The Entrepreneurial Risk

It isn’t easy being an entrepreneur, no matter how snazzy it may sound. It comes with many potential risks and downfalls, but the risks may be worth it depending on what your goals are.

I’ve increased business so quickly my head would spin trying to keep up. I’ve also lost business so fast my bills would suffer.

Owning your own business means risk, and sometimes GREAT RISK if you have kids to feed.

My Story:

When my ex saw that things were not going back to normal for us in 2006, he cut me off of all of the bank accounts, including the business account that my name was primary on. I am not sure how he managed that but the bank wouldn’t even discuss it with me.

Suddenly business revenue I had equally built and earned was gone. I couldn’t buy groceries for my kids. The safe and keys to all of our vehicles were hidden. He refused to give me any money even though I was the one running the business eight hours a day.

So, I handed it all over to him knowing it would fail. 300-500 regular customers per year, down the drain!

When I left him in 2007 I literally had nothing but some furniture. I was living in a small apartment that my kids and I hated. I barely had a dime to my name. I started my own service-based business trying to keep from having to put my kids in daycare while I worked full-time.

Every time I got ahead in my business, my ex would hurt us financially.

He stopped paying the mortgage on our house. He called me up months later to tell me we were on the verge of foreclosure. He said I could have the house back if I paid what he owed on it.

Wow.

In order to save my credit, I had to pay money out of my own pocket to sell my house.

That first year, he illegally signed my name to our tax return so he could get the refund. I also started getting bills for taxes he owed. I had to file for the innocent spouse rule because it became such a burden. The government was taking money from my bank accounts without even telling me.

A year later, my apartment lease had finally expired and I was ahead financially, despite his greatest attempts to hold me down.

In 2008 the business was booming despite being in the middle of a recession. I was finally making enough to get my kids back in a house and out of that cramped apartment.

I found a cute little house packed full of character. From the tongue and groove walls to the rock fireplace and old wood-burning stove, I fell in love. When I found out about the lease-purchase option, I grabbed it.

I was planning on remodeling it myself. We moved into this fixer-upper with excitement and joy. I didn’t mind a little work and had so many plans for that cute little house.

I partially remodeled the kitchen, enough for it to feel clean, and we moved in.

Immediately after I moved, my clients were getting hard up for money because of the recession. The luxury of having someone work for them was no longer an option.

Also, someone who’d previously worked for me was underbidding me and taking my jobs.

When I realized the gravity of the situation, I had already used my money for moving, paying bills, and remodeling. I had very little money left. I was facing not having an income. As a single mom, this spelled disaster.

Things happened so fast my head was spinning. I found myself staring down the barrel of one can of green beans and two hungry kids to feed.

It was their dad’s weekend. Once again, he didn’t show up. I was depending on him to feed the kids over the weekend so that I could figure things out before they returned.

I called and explained my situation to him. I immediately regretted that decision.

As hurtful words poured from his mouth, I noticed those precious little faces in the background were sensing another disappointment headed their way.

We were in the middle of a gas price crisis at the time. I still needed a tank of gas, groceries, and several bills paid.

Sitting on the floor of that half remodeled kitchen, I cried like a baby. Crushed but knowing what I am made of, I decided I wasn’t going to be defeated by my ex’s words or my own stupid mistakes.

I wasn’t going to borrow money. That isn’t my style. I sat there pondering all the years of my life that had gone by and all the things I had been through.

Not one time EVER had God forsaken me. Not once. I was tough. I had it in me to make this work.

The entrepreneurial risk became a reality.

I was confused and downtrodden but there was one thing I knew for sure, I wasn’t alone no matter how bad it looked.

I didn’t cry about it any longer, get angry, or even retaliate toward my ex or the one who was taking my business. I just simply hung up on my ex, dusted myself off, and got up out of that floor.

I learned a lesson that day.

Lesson #1: Resilience is a choice.

Step One: Get busy handling your business. No one else is going to do it for you. Take charge!

When I got up out of that floor, I decided to take every piece of jewelry I had collected through the years and go make my babies some grocery money.

I went to the pawnshop and sold my most expensive jewelry for a fraction of what it was worth. But I had enough money to hold me over for a while. My babies ate well that night. And, of course, I took them to Chuck E Cheese afterward!

I wasn’t going to allow them to be defeated anymore than I was going to allow myself to give in to what was trying to happen.

Lesson #2: You can choose to be content.

