I spent 15 years as a credit analyst – it had its moments, but I was essentially a (digital) paper-pusher. I spent many of those years longing to be an entrepreneur – free from the chains of a corporate job and free to pursue MY ideas. I got that chance in the fall of 2018. I purchased a small gym and was bursting with excitement and idealism.
My dream of small business success came crashing down in the following months. I had heard from plenty of naysayers about how hard owning a small business was and how the majority of small businesses fail. Not me! I was the exception. My passion was going to sail me beyond the troublesome waves that brought others humbly back to shore.
Alas, there was truth in the naysayers’ words. Taking sole responsibility for an enterprise is no small feat. There is no end to the demands on your time, much more the demands on your money!
Strictly speaking, I failed. During my time of ownership, the business operated at a net loss, and I sold the business only 10 months after I purchased it for less than I bought it for. I’ve spent a lot of time licking my wounds. I second-guessed nearly every decision I made. However, as I look back now, I came away with lessons I would have learned no other way than through first-hand experience.
I’m a business banker now. I help business owners optimize their business and streamline their banking operations. I was talking to an owner the other day – our meeting was cut short because she had two employees call in sick and had to cover for them. I could empathize with her frustration – you can’t call in sick as an owner; the work still needs to get done. I’ve been in her shoes. Business ownership isn’t for the faint of heart.
And, yet, our valley is filled with thriving businesses. It can be done. One of my core values in life is to “leave it better than you found it.” I want to leave every business I work with in a better position than when they started – maybe that’s less debt, maybe that’s more debt but a higher return-on-equity, maybe that’s more sales, maybe that’s lower sales, but a higher gross margin. As the saying goes, there are many ways to skin a cat, and every business and business owner is different.
I’m thankful to be a part of the business community here in our little valley, and I look forward to sharing more in the months ahead!