How to Survive Business Challenges…

Closing a business in 1992 was the scariest thing I’ve done in my life.

We business owners balance two key roles. Most of us don’t balance them well.

  • The first role is to find income. We South Africans take that seriously because we have no support net. Hunger is awfully motivating…
  • The second role is as parent and partner, our responsibilities to our families.

We focus on income because it seems more urgent. In the harsh light of hindsight it wasn’t nearly as important as I thought. My life experience would have been a lot better making somewhat less money, while investing the hours saved in just “being” at home. Hindsight is perfect vision, of course, and I like to believe that I’ve got some of that right since then. I will write about it again in 2026 🙂

We South Africans grow up knowing that we are masters of our own destiny. However, there is a caveat to that. Sometimes the road to that destiny grows potholes. I closed my business during a pothole blizzard, the period before 1994 leading up to the country’s first democratic elections before.

We are enduring another such shift now. It’s not just the South African environment. The entire world is changing.

So, if there is writing on your wall, if you’re finding times are tougher than they’ve ever been before, if you are losing sleep over where your business is going, and where your money will come from, then you are in great company.

There are some challenges that we each face that are much better faced with some guidance and planning.

I really felt this as I faced closure in 1992 with no guidance and even less planning. My accountant offered no useful advice. I couldn’t speak to my bank because they were my main creditor. I couldn’t speak to any of my other creditors because they would take instant action to protect themselves. I couldn’t speak to my family because, well, I was ashamed. And I could not find a lawyer who could tell me what might happen during the process, and how to handle the fallout.

The next two years were the loneliest of my life.

It took ten years to realise how many other businesses closed during that time. When facing business closure, there are three periods that we should prepare for:

  • Firstly, there is the period before closing the door finally. No matter how much time there is, whether it’s one month or six months or a year, there is much we can do to protect ourselves and our families from the fallout, without hurting our creditors and clients.
  • Secondly, there is the date of closing. This is the short period during which the business closes formally, and the few weeks following. This is the transition from high status, self-employed, master of the business universe to status-free haunted shadow.
  • Thirdly, there is the rest of our lives, starting immediately. This starts with the urgent replacement of our previous income, while running a defensive battle against ourselves and our ex-business’s creditors,

Closing that business was worse than getting divorced, and that was pretty darn bad. At least, when getting divorced, there is understanding and support from friends and family. But when closing a business there is almost no support. It’s like falling into a bottomless pit.

When closing a business the SA legal regime punishes the entrepreneur. Unlike the United States with its friendly approach designed to rehabilitate people as quickly as possible because of all the experience they’ve acquired, South Africa still wants to punish the culprit.

Not only do we lose our old income stream, but we are stopped from setting up a new income stream. I have spent the 21 years since my first CrashProof your Business seminar helping folk prosper through business closure. I have updated the strategies to reflect new opportunities that make post-closure success both certain and fast.

If you’re interested , please send me your story at

If there is enough interest I will set up a workshop showing how easy it is to survive closure, despite crushing debts, judgments, and garnishee orders, and anything else the universe can hurl at us…

Want More Robust Internet Access? At Home, Office and Travelling?

Note: Article Updated October 17, 2016 to reflect:

  • Speedify v4 updates, faster, more servers, and an easier interface,
  • and the bit I forgot, about seeing stuff you can’t normally see in your home country…

Here’s a typical SA cry for help regarding Internet access, especially when you teach people how to build online businesses as I do at Earnster.Ninja:

“We have no internet or phone lines. Telkom is on strike, and some of their technicians are sabotaging local exchanges. As a result, our whole area is out, and has been for a week or so. The neighbouring areas have been out for a fortnight and a month, respectively. (You can imagine the impact on businesses, who can’t be reached now!).”

“To make matters worse, at our house 3G is spotty when it works, which is rarely, and cell reception has gone down too.”

Erratic is the new SA Internet Access normal. A tourist faces a world-of-pain worse.

I’ve tried a bunch of different hardware solutions, the most recent costing $500 for the kit and $200 monthly for the service behind it.

Now you can get robust consistent Internet access if you need it without any costly networking hardware.

Let me explain.

  1. Firstly, you may know that you can connect your PC to multiple wireless connections simultaneously? Just add more USB doodads like this, one for each concurrent wireless session.

  2. Secondly, you can use more than one USB 3G/4G/LTE dongle to access mobile data using a gizmo like this. I’ve been doing this for a while.

  3. Thirdly, you can connect your PC to as many Ethernet cables as you want using an adapter like this.

  4. Finally, you can use as many of these in any combination you want. If you don’t have enough USB ports get a device for that too.

In other words, your PC can easily connect to the web via as many devices as you can afford. Although, if you need more connections than your PC has USB ports, then it may be cheaper to move house.

