It was 1997. I was burned out from running business. Well, to be truthful, I was burned out from running the business I was in. I was still excited about business in general. Just not the one I’d been in for the past 4 years. So I quit. Kinda, sorta.
I began consulting small business. Full-time for the next 3 years, while continuing to work in the business that had burned me out. It’s not a very exciting story, trust me. But it was the start of Bula Network.
Bula Network didn’t begin as anything more than a network of enterprises all centered around business, predominately small business. I’ve never defined small business as low dollar, but rather as having a flat organization where decisions and actions can happen fast!
By 2000 I was back in the saddle at a full gallop, operating a multi-million dollar business. Coaching and consulting took a backseat. When you’re in charge of a rather large small business, there’s not much time for side projects. Certainly not very many of them any way.
Bula Network was pretty dormant until May, 2009. That’s when I walked away again – this time I knew it was for good. However, I continued to devote some part time energy to what had been my career for over 30 years. Running a business. One with employees. And inventory. And assets. Including brick and mortar.
Two years later, to the day, I said, “Good-bye.” It was May of 2011. Fourteen years after the idea of Bula Network was first hatched, and at long last, it appeared the little land of Bula was ready to leave the nest of part-time, on-again/off-again and fly. Solo. I was beyond ready.
Years of coaching and consulting small business. Years of operating small business. Millions of dollars in revenue and profits were in my rear-view mirror. A career that had begun back in the early 1970’s was winding down because I hadn’t felt fully challenged for years. Folks claim that once a person has spent 20 years or so doing the same thing – or basically the same thing – then burnout or boredom, or both set in. For me, I’d been managing and marketing businesses for over 35 years. Business didn’t bore me, but the specific businesses did.
I began podcasting as I continued to coach and consult business – mostly aiming myself at solopreneurs because I knew many of them and knew they didn’t have the luxury of my background and experience. Besides, I enjoyed working with people one-on-one. And diving into other people’s business was second nature for me. Yes, I still do it, but I’ve rarely advertised it, never marketed it and just sort of let things happen organically.
I’ve jokingly said for years that, “I’m just a man in search of an epiphany.” It’s part joke, but entirely true.
Around the beginning of 2011 I had an epiphany. It wasn’t some blindly light of the obvious. It was just a small, faint nudging. Podcasting, blogging and online video was invigorating. Well, okay, blogging wasn’t so invigorating – not always. But new media was exciting because like millions of others I knew everybody had the ability and opportunity to become a publisher or broadcaster.
My first web presence had happened with a static HTML website that I created using a WYSIWYG editor. Along the way I learned a bit of HTML and other little nuances of a brand new world wide web. Technology was making things so much easier and affordable. What’s not to love?
New media. Podcasting. Video. Blogging. Social media. It was all pretty exciting for a guy who started a sales career selling hi-fi stereo – and that included high quality turntables. No, not the kind that sit inside your microwave oven. The kind that used to spin at 33-1/3 RPM and play vinyl records. LP’s. Albums. Back when “cover art” meant a colorful, artful cardboard sleeve for record albums, not the artwork you submit to the iTunes directory for your podcast.
I’m also old enough to remember when long distance phone calls were cheaper after 11PM. And when the only mail we could send required an envelope and a stamp. And when gasoline was less than 20 cents a gallon. And it contained lead.
So, around January of 2011, at the age of 53 I decided it was past time for me to get fully underway with my second career. Like Monty Python, I decided to say, “And now for something completely different.”
Bula is a Fiji term that is analogous to “aloha” in Hawaiian. It means both “hello” and “good-bye.” It really means life and carries with it the idea that “life is good.” No, I’m not from Fiji – in fact, I’ve never been there – but I ran across the term over 30 years ago and began to use the term as a memo greeting at work.
Now, the “Network” part of the name does refer to Internet broadcasting and publishing. It means podcasting, online video production, blogging and all the other ways people can effectively communicate. That’s the rub – communication. Effective communication.
Bula Network is going to finish as a new media company.
Yes, I’m maintaining a little consulting practice devoted to helping a handful of business owners each year, but the landscape around here is going to be different than the past. It started out as one thing. It’ll finish as something completely different.
Listen to the podcasts. Watch some video. Read a blog or two. Draw your own conclusions. Much of the content is aimed toward business and personal development. You’re going to see that morph and change. I’m still a business guy, but like you – I’m defined by more than one role. As Marci Alboher (@HeyMarci on Twitter) writes, “With technology giving us the ability to work from anywhere and nine-to-five grind becoming a thing of the past, more and more people are building careers filled with slashes.” I’m just adding more slashes onto the end of my name. You oughta try it!