Over the last several months my partner and I have been discussing and analyzing whether or not we should close down our business after seven years of operation.
We came to the conclusion that it was best to shut it down.
It was a great run, especially for two guys who didn’t really know what they were doing in the beginning, but we figured a lot of things out over seven years.
I will speak from my perspective only; because at the end of the day all I know is my perspective. My first business was and still is, real estate, but my second business was a service. This was a different beast altogether.
There are many reasons why I could say I agreed with shutting it down, but if I am honest with myself, it really comes down to one reason.
I could say that it is because we lost one of our biggest clients, which was one of our first clients as well. When I say we lost them, we didn’t technically lose their business to a competitor or anything. They had just made some changes and were doing more things in-house. They actually said that they would probably still do business with us but just wasn’t sure of timelines.
I could also say that it was getting harder and harder to execute on some of the functions of the services we provided. Which would be true, especially for certain clients.
Due to certain regulations and policies by the government, it actually helped our business in the beginning, but some of those early needs that forced companies to need our services waned over the last several years. Also, many of the organizations we worked with have changed many of the processes and procedures over time as well, which led to many of them not wanting or needing our services as much.
I could also say that my partner and I agreed with shutting it down, because we were both at different points in our life and career. And the business was really on autopilot, and allowed us to do other things.
What started out to be a full-time job became less than a part-time job for both of us.
Keep in mind; both of us left full-time careers at pivotal moments in our careers seven years ago. We both went from making very nice salaries (six-figures plus) to making zero dollars.
We both had mortgages, I had several. He had children at critical stages of life. Or should I say, expensive points in life.
At the time we made this decision to go all in. All we had were our personal bank accounts, some ideas, a few leads, some terrible processes, and a lot of HOPE.
We weren’t dumb at the time. We had planned and prepared. When we launched we thought we were ready. But we learned a lot about business, sales cycles, and the reality of operating a business. Especially a business that is more of a product than an actual business.
What I learned from the experience was this.
- Business is hard. Starting something from nothing is difficult.
- I learned more about what it takes to operate a business.
- I learned that most businesses are making it up as they go along.
- Companies outsource services more than you would ever realize.
- I learned about taxes. States, federal, business, and how it impacts your personal taxes.
- I learned pricing.
- Sales and execution
- Take risks.No matter how big or small. When I went to zero then, the stakes were smaller, since then I have done it twice again.
I could go on an on about what I learned, because I learned many things along the way, that I wouldn’t have ever learned if I wouldn’t have done it.
Now here we are seven years from when it all began. And we are shutting it down. As I mentioned earlier, it really comes down to one reason why I decided to shut it down.
The one reason is commitment. It is really that simple. Here is what I know about commitment.
Commitment has nothing to do with passion. Although if you have passion for something it helps you have more commitment towards it. But you don’t have to be passionate about something to be committed to it. That is my opinion.
But I lacked commitment towards it.
Wherever there is commitment. You will see three things.
You will see time and energy being expended. And you will see money being spent on it.
I didn’t have enough of any of the three of these being invested into the business.
If I am honest with myself, we probably should have closed it many years ago, but we would renew a contract or land another one. That would give us a shot in the arm, but it would wane after a few months or so.
It is not a sad time that we made this decision. It really is something to celebrate.
We both have other things we are doing, and although I didn’t put as much time as I should have into the business we are closing. It does allow me to focus on my current business.
It is also the reality of life, all good things to come to an end. We were profitable from day one. We never lost a dollar of our own money. We made money along the way, which was the most important thing.
But the thing you can’t put a price on is the education I got from running a business. That education is more important than anything.
Takes risks, keep going, and pursue whatever it is you want to pursue in life. You only have one. Don’t have any regrets.
Our sixteenth president is known for many great quotes and lead our country through one of the most challenging and difficult times in our history.
Recently, I read a quote that has had me thinking about it for the last several weeks.
Abraham Lincoln said: “I don’t know that man, I must get to know him better.”
Several weeks later this quote still has me thinking about it. Why?
In our current culture I think there are a few things that have gone to the wayside. I am just as guilty of it as anyone else.
First off, we think we know someone based of their social media profiles. We see that they post memes we disagree with. Or they post things that are political and if we disagree with them, we assume that the person must be this or that, without us really knowing who they are.
Think about it for a minute. I have yet to unfollow, defriend, etc. anyone that I disagree with that I actually know. Why would I? I know who and what they are. We may disagree with each other, but I know that they are still a good hang, or share other interests that I throughly enjoy about them.
Unfortunately, if we just assume we know someone based on their social media posts or likes, we really don’t know that person.
Now, I know we aren’t going to actively seek out every person we are connected with and spend time with them. However, if we take the approach Lincoln says. We can give that person the benefit of the doubt that they have some qualities and beliefs that you would agree with.
I can think of many times I have made a blanket decision about someone or something because of what someone else said, something I assumed, or some other kind of signals I used to predetermine my opinion. As much as I hope to prevent myself from doing this, I still do it.
