Ave atque vale

by Suw on August 7, 2003

Well, I don’t really know quite where to start. So much to say. Most of it not good. I guess I should start with the worst news.

The reason I’ve not been blogging as much as I normally do lately is that I’ve been dealing with the death of my business, and I didn’t feel it was right to tell you lot of my woes until I had informed subscribers, creditors and the bank.

Simple fact is that Get Fluent hasn’t been bringing in the subscribers I had hoped that it would, and the marketing I have done has achieved almost nothing. I had been hoping to get a loan from Business Link to plug the gap between me launching the French service and the subscriptions coming in at a reasonable rate. However, Business Link are a bunch of useless fucktards and did more harm to my business than good.

In a nutshell, I identified a problem with my business right back at the beginning of the year – too much money going out and not enough coming in. That’s why I decided to launch a French service, to try to tap into a larger market.

Trouble is, the bank wouldn’t lend me any more money, so I went to Business Link (for those of you who don’t know, that’s a government-run quango supposedly designed to support small businesses). They said they had a fund that could lend me up to £10,000, and that a decision would be made within the month.

That was at the end of March. Trouble is, Business Link were so bloody incompetent that they ended up taking until two weeks ago to tell me that they weren’t going to give me the loan. They led me right up the garden path with promises of decisions to be made ‘this week’ or ‘by the end of the month’, and every time they said they were going to make a decision, they didn’t.

In the four months that they took to decide what the fuck they were doing, my business had gone from one with a small flesh wound that only needed stitching, to one which was mortally wounded, haemorrhaging out of every orifice and descending into a slow and bloody death.

And all I could do was stand there and watch. Nothing I did made any difference. None of the marketing worked, not in print nor online. I just had to stand there and watch the last 18 months of my life disappear down the shitter.

Now I have the same sort of debt that I would have had if I’d bought a house in North Wales. And nothing to show for it.

It’s been like watching a part of me die. I’ve spent the last couple of months in despair. Crying a lot. Frightened of picking up the phone in case a creditor was gonna ring me and hassle me. Wondering how the subscribers were going to take the news that the service is dead. Wondering what the fuck I’m going to do with the rest of my life. Wondering if I’ll ever have a life again, if I’ll ever get out of this horrendous debt.

In fact, I’m writing this now through a haze of tears, although I am trying not to let it get to me.

Get Fluent in Welsh is suspended until further notice. Get Fluent in French probably won’t start. And I’ll have to refund those subscribers that have received nothing for their money, even if I have to pay them out of my own pocket. I will be nothing if not honourable in these circumstances.

Y Ffynhonnell Ltd, the actual company, will limp on, selling t-shirts and possibly CDs of the existing Get Fluent in Welsh worksheets, and maybe a few other items that I can produce cheaply and on demand, in the hope that I can make enough money to pay my creditors. But Get Fluent is over.

People keep telling me to be positive, and that I should find a partner to rescue the business, but I don’t have any fight left in me. I don’t know where I could possibly find someone who’s passionate enough about the service and its potential to want to risk something like £60 to £100 grand on it. And I have no energy left to search.

Subscribers tell me that Get Fluent is a great service, intelligent, enjoyable, helpful. It works for them. They learn from it and they enjoy learning from it. But I guess only the good die young.

I worked my arse off on this business. I did long hours, weekends, I forewent a social life for 18 months. I put my life on hold. And all for nothing. I don’t know if I can explain how depressing that was.

I’ve suffered clinical depression before, so I’ve been trying desperately not to fall into that trap again. It was, and is, a hard fight to keep the wolves from the door. Sometimes I just see no hope at all. It feels like I’ll be paying for my mistakes, for my over-optimism and over-confidence, for years to come.

I’m having to leave my maisonette in Reading and move back to my parents’ house in Dorset. At 32. What a humiliation. I’m looking for a job, but that’s a time consuming process and there’s not much around that I’m qualified for. In fact, I’m not even sure what the fuck I am qualified for. I swing between feeling like a employable top-level executive, to feeling like I couldn’t even get a job washing floors.

In the long term, this whole disaster has crystallised out a few realisations for me. To quote Q from Wonder Boys, I am a writer. It’s what I’m good at. It’s what I love. It’s all I’m going to allow myself to do in the future (aside from any paid work, which will be whatever the hell I can get).

But in the short term? I have no idea. I don’t know what I want to do, where I want to be or how the fuck I’m going to get there. I don’t know how I’m going to cope in Dorset at my parents’. It’s not the first time that I’ve had to do this. Not the first disaster I’ve had. But it’s by far the worst.

I think it’s worse because I don’t understand why it failed. I understand technically – if cash flows out but not in, your business is doomed. But I don’t understand what I could have done differently, what I did wrong, why it didn’t work. Everything that could go wrong did go wrong, starting with last years Eisteddfod debacle, through to dealing with ineffectual pr and translation agencies, and marketing that achieved nothing.

I couldn’t have fucked up my life more completely if I’d tried.

So, there you have it.

I keep trying to tell myself that it’s not so bad, that at least I have my health, at least I have my family and friends (all of whom have been marvellous throughout). At least I have some grey matter left with which to work.

Somehow, that doesn’t make me feel a whole lot better.

Ember August 7, 2003 at 8:39 pm

Sometimes it's when you hit the bottom that you can see the top!

Don't despair. Something will come up… Most businesses fail. A little market research… Another business… Just because the business died doesn't mean you can't try again…

Visit me @ http://fallenember.blog-city.com

A visitor August 8, 2003 at 5:27 am

I'm so sorry for your disappointment and your loss. I know EXACTLY what it's like for a business you created to fail.

I also have a passing familiarity with depression.

Please take extra good care of yourself right now, and understand that the majority, THE MAJORITY, of new business fail. They just do. Being an entrepreneur is one of the hardest things there is. You didn't fail, you just didn't succeed ~ and that is a meaningful difference.

The money is a big fat bummer, no two ways about it. On the other hand, I'd rather be 32 and broke than 45 and broke (that would be me).

Good luck. People you don't know are rooting for you.

Pascale Soleil

Suw August 8, 2003 at 6:56 am

Ember and Pascale – thanks for the support. I do appreciate it.

I go through phases at the moment – sometimes I think it's gonna all be ok, sometimes I think it's gonna just get worse and worse. Today, I'm not feeling so rough. But tomorrow is anyone's guess.

I just hope that I get a job soon, then a lot of my worries will at least be more managable.

A visitor August 8, 2003 at 9:09 am

Suw, paid teimlo'n wael. Mae'n amlwg dy fod ti wedi rhoi ymdrech anferth mewn i rywbeth oeddet ti'n wir goelio ynddo, sydd yn werth cymaint yn ei hun. Dwi'n gwybod nad yw'n teimlo felly i ti nawr ond mae dilyn trywydd be ti isio ei wneud yn ffwc o beth annodd, a dyw rhan fwyaf o bobol ddim yn gallu ei wneud o. Ti'n swnio fel person positif egniol felly dwi'n siwr daw da allan ohono fo yn y pen draw. Dal ati.


Suw August 8, 2003 at 9:34 am

Diolch Nwdls. Dw i'n trio aros yn bositif, achos fod gen i lot o syniadau da am bethau i wneud yn y dyfodol. Ond, wrth gwrs, sgen i ddim arian i wneud y pethau dw i eisiau gwneud. Story of my life! Pe medrwn i ffeindio'r arian, medrwn i iawn!

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