My company had its most difficult year ever in 2007. The previous five years had been great: As a real estate developer and general contractor, I'd completed several successful development projects and worked with many repeat contracting customers. Business was so good, in fact, that I became less cautious than I should have been. I made mistakes — not saving enough cash, for example, and building a condo without doing sufficient market research on the location.

By late 2006 business had begun to slow down and I found myself struggling to pay taxes and meet loan payments. Those expenses had been manageable in a high revenue period, but now I found myself in a different world.

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