Some Lessons We Learned

by Norma

Renae Hartson shares her story

Renae Hartson, Out of the Box Web Solutions

Renae Hartson, Out of the Box Web Solutions

We are all taught at a young age to go to school, get good grades, get into a good college and then graduate and take the world by storm when you land the perfect job. Happily ever after, right? Unfortunately, life doesn’t always work out that way. Someone forgot to tell our employers that they can’t change those rules.

When you hear the garage door open at 9 a.m. on a Thursday morning, it’s never a good sign. And, when you see your husband carrying a small box, it’s even more ominous. Ironically, just days before we were commenting on how sad it was that our neighbor was let go the week prior to Christmas. We never thought it would happen to us. After all, Steve got the company to a very significant level of achievement the year before. He has an M.B.A. and was a hard worker, dedicated to the company to the point of relocating to another state only 9 months after starting with the company at their request.  I was a work from home designer/manufacturer in my own business and was struggling. The long hours, the stress of business ownership and the debt was taking its toll. Boutiques and brick and mortar stores weren’t buying, planning for another season was out of the question and Steve’s salary was the only thing keeping us afloat.

Our first reaction to our downsizing was a sick feeling in the pit of our stomach, and then came the fear. Fear of the unknown, fear of what to do next, and fear of everything that wasn’t in our control. When you don’t have to think about a Plan B, it’s easy to forget to make one. This dreary day in January was the day that we had to decide to take our future into our hands. The rules had changed, the economy changed and the way of doing business changed. This was the time to think outside the box and open ourselves to different ways of earning a living as well as living the way we determined – not the way an employer dictated.

Some lessons we learned:

Step 1: Before you can take a step forward, you need to digest what just happened to you. Realize that this was not about “you” but about the company. It was a business decision and not a personal decision, and don’t take it personally.

Step 2: Get out a pen and paper and think about those things you never had time to think about before. Write down what you would do if money was not the object. What do you love? What do you believe in? What are your hobbies, interests, and goals? Not career goals, but personal goals. What is your passion?

Step 3: Make a realistic plan to get to those goals. Without a guide, it’s easy to get off track and flounder. Keep a journal of what you are thinking, feeling and the steps you are taking to get where you want to go.

Step 4: Use this as an opportunity. You can never connect the dots going forward only backward. Start planning your dots. When you are done, you’ll see the big picture and how you got there. Looking back it’s always easy to see the “why” behind major changes in our lives and often times it’s usually a much more beautiful portrait when complete than when you focus on a small section of the masterpiece.

Steve’s passion was not in the field he was in, my passion was not fashion. The first thing we did was breathe. With both of our personalities, we often tend to put ourselves in a “react” mode instead of taking a few minutes to just breathe.  We took our family on a weekend road trip a few hours away and used this opportunity to clear our minds and reconnect with our girls. Steve applied for various jobs, went on interviews throughout the US and was blessed to find a position within a few months. It’s with a fantastic company, a much less stressful position, a warmer climate and, closer to our extended family. This change has allowed me to re-evaluate what I wanted to do with my day. I knew that working with small businesses helping them achieve their goals and avoid the pitfalls was something I was excited about. I partnered with the multi-million dollar company who originally provided the website for my clothing company. Steve and I became Unfranchise owners with an Internet brokerage and one to one marketing company. I get to take my love of technology and all things “geeky” and passion for helping small business owners – and earn a living having fun working at home in my pajamas.

We found our Plan B and are working on creating a future that we control, instead of an employer controlling us and in the meantime, we are enjoying the ride. Our family is still connecting our dots, but right now the picture is looking pretty darn good.

  • If you would like more detailed information about our Plan B, please email me and I’d be glad to tell you all about it!

Renae Hartson
Out of the Box Web Solutions

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Cindy December 11, 2009 at 7:10 am

Hey Renae….

We have so much in common….our family has been through the layoff situation more times than I ever would have imagined. Thank God I found MA and have taken control of my life and future.

One very important lesson I have learned through all of this is you CAN and you WILL survive bill collectors IF you learn how to handle them. Not being able to meet your obligations is a very stressfull situation but you can limit the stress and maintain your sanity if you know how to handle it. Often our minds are our worst enemy. FEAR = False Evidence that Appears Real

First you must know your rights and the limits of the bill collector. As soon as a bill collector called I would take control of the conversation. I did NOT cater to their questions but I did my best to be curteous. I would ask for the name of their company, the callers name their phone number (incase we got dissconnected :)) and their address…so that I could send them a Cease and Desist letter. If the caller would not coopoerate then I hung up, I would not allow them to intimidate me and stress me out. When I got an address I followed up with the letter. Once they have a Cease and Desist letter they are required by law to not call you any longer.

Depending on how long it takes to turn your situation around and get back on your feet your credit may suffer but YOU will maintain your sanity and digity which is soooo much more important. Credit can be fixed and better yet you could do like I have done and build an amazing business that will allow me to live off of cash in the future instead of credit !


Norma December 11, 2009 at 9:41 am

Thanks, Cindy, for sharing your experience. Very good advice for anyone forced to deal with debt colletors in these hard times.


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