With the launch of our new book, The Best of Company, I have had to explain the source of the articles in the book.
You see for four years Company of Women published its small but mighty magazine Company which was much-loved and distributed across Canada. However, the publication also offered me a big business lesson – know when to quit.
As a writer and avid reader, I still strongly believe in the power of the printed word, and the magazine fast became my favourite project. It took up much of my time as I garnered up articles, sought out advertisers and oversaw the production of the quarterly magazine.
However, as I shared at a recent meeting, it was a money-pit. Launched in 2007 it faired well at the beginning but with the downturn in the economy, it became increasingly difficult to secure enough advertising to cover the production and distribution costs.
But remember, it was my favourite project, so I kept trucking. I even convinced myself that it was a membership service, rationalizing and justifying the expense because we were providing useful information to our members.
And I did that for four years. True it did make us unique and could be classified as a membership and recruitment tool. But as the bills came in and I was writing cheques for thousands with each issue, I reluctantly realized there was no way I could continue.
A good friend, Michele Bailey, of Blazing the Agency, generously agreed to do the layout for the last issue for free, but really it was delaying the inevitable. More buying me time to get used to the idea that it wasn’t financially viable to carry on.
My lesson from all this is that you have to know when to stop; when to pull the plug on a business venture that is just not working financially, no matter how many resources you throw at it. In other words, I should have made this decision way earlier.
My other piece of advice is to track the numbers. Find ways to measure the results. Ask tough questions. While Company created increased awareness of our organization, when I looked at the funds coming in vs. the funds going out, it wasn’t working.
You have to be honestly brutal with yourself. No excuses. No rationalization. If it ain’t working, it ain’t working.