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FAILURE I've made major errors and put my company on the brink

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Mattie

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I need to rise up as a leader, set the bar ever higher and lead our team ahead.
What type of leardership style do you have? That matters how you manage people and how they respond and react?
 

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JasonR

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This is an awesome, awesome thread. Thank you for being willing to share not only your success, but your failures to.

We all make mistakes. It's how we recover from those mistakes that make all the difference.

Will be waiting to hear future updates.

Rep transferred!
 

GlobalWealth

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On September 1st, we passed $3Million in sales for the year. That's 49%+ revenue growth over 2014.
Bottom line is strong, we've always been profitable, but this year is magic.

We've hired more staff (but, not gone crazy). Promoted our Marketing Director, who is just crushing it. Rebranded the company (logo, tagline, etc), launched new site.
Moved to a much better location/building (I walked away from the deal to buy the one building... which 6 months later is still for sale).

Making lots of mistakes, and learning daily.
I've had to learn how to manage people who have managers now (where, they actually don't report to me, but to another person).
I've wasted money on some consultants who didn't add value. Figures.

2016 is going to be about new systems and improving our processes. Build an operations manual.
Document stuff. Set the stage for further growth from 2017 onward.

We're on a quest to hit $5M by 2019. Right now we're way ahead of pace. But, I'm being thoughtful of what we do.
Economy could crash, all sorts of things, so, we need to have cash in the bank and a team ready to be flexible.


--
Anyway, that's my update for the year. Firing on all cylinders (and I'm back to taking a lot of time off).
Maybe we sell the business and I work on me for 6 months, or a year.... I'd like to do more of that.

I'm 32, and have a lot lot lot of lessons to learn.
Need to learn how to speak to people about deeper issues, be strong in my convictions but also do a better job of listening, understanding, showing empathy and compassion.

I need to rise up as a leader, set the bar ever higher and lead our team ahead.
Exciting times, with more to come.
I cannot like this enough. Amazing story and great update. I love to see the process. You are an inspiration.

Sent from my SM-G900FD using Tapatalk
 
D

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Could you describe your internal process of getting out from depressive state to the state you are in now?
 

WestCoast

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I'm flattered by the fast responses, I mostly have posted in this thread over the years to make sure I eat humble pie regularly and remind myself it's never easy. Thanks for all your positives comments.


My $100 bet is on $5M by end of 2016.

Oh man, that will be tough. But I like a challenge :)


Your thread will be my inspiration

That is kind of you, but, I learned something important back 5-6 years ago. It's all you.
You're the owner, you're the boss, the buck stops (very literally) with you. You need a great team, you need a product and all that, but at the end of the day, it's you.

If you're in a hole, and it's dark, look up. Go that way.


What type of leardership style do you have? That matters how you manage people and how they respond and react?

I am an introvert who is very hands off. I hire smart people, give them a lot of rope, and try to check in with them formally once a week. I like to hear the details, but, I don't want to know how the details are carried out (if that makes sense).

I am 100% open in our accounting and books. Every employee can see all of our P&L, current bank account amounts, Balance Sheet. They can't do anything with that, so, I leave it open. I want them to be invested in the business just like I am.

I try *very* hard to always be positive and supportive. Mistakes happen, we screw up all the time. I try to remember that I was there too, I was younger and new at this and I made mistakes. I can't assume all of the staff a) care as much as me, the owner b) should know all the things I know.

As I've gotten a bit older, I've tried to be less intense about things. I'm still a very passionate and talkative person, but, I try to lay low more. Let the staff work.
I also work really hard to compliment, thank and encourage all good deeds and actions regularly. I can't stress this enough.
Without my staff taking care of customers, filling orders, doing all the magic they do... doesn't really matter how good I think I am at business...
They are the lifeblood of what we do.

I tell them all the time: 'It's my company, but it's your business'


This is an awesome, awesome thread. Thank you for being willing to share not only your success, but your failures to.

Thank you kindly for the compliment, your threads and contributions to the board are tremendous.


I cannot like this enough. Amazing story and great update. I love to see the process. You are an inspiration.

Similar feelings to Jason R, I really appreciate the compliment. You've been on this board just as long as I have, and I've appreciated your direct and no-nonse posts quite a lot. Thank you.


Could you describe your internal process of getting out from depressive state to the state you are in now?

Oh man, that could be a long long thread. Two things:

1) sometimes you have no choice. I could sit and be sad that I almost bankrupted my business. (and I did that for about 5 almost totally sleepless nights). Or, you get over the emotion of it, it hurts your pride enough where you just stand up and say -> I'm going a new way now.

