The saddest sign you’ll ever see
The sign on an abandoned business that reads “Landlord taken possession” usually hides a pile of pain and distress.
It’s not cheap or easy for a landlord to take possession of a business premises and, for most, it’s the end of long period of unpaid bills and broken promises.
Behind that sign is usually months, if not years, of stress and despair as a business owner has held onto a failing enterprise, bluffing their landlord, their suppliers, their staff, their own families and often themselves.
Almost every one of those signs has a story of failed business relationships, destroyed friendships and ruined marriages.
Often they didn’t understand the cost of doing business and, in many cases, because they hadn’t consulted a bookkeeper or accountant earlier, they didn’t understand their venture was always loss making, despite what appeared to be a healthy cash flow.
When the truth about the businesses becomes obvious, the honest owner of a failing enterprise tries to bluff themselves and those around them that things will be okay – that the dream is still alive.
"The majority of those who end up with the landlord taking possession are often those who ignored the signs."
This is what worries me about many of the businesses that participate in group buying deals: they are desperate to keep their business afloat and believe the cash flow or publicity will save their failing venture. Even worse, many don’t understand how that “50 per cent off” deal will affect their ability to pay staff and the landlord.
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Even where the failed proprietor has been one of the “two percenters” – the 2 per cent of our society that runs their affairs with no regard for the pain and suffering of those they hurt – many people, particularly the smaller suppliers and low-paid workers, have taken a hit as bills went unpaid and promises were not kept.
Most business owners, though, believe in their idea or vision and work long and hard in an attempt to achieve it. The majority of those who end up with the landlord taking possession are often those who ignored the signs and believed things would come good next season, next month or next week.
I’m always saddened when I see a “landlord taken possession” sign like the one near me in the window of what was an Italian restaurant until recently.
What’s the saddest small business failure sign you see?