Update Part 4: Hopelessness

It was crazy to think that venturing into new territory and opening a medical spa could lead me right back to my previous career in tax and accounting.  But that could be exactly what was happening.  My medical spa was now located inside of a rapidly expanding exercise facility, and the owner wanted me to take over the accounting functions for his organization.  I was just waiting for approval from his business partner.  For now, the fate of my new career was out of my hands.  But I was about to have bigger problems to deal with.

October 2013 – It was nice of the owner to allow me to stay in my space in the gym while we determined my future role with the company.  However, it wouldn’t be possible for much longer.  That part of the gym was being renovated, and working and seeing clients in a construction zone was not ideal, embarrassing, and sometimes not even possible.  The air conditioner was disconnected, so my equipment was overheating and wouldn’t operate.  Sometimes I went into work to meet a client and found the electricity shut off, so I had to reschedule the appointment.  And then there were the loose nails, screws, wires, and dust everywhere.  This was not going to work!

I talked to the owner about the status of the renovations and my (potential) new job.  He told me that his business partner rejected our plan to put me in charge of tax and accounting for the organization since the work was currently being outsourced to her best friend, and she didn’t want to take work away from her.  Argh!  I had gotten my hopes up for nothing.  Now I just felt defeated.  Defeated by nepotism.  What was I supposed to do now?  I couldn’t stay in my current space since it was now a construction zone, and I couldn’t move into the gym’s new medical spa space unless I gave up having my own business and became a gym employee.  And another question: Why does it always seem like I’m faced with life-altering decisions?!  My brain hurts.

I was open and honest and told the owner about my dilemma.  I told him I didn’t want to become an employee since that seemed like taking a major step backwards after owning my own business (I didn’t tell him that part).  He told me that after the gym purchased the new medical spa and inherited its employees, he now had more employees than he had equipment, and he asked about possibly using my equipment.  This was one decision that took no thought at all: I offered to sell him my business.  I was tired of the constant headaches, constant stress, constant problems that this business brought on.  If there was a financially beneficial way out, I was going to jump on it.  He was excited about the possibility, and I was excited that he was excited.  (Uh oh, this sounds familiar.)

Then he explained the gym’s latest expansion: a new medical spa manager.  The new manager supposedly had vast experience running medical spas, and the owner wanted me to work out the details of the sale with the manager.  Until things were finalized, and since I couldn’t stay in the construction zone any longer, the owner let me move into a room in the new medical spa for free, so I would have a place to see my clients.

I met with the new manager.  Interesting guy.  Did I say “interesting”?  I meant “incompetent”.  Much like the owner, he loved to talk about himself.  However, while the owner’s self-important rambling induced an eye-rolling response, the manager’s made me want to slap him across the face and super glue his mouth shut (hypothetically).  He informed me that he was a medical spa consultant who travelled around the country using his infinite knowledge of the business to help struggling medical spas turn their businesses around.  He claimed to have managed and saved around twenty medical spas in recent years, until the gym’s owner made him an offer he couldn’t refuse to exclusively manage the medical spa at the gym.  He also (for some reason) told me about the different homes that he owned and how much he paid for them, as well as other irrelevant, narcissistic tidbits about his life.  Umm… thanks, but I didn’t ask, and I don’t care.  I remember hearing somewhere that people who are so overly arrogant are actually trying to cover up their own insecurities.  I don’t know if that’s the case with him, but I was already disgusted with him before we even talked about my business.

We discussed my business, he looked at my equipment, and I told him about my clients.  I could tell right away that he was clueless.  One piece of equipment I own is one of the most popular, common machines found in medical spas, and most (if not all) people in the industry know about it and how it works.  He stared at it and asked what it does.  Then he said I was missing part of it.  (No.)  Then he said I was using it wrong.  (No.)  Then he said it was outdated, no longer manufactured, and no one used it anymore.  (100% no.)  We moved on to another of my machines.  He started telling me about why it wouldn’t work, and I had to stop him to tell him: Yes, it wouldn’t work for that because that’s not what it’s for!  He continued that it was not safe and would surely injure clients.  (No.)  I also had to school him on the state laws and regulations governing the medical spa industry.  Everything he said was wrong… 100% wrong.  He was clueless!  The worst part was when I corrected him, he argued with me and told me that he was right.  I only went through a brief training and certification process, but compared to this guy (who was a self-professed expert), I was a medical spa guru!  This was not good, especially since the gym’s owner seemed to worship him.

