I have never considered myself to be an ignorant person with a low capacity for learning, reasoning or comprehension. Although not Harvard educated I did attend some college, but as with many of my peers during the Viet Nam era, my education was cut short due to war.
It wasn’t until I attempted to start a business, the American Dream, did I suddenly and seriously begin to doubt my mentally faculties.
Being a person who has his feet planted firmly on the ground of reality and if anything, being somewhat reserved about his abilities, I never considered creating a business which would become the next IBM or Facebook. I had my sights set on a mere lawn care service.
As I said I’m not business oriented or educated, but I do know how to mow a lawn and consider myself quite capable of managing a small work force to do the same. That’s why my heart skipped a beat when I saw the Lawn Care Business For Sale in the local classified ads.
Being a natural coward, more the Chicken Little profile than a roaring lion, I did my due diligence examining this operation in a very slow and methodical way. I talked and questioned the two owners extensively, not only asking about the business, but probing the ethics and character of the sellers.
I actually went on jobs with the different crews and worked beside them as a worker, long before “Under Cover Boss” was ever televised, with the intent of learning and assessing the employees’ characters and how they performed when the boss wasn’t around.
I was totally impressed with the entire operation and we shook hands on a deal, which was contingent on me acquiring financing, which I never thought would be an issue. I had an excellent credit rating and the $100,000 price tag, although not chump change, paled in significance of 2 million dollars to open a sandwich shop franchise. That’s when my nightmare began.
I was full of energy as I high stepped into the bank that morning, thinking more about the business than worries about financing. I had dealt with this bank for years obtaining home mortgages, numerous car & truck loans and equity loans, all completed with a mere simple meeting and a signature. I expected the same routine that morning.
I guess my mouth must have gapped open with surprise when the loan officer asked to see my business plan, because he inquired if I was alright. I wasn’t alright. I had no idea what a business plan was and certainly didn’t have one to present.
The banker tried to explain what a business plan was and its importance, but I must admit my mind was closed and I was actually becoming angry. I explained the business, citing the equipment alone was worth $50,000 and the two year’s worth of contracts were valued in excess of $150,000, but he wouldn’t budge. No business plan. No loan.
Now I had to research what a business plan was and how to provide one to the bank before I lost the business.
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