Gigi Stetler, Author, Unstoppable! Surviving is Just the Beginning
It’s no secret that our world is still in the grips of a major recession. Whether it is a personal financial crisis due to unemployment or the need to secure financing to get a business off the ground, the current economic climate calls for what I like to call “SurThrival Mode.” What do I mean by that? Let me use my story as an example.
I can tell you that my life story is perseverance personified. It illustrates that, whatever strife you are facing (aside from any life-endangering illness), not only will you survive it, but you can thrive. But, it’s all about your attitude.
Here’s just some of the obstacles that I have endured:
- I’ve been the target of a massive corporate conspiracy in a male-dominated industry—thrust deep into an $11 million dollar debt.
- I started out as a high school dropout, but now I’m a successful entrepreneur with a business grossing in the multi-millions.
- I was stabbed 21 times and left for dead; but I promised myself that I would never give up.
The key to surThrival is keeping a positive attitude and maintaining the resilience to keep going no matter who or what tries to break you down and stop you in your tracks. I knew early on that I had an entrepreneurial spirit. I struck out as an RV industry entrepreneur in 1986 and ended up with four dealerships of my very own. But, in 2008, my business completely collapsed amid the recession. Banks tightened their lending practices and the trickledown effect that it had on the RV trade and my baby boomer target market was nothing short of devastating. Suddenly, I went from grossing $18 million per year to ZERO.
I was pronounced financially dead. My inventory and all assets—both business and personal—were seized and distributed to my competitor, who had conspired to destroy my company and take over my territories. Instead of succumbing to these hardships, I regarded it as just a new chapter to be dealt with head-on.
Rather than declaring bankruptcy to clear the $11 million debt I owed, I put my nose to the grindstone and re-established a successful RV dealership business by reinventing it and expanding into new profit centers. Today, despite the economic recession’s enduring impact on the RV industry, my company is growing yet again thanks to my tenacity… and sheer refusal to give up. After all, these are the quintessential character traits of an entrepreneur, are they not?
Being an unstoppable entrepreneur is about doing things differently and finding those untapped areas of opportunity. This has enabled me to not just sustain, but also grow my business while competitors are shutting their doors amid the recession. Instead of solely relying on RV sales, I started to examine ancillary revenue sources. This included pursuing an RV rental business, creating an in-house interior design team, and offering customized RVs for every industry, including mobile hair salons and spas, boutiques, and even chiropractors’ offices. These corporate clients have kept my business thriving in a depressed economy.
Maintain an entrepreneurial attitude. Whether you’re a new grad seeking a job in this tough economic climate, a seasoned worker looking for change, or an entrepreneur with hopes to expand, it all comes down to the same mentality. If you want to surThrive, you have to be a warrior, not a victim—no matter how bad things get. You must maintain the steadfast, forward-looking believe that no matter how bad today is, tomorrow is a chance to start anew. With that new day, comes promise. SurThrival is all about looking at how challenges can be turned into opportunities to make something bigger, better, and more profitable than you previously thought. It’s about having the will to live and the courage to succeed despite all odds.
With steel resolve, I’m nearly done digging my way out of an $11 million debt, am the only female CEO of a promising enterprise in a male-dominated industry, and I overcame an unrelenting string of attacks. The bottom line is to never give up, and never give in.
About the Author
Gigi Stetler is the author of Unstoppable! Surviving is Just the Beginning. She is the owner of RV Sales of Broward in south Florida and creator of the all-new RV timeshare program, the RV Fun Club. As an accomplished equestrian, Stetler has turned her love of horseback riding into a business venture by creating Riding in Style. She has also developed her own all natural supplement line, Solongpain.