Just as the rich rule the poor, so the borrower is servant to the lender. Proverbs 22:7
Debt. It can bring up a range of opinions, feedback and feelings. Throughout my life, my father did everything he could to teach me the dangers of debt and he urged me to steer far away from it. In some ways, I heeded his advice. What I did not realize was there are indirect roads to debt, especially when it comes to business.
When we started Noodlehead Marketing, I committed to refrain from going into debt. Unfortunately, what I did not realize was there were other bad decisions I could make which would lead me to do the very thing I committed not to do. Here is the first of three stories on how Noodlehead Marketing fell into the debt trap.
The First Trap - A Zealous Hiring
In late 2008, I needed a sales person, or at least I convinced myself I did. I was not going to change my mind. It was just a matter of finding someone to fill the role.
There was a gentleman I looked up to who recommended someone he knew. Because of the state I was in and how highly this recommendation was given, I was now fixed on hiring this person. Any flags that came up were of no concern, because hiring this person was going to give me what I wanted, a sales person.
As you can probably guess, after 3 months he was not generating the results I needed. Now to be fair, he was switching industries, products, and we did not have a good sales system in place. Everything was going against him to start with, so unless he knew his stuff coming in, there was really no realistic way for him to be successful.
In addition, I had a hard time holding him accountable because I felt like I needed him. My fear was, if I held him accountable, he might leave. After the three months had gone by, we ran out of money to pay him. At this point I should have cut the cord and let him go, but I was too attached and committed.
I needed it to work. We just needed more time.
Underlying all this, I was struggling to acknowledge I had made a mistake and instead of facing this harsh reality, I chose to avoid it.
From my experience and observation, I have found debt tends to be a symptom of avoidance. Instead of waiting or addressing the issues we really need to discuss, we instead choose to procrastinate them. Borrowing money allows us to avoid the issue and push it off into the future.
So instead of cutting it off with this sales person, we continued for 3 more months hoping things would turn around, and he would be bringing in enough income to pay for himself. It wasn't enough time, and ten thousand dollars of credit card debt later I decided to make a change. Instead of letting him go, I prolonged our agony and changed his compensation to commission only. It was the easy way for me to let him go.
Reflecting on the situation, I look back and realize my problem was not the lack of a sales person. I had learned about the idea of hiring a sales person, and this became a shiny object. It was my silver bullet to success and I decided I was going to get what I wanted. When I got it, I was not willing to let go, even when it hurt the company. It was in this place where we maintained a cycle which was destructive to me, the sales person and the company.
When we ran out of money and we had to go into debt to continue, we should have decided to lean in and deal with the reality at hand. By doing whatever I could to escape reality, I caused it to get much worse.
What shiny object has pulled you into debt?