Monday, June 13, 2016

My Peak Challenge 2016: What happens when you fail

So what do you do when you fail at something? Cry? Eat junk food? Stay in bed all day? Drink copious amounts of alcohol? What do you do when you fail at something big?

If you have read this blog before then you know I participated in something called My Peak Challenge last year. I wrote about it a few times. If you don't know what it was or need a refresher, click here for the beginning and here for the end result from last year. This year was of course bigger, better, and more bad-assery. It kicked off in January and culminated for the entire month of May. There was a facebook group formed for all the participants and a two month long prep program that ran from February through the end of March that included meal prep, menu's, and an exercise program with videos and tutorials. We were to pick our challenge and had the entire month of May to complete it. And of course all the while we were raising money for cancer research. I signed up for it all. I was so excited to do it again. I got my MPC 2016 t-shirt, bought the prep program and followed it every day for the entire two months. I even found and bought a rowing machine from craig's list. All the while I was trying to decide what my May challenge would be. I decided that this year it wouldn't be a physical challenge but a professional one. I kept quiet about the whole challenge this year. No weekly blog posts about good running music or embarrassing work-out mishaps. I didn't want to blurt out what my challenge was going to be. I wanted it to be a surprise.

When I left archaeology originally, it was to pursue opening a small business. My dream was to own and operate a used bookstore and gelato shop. So I started to pursue it. I wrote a business plan, started collecting books, went to classes sponsored by the SBDC (Small Business Development Center) and my local Chamber of Commerce. Learned how to make gelato from a real Italian. I put it on hold when I realized I needed money I didn't have and then my mom got sick. Well then she died, and I started My Peak Challenge 2015 last year. My sister bought me out of our house, I moved into dad's house, and I cashed out my archaeology 401k. All of a sudden, I now had money. So let's do this. Time to get this dream out of the clouds and a reality. That was going to be my May challenge. To find a building in downtown for my shop and get the necessary loans needed to get it up and running. So that's what I did. I rewrote my business plan, found the building I wanted, got my real estate agent on it, and went to a local non-profit that specializes in small businesses and their funding and the bank with my applications.

The non-profit said, "sorry, we won't fund you at this time, too high risk". The bank said the same thing. This wasn't just some normal big bank. Big banks won't even look you in the eye without coming to them with a multi-million dollar deal. I was just asking for $400,000. The bank I went to is one of the local community banks that specialize in small businesses. I tried SBA loans which are government backed and got no answers. I then asked my sister and brother-in-law to go in on it with me thinking they have collateral that I don't have and have incomes that I don't so surely the bank would like them better. Nope. The way that banks and any other financial institutions work these days are not for the common person. They work for huge conglomerates and the big money makers. They will not invest in small businesses. They just won't. They make it so hard. You have to front up to 50%, have already been in business for 3-5 years, etc. So how is someone suppose to start up, when no one will lend? You don't.

I failed. There are a ton of articles about how the current U.S. economy has killed small businesses and entrepreneurs. Google it. Read this article from Time magazine. Could I get investors? Sure, but then I have to do what they say, pay them back at their interest rate, on their terms. It wouldn't be my business, it would be theirs until I payed them off. Could I crowd fund? Sure. Could I get $300-400,000 that I need? No.

I failed. The U.S. economy failed. The only way to be an entrepreneur now is to be a 1%-er trust fund kid. And that, I am not. You have to do it outside of the traditional route. And even then you are taking a big risk. I was willing to take the risk. No one else was.

So what do you do when you fail? When your dream is dead in the water? Well, you keep getting up in the morning. You keep putting your clothes on. You keep going to that job you hate. You keep eating food. And you run. Run till you can't go any farther. You run till your tears stop flowing. You run with the music so loud you drown out the negative voice in your head telling you that you suck and you're a looser. You run. And you keep running. And get up the next day and do it all over again. Because sometimes, that's all you can do.

I did not succeed at this years My Peak Challenge. Not everyone did. Some people had to have surgeries. Others had to stop because they are on chemo treatments. Some got injured. Did these people give up because they failed to reach their peak this year? Hell no. They get up every day and go to physical therapy or to their chemo treatments. They keep going. And so will I. I will keep getting up every day. I will run because that is all I can do.

I failed. My dream of being a proud small business owner may be over, but I'm still here. And for now, I'll keep running.

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