Help! Is it time to quit the business?
The highs of running a business are exhilarating, but the lows can be absolutely gut wrenching. Trying to stay afloat with endless to-do lists and constant demands causes many business owners to want to throw in the towel. But how do you know if it's time to call it quits?
In this episode, I’m unpacking four reasons you might be considering quitting your business, a few things to address before making that decision and some telltale signs that it may be time to say move on. This one is also a rather vulnerable share as I talk about my experience saying goodbye to my first business and what led me to that decision.
If you’re struggling right now and considering quitting your business, I want you to know that I see you, and I'm here to offer support and insights that may help you navigate this challenging chapter. Today I dive into some detail about the following scenarios you might be experiencing:
1. You Hate Your Business: Running a business involves overcoming numerous challenges, especially in the early stages. Over time, these challenges can become overwhelming, leading to frustration and a sense of despair. If you find yourself loathing your business, it's really important that you identify the specific problems causing your dissatisfaction.
2. Financial Struggles: Financial difficulty is a significant source of stress for business owners. Whether you're not earning a livable income or your business is running at a loss, understanding the root causes of your financial struggle is vital. This may involve examining your pricing strategy, marketing efforts, or client acquisition methods.
3. Burnout: Burnout is an all-too-common issue for business owners, particularly in the messy middle stage of entrepreneurship. If your business is draining your energy and negatively impacting your health, it's crucial to address burnout. This might involve scaling back, seeking support, or making structural changes in your business operations so that you can take some time out.
4. Competitive or Declining Market: Economic challenges, such as a competitive or declining market, can put a strain on your business. While external factors can be daunting, it's essential to analyse your business's performance, expenses, and adaptability to determine if there's a path forward.
Closing or selling your business is not a failure; it's a transition. Whether you choose to move forward or step away, remember that your story will continue and new opportunities await. I hope my journey inspires confidence in your decisions and that this episode provides you with a sense of comfort that no matter what, you’re going to be okay.
Topics We Covered:
[00:00:00] Kristy: Many business owners find themselves fantasizing, escaping their business and getting a job in the pursuit of just working a nine to five and having uninterrupted weekends and holidays. The thing about running a business is the highs of running a business are so high, but yet the lows are harrowingly low and the ongoing responsibility of the endless to-do list.
[00:00:25] And demands can have you dreaming of making a quick escape. It's one thing to have a fleeting thought of burning it all down. But what happens when is it all worth it circles on a loop. There's many reasons why you find yourself in this position, but when you do, it can be deeply unsettling and also isolating for business owners.
[00:00:51] There's very little support, conversations, and resources to turn to in this instance. And frankly, it's not a conversation that many people feel overly comfortable in having with anyone. And in fact, admitting it out loud takes the whole thing to a new level.
[00:01:08] Coming up in this conversation, I tackle, when do you know it's time to close it all down and do something else as well as turning over a few stones you might not have considered before making that final decision. It's a big conversation. Are you ready? Let's go. Hello boss and welcome back to the podcast.
[00:02:03] If you click to play today, you are either very curious as to what I'm going to say on this topic or. You are having a really hard time right now, and if it's the latter, I want you to know that I see you and I hope that this episode offers you support and perhaps a starting point to move forward on.
[00:02:24] I also wanna say I've been in your position and it's a really hard place to be. I cover a lot in this episode, so I wanna let you know what to expect. And the reason for this is I want you to stay right to the end because there's a lot that I wanna share with you, and I really want you to get the support that you need.
[00:02:47] So in this conversation, we begin with unpacking four reasons you might be considering quitting your business, as well as a few things to address before making that decision, if you are in these categories. So what I'm covering is that you hate your business or you've fallen out of love with your business, you're struggling financially, you are in burnout, or you are in a very competitive or declining market. Now, if you were listening to that list and you thought I could tick a couple of those categories, then that would also be very normal. So you may wanna cherry pick some of the concepts that I cover in each.
