A while back I wrote a blog post about a professional failure. I had a business which I had to shut down after seven years (language school). Today, I am going to share with you the questions I asked myself and helped me pull the plug on my business. Letting go is not easy. If you own a business and are torn between whether you should keep on going or whether you should just turn a new leaf, then this post will help give you a better perspective. I have been there, done that, and am fine.
So, let's talk about the seven questions you need to ask yourself if you have a sinking boat as a business.
Why is my business failing? Why am I thinking of closing down? Is there something I can try? What?
How does my business make me feel? Why do I have it? When I work do I feel happy and productive or do I feel a weight on my chest? Do I feel depressed because things are not going the way I want them to?
My answer: When I first started my business, I was on cloud nine. Money was not a problem. The fact that I wasn't making much was OK. I had my business. After a while though and as debts kept piling up, I thought to myself, "What else can I do?" I have tried everything I can possibly think of (and afford). Going to work felt like a burden. I was giving my heart and soul to work. I was trying to be the best teacher ever, but the number of students was not enough. I started hating my job. Hating going to work. I started to feel undervalue and sorry for myself.
Why do I keep going?
Give reasons as to why you still have the business. Write down the reasons.
How long can I take it (moneywise and emotionally)? Does my business feel like a burden or not? When will I shut down? Why then?
My answer: I stuck to my guns for seven years. The first five were OK (-ish), the last two I felt miserable. I had one foot out of the door. It was a burden.
Let's Get Practical
How much am I really making from this business? Is this money enough to keep my business afloat or will I need to take a loan, use more of my personal savings to keep it running? If I decide to take a loan:
- who will lend me the money?
- how much do I need?
- how will I pay back?
- when will I pay back?
My answers: I was making money to cover my winter expenses, but every summer my language school was shut and that meant I had no income. Then the tax laws in Greece became even stricter and the bills just kept piling up. I had to do a different job in the summer, to make ends meet.
If I close down, what will I do with everything I have bought for my business? Am I going to put things on sale? Where/how? Will I be able to store things?
My answer: When I shut down my business, I did not have a plan as to what I was going to do with all my school's furniture. Two years later, I still have everything stored in an old building. All the desks and tables are just laying around. This is such a waste. Learn from my mistake.
The day after
Thinking about the future: If I do shut down my business, what am I going to do? What's my plan B? If I don't have a plan B, maybe I need to start thinking of plan B.
Plan B thoughts:
Look at job ads (can I apply to anything?)
Do I have transferable skills? How can I use them for something else? Think of your skills/talents/certificates: how can you use them when job hunting?
Do I need to go back to school? (Yes? What?)
Do I start telling people I am looking for a new job?
My answer regarding skills/qualifications: I am a teacher and I teach English. I also like writing. I started blogging. I like arts and crafts. I started making paperclips (someone asked me if I would be willing to sell them. Would I?). My degree made me look for other degrees/certificates that would help me become more qualified. I looked into teaching qualifications. I already had a BA in English language and linguistics. I also had an MA in Teaching English as a second language.I had to look at other things I could do cause I knew I still wanted to teach. I got a diploma called the Cambridge Delta. With that I can now teach anywhere in the world. It has also opened the door to teaching at UK universities in the UK (that's what I do now).
Knowing when to let go is really hard because you make a financial investment as well as an emotional one. Failing at something is not easy either. My advice is that if you are in my shoes, take a big breath and really think. If this is not making me happy anymore, then it needs to stop.
All the questions I have posed are on this 4 page Pdf file, which you can print, think about and make notes on.You can download the Pdf here:
Have you ever been in the same position as me? Tell me your story in the comments section below.