How Richelle Shaw lost her $36 million business

The business coach

A few years out of college, Richelle Shaw began working at a telephone company in Las Vegas called Colorado River Communications. She was quickly promoted, and helped grow the company from $300,000 in revenue to $36 million. She then bought the firm from her boss. By age 30, she was making more than $200,000 per year and was the only female African-American public utility owner in the United States.

How the bankruptcy happened:

 After the 9/11 attacks in 2001, the travel and tourism industries that are central to the Las Vegas economy took a hit, and many small businesses — including most of Shaw’s clients — lost revenue.

Several fell months behind on their telephone bills. Shaw borrowed more money to try to keep the company afloat, but it went under.

After personally guaranteeing so many of the company’s credit lines, she had almost $3 million in personal debt. Soon after losing her house to foreclosure, she opted to file for personal bankruptcy rather than corporate bankruptcy.

Her start-over startup: Four months after her bankruptcy discharge, Shaw started a new company, called FreshStart Telephone, to provide affordable phone services to people with poor credit scores.

She built a loyal client base and generated more than a million dollars of revenue in the first year. After she sold the firm, the business failed, and Shaw ended up losing money on the deal. She tightened her budget and pressed on.

Shaw now works as a business coach, providing one-on-one guidance for entrepreneurs scaling small businesses into million-dollar companies. She’s written two books on her experiences, and plans to release a third soon.

“I told myself that money doesn’t define me,” she says. “That I’m still a great person, even if I’ve made mistakes.”

How she improved her credit: 

After the bankruptcy, Shaw started rebuilding her credit with a secured credit card.

Within two years, her credit scores had climbed to about 680, and she was able to get an auto loan, locking in the lowest interest rate offered by the car dealership. She continued to build her score by paying back the auto loan and getting an unsecured credit card.

After her foreclosure came off her credit report, her score improved by about 80 points; when her bankruptcy came off, it improved by about 30 more.


My point here is that just she failed and she failed really big unfortunately. But, she is still going, she is fighting and learning and teaching others.

How I paid off $11,000 in credit card debt in 3 1/2 months

How I re-invented myself after losing everything




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