It was a terrible time, because I had no leverage! Leverage is such an overlooked part of business, if you don't have the necessary resources to get some, well you are pretty much as they say, "shit out of luck".
There were so many times back then that I just didn't even want to go into work. It was awful, forcing myself to go in everyday only to get your head handed to you on a platter. Let's just look at it this way. You wake up everyday, and you know that anytime during that day, you could lose everything! You know what that feels like? Well I do, it is mentally and physically draining. I would be in there every morning at 7 am and not leave sometimes until after 9 pm. Fourteen hours of getting your head kicked in wears on you. But I wasn't going to give up! No way no how. I am not wired that way, I am an extremely competitive person and during these early, dark days, it served me well. I hate to lose and I wasn't going to start now!
You would be amazed at what people can come up with when their complete future is on the line. It forces you to be extraordinarily resourceful, or otherwise you're sunk. I came up with ideas and plans that were so out of the box, I had my upper management team scratching their heads on a daily basis. I truly think that if you asked any of them, they would have said I was having a major nervous breakdown, but I wasn't I was having a major case of Surviving at all costs!! There is a big difference.
I was cutting costs to the bone, trying to reformulate blends to save money, hitting the bricks trying to drum up more business, anything and everything to get through on a daily basis.
It is amazing though how many people enjoy kicking people when they are down! Even people I thought were people I could count on were trying to mess with me.
It is really a problem in business when you are having all these issues. All of your professional fees skyrocket, because you are trying to stay afloat, and your accountants fees keep climbing, your legal bills keep climbing and really there is not a whole lot you can do about it, because you need the services now more than ever.
What I needed was working capital, that was the magic bullet, but who's going to lend you money and take a second position on assets the bank already has first position on. It was a very trying time. But looking back on it, I feel like I took a real life course on keeping afloat on what was really a working bankruptcy. I learned a tremendous amount of things, which today is an invaluable resource I possess. That's probably one of the biggest reasons my consultancy business is going so well. I know what it takes to not only survive, but to actually turn around a business even though it may look hopeless. Probably 50% of my work is with company's struggling financially in some way, shape or form. You can't teach what I learned over that first year and a half in any school I know of. A hard lesson, but one that turned out to be extremely valuable.
Then one day, a light appeared, I found a quasi government agency that was willing to give me $250,000 of working capital and take second position on all of my assets, a miracle? Maybe, but that's why you never give up. If I did I would have never made it through. My first real break, a shot in the arm, not a huge one, but well timed at the very least. It wasn't going to cure all of my issues but at least my gun wasn't completely empty, I had some leverage finally, and oh boy, did I start to use it!