Falling into the red—and how it made me a better entrepreneur

When I first ventured out to start my own public relations company, one of my main concerns was to keep my finances in the black. I returned items I had bought, canceled my Netflix account, took money out of my savings, and sold some personal items just to make ends met.

“So what if you fall into the red?” a friend replied when I told him about my efforts. I cringed at the idea. I thought to myself, “How dare he suggest such a thing?”

But despite all of my attempts, I eventually fell into the red. I was beyond embarrassed about my situation, so much so that I couldn’t participate in my usual activities with friends. Just a year before I was able to write checks without a second thought, but now the tables had turned.

I slowly began to share my shame with some more seasoned entrepreneurs, and learned that this process is almost a right of passage for business owners. A few told me about how they were almost evicted because they couldn’t afford rent, and others talked about how they secretly applied for food stamps in order to survive. While I wasn’t happy these individuals had faced such tribulations, I felt comfort in knowing that if they could overcome, so could I.

While I’m still not a fan of falling into the red, I now understand what my friend meant. When your back is against the wall, it’s amazing what you learn to do, figure out, and get over. It was in this moment that I strengthened my hustle to get clients and build my brand. Going into debt helped me to let go of the fear and brought out my assertiveness.

Eventually I finally climbed back into the black as I continued to secure new clients. I had learned to embrace the hard times, which will inevitably come. One of the cool things about going through difficult moments is that you realize that they’re only temporary and that you will get through them.

Embrace your struggles, because they help you grow. It’s like exercising: When you start to work muscles you rarely use, you may experience soreness so severe that it’s hard to move. But as you continue to build and strengthen those muscles, it doesn’t hurt any longer, and you are stronger overall as a result.

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