Shutting Down Your Business Gracefully

Much has been created about how to grow a business. Sadly, however, given a daunting business presence statistics, many businesses never get an event to scale up. They start tiny and stay small, and many eventually tighten down, either progressing or later. Of those few that do start to scale, a bid to scale adult mostly fails to last, and a all-too-familiar roller-coaster of life in business heads, or threatens to head, downhill. Thus, a distant some-more common plea is that of scaling down: How to gracefully scale down and tighten a business – with your reputation, trust, and grace total – and live build another business, in another arena, on another day.

To inspect how pivotal constituencies — clients, suppliers, employees – can be sincerely dealt with, we will deconstruct a story of a association (founded by one of us, Andrew Blickstein) that scaled down after 16 years. A strong, transparent, and trust-driven enlightenment plays a executive purpose in pushing a scale-down preference and in handling a routine as a it unfolds.

Home Run Media’s Turning Point

Home Run Media, a media group that helped a clients devise and lift out their offering strategies, had been handling for some-more than a decade when a pivotal patron in a anticipation sports courtesy began to grow rapidly, interjection in partial to Home Run’s work and to a healthy sip of try collateral that was fueling a growth. Home Run’s media billings and a revenue, took off, flourishing some-more than tenfold in reduction than dual years.

Alas, as 2015 unfolded, concerns arose that a client’s business, and that of other identical companies, competence not be authorised in a core U.S. market. The client, that constituted some 80 percent of Home Run’s billings, suggested Home Run that a 2016 billings were approaching to tumble sharply. Hammering home a point, a patron added, “It’s substantially a good time to cancel a contract.”

As Home Run’s owners and solitary owner, Blickstein had been by a unchanging array of feasts and famines and ups and downs, though over Thanksgiving weekend in 2015, he motionless he wanted no some-more of it. He wanted out.

Making a Decision

Blickstein and his financial group had already begun to investigate a options. At initial they deliberate anticipating a patron for a business, though it became pure that offering his still-modestly sized business would take some time. At his stream levels of handling costs, a value – and a money – would approaching erode fast in a face of a approaching tumble in revenue. And who be meddlesome in shopping a business that was losing a golden crow client, anyway? Not a viable option, he concluded.

On a and side, his company’s healthy book of accounts receivable indicated that if he could stop a money bake quickly, he stood a possibility to travel divided with a neat sum. He could put his kids by college and buy some time to consider about what to do next. “But how,” he wondered, ”do we lift out this preference while tying a repairs caused to those who have devoted me?” There were 4 pivotal constituencies with whom Blickstein would have to deal, he realized: his clients, his vendors, his employees, and himself.


Home Run’s clients relied on a association to assistance rise and exercise their media strategies. Blickstein couldn’t simply leave them in a lurch. He could not and would not simply tell them he was shutting emporium and wish them good luck. Not usually would such an movement crack a trust he’d built with them, though he feared they would be indignant and wouldn’t compensate what they due him for services already rendered — or to be rendered as he wound things down. If a receivables unsuccessful to come in, Blickstein ran a risk of walking divided with small to uncover for his 16 years of effort.

Blickstein knew how formidable it can be for a patron to find, select, hire, and onboard a new agency. He motionless to mangle a news to any patron himself, and do so first, before addressing his vendors. In doing so, he suggested agencies that could collect adult where Home Run Media left off and govern a client’s strategies in a philosophically identical manner, and he offering to support a patron in handling a transition. By a finish of Jan 2016, all of his clients had changed on and, happily, no bridges had been burned.


Vendors acted a trickier problem. There were media outlets with whom clients’ budgets had been placed, and there were other vendors – an bureau landlord, program suppliers, and others – with whom Home Run was committed to extensive contracts. Blickstein knew that a initial thing any retailer worries about when a patron closes was either they’d be paid what was already due to them. Some such sums were estimable in his case.

With his media vendors, he motionless a best thing to do was to advise any of them that a patron whose promotion they were regulating was changing agencies. Agency transitions were not uncommon, nor were month-to-month swings in spending, he reasoned. No problems there.

But landlords, program vendors, and others were another story. They would be losing destiny streams of income to that Home Run Media was contractually committed. How would they conflict to losing Blickstein’s association as a client, he wondered? Blickstein motionless a personal hold was required. He called his primary hit during any of them with a candid request. “I’m shutting my business. What do we need to do to cancel a contract?”

Invariably, a answer was, “I don’t know.” Seemingly, no one had never called to find out. They’d simply tighten their doors and left a vendors holding a bag after a few missed payments. While there were a integrate of holdouts with whom Blickstein had to negotiate settlements, many were fair to and elegant of Blickstein’s candor, observant they would not reinstate any deposits or prepayments held, though conjunction would they need serve payments over a brief period.


From a beginning, while Blickstein knew he would have to take a lead in traffic with his clients and his vendors, he also knew that a work entailed in transitioning his clients and circuitous down his retailer relations was distant some-more than he could do alone. He was also deeply gladdened to his 18 people for a work they had finished in building his business. From a day he had non-stop his business some 16 years earlier, he’d built a enlightenment that valued transparency, trust, teamwork, and creativity. He would have to be blunt and artistic in traffic with his people as well.

The Friday after Thanksgiving weekend during a company’s normal daily huddle, Blickstein pennyless a news. Facing a approaching detriment of a pivotal client, Home Run media would be shutting down and assisting all of a clients transition to other agencies. In a same vein, Blickstein would assistance his people transition into new jobs. “I could not means to have them keep their jobs,” he recalled, “but we could assistance them keep their dignity.” Everyone would be given their laptop and a separation package, and to assistance them find new jobs, everybody would be acquire to keep their association email residence and use their table and a fully-stocked association kitchen by a finish of a company’s now-truncated lease. A name few would be asked to stay on for a few months as a association wound down to support with clients and vendors.

Inevitably, a assembly incited emotional, and tears flowed. At a finish of a meeting, a chairman who’d perceived a company’s weekly “game ball” for superb opening a prior week approached Blickstein and gave him a ball. “You merit it,” she said.

Come a following Monday, all though dual staffers came to work to spend time together beefing adult their resumes, updating their LinkedIn profiles, and diving into a pursuit market.

Managing Cash

Blickstein knew that a speed with that his association would scale down was essential. Each week in that his burn-rate continued would hit some $35,000 off a nest egg he would be means to keep during a finish of a journey. Keeping a integrate of pivotal people on house enabled a scaling-down routine to run faster than if he’d managed it alone. On Feb 26, 2016, hardly 4 months after his preference to scale down had been made, Home Run Media tighten a doors, with all clients carrying been transitioned to new agencies, all vendors dealt with in a jointly acceptable fashion, and with a infancy of his people already carrying found new jobs.

Reflections on Scaling Down

As Blickstein reflects on his company’s history, he sees both beating and gratitude. He wishes he’d paid some-more courtesy to regulating a good happening of a fast-growing patron to deposit in a business for a longer term. Using some of that client’s deduction to win a wider set of clients and build a group that could improved conduct a unavoidable ups and downs competence have meant that Home Run Media would still be in business today.

On a other side of a ledger, he is beholden for a courtesy he gave from day one to building pure and guileless relations with his group and with a companies with whom he and his people worked. It was trust and clarity that constituted a substructure of his company’s culture, and he knows it’s that enlightenment that that not usually got his association by a roller-coaster years, though also done it probable to scale down with his and his people’s grace intact.

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