2) I've said before, that 'the key to happiness is being happy.' It's a state of mind. I went through (as everyone does), some personal struggles. I was an adopted kid who searched for and found his birth mom during this time. I went through some reconciliation there, for 3 years actually.
But, we choose, really, if we want to be happy. It's a choice.

We can complain about things, or we can not-complain. We can be grumpy and curse under our breath... for the bad luck, the bad break, the unknown occurring. Or we can smile at the challenge, fight the good fight and be satisfied that we worked our tails off to be successful.

Business is not, in itself, a noble quest. I am not a better person than I was when I did not have this company. I am the same person, as anyone else here is. We're just people.

It's a horribly hard choice to get over yourself and face the music, of being human, of being emotional and fallible.
But, once you embrace that, you have the mental power - everyone does - to be positive and happy at the opportunities before us.
Business is a game, and we're all winning by even playing at all - smile at that thought.

--
When the sun is shining bright, some people will complain that it's too hot.
Others never think to complain, they are too busy making hay.
 
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D

Deleted21961

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Awesome! In your style of writing, one can pick your attitude up now, I think I understand it.
 

Andy Black

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@WestCoast

I saw this thread for the first time ever today.

I totally second @JasonR and @GlobalWealth comments. Thanks for being so open and honest, and coming back and updating it with your learnings and insights.

It's inspiring for everyone to see you stumble but not give up, and to see where you are now.


If you're in a hole, and it's dark, look up.

This is fantastic advice.

"Look where you want to go."


I try *very* hard to always be positive and supportive.

"Catch them when they're good."

I know how easy it is to tell the kid off who's not eating his food, rather than praise the two who are eating their food.

The other two are the ones who deserve the attention.

An added benefit is that praising them is also much more effective at getting the other kid to start eating.


I don't have employees, but did have direct reports in various jobs. "Praise in public, criticise (constructively) in private" worked very well for me.


Thanks again for a great thread.
 

Ubermensch

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Dear Fastlane Members-

I've been on this board for a year or maybe too. Only place I've found the energy and attitude I really respect in business.

This post is more for a therapy session than anything else, as I'm on the younger side, and have made some major mistakes over the past 6 months. These errors on my parthave severely jeopardized our companies health and future growth. :smx8:

-----
I'm in slowlane retail, I own a business and online stores that sell a certain niche product.

We have been growing ~50% each year for the past 3 years. We've earned a reputation as a good store, with good service and products. We're profitable and everyone at our company makes decent money. :hurray:

I figured I would sell or acquire another business this year that would bring us to $3million or so by 2010, and perhaps sell the thing and look for a true 'fastlane' business that I could get into.

I always told myself learning and experience were critical, but I would give up a lot of the money earned to take away the emotional pain I've put myself through the last 6 months, culminating in a bit of a breakdown for me yesterday.

We were at $1Million/year looking to grow to $2Million/year in 2009, and that is where the trouble started.


Lessons:
- Don't let past success blind you to current realities
- Give up control is good, but do it very very carefully
- There is no way around having to make good, detailed plans and following them.
- 'Yes Men' managers are potentially worse than no managers at all

-----

So how did I learn those things? I got greedy.
:iamwithstupid:


As a young company, you take lots of risks and try things because you don't have an alternative, you don't have a full staff, you just go go go. It's fun, and lots of stuff works and some doesn't, but the stakes are low.


I have failed as a manager and business owner to grow out of that mentality.
I purchased (with no analysis, no business case, just a gut feeling like the good old days) about $200k worth of new product that I was sure was going to sell great.

:nonod:

We were going to wholesale it to others even, start to get in the drivers seat a little bit at least.


Then I figured we should add a bunch of other new products not related to our core business.

And instead of rationally planning, researching and budgeting for any of this, I just did it.

Managers didn't say peep, even though there was no way we could afford it all.
And when it hasn't sold that well, we just sat there.

We now have almost no cash in the bank, no plan, and hundreds of thousands of dollars in inventory that isn't really at the core of what we do well. And this was all my great, enthusiastic idea. :smxE:

Unfocused, unresponsive, just 'hoping' things will get better is NOT a plan.
Enthusiasm and optimism, while good things to have, is NOT a business case.

I bet the company, knowingly sure, but I bet the company without doing any planing or research.