[00:03:26] I'll also share with you some telltale signs that it may be time to quit your business. And I'm gonna wrap the conversation up by sharing the story of my first business, which in case you didn't know, ended with me selling it. Honestly, that was one of the hardest times in my life but I can also share with you, I am a decade past that experience, and I'm not only okay, I'm more than, okay.
[00:03:53] But before I dive into all of that, I want to remind you that the only person that can make this final decision about whether or not it's right for you to move on is you. This episode is merely here to help you to address some of the problems you're experiencing, as well as some indicators that it may be time that you are done, but by no means is any of this advice or telling you what you should do.
[00:04:19] A hundred percent, being a business owner is about tapping into your inner resources and your inner knowing, and I think you know when you're at that point. So, with all that said, I'm sure you're very keen to get into the conversation. Let's go.
[00:04:35] The first thing I'm covering in this episode, of course, is the reasons why you are in this position. The first one being that you hate your business. Now, there's many seasons that occur when you run a business and when you start your business, there are so many challenges that you are trying to overcome. There are also so many things that you are learning. So many new things that you've never experienced, so you know, you're figuring out how to set up your offers, how to build a website, how to get those first few clients, market your business, how to create a livable income.
Those challenges are very real, but the difference between when you start your business and when you are in the messy middle, as far as overcoming those challenges, is that firstly, often when you start your business, you have more time, and secondly, you have more energy. So by the time you get to this messy middle stage of business, it feels like you've been overcoming challenges for a really long time, and you may have depleted energy.
[00:05:39] And secondly, in the messy middle stage of business, the reality is, is that you have a lot more clients that you are managing. You have a lot more deliverables that you are managing in your business, so therefore you have less time to work on your business and resolve the challenges that you are experiencing there.
[00:05:57] So I wanna normalise that challenges do occur at all stages of business, but this is why it can often feel very unsettling and, and particularly challenging in the messy middle stage of business. So as your business grows, different types of problems emerge. Obviously, you know how to run a business, obviously you know how to get new clients. Obviously, you know how to deliver your services and so forth. But as I have talked about many times on this podcast, is that, throughout this time, you can often get your business off track. You can often find yourself in a place where your business is no longer sustainable and you are working really long hours and you are feeling really frustrated about the operations of your business.
[00:06:44] So what I would encourage is that if you are in this stage where you are really not enjoying your business and in fact, hate your business, is to take some time to really understand what are the problems that exist in your business. Often we can blow things up in our mind and we think that they're actually bigger than what they are, and then that's what drives that overwhelm. And when you're feeling overwhelm, then it's really difficult to break the problem down into a clear plan and then take action. And what ends up happening is that the problems begin to stack up and grow and grow and grow, and then it just becomes completely unmanageable for you. Which of course is going to drive burnout, it's going to increase that dissatisfaction with your business, and then mistakes begin to happen, and that can obviously begin to impact your client experience.
[00:07:41] So it's really important for you to think about how do you address the problems in your business and make those changes. As I talk about a lot here on the podcast, just because your business exists in a certain way now, it doesn't mean that it has to stay that way. It's very normal for businesses to pivot, as I dare say, or to adapt and change and evolve.
[00:08:05] The key here is that if you are in this position and you are connected to the purpose of your business that you really do wanna keep your business going, it's just that you really don't like the way that it exists today, then you need to get crystal clear on the problems that exist in your business. So what's not working, and then also identify what is working and what it is that you are looking to move it towards. Then make a plan that has clear actionable steps to help you to move your business out of this current stage where it's, obviously problematic into a place that is feeling much more aligned to the bigger vision of your business.
[00:08:50] You can get your business on track. You absolutely can. It's really just about figuring out what's the problem. What you need to do to fix it and to take action. Now, that's easier said than done. I do understand that, and especially when you are serving a high volume of clients and you're busy in your day to day, which is where getting support is really important.
[00:09:12] Now, you may choose to bring someone into the business to help to take the load away from you so that you can focus on working on the business. That's absolutely one thing you can do. Or the other thing is to work with a coach. I have seen my clients make exponential changes in their business throughout the six months that we are working together inside of the Business Accelerator Coaching Program.
