No one talks about closing a business
It’s amazing how much information you can find on starting a business. How to start a business, how to run a business, how to make a ton of money with a business, etc. It’s everywhere we turn – how to start a business. It seems as though no one talks about the other side. No one talks about the end, whether that be a buy-out or the complete closing of a business.
What about after you’ve been on the journey – you’ve started, you’ve run a business, and now you have made the decision to end it. Now what? No one is over-sharing what to do when it’s time to close a business. Closing a business, for the first time, was not like I expected. This article is to give my unique experience of what it felt like to close a business for the first time. Here’s my story.
Love of old things motivated the business
It all started with a love for “picking” the right items. My partner and I joined forces to find unique antique and vintage items and offer a styling service in connection with those items. We were already doing this in our everyday lives so it was a perfect match! The Vintage Company Rentals and Event existed to create a specific look / style, using what we had access to – vintage rentals. We were paid to use our creativity and come up with a unique look for special occasions like family pictures, weddings, and events. Event rentals is essentially what we did, and we offered our styling services as an add-on service. Our rentals were a collection of found items, not a mass production of the same tables, chairs, and centerpieces. It was a “niche” business and that made it harder to convey what we did and to sell our service.
Did people get it? Most people understood the concept. The ones who fully grasped what we did LOVED it. The overwhelming majority of people thought it was a great idea. There are actually a ton of vintage rental companies across the country that are doing exactly what we did. So, this wasn’t a new concept as a business. People are tired are of the same options and vintage rentals provides that unique option.
It’s important that it be stated that I truly liked everything that The Vintage Company had to offer. At it’s core, it offered to do something that I really believed in. Make money renting items I love collecting. Sounds like a win, right? I loved salvaging old items and creating a special look for photography and events. Every business has parts, that as an owner, you could just live without. They are still necessary to run the business though. Maybe it’s bookkeeping, invoicing, or client interaction that irks you. Maybe you love those things. For each person it differs. However, in spite of the parts that I didn’t like, I still loved the business. At the end of the day, I loved what we created. So you could say I loved The Vintage Company. Somehow, it would always give back to me in small ways and I continued in my efforts because of that.
The decision is made to close
After almost 2 years into the journey, we decided to close the business. The amount of work that we were getting in our area would not justify staying open another year. We would have to expand to other areas to grow more and the logistics of that are more difficult than you realize. Traveling to a wedding, out of town, with a trailer full of rentals, at night, can get a little tricky. These are just some of the logistics that were real. So for us, expanding wasn’t the best option.
Would the business have worked in another town? Maybe. Would the business have worked during a different time in our local economy? Maybe. Would the business have worked if we expanded to other surrounding areas? Maybe. Will the business take-off tomorrow? Maybe, but probably not. There will always be 50 million reasons to continue a business. In business, things don’t really happen overnight. They take time. It takes a smart person to say, “As much as I love this business, today it doesn’t work for me.” Were we smart for closing now? Maybe. Who knows? The point is no matter how much we liked it, how good of an idea maybe it was, or even how much money it did or didn’t make us – it didn’t work anymore for us.
An array of emotions sets in
Once the decision was made to close, we still received a ton of inquiries. Customers were still actively interested in our service and our rentals. Though tempting, the decision had already been made to close. So we persevered forward in our decision. Suddenly, an array of emotions started to take over. That was something I never expected.
Telling people out loud that we had made the decision to close was really hard. I felt guilty. Guilty that I had promised to do something really amazing, and now I would be unable to do it. I felt sad. Sad because everything that we had worked towards was now coming to an end. Everything that we had worked on, dreamed about, and made was over. That was sad. I felt mad. Mad that I didn’t push harder. Mad that I didn’t keep going. Then, I cried. Cried that most of the things that we had collected were now gone. We sold the majority of our items in a series of sales. Yes, I cried over some stuff. But it was the collective. I was crying about everything.
Then it hit me. We did all we could with our time, resources, and energy. We gave it all we had. What you have to give to a business varies based on your own resources. You can never judge a person because you don’t know what they had to give. Some people have more time, more money, or more willpower. That affects what you get out of the business. What you get out of the business is not always based on money. It could provide a creative outlet, or a community, or possibly even money. All that matters is that if it must come to an end, you gave it all YOU had.
After it all, I’m thankful
I’m no longer sad and I’m definitely not crying. I’m only guilty of being passionate about something. Passionate enough to give it almost 2 years of my life. Lots of sweat, dirt, and even some tears were involved. There were mostly happy moments though. The day our first bride booked, and the moment I found out our styled shoot would be published. I will carry those moments with me.
I’m now thankful. Thankful for a creative outlet. Thankful for a community of people who really loved what we did. I’m also very fortunate to now have a very good friend. My business partner is now one of my good friends. Yes, we were friends before but we really got to know each other well. I’ll take that any day. What more could one ask for?
The chapter for this business has ended and that is okay. I’ve learned more than I ever thought possible. No one told me about how hard closing a business would be and that is okay. I figured it out myself. For that, I’m grateful.