When To Pull The Plug On Your Small Business

rhan88lYou have to be a courageous person to open a business. When I opened my accounting firm Sir Tax over 20 years ago, my courageousness bordered on stupidity. I was fresh out of jail and was in the middle of paying off $100,000 in debt to the Broward Sheriff’s Office (if you don’t know the story, check it out here or get my book). I set up an office in the back room of my mother’s house with a folding table, a calculator and the latest in technology – a fax machine and began doing tax returns. Soon I was able to rent my own office and the business slowly grew from there.

There were many times along the way where I had to stop and reevaluate whether I should keep at it or close the doors for good. In my case I persevered, but you may not be in the same situation.

Closing your business can be like going through a divorce or losing a loved one, but it’s a decision no one else can make for you. It is your baby after all. So, here are a few questions to ask yourself to see if it’s time to call it quits:

If I could start over, what would my business look like?

Daydream for a moment and imagine starting your business from scratch. Does your imagination soar? Do you think of all the possibilities? Does it get your blood pumping? How far is your daydream from the current reality? Are you begrudgingly sticking with it because of your ego or a sense of obligation?

Does my business honor God?

At times, the world of business seems like a far cry from anything Biblical, but Christ should always be at the center of your business decisions even when they don’t make worldly sense. If your business is causing you or anyone else to stumble or takes part in any injustice, it needs to go.

I run a small group of Christian business owners here in the Atlanta area and we call ourselves “Bisionaries”. We are missionaries through our businesses and that lends an eternal perspective to everything we do. Check out our facebook page for some great encouraging videos on running a Christ-centered business.

Am I having fun?

Does your business energize you? Or do you just feel burnt out? If you feel ragged at the end of every day, you can try restructuring things and delegating tasks that really get to you. If this doesn’t work and you still are left physically and mentally exhausted, ask yourself if it’s worth it.

Are my assumptions still true?

When you started your business, you made crucial assumptions about your enterprise and your customers like “people want Twilight themed bobbleheads” or “I can sell novelty hood ornaments for Jaguars”. Pitch your business to yourself and be tough. Are those core assumptions you originally made still true? If they aren’t, it’s time to bail. If they are, reformulate and stick with it.

Is it profitable?

This may seem like an obvious question, but many people who are in the middle of an unsuccessful business don’t take the time to really assess its profitability. Are you using personal credit cards to prop up your business? Are you using payday loans, pawnshops or car title loans? Not paying off bills? Bouncing checks? Working longer and longer hours to keep up? These are all symptoms of a failing business and if it sounds familiar, it may be time to jump ship.

What would I do?

The prospect of closing up shop is scary and you may be hanging on for fear of the future. You should know two things; 1. God’s got you and 2. It’s not that bad. Our minds often make up scenarios that are worse than anything that would ever happen. Unloading this burden might actually give you relief and if you are following Him diligently, He will NOT let you fall.

Your decision to keep on trucking or shut it down will be intensely personal and based on many factors, but hopefully I’ve given you some guidance and food for thought as you wrestle with it.


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