[00:09:35] The reason for this is because there's clear space to figure out the challenges. There's clear space to figure out the plan, and there's support as you are taking action and accountability to keep you moving forward. So if you feel this is not something that you are confident in doing on your own, or maybe it's that you've tried to make those changes on your own by listening to podcasts and learning all the different things, then maybe hiring a coach is going to really help you to move out of this stage of your business and move forward.
[00:10:09] Now, an episode that you may find helpful in the archives is episode number 97. It's where I spoke about a multimillion seven figure business owner who shut down their business because their business wasn't sustainable. The business had taken over their life, they no longer enjoyed what they were doing, and then made the decision to take a long-term or permanent sabbatical. This is obviously not what I want for you, but that's a really interesting conversation if you are in this particular place.
[00:10:41] So the second reason that you are wanting to shut your business down is that you are struggling financially. Now, a couple of things that I wanna touch on in this space to get you thinking is that your business is covering its expenses, but you're not making a livable salary, or your business is running at a loss and it's no longer viable.
[00:11:03] So the first point of your business is not generating enough income to support you. This is an incredibly stressful situation, and it's important to know why you are not making that income in your business. Is it that you don't have enough clients? How many clients do you need in your business to generate enough revenue to be able to support your income?
[00:11:27] Is it that you've been undercharging for a while, so you are working hard, you've got enough clients in the door, but you're still not able to generate enough income because you are undercharging.
[00:11:37] So if that's the case, you may be looking at your pricing strategy, revisiting your services, what's included. As well as your marketing, so making sure that your marketing is targeting the right ideal client, that it's clearly articulating the transformation that they're going to get.
[00:11:54] Perhaps, maybe it's that you don't have enough clients, then that can be a number of different things. It could be that your messaging is off. It could be that your marketing is off. Maybe you haven't been showing up as much as what you used to, or perhaps it's that the problem that you are trying to solve is either something that's not important anymore, or no longer exists, or that you are not messaging that properly.
[00:12:21] So it's really important that if you are in this position where you have a few clients or you've been declining in clients, is to understand what's led to this situation and then you can start to figure out how you can fix it. it's about figuring out what problem exists in your business and then finding a solution and making changes accordingly. Again, you may need to get some support. If you do think it's a marketing problem, then you may need to get some marketing support to help you with that.
[00:12:51] The other thing is I want to normalise. If you need to get a part-time job while you get your business back on track financially, that is okay. Often business owners think, oh, I'm in this position, I can't possibly get a part-time job. I'll just close my business and start, you know, working full-time.
[00:13:09] There is a hybrid there and it's also something that you shouldn't be ashamed of. Everybody needs to generate enough income to be able to support themselves. So if that's a stepping stone to getting your business back on track whilst also making some income, then I want you to know that that's also okay.
[00:13:28] But the clear thing here is, is that if your business isn't turning over enough income to be able to support you is to understand why. To get really, really clear on, is it that you're not generating enough leads? Is it that you are undercharging? Is it that your messaging is off? Is it that your services are no longer relevant?
[00:13:47] Is it that the problem that you solve something that's not either articulated very well or relevant in this market? So there's a few things that you can do there. Let's say that your business is losing money and it's no longer viable. Now I really understand my expertise and my pocket, and this is not one of them.
[00:14:08] I would definitely recommend if you are in a situation where your business is no longer viable is to speak to an accountancy firm that has an advisory service. Speak to a professional to understand where you are losing your money. Understand how you can cut expenses. Understand what your true financial position is.
[00:14:31] Sometimes we can keep our head in the sand for too long and it might be hard to pull it out and really be able to make that big change. So the sooner you can get on top of understanding your cashflow, understanding what needs to change to get your business back in the black is so important.
[00:14:50] So the action here is that if you're losing money in your business, is to seek support from an accountant who has an advisory service that can help you to understand your numbers and understand what needs to be put in place to move forward, or whether it's actually time to close the door on your business.
