Emotions in Business: Failure

If you start a start-up, chances are it won’t last for more than a few years. Failure — however you define it — is part of the process.

My friend Andy Sack’s start-up — Judy’s Book — is closing up shop, and Andy is writing openly about the emotions of letting go. He’s right: you don’t hear much about the emotions that accompany business. We should be grateful Andy is bucking that trend publicly, especially at such a vulnerable and difficult time.

Sadness is where I’m at today. Many people including myself worked hard for a long time to try and make this business work.  It didn’t work the way I/we had all hoped. Now people are working hard to wind things down responsibly and they’re starting to look for other jobs. In situations like this, employees move on fast — no one wants to be the last one not to find a seat with another company. It’s a bit like an adult version of musical chairs.  At times, I can feel some of the angst as they look for work.  I’m struck by the realization that there are a whole host of relationships with people I like — that I used to see everyday and now I know that I won’t see them. That’s a bummer! I’ll miss them. I’ll miss my investors and our die hard customers. I’ll miss Judy’s Book. It’s sad to see all that come to an end. Yep — Sadness is where I’m at today. 
I’m glad it’s been sunny in Seattle…reminds me that everything is going to be ok in time.

5 comments on “Emotions in Business: Failure
  • I’ve been there before. It’s no fun to shut down your baby, especially when you’ve poured years of your life into it. The best thing you can do is to keep track of your feelings and burnish your memories of the good times.

    I remain good friends with folks from my previous lives, including people that I had to lay off. Just because the ending isn’t the one you would have chosen doesn’t mean you can’t celebrate the journey.

  • Had to shut a venture down last year. It was one of those things that I thought would be a steady seller, year after year.

    And dang if it didn’t have a life cycle. Sales curve was REALLY on the downward slope last year.

    So, I closed it, walked away, then proceeded back into what I was doing before, being a web designer, and you know what? That isn’t the bee’s knees anymore.

    After several months of soul searching, I decided to go back to the future and do what I wanted to do back in high school: be a photographer.

    Not that I’m abandoning web design, but I am going to be MUCH choosier about who I take on as a client. Have had too many experiences with less-than-desirable ones in the last couple of years.

    Now, in the process of getting my photography business going, I’ve been looking at other photographers’ websites. Quite frankly, a lot of them need work.

    And I see an opportunity there. My goal is to make my site look like a real showcase, not just in design, but also in the programming that runs the portfolio. Perhaps there are the seeds of a Comcate-like business here. We’ll see.

    Tomorrow, I’m going to a venture capital conference in Tucson. I’m going to see what my funding options in case my “help photographers’ websites look better than they do” venture has legs.

  • Alas, human beings feel bad at letting go. Period. Letting go of people through death/ break-up/ whatever. Letting go of favourite projects. Letting go of favourite clothes.

    I just let go (read: submitted) my PhD thesis after letting it consume me for past 3-4 years. The pain was astonishing and surpassed the combined backache, wristache and exhaustion that I had left.

    But eight days later, I am quite happy to do other stuff as I wait for my viva.

    So life does go on.

  • Everything in the universe has a beginning and an end. Sometimes this stretch is long, sometimes it’s short.

    No endeavor is a “failure” so long as the participants grew and made life better for at least one other entity.

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