Persistence Pays Off for This Embattled Entrepreneur
After six months of effort, my line of credit comes through
Finally, a small victory in a sea of defeats. Last week, the line of
credit for my company that I've fought so hard for came through. It's not much --
$50,000 -- but after six months of letters and phone calls, I feel
I've accomplished something. I plan to use the credit to help open a small
New York City office and hire another person. Though it's a very small
line, I can increase it as my business grows.
It's important to note that this small miracle could not have been accomplished
without human intervention -- a very customer-savvy and caring bank manager
named Joe at the Smithtown, Long Island, branch of North Fork Bank who went
to bat for me. In an age where machines are fast becoming our dumb servants,
nothing replaces human judgment, negotiation, and a handshake.
It was Joe who challenged me to come up with a new approach after the
bank turned me down on the first go-round. And it's Joe who makes me feel
important when I walk into his branch. I don't care how advanced we get. You
can't build a machine that has those qualities. I read somewhere that a
large bank is eliminating tellers on Saturdays. The next obvious step is
tellers only on Mondays and Fridays. Before long, the bank manager will
disappear and with him or her the ability to share a cup of coffee and
work out a deal.
I have no patience for things that do not bend. Machines do not bend.
Trees do, and that's how they remain tall in the foulest of weather. Likewise,
humans with a brain have the ability to size up a situation and flex with
the possibilities -- except for IRS agents or New York City traffic officers.
I learned some lessons from this humbling experience, the most
valuable of which is this: Never take "no" for an answer. Had I given up
after the first rejection, I would not have the loan today. You have to
work at what you want constantly, even if every common-sense bone in your
body is telling you: "Hang it up, fool." My case in point. Those of you
who've been following the chronicle of my tribulations in this column may
recall that one day, when I was feeling supremely fed up with loan rejections,
I fired off a heartfelt letter to the bank president telling him that all
the bank's ads about serving the small-business owner were hogwash if someone
like me couldn't get a line of credit. Miraculously, it worked. The bank
reopened my loan application. And here I am, crowing with delight.
I'm getting carried away here. It's not like I just pulled in a million-five
in venture capital. It's a small line, and I'm sure it will disappear very
There are so many things I want to do with my business that even the
million-five would be cutting it close. That's the challenge of running
a business. Things start coming your way, and all of a sudden you're growing.
But as you grow, the money that comes in doesn't exactly go toward the
As more business comes in, you need more people to handle the load.
That means committing just about all of your resources to human assets.
And that doesn't stop. I've seen tiny companies grow from two or three
people to 50 or 60 in a matter of months, and even then they're screaming
for more people. It's scary when your monthly payroll exceeds your first-year
revenues. Like the speeding steam locomotive that needs more coal to keep
going, your business needs money, and lots of it, to stay upright. That's
why I feel that I have to reinvent my services constantly.
I'm never satisfied enough with one strategy to keep it in place for
too long. I take it apart and put it back together over and over until
I'm satisfied with the package. Before long, I take it apart again and
start from scratch. Sometimes, I make things worse. The ability to bend
is what keeps me alive, just like the tree. Large companies tend to stand
firm on policy while young upstarts bend and grab big clients out from
George Giokas is the president and CEO of StaffWriters Plus, a specialty agency that places writers in temporary and permanent positions with corporate and other employers. It also provides editorial consulting work. His database includes 2,500 writers and editors specializing in more than 60 categories. His Web site is located at www.staffwriters.com, and you can E-mail him at email@example.com.