How going broke changed my perspective

Adam E. Badenhorst
4 min readApr 2, 2018

I was quite wealthy at one point. I had an opportunity to buy whatever I wanted and when I wanted. Price tags were not a consideration for me. There was a certain level of esteem that I had. Imagine not having the reason to check. Well, all of that went down the tubes. That sudden changed beat me down, made me angry, but it also inspired me to be hungry for more and approach business in a new way.

My downfall

The 2008 financial crisis hit. Down went everything as I knew it. Literally everything. I saw what I had virtually disappear in the space of 48 hours. It was horrendous and I had a breakdown.

Now I had to consider everything I was doing. I had to be careful and rely on my parents. Mind you I was 18 at the time. And yes, it was my money. I found myself in a pickle. I was going to university with no money and relocating to another country.

The changed path

I faced the prospect that I would have to work as there was no lending from my parents. I didn’t have credit in other countries. Fortunately, I was staying in a residence that was at the university. I didn’t know how I was going to get to the airport on the other side or what I was going to do. It was kind of like survival, but not really since family was around.

I managed to get through university and started that job. Some changes took place in between that are for another day. They had a profound impact on me too. Ultimately, I’d found the job, and took it. I didn’t want to do it, but I did. I took myself into the corporate environment and I don’t like it at all. However, I knew that it was only the way I can survive and pay my bills. After all, I could rely on my parents.

Today, I am still in the corporate environment. I have a side-hustle that I am working on to start building my business again. I am working on the side-hustle as a means to support myself, my family, leave corporate, and bridge to bigger opportunities. Right now, it’s very small. You have to start somewhere to go some place.

One step at a time with one foot forward.

Out of that came a few lessons learned.

Lessons learned

Truth be told, I never recovered the money. I was broken that I couldn’t buy whatever I wanted and when. I also was hanging out with the people I used to hang out with — I couldn’t afford it. Now, here’s what I learned:

  1. Money really doesn’t make you happy
  2. There is much more to life than money
  3. Being broke is ok
  4. Being broke means I live day to day with no guarantee
  5. I have to be humble
  6. I can build my wealth again from ground zero
  7. Being in business means I have to be humble and build a community
  8. Billionaire mindset
  9. Patience wins and trumps all

Those are 9 lessons that have shaped my new approach to business. Even with that approach, I haven’t been able to build my wealth to exceed 7 figures. In fact, I am not even exceeding 5 figures at this point in time.

I had to go through the cycle of anger and depression to understand that this is my new life. Some would say I was spoiled, but I wasn’t. I was accustomed to having the luxuries of life readily available at my disposal whenever I desired. Isn’t there that old saying, “you never knew what you had until it’s gone”?

The cycle is also a journey. The journey you embark on takes you on a path that can lead to a lot of trials and tribulations. How you manage them depends on you. The lessons learned that I took came from how I managed them knowing that one day I will get to the top and shine again.

Finding that light means you can see it through and build yourself up.

Now these lessons are quite personal. I needed that personal connection to understand how I should approach business. For example, I need the billionaire mindset to growth hack and work my way to the top. Essentially, this is the crux of it all:

You can be as wealthy as you like, but only if you’re patient, humble, and build a community.

Final thoughts

Do you know what’s the best part? It’s absolutely fine — I am blessed with a family and the opportunity to have met some great people. And, I can start to build my wealth again. It’s a matter of when I am ready to do it and to go on that journey.

Of course, you have to do all of those other things they teach you in business school, but patience, humility, and building a community they don’t teach you. That is what you learn from experience sometimes the hard way.

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Adam E. Badenhorst

Enterpreneur. IT & Heritage Consultant disrupting industries. AI, blockchain, SaaS, ERP.