The Problem: Your PC Operating System will normally only use one connection at a time. When that connection breaks you will fall off the web. Your IP address will change and whatever you were doing will seize up until one of the other connections kicks in.

Wouldn’t it be great if your PC automatically used all your connections at the same time, sharing the load between them, keeping your phone call or banking session up and running without you even noticing?

That’s how I solve my Internet access problem now.

2016-10-17_17-04-096Speedify1 is free software which makes my Internet access faster and more robust by combining as many devices as I can connect to the web.

At home, for instance, I have:

  • my fast cable connection,
  • my 4G (LTE) hub with cable connection,
  • my iPhone via its USB charging cable,
  • Mrs Carruthers’ iPhone via wireless.

This free Internet Access software ties them all into one faster, more robust, secure connection.

It’s faster because the software balances the traffic across all my connections, sending less data through each.

It’s more robust because the loss of any connection won’t alter my IP address. I won’t fall off secure sites I am logged into. This is critical when I am presenting live webinars to hundreds of people.

My web connection is more secure because the software encrypts the traffic. No more worrying about eavesdroppers at public wireless access points.

Speedify works on Mac and Windows computers, as well as mobiles and tablets. Click here to check it out.

If you’re barely surviving poor Internet access, just adding a dongle or using your smartphone for extra access ensures faster and more robust access.

My Internet access as I travel is now a pleasure. I connect to the hotel wifi, add my USB LTE dongle and my iPhone. Any one of them might be rubbish in that location, but in concert they work like a dream.

I have been working like this for about 6 months. It’s been Internet heaven.

2016-10-17_17-13-51There is another advantage which I hesitate to shout too loud about. The picture alongside shows a few of the many servers you can connect to. Linking to the United Kingdom server, for instance, means that you look like you live there, and this gives you access to whatever the locals see. Their version of Google, or BBC, or anything else is very different than that seen from South Africa.

Speedify gives you 1GB free traffic each month.

If you need more bandwidth then upgrade to a monthly or annual plan. I noticed as I wrote this that they’re offering a 75% cut on their normal annual pricing. You get a year of unlimited bandwidth for $49.97. This is option I chose when I joined earlier this year. I use it very hard.

If consistent web access is important for you then this solution is worth gold. Test the free service first to confirm that it works for you before buying…

Click here to check it out.

Finally, if you actually buy from Speedify, as opposed to using their free service, I receive a small commission for researching this solution, testing it with the extra doodads and gizmos, and writing this article for you. If this commission offends you then Google will find their site easily.

The Zen of Listening…

We South Africans speak more than we listen.

We hear your story as background noise while compiling our own tale of bigger tribulation to trump yours. Often our story bears little relationship to yours.

The best we can offer someone is time. Time to think. Time to grieve. Time to dream. Time to speak. Time to share. Without interruption. Without judgement.

I notice this in Norway. Norwegians tend to listen. Or at least, offer a superb facsimile of listening. When they respond it’s almost never with their own story. Rather it’s with a sympathetic grunt. And then they sit next to you in companionable silence. Thinking about how best to continue the discussion. Or maybe, just about fishing. But that silence is worth infinitely more than their suggestion on how to solve a problem that often is not solvable, as most issues of the heart are.

I talk a lot. It’s the nature of my business. When you’re on stage people are paying to listen to you. There’s not much time to listen to them.

That makes it difficult when talking to somebody on the phone, for instance, because they too pay me for my time. In theory, that means I should deliver answers. Talk, in other words.

Not so. More than anything else they pay for the questions I ask and the time I invest in listening carefully to their answers. The more I talk, the less effective the results. The more I listen, the more effective. And the nicer for the person on the other side.

Zen of Listening bu rebecca ShafirOne of my favourite books is “The Zen of Listening”. It’s written by Rebecca Shafir. My paperback copy is falling apart. I bought it in 2000, and it’s one of the few physical books I have left from the 40 boxes of books I travelled with for a few years.

Until Mrs Carruthers suggested that her 12 suitcases of clothes, dating back to her 12th birthday, needed priority. By then the Kindle app had arrived and I transferred the important books to my iPad.

This book offers a wealth of solid guidance on how to listen to understand rather than just hearing the words. Great advice for anyone in selling, as well.

We South Africans listen just to offer perspective, advice, and insight. Not because we want to hear our children, or our friends, or even our parents. With our parents it may just be revenge for them never listening to us.

Bottom line, in an age where we do not have enough time for ourselves, giving somebody the gift of our time, just listening to their story or the complaint or whatever they want to say, paying attention to their mood, their feelings, the words they use, their pain, is a rare gift.

And listening without trying to trump their story with our own? Priceless.