Life takes us on trips. Companies often make these trips very unexpected. You start a company with excitement and hope for the future. Maybe it's a dream you have spent most of your life. Maybe it's a new inspiration. Maybe it's just an idea you want to try.
Sometimes it works. The business is up and running, and you can only keep up. Everything looks positive and good and it stays that way … maybe even for years.
And sometimes it immediately bombards … and the sale is a fight from day one.
If you have not put hundreds of hours and thousands of dollars into a business that seems a failure in the first place, it's much easier to let go of a failure that has not cost much than the booming business. Even if it's time that you have to.
Let me explain …
When I was about four or five years old, I came up with the idea to open a book and toy shop. It's a dream that has not died with age. In the course of my adult life, I have looked at various possibilities. From buying a quaint bookstore on the North Carolina coast to places in Sarasota, FL, where I grew up, to sharing the story with my amazingly supportive husband and him who said, "Let's get started" the dream did not die. A few months after this conversation, we opened our first toy store. Toy Box Gifts & Wonder,
It was everything I ever imagined. The whole store sparkled with wonder. Customers loved it. The staff were fantastic. The first six months have taken us through Christmas and were just … magical. We have been in the black for the first six months. We did not know anything about retail, but we knew about marketing as quickly as possible and learned as much as possible about retail marketing.
What we did not expect was the type of retail and its dependency on simple things like weather, parking and people's unpredictable temperament. 2018 began a downward spiral. Every event was rainy. The construction work began, which led to traffic safety. Parking was a nightmare. We were determined to keep it up. We put nearly half a million dollars into a business that absorbed it like a black hole bumping into its first planet.
And of course we did not stop here. This year, we opened our second retail store, Nerdvana outpostand this store immediately ran the first toy store. It came to the point nerdvanas bills suffered because it supported Toy Box, We hoped that the fourth quarter would give us the push to clear the plan.
Only instead of starting the year 2019 with a win or even zero, we started with a deficit. It was half of the new year until we realized we were collecting a teaspoon of water from a sinking ship with a hole the size of a small crater in the hull.
We started discussing the closure of the business. It was painful. We knew it meant letting several of our dedicated employees go. How would you start to understand our decision? How long after our decision should we tell them? Would there be a setback? What if we did not know exactly what our decision would be until we were forced to do so at the last minute? What is the right thing for a company?
After looking closely at the numbers (trying to keep our emotions out of decisions), we had only one answer. The only thing we knew was that not only would we lose a business and a few employees if we continued this way much longer. We would lose everything, Both shops. All our employees. Our home. Our things. Our reputation in the community. Everything, And that did not sound funny. At the. All.
During this process, we encountered an unexpected opportunity. One of the companies in our master plan was a sort of marketplace, unless it was more than an antique mall. It would be antiques, artists, boutiques and an incubator for start-ups. A place where we could hold workshops for local entrepreneurs and help them grow their business. Because despite the fact that I felt a total failure in retail, I still knew a thing or two about business and marketing.
In fact, in August, I sold my international author training brand and business The book Ninja Spend more time in our new business and expand our other brands, including the second business. Some may say I was stupid enough to make a deal worth half a million dollars, but it took away energy from me. It was not my passion. And for me, I have to love what I do or I just can not do it anymore I had been struggling with this business for two years. Do not get me wrong, the money was great. This has helped to create both toy shops. But it came to the point where enough was enough. The week I ran the business, I came across an energy boost that helped me enter the market concept with full force … 1833 Schiers Market, And even better? We could move our toy store there and cut our spending by 90% to possibly keep it open in the long term. Win-win-win.
The marketplace was fantastic. It was everything we had planned on paper, and much more. We worked with a local business owner and built it from scratch in less than two months. We moved from the idea to the empty building to over 100 providers in less than 30 days. Our first 12 supplier reviews were only one week after the announcement of the concept. To say that it was a runaway success would be an understatement.
We discovered a concept that would work, and had ideas to further monetize it. The ideas worked. The community was behind it. So, after you put all the work into founding this company to the Someone else suggested multiple partnership options with the business owner, all of which were rejected. The weekend of the opening was a complete success. We reported in the press that vendors were enthusiastic and that customers had nothing but good things to say about the choice of premises and vendors (most of which were hand picked and really invited by you). To say I feel like an integral part of the business would be an understatement. It was my life for two months. I've been taking a break from my online business the whole time (my brand sale was happening at that time, which made it a little easier). I devoted these two months of my life to building a successful foundation for this business.
When the day came when the business owner broke off the connection and said he was not interested in a partnership, my heart broke. First. I took a full week off just to sleep and recover from the burnout that I did not even know I had. After many discussions with my husband, we decided that the healthiest option for us would be to step down from business. So we did that.
Unfortunately, due to circumstances beyond our control, the systems and processes that we have introduced in the marketplace are no longer used. Other things have happened that I will not go into here because the circumstances are still developing … but it is enough to say that my heart hurts when I see the soap opera unfold. We proved that it would work. However, as we are still too close to the event horizon of our previous financial black hole, we do not have the capital to do anything about it. Yes, we could replicate this business model to others. And today I was even invited back to the store. (As an employee … HAHAHAHAHA … I'm one entrepreneur, I can not work for anyone.) But unless we are obsessed I can not resume the business under any circumstances. And that just is not on the table anymore.
With the information we have right now, it looks like my toy store will not survive its new business concept. We are not sure what will happen during the holidays, but I have stopped making promises that I can not keep. I am facing a new reality … The dream I have cherished since my childhood … is dying.
What can one learn from the death of a dream?
At first, I stopped dreaming, which was a big mistake. If you take something from my story and maybe your own dreams, take the following: DO NOT STOP DREAMING. I spent a month on the radio wondering what to do with the rest of my life. It's no fun to be here. I still do not see the complete picture of the puzzle and feel like I'm picking random puzzle pieces from 10 different jigsaw puzzles … blindfolded. But still, there is a realization that has been tormenting my skull base in the last few weeks, and that's … not. Stop. Dreaming. For me that means that I'm seriously looking for my next dream. And imagine the fear that keeps me off want to dream again.
Second, pay attention to your red flags. We ignored the red flags saying that our business was in trouble and we had to make a change until it was almost too late. We ignored the red flags on the market when they showed up and went on anyway. Maybe I would have avoided a lot more stress if we made changes immediately because of those red flags. I did not listen to them. They blew in stormy winds and I turned my head the other way so I could not see them. If I had paid attention to these flags, I think I would have been better equipped to deal with the emotions during all transitions.
And finally, you should know exactly who you are working with before signing anything. After all that went wrong in the last few months, we have not signed any partnership papers. The market is not where I should be. At least for the moment, I'm not supposed to run this kind of business. And to realize that this brings me a step closer to finding out what my next big dream is.
I do not know yet what that looks like. I know it's going to be big … bigger than anything I've ever done before … and frankly, that scares me. What I know is that as soon as I'm ready, I enter the new dream with much more wisdom, which can only be good.
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