“Be strong enough to stand alone, smart enough to know when you need help and brave enough to ask for it!” –Z. Abdelnour
I'm sure you're going to be surprised to hear what I have to say. The purpose of this story is all about asking for help. We might not want to sometimes but sometimes you just have to if you want something bad enough and you can't physically make it possible, you've got to find other people that can. Since I didn't ask for help when I needed it, it led me to getting arrested. Yes…me. I have been arrested. I have a mugshot and I was fingerprinted. Trust me, it scared me for life and I have been traumatized from that experience. So what happened?
I was 17 and I was coming home from a basketball game. I get home, run upstairs and quickly change because now I'm going to head out to a friend's house. What happened was my sister's boyfriend also came home from that game and he parked behind me. I clearly was in a hurry and I never thought to look behind me in the driveway. I got in my parents brand new car, backed the car up and completely smashed my friend's car.
The upside to this was that he was my friend and his car was just so ridiculous and I think there was duct tape on it, completely falling apart. I didn't have to worry about fixing his car. I go back and look at what happened and I'm just like oh my goodness, this is horrible. So I go inside the house and I talk to Josh, my sisters boyfriend, and I'm like don't freak out…but I just smashed your car and I was like don't tell Mom and Dad, I want to just see what I can do.
I thought somehow let me just see what I can do, let me see if I can fix this. I thought if I can get this car in the garage they're never going to see it and then they're gonna be gone for seven days. I had this whole big idea in my head. I get to the party at my friends house and I tell everybody what just happened and they're all brainstorming to give me ideas and do this and that and pretty much they're like you just gotta go fix it.
I think deep down inside I just didn't want to disappoint my parents. I was so scared that they would just think that I was irresponsible, getting in trouble and I just didn't want that to happen. The next morning my parents take off on their trip and I take off to any dealership I can find to see if anybody can fix it. I kept getting quotes of their timeline which could be up to two weeks like no no no!! I needed it today and I need it done by next week.
I find out that it's just way too much money to fix and I just don't have the funds to make it happen. So I have this idea that I can go to work, which I was working at Walgreens at this time, and when I come home I'm going to tell my older sister I just left work and somebody hit the side of my car while I was parked in the store. So she's like well we have to call the police to get a police report.
She calls the police, they come to her house and the guys ask me all these questions. It ended up being the wrong police department for where the accident happened. So I call the city and they said no problem, let's meet onsite at Walgreens. I'm 17. I'm not smart enough to think there should be debris on the ground when somebody hits your car if it gets smashed, but I did know that. They kept questioning me and didn’t believe me but he wrote the report up and that was it, so I'm thinking OK I'm in the clear. Little did I know that this was about to happen…
A few days later my friend was working out at the YMCA in a totally different city. She was telling one of our mutual friends what had happened and said, I think Stacy is actually going to get away with this. The cops believed her. However, there was a cop from that city where it took place right there at the YMCA listening to her story. The entire thing. So I am now called back into the police department. He just kept questioning me and questioning me and trust me, I fought hard.
I’m persistent and I just kept saying that's how it happened. Then he told me how he heard my friends talking and I said she's lying, I don't even know who this girl is. At this point there's tears, I mean I'm just ugly crying all over the place. So I ended up getting a ticket for obstructing an officer. I didn’t even know that was a thing. You can't lie to police officers. I mean it makes sense, I just didn’t know it at 17. I also did not know about insurance fraud which could have also happened if I tried to have insurance cover it. Major life lessons at this point.
The worst part is I not only have to tell my parents that I smashed their car but I have to tell them I’ve been arrested. I’m scared out of my mind. So here's the part of the story that if you're going where is she going on this tangent. This is the part that you really need to hear so the hardest thing for me was seeing my mother. We talked that night and it was brutal and I just felt like I was going to completely let her down. So I went to sleep, just crying and I woke up really early that morning just because I couldn't sleep. When I went downstairs, I could see the light on so somebody else was up. It was my mother.