[00:15:09] the other thing I wanna address just super quickly on this point is the sunk cost fallacy. This is where you continue to invest time, energy, money because you've already invested a huge amount already. The thing is, is that putting good money, good time, good effort after bad may not necessarily be the right decision for you.
[00:15:32] Sticking with your business and continuing to invest and put time into it, just because you already have is not a good enough reason to hang on. But as I said, it's really important for you to take that step back, figure out what the challenges are, if it's an income issue, or if it's that you're losing money. Get that professional and personalised support.
[00:15:58] The third reason why you want to throw your business in is that you are burnt out, and this really piggybacks off that first point where in the messy middle stage of business, you've got a number of years under your belt, lots of fires you've put out in that time, and that your business has become very unsustainable and it's beginning to impact the way you feel, your health and your ability to be able to run your business.
[00:16:26] This is not something that you can ignore. Right. I really wanna be clear about this. Burnout is very, very real, and unfortunately it's something that's very high right now, especially coming out of the last few years that we've come out of and this belief that we need to work, work, work, work, and keep working and working and working, and not fixing the problems that exist in your business, that can create more space for you.
[00:16:56] If you are working 60 hour weeks and have done for the past four years and doesn't look like you'll ever not be able to then that's going to present a very real problem for you. So the first thing that you need to do here is to get yourself out of burnout. You need to rest. So in last week's episode, minimalist business, I talked about how with my business, I have an ability to be able to scale up and scale down.
[00:17:24] If you are in burnout, think about where you can build some more space. Can you let go of some of the work? Can you stop offering certain things without it impacting your income? It's really important that you do start to look after yourself and personally, it can be eating healthy, getting enough sleep at night, monitoring where you are spending your time. Are you spending two, three hours a day on Instagram or are you spending time at night just looking at Netflix because you're so burnt out? So really think about where you are spending your time and figure out where you can then pull that back and create space.
[00:18:09] It's very difficult to really get in and roll up your sleeves and do the work when you are in burnout. So first and foremost, if you are in burnout, is figuring out how you can look after yourself, how you can get support either personally or in your business temporarily, just so you can hit pause on the non-critical work and really just start to repair and recover.
[00:18:34] If you are really struggling with burnout and you want to know one area that you can start to create some more ease, then maybe booking in a 90 minute coaching call might be the right thing for you. It's really hard to think clearly when you are in burnout, and the reason why I know this is because I've been there more than once So the key here is to figure out how you can make more time for rest in order for you to be able to get back into a really good place energetically to be able to move your business forward. And then circling back into point number one would then be the follow-up action to that.
[00:19:18] The next thing is that you're in a competitive or declining market. Now there's no denying this has been a tough year. It's been a soft market. Lots of people are struggling under the economic stresses of this year, but the thing about being in a soft market and the fact that there is an increased cost of living does not mean that these are reasons alone to shut up shop. It might be that you need to understand your numbers, understand where you're spending money, understand what you are offering, and make some changes to your business.
[00:19:50] Episode number 116 is a really great resource if you are in this position. So I don't wanna repeat all of those things because there's a full episode where I cover that. But I want you to know that may be a solution if you are in that position.
[00:20:08] Okay. So they're the four reasons for why you may want to close your business down or sell it, or that you may feel like you are done. It may be that it's something entirely different. They're not the only four reasons, as I said. And one thing is that your life circumstances have changed and you know that your business can no longer fit with your life goals. So selling your business or closing your business down, I really want you to know, is not a failure. It's absolutely not a failure.
[00:20:42] And I have mentioned on the podcast before that I felt like a failure. I felt like I could have done more when I sold my first business, but now looking back on that experience, I really do believe that a hundred percent, it was the right thing for me. It was the right thing for my family, and it was the right thing for the business to let it go at that point.
[00:21:02] So how is it that you know, you should maybe be thinking about closing up or selling the business? As I said at the beginning of this episode, the only person that can really say when is you, but here's a few indicators for you to think about. So let's say you've done all of the work that we discussed in this episode.
