LinkedIn Influencer, Dave Kerpen, published this post originally on LinkedIn.
It’s that point of year again. As my children and I prepare their costumes and pick which scary movies to view during the night, I realized that I really like the scary Halloween spirit. The wind is howling, it’s getting darker earlier, and homes are decorated with scary looking creatures.
The spooky season got me considering how scary as an entrepreneur can be sometimes. Stories of entrepreneurial success are glamorized everywhere online and on the net, but many entrepreneurs, myself, proceed through awfully scary times on the path to success. THEREFORE I asked entrepreneurs from the Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) the next: What’s the scariest story you’ve ever experienced as a business owner?
I’d been focusing on my business for approximately six months but nonetheless wasn’t ready to leave the back-up and comfort of my day job. The economy at that time was terrible, and my boss explained that easily could think about any "creative ways" to save lots of the business money, he’d want to hear about them. I pitched a trial remote work arrangement for 90 days, where I’d have a 50 percent pay cut, reside in Hawaii (opening us up to new clientele) and expand the footprint of our small company. Per month later he returned and said, "We’ve didn’t accept your proposal, but we encourage this as your resignation." I was completely unprepared for that response. My business wasn’t yet profitable, and I had no idea how things would play out. It finished up being just the kick I had a need to begin taking things seriously, and from there the business enterprise grew at an exponential pace.
– Sean Ogle, Founder, Location 180, LLC
I attended an essential trade show in Colorado that had an extremely rough start. I attained the convention center the evening prior to the show to create my booth. When I attained my booth, the pallet containing all my materials had not been there. I asked around, and the ground manager said that my pallet was repaid to storage and that I’d not have the ability to retrieve it before next morning. I acquired up early the very next day and walked to the convention center around 5 a.m. When I arrived, the security guards wouldn’t normally let me on to the floor and the ground manager was nowhere found, therefore i was escorted to the security office. Following the run around by security, I walked to to the warehouse to retrieve my pallet. The first forklift operator who wanted to help looked for approximately twenty minutes and couldn’t think it is. It had been now 6:30 a.m., and I was needs to panic that my pallet never managed to get to the convention center from our office. It had been a horrible feeling! Finally someone radioed for the reason that they found it. I received the pallet late and worked constantly to get everything create in time. Thankfully all of those other four-day trade show went smoothly and was successful.
– Chris Kane, Co-founder, Bounceboards LLC
People often say, "Don’t count your chickens before they hatch." As a entrepreneur, you have a tendency to overlook such popular phrases and categorize them as irrelevant cliches. Until, of course, you have such a catastrophic event stemming from assumption and sheer hope. In my own case, my company was just moving away from the bottom but had a whole lot of incredible ideas. One investor expressed so much interest that he insisted we start taking the necessary steps to put us for success. Among these things was obtaining expensive work place in an appealing location. I became so excited by the investor’s charisma that I took his intentions and ran with them, albeit prematurely in retrospect. Before even closing the offer for his investment, a more naive version of myself fronted the original deposit and procured any office space. I also bought a few of the materials that might be had a need to operate at the scale we discussed with the investor. After a couple weeks, it became clear that the investment was never likely to finalize. I was stuck needing to sublease the oversized office to another person. The mistake hurt, nonetheless it made me much smarter and more deliberate in everything I really do.
– Logan Lenz, Founder / President, Endagon
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In 2013 I was in Austin during among the college basketball games for March Madness. I received a call from a teammate who was simply frantic. She had just been served with a lawsuit! I stepped outside and immediately called our lawyer, Doug. We thought the suit was frivolous. We’d created a couple of custom watches for a significant technology company in Silicon Valley. They used these on the market with their super-fans. We used the logo that they had provided, wear it the watch and that was that. Roughly we thought. Works out that people had used a trademarked term. The watch company out of Florida sued our startup in addition to the tech company. To us, this is exactly like if someone had put a trademarked term on a Hanes t-shirt; certainly you wouldn’t sue Hanes. The big company refused to indemnify us. After an awful few months with worries of moving away from business and a lot of legal fees, we eventually paid a big sum to stay. The case was dismissed without prejudice.
