Have you ever had a business that you felt inclined to close? Are you currently considering closing the doors to your business? Does the thought of it all give you anxiety? Do you wonder what to do next? You are not alone. Countless other entrepreneurs, including myself, have had those same feelings. I look back on those moments and I can now see that those were “breakdowns before breakthroughs”.
Often times those breakdowns can be the best thing for you to experience growth. Several clients have asked me “How do you know when to walk away?” My response to each of them was the same. It is truly a personal decision that no one except the business owner can answer. Today on Social Media’s “Throwback Thursday” I posted a picture of a private preschool that I owned for several years that I eventually had to walk away from. I have not openly talked about that situation for it was such a hard decision and it still stings a bit. So ladies, bare with me in this blog entry for it is a bit of a therapy session for me. 🙂
After the birth of my first son I was practicing law full time and had to rely upon childcare providers. I quickly become very unimpressed with the quality and high pricing of childcare providers. Those feelings caused me to begin to have visions of owning my own pre school. It came to fruition 6 years later when I purchased a daycare center that was literally in its last days. There were less than 20 kids enrolled and the center and it had a $7200 per month financial deficit. I worked soooo hard to pull the center out of the mud! I believed in myself and what I could do. I worked with professionals to create a structured curriculum, implemented extra curricular activities, introduced a foreign language program and so many other things. In less than a year I quadrupled enrollment and pulled the center from the grim financial state. As an attorney I knew very little about the childcare industry aside from what I would expect as a parent. I studied, I researched, I WORKED. I put countless hours and over $100,000.00 of my personal savings into this business. (Yes, that’s the part that stings!)
Eventually obstacles started to arise. Obstacles that made it very hard and incredibly stressful for me to run the business. Telling you about all those obstacles would be an extra long post all in itself… or maybe even a short TV drama series 🙂 I stuck it out as long as I could, but eventually made the personal decision to walk away from the business. I had to weigh my options. The stress that the business was causing & the attention it was taking from my family was not worth it. The amount of money I made from that venture could not possibly justify the huge effect it had on my quality of life. I loved all those children in the school like my own; however my quality of life was much more important. I considered those factors and the length of time that I endured the stress and it just made sense to walk away and maintain my sanity!
For awhile I felt like a failure. I cried, I was upset, I was disappointed….so many feelings at the same time. I spent so much time in the business that I honestly just felt lost and confused about what to do with all the extra hours I had in a day. Looking back on it I am positive that was the BEST decision; however at the time I could not see that.. not even a little bit. LOL. The only things I could think about was how this private preschool was what I wanted and how I worked so hard. I also beat myself up because I had spent money that very well could have funded at least one of my children’s college education.
I’m slowly coming out of being hesitant to talk about it. Why? Because I no longer feel like a failure. I do not feel like a failure because now I know that I am NOT a failure. I turned the business around and accomplished what I wanted to accomplish. I had the pleasure of meeting and having relationships with over 100 sets of parents, loving on and nurturing over 100 children, supplying over 13 ladies with a job and was able to scratch a big task from my bucket list! I lost money. So what? Money comes and money goes. If I was able to save that amount once I had to reassure myself that I was totally capable of doing it again, but now because of what I learned in that savings journey, I can do it quicker than I did before! One business did not work out the way I had liked. Ok. So what! There are several others that have and still are doing well. That is the chance one takes as an entrepreneur, right? It took me 6 weeks to continously remind myself of this and grieve. After that I picked up my feelings and was on to the the next venture.
It was a tough experience, but a necessary experience. If you are considering closing your business here are
3 Questions you should ask yourself before shutting your doors:
1. Is what you are experiencing truly your hearts desire?
2. Is continuing in this business going to drain you even if its a raging success?
3. Does the thought of the business magically disappearing and you moving to something new bring you excitement and a sense of lightness?
Once you have the answers to these questions you can make a better decision. Remember, when it comes to tough decisions like this it is your heart that has the answers; not your mind. If you have a business that you are considering closing or if you have a business that closed, don’t let that be the end all! It happens. It is the UGLY in the good, bad and the ugly of entrepreneurship. When you were learning to ride a bike you fell off, right? You did not get on the first time and ride with ease. If you were anything like me you were determined to learn to ride even more after a fall! I bet after you fell and put a bandage on your knee you got right back on. It is the same thing with entrepreneurship. If it is in your blood to live a life of entrepreneurship there is nothing you can do about it! It is a trait that you are stuck with. Knowing that fact about yourself, don’t let one disappointing experience keep you off the bike. Get back on the bike, regain your balance and peddle with even more force and determination! A quitter never wins and a winner never quits!
Have you ever walked away from something and found that walking away was a huge blessing? Leave a comment below and share your story- including the biggest take-way lesson learned. Let someone else that ma be experiencing this know that it is ok!