[00:21:25] You've done the analysis, you know what problem exists? You know how to fix it, but you simply don't have the capacity, capability, or the capital to do what's required to change the trajectory of your business. Perhaps it's that you've done the review, you've put the solutions in place, and things are not getting any better.
[00:21:45] Perhaps it's that your life circumstances have changed and you know that your business no longer fits no matter what capacity you can evolve it into. We also can't dismiss the point when you are done, your heart's not in it, and you simply are ready to close off this chapter. Sometimes we hang on for too long. Sometimes we keep ignoring that voice inside us that is telling us it's time. And sometimes it's the fear and the shame of failing that keeps us in a business that we no longer wanna be in. Making the decision to let go is hard, which is why I wanna share with you my journey.
[00:22:28] So, My first business started back in 2010, and we had been trying to fall pregnant for a while it wasn't happening, and so we decided to go all in on the business. So I left my job in corporate and I started setting up our providore, which was a shop that sold small producer food and beautiful delicacies from all over Australia.
[00:22:56] So cheese, there was beautiful pastas, beautiful chutneys, all of the beautiful things. We had signed the lease on our shop and we're so excited about starting the business and getting everything going and a few weeks later, I found out happily that I was pregnant. obviously starting this business knowing I'm pregnant, which is something that we desperately wanted, you know, it just made things a little bit more complicated, if you like, because as you can imagine, a bricks and mortar business is a little bit different to running an online business. There's a lot more expenses, there's a lot more needing to be physically in the shop, and there were a lot of moving parts.
[00:23:42] Nonetheless, we really thought about it. Should we keep going or should we just cut our losses and call it quits before the shop actually opened? And my husband said to me, Kristy, I support you 100% what you choose to do here. And I made the decision, obviously to keep going. So went through the process of the da, setting up the shop, doing the development of the space, opening the store.
[00:24:12] By the time we opened, I was about six months pregnant, so pretty pregnant by this stage. And I didn't really have a plan, to be honest, and that may seem surprising to you because I am a real planner, but I had never run a business before. I didn't really know what I was doing, I was working day to day, week to week. I had my team around me and I just knew that I would figure it out as I went. So as I went into labor, I still hadn't finished off all the things that I wanted to do. I was about a week and a bit early, and I called one of my team members and asked them to open the store and to just handle things for a few days.
[00:24:52] Meanwhile, in the maternity suite, I was ordering stock, I was keeping the business going. And in those early weeks, I was very much just, you know, connected to what the business was doing and it was the mental load, I think, more than anything else whilst trying to figure out how to look after this brand new baby.
[00:25:13] Anyway, I found my feet and things were okay for a while, but as my daughter got older and things were just not getting any better, this business still required me to be in the business most days because when I wasn't in the business, sales would decline. The income would look very different from the days when I was in versus the days that I wasn't.
[00:25:38] And that's a pretty normal situation for early businesses and you know, I had a good relationship. I knew how to sell the products. I knew how to, you know, make sure that we had a good day. So anyway, as time went on, I realized that I the business was going to really need me in it, like as in working in the store at least 4, 5, 6 days a week for the foreseeable future.
[00:26:05] My daughter, by this point, was approaching two, and we knew that we wanted to have another child, so we were at this juncture where, I was in this business that required a lot of my time, energy, focus, and personal resources. Raising a toddler and then making this decision about, well, do we have a another child? Do we expand our family? I knew without a doubt, the business and the extra child would, you know, pretty much send me over the edge. It just really wasn't viable. So we made the decision to sell the business, but honestly it wasn't just the decision to have another child that got me to that point.
[00:26:50] It was also that after three years, I was exhausted. I was done. I knew what was required to keep building the business, to keep growing the business, I to keep moving the business to where I wanted it to be required so much from me. And personally, I didn't have it in me. And I remember the moment when I just thought, I'm done.
[00:27:19] I'm done. And it was both a relief as well as deep pain. So I was, it was such a, even just saying this story, even though I knew I was gonna share this story on the podcast, it still brings up a lot of emotion, but I knew. I knew I was done.
