How do you know when to let go of a part of your business you love?

The crew of joyful Key Guardians who have made K’é a sacred space for nearly 8 years.

Why is it so hard to say goodbye?

Running a business for a long time is bittersweet.

One one hand, you get to learn and grow with beloved clients, build and launch exciting new programs and services and create important change.

On the other hand, as you grow and the external environment changes, you are forced to make tough decisions to ensure the ongoing health and success of your business.

This includes sometimes saying goodbye to very beloved ways of working and being in community.

I know some folks were shocked when I announced last month that Darryl and I are closing this chapter of our K’é Community Lab on June 30, 2024 after 8 beautiful years.

There are many reasons that contributed to our decision, but the most important was that we knew in our hearts it was time, and it was never designed to last forever.

We have had a very deliberate theory of change for this project which has guided every decision and investment of time and money.

As we celebrate and say goodbye to the physical space and incarnation of this project, we are also saying hello to exciting new chapters which include me sharing an office and working alongside my partners at RAIL CDC doing even deeper equity-focused economic development work in our Downtown Mesa community and beyond.

It is necessary to say goodbye, even though it is hard.

When is it time to close a chapter of your body of work?

You may be in a similar place and your life and/or business, evaluating with care exactly what you are doing and why.

Here are 5 things to examine as you decide what will stay and what will go in your body of work this year:

  1. Are you keeping this part of your business because you don’t want to disappoint anyone, despite clear evidence it is time to give it up?

    No one likes disappointing beloved clients or partners, but it does no one a favor if you are holding onto something just because you are afraid of a negative reaction.

    Here is the good news — when you stop delivering services for a particular audience, you make room for a new awesome provider to step up into their zone of genius and serve your beloved clients as well (or even better) than you could with your waning commitment and enthusiasm.

  2. Is continuing this activity preventing you from growing in a new and fruitful direction?

    In theory, you could keep doing everything and just try to maximize your productivity, but is that really going to activate momentum for the new direction in your business?

    Sometimes we need to continue to offer services that generate cash flow while we build the new ones, but once the new direction is set and you see evidence it is connecting with the market, lean in as much as you can to promote and sell the new offering.

  3. Am I holding on because of my ego or to prove something?

    We all want to be confident and experienced decision-makers. The reality is, sometimes things don’t work the way we thought they would, and that’s ok. A clear sign of effective personal and business leadership is, as the late Kenny Rogers said, to “know when to hold em and know when to fold em.”

  4. Does the work demand a new structure?

    You may have known for awhile that the way you are delivering services, while it sells well, is not the best process for you or your clients.

    It can feel like a heavy lift to change your model of delivery, but in the long run, it can be the very best way to ensure business longevity and value.

    When I shifted from coaching clients through building a certification program to creating an agency that builds them for our clients, it took a lot of work. But it is so worth it — now that we have clear processes and offerings, I do not have to be involved in the day-to-day design work, and my team builds much better products than I could ever do alone.

  5. Will you regret not making this decision?

    Regret is one of the most powerful emotions in the human condition (just ask Dan Pink – he wrote a whole book about it).

    Life comes at us and changes so quickly. When seeing life flash before your or others’ eyes, connect with the truth of your motivation and make a decision that is aligned as much as possible with living a life of minimized regrets.

We can’t control the outcome of any decision, but we can learn to honor ourselves and our body of work by honing and pruning our offerings each year so that we look back on the year on December 31 with energy, excited about what we accomplished.

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Comments

  1. Catherine says

    I let go of a BIG part of my business in 2021. I think it took me two full years of mourning the decades put into it to really let it go, but it helped to have a new direction that was picking up steam and giving me joy. Then the big part I let go off came back and knocked on the door. I just did a successful project in the old realm, and now I’m *really* confused! It was the right thing to do to let go. It was the right thing to do to accept the opportunity to pick it up again, for that project. But how big do I let this get now? Does it go back on the shelf marked Yesterday or does it have a few more Tomorrows in it? And what’s the impact on my *new* direction? None of this is easy.

  2. Pamela Slim says

    Catherine, thanks so much for sharing!

    I don’t have a quick pithy answer for your decision, since as you said, it is layered.

    My best advice is to sit quietly and really feel what it would be like to pick back up varying degrees of that work. There is no right answer — just experiment with what feels good.

    My friend Bob Sutton who teaches management at Stanford says we should have “strong opinions, weakly held.” It is ok to change your mind, just watch out for the “shoulds” and ego driving the decision as opposed to your true desires.

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