When I vaulted into my first business in 1980, I hoped to be a successful, positive force for those around me, and an asset to my community. Seven years later, the day I declared bankruptcy, I felt crushed, enslaved, and worthless. Not the glory I’d envisioned.
Those closest to me were shocked and concerned; employees and customers were disappointed; unpaid creditors were furious. I felt victimized and ashamed, but really—I’d engineered my own horrid nightmare.
To stop the craziness, I dragged my battered soul into a trustee’s office and declared bankruptcy. After a costly period of self-indulgence—drinking, using drugs, alcohol, drugs, feeling sorry for myself, embarrassed—I settled in to unravel the lessons. That’s when I began to understand the bigger picture and, most importantly, to heal my shattered heart.
As the tentacles of insolvency tethered and strangled me, I feared I would once again be reduced to punching time clocks at insufferable workplaces. Defeat settled in. I didn’t realize then that entrepreneurship was embedded in my DNA and that my education was just beginning.
That experience gave me the foundation for the next unexpected opportunity to learn. In the early 90s, I was invited to join a committee for a business funding agency. The committee reviewed business loan applications and decided whether or not to finance entrepreneurs’ dreams. It was like a Shark Tank or Dragons’ Den, minus the flash and dazzle of multi-millionaire investors and media.
The fifteen years with the lending group were amazing. I learned so much from the applicants and the other committee members. I didn’t know it then, but the committee was my ringside view of the small business financing process, including the dark side—collecting when clients defaulted and dealing with all the ugliness that prevails when a business goes bad.
The vision for this book emerged after a particularly messy blood-fest when the lending committee wrote off several defaulted loans. I realized that all the same problems, which I call Business Killers, surfaced again and again in the wreckage of each catastrophe.
Why, when each fledgling venture is fueled by the owner’s blazing desire to be successful, do so many fail? After sifting through hundreds of downed ventures, I finally got it: most business casualties are not caused by the stock market, oil prices, or world events; they’re triggered by the owners themselves. Consciously or unconsciously, people sabotage themselves with their thoughts, habits, and actions. The enemy is self-destruction and main saboteurs of businesses are those who own them.
Business Killers will show you how to triumph over self-sabotage and succeed in business, even though so many things can go wrong. This book will teach you to make better decisions and form better habits, while offering ways to redirect and improve.
You don’t need to declare bankruptcy or start over to benefit from this book. Owners choke the vitality from their own struggling ventures day by day, choice by choice, one treacherous action at a time. Business Killers are not necessarily fatal. If you aren’t quite cutting it in your industry, or you’re barely paying your bills, or you’re not growing fast enough, then this is the book for you.