I want to be one of those people who learns from bad experiences and doesn’t make the same mistakes again. Apparently I’m not one of those people. Once again, I had believed that someone was serious about buying my business, and once again, they had wasted my time. But I suppose I was partly to blame since I let it happen… over and over again.
January 2014 – After receiving that out-of-the-blue message from the medical spa manager about buying my business, I quickly, yet cautiously, responded. I received no response in return. Was I surprised? Actually, yes! He had contacted me… so yes, I expected a response. But like I said, apparently I’m not one of those people who learns from the past.
I tried to contact him over the next couple weeks even though it sickened me to be back in the same situation I had been in two months earlier playing his cat and mouse game. I actually think he enjoyed ignoring me… like it fed his ego to bait me and then act “too busy” and “too important” to talk to me.
I hated to admit it, but I knew what I had to do. I had to give up on the idea of selling my business as a whole to a new business owner and sell it off piece by piece. Since the business could no longer generate income, this was my last chance to re-fill the gaping hole it had created in my life savings. It was a humbling realization, but I was impatient, annoyed, and (I admit) desperate.
Watching the first piece of office furniture go out the door was like seeing my dreams (and my pride) disappear in front of me while I watched helplessly. It was really over now, and there was no going back. But after the initial shame and devastation passed, and I couldn’t get rid of stuff fast enough. I wanted everything gone. No reminders of my failure. No evidence of my disastrous attempt at chasing my dreams.
With no other options, I was forced to sell my major equipment to brokers who, unfortunately for me, make a living off of other people’s failed businesses and desperation. After commissions, fees, and low-ball offers, I collected only half of what I had paid for the equipment just a year earlier. Is this what hitting rock bottom felt like?
There was still one potentially valuable asset left in my business. Could I sell my client list? I researched other medical spas who would possibly be interested in taking over my clients. It was a good plan, though futile, and ultimately lead nowhere. This was the end of the road for my clients as well. I sent them each letters informing them that my business was now closed. I felt awful. It was bad enough that I knew I was a failure, but announcing it to people who had believed in me was even worse. Surely this was rock bottom, right?
As I neared the end of selling off my dignity (I mean, business assets), I unexpectedly found myself face to face with the man who put me through months of torment and who had a major hand in shattering any potential my business had to flourish: the elusive medical spa manager. He seemed startled, then nervous. I wanted to take advantage of this opportunity and force him to give me answers. (Actually, I wanted to grab him by the throat and squeeze, but I contained myself.)
After being ignored for weeks, it was clear that they were, once again, not going to purchase my business, but I wanted to hear him say it. After everything he put me through, it was the least he could do. I deserved that much. I asked him for an explanation; he gave me lame excuses and, most likely, lies. He made me sick, and I hated the sight of him. I was so disgusted that I walked away without saying a word. After months of trying to track him down, I walked away! And I immediately regretted it. I’m not one for fighting and confrontation, but if anyone deserved it, he did. Why didn’t I force him to face the truth about what he had done to my business and how disrespectful he had been to me? There were so many things I wanted to say to him, but instead I said… nothing. And now the opportunity was gone.
After taking a few days to recover from the would-be confrontation, I prepared to go back to my space at the medical spa for the last time to collect the remains of my ill-fated venture and pay my final respects to my fallen dreams. My mood was solemn. There was no point in being angry or anxious anymore. I had accepted that it was over, and it was time to move on. I was just… sad.
I walked into my space, empty boxes in hand, to find… nothing. My stuff was gone! I had purposely made my last voyage to the medical spa after business hours, so I could mourn in peace without any more accidental confrontations, so no one else was there, but neither was my stuff! I stood there in complete shock, bewilderment, and then rage. After all the shady things they had done, this crossed the line. I received no call, no notification whatsoever that they wanted me to move out. Was this even legal?! All they had to do was talk to me! This seemed personal.
My rage boiled over. I tore through the building, opening every door I saw, looking through every office and every space looking for my property. They had no right to touch or move my belongings without my knowledge and approval. I felt so violated. Then, there it was: scattered and shoved into a dark storage space in the back of the medical spa… everything I had worked for in the past year. My hopes, my dreams, and, not to mention, thousands of dollars of yet-to-be-shipped equipment discarded thoughtlessly and carelessly by the very people who destroyed the last chance I had at making my business a success. The utter contempt they displayed was appalling. I felt like crying; I felt like screaming; I felt like trashing their space; I felt like taking their equipment and selling it as repayment for the money they had cost me. I didn’t do any of those things. I silently and submissively collected my things, loaded what I could find into my car, and drove away from that nightmare for the last time.
The craziest thing is that I felt ashamed… I felt ashamed… like only a truly awful business owner would let their business be destroyed in this way. I’d been to business school and had been successful in the past. I should have done better. And I was ashamed that I didn’t. I really hoped that this was rock bottom because I didn’t think I could handle much more.
Did they have some sort of personal vendetta against me? Were they trying to eliminate their competition by eliminating me? I’ll never know. And I wasn’t going to stick around and find out. Due to equal parts anger, embarrassment, and disgust, I wanted out of this city now. My pride and self-esteem couldn’t take it anymore. I booked a flight to one of the biggest cities in the country, fully intent on moving there and drowning myself in the crowds of bustling people while I searched for inspiration for my next endeavor and tried to forget my past failures. It worked… but not in the way I was expecting.
While I was there visiting, I cleared my head and regained my focus. I loved the city, and I felt inspired there, but I wasn’t inspired to move there. I was inspired to try again to be successful in my current city, where I’d moved just over a year earlier to start a new business and a new life. I did not want to leave as a failure.
I returned home feeling motivated. I had been stuck at rock bottom for the past few months, but I was determined to climb out of that black hole. I had been successful before, and I could do it again. Now that I had no business and no job, I had no choice but to start over, and I was ready. This time I just needed more confidence, conviction, and discretion in choosing who to work with!
Final Business Results
Money Lost – 1/3 of my Life Savings
Regrets – Many
Lessons Learned – Many
Hindsight – 20/20