In this day and age, I think we could all learn from our sixteenth president Lincoln, and seek to understand people, especially the ones we think we dislike. Lincoln spent his entire life fighting and pushing his agenda. Through all of his experience doing that, it prepared him for the biggest challenge our country, and young country at that point, had ever faced, and most likely will ever face. Because of his lessons and demeanor, his style allowed us to get through it and become a better country in the process.
Lincoln used the approach of getting to know people better, especially the ones he disliked, to navigate through one of the greatest feats in the history of our nation.
How can you use this approach? It is a way of life. It is decision.
To your success and your future.
“You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.”
I’m not sure who originally said this, but I think Wayne Gretzky is credited it for it the most. Whether he did or did not. The statement is true in the game of hockey, which Gretzky is considered to be one of the best at, or the best. And it also pertains to life.
I think there is another version of the quote that says “You will regret that of which you did not pursue, more than the things you did pursue.” For me this is the more relevant statement when it has come to my life.
I am not sure when it started, but I know as an adult I have always had this willingness to be willing to take a risk, even when it wasn’t the best risk to take. I know there are people saying as they read this, that you have to take calculated risks and not be dumb about it. But I am not sure where that line is drawn.
I believe most of us spend too much of our lives questioning, thinking, discussing, instead of doing. Look around at the meeting you are in today. How many times have you and your colleagues talked about this same issue? This same person who is an issue?
My guess is a lot, and you will continue to do this until someone says “I’ve had it.” “We can no longer allow this person control the culture of our organization.” “We can no longer be paralyzed by our indecisions and fear of the worst.” Until someone steps up and says this, you will continue to do what you have always done and you will continue to get what you have always gotten.
Two times in my life now, I gave up a very substantial six figure salary to go out on a limb and bet on myself. The first time, the risk was a little premature. The lessons I learned were priceless though.
The second time I did this, it was a success. When I say success, I mean in general it was successful, but it had a lot of bumps in the road. And the road continues to be bumpy. But that is just the reality of life if you are going to play in an uncertain game and you put all of your chips on the table.
The best lessons I have learned by going to zero dollars twice are lessons I couldn’t learn playing it safe. We all know how it ends. When I get to the end, I want to be able to say, you did it all. You have nothing left to try.
Where is it in your life you need to take a risk and prove to yourself you can do it? If for nothing else, to learn.
I am not saying you have to go to zero dollars to learn what you are capable of or to take a risk. I am saying you have to be willing to go to zero though. If you aren’t willing, the chances are you will never do anything that is too far out of you comfort zone to know.
Jim Rohn one of my first mentors said it this way. He said “The pain of discipline weighs ounces, and the pain of regrets weighs tons.” I don’t mind the discipline, but I don’t want the regrets.
To your success and your future.
I look around today’s culture it is quite sad to see how many people could have done better, if they were just told the truth. Now more than ever, in an effort to prevent someone from having their feelings hurt, or even worse, possibly making them feel bad about what it is they are doing. People are willing to skirt around the truth instead of being direct and honest about what it is the person needs to hear.
For the last ten years, I have taught and trained on the methodologies and principles of the Dale Carnegie Training company. If you aren’t familiar with Dale Carnegie Training. Mr. Carnegie wrote a book titled “How to Win Friends and Influence People.” This book has been in publication since 1936. There is not a top 10 book list that doesn’t include this book on it. It is a must read for anybody who must work with other people to get things done. Which is all of us.
In his studies of people, and in his book, Mr. Carnegie provides thirty Human Relations principles that his readers can use to persuade and influence other people. These principles are often known by all of us. I recently had a participant in one of my courses of the Dale Carnegie Course summarize the principles, and the actual course that uses the principles as the centerpiece of the training like this:
He said this course and these principles are really just a reminder to forget about ourself and to put others first. I agree with him. The course and the principles really do just that.
After spending 1000’s of hours in the classroom, and just as many, studying the material and creating engaging exercises and applications of the material. I am reminded that Mr. Carnegie in all of his infinite wisdom, never said “Don’t tell someone the truth.” He instead said, tell them the truth, but to do it in a manner that keeps the other persons desires, emotions, and needs at the top of your mind.
As I think about our culture and society today, many people think that hearing the truth is some kind of attack against them personally and they take it as such. Because everyone is looking for a reason to be offended or to feel attacked, that when they hear or see something that confirms that belief or need in many cases, they immediately assume that is what is happening.
I am proposing a different side to this equation. What if instead of looking at the truth, or even if you disagree with whatever the opinion is. To look at it as if someone is actually attempting to help you in some way, not hurt you. Wouldn’t that be a better way to handle the situation, instead of assuming the worst.
In my years of studying people through various leadership roles, 1000’s of participants, and 1000’s of hours in a training environment making people uncomfortable sharing stories about themselves and engaging in exercises that get people to share the truth about their feelings and desires. I have learned that most people assume the worst. Yes. They assume the worst when they hear something from someone else, that this person didn’t have their best intentions in mind.
In today’s social media culture often times we don’t have the luxury of explaining ourselves fully in detail. Who would actually read that. I am suggesting regardless of what it is someone says to you in person, or on their facebook wall, twitter, or something similar. Instead of assuming the worst take a different approach and assume that whoever said it thinks that this may be beneficial to you. Who knows it actually might be.
To your success and your future.