Trouble in the past
Here are three examples of how past financial mistakes impact entrepreneurs today.
I know one entrepreneur who took a one-year, 36% interest loan over a 10-year, 6% Small Business Administration-backed loan that would have required him to place a lien on his home. He felt he was more conservative, but the loan bankrupted him.
Today, he's nearly paralyzed with fear when it comes to loans, severely limiting his growth prospects.
Then there's the husband-an-wife team I know who found themselves financially overextended a few years ago. They managed to mostly clean up the mess, but the experience led them to raise equity for a new startup instead of borrowing money and doing it on their own.
As readers of this blog know, I'm not a fan of giving up equity -- too many people fall for the "Shark Tank" philosophy - and almost always prefer lending. That's not to say the couple won't succeed, but they passed up some reliable lending options in exchange for equity partners who may or may not have their best interests at heart.
And the third example involves me. The Great Recession walloped the company I worked for a decade back in 2008 and 2009. This experience has made me more fiscally conservative in my decisions. I may be enjoying success now, but I still find myself fighting the scars from a decade ago when I make significant decisions today. It's always in the back of my mind.
It's OK to make mistakes - as long as you learn from them. That's what the learning process is all about. Remember that Albert Einstein (who I'd classify as a pretty smart guy) said the definition of insanity is doing the same thing repeatedly but expecting different results.
So, what does this all mean for you?
When you make a decision, you must consider all the information available to you. Naturally, your past experiences will come into play -- and must carefully weight how much value to give them. Was your experience typical? Were there extenuating circumstances? How similar are the situations?
I mentioned it earlier, but this is where getting a second (and maybe third) opinion can be usefull because you get an unbiased view looking at the problem. Of course, those people have their own biases ct=reated by their personal histories, yet since they're different than yours, they can be valuable.
In any case, don't let past biases paralyze you into not making decisions today.