– Aaron Schwartz, Founder and CEO, Modify Watches
In 2003 I launched my initial online venture: an e-commerce store selling camping gear. After working very difficult for 1 . 5 years on SEO, our site was rewarded with a No. 1 spot in the various search engines for the keyword "camping gear." Our traffic spiked therefore did our sales. Our sales went from about $3,000 monthly to $30,000 monthly almost overnight. Since we were utilizing drop shippers, our rankings caused us new problems. Suddenly the drop shippers cannot match us. I did so what any other entrepreneur would do… I quickly called the manufacturers and started ordering pallets of camping gear to be sent to my garage. Just a couple weeks later I acquired the decision. They said my merchant account was on hold because of suspicious activity and they were likely to hold all of the money still being processed for 3 months to be sure we didn’t have a whole lot of charge-backs. I quickly got TWO additional merchant accounts and when the funds cleared I closed the other one. Lesson learned. In the event that you intend to have your sales spike because of something launch or getting first-page rankings in the various search engines, let your merchant account know first!
– Nicole Munoz, Founder, CEO, Start Ranking Now
Early in on our first online startup, we’d a developer contain the site ransom for the money. He ran up the hosting costs to about $8,000 for 14 days before we caught it, then blamed it on a hacker. He was the only person (besides me) with usage of the dashboard that required a double confirmation for adjusting the scaling for the hosting services. It might only have already been him. While we knew that which was going on, we were confronted with having the site turn off when it had been finally getting some traction or paying the amount of money to achieve the site back. He was using Heroku credits from winning a previous hackathon and essentially converting it to cash by making us pay this "bill." Those startup credits are actually useless unless you’re with them for a big website, which explains why he wanted the money. Obtaining a lawyer involved could have taken weeks, so we’d to do something quickly. Coincidentally, his "credit card" company needed the amount of money to cover the bill with only a bi weekly heads up, right before he was moving to L.A. Unfortunately, we’d to pay the guy knowing full well what he was doing to get our site back and continue forward. BIG lesson learned.
– Andy Karuza, CEO, Gossip App
Amazon will shut your seller account down in the event that you fall below a particular customer approval rating. I don’t remember the precise number, but it’s around a 96 or 97 percent satisfaction rate. We were Organize.com and treading along that line for about 12 months. We got the "suspension" notice 1 day requesting us to respond. I recall seeing the appearance on our office manager’s face. She arrived to my office pale-faced and explained the news headlines. Amazon represented 70 percent of most of our business. This is catastrophic; we’d done almost $700,000 the month prior. It significantly hurt our business and ultimately ended in us closing any office and laying off everyone. It had been the scariest amount of time in my entire life. I’d just gotten married, and today we were out of business with piles of debt. I was concerned about everything. Lessons learned: Don’t put all of your eggs in a single basket. And do not put the continuing future of your business on somebody else’s platform. It may 1 day be gone and there is nothing that can be done about any of it.
– John Rampton, Founder, Hostt
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I purchased software for $1.3 million. It had been make or break for my company. Works out, they sold me bum software. I was between a rock and a difficult place. I felt 12 months down this path was too much to carefully turn back. Clients left daily because they lost faith that the problems would ever resolve. As it happens the sellers committed fraud. I exhausted the potential fixes. My closest confidants advised me to employ an attorney and get my cash back. I was broke. My money box didn’t have $75,000 for the first payment retainer for an attorney. Soon, the economy plummeted. Advertising, my industry, was the very first thing businesses cut. Layoffs loomed. My emotional state was dark and tanking deeper in to the abyss. Overnight, I let go 47 employees. I propped up my friends and employees out of my own funds. I extinguished my savings. I felt just like the captain heading down with the ship. I finally realized I couldn’t cry over spilled milk. I picked my "bloodied" self off the mat. I reset and relaxed. Then i moved forward with a remedy that didn’t involve the program and found clarity in my own mistake.
– Joshua Lee, Prosperty Activator | Online Authority Builder | Seeker of Jollification, StandOut Authority
The scariest moment in my own entrepreneurship career happened in March of 2012. We received an "Unnatural Links Warning" from Google and starting that day, our rankings begun to fall over another almost a year. We lost almost 80 percent of our traffic and seemed headed for bankruptcy. Luckily, we could actually find a way from the penalty, however the whole process took 14 months and lots of debt to transport us through. Before the penalty, SEO was our major marketing effort. Since that incident, we’ve diversified our marketing program in order that we never depend on an individual strategy.
– Vladimir Gendelman, Founder and CEO, Company Folders, Inc
For me? My scariest moment as a business owner was back 2008. We had an evergrowing company in Likeable Media and our receivables were growing steadily, but our profit the lender wasn’t enough to create payroll. It had been a terrifying situation that felt like life or death nearly everyday. We nearly missed payroll many times before I secured a credit line to cover the gap. Eventually we got through it, but boy was it scary there for awhile."
Now it’s your turn. What’s the scariest story you’ve ever experienced as a business owner? As your small business owner? As a worker? Please share your stories in the comments section below. And here’s to a spooky but Happy Halloween to all or any who celebrate!