I’m heading for a breakdown. Is business always this hard?

Dear Aunty B,


First off, thank you for taking the time to read and share your opinion with me.


I am 21, a student and a business owner. Seven months ago I opened a cleaning business (I couldn’t afford to open anything else) and since then my life has been a living hell.


The first month I found it hard to get a contract, but I did get one eventually, and found some employees willing to work part time (the contract was for two days a week). In two months something was stolen from the place I was cleaning… they almost gave up the contract but I returned the goods, fired the employees, and found new ones.


After that I missed out on some major contracts because I didn’t have a carpet cleaning machine. I tried to rent one but it didn’t work out. Finally in December I bought a machine on credit, but just my luck it didn’t work as specified – no refund and I cannot use it.


In January my car broke down and needed a major repair on the engine. I needed to get the cash from my contracts for December but they didn’t pay and I cannot pay my university, car insurance and taxes…. and many many other bills.


I am so sick of it and I feel I am coming to a nervous breakdown pretty soon. Is running a business always so painful? Am I too weak, or did I just chose a complicated domain?


I am starting to think seriously about closing because I feel I just cannot take it anymore. I try and lie to myself and “solve” some more problems, but the more I solve the more come.


Any advice, opinion or idea is appreciated. Anything, because it is valued.






Dear Desperate,

There is one more thing you have to do before you have a nervous breakdown.

You have to gather your courage and QUIT. Now. Quickly. And you need to make sure you get advice on how to settle your debts or you could be racking up penalties on overdue tax bills.

Closing your business is hard, and it takes guts – the same sort of guts it took for you to start your venture.

But you need to quit quickly because you have no capital, you owe money and you have now run out of options.

You ask is business always this painful? Business is tough and especially in the first two years it can be nerve wracking. But apart from courage and a determination to have a go, you have none of the back-up assistance or knowledge.

What was your value proposition? Why was your business going to be any different to thousands of others? Where was the capital, research and knowledge to purchase the right equipment?

Where is your knowledge on recruitment that lets you build a team of employees you can trust to do the job and be honest.

Here is what you need to do to give yourself the best chance next time you start your own business.

Go and finish your university degree. Focus on that. Specialise in your area of interest. Get a job in that industry for at least two years (10 is better.) Study the industry and see the opportunities. Build your networks. See the niche, organise the money – and go for it.

You are not weak – you had a go and you will again in the future. And look at what you have learnt!

Good luck!

Your Aunty B.

Aunty B - Your problems answered by SmartCompany's business bitch

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