[00:27:38] And so at that moment, it was almost relief that the decision had been made. And so I started the process of finding a buyer. And lucky for me, I had a team member who had been looking for a business for a while. I was really reluctant to raise it with her because I thought if she didn't want it then you know, she could potentially turn around and leave and then I was even more exposed in the business.
[00:28:08] But thankfully she jumped on the opportunity and she did such an amazing job. We sold the business to her and she brought on a business partner, and she had the big energy that was required to move the business forward. It was so wonderful to see the changes that she made and all the things that she then went on to do with the business.
[00:28:27] But at the same token, that was also hard to see as well. So I wanna normalise that, I would walk past, because it was actually in my home suburb in Sydney. And I would walk past and I would be happy on one hand, but also sad on the other that I had to make that decision. And I've mentioned on the podcast before that for years afterwards, I kept circling back over, what if I just given it the energy that I needed. What if I had made different decisions? What if I had support like in way of a coach, which wasn't really available back in those days? What if, what if, what if? And then I just kept thinking what a failure I was for letting it go. And then I realised that with time and with a change of focus, I had developed all these new skills in a different career.
[00:29:23] I had really moved on with my life, and it was at that point that I started to realize it was meant to be. That was meant to be my experience, and I was meant to finish that experience. I was done, and by no means was I a failure because I sold the business. It was just an experience
[00:29:46] and now I can talk about it and definitely feel the emotions as you can tell in my voice. But at the same time, that's what life is about. It's about ups and downs and about opening doors and closing doors, and if I hadn't have closed that door, then I wouldn't have gone on to develop my skillset in coaching and leadership to then be able to open this business, which I absolutely love, that I get to create a massive impact, that I get to support people who are in the position that I was in all those years ago. Doing work that I am really good at doing work that creates a real impact. Having this podcast, none of this would exist had I not have closed the doors on that business.
[00:30:33] So, The reason why I share this is not to be like waving the flag of close your business, sell your business, but if that's the path that you choose, if that's the path that you choose, I want you to know that you will be okay. I want you to know that things will continue to go on. Your story will continue to go on. And the things that I learned in that business, a hundred percent informs this business that I have right now. That was not a wasted era in my life. That was not a wasted era in my career.
[00:31:09] It's a hard place to be when you are feeling like this is the next stage. The hardest of all though is firstly making the decision, and secondly, for me and my journey was the shame and the guilt and the failure that I felt afterwards.
[00:31:31] But my hope for you would be that you don't feel that, that my story inspires you to feel confident in your decision. To feel confident that this would be the right thing for you. Boss, there are many places to explore. There are many things that you can try before you get to that position, but if you are there and that's the journey that you take, I hope that my story will give you some comfort. That's my only goal for this conversation.
[00:32:04] Thank you so much for listening to this episode. I hope that it's given you some food for thought and that either you have a really clear step of what is your next action, if you want to get your business back on track, or it gives you some confidence in figuring out whether or not making the decision to quit your business is the right best next step for you.
[00:32:33] Thank you so much for listening. I appreciate you. I want you to know you're not alone, and as always, I look forward to chatting with you next week.
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About your host, Kristy
Hi, I'm Kristy, thank you for tuning in to the Run Your Business Like a Boss Podcast. My purpose for the podcast is to help Business Owner’s in the growth stage of business (messy middle) have a sustainable business, they love.
I’m an online business coach, based in Brisbane, Australia. I provide 1:1 business coaching, to Service Based Online Business Owner's and a group coaching program commencing in 2022. I believe whole heartedly that having a Business Coach is what gives you the competitive edge. As your coach I support you to overcome challenges quickly, uncover blindspots and make business decisions with confidence and clarity. All of which keeps you moving forward and maintaining momentum.
As your Business Coach, my role is to help you organise and formulate your ideas, turn them into a goal and then into an actionable plan! All while meeting you where you're at and providing you relevant tools and support along the way.
Thank you for tuning in to the Run Your Business Like A Boss podcast!