Losing it


Have you lost that loving feeling?


When performers have fun, audiences have fun.

The same applies to business.

But what if you’re jack of your trade because it’s killingly familiar, repetitive, onerous or boring?


Just saying

A Chinese proverb says:

Man with no smile should not open shop.

I’d modify it thus:

Person with no smile should not keep business open.


Lowering the bar

Eleven years ago, my local pub was so amazingly brilliant, I married Fonnie in the front bar.

Alas, last month saw another desultory performance by staff who seem to have had enough of the game.

Flat champagne. Warm beer. Inflexible menu. No inquiry as to our satisfaction with the meal.

They were just going through the motions.

So now we dine down the road.


Cleaned out

In the good-old days, our dry cleaner collected and delivered with a leap in his step, a smile on his dial and time to shoot the breeze.

Last week, he turned.

He turned a jacket from pink to grey, turned up days late with it, and turned awfully nasty when we queried him.

Having spent hundreds, maybe thousands of dollars on this bloke, we just couldn’t believe it.

Maybe he was ill.

Maybe his relationship was in ruins.

Maybe he’d just had a really, really, really bad week.

We’ll never know, because he’s burned us for good.


Going, going, gone.

So, when the love is gone, what do you do?

In ditching my human resources career, I went for the last. But I had a loving partner to support me until I found a new path.

Not everyone has this luxury.

Do you know clients, suppliers or other people who should definitely pull up stumps?

What one thing told you, beyond any doubt, that they were totally ‘over’ their profession?

You can even tell us

if that person

is you.


| Founder & Senior Writer – The Feisty Empire

  • Can’t speak for myself here but I have family who have run themselves not so much the business into the ground. In their case they were caught up with a store in a shopping centre which was slowly losing traffic. They had restrictions on what they could sell yet new stores opening around them were given more options. They eventually sold up (not for much in the end) and made a new life.

    To their credit they never lost the desire to please and produce quality food, its just that they were not making any money and they couldn’t get out. At one stage they had two stores in this shopping centre and it was looking so rosy but centre management lost direction and the stores opening were going into cheaper and cheaper merchandise.

    What they didn’t have was an exit plan. A plan that said we are here for 3 years and then we are out. Others I know who run similar businesses have such a strategy. They build them up as much as they can for a couple of years but then they move on.

    Getting in and out of businesses isn’t quite like changing jobs however, there is quite a bit more involved and the process can take a lot longer. There is also any outstanding debt to manage and taxes etc.

    I guess some business people are just better at timing when to leave.

    • The shopping centre situation is sounding rather dire. It’s like living in a deteriorating suburb, only you have to pay crippling rent for the ‘privilege’.

      I see some of the bigger players are taking the centres to task. But the steady decline of shop numbers and product quality must be very discouraging.

      You also touched upon a favourite theme of ours – that newbies get a better deal than oldies. I still can’t fathom that!

      Like business plans, exit plans are such a good idea. Yet so few of us (including me) have either! That’s where a business coach can smack you into shape.

      Michael E. Gerber (The E-Myth) says you build a business to SELL it. If you don’t, all you have is a job. Wise words, I reckon.

      What a rich contribution you’ve made, MCB. Thank you kindly! :)

  • Hi folks,

    Back in the day I part-owned and built up a very successful IT consulting company. We ended up selling it to a large listed corporate, becoming a subdivision of that company, and it wasn’t long after that that my smile started to disappear. I lost control of certain decisions. I couldn’t always apply the values and principles that I thought were important to look after staff and customers. I couldn’t cope with the politics and crap in the corporate world.

    I was not happy, but I soldiered on. Why? Initially, because it was in my contract! :) But also because I felt a sense of duty to my business partner and our staff who had come on the journey with us. And because I was so caught in the corporate treadmill I could see how to get off it.

    Eventually I didn’t enjoy what I used to love. I felt continually tired and stressed. It came to the point where I didn’t want to get out of bed in the morning. I was having quiet tearful moments at work. I was burnt out.

    Then, one day, I rang up and said “I’m not coming in tomorrow and I don’t know when I will be again.” That was 18 months ago.

    I haven’t been back and I haven’t looked back.

    My advice: if work is getting you down and there isn’t a solution that will allow you to stay and be happy then DO WHATEVER THE HELL YOU CAN TO GET OUT! (which is Paul’s option 3 above)

    Now I am in a different industry in a small business and loving work again!

    :) Jas.

    • Dear Jas, we’re SO lucky to receive such a candid view of what was obviously a very difficult time for you.

      Some of our readers really put themselves on the line for the sake of our debates. You just flung yourself over it!

      Thank you very much. And please keep us closely posted on your new venture. From what I’ve seen thus far, it fairly reeks of success! Best regards indeed! P. :)

      • Thanks Paul! My candour was only for the purpose of illustrating the point. I’m sure that people struggling with corporate life is a very common story. And equally that type of story may apply to those in small business.

