Dennis DeAndre, 32, can relate to Rozner's plight. Before his life crumbled, he was a 27-year-old in real estate making $150,000 per year. "I had it all," says DeAndre, a San Francisco resident who saw "a tremendous opportunity" and decided to start his own company in 1995.
Many people cease the day; it's entrepreneurs who seize it. DeAndre quit his job and started a then-unheard-of company: a commercial real estate multiple-listing service. He called it LoopNet and managed to collect $80,000 in angel funding. At the time, it seemed like an ample amount of money. It wasn't. Although the commercial real estate market embraced his idea, income was maddeningly slow to arrive. The $80,000 came and went. And so, "after I burnt through my own cash, I started selling all my assets. This is a great example of what not to do: tying your own life too closely to your business,"
And over four years, DeAndre sold his house, his stocks, his Ford Explorer . . . and then maxed out his credit cards to the tune of $12,000. All the while, DeAndre toiled in a windowless office whose air conditioning was controlled by the company next door. And because there was no ven-tilation, he says, "every day, the office was 85 degrees. It was so hot, that, I swear to God, by noon every day, I was wearing suit slacks but no shirt. These executives were walking by, and I'd be in there bare-chested, working in my office."
Meanwhile, his wife knew she had married a man whose bank account had come to rival Snuffy Smith's; but she didn't know that their savings had dwindled to $300 of credit. DeAndre's wife had had a job when they married, but after her mother had a stroke, she quit to stay at her bedside in the hospital, and DeAndre didn't have the heart to advise her not to. "We lost our only income," says DeAndre, who was working 20 hours per day.
Well, actually for something.
|Snap out of it! Read "Opportunity Knocks" to find out how to have a positive start-up mindset|
Geoff Williams has written for numerous publications, including Entrepreneur, Consumer Reports, LIFE and Entertainment Weekly. He also is the author of Living Well with Bad Credit.