How do I recover financially and emotionally from a business failure?
Ten years ago, I was a young successful executive at a large insurance firm. I always had an entrepreneurial spirit and left my high paying job and bought a franchise that became succesful very quickly. I then opened a second location and then all the problems started. Most of the problems were brought on by my own poor finincial decisions. I'm now on the brink of losing both my locations. I went from almost $1 million in net worth to $0. I lost most of my retirement money. I can't pay my mortgage, and I no longer have a car. Aside from the financial problems, my self esteem is non-existant and I've become extremely withdrawn from friends and family. My obession with my business and my financial collapse has left me unmarried at 40 and I feel as if I have no personal or proffessional future. How does someone re-build their life after something like this?
Seek the aid of wise advisors. Your situation has taken a toll on all areas of your life, so you will be re-building in all areas of your life. Start by seeking the counsel of a person knowledgeable in financial matters. You might start with SCORE, the Service Corps of Retired Executives, or the small business center at a local university. You may want to consider entering short-term therapy. A skilled therapist will be able to help you refocus so that you can learn from your mistakes and move forward. You still possess the same skills and traits that brought you success. You just need to tap into them again.
Ironically, those who have the greatest successes in business also typically experience failures often too. In hindsight, the worst thing that ever happened can turn out to be the best. Ever heard the story about the boy who gets a donkey and the townspeople all think how lucky he is? He ended up falling off the donkey and became lame, reversing what all the townspeople thought of him. Then a war broke out and the other young men in the town were forced to go off to war and die. But the boy, now a young man, is spared from war because of his handicap.
Now is not the time to distance yourself from family and friends. You need your support system more then ever. This is a wonderful opportunity to see who your real friends are. Reaching out is the answer. Brainstorm with everyone you know. Then quietly and slowly select your course of action. Embrace those in your inner circle. They will celebrate with you again when this detour is done and so will I. Please keep me posted.
Elinor Robin, "The Relationship Mediator," has more than 18 years of experience in mediation while working within the public and private sectors.