I can still imagine this conversation and this is so hard even just to say. She said to me, ‘I've been up thinking all day long, what have I ever done to make you think you couldn't tell me this?’ She had tears in her eyes. It's so hard being a mom now thinking you want your child to come to you for anything and she was so right. There was no evidence that my parents wouldn't have been able to handle the situation or treat me in a way that I was hoping. I just didn't want to disappoint them and I wanted to take care of it myself, I didn't want to ask my mom and dad to fix it. I wanted to take that responsibility and that ownership. Looking back now I know I made the wrong choice. As a mom of two little girls I know I would want them to tell me anything and I will tell them this story because I want them to know you have to come to me in that situation.
Why is this story coming up now? I recently got into some trouble. No mug shots this time but it felt like mugshots, it felt just as bad. Because this time I'm 33 and I got myself in a situation where I didn't know what to do next. I felt trapped in this little thing called entrepreneurship and I know it always might look just really glamorous but sometimes it can be really, really hard and no one ever talks about it.
So, I'm in this process of getting an SBA loan. It stands for small business administration. I'm going to rip on SBA loans for a minute but I'm going to tell you that it’s a good thing and it helps people do things and build businesses that maybe couldn't or couldn't get a loan like this. I have gotten an SBA loan in the past for a much larger project at my brick and mortar business. I had borrowed over a million dollars and I thought at the time this has been the hardest thing I think I've ever gone through in my entire life. It has been incredibly, incredibly stressful. We were supposed to close on this loan on June 13th because I only have twelve weeks from June to August to remodel this back area of my dance studio which is around 3,000-4,000 square feet.
We're closing down that part of the building and open back up after Labor Day with the entire back completely remodeled. So we’re on a time crunch and I have made sure the bank has agreed that this is going the right way and that the contractor is on board. Everybody knows it has to happen. But what's happening is we're getting closer and closer to June 13 and I can tell we're not going to close in time and I'm freaking out because what that means is I'm not opening on September 4th, so what that means is I'm losing and having to reimburse people. This could not just be losing a week or two of tuition. This could be people leaving me for the next ten years because they switch studios. So I'm getting really in over my head and I'm going what am I going to do? I’m not taking no for an answer. What are my options? What can I do?
I called them and said is there any way we can get started because they're saying it's going to close. He said listen, we've actually done that in the past and unfortunately we were recently burned by a multi-million dollar project that actually didn't get approved by SBA. He said we just can't take that risk after what just happened because we were out that money.
We've been working on this loan since January 2018. It’s now almost the end of July and it's not finished and that is just to show you how long this process has been and what they need me to come up with. This was really hard for me and I started to not be able to sleep. I couldn't stop thinking about it at night. I couldn't eat for two weeks. I did not have an actual meal. I only ate snacks because that was the only thing that I could eat. It was almost like I felt pregnant and I actually said to my husband, maybe I am pregnant because that’s how I felt. Nothing sounded good, I had no appetite, I would eat two bites of something and I wanted to throw up. I mean I was so close to taking a pregnancy test because that is literally what I thought this has to be what's happening.
I wasn't handling the stress well. All that stress just kept leading to me being super unhappy and snapping at people left and right. As I'm trying to come up with these situations and figure this out I'm realizing nobody's caring about this with me. I felt like nobody cared, nobody was trying to help me. I was on my own and I've never felt so alone before. I basically called the contractor and said let's see if I would personally guarantee if this loan doesn't come through that I'll pay for the loan.
Usually you sign off on a piece of paper that you're going to do this. Now, personally guaranteeing things in the brick and mortar world is so common. Every mortgage I have, every time I rented a space, you are personally guaranteeing you're going to pay. What does that mean? It means that if you don't they'll come after everything you own, your house, your car, any asset you have. It's theirs because you are going to have to personally guarantee it. So I was hoping that would work. He said OK, we think that might work.
So I'm super excited except for the fact that I don't have $256,000 for that down payment. I knew in my head what I needed to do but I didn't want to do it. I was just looking for anything else but this but there just wasn't. I realized I had to make this phone call to my mom and I told her everything. I said I'm in over my head and she was like let me talk to your dad and we'll figure something out.
