This post has sat in draft form for many weeks. Its self-centeredness and its transparency made me uncomfortable, but a friend encouraged me to share it. I had things to say which found no words. The process of closing down a business in which I have poured most of my adult life into represented a loss hard to describe. It can be hard to understand unless you have personally traveled that road.
The long and slow process of making the decision to close came to an end while on vacation in Michigan, when I finally admitted to myself it was over and it was time to close things down. The closing of a business, by its very nature, is a very solitary process. We open with a big party, yet, a single individual turns the lights off for the last time. If anybody finds themselves in such a position and needs someone to talk to, I am always available.
For those employed, the ending of one gainful employment to pursue new opportunities can be no more inconvenient than a 2 week notice. However, if you own your own business with an investment in equipment, raw materials, personnel, leases, and inventory, it becomes much more tedious, time consuming, and depressing to sort through the remnants of your dream. I have never met a business owner who did not see their business as a direct extension of their very being, much the same way a child can represent an extension of us.
My dream reached it apogee when we moved into an 8000 sq ft facility in 2008. During my second year there, I watched my neighbor make the painful decision to close his business. He had about 6000 sq ft stuffed with supplies, equipment, and finished goods. After 30 days and dozens of dumpsters he was gone. What he could not sell within the first couple of weeks he just threw away. I watched entire pallets of raw materials get tossed into dumpsters; $10,000’s of unused material simply tossed away.
Four years later, I chose a different path for my own closing. I am not sure I chose a better path.
I could not see throwing away assets which given enough time I could sell. Even with this in mind, I filled 100 cubic yards worth of dumpsters with garbage, pianos, and accumulated detritus of 20+ years in the business.
But this strategy required the careful dismantling of work benches, storage shelves, and lots of pianos. With each screw, a little piece of the dream was slowly and painfully dismantled. After a year, I finished the first stage of the dismantlement and closed my shop.
Over the next 4 years I continued to liquidate my inventory. I am reminded time and again of God’s providence. As God used the years of plenty to prepare Egypt for the 7 years of famine, I saw his work in my own life. Over the many years of growth and expansion, I had built up a very large surplus. This surplus provided for myself and my family as I faced some very significant health issues. These limited my ability to work starting shortly after I closed my business and have continued to this day.
As the old Jewish proverbs says: “Man plans and God laughs.” I found all the plans I had made for my business and early retirement came crashing down. Working through 5 surgeries and recoveries so far I have learned that my Father will supply all of my needs.
It is not my will and wisdom which provided guidance, but rather my resting in my Father’s will and waiting upon Him which gave me the strength to find new directions for my life.