As a business owner, there is the initial thrill of setting something new up. The creative side of things, getting business cards printed, designed a website, getting that first order or client. It’s a lot of work, but it’s your baby. Sometimes, that baby doesn’t work and, while it’s hard to step away from something you’ve put your heart and soul into, it’s better than the alternative.
I’ve recently decided to close down one of my businesses. When I started it, it was just before the trend of DIY weddings and I launched just in time – all-be-it a rushed launch as I was informed of another business launching via a very recognisable BBC2 television show! I’d used the concept of film-your-own wedding at my own wedding and after a couple of people asked me to edit their wedding footage, I thought there was something in it. I was right. After the launch, I soon took loads of bookings and things were looking great. I invested in extra equipment as, with summer wedding season in sight, I had enquiries for the same dates. While I wasn’t charging a lot of money, I was covering costs and making a small profit, while having a great time exercising my creative juices. It was the perfect side business to my other jobs.
Fast forward five years, and things changed. The booking enquiries slowed down. Word of mouth was always the best way to get bookings, followed by recommendations from other wedding businesses. Wedding magazines never worked for me, however much they promise and pester you to spend money with them. I realised that my equipment is now out of date and so I asked myself the question, ‘do I really want to invest money into two or three new kits of up to date camera gear’. I had a couple of issues with couriers messing up deliveries or people not being in when they said they would be, and even though I covered myself in my terms and conditions, those issues created stress. The world of weddings changed over five years; the market became saturated, and trends altered. People have amazing cameras on their phones now and would rather save money and just use footage from friends. My wife also said I’d fallen out of love with it.
The insurance, music licensing, and website URL were all up for renewal at around about the same time and that’s when I decided to announce that it was closing. Stepping away is hard! It’s difficult to write those words and press the ‘post’ button for it to go live on your Facebook page, but it’s better than the alternative.
The potential for stress was getting to me. Whenever I sent out a package, the creativity in my mind wasn’t there and I was just doing it for the sake of it. The monetary reward wasn’t big enough to make me want to stick at it – I never charged a lot for the service as I wanted it to be affordable. However, when you add up to the cost of all the business rates and trying to take a wage out of it, it’s not worth the while. It was supposed to be freeing, but over time I felt like it was starting to tie me down.
When you’re only doing it for love, it’s hard to see through that love for life. Life is much more important than keeping a business afloat, especially a business which isn’t really needed in the world any more. I have one more booking later this year which I agreed to do as they were really keen and booked a couple of years in advance, but, after that, all the equipment will either head to eBay or sit in a drawer.
A business you’ve set up, turned from an idea in your head into a real thing, offering a service in this world, really is your baby. But, when the world changes, trends move and technology advances, it’s hard to keep up. Of course, I’ve also had two babies of my own which are far more important to me, and I suppose I’m a different person five years down the line, too! When you start to question your business, weighing up the decision of sticking at it or saying thanks for the memories and goodbye, it’s very tricky. But some things just need to be done, and the latter option so often comes out on top.