By Steve Moran

While at the ASHA conference in Miami, I was talking to Brett Landrum, the CEO of ProcareHR, a Foresight partner, about a challenging business situation, and he expressed regret that I had not reached out to him about it, because he could have helped me get through it — and would even loved to have.

That led to me telling my sad tale of being a very young senior living owner, operator, and developer whose little budding enterprise spectacularly crashed and burned. For years, I was convinced that the reason for the collapse was that I was undercapitalized.

While embarrassing, believing that my crash and burn was an undercapitalization problem made it sort of not really my fault.

Over the past 13 years of writing about how to make the lives of people who live and work in senior living better I have come to the painful realization that while cash and capital were tight, being undercapitalized was not my real problem.

The Hard Truth

The hard truth is that I was dumb. I saw the design and development process as one that was predicated on pricing. I built units that were just big enough to meet the minimum room sizes — and a bunch of double occupancy rooms. I believed that people primarily chose senior living based on cost.

Even now as I write those words, I am astonished by how foolish this thinking was.

Even Dumber

As bad as all that was, there was one thing I did — or more accurately didn’t do — when it was clear I was in trouble.

I didn’t ask for help; I didn’t go looking for advice. If I had, there would have been more capital to help … if that is what was needed. I would have also started looking at the few models of senior living that existed and realized that I needed bigger units and few if any semiprivate rooms, and that people wanted something much better — and most importantly, that if I offered something better and bigger, I could have charged a lot more money.

Don’t Be Afraid to Be Stupid

One of the most amazing facts of senior living is that people in this industry care about people like crazy.

Generally, leaders want to help other leaders have great success. The most successful recognize there are enough residents to go around and that when competitors are wildly successful, they all have the opportunity to get better.

But saying to a peer, or worse to a customer or capital provider, “I’ve got a mess on my hands and don’t know what to do about it,” is scary, and humiliating. No one wants to say, “I’ve got a mess; I am stuck; I am in trouble.” And yet having the courage to do just that is the only way to get unstuck. The only way to amazing success.