We’re Shutting Down and I’m Scared — The Aftermath

Last week I submitted a story here called, “We’re Shutting Down and I’m Scared“.

All I can say is, WOW! I never expected such an incredible response.

Between here and Hacker News, it took me two days just to go through all of the awesome words of wisdom and support. I read everything — three times. I even read those of you who told me to “quit whining” and to “man up”. Thank you, ALL, for your support.

I’m not yet ready to reveal my company or name, I may never be. But, for all of you who offered your advice, I want to at least share with you how things turned out.

My wife is now aware. This, by far, was the most difficult discussion to have. I felt like I was about to confess to her that I had been unfaithful. And in a sense, I was. As many of you had suggested, this is the one person I should have been the most upfront with.

For two days, I tried to find the right time to tell her. I kept finding reasons to wait. Finally, on the third morning, I said “we need to talk”. Apparently, those four words mean something else entirely to women, which kind of worked in my favor. Having said that, it also set the wrong tone for the discussion, so I’d would advise others against that approach.

It turns out that she had been preparing herself for this moment. Quite frankly, I wasn’t sure how to take that. She could see the writing on the wall and knew by my actions that things weren’t going as well as I had portrayed. In the end, she was incredibly supportive. She was concerned, but she was also supportive.

We’re still broke, but that’s no different than the position we were in prior to this decision.

I committed to my wife that I would find employment, rather than chasing another dream — at least for now. The search is now underway.

Investors have been contacted. Many, I’ve had personal discussions with this week. Most were supportive, a few, not so much. As much as I understand that they’re all professional investors, I still can’t help but feel a personal responsibility to them. If I have the chance to make it right with them at some point, I will.

Our debt is still a concern. We’ve contacted an attorney to properly handle this, but I’m still unsure of how this will all turn out. We don’t believe that we signed for anything personally, but who knows. All previous employees have been paid, it’s just creditors that concerns me.

Some of you had suggested to always leave enough money in the bank to pay off debt. While I don’t disagree with that in principle, I can tell you that shutting down wasn’t the intended plan. When we had $25,000 left in the bank, we were still committed to making it work. Maybe it was blind faith or just foolishness, but we believed. Honestly, if I were in that same position again, I can’t tell you that my choice would be different.

I’m never going to wear this failure as a badge of honor, but I’ve begun to see that this isn’t as devastating as it felt last week.

I’m an entrepreneur, I’ll recover. Thank you for helping me see that.

  • Anyone that would suggest a small business person should have a reserve to cover their debt has never run a small business. If you had that kind of cash, you’d pour it into the business. Good luck with whatever is next.

  • Learn and move on. We have all had failures. I commend you for paying your employees. I was at a place at the bust in 2000 that couldn’t finish paying us for the last 6 weeks that we were there. The fact that they were up front with us as things were going downhill made me respect them and burn some of my own 401k to hang out and help them finish wrapping up. The last 4 months we were there they treated us like adults and told us…”If this sale doesn’t come through…” or “If this round of funding doesn’t happen…”. They were good men one and all and I would go back to work for anyone of them.

    • Not paying employees is in a different category from not paying suppliers. The instant you know you can’t make payroll, some serious legal issues arise (depending on the state in which you are incorporated and in which you hire people); do not proceed past that point without accurate legal counsel. The CEO can wind up in jail (again, in some jurisdictions) for continuing to employ a person when he or she knows there’s no money to make payroll.

  • Yay, look, put all the attention on me! That’s not trolling, that’s honesty. Fail fast. Move on. Stop making a spectacle of yourself. I’ve failed way worse and had the courage to look my wife, co-founders, investors, and employees in the eyes, have the honest talk, and move on.

    Get over it. Learn from it. Move on.

    • Well, aren’t you a little ray of sunshine. Perhaps the reason it was so easy to accept your failure was because you didn’t care that much about the outcome in the first place?

        • Yes. But it’s hard depending on your personality type. It took me over 10 years (?) to “get over it”. And I still am not sure that I am. I certainly are more hesitant to take a “leap of faith” — and that hesitance slows you down. What nobody ever told me was how to get over it. I still don’t understand. I appreciate people telling you to get over it; it’s good advice. But not knowing how to deal with a gaping hole in your chest doesn’t make you a wuss (necessarily) — it just means that you don’t know how. I *do* know that alcohol is not the ultimate answer! 🙂

  • I was one of the less than kind people telling you to man-up last time. This time, you seem to have exorcised some of your demons, and no complaining about working like the rest of us. If you keep your head on straight, you will try again in time, and maybe succeed. I think it is a badge of honor, the attempt. Working for someone else will only make you stronger, maybe desperate to try to get on top of the capitalist pyramid again, but the fun in life IS in the journey. You deserve credit for trying, and when you’re on your deathbed you’ll wish you could return to even these days. It will work out, no ones going to hurt you, money is a big lie. I’d rather be happy and successful than rich. Focus on that and you may well become rich. If not, don’t worry, most of us aren’t. Tough road for those who weren’t given a company or a mass of money from dad, and terrible thing to focus on exclusively. It’s all an illusion, so be happy wherever you are in life.

  • I’ve been following this since HN.. remarkable transparency, when spin and deflection are the norm. Honesty is the only weapon you’ll ever need.

    (pssst: you don’t owe your investors ANYTHING.)

  • I’ve felt exactly like you feel and I’ve even said something very close to, “I’m never going to wear this failure as a badge of honor.” Consequently, I know that what I am about to say will sound empty, whimsical and even a little distasteful.

    However, I still need to say it. One day, you will wear this as a badge of honour, though it might not look like you were expecting.

    Chances are, someday you’ll meet someone who is in the exact same position you were in when you wrote that article. And when you do, you’ll understand the pain, the sense of failure, and the taste of impending doom better than anyone else. Consequently, you’ll have the unique ability to say, “I’ve been there, it sucked and I’m sorry you’re going through it. Here is what I did.”

    I’m sorry that you’ve had to go through this, but I admire your courage and though I don’t know you, I’m extremely proud to be an entrepreneur.

  • I’ve built 5 startups, 3 of them I’ve sold, but the road there was bumpy. Out of the 2 I’ve sold, at both times the buyers company went bankrupt after 2 years still owning me money from the sale. Money I counted on for my other startup. In the end, I was almost bankrupt myself.

    In the end, all there is left is to continue, find ways to make it work and move on. In a couple of years you look back and will realize that it wasn’t so bad after all. Like many others said here, you just need to go on. I did it and run 2 other successful business now again.

  • All I can say is keep going. This one might not have worked out, but in so many ways, you’re better off because of it.

  • Allow me a timely analogy here. Not all the entrants that came into the stadium in Sochi yesterday will walk away with gold, silver, or brass medals. Many (most) will return with no medals at all. This event will be the peak point in their lives when they were at their highest physical achievement. Should the feel bad? Heck no. For the rest of their lives they will be able to say to one and all, they were Olympians on the field and will deserve huge respect. And you, who started your own company, hired employees, succeeded in closing investments, shipping product to customers, in the middle of these historic times in entrepreneurship, you will wear that entrepreneurship badge forever.

  • {"email":"Email address invalid","url":"Website address invalid","required":"Required field missing"}

    You may also like