Don’t worry, the ‘end of the road’ is for our gardening business, hopefully not for us. In fact, given the amount of stress the business has caused us over the two and a quarter years we have been running it on behalf of our son who was until recently living in Australia, we might almost hope that closing the business might even extend our lives. Who knows?
Our son has been back from OZ for about 5 months and has been earning and saving money for his return to OZ, some time at the beginning of November rumour has it, but who knows, certainly not us. In that period he has been gardening but on his own behalf rather than for the company. Suffice it to say this has added to our stress levels rather than reduced them. To say that our retirement lives have been complicated would be to greatly understate the situation.
These same stress levels went off the scale when we had a serious difference of opinion, mainly about what constitutes honourable behaviour with the two gardeners we have employed, but I’m not going to go into that even though it would have made for an entertaining blog. In some ways this should have made the closure of the business somewhat easier to carry out in that we will hopefully have no guilt about theoretically putting two men out of work. We shouldn’t feel this way because we have more than fulfilled our agreement with them even when it meant paying out of our own account to cover their wages through the last two winters when work was scarce. But, as I say I’m not going into that, but did we get any thanks for our commitment? Well by now you’ve probably gathered that no, we bloody well didn’t.
So Mrs Summerhouse and I have been trying to draw up a ‘to do’ list entitled ‘closing down a small business’. Not easy as we’ve never done it before, but we’re trying. We thought the first thing to do was to decide on a definite closure date, i.e. the date after which no more wages would be paid and no more work would be done. We need to check with the gardeners we’re ‘letting go’ what they might have told our customers about the future of the business. I couldn’t blame them for trying to keep the customers for any business they might set up, we did offer them the opportunity to buy the business but, for whatever reason, they chose not to take up the offer. I guess that apart from the van, trailer, and equipment, they can keep the customers at no cost. And they probably can.
This fact might make it difficult to get the contact details of the customers which we need to let them know that we will be no longer trading after the above date, whatever that may be. So it’s possible that they decide to keep the information to themselves and then the question would be do we care? Probably not. I can say categorically that there are customers who I feel no compunction to treat with consideration, i.e. informing them of the closure, just let them find out when we don’t turn up and their houses, HMOs and flats disappear under a jungle of green. Oh how I wish this was true for the estate agents, solicitors, landlords and other businesses / bastards that don’t pay their bills even after repeated emails and phone calls even a personal visit in one case. They couldn’t give a hoot for the well-being of a small gardening company.
As if all this wasn’t difficult enough it is further complicated by the dear boy’s varying attitude to the closure of the business. Some times he says he wants to sell it and therefore keeping the customers and their contact details is important and at other times his position is f— it, just let it go. We have tried taking the position, look it’s your business, do what you want, we don’t want anything to do with it, we wash our hands etc. Sounds simple enough, except that in the meantime the original business goes on with wages to pay, customers, as above, to chase up. It’s like having a big block of concrete hanging above us, we push it away, look away and the next moment there it is hanging above us. Very frustrating and that is putting it mildly.
You will know by now, if you’ve read these blogs before, that I am a self-confessed control freak. Nothing could be less under control than the bloody gardening business over the last two years plus and even more so in the last couple of months. A more laisser faire kind of guy might have taken all of the above and smiled philosophically and said something like, well that’s the way the retirement cookie crumbles. But not me, sweet Jesus, not me. For me it’s been one of those wake in the middle of the night and do the thing I do best – worry – experiences. Like the poor, as somebody once said, it’s always with us.
So for those of you thinking of retiring and running the small business of your dreams, take a pause and consider, is this the retirement life I want? Of course we didn’t chose this as a business we simply took it on out of a sense of goodwill and, I admit, a certain self-interest in terms of what happens when our son returns and he has no work / source of income which will surely rebound on us. Well, after two years I think we have suffered enough for this particular retirement choice
There is a mantra, common in retirement, about keeping busy, intellectually and physically and I think I can say with confidence it’s now time to be less busy, to de-clutter our lives. Getting rid of the business is the first move and we hope that selling the cottage is another but that’s for another blog – hopefully. In the meantime, we look forward to retirement and the quiet(er) life.