Failing Forward

In my other life beyond the Debt Free Divas, I run a community Laundromat with my wonderful husband. The experience has been filled with trials, triumphs and tests of wills. We’ve bounced back from stolen power lines, questionable employees, and general fatigue common with keeping a struggling business a float. After 10 years, we’ve hit a snag that might be a game changer.

We are well aware that most small businesses fail. However, I think like most entrepreneurs, we pushed forward with an optimism that in some ways is part delusional. We invested a massive amount of time and treasurer into the endeavor because we believed that we could overcome the obstacles. This effort was not just a business, we also saw it as a mission field. What better way to build relationships with people in a community than to spend time with them while washing. That was our plan.

The past 10 years have been an awakening for sure. Looking for a “turn-key” operation initially led us to the laundry business. However, not long after the doors opened, we began to learn key lessons. Most importantly, nothing runs on autopilot for long. I also have come to fully understand a quote from Ray Kroc, the founder of McDonalds: “Know your business”. When trying to determine whether to buy business with a building or not, we elected to go big or go home. Hindsight is generally 20/20. Looking back, we would have done better to open a Laundromat without the headache of maintaining a very old structure.

The structure, brings us to this realization…it is likely time to cut our losses and learn from our experience. Last week, the gas company visited the store for a routine maintenance check and discovered that we had a gas leak severe enough the gas needed to be shut off. No gas, means no business. As we wait to see what the insurance company will cover, if anything, a plumber estimates the repair work will cost anywhere from $15,000 to $28,000.

Facing the prospect of failure is no fun. The past few days have been difficult. Bruised pride aside, we are wrestling with some crucial questions. Do we knuckle down and face yet another challenge? Do we push forward and work through the numerous other potential problems this structures faces? Do we turn over the keys and take our financial lumps?

I don’t know the answers to any of these questions yet. I want to do what’s best for our family in the long run. So stay tuned, I’ll keep blogging on the updates. I did want to share this – mainly to take away any chance I might have of letting this experience bring me down. I’ve said it before, we need not to suffer in silence and sharing this not-so-rosey experience removes any power it might hold over me. We might be failing in one huge area of life, but I’m going to use this failure to keep moving forward.   

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