As a business owner there are several key moments when you may start questioning the status of your business, and the decision you made to go into business in the first place. Typically these come around during the Christmas break, and again at mid year when it is tax time and you may review your financial results. It can be a time of reflection whereby you ask yourself whether or not this is all worth the trouble, and this ultimately forces you to ask “Is enough enough?” What do you do when your mind wanders into this area?
Business is a tough slog. It isn’t a route to get rich quick, unless you have a real dynamic and innovative product or service that all of a sudden becomes the net big thing. For the majority of businesses, it takes time to establish and grow your business to a place where you start earning some serious returns. At every turn you seem to have your hand in the accounts to pay staff, to promote, to pay support services, legal services, pay suppliers, rent an office etc. Unless you start with a cash reserve, the bank balance can quickly go into decline and you can seriously question whether this is all worth it.
When a business reaches this stage, the business owner starts to question their future. Should you have stayed at the corporate job with the big bucks? Should you simply shut the doors and start looking for a job? You sometimes feel you have let the family down by not providing for them and may even cause family breakdown due to financial and time pressures.
What I have found with businesses in this situation, is that most of the time the business has been started without a plan and a process to grow. When you come to the moment of truth and ask yourself the question of your future you have two options- stay or go.
Going can feel like the easy choice, and often the right choice. Your business experiment may have been something you needed to do, you gave it your best but it simply didn’t work out, so be humble and go back to paid employment. It isn’t all that bad and you will get a regular weekly wage, but the toughest aspect in this option is your self esteem and a fear of losing face. People may judge you, but at the end of the day if you take this choice, you take it with pride and use it as a real life learning experience
If you decide to stay, then you need to change your behaviours. Invest in help and treat the decision as a ‘re-birth’ for the business, but this time do it properly. A strategy to put your business on hold for a month or so can allow you to spend quality time to reflect and re-plan your approach. You can consult with your support team of advisers, whether that is your accountant, lawyer, business coach, business peers or customers, use them all to get feedback and input into developing a new plan. Feedback is a gift, so use it wisely and allow yourself to change to make your business stronger and more structured in its approach in the phase two of its launch.
A business is akin to a living organism and needs to be fed to grow. Sometimes the growth occurs quickly, sometimes not so quickly, but without constant nurturing, like all organisms, it will die. A successful business owner will see the signs that they are not well and need to make some changes to the business, whether this be to prune it and allow it to re shoot, or to decide that it is too late and in fact enough is enough and it is time to let it go. While this is the toughest decision, it isn’t always the worst one to make.