Closing the business door needn’t be the end

(This was written 3 years ago (2017) but I thought it too pertinent not to repost)

When it’s time to close the business

I received an email today from a good business friend telling his database that he was closing down his business.  My instant reaction was ‘how sad’ and then I remembered how I’ve been there and done that too and how relieved I felt when I actually did it.

As many of my business friends might know I just love all things techie and whizzy.  It might seem a bit old hat now but a while back I definitely saw the coming of more interactive video conferencing for solo and micro businesses to share and network with.  There are oodles of platforms doing it now but not so many years ago, there were none really. 

I met a guy at a business show in London who had developed his own platform and I was smitten, totally head over heels in love and bought the wedding ring on the spot.  Ok not literally the wedding ring but I fell in hook, line and sinker.  Now I don’t for one second regret this in any way.

I devised some ways to try and make online networking work and set about gathering a group together who would not normally meet face to face and started a ‘product’  On paper it all looked very encouraging.  However, I had failed to take into account some key factors – i.e. not everyone in small business land was a techno geek like me with every conceivable piece of kit in the cupboard.

Users needed:

Good Broadband – still not a reality in many parts of Scotland

Good equipment – many small businesses don’t need whang dang laptops and webcams so why bother

A willingness to embrace something different

No need to get out of the office and see people face to face – I forgot that networking was a means for many to actually interact with a human being or two

Time – to make it work people had to be not just quite on time but free, ready sitting and waiting at the exact time

Anyway, being me, I bashed on for a couple of years with the project tweaking and adjusting as I went to try and make it work and profitable.  In the end I could do neither and by this time some of the shiny American based similar products were into the market in a big way. 

It was time to say goodbye!  I felt a failure.  I didn’t want anyone to know at first.  I thought I would be held up to ridicule.  I agonised for weeks over how to say goodbye. But then I just did it and as I hope my friend feels now, what a relief.  I could move on and concentrate on something that did work.

But what did I learn and what can I pass on to you if you need to change or, indeed worst case, close your business?

If you are a micro business and launching a mass product, you need deep deep marketing pockets to offer FREE for aeons to get supporters on board.  People won’t pay for the untested and untrusted

You need the ability to be able to continue to stay ahead of the pack as competitors launch their replica products

You need untold guts and optimism to stay at it when the going gets tough – very few of us are entrepreneurs, even fewer have the total single mindedness of the gilded world famous names.

If you need to change or close, just do it – in reality you are yesterday’s news for only a few moments.  No-one judges unless of course, you close owing money – please don’t do that!

Gather up what you have learned and apply it to whatever you will do again.

Remember you are one of the few who have actually dared to try.

If anyone wants a quick coffee to chat over any of this if it affects you and your business right now, always happy to do so, even by Skype or Zoom if you are too far away.