My unprofitable business is making me sick. Is it time to quit?

Dear Aunty B

I have a cafe which I set up from scratch and is tastefully decorated with quality appliances, fittings, and fixtures. I had to also pay to have all the electrical wiring, plumbing, tiling and flooring done at my expense. As well as having to pay for all the fire safety equipment, exit signs, paint and security door. I have added great value to these premises but still pay high rent. My problem is that I have worked so hard with little return after all the expenses and overheads are paid. I have had to contribute from my own savings to pay for rent, stock and amenities as I did not make enough to pay these accounts.


I had to cut staff and have run the business by myself with the occasional help of a family member. I do all the right things but, due to parking problems in the area now I am unable to generate more income.

I am now burnt out after three years, I have lost interest in a non-profitable business and I now have serious health problems. I have tried to sell it but everyone wants it for nothing. It is a tastefully set up business and could be turned into great family evening restaurant by someone who has the drive.

What do you think? I have not drawn a wage in three years. At the moment I am working to pay the landlord.

From Shirley

Dear Shirley,

You need to sit down and pat yourself on the back. You have given it a red hot shot. You have worked very hard and now is the time to move on.

I am very worried about your serious health problems. Your health must come before everything else. Please go to the doctor and work out how much work you can do. It is also time to draw on a bit of family support and get them to cover you in the shop while you go and see some business brokers and see if you can get a better price. You could also see if any other cafe owners in the local area want to buy the lease.

Sometimes Shirley, it is a relief to move on. There is a great little book called The Dip by Seth Godin. He makes a very good point: Quitting is difficult. So it’s easier to put it off, keep going, not admit it.

So yes, I think you are doing the right thing. Quit! And look at the big picture. You are obviously an enterprising woman. After the dust has blown over and hopefully you have made a little from the sale, you will reflect on what you have learnt, your health will improve, your energy will return and you will start to look towards the next stage in your life!

Good luck!

Your Aunty B


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