Sucker Punches but Not Knock-Outs
Sucker Punches but Not Knock-Outs
You see it every time a child starts learning how to walk, ride a bike, or do any number of physical activities – the beginning is rough. There’s a lot of falling, a lot of hurt body parts, and in some cases a building sense of discouragement. However, it’s the will to get up and try again that ultimately leads to mastering the skill and experiencing the pride in learning and experiencing something new. It’s in these early years that we get a taste of true resilience. In those challenging moments when you feel knocked down, perhaps the temptation is to withdraw and declare ‘never again’. But triumph and success come from getting up and trying again and again and again.
There are some things in life we can anticipate possibly being a struggle. However, there are other times when the blow comes out of nowhere, landing a suck-punch of a blow when you least expect it. Like a boxer avoiding a K.O. – you do everything in your power to stay standing and compose yourself to keep fighting.
Anyone who falls in love with the dream of entrepreneurialism and its upsides needs to also realize the nightmare of uncertainty and fear that go along with it. At one point in my entrepreneurial career, my colleagues and I faced the challenge of obtaining funding for the growth of our imagining company. When some banks are slow to invest in start-ups or to give loans to unqualified applicants, there are industry-specific companies that allow you to borrow funds – we found one such lender which allowed us to upgrade our equipment and set up an imaging center.
Once it looked like the first center was on its way to turning a profit, we decided to add MRI to a second location. To do so, we had to refinance. We also took out a loan for equipment and all the other necessities. This loan came from a different lender than we used at the first center. They were an industry leader that “invested” in guys like us. People with experience, but not deep financial “pockets.” They were involved in everything. For example, requiring personal guarantees and factoring our receivables. In other words, when checks were written to us, they were sent to a lockbox owned by the lender who would collect them. A couple of days later, cash—about 85 percent of the receivables—would be in our account. It was a pain. However, it was what we signed up for.
Things were going well for us in our two locations. We succeeded with our patients and their doctors. Interested in opening a third location, our lender granted additional funding. The lender allowed us to withdraw one hundred percent of our deposits unlike before. The debt was racking up. However, the extra money allowed us to get the third center up and running.
I had a feeling that something wasn’t right. However, after a couple of years of scratching and clawing our way out of hell, I wasn’t about to let the smell of a little sulfur stop me. The patients were happy. The doctors were happy. The money was coming in … until it wasn’t.
One afternoon the money we had deposited was gone. We couldn’t get ahold of anyone from the lender. It was as though they had vanished. We would learn the board members and the CFO of our lender were running what amounted to a Ponzi scheme. It was a mess. Our loan was eventually transferred to a successor lender, a larger bank. Our hope was to establish a new relationship and move past the previous debacle. Thus, get back on track. Initially, it did not look like a knock-out. In other words, we had the chance to stay on our feet and stay focused on our business. Unfortunately, another sucker punch was delivered by this new bank. The bank made the decision to put us in default of our loan due to the terms set by the previous lender. They filed a lawsuit for $3.6 million against my colleagues and me. It was a nightmare. You can read more of the details in my book, Redneck Resilience. Let’s just say, in two and one-half years, we came to a settlement. This allowed us to get up, brush ourselves off, and move forward. In life, that is what it takes to eventually find success. Blows will come when you least expect them. Therefore, get up, stay standing, pick the right path, and do your best to continue fighting.