Each week we’ll feature a business that’s endured an incredible challenge. Here, Amanda Foy recalls the destruction of her business at the hands of mother nature and how she managed to clear the mud and keep going.
Amanda Foy might as well be a walking advertisement for the importance of business insurance. When the Queensland floods hit the offices of her Foyster’s Communications Agency in Ipswich in January 2011, she lost everything.
“I started my business in October 2009 and moved into office space in November 2010 after a successful year. In January 2011, I had taken leave to go away with my family and was in northern New South Wales when I was given one hours’ notice to clear my office because the floodwaters were coming. Unfortunately I was three-and-a-half hours away and cut off, I had no way of getting back.”
Knowing that the water was coming but having no way to prevent its damage was devastating for Foy, who had no idea that this could even happen.
“My office was in a place that no one could identify was in a flood area because no one was around from 1974. It was only because of the quantity of the floodwater and the speed with which it rose that everything was left till the last minute.”
Her immediate reaction was one that you’d expect any business owner would feel once their life is washed away.
“I was in tears. 23 years of work history, industry papers, samples of my work, all of the time I’d spent fixing up my office to make it beautiful, client files, trinkets from my children, mementos from my days as a world traveller, photos, manuals, electrical equipment, computer programs- gone.”
While many people would give up, Foy kept up her spirits and managed to keep going.
“I am a very grounded person with the philosophy that things happen for a reason. As I said at the time, everything was lined up that I was not meant to be in Ipswich at the time, I was not meant to sift through my things, I was not meant to have any of the things that were destroyed because they were coated with mud laced with excrement from a sewage station not far from my building, so I REALLY wasn’t meant to keep anything. I had to just accept it, as I couldn’t change it.”
For the next six months, Foy didn’t charge her clients and had to access her personal funds to keep the business afloat.
“I had focussed my attention on supporting local businesses in getting onto social media, so therefore many of the businesses that were my clients were also hit either personally or physically at their business premises. Everyone went into ‘save money mode’ and I was not able to bill clients for six months.”
While no one had any money to pay her, Foy kept going and her tenacity paid off.
“Once everything calmed down and the city started to rebuild, the concept of social media became more appealing because it was a medium that was ‘free’, so I was contracted by a business group to hold seminars to help businesses understand what social media was and that got me going again. It really did force the region to understand and grasp the concept. Thanks Mother Nature! I could have gone outside of the city to get back up and running, but I fought to be heard about what I could offer because I knew it would help.”
Now, Foy’s business is back up and running at full speed, and she’s added a new service to her range of skills: coaching and mentoring businesses on how to communicate.
“Selling anything was just not what people needed to see or hear at that time, but teaching people how to buy from me as well as others was the biggest inroads I made and it paid off.”
Though hopefully other businesses won’t have to go through the same destruction that Foy did, she shares her tips on how to keep going when time’s get tough:
1. Ensure that your business is mobile and with the technology today, service providers have this ability without question.
2. Know that anything that shows up in your life you can handle, because if you couldn’t handle it, it wouldn’t be there. AKA: don’t give up.
3. Ask for help and accept it without fear, challenge or the attitude “I’m only one person, others are so much worse off than me.” You can only focus on yourself and help other’s where you can when you’ve put your oxygen mask on first.