KARA: "I’ve been told that your husband owns his own business. What is it like being a business owner? What challenges do you face? What can you tell us that might help those who are thinking about owning their own businesses?"
BARBARA: "Dan started working for a local drapery company when he was 15 years old. He worked for them for the first 10 years of our marriage. When one of the owners passed away and a son took over, things in the company changed. One day Dan went to work, literally one day after we had signed papers on a new home, and found the doors locked and a notice from the IRS stating that the company has been seized for back taxes. Dan decided that he wanted to try his hand doing it alone and started to bid work on his own. He started the Dan Solt Drapery Installation Company. He could see that people were moving away from custom draperies and moving into ready-made drapes and blinds. The first few years were hard. We had become accustomed to him being gone 2-3 weeks of the month. Then all of a sudden, he is not only home, but in the home. It was hard on our marriage and our finances. I had learned to stand on my own, the kids and I had a routine. And when Dan was home, it was like we were on vacation! So, when he quit traveling, we struggled, both of us, he didn’t know how he fit in, and I had a hard time moving over so he could fit. If ever there was a time that two people grew, fast, this was it! Financially, we would have these amazing months, where we knew we could make this business work, and then months, that I wondered if we were going to have to go to the family and the church to ask for help. After the first couple of rough years, Home Depot asked him if he would be interested in becoming one of their sub-contractors. We now install for 14 stores and while there are still lean months, we seem to be making it. Our greatest challenges? We are a small business, there are months that we are swamped and need extra hands, only to hire an employee who is fast enough and understand the work is difficult and taxes kill us. I tell people to be very sure they know what they are doing when they start out on their own. On the other hand, because Dan owns his own business, he can take the time for girls camp, scout camps, kids field trips and weekend getaways. He loves being his own boss and doesn’t mind the hard work it requires to be successful."
KARA: "Everyone has trials – what have been some of yours, and how have you overcome them? What have you learned from your trials?"
BARBARA: "As I’ve read about some of your amazing women, I think this question is what makes or breaks us. My mom was 14 when she had me. She was a little girl. She had never cleaned, cooked, babysat and had no idea what she was doing. She and my father married and had 2 kids by the time she was 16. At 17 she was divorced, it was a hard life for her and us. When I was 6 years old, I started to go the Baptist church. I wanted something... just not sure what. I felt good going to church. I liked learning about Jesus and church made me happy. When I was 9, two Mormon missionaries came to our door and shared with us the gospel of Jesus Christ. It was amazing! Hearing about the gospel changed my life. As a teenager I learned knowing the gospel is true and living it were very different things. I struggled with self-esteem, I made some bad choices that not only hurt me, but my family and friends. My senior year in high school, I had this teacher who took me under his wing, he taught me about repentance and helped my find my way back. Shortly after that, I met Dan, we married and had our five amazing children. Four who are here, and one that has the key to the kingdom and is waiting for us. Travis was our first son, our third child. One morning I woke up before him, I went into his room and found that he has passed away during the night from SIDS. It was the hardest thing we had faced in our marriage. Our little family learned what it really meant to be an eternal family. Losing Travis was a turning point in our life. We made a decision that we would do all we could to make sure we raised our kids to always work towards eternity. Our priorities changed, it was no longer about who had the biggest house or the best toys, but about raising our family right. We’ve had other trials, one was right after Dan went out on his own with the business, we were left owing credit cards used for traveling in his old job, that were never reimbursed. Bankruptcy was to only way out, we lost everything, our cars, our house and our self-respect. We ended up moving in with our family until we could get our feet under us. One day Dan drove me by this house in Kearns, I took one look at it and said no way, I haven’t come down to this yet. Six months later, he drove me by the exact same house, I thought it was cutest little house! It’s amazing to me how the Lord works, what had felt like such a come-down in the world, turned out to be the greatest blessing. I loved that community, the ward and my neighbors. We lived in that home for 14 years and each one of my children will tell you it was their happiest times. What have I learned from my trials? That it’s going to be a bumpy ride, hold on and try to learn from it. I don’t want to look back on my life and wonder why it all felt the same, I want to feel like I have come a long way and earned each and every one of my wrinkles and gray hair. That doesn’t mean I’ve gone looking for trials, but it does mean, that when they come, I know I’m not alone and that we will get through it. I know that our family will be strengthened and we will be stronger for what we have endured."
Please join us again tomorrow as we continue the interview with Barbara.