It's insane, I have no idea what I was thinking. Somehow I would just be correct about every decision I ever made? I couldn't make a mistake and somehow I didn't need to any research on competitors products? I didn't need to figure out cash flow projections before hand??? Who did I think I was?:nono:

I've worked for 4 years to build this place up where I can travel the world, feel like a stud and a young gun that showed the world how to do it.

And that was all a big sham.
At our core, we weren't doing things right, and I have polluted a great company with wild, greedy ideas without a business case behind them. I thought past success would insure future success, and that is very very wrong.


The basics of running the business seemingly left me overnight while I went on this wild goose chase to make the next million, and we are suffering for it.


----
Today starts the day when I retake control of the business.

I'm scared.

I've made so many wrong decisions, how will I really know I'm getting back on the right track like we did before? Do I still have it in me to lead this company?
Do I have the discipline to make us successful and smart and strategic again?
Do I have the GUTS to make some hard choices and keep my eyes on the ball?
I put us here, through lots of little mistakes and one pretty big one, so I must now lie in my bed and make it better. :fryingpan:


I will now sign all the checks personally after the book keeper preps them.
I will take over again day to day operations until I feel the management team is on the same page as I am going forward.
I will potentially have to let a key employee of ours go, and it makes me sick.

I'm responsible, I made the company, and I have goofed things up getting greedy and straying from fundamentals.

We might survive, but either way, the shame, the guilt, the pain are pretty intense.

We had a great thing going and growing so fast, and I thought we could somehow avoid the hard work to keep it growing, and just take a few radical shortcuts.

I'm going to work with our small team to get the company back on track, but I don't think I'll be the same again. This is very hard, and I'm ok with hard work, but I feel like a huge failure to myself, family and all those who I so proudly told how quick we were growing and how fast.


----
Today starts a wrenching process for us. I'm 150% ready to go, but man, I don't think I'll ever be the same again.

I can't be, or the gig will be up.


To your future and mine,
WestCoast

What's up, bro? Im from the @WestCoast, too.

A couple things in common: I was born in Cali, and also joined the forum in 2008.

You already know the mistake you made. You sacrificed short-term results over long-term. That never pays off (I learned this two years ago, around the time I went from one of @MJ DeMarco 's favorites, to something worse than something out of @devine 's most psychotically narcissistic nightmares).

You sound like you're all in... I made that choice back in 2008, the time I joined this forum. I haven't had a job since. So, trust me when I understand that you are directly impacted by the profit of your efforts. When you lose, you - and those who you support - feel it.

And when you win, there is no greater feeling in the universe.

What I learned the hard way is that winning - I mean really winning, as defined by Gordon Gekko $50M - $100M... enough not to waste time... - involves incredible short-term "sacrifices."

You have to sacrifice the desire to feel coddled by a job, the adult's version of an allowance, in which the employer gives you a bi-weekly "allowance" (these adult children of the system prefer to call this compensation a "salary"). You have to sacrifice being able to go out with friends. You may need to sacrifice the friends (and PROBABLY family) as well. Most people can't do that. They aren't psychologically ready for it, so when the pain gets real bad, they just pop another handful of blue pills, and tell themselves the moral story perpetuated by those who they so desperately need to escape in the first place.

Most people can't just give EVERYTHING, because - for them - success isn't everything.

For me, it is.

And for you, it apparently means a hellava lot to you... considering you felt compelled enough to start an OP.

This isn't an L, at least not in terms of a "loss." It's a lesson, a reminder to keep your eye on the prize, planning all the way to the end (obsess over game theory, logic and strategy if necessary... LOL), and remembering that short-term < long-term all the time everytime.

Good luck, player.
 

Dami-B

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On September 1st, we passed $3Million in sales for the year. That's 49%+ revenue growth over 2014.
Bottom line is strong, we've always been profitable, but this year is magic.

We've hired more staff (but, not gone crazy). Promoted our Marketing Director, who is just crushing it. Rebranded the company (logo, tagline, etc), launched new site.
Moved to a much better location/building (I walked away from the deal to buy the one building... which 6 months later is still for sale).

This is an unbelievable great thread. Congrats @WestCoast and I wish you more success in 2016-2017.
If you're in a hole, and it's dark, look up. Go that way.
From the bottom of my innermost belly, Thank You for this quote!
 

Mattie

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http://www.amazon.com/dp/0787984922/?tag=tff-amazonparser-20
I had to memorize this book in College. I had an Admin I & II class and had a professor that was geek for leadership books. I always think back to it today. May not be anything special, but I thought it had some good stuff in it. It might help in someway.
 

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WestCoast

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It's been 8+ years since I posted this.

