I’ve given up on my 3-year old startup

Four years back I quit my job to start my business. When asked about this so-called bold decision I had told a friend of mine, “I am going to try to succeed as an entrepreneur for the next 30 years. If I fail after 30 years I will then look for a job”. I am now at a juncture that I need a well paying job — like last month. I have not been able to pay myself from the past 5 months. I had to fire two employees (there were 4 when the firm was healthy). I am 2-months behind on my payments to ones that are still with me.

I am feeding my family on borrowed money. I don’t have the energy to pick myself up and think of an idea that may save my business. I think my teammates can see this in my face. I have to be honest and tell them all to go find better jobs before I run out of cash.

I need to look for a job. Will I find one? Will the job that I find pay me well enough bring my finances back to a decent shape? I avoid meeting people nowadays. What if at the new job, people around me start asking questions like, “hey, I heard you were running your own company before this. What happened?”. I know the answer, but will I have the guts to stand tall and reply to them?

What will my employees think about me when I tell them that I am folding up? What happened to all the pep talks that I had given them in better days? What will my relatives and friends think of me? I am wallowing in self doubt where I should be dusting myself off to do what’s needing to be done.

  • Ever heard of lean startup? Why did you hire employees when your business is not making enough money to sustain you?

      • Nope. Just the truth. No need to jump on me for making that comment when really he needed to see it. There’s no point in hiring a bunch of employees when your startup doesn’t generate enough revenue to sustain them, unless of course you’ve received an investment from a VC or angel, which doesn’t apply to him.

        • Wtf. Not every company can be lean. What about a restaurant? Can you start a restaurant all by yourself? No wonder why people hate techies. Such smugness.

          • If he’s talking about a restaurant then he doesn’t belong on this site to begin with. This site is for technology startups. Also, I know many restaurant owners who are doing it by themselves, as in one person.

            They take the order then start cooking and take the next order. Once that person gets enough customers then they can start hiring waitresses, cooks, etc.

            You have to crawl before you can walk.

      • The OP should not have hired employees.

        About 4 years back, everyone was getting into the startup frenzy.It’s not as easy as it sounds. I’m sure he’s read up on failure. This is what it feels like. Now get back in the game a couple years from now and try it again.This will be part of your success story. (your first failure )

  • Having a company fail is no stigma. Having the courage to start one implies drive, accountability and a strong work ethic and that can only help you in your job hunt.

    Unless of course you started something crappy like snapchat.

  • You should post your story as an Ask HN. People there are very helpful. Small businesses often fail due to factors beyond the founders’ control. That’s the game we’re all in. Lots of founders re-enter the job market and that’s perfectly OK. You don’t need to feel ashamed. Four years was a good run. Now you should start moving fast so you don’t fall deep in debt. What are your skills? We’re looking for Rails engineers. 🙂

  • I have been there. Failed after three years, had to let go of half a dozen people and now I’m working for another startup. That stuff happens. Don’t expect it to be a one way street that leads to victory. That rarely happens. I learnt a ton of stuff, and hopefully I’ll do better when I give it another shot with a different venture. All the best to you!

  • It’s time to be brutally honest with everyone who matters to you about the current state. It helps them make the right decisions for themselves and can be liberating for you.

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