Whether he was clueless or not, if his medical spa wanted to buy my medical spa, his knowledge (or lack thereof) was not my problem.  After two or three meetings and discussions, we had come to a verbal agreement regarding price, timing, and what was included in the sale.  They got the new equipment they needed and an increase in their clientele by taking over my clients, and I got the money back that I had invested.  It was truly a win-win situation.  But once again, there was a catch: he needed to get final approval from the owner.  But I wasn’t worried since he had been excited about the sale when I suggested it to him.

November 2013 – I had told the owner and the manager that my business license and insurance expired at the end of this month, so the countdown was on.  I would not be renewing my license and policy if they were buying my business, so I started making arrangements to wind down operations and prepare for the end.  It was bittersweet for sure.  I was sad about giving up my business, but I didn’t think an opportunity like this would come again.  I was also proud that I had actually built a business that someone thought had value… enough value that they wanted to buy it!  But to be totally honest, I was happy to rid myself of something that had been riddled with problems from the start.  I was looking forward to a fresh start and a new venture.

Now, in my new, new (temporary) space in the medical spa, I starting breaking the news to my clients that this would most likely be my last month in business and the other medical spa would be taking over for me.  My clients were sad; I was sad.  I had enjoyed getting to know them over the past year, and I even considered some of them to be friends now.  It actually made me second-guess my decision when I saw their reactions to me leaving.  I was in a new city and a new industry, and seeing my clients happy with the results of their treatments had made it all seem worthwhile.  It was sad.  But life must go on.

A week after my last discussion with the manager, I still hadn’t heard from him.  He was supposed to let me know if we had the owner’s approval for the sale.  So I called him… and called and called.  He never answered the phone and didn’t return my calls.  I went to the medical spa to look for him, but whenever I was there, he wasn’t.  After two weeks of trying to track him down, I talked to the owner.  He said he didn’t know anything about it, it was the manager’s decision, and I needed to talk to him.  If only I could find him!  Another week, another series of unreturned phone calls, two days before the sale was supposed to take place: I found the manager at the medical spa…  He backed out of the sale.  I was stunned, speechless, then blood rose to my face and my hands started shaking.  I was angry.  Why didn’t he tell me this earlier instead of ignoring me for a month?!?  I was screwed.  My clients were screwed.  My business license and insurance would be expired in two days, so I could no longer operate my business or perform treatments.  My clients had nowhere to go now.  I had no way to earn income.  How could he be so selfish?!  I understand that he has to do what is best for his business, but he didn’t have to devastate my business in the process.  All he had to do was tell me!

I tried my best to stay calm and keep my voice steady while I explained that I thought we had made a deal and asked why he didn’t tell me sooner, so I could have made other plans.  He showed me a black and white photocopy of a “brochure” from a medical spa equipment manufacturer advertising a very cheap machine.  I had never heard of the company, it had no website, no reputation in the industry, offered no warranties on its equipment, and did not allow pre-purchase demonstrations of equipment.  All red flags!  He said he could buy that machine for half the price of my machines, so it didn’t make sense to buy mine.  I explained as calmly as I could that my machines were some of the best in the industry and were from well-known, reputable manufacturers.  The unknown, cheap machine was most likely junk that wouldn’t work and would ruin the medical spa’s reputation with its clients.  Once again, he argued that he was right.  Once again, this guy was clueless.  Price was the only thing that mattered to him.  For a “medical spa expert”, he definitely didn’t see the big picture of running a successful business.  He claimed to have another meeting and ushered me out of his office.  It was over.

I left, stunned.  I was backed into a corner now with no good options.  Briefly, I considered re-activating my business license and continuing the business at a new location.  But the thought of moving again and starting over was too much to bear.  I already had my heart and mind set on moving on, and I couldn’t go back now.  I couldn’t even operate my business now.  I felt beaten down, broken.  I had nothing.  Moving to the exercise facility had killed my business.  Nothing good came out of it.  Only empty promises and sabotage.  All I wanted to do now was sell the business and move on, both mentally and physically.  There was no hope to continue the business, and without the business, there was nothing left for me in this city.  If I could just find another buyer for my business, I would be free from this prison.  <Sigh>  Here we go again…

               Month 12:        Money at Risk – Half my Life Savings

                                        Potential Buyers – NONE

                                        Level of Optimism – 1

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