Steven's Resurrection from Debt
Debt is a disease that destroys peace of mind, cripples enthusiasm, and crushes enterprise and ambition. Steven's story is typical of small business owners who embrace their entrepreneurship but are ill equipped to handle the financial side of the business so they simply avoid doing the math.
Several years ago Steven Taylor launched an exciting new life and career for himself as a small business owner. A hair-stylist by profession, Steven's chance at working for himself came when the owner of the salon where he was employed offered to sell the business to him. He jumped at the chance, even though he had little management experience and no business plan.
"I had no idea how much it would cost to run a salon. I had no business structure and no budget."
Initially, the employees loved his laid-back approach to business, but before long, some of the stylists were requesting more organization and structure. Several became disgruntled with the manager Steven hired and one left for another salon. When other stylists left and took their clientele with them Steven's income dropped dramatically.
"Little by little I was losing control. It got to the point that I didn't even want to know what was going on."
Meanwhile, Steven's spending increased. He lavished gifts on friends and family, joined two health spas and hired a personal trainer. He says he never really stopped to add the costs. "I just thought the money would be there."
Soon, the signs of trouble were everywhere. The paychecks he wrote often bounced and he was sometimes locked out of his business for unpaid bills. Once his landlord confiscated his possessions in lieu of back rent. Steven's growing debt was taking a toll on his health.
"The pressure was so intense that I started smoking, stopped taking care of myself and I didn't get any sleep."
A generous nature, a failing business and a "laid-back" approach to budgeting had pushed him to the brink of financial disaster. He talked to accountants and small business experts, but their advice seemed too complex and impractical. Some advised him to file for bankruptcy.
Just as he thought he was at the end of his rope, Steven found out about a debt management class. He attended a half-day seminar that introduced him to a simple debt payment plan, a few simple financial principles and a common-sense budgeting philosophy.
The seminar, "Good Debt, Bad Debt" by Austin-based Human Excellence, an experiential training company, made a tremendous difference in Steven's life. The instructors presented essential information in a format that he found easy to understand, inspirational and even fun.
"It was like someone turned on a light bulb. No one had ever talked to me about money in that way. It made a huge difference in my life."
In this and other seminars, Susan and Robert Meredith of Human Excellence use several alternative formats to present information and appeal to the different ways in which people retain knowledge and learn. The core of Human Excellence's training is to provide human empowerment and business success by combining traditional training methodologies with experiential training techniques. In this particular case, Steven was able to practice and experience new ways of thinking about finances rather than merely hearing about them through passive learning. The seminar not only offered Steven practical tools such as a payment program, but human empowerment tools to change the behavior patterns that drove his spiraling debt.
"I'm extremely visual," Steven said. "Just hearing or reading about how to manage my finances didn't work for me. The fact that they showed it and walked us through the entire system visually, made a big difference. That's the most important part of the class. When they showed me, in black and white, that there was actually a plan that would work I finally understood. Before, the big numbers overwhelmed me. In the seminar, I realized that even though my debt had gotten way out of control, there was a solution."
"Good Debt, Bad Debt" gave Steven the direction and tools he needed to change the way he was living and to climb out of debt. He sold his salon, got a job, and changed the long-standing habits that had led him into debt. Susan Meredith of Human Excellence further reports, "The last time I spoke with Steven, he asked me for the name of a good financial planner. He has not only eliminated his debt; he is now on the road to building wealth."