You will never hear anyone tell you that being an entrepreneur is easy. And if they do, they are lying or they’ve been incredibly lucky in their journey. It can be immensely rewarding, but it is not easy. If you read about the common traits required to be successful as an entrepreneur you will consistently see characteristics such as passion, tenacity, discipline and self-motivated to name a few. Talk to any entrepreneur and they will each have stories of incredible struggles and low-points while they have built their business. Some of these stories are full of so many challenges, others will wonder why they’ve continued on this path. However, we tend to be an optimistic bunch and value our struggles as they have brought us to where we are today.
I’ve just recently came through one of my longest battles for my business to secure some much needed financing. This has been a fight since day one. In the beginning, I understood that I was a newer business and in a relatively new industry that many did not understand. I was also a service-based business, so the risk was too high. I took equity out of my home and put a large sum of money towards opening my first facility. We did all of the renovations and I put a lot of blood, sweat and tears into getting it opened. It was a tough, but incredibly rewarding experience. We saw growth and immediate success, but with high rental and staff costs, it was challenging. I did not take any money for myself for the first 3 years of being open, but rather invested this back into the business. And I worked unbelievably long hours.
When I approached the bank again after seeing continual yearly growth of 150%+, I was turned down because I was not taking personal income. Feeling like I had made this decision as a good choice for my business, and that I was lucky to be able to do this, this was something I did not understand. I wanted to grow my business and had many ideas that I wanted to put into place, so being turned down again forced me to implement one of the most labour-intensive projects to date. I created our Dog Trainer Apprenticeship Program which was immediately successful and allowed me to further fund my business and expand to a second location.
When I began considering this expansion, I contacted a national business bank that offered funding programs for young entrepreneurs. Going through the process, I was told the funding was in place, so I put down a large deposit on the next location. We started work and I kept following up with the bank. About a month into renovations, my call was finally returned and I was advised that the banker I had been working with had been let go and I could receive the money with a $20,000 deposit. At this point, all of my money had already been invested into the new location and I had nothing left to give. This devastated me and I was unsure if we would be able to open. I was worried I was going to lose the entire business at this point. We had about $600 in drywall to purchase that day and everyone told me to wait. I knew if I gave in, that would be it, so made the decision to keep purchases going for necessities, cut back my budget and dropped out some of our plans. I also went into my personal finances and was able to provide some cash flow into the business. We opened for our target date and saw immediate growth, filling our location within a year.
Throughout all of this, I have struggled to manage the growth of the business, battled the CRA which resulted in back paying a year of payroll taxes, went through a divorce along with a variety of other challenges. Needless to say, it has been hard. However, this week, after another long battle with the bank, I received the good news. It was an overwhelming experience and the emotions from it all were unreal. Finally! The feeling like someone believes in what you are doing, takes you seriously and wants to see you succeed. Don’t get me wrong, I have seen tremendous success, have an amazing core team who believes in dogma’s vision, have a wonderful network of amazing friends, clients and business acquaintances, and met my soul mate. I also know there will be more struggles ahead. But for now, I’ve successfully conquered a big one and I am damn proud of it.
If you have not already, please read The Alchemist. This book was from my sister for my 21st birthday and it was life-changing. I read it at least once a year as it is a quick read, and I always take something different from it. It is a story about following your heart and your dreams, and how when you do so, the universe conspires to get you there. It is a story that teaches us that there will be challenges and struggles, but that all of these happen for a reason, and that as long as we are continuing on our path, we will get through them and things will be for the best.
The lessons from The Alchemist help me get through the hard times. This recent experience has floored me and got me thinking about how many times I had wanted to give up and what would have happened if I did. I wanted to share this story and keep it as a reminder for myself and for all of the other entrepreneurs who are feeling discouraged, alone and like they have no fight left. This is what sets you apart from the rest. You will not give up. Keep moving forward and stay focused on the end goal. You must fight, and it is your passion for what you do that will keep you going forward. Focus on all the good things that have come into your life because of your personal journey. Do not give up. You have the strength and stopping now is giving up on your dreams. Success comes to those who work hard.
Share your struggles below! Let us know about challenges you have overcome and how things ended for the best.