How poor physical health can negatively affect your business

Nina Hendy
@ninahendy

Melbourne business man James Hanrahan had been healthy his whole life. But as his business started to take off, he took his eye off the ball.

“I was taking prospective clients out six or seven nights a week, and I was over-indulging in food and alcohol every time. It didn’t take long for it to catch up with me,” the 49 year old admitted.

While the business was thriving and turning over $15 million in 2009, his health took a nose-dive.

“The money was too good and I began partying hard, spending up big along the way. I was too busy partying and living the high life to focus on my business.

“I started drinking to cope with the stress and because I was beyond stressed, I started to withdraw from social invitations. I began hiding from the world. I wasn’t very motivated, and it was dragging my whole life down.”

The founder of the technology company says the lightbulb moment hit him aboard a plane bound for Sydney when he was unable to reach down to tie his shoelaces.He was struggling to get through the day, saying his energy was depleted.

“A few weeks later, I was attending a dress-up party and arrived as James Bond, and my waist band actually popped open.”

I started drinking to cope with the stress and because I was beyond stressed, I started to withdraw from social invitations.

Hanrahan was also suffering from chest pains, so he made an appointment with his doctor.

“He ran a few tests and told me that my cholesterol and blood pressure were both up, and I was borderline diabetic,” he says.

He knew he had to make some hard choices, so he began to make gradual changes to his diet and lifestyle. Soon enough, he started to see some physical and mental changes.

“It had become so easy and comfortable to become lazy, but once I started making changes, I became addicted to the natural high of feeling fit and healthy again.”

It had become so easy and comfortable to become lazy, but once I started making changes, I became addicted to the natural high of feeling fit and healthy again.

While he was partying, he hadn’t noticed that his business partner had been slowly draining the company accounts, siphoning millions over a two year period.

And while the business partner later served 18 months in jail for the theft, he left Hanrahan with a massive fine from the Australian Taxation Office. The theft ended up costing Hanrahan everything he owned, which at the time was around $2 million. It also cost him his business, with Paris Technology going into receivership.

The theft bought him to his knees. He wallowed in self-pity for six months before picking himself up and started to rebuild the business from scratch. That was four years ago.

Hanrahan clambered back, building a new technology company, Interlex Solutions, which has been profitable for the past 18 months. Turning over $12 million in 2014/15, he counts Oracle, Red Rooster and Fernwood among his many clients.

“I still take clients out for dinner, but I order sparkling mineral water these days, rather than ordering one or two bottles of wine and eating far too much food.”

He now runs a team of 38 staff and 500 contractors and says he keeps a close eye on the books these days.

“I learnt that the minute you start looking after your body and make fitness a priority in your life, the better off your business will be.

“Also [I learnt] that it’s the hard times that help you achieve success in the long run.”

Nina Hendy

Nina Hendy is an Australian freelance business journalist and wordsmith who writes for BBC Australia, BRW, sections of The Age, Sydney Morning Herald and affiliated mastheads, SmartCompany, Private Media and Edge titles.

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