. A WEEKEND.

I usually tell my family that i dont have to go to cinemas to watch movies or watch drama shows on cable/netflix because my life has so much real life excitement already anyway lol

Today I will be sharing with you on what to do when you feel like giving up and some of the things that i’ve learnt when ive gone through a lot of ups and downs in my business to get to where i am today

  1. Problems are everywhere and they’re really opportunities
  2. 99% of problems are solvable
  3. Learning Points
    • choosing the right important problems to solve
    • breaking through process as important as selected problems to breakthrough
    • breakthroughs never in a straight line
    • open to change methods
    • stay on track to the vision

Our lives will always have problems and to me problems mean that they’re actually opportunities to learn and earn

As an entrepreneur and leader, I solve many problems big and small:

  • competition
  • sales and marketing
  • operational issues
  • human resource where this person is unhappy etc
  • sabotage internally
  • i’ve workers who wants to earn more
  • i’ve clients who wants a problem and pain to be solved

Every single day.

And usually, the more difficult the problem, the higher value it usually is (eg $10 problems = $10 results; $1M problems = $1M income)

And because we all have limited time and energy, we have to choose which problems are the problems that’s most important first (choose higher value ones > less value ones)

This video is what i do with critical problems that are important and are potentially life-changing (good or bad). Critical problems are usually difficult, intense and can be prolonged – they’re not like “what we’re gonna have for dinner” kind of problems – I’m talking about problems that may change your life in a bad way if it’s not solved.

I’ve had so many of such problems and challenges in my life and career.

They can be brutal, and ive many moments where i just feel like giving up.

I know that no one will come to save me or help me, and that it seems like no matter what i do and ive done everything and nothing’s working…thats when i really really feel like quitting.

99% of problems are solvable

Let me share a quick personal story:

I started my physical therapy business in 2008 in as a foreigner, I had no friends, no family no network here that I could ask for help to get referrals, leads or sales or anything. My mum screamed at me to beg for my job back from a toxic environment. I had literally no support, other than my fiance who encouraged me. I had nothing, had bills to pay, but i started my entrepreneurship journey. Had so much challenges and people who cheated us, but we persisted, we pivoted, we learnt and applied and got better and better.

Made all the mistakes in the book but I remember starting my first business with $65 dollars to register my business, hustled to 7-figure acquisition and then some.

  • No network? Sure, I go network. I knock on doors, get rejected, do it again.
  • Don’t know how to run a business? Sure, i buy books and go for courses.
  • Don’t know how to get sales and leads? Okay, I go for course offline, buy books and test.
  • Do this for every problem that i come across.

Looking back, that’s how i come to conclude that 99% of all problems and goals are solvable.

Choose the right important problems to solve

Not all problems are equally important or valuable, you’ve got to decide which problems are important and do those first – this is very important.

If you choose the wrong problems in the first place, no matter how much effort, it’s not going to be that worth it.

An example, if you choose a career that will only pay you $10K/year and you want to earn $50K…the problem is already there.
If you want to build and grow a good business with good clients, then you got to say no to bad clients.

Choose the problems that bring you closer to your goals.

See it for what it is, and determine if this problem is it even worth your time and effort or not.

Breaking through process as important as selected problems to breakthrough

Usually when i am going through these painful and difficult moments, i only see and feel the problem, because it’s so overwhelming at times, until i breakthrough

But later when i look back, i realize that those are very powerful defining moments of learning and growth.

If you play role playing games, it’s kinda like leveling up – these leveling up moments define who you are and who you become.

These moments shape your character, and in a way, these moments determine your success.

Pushing through these difficult learning moments will train you to be persistent, determined, and the best word is developing tenacity and grit

These cannot be taught or found in a classroom or books.

This is a very important process that will be very valuable as an entrepreneur, character and leader

Breakthroughs never in a straight line + be open to change methods

“Nigel, ive done everything to overcome and solve this problem”

When i get told this, i usually will stop and ask them, have you really tried everything?

  • have you talked to enough people?
  • have you read all the books and blogs on this topic?
  • have you hired people to help you?
  • have you seeked mentoring?
  • have you seeked help?
  • Have you done everything you possibly could?
  • Have you taken all the actions you possibly could?

I’ll bet that no, not yet.

I know that if you have, you would have solved the problem and gotten the results you wanted.

