I have yet to meet an entrepreneur who hasn’t been through a phase where he or she has not thought about shutting down their businesses and settling into a nine-to-five job instead. I’ve personally been in this phase, especially if the business is just a few years old.
The fatigue, lack of money, and dwindling passion for the work and the project itself were cited as reasons why some of my entrepreneur acquaintances who at one point or another wanted to call it quits.
Just like deciding to start a business, making the choice to pull the shutters down on your own venture, and move on from that chapter of your life, is by no means is an easy task.
When I graduated from university, I finally had the time to pursue my passion for fashion. I launched a clothing line inspired by my rich Khaleeji heritage. I had an online store, way before it became the norm in the Gulf, and had my products stocked across the region. I was so passionate about it at the time and had lots of time to pursue a business that is not easy to break into. Four years later, I made the tough decision to close the venture I started with such great passion.
My role at the government was growing, and so was my writing and my creative consultancy. I barely had the time to design. I was too fatigued for creativity and it wasn’t fair to my business or my clients. So, I decided to shut it and told myself maybe, I will go back to it one day.
If you are an entrepreneur who is not sure whether you should call it quits and close the door on your project, here are a couple of signs that it may be the time.
There’s too much on your plate
In my fashion business, besides my tailors, I handled everything from marketing to public relations to customer service. As my career expanded that was one of my breaking points. As a business owner you are not supposed to handle everything all the time. That’s a disaster waiting to happen. In my case all I needed was a couple of team members to help me, and I thought I didn’t need them at that point. I thought I was completely equipped to handle it the pressure.
A reality check came knocking one day when I had an order of over 500 items to be delivered a short time. It was an amazing opportunity but I didn’t even had the time to hire a team to help me pull that job off. I was too young to understand the value of a good team and it was then I realised that if you want your business to grow, you definitely need a team who could help you with you objectives.
When the excitement is gone
It’s empowering to say that you are your own boss, when you proudly hand out that business card that says you’re the chief executive or founder of the company of your choice. With all its glitz and glamour, entrepreneurship can take a huge toll. It’s true that your card may read CEO, but in truth most of the time you are worried about everything from product manufacturing to marketing to social media and customer service. It’s the kind of worry that you have to live with day in day out.
When I was running my fashion business I was a “fashion designer” by profession, but in reality, the business aspect of managing my venture was overwhelming. In the beginning everything was fun and games and I was learning about different aspects such as embedding online payments to my website, to ordering packages, to managing my accounts. It made me skilled on so many fronts. But when the demands of the business got too intense, especially, when I was juggling other things such as my work and my writing career, my creativity and enthusiasm was slowly withering.
I had another option when I took the decision to close down my business and so should you. Don’t just quit without having an alternative plan. Do you know what you’ll do when you shut it down? Are you willing to let go of the freedom of being your own boss? It’s not an easy decision to make and it took me many months and evaluation before I decided it was time.
Do I miss running a fashion business? Yes. All the time, and this is often the thing with acquaintances who took the option of shutting down their businesses. The thought always lingers in the back of your mind -- should I start it all over again?
Manar Al Hinai is an award-winning Emirati writer who manages her creative consultancy in Abu Dhabi