The business I referenced in 2009... the one I almost bankrupted.... has kept growing.
We hit $4.3Million in revenue this year. And I am beyond grateful for all the lessons learned.

I'm taking 8-10 weeks off at a time to travel the world, and our staff is strong, engaged, and invested. While I still own 100% of the business, I've helped our team to buy houses, or flown them around the world on honeymoons now.

I am 34 now, dreaming about the future and what I want to do next.
I've saved my pennies, both for darker times that will inevitably come, as well as new ideas that I dream of each day.

A lot of opportunities are presenting themselves, but I'm not in a rush. I'm focused, making the core business stronger, and taking care of our staff and customers.

--
I didn't given an update for a few years, mostly been busy, and I disagreed a bit with how the forum was run and the tone of some people. But, I've learned to show compassion instead of being bitter about things I can't control. So, I hope to be around a bit more and help out where I can.


Regardless, I wanted to say, again, thank you.
To those here who encouraged me over the years when it was dark. To those close to me who never stopped believing in me.

And, if you are reading this... and you have no idea where you're going in life.... but you're hungry and you want more...

I looked inside myself. That is where I found the passion, fire and energy.
The courage and bravery is not given, I had to find it in myself. It was there, I just had to let it out.
Living an uncommon life is not easy, and I've learned that through a lot of hard knocks. But, for me at least, it has been unimaginably worth it.
 

WJK

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Dear Fastlane Members-
I will now sign all the checks personally after the book keeper preps them.
I will take over again day to day operations until I feel the management team is on the same page as I am going forward.
I will potentially have to let a key employee of ours go, and it makes me sick.
I'm responsible, I made the company, and I have goofed things up getting greedy and straying from fundamentals.
We might survive, but either way, the shame, the guilt, the pain are pretty intense.
----
Today starts a wrenching process for us. I'm 150% ready to go, but man, I don't think I'll ever be the same again. To your future and mine,
WestCoast
We've all been there. Hang in there. All is not lost... yet! You'll make yourself better at business and your personal life. Growing up is tough to do!
Now, may I give you some advice. Sleep on your major decisions before you go out drop the hammer. Most things can wait a day. Get quiet and let the answers come to you. You know what you need to do, if you stop fretting. Move through this moment with your quiet heart and make a list of things for which you are grateful. You have a wealth of experience and success behind you.
Find a way to raise cash. Sell of the extra inventory, even at a loss. Cash in hand is sure better than cash invested in unsalable inventory. Cut you losses. Make a plan and adjust it as needed. Get a personal handle on your cash flow. Yes, of course, sign your own checks -- it's your money. Get your employees on board. Find out their ideas to get things on track. Admit you missteps. Be on site, front and center. Be there early and late. Put your ears on -- listen, listen, listen. Be humble. You're only human. Clean house on all fronts. You can do this. You can turn the ship around. Best of luck!
 

WestCoast

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You can do this. You can turn the ship around. Best of luck!

Hi WJK, I did indeed. :) The original post you replied to was from 2009.
I provide updates in this thread every year or two to remind myself (and others) how far I've come since those times.
 

WJK

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Hi WJK, I did indeed. :) The original post you replied to was from 2009.
I provide updates in this thread every year or two to remind myself (and others) how far I've come since those times.
Sorry I didn't realize the date of your post. Good for you. It's amazing how smart we get over time. Those bumps and bruises become our badges of honor. There's no substitute for experience and seasoning that comes with time. Merry Christmas to you and yours from our little home in the woods here in Alaska.
 

WestCoast

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I haven't updated this thread in a few years, but figured now is a good time.

The business has continue to prosper. I continue to learn so many humbling lessons, and continue to grow and gain experience. I still know 1% of the things I want to know. But, it's better than .01% that it was when I started this thread.

I left the business full time on Jan 1, 2020, and left day to day operations to the team.
They crushed it last year.
2020 was a record year, passing $5.5M in sales and netting ~$280k

It's not a huge sum of money, considering the years of my life invested... but now I am free to travel the world and have some fun.

I spent 2020 visiting 6 continents, 25 countries, and enjoying.
Now that it's 2021, I'm knee deep in starting a new business.

I will continue to own this one for a while.
It is not perfect, it teaches me new things all the time. And, no it's not as profitable as other businesses its size.
It's not making me a multi-millionaire while I sit on a beach drinking fruity beverages.

But it has provided me a platform. To learn. To grow. To fail.
To dust off, try again, and build a team that I am so very fortunate to be a part of.

Onwards, ever onwards.
 

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