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Q: In 1996, after 15 years as ahealth-care administrator, I built and opened a child-carefacility. I knew the first few years would be difficultfinancially, and therefore, I planned for that.

However, in a break-even mode in the fourth year, I raised myprices for the second time in two years to cover escalatingexpenses (salaries, food, gas, etc.). I lost 25 kids as a result,thus throwing me back into the red. I have not been able torecapture those lost students, and I continue to hemorrhage redink, despite advertising.

Last June, I decided to sell, or lease, the building. Thus far,I have been unable to sell the business, which I have listed with areputable broker. I am considering closing the business and tryingto sell the real estate. I have lost all desire to keep thebusiness at this point. What do you recommend?

A: You've got to give yourselflot of credit for keeping good track of your money. Most businessowners are in denial when it comes to their finances. They thinkthat if they work hard and try to be of service to their customers,the money will take care of itself. But that's just not true!So congratulations on working with a business plan and a budget andhaving a known financial position.

Still, at both lower and higher prices, you lost money. Itdoesn't seem fair, and it isn't. People are incrediblybizarre when it comes to spending money. (Imagine being cheap aboutchild care!) Here are your options at this point:

  • Give it up. Stay in this business only if you reallywant to. Take time for a personal retreat to determine what youwant. Talk to your mentors; keep a journal; even meditate if ithelps you make your decision. Ask yourself these questions: Whatelse can you do? Does child care really make your heart pound, orare you clutching at straws? The world is full of opportunities.What's your purpose in this lifetime?

It's possible to be successful in any field-but howbad do you want it? Key into your life's purpose, andyou'll find the courage and energy it takes to stand out fromthe crowd...and be really successful.

Every business experience teaches lessons. The game is to winmore than you lose ... not to never lose. Good luck to you, andkeep me posted.

Author Ellen Rohr nearly starved in her family's smallcontracting business-until she learned how to manage money."Do what you love, certainly," she says, "but themoney won't just take care of itself." Ellen's priceycollege education didn't prepare her for real-world business."Financial business basics aren't that difficult...butwhere do you learn them? Unfortunately, business literacy isn'ttaught in school. I teach the basics and take the mystery out ofmaking money." Ellen's mission as an author, columnist andseminar leader is to help people make a living doing what theylove.

The opinions expressed in this column arethose of the author, not of All answers areintended to be general in nature, without regard to specificgeographical areas or circumstances, and should only be relied uponafter consulting an appropriate expert, such as an attorney oraccountant.

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