Hostile Company exit as
Retail Business dream hits
I wanted to share Jane’s story, as written in her own words, to help inspire others and confirm hope is really out there…maybe you can relate to this?
We experienced many meaningful moments guiding a vulnerable Independent Retail Business Owner through a very difficult stage of life…
This challenging situation and the positive results we delivered are exactly where I get my motivation in life…it’s had a massive impact on Jane and also really connected me personally with my purpose and passion for business coaching.
How business coaching can help save your business…
I first met Chris at a social event…I saw him chatting and socialising with many fellow guests. He struck me as popular and charismatic. A few hours later I began to talk to him; and from the outset I can remember that we had very candid and quite deep conversation, there was an instant connection. Chris kindly listened thoughtfully and encouraged me to be open. My business and also my life in general appeared to be failing and I had been in headless chicken mode for about a year. I was in a deep financial mess, as well as feeling like an emotional and exhausted car crash.
After a hostile exit from a company I had worked for 14 years, I had started my own retail business. After years of travelling around the world in a super stressful job as a buying director, this had been my pipe dream for a long time. It had always been my imagined life goal, away from a grueling retail buying environment that I had slogged my guts over for years.
This business had been my exit strategy for over a decade. I was the major breadwinner at the time and so my partner and I had taken a major financial risk for me to follow my dream taking a 60% reduction in household income for me to start the business. I had promised him faithfully that I wouldn’t fail!
It was a tough start and although we reduced our household expenditure and cut our cloth accordingly, I unfortunately started the business in 2008 and the recession soon started to bite. Building a retail business is a slow- burn and also dealing with perishable products soon took its toll financially.
We were soon in a financial mess, yet I worked so hard for the next 6 years…building my reputation and product range. Our business and reputation improved, yet profits were hard to make and we gradually emptied out all of our savings, moved our mortgage to interest only payments and racked up debit.
I went into panic mode, as failure just was not in my pysche. I sacrificed my precious time with my kids, I became dis-engaged with my husband and buried my head in the sand. I was drinking too much, I wasn’t sleeping and I worked as hard as I could to try to make my business a success.
My marriage, my son and my daughter and my whole life suffered due to financial strain. I was like a rabbit caught in the headlights.
Apart from working as much as I could, I didn’t have a real plan. In fact, I had no plan of where I wanted to go, how or why. I was head down to the coal-face, purely in survival mode. I did not have a safety net and there was no way out, I was in too deep financially, as well as emotionally.
I should have jacked it in, pulled the plug and cut my losses 2 years prior to meeting Chris. My accountant advised me to do so on several occasions, but I was too stubborn to do it. I kept on thinking if I carry on and on it will all come good! My business was like my baby…shutting it down simply wasn’t an option for me.
However… after year 6 something happened. After working my socks off for years suddenly and miraculously I had a bumper year and turned a profit…even though I was knackered and worn out,
there appeared to be a glimmer of hope on the horizon. However; even this didn’t seem to pick me up. I was beyond tired and from a mental point of view, I really was at rock bottom. I had started having panic attacks and my business was starting to make me physically ill with stress. Even my first set of profitable accounts didn’t bring me much joy. This was the exact point where I was when I met Chris.
Business coaching delivers Eureka moment!
I found myself talking to him about my business.
Telling him about the hard slog, the emotional toll it had taken on me and my family, the financial strain etc. I told him that at long last the business had made profit, but I was unsure if I could carry on. I began to off- load onto someone who offered me support and encouraged me to re-think what I was doing step by step and in a more logical, and above all a calmer way.
Just as I had decided to almost throw in the towel he asked me one very simple question…. what was I going to do next and why?
It was like a Eureka moment. For the first time I was able to lift myself up in order to take a helicopter view of what I was doing and why??
At that moment in time…I really didn’t know…jack it in or not! Having a series of meetings with Chris over the next few weeks helped me to formulate answers to his questions and then an eventual plan of action.