      • I hear you, Jas. And agree that candour is extremely effective. It’s just not terribly common! Which is why I’m so stoked. 😀

  • It’s sad when a business reaches a stage like this. It’s quite like marriage, really. I believe that many couples reach a ‘best-before’ date and go way beyond expiry when they should have called it quits before things got nasty. Business owners who don’t want to be there anymore are only torturing themselves – and their unwitting customers – by hanging in there. The dilemma comes in trying to figure out how to sell the business or whether things will improve. Often, the dying breaths have already been exhaled and there’s no more energy to do either.

    Shame about your wedding venue, Paul! But at least your marriage is still kicking on, despite it :)

    • Lovely to hear from you, Gina. I totally agree with your marriage analogy.

      Thanks for your comment. And thanks VERY much for referring that resume prospect; she just called!

      Best regards, P. :)

  • Malcolm Owens

    Hi Paul,

    Very interesting perspective. I had always wondered what running my own business would be like and after a particularly harrowing few years in a corporate abyss I took the plunge.

    While I enjoyed it and did reasonably well I found there were many things about corporate life that I really enjoyed. So I went back. Haven’t looked back since.

    It was a refreshing break, a new perspective and gave me the opportunity to look at business and life from a new perspective. Really glad I did it and very happy to go back to corporate with a new perspective and a fresh approach.

    Maybe other business people also need a freshen up?

    • Onya, Malcolm! I gather your entrepreneurial foray gave a taste of what it’s like to be ‘little people’.

      May I ask whether this influenced your handling of suppliers, contractors etc when you became CEO? :)

  • Thanks again for a great post Paul.

    I too, have taken a leap into the unknown, a couple of times in my working life. Each time it has allowed me to take stock and really think about what’s important and what I really want to do. On the first occasion, quitting my job after 10 years in the advertising industry, led me to a much more rewarding journey in the performing arts world. The second time, to Africa and then back home to work for Melbourne based not-for-profit.

    I’m really proud of the choices I’ve made and although I’m back in rat race now, I’m a much wiser contributor thanks to my previous adventures.

    It’s challenging but ultimately rewarding to take a leap and not know where you’ll land – in my experience, there’s always a net (of some kind) to catch you.

    • Thank you, Suey, for sharing your story. Your African adventure deserves a triptych of posts all to itself!

      I’m glad you’ve finally got a link behind your name. Now, when do we get to see your smiling face? 😉

  • No matter how much you love something, if you get tired, stressed and/or bored, it is hard to stay cheerful and energetic. Sometimes just some sort of change could be the answer, rather than a drastic direction change.

    For myself, I haven’t ever lost my passion for writing, clear communications and helping businesses but there are times I loose interest in running a business because of all the stuff that happens (especially onto of a family). Taking a break has worked to give me back energy and focus on the writing (rather than the stuff) but it also helps when I look at what I do and outsource something – for example, I have a quarterly report to write for a client’s website which I now write after an admin person compiles all the stats for me. Saves me time to do more of what I love doing and I have one less boring task to manage.

    Selling up isn’t really an option – I have no alternative income and I really don’t want to go back to working for anyone else or away form home and my kids. So I have to be creative about finding ways to freshen business up so I can still smile :)

    • Yet another great share, Tash. Many thanks for putting yourself into this blog.

      Great point on the family front. I guess that’s why they invented respite care. Nice idea – if you can get it!

      May you keep smiling for many many years to come! :)

  • Another corker from Penelope Trunk:


    I love being able to legitimately cite her work! :)

  • Anyone struggling with their business and unclear of when and how it is going to get better would do well to read The Dip by Seth Godin. A great little book!

  • Our former dry cleaner is getting even more feral. Last week he turned up with Fonnie’s jacket, having failed to dye it back to anywhere near its original colour.

    His new claims: The buttons caused the colour change! It’s a manufacturer problem. The garment is ancient. (It’s actually one year old.) The garment has been dry cleaned too many times. (It’s actually been cleaned five times – without incident).

    His solution: Rip the buttons off and return off-colour garment. With no apology. Or refund. Or buttons! Grrr! :(

    Thanks to Melina, I’m finding a new dry cleaner via WOMO:


    • Hi Paul

      I’m so pleased that my blog about my search for a cleaner https://www.myob.com/au/blog/online-site-helps-to-keep-it-clean/#comments could help you find a new dry cleaner!

      I think that just shows how valuable word of mouth is – you were prepared to follow my recommendation for WOMO as a trusted source, now someone else will follow your lead because they trust your judgment and on it goes!

      We also had to change dry cleaners after my partner’s shirts came back covered in pen ink… but that’s a WHOLE other story…
      Melina :)

      • Good show, Melina! This happy confluence reminded me of what this blog is all about – helping each other do better. And now that we have multiple contributors, I reckon the value is increasing exponentially. :)