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Entrepreneurial Suicide

I received a call last Monday afternoon that was one of those calls you pray you never receive. The uncle of one of my clients let me know that my client, let’s call him Robert, had committed suicide over the weekend.

Rob had served a little over five years in the Marines and retired as a Sergeant. He bounced around a couple of sales jobs before he decided to start a business helping other vets get work as salesmen.

He had devoted his life to serving others and was only 47.

His business wasn’t doing well. As a matter of fact, it was on its last legs, but we never guessed that he was either capable of or would do such a terrible thing in the first place. 

We have conversations like the ones we had with Rob throughout the normal course of business. Had we known what he was thinking, we would have been able to do something about it, at least call someone who could help. But we simply had no idea.

Although I’m neither educated nor certified to give advice in this regard, I have a few ideas that might be helpful.

1 – Get The Help You Need

If you in any way, shape, or form have even the slightest notion of suicidal thoughts, seek help now. This isn’t the sort of thing you can handle on your own. There’s no shame in asking for the help and guidance you need.

Talk to someone. Hopefully it’s a licensed professional who knows how to help. If not, maybe it’s a holy man or your best friend. 

Let people know what you’re thinking. Even if they aren’t that licensed professional who knows what to say and has those little pieces of paper that prescribe the medicines you may need, that other person you talk to who loves and cares for you can take the steps necessary to get you that help.

2 – Be Prepared To Fail

Entrepreneuring is hard. It isn’t for everyone. 90% of all entrepreneurs fail in their first year. Only 1.7% of us make it to their 20th year of being business owners.

Failure is a major part of what we do. If you choose our life, you must be ready to fail. I’ve failed more times than even I could count. My point is that seasoned entrepreneurs possess a skill that others don’t have. 

We know how to fail well.

Most entrepreneurs go through several business failures inside their career. When writing any business plan, one should spend more time thinking about how to fail, pick up the pieces, and move on to the next project. Figuring out what you’ll do if you succeed doesn’t take much ink or thought.

Realize that it’s only business and the odds are always against us. Be ready to fail and move on.

3 – Think About The People Who Love You

When something like this happens, the people left behind always have unanswered questions. Were there any indications? Could I have done more?  

The list goes on. If a person makes this ultimate mistake, their friends and family will ask these questions for the rest of their lives.

If you’re having these thoughts, don’t do it. I know you’re hurting. I know you’re in a world of pain. 

But also think about the people around you and what you’d be doing to them. If not for yourself, get the help you need so that you don’t put them through a world of hurt as well.

If you’re still on this planet, then whatever God you pray to still has a plan for you. If you didn’t have anything left to make this world a better place, then you’d already be gone. 

Please get the help you need today.

It’s only business. There are millions of other ways to make a living.

Let me leave you with this.

Whenever new entrepreneurs come to me for advice, I’m always hard on them. I put them through a wringer asking them the hard questions that they may not have asked themselves. I ask questions like…

Have you written a proper business plan? What real-world experience do you have in this new endeavor? How will you finance this venture and pay your own bills? 

What will you do if it fails? At what point would you close the business and get on with the rest of your life? What are your contingency plans for the future?

People who’ve seen me do this are horrified. They tell me that I should be encouraging these fledgling entrepreneurs to follow their dreams. That I should be propping them up rather than pulling them down talking about failure.

Of course, the people who criticize me have never even owned something as simple and small as the snow shoveling businesses we all had back in high school.

What we do as entrepreneurs every day is hard. It’s impossibly hard. All entrepreneurs are baptized by fire. This is simply the way of this world and how it should be.

If you can’t walk through fire, then you have no business managing men, money, material, machinery, and marketing. Don’t ever begrudge any successful entrepreneur their success.

Believe me. We’ve all earned it.

If that brand new entrepreneur can’t get through a few simple questions, then how will they ever get through the awful challenges the world will throw at them? How will they ever learn to fail well? 

Maybe I did that kid a favor by stopping something that had no hope of success in the first place. Maybe I actually did that kid a favor?

My most fervent hope and prayer is that in writing this, I’ve helped someone. If you’re in need of help, stop what you’re doing and get the help you need. If one of your friends comes to you expressing suicidal thoughts, stop what you’re doing and do whatever is necessary to help them.

I just wish that my friend Rob would have actually expressed his thoughts to me while I could have helped him. 

May whatever God you pray to bless and protect all who are in need.

*Words from our exceptional leadership