Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Killing a Business

One of my goals this past two weeks has been killing a business. Lest you think I'm cruel and heartless, the business was begging to be killed. The business in question was a jewelry-making business. A friend and I created the business two years ago. We took a jewelry making class, thought it was fun, then a few friends saw our creations and asked to buy them. What a rush! Hmmm....we thought. We could make some money and support our jewelry habit. How cool is that?

Well, at first it was very cool. We happily made jewelry and sold a few pieces to friends and family. Then we got our first store! Well, not OUR store...a store that was willing to put our jewelry on display and split the profits. "We are in the big time now," we thought. Then we got another store, and another, and another. It seemed that all we had to do was bring some jewelry in to show and ask about splitting profits. We could have gotten four more stores if we had just asked.

However around this time we realized that we needed to PRODUCE. Not happily create jewelry when we felt inspired. PRODUCE. A much different feeling, let me tell you. Around this same time my partner decided that she didn't like the pressure of having to PRODUCE when the stores needed inventory. She wanted to create jewelry when the urge struck her. And I whole-heartedly agreed! But I couldn't kill the business. I just couldn't do it. So my partner bowed out and I continued on.

Fast forward to about a month ago, when I did the accounting for the business for the year. Oh, all the revenue that had come in! It had added up. Wee! But, wait a minute...there was also the expenses. They had added up too. In my eagerness to PRODUCE, I had stocked up on beads, findings, wire, tags, tools, etc., etc.

When the two columns were summed and compared, I was BREAKING EVEN. Not making a dime. Basically doing the business for fun. And it wasn't much fun. There was a lot of deadlines and stress about HAVING to make jewelry, even when I wasn't in the mood. Plus, being me, I had several other projects in the hopper that were new! and fun! and needed my attention.

I asked Loving Husband his opinion. He was brief and to the point. "Simplify and prioritize," he said. He's a smart man sometimes, I have to admit.

So I came to the difficult decision. I must kill the business.

The first store removed itself. The owner had decided that her location sucked and was closing, moving and reopening in March. I pulled the inventory out and sighed with relief. That was easy.

The second store was easy too. I hadn't dropped off any new inventory in about 4 months. My contact there said she wouldn't be upset if I pulled out the jewelry case and revamped it. I asked if she would be upset if I didn't bring it back. She said "no". I considered it done.

The third store was a bit more difficult. They gave me some trouble. "Oh no!" they said, "Don't take your jewelry out. Make some more and it will sell. It's Christmas time, you know." I was obstinate. Well, I left and came back and then was obstinate. "I'm quitting the jewelry business!" I declared. They finally acquiesed and let me leave. On the way out, they tempted me again. "You know our other jewelry provider is quitting too. We won't have anyone's jewelry to sell." "I'm quitting!" I said, yet again. And so it was done.

The fourth store still has bundles of inventory. They will not be calling me for a while. They should get through Christmas and then some before I have to break the bad news to them. I'm going to leave them dumb and happy for the meantime, and break the news later.

It's hard work, killing a business. Almost as much work as starting one.


Anonymous said...

You? Kill a project? Let's see, that leaves you with about 24 left, eh? hee hee

Seriously, though - I know it's hard. You can always start again later if you miss it. In the meantime, hit me up for your excess inventory after next year when my husband's new business starts breaking even! Dorothy

Cagey said...

As the "friend" you are referring to, I have to chime in my support. It was such a hard decision to quit, but I did learn some incredibly valuable lessons. For example, the old adage "do what you love and the money will come" is a bit trite - easy to say, much harder to do.

Hang in there - maybe you are quitting at the right time because you burn out. You were always the more creative of the two of us, and that would be a shame if you quit making jewelry all together.