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How to Build a Company After Losing $3.5 Billion

CFS2 founder Bill Bartmann has more than a few words of wisdom for how to succeed after failing miserably.
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Bill Bartmann has debt-collecting in his DNA.

Before founding Commercial Financial Services (CFS), a debt-collection business and four-time Inc. 500 company, Bartmann grew up in what he calls a "welfare environment" where bill collectors were constantly harassing his parents. The experience, he says, led him to start a debt-collection company that treated people with dignity and respect.

CFS was a massive success and made Bartmann one of the richest men in America. But after an associate was convicted of a crime, he lost it all and wound up in bankruptcy courts.

During a conversation with Young Entrepreneur Council founder Scott Gerber, Bartmann spoke about founding his current company, CFS2, and shared some of his advice for entreprenerus.

"The greatest lesson I've learned is failure is not fatal," he said. "I have failed cataclysmically. I have gone from the 25th wealthiest person in America to the 25th brokest person in America...When you learn failure isn't fatal, you become less afraid of it." 

Accepting responsibility for you're failures, however, is important for anyone looking to begin again, Bartmann says.

"The first advice I'd give is get out of denial as fast as you can. Accept the blame. Say, 'Hey look, I screwed up, I made a mistake, I learned something from it, and I’m going to go again.' As an entrepreneur, you’re supposed to know that on day one."

For more advice on how to move on from failure, watch the video below.

 

Bill Bartmann: The Comeback Kid

How do you succeed after failure? The founder and CEO of CFS2 Inc., a debt collection company based in Tulsa, tells Inc.'s Scott Gerber how it's done.

 
Last updated: Jun 20, 2014

GRAHAM WINFREY

Graham Winfrey is a staff writer for Inc.com. He previously covered alternative investments at Private Equity International magazine, prior to which he worked at Business Insider and MSNBC.com. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.




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