• Christine Myers Certified VA

After 9/11- What I learned From Rebuilding My Business

Taken from an article by Greg Carafello, Entrepreneur.com contributor…

On this anniversary of the day that changed the course of American history, I must reflect on how September 11 changed my business.

Seventeen years ago I was running my first business, AbraCadbra Digital Printing on the 18th floor of The World Trade Center South Tower. The business was booming. We were generating about $4 million per year with 30 employees and 5 locations in New York and New Jersey.


Following the events of 9/11, my once-thriving business suffered as many others did at the time. My sales plummeted to $600,000 in 2003. I finally sold the business in 2004 for $325,000.

Seeing so many lives destroyed and losing my business was a major setback for me both professionally and personally that, ultimately, taught me a number of enduring lessons about perseverance, rebuilding from the ashes, and the importance of consistently reinvesting in myself.

The lessons I learned can apply to turn around any struggling business, (*pivoting during any major crisis, i.e., the current 2020 COVID-19 Pandemic) and to every entrepreneur looking to start again with a new venture.


Reinvest in yourself

As an entrepreneur, you are your biggest asset. You are the driving force behind the business; therefore, you should always seek to learn as much as you can about your business and industry for when big decisions need to be made.

Make the time to take additional courses throughout the year to learn and grow. Whether it be a business course on the latest techniques or technology, or a marketing and advertising course covering modern trends and creativity, always work to reinvent yourself and grow your knowledge base. I typically allot five to 10 days a year to attend a course, so I keep growing and widening my capabilities.

Furthermore, have a mentor to help guide you and advise you during your business journey. As your interests or field of business change, seek new mentors who can guide you along the way. In my experience, those who’ve made it, so to speak, are typically happy to help others make their dreams come true. Do your best to return the favor. Meet with fellow entrepreneurs, learn their stories, and share your own. Networking is fundamental to growing your business.

Take responsibility for your business

As an entrepreneur, you are your biggest asset. You are the driving force behind the business; therefore, you should always seek to learn as much as you can about your business and industry for when big decisions need to be made.

Make the time to take additional courses throughout the year to learn and grow. Whether it be a business course on the latest techniques or technology, or a marketing and advertising course covering modern trends and creativity, always work to reinvent yourself and grow your knowledge base. I typically allot five to 10 days a year to attend a course, so I keep growing and widening my capabilities.

Furthermore, have a mentor to help guide you and advise you during your business journey. As your interests or field of business change, seek new mentors who can guide you along the way. In my experience, those who’ve made it, so to speak, are typically happy to help others make their dreams come true. Do your best to return the favor. Meet with fellow entrepreneurs, learn their stories, and share your own. Networking is fundamental to growing your business.

Recognize when it’s time to let go and start over


Business in New York was dead after 9/11. Our most profitable branch had been destroyed and the business was suffering immensely. I had a family to care for and had to let go of employees who I’d been working with for years. When my business revenues dropped to just 30 percent of what they’d been just years before, I knew it was time to let this venture go.



Business owners and businesspersons alike often make the mistake of holding on to what they know, when letting go could be their best shot at future success. As a business owner, when you see your business is failing and know the chances of it improving in the foreseeable future are slim, it’s imperative to know it’s time to move on.

This means reinventing yourself and reinventing your business -- not quitting entrepreneurship for good. Stay in the same field of business if that’s what you’re passionate about, but find that new sweet spot with a brighter, clearer future that gets new energy moving and reignites the excitement behind the business.

When I decided to sell AbraCadabra Digital Printing and join Cartridge World, I was entering into somewhat unknown territory. I’d known very little about franchising, advertising such products, the top competitors in the industry, etc., but I made the bold move to purchase the franchise rights when there were zero U.S. locations. Now there are 287, of which 70 are mine. Sometimes letting go of smaller ventures can lead you to greener pastures.

When I decided to take one of my Cartridge World locations back to the new World Trade Center, I was the only business tenant pre-9/11 to return after the attacks. I knew this was a bold move, but a move that ignited my spirits and in turn, my business.

Greg Carafello, Territory Master of Cartridge World's Greater New York City Area. Original article in its entirety found at https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/319830

*opinion expressed and added by Christine Myers


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