It’s never an issue of lack of resources…it’s a matter of lack of resourcefulness.

  • sometimes it’s because we have been one track mind inside the box, and we need to think outside the box
  • most of the time, it’s because we got burnt out or weary, which usually happens within the last mile of the success, days from success.

It’s only when we persist and push through the problems that we can enjoy the breakthrough – that’s why it’s called a break-through. You break through the block and the problem right in front of you.

Sometimes the solution comes instantly, but for new or large problems, you need to take time to chip away at it.

Dont quit on your your goals, dreams and hopes.

But you can quit the methods. You can pivot the approach and change the process.

If this dont work, sure, try this.
If that dont work, okay, try that.
If that dont work, then why not that.
Repeat until you get to where you want to.

Stay on track to the vision

As i shared, everything is figureoutable. 99% of problems are solvable.

Success and results are never a straight line, there is a lots of zig-zags, up-downs, sometimes go round and round.

It’s never as simple as achieving success by going from point A to point B – if that’s the case, everyone will be successful.

But you know that not everyone will be successful, usually because they give up too early and or didnt have the tenacity to push through problems that stare at them in the face.

Choose to solve problems that bring you closer to your goals and dreams, and as long as you’re getting closer, you’re on track.

  • Dont give up when you have to zig and zag.
  • Dont give up through the downtimes.
  • Dont give up when you find yourself going in circles or blocked.

Remember, as long as you’re getting closer to where you want to be, you’re right on track.

You’re learning, applying, growing. You’re on track.

As long as you dont quit on your goals and you keep at it, you will get there.

What Drives You: How To Quickly Find Your Why

Imagine this – compare a person who starts a business to earn as much money as possible as compared to another person, who starts a business to create jobs that people love

How do you think the businesses will be different?

Another example, imagine someone who want to run a marathon, because they feel like it. Compared to another person who wants to run a marathon to bring awareness or raise funds to abolish a disease.

Can you see the difference?

Knowing your why is one of the most powerful things you can have.

Eastern philosophy shared that there are 3 powers:

  1. the sword (weapons, businesses, military strength),
  2. the jewel (which represents money and wealth)
  3. and the last was the mirror, which represents wisdom, insight and self knowledge

Of these 3, I believe the mirror is the most powerful. Because with wisdom, insight and self knowledge, I can trust myself. I can trust myself to learn, to progress, build businesses or secure jobs and earn more.

Conversely, without wisdom, insight or self awareness, i will be doomed to be controlled by money or power or fear or feelings.

A person with awareness of his or her mission will always be stronger than a person who doesnt have awareness of their mission.

Their whys get them up in the mornings, keep them going with meaning, hope and purpose and even keeps them up at night.

Today i’ve a quick sharing on how to quickly discover your purpose.

insights to have, it’s the sole reason and purpose that

  • gets you out of bed in the morning
  • keeps you up at night
  • keeps you going and having fun

Do not do this exercise with your family or spouse or kids – anyone that is too close with you.

Choose your few good and close friends, especially those you can call at 3 in the morning and you can trust them to answer the call.

And likewise those who you will answer their calls at 3 am. Schedule a call, or better still, a meetup (or over a couple of meetups) and you’re gonna make them very uncomfortable by asking them repeatedly:

  • What is it about me that makes you like me?
  • That makes you want to be there for me no matter what?

Don’t help or prompt them at all.

They will start by describing you, saying general stuff like you’re smart / funny / honest / you’ve been there for me / we know each other so long etc etc

Everytime they describe you generally, you’re to say – everyone does that, and re-ask the question: “What is it about me, that you like to hang out with me or be there for me no matter what?”

This cycle will continue and you dont prompt or help them at all – be patient and wait, and repeat.

What are you waiting or looking out for?

Eventually they will stop describing you, and they will stop to really pause and think, digging deep down.

They will start to describe themselves and what they feel when they’re with you. They will describe the value you put into their lives, and this will resonate with you emotionally, spiritually and mentally

You’d either get goosebumps, or you may tear and cry, or both.

This is the roughly the space and the range of where your why is. Once you do this with multiple friends, they will likely say similar things or exact same things. The more you do stuff that’s related to your why, the happier you’d get.

Your why is always consistent, and that’s the short exercise you can do over the next couple of weeks.

Let me know your results and your whys – i’d love to hear from you.