This week I made a big decision to close down my longest-running, most successful and highest-revenue business.
It wasn’t a decision I took lightly.
For the last 7 years that business defined me. I took much of my identity from what I did in that business.
It’s even the on the big sign out the front of my office.
Yet even though I took a long while to come to this decision, I’m not doing it because the business is failing or that it’s in trouble.
I am closing it down because I can’t bear the thought of another month working in or on it.
But just like the lyrics I used at the top of this email (thanks to Nyree Slatter for reminding me of Semisonic’s Closing Time) this ending is really just a new beginning.
Or a bunch of new beginnings.
So what went wrong?
Nothing actually went wrong at all.
Right up to last week I was winning contracts, having quotes accepted and finishing off projects.
I still have a few ongoing projects that I need to deliver.
The business is very much cashflow positive and viable.
I just hate it.
It’s the one part of my life that I dread having to attend to.
My work at Charles Darwin University? It’s been a massive learning curve, but I still wake up excited to do it.
What I’m doing at Darwin Innovation Hub? It excites me like little else ever has.
My other lines of business? They’re going really well and continue to grow and keep me engaged and interested.
But Clickstarter is boring me to tears.
I’m sick of constantly having to justify my prices.
I’m sick of work and rework and re-rework on projects.
And I’ve been building websites since 1996. I’m so done.
Add to this, I’m fed up with trying to convince people to pay me (or others) to do work on their social media that I know will not amount to anything positive for them, because their problem isn’t a marketing or social media problem – it’s a product or service problem.
Or just as often an expectation and attitude problem.
I’m sick of trying to polish turds only to find that all I can do is roll them in glitter and hope that the shimmer hides the fact that this stuff they want to do doesn’t work anymore – and hasn’t worked for quite a while.
I can continue to sell this stuff and continue to make money. But I just can’t do that anymore and still sleep at night.
Did I just waste seven years of my life?
This is one big fear that people have when they decide to stop doing something after a long time.
Another is a fear of what others will think of them.
No one wants to be seen as a failure.
In my case, the last seven years were far from wasted.
Everything I did, achieved or even failed at led to the point where I am now – which is a point that I am really happy with.
And the core business of this last seven years has sprouted new businesses along the way.
A consulting business. A training business. An affiliate marketing business. A public speaking business. A new tourism-related business.
This is something that we tend to overlook when we end something we’ve been doing for quite a while.
If you end a career, that isn’t the end of your working ability. The many years of experience and working contribute to the next thing you do. There are always some transferrable skills.
I recall the time when I left a 13 year career with a media company and how it felt like the skills I had were too specialised and couldn’t be applied to anything else.
But they did.
And seven years later, that fear of being unable to do something new is not present, because I do something new every few months.
When something ends, something new has to begin.
You don’t have to go home, but you can’t stay here.
That’s another line from Closing Time by Semisonic.
When something ends, and it’s often ended by someone or something else, we can go into a bit of shock.
If it wasn’t expected, it can take us a while to move on to the next thing.
Losing a job after 20 years. Having your business wiped out by technological change. Your partner leaving you without warning.
After such a long time of treading a defined path, following familiar patterns and having predictability in your life, you want to keep following those paths.
But when they don’t exist anymore, a lot of us freeze in place, unable to move on from the wreckage of what was a large part of our lives.
If you’ve seen the movie, A Man Called Otto, you’ll see this in the main character. After the main character’s wife dies, he gets stuck in place. His life ceases moving forward as he is becomes stuck in the past and its patterns that no longer exist.
Like anything in life, you can prepare yourself or train yourself for change.
After being forced out of a 13 year job back in 2016, I vowed to never again be dependant on any one source of income again. I also vowed to never stop learning new skills that would allow me to remain flexible and useful outside of what I was doing at the time.
I vowed to never leave myself that vulnerable to sudden change again.
That meant never relying fully on a full-time job ever again. As tempting and comfortable as a full-time job with loads of benefits can be.
Change is inevitable. Things start. Things end.
It’s only traumatic if you’re not prepared for it.
Are you prepared for it?
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