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by Tumbleweed Smith

Some friends of mine have a successful ranching business just up the road apiece from where I live. They raise a special breed of cattle that used to run wild in England. When the woman of the house was 49 years old, she decided to start a business. She went to a banker friend of hers and asked for a loan. The banker tried his best to discourage her. He told her it would not be wise to start a business at her age.

“Look at all the empty buildings around the square,” he said. “Some of the people who used to have businesses in them would tell you it’s just not worth it.”

She had in mind a medical supply business. She had cared for her father for a few years and every time she needed a brace, crutches, a wheel chair or anything in that line of equipment she had to go out of town. She thought with the number of older people in her community a business like that might be something to consider.

Despite the banker’s warning, she was not discouraged. She worked on a business plan for weeks and when it was ready she took it to another banker. She placed the business plan on his desk and began to tell him about how she felt about starting a business.

That banker did not even look at her business plan. He told her it was a solid idea and she should go to a bank in a nearby big city and apply for a loan from the Small Business Administration. He made the arrangements for the meeting.

The SBA loaned her $42,000 and she started her business. It took off. Within six months she went back to the SBA banker and said she needed another $50,000 to buy a larger inventory. The banker told her he didn’t think she was asking for enough. He gave her a loan for $100,000.

The business flourished. It was doing so well she decided that other small towns nearby might need the same type of business. Sure enough, they did.

Soon she had a string of medical supply businesses in half a dozen nearby communities. They were all doing well, too. Her son and daughter soon joined the business, which was supplying everything from an eye patch to every piece of equipment you’d find in a hospital room.

A major medical supply company noticed how well her businesses were doing and asked her to name her price. She said two million. The company said fine. Her only stipulation was that she could stay on (at a hefty salary) and run the stores because her customers liked her and depended on her to help them. The company was OK with that. Things are going along nicely and now she’s looking into constructing an office complex. She sees all kinds of opportunity in her town. It’s been a dozen years since she went to that first banker. She is glad she didn’t take his advice.

more articles by Tumbleweed Smith

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