Every small business owner considers pulling the plug from time to time as long days, small paychecks, limited family time, and all of the stress that comes with being the top dog can definitely take their toll. I know I’ve had my moments where I’ve considered going back into regular employment and just “doing my job and going home.” But how do you know when your thoughts of closing up shop are a passing fancy and when they are a warning that you should actually heed?
Unfortunately, there is no easy way to tell when your small business has run its natural course. But, before you decide to hang the CLOSED sign out for good, you may want to ask yourself these thought-provoking questions first:
Is the Pressure Coming from the Inside or the Outside?
In other words, are your reasons for thinking about closing your small business coming from you or someone close to you? Sometimes family and friends mean well when they suggest that you should walk away from your business in an effort to reduce your stress and increase your happiness, but if you do it solely to make them happy, then it’s probably not the right decision for you.
Sit down right now and make a list of all of the reasons that could cause you to want to no longer work for yourself. Once you’ve come up with everything you can think of, consider each one individually and determine whether it is something you feel deep in your heart or something that someone else has tried to instill in you. If you have more items contributed to other people than yourself, then you may not be ready to jump ship just yet.
Is There Anything I Can Do to Make Things Easier?
As small business entrepreneurs, we often believe that we have to achieve success all on our own. This can create an overwhelming feeling that can crush our dreams and make us think that closing our doors is the only option because we can’t take the pressure anymore. Fortunately, this isn’t true.
Take a look at your business as it stands right now and ask if there is anything you can do to make professional life easier. This starts with identifying the areas of running your own business that you don’t enjoy and seeing if you can delegate those tasks to someone else.
For instance, can you hire an accountant to do your payroll or a marketing firm to get you more business? The less you have to do the things you don’t want to do, the more energy you have to focus on the things that you do enjoy, making small business ownership feel more like a privilege than a life-sucking chore.
Am I Still Passionate About What I Do?
If someone handed you an unlimited supply of cash and said to keep on going, would you? If you would turn that cash down without hesitation, then maybe it is time to find something else to do. It could be a new business venture or you could decide to work for someone else. Neither option is right or wrong because, in the end, it is all about doing whatever makes you happiest.
However, if you would want to keep going, then you may want to ask yourself this next question…
Are There Other Alternatives?
It is very easy to get into the habit of thinking that our way is the only way to do things. However, rarely is this true as there are usually viable alternatives to consider that will allow you to keep doing business.
If you are having a hard time coming up with them on your own, it may help to discuss your possibilities with colleagues or others in your field. Because they aren’t as emotionally connected to your business as you, they may have some great alternatives that you never would have known about or considered.
You may also want to talk to a close family member or friend. Just make sure it is someone who fully supports your dream and is willing to help you find other solutions as you pursue your dream, and not someone who will try to talk you into taking the easy way out.
Is it Affecting Your Health?
If the stress and tension of small business entrepreneurship is starting to affect your health, then either you need to find a way to deal with the stress more effectively or get rid of it completely by walking away. Stress that is allowed to accumulate can raise your risk of heart attack or stroke, and it can also change you mentally as your patience runs thin.
One way to realize the effect your job has on your health is to take a short vacation. At the end of your time away, ask yourself whether you are rejuvenated and ready to go back to work with an open mind or if you can’t stand the thought of going through one more day. If it is the latter, then maybe your thoughts should be put into action.
Certainly, no matter what decision you make, it isn’t going to be easy. So, answer these questions and trust your heart and gut to take you whichever way you need to go.
In the words of Dr. Phil, “Do you want to be right, or do you want to be happy?” I hope you want to be happy and if small business ownership doesn’t do it for you, then love and respect yourself enough to find something that does.