Michelle Schaffer is a faith-driven leader and female business owner who has overcome some devastating losses in business. Not only did she and her husband have their new business venture ripped from under them after moving their lives all the way across the country, but they also were then forced out of another business they helped to create and grow. But like a true overcomer, Michelle has bounced back from losing everything.
Michelle is a woman who inspires me with her influential combination of determination, courage, and passion. I chatted with her about the losses she’s experienced and the growth that occurred as a result. I know her story will bless you, so listen to the entire conversation on the podcast or keep reading below for some of the highlights.
Michelle grew up in a Christian home, and she’s a self-proclaimed passionate follower of Jesus. Even from a young age, she had an innate knowledge of God and a belief that he is real, that heaven is real, and “that there was a greater purpose beyond the suffering…” These beliefs helped to ground her even in her darkest moments.
She admits that she isn’t mistake-free and hasn’t always walked the correct path. But her faith is something she holds on to, and she believes God has taken her mistakes and turned them into something that benefits others.
At a young age, Michelle had a vision about her life, in which she was standing barefoot with two paths ahead of her. The one path was a newly paved road, wide and clean. The other path was a dirt road that kept going down, full of “cigarette butts and glass and rocks and boulders.”
Michelle believes God was showing her she had a choice. She could take the easy path or the hard one. And as a little girl, she knew the difficult path was the one she had to take. But she also knew it would be worth it.
Fast forward several years, and Michelle had her first child at 16 years old. By the time she was 21, she had two kids and was divorced. She was on the difficult path. But she remarried again in her late twenties, and her husband, Bobby, is her best friend. They’re leaders and business partners, and together they’ve started businesses and lost businesses. They’ve felt the joy of success and the despair of loss.
In 2008, while the US economy was downturned, Michelle and Bobby were offered a corporate position and signed a deal for a two-year contract. They lived in California at the time, and since their new job was in Florida, they sold 80% of their possessions and moved across the county. But they were happy to do so because the economy was going bad, and they felt blessed to at least have an opportunity.
But on the day they arrived, their new employers broke the contract and stopped paying them. So what had once been a promised opportunity “turned into this huge nightmare” that lasted for six months.
Michelle remembers lying in bed in their rented house in Florida, saying to God, “You did not bring us here for this. So either open a door or fix it.” And so, God did. Or, as Michelle says, he opened up the door that was the real reason for them moving in the first place.
Through this whole nightmare scenario, Michelle and Bobby met some new people. And through meeting these people, they, along with some investors, started a new company, a company of their own. It was a skincare company with health and nutritional products. And Michelle believes this was God’s plan all along. So for two and a half years, they worked to build the company and watched it grow. But then loss came again.
One day she and Bobby showed up to a quarterly meeting at 9:00 am. By 9:15, the other investors of the company (who owned more than they did) had kicked them out, and Michelle and Bobby were in their car wondering what in the world had just happened. The company they had put their hearts into building was stripped away from them. Michelle says, “It was one of the most devastating things I had ever gone [through].”
After losing the business, Michelle felt lost and humiliated, and she fell into depression. She remembers laying in bed crying and asking, “What now? Where do you go from here?” But her despair brought her to a place of surrender.
She eventually came to the point where she told God, “Okay God, I don’t know what you’re doing If this is not what you want for me, then I’m going to let it go. I’m going to submit to what you want and whatever your will is for me. I accept it even though I don’t get it.”
But even still, as a leader and business person, Michelle says that letting go, surrendering, and trusting when nothing else makes sense is “one of the hardest things to do.” Not only that, but having to deal with others in the face of such loss is difficult too. She says some people felt sorry for them, but that only led to embarrassment and humiliation.
Here she was, a woman who had worked her way up from being a single mom of two at 21 to the founder and President of her own company. But then she lost it all. And as people asked about what happened, she had to repeatedly tell the story and relive it. She says, “in the telling of that over and over again, it lost its power over me.”
Michelle wanted to ignore what had happened. But by being forced to share her story, by being forced to confess about what happened, by being vulnerable, the shame and humiliation and depression around what happened began to disappear. Michelle believes that God used her act of confessing to bring healing in her life.
And that’s why we share our stories. It’s not necessarily for the people listening to us, though our sharing will encourage others to share their stories. But it’s mostly for ourselves. To share, to confess, to be vulnerable is to heal. And what was so real and raw and life-draining begins to lose its power when we bring it into the light.
Michelle wouldn’t go back and change anything about her life. She says, “I am so happy every morning that I wake up alive because the journey even the worst parts of it have really helped me to really see God through all of it and to just grow into a person that I’m actually really proud of who I’ve become.”
And I couldn’t agree with Michelle more. In my life, I wouldn’t change a thing. All of the bad stuff, the troubling and traumatic experiences, the suffering, sin, and anger, all of it together, is where I discovered who I am and who God is. And I learned there’s a whole lot more grace than I ever thought was possible.
Today, Michelle is passionate about women stepping into their full potential. She believes “God has empowered women to be able to have a multi-passionate life where [they] can do many things and do them well.”
If there’s something within you, and you feel there’s more you’re meant to do, her advice is to simply take the first step, even if it’s a tiny step. Because as she says, “In order to get to the next step, you have to take a step.” That’s what she’s learned, and she’s working to share that with others.
She feels called to teach, train, and develop women in leadership of all kinds, whether at home, at church, in business, or wherever. Because she says, “[We women have] given away leadership for too long because we’ve been told that that’s not our place, that we need to stand on the sideline, or we need to take a supportive role.” So her mission these days is to “raise up as many women leaders as possible.”
To do that, Michelle founded Girl Power Alliance, and I encourage you to check it out at www.girlpoweralliance.com. Along with that, she’s launching a brand new conference for women in leadership called Activate. It’s on April 7 – 9, 2022, and I have the honor of speaking at the conference.
The Activate conference is three days designed to help you align with other kingdom-focused women in business. It’s your chance to go for your dreams and conquer the life you have always wanted. If you believe your life has a purpose and can impact many others’ lives as well, please join us in Dallas for what I know will be a powerful and transformative time. Maybe going to this conference is your first step. Grab your tickets before they sell out at www.girlpoweralliance.com/activate.
The post Bouncing Back After A Devastating Business Loss with Michelle Schaffer appeared first on Auntie Anne Beiler.