"It was a good lesson. A hard one to take. I spent 10 years working on my business, being an industry leader, building new homes. Not just any old house; not your rectangular box shaped house; complicated homes. Pushing boundaries with design and adopting new materials. You know it’s one of mine when you drive by. Like each homeowner, it’s unique in its own way.
I have won plenty of awards, the usual awards from industry judges but the awards I really cherish are the people’s choice awards. When I win these, I know I have had an impact. I am part of their lives and the creation of memories. When they are asked about their home, I feel so satisfied and proud that my name gets a mention.
At the height of my business I employed over 20 people and owned my own design company where we would methodically work and rework designs making sure my signature design and construct would show through. Usually my designs were approved by local authorities in a 4 to 6-week wait. Lately the turnaround has blown out the 3 months and I have clients screaming to have their homes built.
The reason - I ran out of money.
The more and more intricate my designs became, the longer it took to design, build and unfortunately, they cost more. I didn’t factor in the additional costs associated with managing these projects.
I was juggling the cash.
I would take a deposit from one homeowner and use it to pay the bills for another. I took some advice and the choice was stark. I would have to file for bankruptcy and put together a plan to work out my financial situation.
While the advice was that there would be some short-term pain associated with this choice, the long-run would work out. I thought to myself that’s not really a choice. My reputation, my homes, my design, would all be mud. I couldn’t possibly risk all that. I decided to keep going and be more diligent with how I managed the cash and also I would try and sign-up as many new clients as possible.
I lost control. Money coming in here and there, but it was going out just as quick there and here. The more I tried, the more the merry go round picked up speed. Phone calls, delays, anger and stress. I just wasn’t thinking straight.
It all came to an end when someone I owed money to filed for my compulsory bankruptcy. It wasn’t me, it was someone else who forced my business to be closed down. I thought I had a relationship with them. I had lost touch.
My business collapsed. I owed over $4 million in debts, not to mention half built houses.
Now families will have a different memory of my designs and construction. I discovered when you are under pressure you don’t see things as you should. You simply can’t do it on your own. You need help and that’s okay.