Leadership is always the problem and leadership is always the solution.

The year was 2008; at a time that most businesses were struggling, and the housing market was collapsing, the beginning of a recession.  The effects could be seen everywhere.

I remember all of the empty retail spaces, the rising unemployment rate and foreclosures all around us. My partner and I must have been completely oblivious to the state of the economy. How else can you explain why we decided to start a business together at this uncertain time? This was the beginning of “the perfect storm” for our company, which specialized in consumer debt settlement. Our niche was helping people that had fallen victim to a predatory lender or as most would know them as a Payday Loan Provider.

What started out as a bootstrap startup, grew into a multi-million dollar enterprise, servicing the US and eventually Canada. In a time span of 1 year, we moved from my dining room to 5,000 sq ft office and added 30 employees. We had enough common sense to create the processes necessary to build the company and thrive. For 2 years we were on fire! Our employees enjoyed parties, TV giveaways, and large commission checks. Most of the sales staff were a member of our comma club. Life was great for the whole team.

Our industry was very heavily regulated by state and federal entities. In an effort to protect the consumers the FTC passed a new regulation in 2010, which would change our industry forever. This new regulation forced businesses like ours to change their business model or face heavy fines and lawsuits. Within 24 months most debt settlement firms were out of business. We managed to hang. Looking back now I can see all the terrible decision we made and the panic we created. The team that used to do anything for us suddenly became terrible employees. We started feeling betrayed. We gave these people jobs and paid them well. None of that mattered anymore, we were no longer leading the team, only blaming them. Why don’t they care anymore? Why aren’t they working harder?

Most business owner and startups have this belief that if they only had more money they can overcome trouble and be successful. We had a monthly marketing budget of 45,000 and that didn’t help us. I  have no doubt that the only thing to blame was our lack of knowledge in regards to strong leadership skills. This was not that apparent until we had to face these tough times. After many failed attempts to change to a new business model and become profitable again, we finally admitted our defeat in 2014 and closed our business. This has been one of the most difficult times in our lives. Partnerships ended, and friendships were lost. Over the past 2 years, my vision has been to save struggling businesses from failure and instill the importance of great leadership skills in them.

A good leader will make a firm decision, communicate it clearly to his team and speak with confidence so that the team will believe they’re on the right path. A bad leader will go back and forth on his decisions, looking at his team for validation and leave everybody feeling panicked because they feel that nobody is really in charge.

Leadership is always the problem and leadership is always the solution.