American Business - Listen To Your Mother
My inspiration for this article stems from the recent economic challenges that have impacted the majority of Americans. This recession has demonstrated to me that there are very few individuals whose financial security is unaffected by the national downturn. Throughout my real estate career I have been fortunate to work with exceptionally successful individuals in a variety of industries. I often felt in awe of what they were able to achieve. Now it seems wherever I turn I am reminded of how industry leaders in all sectors can fall victim to economic troubles with a few poorly timed choices and some bad luck. I am reminded daily of the challenges currently facing my industry. News of firms closing locations, laying off administrative support, and merging with once fierce competitors in order to survive has become commonplace. In an attempt to hearten friends and associates I pass on a lesson that my mother shared with me many years ago.
When I was 24 years old I started my first company. It was a joint effort with 2 partners. I had grand notions of how we would capture the majority of market share in very little time. My role was sales management; the second partner chief financial officer and the third was the primary investor. We based our financial projections on the assumption that we could capture an unrealistically high percentage of market share. The reality is we spent too much and we made too little. Before long we had depleted our initial capital contribution and we had to go back to the well. Shortly after a second sizable cash infusion it became apparent to the investor that the company structure did not work. An emergency meeting was called by the investor who shared his concerns that in the end the capital would be gone and we would have no prospects for future income. Furthermore he laid out a plan of action to protect what remained of his investment.
The following day was a whirlwind. The investor signed over his share of the company and in turn pulled all of the capital from our accounts. By days end a moving van arrived and movers began to dismantle the office removing anything of value. Documents were signed and in what seemed like a minute my company as I knew it was no more. When the last stick of furniture was removed and the paperwork signed, I realized it was the middle of the week and I had nowhere to go and nothing to do. In a daze I got into my car and began to contemplate my future and my options. Perhaps I would go back to school and get an MBA or go to work for an established company with a salary and benefits. I had many thoughts about my future that day. It was at this point that I pulled my car to the side of the road and broke down emotionally. “How has this happened? My company is gone and there is no possible way to keep it going.” Looking for direction I called my mother and without so much as a “hello” I began to tell her about the last 2 days. I was broke, my partners were gone and my business plan had fatal flaws. After she listened for what must have felt like an eternity my mother said exactly what I needed to hear, “so you lied?” For the next hour my mother reminded me of how I had agreed with the partners’ initial projections and promised success to my partners, my employees and myself. She made it sound so simple “just rebuild the company, it’s not dead until you say it is.” She reminded me of my grand plans for success and brought me back to a mental state where everything that I had desired to achieve was still in front of me. Finally, she let me know that although the current outlook was very bleak I would always regret it if I did not do everything in my power to forge ahead with my initial plans. In an instant my depression was transformed into a fierce determination. Mom gave me my fire back. I was not even close to done. I purchased a refurbished computer, small printer and a cheap desk chair and most importantly I went back to work.
That little company actually worked out pretty darn well. The name of my company is My Townhome Realty and since that day I have opened 3 office locations, started 2 more companies and currently employ 37 skilled professionals. If I had not been tested on that day I may never have learned the life lesson that has allowed me to get through other challenges. The current economy has affected most of us and many are confronted with challenges and decisions that they hoped they would never face. In life we have 2 alternatives: fight or flee. Ultimate success is a conscious commitment to adaptability. Resilience is the only guarantee of sustainability. Miraculous bailouts coupled with never-ending financial life support undermine the creativity and resilience of American business. Surround yourself with supporters that will drive you to strive for your goals everything that you’ve got I am fortunate to be in the real estate business where I am surrounded by sellers and developers to whom I have a responsibility regardless of market conditions. Determine what is facing you and find a way to go over it, around it or through it but in the end get to the other side. When things are darkest reach out and ask for advice. My first call was to my mother, but I have reached out to many trusted advisors since then. Today I cultivate those relationships and appreciate their importance. With the right advisors I am constantly reminded that business is a game that we play to win and when the day is done we leave it all on the field. Written By: T.J. Larsen My Townhome Realty
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T. J. Larsen is president of My Townhome Realty—a professional real estate brokerage firm that specializes in condominiums and townhome real estate. If you need assistance with buying or selling real estate, call them at 704-377-4567.