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  • Been working on a dream for almost 20 years. Have made so much progress but I’m so burnt out. Need a change of strategy before I break.

    updated 4 months, 2 weeks ago 0 Member · 1 Post
  • Jessica

    July 13, 2022 at 5:48 pm

    Hey guys. I’m using a throwaway and keeping details kind of vague as I’m not ready for people in the real world to know how much I’m struggling right now. But I’m happy to open up a bit more in PM if anyone needs me to. I’m in my early 30s and I live in the UK. Since I was a little kid I’ve only ever had one dream or goal – starting my own wildlife conservation centre. I am really proud to say I have dedicated my entire life to reaching this goal, have pushed through unbelievable obstacles to get here, made huge sacrifices, and I’ve come further than I thought was possible. But for the past few years I’ve been totally stuck. I’ll share a very short version of my story to help you see where I’m at right now: I dropped out of school at around 17 to persue my dream. I was academically very smart but I hated school. It was not the right environment for me and I could not accept the narrative that we all have to follow the same path of going through standard education system if we wanted to be successful. So I took the risk and left, and immediately began building my dream. I started my own wildlife education company dedicated to teaching children about nature and conservation. I was very young but it worked so well, and soon I was booked all across the country giving presentations at hundreds of schools, youth groups and events every year. I’m really passionate about this work and love inspiring people to see the natural world in new ways. The funds generated through this allowed me to set up a wildlife and exotic animal sanctuary. I’d spent my whole childhood and teenage years rescuing random animals so setting up something official was the logical next step. Both the sanctuary and the wildlife education company have been a huge success. I built things up slowly and spent the next 10 years establishing things and building relationships with other sanctuaries and conservation centres across the UK. I’ve made a good name for myself and I’m well respected in most circles. There have been some huge hurdles along the way. Three house moves (each costing around £20k each to rebuild everything for the animals). A battle with the local planning department that I eventually won after 2 years in the court. Never having a day off or a break (I do literally mean never). And of course the COVID lockdowns (more on that in a moment). At the moment the sanctuary is ran from my home domestic property, and one of the conditions of me winning my planning appeal was that I never open to the public or have visitors here. All of my work is done off site, so my time is split between caring for the animals here and being on the road presenting in schools across the country. I’m busier than I’ve ever been and bring in over £1,000 most weeks, but with the cost of everything going up my running costs are close to around £900 each week and are likely to rise higher. The next step of my plan has always been to find a suitable site in the area to lease (has to be a minimum of around 5 acres) and apply for planning permission to turn it into a conservation and education centre that I can open to the public. I live in a very popular tourist area with well over a million visitors per year, and no other similar attractions anywhere near the area. I have a solid business plan and the concept is more than viable. It’s very important to me that it’s set up in a way that the vast majority of the profits raised go to conservation, so it will likely be set up as either a charity or a community interest company. A facility like what I want to build will only succeed longterm if it is done in an ethical way, putting the needs of the animals first, and with the proceeds going towards good causes instead of lining someone’s pockets. I’ve been ready for this next step for close to 10 years. I have tried every single thinkable option to find suitable land to lease in the area. I’ve come close several times but something always falls through at the last minute – ie the site not ending up being suitable for planning, or the land owner deciding to go with something different. At this point it seems like it’s simply going to be impossible to lease land in this area for this purpose. Land for sale is a lot easier to find but it’s very expensive. For the last 2 years there has only been one suitable contender on the open market. 20 acres of land in a good location with good access, a large barn, secure yard, electricity, running water and also a building plot (with planning permission for a house). But it’s £350,000 and I will quite simply never be able to afford that with the way I’m currently operating. The mortgage would be no problem at all to pay once I’m open to the public and operational, but it’s the first few years of planning permission and building the place that I don’t know how to get through. My running costs are now so high that my profit margins are fairly low. I’ve never really paid myself a proper wage my entire life. I live very simply and don’t buy myself luxurious things, so I’ve never really needed much to survive. Any weekly profits from my business go into a pot that gets used for emergencies or upgrades for the animals in my care. Despite this I did manage to have a pretty good amount of savings before COVID hit that I was going to use for the big rebuild when I finally got a place, but with lockdown and schools closing my income disappeared overnight. I got no financial support from the government as I work from home and have no ‘official’ business premesis, which meant I had to burn through my entire life savings just to stay afloat. Now that things are open again I am busier than I’ve ever been, but things are now also more expensive than they’ve ever been and I’m slowly realising this just doesn’t make sense anymore. I am working every waking hour of every day and I will never have enough money to purchase a site that will allow me to expand and build my vision. I still absolutely LOVE my work, but it is very emotionally and physically draining. I am tired but have always managed to push myself to keep going because I had an unshakeable belief that I would one day get there and make my conservation centre a reality. By that stage I will be able to have employees to help spread the labour and I’ll maybe be able to have a bit of a normal life alongside this. I’ll never be able to settle down or start a family while I’m living this way and working so much. But after a decade of constantly getting let down trying to lease a site, and not enough income to buy a site, I’m starting to realise this maybe isn’t going to be achievable. I’m burnt out and beginning to lose hope that I’ll get there. If I decide to give up I don’t think I will ever forgive myself. I would always wonder if I could have made it happen if I just kept pushing or holding on a little longer. So I’m reaching out for ideas. If you were in my position and you had lived my story, what strategy would you take to be able to afford a site over the next couple of years? Is there any way I could get some sort of mortgage now to allow me to buy the £350k site I described above? (with no savings and a basic income, but with a very solid business plan that outlines when I could start making large repayments). What about finding an investor? Bearing in mind that the facility I want to build is not purposed for making people rich, it’s for raising money for conservation. I’d really appreciate some guidance. I don’t know if this is important but I have no debts and my only assets are everything that falls under my sanctuary and education business. Thanks. – by /hq/WildDreamer89 – –

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