Why We Called it Quits on Our "Successful" Business
March 04, 2020
This is a guest post written by Kahani Motiani. Kahani is a curious, courageous, and somewhat clueless 25-year old. Kahani has studied creative writing and psychology, worked as a seminar presenter and group facilitator, and is currently contemplating what she wants to do with her life. Kahani and her partner Nick co-founded local food business She’ll Be Apples in 2018. For two years the couple prepared and delivered wholesome home-cooked meals to time-poor families and individuals in the Geelong community before deciding to change directions. Their new direction is a question to which they don’t yet have an answer…
The love-hate relationship with She'll Be Apples
We never imagined this is what our ‘work’ would look like. Side by side in a mirrored power stance, fingers stained orange, peeling dozens of sweet potatoes like there’s no tomorrow. Another batch of our best-selling homemade sweet potato gnocchi, of course.
We loved it. We hated it. We loved it.
We were cooking by day and delivering by night while brainstorming new recipes and responding to customers every spare moment in between. We were rejoicing over our latest double-page spread in GT Magazine, and we were hiring another team member to help us deliver our ever-increasing orders.
We were the couple behind local dinner delivery business She’ll Be Apples, and we couldn’t have hoped for this biz, this baby of ours, to be booming quite so.
And yet we called it. Eighteen months in.
We called it quits.
Calling it quits
We couldn’t have anticipated that our instincts would tell us to close our business. Already. Our sales growth, our beautiful customer base, and our ten year plan aside, we knew that we were already burnt out.
We could have borrowed big dollars to set up a commercial facility, but as we crunched the numbers it dawned on us that the sacrifices demanded and the lifestyle necessitated by this particular type of business was, long-term, not for us. And it broke our hearts to admit it.
We announced our decision to our customers in October last year. Over the following two months, we sold off all of our remaining stock, our many freezers and our commercial cooking equipment. We recited the same lines of reasoning to gobsmacked friends whilst offering them bulk, redundant packets of turmeric and paprika.
We felt so much during those couple of months.
We really FELT.
Overwhelming grief, as if a close relative had died.
Confusion about how we came to start and build and end the whole thing.
Elation—we never had to peel a bloody sweet potato again if we didn’t want to!
Fear. Panic. Deep disappointment.
But then, bigger than all the rest, relief. Immense relief.
Sitting in the unknown
We’re still feeling it all now as we contemplate what’s next. We’re sitting in the unknown, and the unknown is not a pleasant place for us. Especially not after the certainty of what we were doing with She’ll Be Apples. Or what we thought we were doing.
When you decide to change directions, it can feel exciting and right, yet horrible and uneasy and terrifying all at once, and nobody tells you that.
Nobody tells you that as you get older, there’s a whole new level of pressure you’re susceptible to putting on yourself to have it all ‘figured out’, to be earning what everyone else is earning, or doing remarkable things.
We’re told it’s okay to pivot, but not how that might feel. And that however it might feel for you—the ugly or illogical parts of your process—is okay too.
When you pivot in work, in goals, in relationships, or in life, you don’t have to ‘cheer up’ or look on the bright side right away. You don’t have to immediately focus on all the ‘learnings’ you took from that experience and how much it’s ‘grown’ you, yada yada.
We know that She’ll Be Apples taught us more than any other workplace ever has or ever might again—about business, ourselves, each-other, and the world. But if we can’t instantly apply that knowledge to our dilemma of what on earth we should do with our lives NOW, then you’ll have to forgive us. And we have to forgive ourselves.
What matters most
What matters is that we trusted our guts. And our guts will ultimately take us to whatever career path awaits us next. Right now, we don’t know if that’s another business, a 9-5, back to school, or something else entirely. But if we rush it, we won’t get there, and that’s the only thing we reckon we know for certain.
It’s extremely uncomfortable to not know, but we’d take it over those finger-stained, power-stanced, unsustainable hours in the kitchen any day.
If you’re going through a similar transition or contemplating a change, remember this:
You can have all the success, self-drive, or stability in the world, but if it’s not sustainable for your mental health, your relationships, or your lifestyle, it’s not worth it.
In the face of change or uncertainty, your feelings don’t have to make sense to be valid.
There’s a certain social pressure to immediately put a positive spin on an unexpected turn of events. You don’t have to. We each have our own way of processing things, so allow yourself all the time you need and reframe your experience when you’re ready.