Last week I sat around a makeshift boardroom table with other business owners sharing my dreams and passions. Out of nowhere they asked a question that had me feeling like a ton of bricks landed on my chest. How does it feel to have closed your photography business? I couldn’t breathe. Closing Adley Studio has been one of the most difficult decisions for me to live through.
Even though in the middle of 2012 I knew that I wanted to transition from photography into coaching women to live beautiful lives inside and out, but I figured I wouldn’t actually pursue it until some other time in the future. But right after baring my heart about how much I longed to help women build lives and businesses of their dreams, I didn’t realize I’d be closing Adley Studio within a month of declaring it. Moving to Vancouver accelerated all of my plans and left me feeling like I was abandoning my baby.
I couldn’t share how I transitioned from being self-employed to having no job at all, because it took awhile to accept my new position in life. But I figure now is a good time and hopefully give you some insight if you ever come to a crossroads between continuing on or shutting the doors.
The month before we left Europe meant that I had one last push for my business, and I pushed hard. I had a constant stream of clients and the biggest sales I had ever had – it felt amazing. When you start out in business you’re blinded to how many months might go by where you’re worried how you’re going to pay rent or how you’ll afford your next meal, so when you actually start to have a stream of clients paying your top package, it it feels wonderful.
It expedited my plans to transition from one dream to another. I had fully planned on not looking at what my coaching business would look like until late 2012 or even mid-2013, but with our move to Vancouver I knew that I didn’t want to market my photography anymore. I felt like I had an opportunity to really explore instead of being attached to my business.
That when you work and hustle, magic happens. It might take a bit to find out who is really interested in your services but when you do it’s an amazing feeling to know people value not only you but also what you’re providing.
I had enquiries for the fall and would get so excited, then realize I couldn’t take them. It’s a difficult recation to face after you’ve been pushing so hard for so long that you suddenly have to turn them away – it broke my heart.
I had to turn magazine features down – talk about a slap to the face. When you’re hustling, most of the time what you’re wanting is recognition. To be featured on blogs, in magazines, and even on TV so when fashion magazines and one of the top health magazines for men starts calling you feel like you finally made it. Until you realize that when they feature you it will be the worst thing instead of the best because you’ll be getting enquires you can’t fulfill. All I can say is that there were days of hiding under the covers and tears streaming down my face.
Collaborations and relationships ended because I couldn’t fulfill my role anymore. With only a month between deciding to leave and close a business there wasn’t a lot of time to contact everyone and explain specifics, especially in the middle of summer when most of Europe is on vaction.
All of these experiences had me feeling like the worst business person, ever. There was a time when I felt like I failed, flat on my face didn’t make it. I tried to get a hold of as many people as I could so that I could refer my clients else where, aplogized for having to back out but no matter what I did I never felt like I never did enough. When you’re passionate about helping people it’s hard to be the person who has to say no.
It’s hard to look back and think about what I’d change, because I believe everything happens for a reason. But I do know I would have changed how I went about annoucing that we were leaving. I closed my business and left the country quietly and I know that did some damage that I won’t be able to repair. Not only did some fantastic people not get to say good-bye but I felt like I left with a lot of loose strings. At that time leaving quietly was all I could handle. Picking up the phone to tell my friends and collaborators that I was leaving would leave me crying for hours afterwards, I couldn’t handle a goodbye party, a facebook annoucement, or even comments left on the blog.
I would have created a better exit strategy. I believe in them whole-heartedly and had one for when I was old and gray, but never created one for if I needed to close up shop quickly. I should have taken a day to create a proper plan to close the doors with a pretty velvet bow.
I would not have allowed myself to feel like a failure. I worked hard, I hustled, I pushed myself and my business in areas I never even imagined and for that alone I should have felt like a champion. Even if I never got featured in those magazines, the most important part was not that they called, it was the fact that what I did changed the lives of my clients.