Could You Break Up With Your Business?

By Willem Gous|06-07-2020 | 6 Min Read
I am sure many have come to the conclusion that their business is simply not working and must make the awful choice of closing down a business.

Should you close it down, or persevere? 

Many business owners were forced to sit back and reflect on their companies during the global pandemic that saw lockdowns in effect around the world. I am sure many have come to the conclusion that their business is simply not working and must make the awful choice of closing down a business.

Making the decision to walk away from your business is never easy, but it is a decision that almost all business owners will have to make at one stage in their lives. So, while it hurts, understand that this is part and parcel of calling ourselves entrepreneurs. In this difficult time, I would like to offer a perspective that will hopefully make it easier to decide. 

1. Do you love me enough to care for me?

I like to compare owning a business to being in a relationship. I am sure that I can risk saying that you have been in a relationship before, meaning an actual relationship with a fellow human being.
Imagine that you have gotten involved in a new personal relationship. You know what the other person wants, what their needs are and what makes them happy. You are willing to sacrifice your time, money, and attention to provide them with what they need. 
But here’s the rub: you never tell them what you want. The result is a one-sided relationship. As one friend who is a social worker said this could even be called the basis for an abusive relationship. 
Would you even want to be in such a relationship? So far, not one person I’ve asked this question has ever said “Yes, I’d love to be in a one-sided, abusive relationship.” 

But isn’t that how most entrepreneurs start their businesses? Isn’t that how speakers and books teach us to start our businesses? They say that the business’ and customers’ needs always come first. You hear stuff about customer development and customer service and customer journey. 
What about you and your needs?
The notion that it is all about their needs, need to come to an end and fast.

Read More: Reverse Mentoring


Just like in a real relationship you must have your needs met too. So ask yourself, “What is it that my business should give me?” Be clear about it and then look at your business and ask yourself, openly and honestly, “Am I and will I ever have my needs met?”
Just as you must prioritise customer development, start thinking about entrepreneurial development. Remember that without a customer the business will not run, but without you, it would not exist and you must ensure that you survive when the business goes down. 
Food for thought: Looking back at the comment about an abusive relationship and looking at the life of a typical entrepreneur, how many entrepreneurs are getting their needs met? – Let that sink in.
If you did the work and realised that you are not having your needs met, then you are faced with a few decisions. There are several steps before you should even think of closing down a business.
You can reshape the business to cater to your needs by shifting the business model, financial planning and strategy. Basically you redesign your business so that it can fulfil your needs. However, if this does not work and you cannot get the business to serve your needs you can still consider other options. 

You can keep the business and let it address some of your needs while you start another business that will fill the gap that the current business is leaving. I know in a relationship most people will only have one partner, but in business, I can have as many as I want. I can have many businesses. 
If none of the previous two options are viable, then you come to the last and final decision, which is closing down a business.

2. You have done it before

If you have to walk away from an existing business then remain in the mindset of being in a relationship and apply the following perspective. 
Everyone at a certain stage in their life had to walk away from a bad relationship. It might have been a personal relationship, a boss, a supplier, a friend, a family member or even a marriage. Have you ever had to walk away from a bad relationship?
In 100% of cases when I asked people if they ever walked away from a bad relationship they said they were better off today because of that decision. That they would have been worse off had they stayed in that relationship.
I want you to think of the worst relationship that you walked away from and ask yourself, how much better off you are today because you walked away? Think about how much happier you are today as a result.
The same applies to closing down a business that is unsustainable. There is nothing wrong with walking away from a business that emotionally bleeds you dry, saps your energy, and drains your motivation. It does not work in a relationship, and it does not work in business either. 

I want you to think of the worst relationship that you walked away from and ask yourself, how much better off you are today because you walked away? Think about how much happier you are today as a result.

Walking away from a bad business means that you can focus on new beginnings with fresh eyes, fresh dreams, fresh motivation, and fresh enthusiasm. You can start anew. You can start again. Nothing is holding you back and the sooner you do it the more resources and cash you will probably still have left to start something new. I know this can be a very difficult decision and if you are struggling to make sense of the decision of closing down a business or preserve, then reach out for advice. I have helped many business owners make hard and difficult decisions about their businesses and they are better off for it today. 

The best advice I can give is not to talk to family members and friends about this decision. That’s not to say you should leave them in the dark. Certainly, share your thoughts and concerns with them, but it pays to have a mentor guide you through this so that you are sure that you have a perspective outside of your own thinking. Why? Because we have an emotional connection with our own businesses and friends and family might keep us in that business because they hate seeing us fail.

Either way, you can do this and close the business down. What are businesses but ideas and inspirations put to action. For as long as you have ideas and can be inspired by the world at large, you can always start another business.

Read More: What's The Purpose of Mentoring

Willem Gous is an international speaker, trainer and consultant on leadership, innovation and entrepreneurship. He started The Human Entrepreneur after seeing his father destroy himself through his own business and decided to work to keep entrepreneurs in the game with a human-centric approach to developing entrepreneurs. To connect with him, contact editor@leaderonomics.com. Republished with permission on Leaderonomics.com

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Willem Gous is an international speaker, trainer and consultant on leadership, innovation and entrepreneurship. He started The Human Entrepreneur after seeing his father destroy himself through his own business and decided to work to keep entrepreneurs in the game with a human-centric approach to developing entrepreneurs.
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