I was still hugely in debit…so bankruptcy was an easy option…or could I possibly find the energy to fight on?
Was paying off the debit and/or selling the business truly an option for me? We looked at the accounts and the history of the business and he challenged me to make some decisions and find solutions to my issues through discussion.
I had many business friends who had advised me to shut the doors and declare myself bankrupt and run. However; I decided through my discussions with Chris that this for wasn’t me. I am not a quitter. Chris asked me to consider this option too but I decided that this was not an option.
For some reason this dilemma struck a chord with him…after our candid conversation he helped me formulate a plan for the future of my business.
When your business is your passion it becomes very hard to see the wood from the trees…and this unfortunately is the case for a lot of independent businesses.
Sometimes you need someone to come and help you sort it out and clear the fog, so that you can see clearly again.
So, our weekly meetings were scheduled and for a few months he came to my business once a week. He asked me to explain what my business was about and just explaining it all too him seemed to gel things together…gradually the sea of financial worries, debit, creditors, customers and issues began to clarify. We formulated plans, made lists and outlined goals to be achieved and tackled issues one small step at a time. From meeting to meeting very gradually the forest of chaos cleared and the burden began to lift. But most importantly, for the first time in a long time, I began to enjoy my business again, which became crucial to its future and its success on a personal level.
I began to live again and the financial burden began to subside too. The more debit I paid off the better I felt, this became self-perpetuating and self-motivating.
In short over the next year I went from head down and spiraling, to head up being totally in control. I only did this with Chris’s professional help and support.
Answering his weekly questions seemed to simplify everything. I had spent so long with my nose to the coal-face that I had actually lost touch with what I was doing and more importantly why?! With Chris’s guidance I was able to detach myself from the daily grind and float above my business and formulate a clearer picture, but above all a plan, a good plan for the future.
Profitable business sale was my dream come true…
Now to be honest my business was such a mess that it would have been easy for someone to have come in and say “look love…put yourself out of your misery and close it” …but Chris never said that to me…he listened to me and asked me questions that made me question my reasons for staying with my dream. I did all the hard work to put the plans we made into action and he motivated me to do it because he talked to me sensibly about my options and we discussed the financial realities of what would happen if I chose a particular path. Not just the business implications, but the personal impacts too.
It was because of his guidance and total support that I felt that I could regain my confidence to carry my business forward to the next level. More importantly he asked me and empowered me to do what I wanted to do, rather than tell me what I should do. Above all I really needed a plan to repay all of my debit, and then trade the business through to a sale scenario, so that I could eventually opt out as debit free. It was due to his support that I found the motivation and confidence to close one side of my business, simplify and focus on making more profit and turnover on the other. He asked me concentrate on certain tasks and priorities that encouraged me to tackle issues in manageable bite size chunks which allowed me to grow my business by 40% in one year. Turning negative setbacks into positive strategies.
I then increased the profit and turnover for the next two years therefore turning my business into a saleable proposition. This was personally so important for me to know that all of the heartache hadn’t been for nothing. I grew the business at the same time as repaying £1000’s of debit in the process and also making a long-awaited income for myself. Once I became self-sufficient and goals were being realised Chris gently backed off giving me monthly phone calls offering support, encouragement and motivation right up to the moment that I finally sold the business and moved on.
When the sale went through and I finally cleared the remaining debit, he was honestly more pleased for me than me!
He was there at the end for me and my business and it had been a journey from oblivion to victory, although small in financial terms to some it was an immense victory for me and I will be forever grateful.
It was just a small retail business, but it was MY retail business and it was my dream. Sometimes you have to fight to follow your dreams and Chris helped me rescue my dream from becoming a nightmare…and he helped me formulate a strategy to turn it from nightmare into a sound business proposition that could be profitable enough to be sold, which was a dream ending!
I cannot thank him enough…
Also; he is a genuinely nice bloke!