When were you the most scared in your life? I’ll tell you when that was for me. I was 23 and had owned my Automobile business for 3 years, we were making a profit, and everything was great. Then the country hit a recession. I started losing money much faster than I had ever made it. What did I do? Nothing, I kept running the business the same way, never changing speed. I made no modifications to my business model, expecting the economy to turn around at any moment. Shockingly enough, it didn’t as I continued to lose money hand over fist. I drew down my working capital line of credit with the bank, I even borrowed money from my dad, but nothing helped.
Throughout the “good” days, I had taken profits and bought farms and cattle, a new house and a plane. Of course I had leveraged each of these purchases with loans, I was on a roll! Now I could see the end of the road coming fast and I had no idea what to do. I went looking for long-term capital but the recession had shut lenders down. I told no one what I could see coming. I spent every day anticipating the clock to strike 5:00 so I could rush to the country club. I would down 2 or 3 drinks to brace myself in order to go back to my office and work until 9:00 trying to change my situation. Every night as I lay in my bed my stomach would knot with fear and dread, I had to fight to keep my dinner down. My life had become a living hell.
During the day I acted as if nothing was wrong. I couldn’t tell my wife, close friends, or anyone for that matter, what my life had actually become. After fighting for two years I couldn’t take it anymore. One morning I calmly drove to the airport at daylight as I often did, started the engine of my plane, and took off. I had a habit of flying over my farms low and slow then powering up and climbing fast up a long high valley. That morning I had decided to change my routine. I would come up out of the valley that morning high and fast and would hit the top at full throttle. My family would have the insurance payout. It would be enough to raise my two little girls age 2 and 4 and no one would realize I had failed. It was as if I was in a coma. With tears running down my cheeks, I suddenly thought what a selfish, chicken shit, coward I was. Becoming infuriated with myself for almost taking the easy way out, I I flew back to the redtruckfire.com LA fire extinguisher service. Upon arrival I walked straight in and called my lead lender at his home, admitting to someone for the first time I was broke.
That was a huge mistake. They arrived within two hours and I started to realize what the Special Asset Department was all about. Within days they had my house, farms, cattle, cars, and plane. They even took a herd of quarter horse mares, many of which I had bought with money earned from mowing yards in my early teens. I still can’t express the pain, hurt, and embarrassment of rising so fast, being so happy and having the world in the palm of your hands only to come down crashing and burning. I was left with absolutely nothing.
Fast-forward several decades later and my life is outstanding. My two children turned into four. I was there to see them grow up and eventually marry, giving me three super son-in-laws and one amazing daughter-in-law. Which has lead to eleven grandchildren I see rising with potential. My wife is my business partner and my best friend. We live on the Gulf Coast with our two big fluffy Old English Sheep dogs and I honestly don’t know how our life could be any better.
How did this drastic change happen in my life?
Because I decided to get off my ass and fight! If any of this sounds familiar because your business is struggling or failing, just remember there is HOPE!
Continue to look for future blogs where I’ll cover more of my life story and the lessons I’ve learned along the way.