The decision to close down a business can be incredibly difficult, especially when you care about your customers and clients. If you make your decisions with those customers in mind, you can still take care of your customers and leave them with a good impression of you and your company in the process.
This month, I closed up shop on my ready-to-build arts and crafts business, Twined. I truly enjoyed the work that I did on Twined, but ultimately, I could not keep up with the demands of running two companies. The decision to close my business was incredibly difficult and it took months before I was finally ready to let it go.
It took almost eight months from the time I decided to close the business until I finally took down the website. It was a lengthy process, but I was determined to leave our stakeholders with the best possible impression of the company in the closing process. I've watched other companies close and leave open questions, outstanding bills, and pending orders. I wanted Twined to go out on the best note possible and leave our customers with the understanding that we valued their business and cared about them personally.
The first step toward closing was to alert our subscription customers. Twined was originally a subscription box business, so we had a steady business of regular subscribers. I communicated directly with our subscription customers so that I could tell them that we were eliminating the subscription element of the business. I kept the customizable 'ready-to-build' parcels around for two reasons. First, it allowed our customers to continue making purchases if they wanted to do so. Second, it helped to sell through the inventory that was sitting in the warehouse.
For about six months, we offered only the custom parcels while I worked through the back end closure elements. I updated the books and inventory information to reflect the lower sales projections and ordered miscellaneous supplies to get us through the end of the fiscal year. This coordinated well with our annual taxes, so my accountant probably appreciated the better information. I also organized the warehouse and updated the website as projects sold out. We stopped replenishing the supplies on any projects that sold out so that we'd have as little inventory as possible on the last business day.
Since the business was self-funded, the inventory was actually pretty easy to manage. Once our closing day arrived, I donated most of our remaining inventory to a local elementary school. Some of the specialty items that the school cannot use went to other artists that I know and I kept a couple of things for my own art practice.
I'm proud that I started, self-funded, and ran Twined for two years. Not all businesses will last, even those that ultimately make a small profit. Hopefully you learn something from every business that you begin. From Twined, I learned about improvements in ecommerce websites, managing vendor relationships in an industry where the manufacturers have the power, and customer satisfaction and retention.