You Can’t Borrow Your Way To Success (And Why I’d WIN Survivor.)

I’d WIN Survivor.

Even though I’m not into mean people, and roughing it in the wilderness, and most insects.

I’ll make an exception for the Banana Spider. I met a beautiful one while on vacation with Chad in Costa Rica who lived outside our bathroom window.

I even named her Lazy Belle. She was so pretty, but seriously lazy. She never left her web. Why would she? Her prey would waltz on by … and then … you know it ends.

That makes her an honorary Fancy Lady: Drop dead gorgeous with a killer business strategy. (Pun intended.)

But other bugs – not so much.

So if Survivor was held in a luxury tropical hotel, with a gourmet organic chef, high end boutiques, and no bugs, I would dominate.

And I bet you would too.

Because while people tune in to watch all the scheming and backstabbing, there’s really something much more interesting going on.

It’s creativity.

It’s about understanding the lay of the land, creating a plan, then knowing when to stick with it, and when to evolve.

It’s about trusting your gut.

It’s about being a super-effective entrepreneur.

And I REALLY learned to trust my gut when I was working with my Dad in our commercial real estate company in 2008 – at the height of the recession.

Here’s what happened …

There was soooo much panic and freaking out going on around us that I thought we were going to have to move into one of our warehouses and hunt for food in the vacant lot.

(Goodbye fake eyelashes & hair extensions. Hello utility girl.)

On top of all the chaos, we were in the middle of a huge renovation, and I was concerned about cash flow. Very VERY concerned about cash flow.

So what did I do? What I thought was the sensible thing.

I went to my dad and told him we should get a construction loan to tide us over.

His reply?

‘You can’t borrow your way to success.’

NOT the answer I wanted to hear.

But  … my dad is a smart businessman – an entrepreneur all his life, is more than a millionaire right now, and has never had any debt.

And with that kind of cred, I shut up and listen when he says stuff like … ‘You can’t borrow your way to success.’

So instead of borrowing money – we got creative. And started looking at our business like we were playing a game.

The rules were EXACTLY the same as they were before the economy tanked: We have warehouse space to fill and we would hustle like we needed crack to fill them.

Well … so did a lot of other real estate companies in town.

How were WE going to fill OUR spaces? How were we going to differentiate ourselves from any other commercial real estate company?

Here’s what we did:

Every week we had a Hustle Huddle, where we tossed around ideas to see what would attract renters.

We wanted to spoil them, and let them know how much more FUN it would be to rent from us.

We gifted everything from coffee cards, to candy, to free dinners. Anything that would make prospective customers feel special.

No idea was too extreme for the Hustle Huddle. While we might not put it into action, it helped US stay freakishly excited about leasing our spaces.

Consistent high energy always attracts good stuff.

And that was the special sauce. We weren’t even LOOKING at what the competition was doing, we were having more fun being creative in our own business.

Long story short? While a lot of other real estate companies went out of business, we made it through the recession, maintaining a 98% average occupancy – a rate outstanding in ANY economy.

Plus, we did it without borrowing a dime.

You win again, Dad.

Want to know a secret that makes or breaks your success?

And the most important takeaway from my dad’s no-borrow policy?

Borrowing isn’t just about money, it’s about IDEAS.

That temptation to borrow somebody else’s map to success. That nifty opt-in they created. That sweet looking web-site. Their catch phrase. Whatever.

Because borrowing becomes a habit.

The more you take without thinking, the harder it is to stop. Like eating baked Cheez-Its. You’re fooling yourself if you think you can just have two or three.

But the cool thing?

Creativity becomes a habit too.

At first it seems like churning out a single idea will take forEVAH, but keep it up, and suddenly you have more ideas than you know what to do with.

See, your business is actually a fun game, like Survivor – without the mean people and the bugs.

Just like Survivor, you’re going to have competitors – other challengers hoping to win the prize.

But instead of fearing them, or spying on them and copying them, or wasting a lot of energy scheming how to get them kicked off the island, they become your springboard to greater creativity, smarter solutions, and better offerings.

Competition starts feeling pretty exciting when you’re working from a place of inspiration, rather than borrowing on your future.

It raises the bar for the entire playing field, and your customer ends up getting the best possible products and services.

And once you know how to play your own game, people are going to be spying on YOU!

See you on the Island.


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