If you are going to be an entrepreneur, this is the first thing you need to learn.

Contentment comes from realizing that your current situation isn’t permanent. Your situation can change at any moment just simply by what choice you make next.

Contentment and happiness are two different things. You may not feel happy, but you can choose to be content even when facing those feelings.

It sounds backward, but it is a biblical principle that I’ve proven to work many times over. When I want or need something, I give something away first.

Clear off the dirt so to speak. Dig a hole. Bury the seed.

When I got back from selling my jewelry and taking my kids out, I gathered up things that were valuable to me to give away. When you don’t have what you need, give what you have.

I gathered up any extra cash I could find. I counted change from my piggy bank, dug around in the furniture, and under the car seats for loose change to give to my church.

I gave my pastor the rest of the jewelry that I didn’t sell. Extra clothes and shoes went to charity. I gave everything I could think of, my time, my labor, my imagination, my money, clothes, and anything and everything I could afford to let go of.

I also decorated a friend’s apartment for free and did as many free services for others as I could.

You may be thinking, “That’s crazy, you needed money!”

Exactly.

I also sold some furniture I had refurbished. This put enough money in my pocket to make it to the next week. Realizing things were about to get rough, I began to plan for a yard sale. I put everything in that sale I could bring myself to part with.

No situation is permanent. Things are always changing. Disasters change. Over time, everything changes to some degree. You always need to have a backup plan for this reason.

I quickly learned that selfemployment means depending on yourself to make good choices in your business and having the ability to plan ahead.

Without a plan, and without a backup plan, you could easily fail by making one wrong move. I also learned that things work out if you don’t panic.

Lesson #3: Learn to Wait.

After giving comes the waiting period. Patience is a virtue, it builds character. Building character takes time. Waiting is part of the process.

Things may get rough but when you have seed in the ground, or, when you’re a giver, things won’t be rough forever. Giving with a good heart brings blessings.

That Monday I got on the phone that I couldn’t afford to pay for. I called clients I’d had for the previous ten years and asked for work.

One person agreed to let me work on a promise to pay me that Friday. Remember, we were in a recession. I gladly took what I could get.

Even though I had many other skills, jobs were scarce at the time. Unemployment was through the roof. I also had kids to think about. I had to make this work. I just couldn’t get a real job.

That’s what everyone will tell you to do when you are in business for yourself, “Get a real job.” 🙄

I couldn’t afford to wait for my first paycheck to come in from a “real” job. I was determined to raise my own children and not have to put them in daycare. I needed the flexibility of self-employment. The yard sale brought me enough cash to be able to move again and I was allowed to get out of my lease agreement due to my unforeseen circumstances.

The only affordable place I could find was another apartment. Ugh.

So, reluctantly we moved, again.

For another six months after that my business struggled because of the recession. I didn’t have enough work and had to scrounge to make ends meet.

Remember the waiting period I mentioned before?

I just kept giving things away, providing free decorating services to people and taking care of a neighbors child for free. I was determined to be a giver no matter how bad my situation looked.

I spent that entire year learning to live thriftily. I utilized thrift stores, dollar stores, and second-hand stores. I lived cheaply that year, but I kept a roof over my boy’s heads and food on the table.

Seeds Grow

Things continued to look bad. Once the economy picked back up and I was finally able to get decent work, someone hit my car.

With a high deductible, and feeling like I couldn’t catch a break, an angel of a client stepped in when they found out why I wasn’t able to come to work.

The next morning there was an envelope with $3000 in it under the windshield wiper of my car!

My car was fixed and my bills were paid, from then on.

I started getting money in the mail, large tips at work, and blessings poured in month after month. The next year proved to be a successful year and I was able to get my boys back in a decent house. The recession was over and so was my struggle.

People gave to me abundantly after that. I was able to fully recover from the recession. We even started taking yearly vacations, which I had not been able to do as a single mom before that.

Being in business for yourself has its ups and downs. Life has its ups and downs. You need to be prepared for these by having a backup plan for tough times.

Savings is important. If you have a bad habit of not saving money, I would strongly suggest changing that.

I will never be found without a backup plan again.

If you are going to be in business for yourself you need to learn to set goals, keep your priorities straight, and manage your business well.

Times may get tough, tougher than you can imagine, but you don’t have to quit on your goals. You have to use patience, determination, consistency, good management skills. Have a fighter’s stance that you will NOT back down, no matter what changes come your way.

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