When Your Business Hits a Dead End, It May Not Be a Dead End, Part I

I heard two stories in the same meeting about businesses that had reached a dead end and found a way to rebound and become much more successful. In both cases the founders were within a very short time window of shutting down. Then, each did something that saved their companies: they talked with an unlikely source of help.

Story #1: A construction company that was doing poorly received a call from a Fortune 50 company asking them if they rented a special piece of equipment. When the owner answered the phone, he was actively considering going out of business. He was desperately short of cash and had few prospects of work. Something made him realize an opportunity had presented itself and, instead of saying “We don”t rent equipment to others,” he said, “Let me check my warehouse.” In true entrepreneur fashion he was saying “we can do that” and then wondering how in the world he was going to do it. He had no problem finding the equipment at a rental source. But it was going to cost a lot of money he did not have to rent it and then re-rent it to the inquiring company. His excitement quickly turned to despair which only worsened when he was unable to interest any local bank in lending him the money. So he went home and figured it was all over and started puttering around in his garage.

A neighborhood boy with whom he had developed a friendship stopped by to chat. The business owner was in no mood to chat and kept refusing to answer the boy”s questions about what was wrong by saying “You wouldn’t understand.” Finally, just to get the kid to stop bugging him, he told him about the opportunity and the fact that he had no money to take advantage of it because no one would advance him the funds. The boy responded “Have you talked with my Dad?” and urged the business owner to accompany him down the street to his home. He did and at the boy”s assistance, told his father the whole story. The father then got out his checkbook and staked the business owner to the first month”s rent on the equipment. The owner was then able to sign a contract with the Fortune 50 company for over a year”s rental of the equipment and accessories. The contract gave him a stable cash flow base on which to grow the company into a very successful firm. Important lessons here- have a good plan, don”t give up and don”t hesitate to tell your story to anyone who will listen because you just don”t know who can help you if you don”t ask. Tune in next week for Part II.