Most of the time when you read about entrepreneurs, you read about their success. What you rarely read about is all of the failures along with the near heart-attacks and misery that almost all do go through. Well, here is some insight. I recently stumbled on a note that I saved from October 2008. Here is is (virtually unedited):
oct 29 2008
The past few weeks have been brutal. Two weeks ago I discovered that my top salesperson has been forging orders. Not only was I surprised because I had a lot of trust and faith in her, but the financial impact is severe. It looks like over $100k of revenue that I thought was booked is gone. This, while I have showed 2008 projections to potential investors and will now have to explain the difference. Also over the past few weeks the economic outlooks has gone from bad to one of the worst ever. The company is out of cash and I just wrote a personal check for $30k to make payroll. Finally, I just received a notice from the IRS stating that I owe $100k in taxes (I don’t and am annoyed that I got the notice as the IRS agent and I have been communicating and she totally blindsided me by sending the demand letter).
P.S.: We were doing around $1 million in revenue so the $100k of forged orders was significant. That said, we actually increased revenue in 2009 which was amazing.
With respect to that tax notice, while I knew I was right, I certainly didn’t need that notice hanging over my head, especially in the middle of speaking with investors and cleaning up the forged orders. I called the IRS agent and told her I wanted to see her and her boss. She said “how about next week”, to which I replied, “no, I am coming down there in an hour.” To make a long story a little shorter, I left with a $0 due notice. I also got my handful of flesh telling the agent that she can’t go sending unsubstantiated tax notices to business owners because 1) we are too busy to have the burden of defending an unsubstantiated claim by the IRS and 2) most business owners didn’t know taxes like I did (I was a CPA at the beginning of my career) and you could give someone a heart attack.
Now that I think about it, perhaps the hardest things was going to visit and speak with clients and prospects. I had all of the issues outlined above in my head, my family to worry about etc., while telling people, in the worst economic period that I was ever a part of, that they should be advertising with us. And if you been in sales, you know that you can’t show an inch of fear… and you certainly can’t throw up in a meeting (which I felt like doing on many occasions).
And I wouldn’t change a thing.