I wasn't asking to borrow money I was asking if they could prove that they had $256,000 in case the loan fell through. The bank kept reassuring me we were fine and it wasn't going to go through. We already had been approved by U.S. Bank. We just had not been approved by the SBA loan. This is something where I knew they were pulling out of their retirement account and I don't know details, I didn't ask, I just knew I had to ask them because I didn't know who else to ask.
I just didn't know what that was going to look like and I felt like a child all over again. I just admitted to my parents that I don't have it all together and I'm struggling and you want your parents to be proud of you. I felt like I had just come home with an F on a test and it was really difficult. This is why I say how bad do you want it? What would you do to make this happen? What would you go to, to make this happen. If I'm being honest with myself, when I ask myself that same question I realized I had no choice but to do that. I haven't asked to borrow money for my parents since I was like a kid right.
This was not something that I ever saw myself doing and I will tell you it will never happen again because this was a wake up call. This was such a wake up call for me and here are a few things that I've learned that I hope you can take away from both of these stories.
#1: I need more liquidity
With my money situation, I need a bigger savings, I need cash flow that I can pull out for things like investments and things where I can actually grab that money. I've been so scared of investing my money because I just hear these horror stories how people end up behind bars and then insist this big scam and people just steal your money. I realize that there are good people out there and I just need to find them and I need start investing where there's liquidity in it where if something ever happens in an emergency I have the cash to make it happen. I was taking too big of risks with my cash flow. I get so excited about investing that I just go after something because I know there's going to be a return but you still have to have that savings account to get you there just in case.
#2: I need a bigger down payment to avoid SBA loans
There are some incredible things that have come out of SBA and they are doing great things for people but it’s a nightmare. It’s a headache of the things that they request and when you're trying to run a business. Not only do I want a bigger down payment, I honestly said I want enough money that I don’t even need to take a loan for $50,000.
#3: There are people around you that will help if you ask
There are people around you that you might feel like I could never do this, I could never tell her. You think what are they going to think? What are we going to do or how are they going to judge me. One of those things is how bad you want it and you have to sometimes kick your ego to the side and make this happen if you truly want it this bad. For me there is no stopping me. I don't care what I have to do as long as it's ethical and it's legal. I want to make sure that I will do whatever it takes as long as it's within my core values.
#4: Keep looking for the answer
The answer is there, but you are the only one searching for it. Like I said I really truly have never felt so alone because no one cares about your business like you do. Nobody. You have to keep looking, I don't care how many no's you've heard you need to keep going to the next option and the next option, you need to get creative. By seeking help, by asking other people they might come up with other suggestions or other ideas. Ask people whether it’s your family, your friends just share with people. Tell them, here's what's happening and maybe somebody is going to come up with an idea that you didn’t think of because you're just so close to it.
#5: Don't lie to police officers!!
First, how funny is it that I married a police officer. I mean seriously. That just came full circle. What's really funny is I recently got global entry which is the TSA PreCheck. But when you apply they’re going to ask you questions, you have to go to this place and one of the questions is have you ever been arrested…when they asked me that I said yes, actually I have. This just happened this year and it was this really nice African-American lady that asked this question and she said, tell me about this child like she was just very intrigued and I don’t think she was picturing me to say that and I told her the story and she said first of all they did not need to get a mugshot and fingerprint you, they just try to scare you! Let me tell you, it works because I've never done anything wrong since that day.
I hope there was something in here that you can take away and here's the thing, there were so many points that 1 or all 5 could have been something that's a game changer for you today. Whether you need to have more liquidity or you need to figure out who it is you need to ask for help or what you need to do or maybe you've heard so many no's and now you just had the motivation to ask another person and another person and not stop until you hear yes. I want that for you so, so bad. If you ever look at somebody or you've looked at me and thought I wish I had her life or she looks like she's got it all together and it's so easy for her…nothing about entrepreneurship has been easy for me in these last six years.
I would love to hear from you, so tag me @stacytuschl and share a big takeaway with me!