This was my very first entry on the HSC blog and has been in draft form until I decided to tidy it up for publication ! Coming some 26 years since the beginning of HSC, it is another milestone in both my life and the history of the business.
I started my homeopathy course in 1982. I had a good job in local government but after ten years in that environment, the excitement of the world of homeopathy made the office unbearable. I vividly remember writing out my letter of resignation and thinking that I would keep it handy for when I was ready to become self-employed. The power of that action was amazing – it just felt totally right to resign then and there. So, with two children under 3, a wife, and a mortgage, I went on the dole for 18 months while I finished the course.
In January 1985, we were able to join the government’s Enterprise Allowance scheme that basically paid the same as the dole for one year while you started your own business. We had a very basic range of bottles, labels and tablets and a couple of storage cases. We had one thousand copies of a full colour A4 catalogue printed and we mailed them out to two or three hundred homeopaths and distributed the rest at The College of Homeopathy, conferences and seminars. The total sales for the first year’s trading was £11,413, and we made a loss of £1500. Turnover doubled the second year but now we were increasing our range of products and laying out thousands of pounds on stock. Three or four years passed by and we seemed to be on a never-ending treadmill of buying and selling and expanding but not having enough money to pay the gas bill. To put it in accountancy speak we were ‘undercapitalised’. It is said that ignorance is bliss and that has often been true for me – if you don’t know when something is impossible or at least very difficult, you just carry on focusing on the solution
The stress of worrying about how to pay the bills got to the point where we realised we had to find another way so I turned to the ideas I’d been introduced to by Robert Davidson. I owe a great debt to Robert; he was principal of The College of Homeopathy from 1978 to 1988 and he freely encouraged me to set up my table of wares to sell to the students. I attended a number of his extracurricular classes where I was introduced to ideas of prosperity consciousness, goal setting and the manifestation of wealth.
What I found in my file was a ‘Cost of living sheet’. It was simply a long list of all the expenditure items that we have in our lives – everything from the mortgage and food bills to the window-cleaner and the kid’s schools shoes. We simply filled in the amounts we were spending in our household on all the relevant items and then totalled them up to see what were spending over the course of a year. What the list also does is to make you put in allowances for a holiday and savings and a percentage for income tax. We ended up with a total that was precisely twice the amount we were paying ourselves. No wonder we’d found ourselves robbing Peter to pay Paul every month. So we decided the business would have to pay us what we needed to run our lives and it would expand accordingly or we’d go bankrupt.
So what we’d done was to tell the universe what we needed but what we also did was to say we need an extra 10% to be able to give money to charity. When I had worked in local government, we’d had a covenant with the Charities Aid Foundation to which we donated 10% of my salary. The income tax on these contributions could then be recovered for charitable purposes. When I went on the dole there was no tax to recover and with our loss-making situation this had continued so the CAF account was no more.
I remember us filling out the cost of living sheet in the February and it then taking me until May to get the courage to actually set up all the standing orders to pay us our newly calculated salary together with the 10% to CAF. Well, here we are over 20 years later, living proof of the power of this process. The business just grew and grew and within a year or two we raised our personal salary further, again making provision to tithe the increase to charity.
For us, the word charity is about empowerment. It’s saying we are grateful for what we have received and we would like to empower and enable others to fulfil their lives. It’s recognition of the fact that the human race has survived through cooperation. It’s the age old understanding present within every major spiritual tradition of ‘doing unto others as you would have done unto you’.
I highly recommend new beginnings – if you have a dream then, in the words of Goethe, begin it now:
“Whatever you do, or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius and power and magic in it”