When it’s not working – stop and fix it

Last week I have been analyzing our company numbers, cash-flow, on hand projects and strengths and weaknesses.

I also analyzed my personal goals, energy available, time, stress level.

At the end of all this, I decided to make some drastic changes to RedStores.com. Basically I have been funding it for some time now, and have been looking to fund it further with outside investment. The problem was that, if I’m to be honest, I didn’t like the funding game. It has been long time since I had to depend on others for things I need (like getting sales, getting a job, a promotion, etc.). All of a sudden I was in a position to have to go and chase the money – and it just wasn’t in me.

Perhaps it has to do something that I was out of the office for over 4 months – tending pretty much to personal things.

Perhaps that things in PearlsOnly weren’t getting done, and projects that got started just didn’t go anywhere.

Or perhaps it was a belief that things would move forward without me as well as with me. And they do move forward, but 4 times as long or longer.

So, after all this, all the number crunching, risk analysis – time to success – I decided that I needed to slow things down – fix core things that are not working, and then step by step engage again in things I like.

Yep, i guess one of the luxuries that i have is that I CAN do things I like and not do things I DONT like. And the things I like to do are hands on, step by step, detail by detail. I like that. The management part, the checkpoints, progress updates, etc, etc – that drains me. I was always envious of Gerry (CEO of RedStores) because he had all the fun things to do. Hmmm….

And so, for all these reasons I made the decision to hibernate RedStores.com until I am ready to engage it – and have fun with it. Cash-flow pressures, things not getting done, things moving at snail pace – all NOT fun. And in a big way self induce – and actually not needed.

In my defense, when I started RedStores, I had no idea I would spent a month in Canada court system getting my daughter back to Beijing. I had no idea my ex would want to move to Canada. I had no idea my daughter would move away and I would be spending my summer in Canada. I had no idea of the kind of stress that would place on me – and how little energy that would leave me for other things.

So, whatever the excuses I may have, “it is what it is”. So, I had to truly dig deep, and look at what I can realistically achieve. And so, I decided to hibernate RedStores.com for 3 to 6 months – and come back to it when I’m good and ready. I’m keeping it alive with continued development and keeping a heartbeat – but I don’t plan to fully enage with RedStores.com (in terms of marketing, significant dollar spend) until the time is right.

It’s been disappointing in a way that our beautiful office that we just finished is now getting closed. 4 people lost their job. All the amazing work my team did to make this new office – wasted. Shame. But it is what it is. The letter to my staff is below.

The lesson: it’s hard to make hard decisions. But there is great clarity after making a hard decision.

Dear all:
I wanted to let you know about some recent decisions I had to make and the changes that are coming as a result.

Background:
As you know, RedStores was setup a separate company. We did very good with the company, and built a beautiful site and an excellent system to manage and work that site. Unfortunately, to develop the site further and move it to a money making site, requires more money. I had been hopeful that for where RedStores.com we would be able to bring in funding from investors and others to help with the growth of this company.

The reality turned out different, and for a number of reason (a lot of them personal and related to Alex relocating to Canada, and my own personal energy level) I haven’t been able to achieve that.
Because of that, RedStores.com created a big pressure on us all, with the need to pay RedStores salaries and rent, and at the same time not bringing in any money.

So, although it is possible for me to continue with RedStores.com for another 12 months, it creates pressure on our cash flow for PearlsOnly and makes things difficult for running PearlsOnly well.

And, although it would be still possible to raise more money for RedStores in the next month, the other issue that has not been solved is that a couple of our critical management systems in the company need my full attention and energy. In particular, the financial accounting system and a system to track our tasks and projects.

Moving forward:
After carefully evaluating our options, I had to make the decision to grow RedStores.com slower, one step a time, and with growth fuel by growth of sales from RedStores.com not investment. (the same way PearlsOnly got built)
To this effect:
1. The office on the 5th floor will be shut down. We are looking to rent it out to other people, but if we cannot we will simply let go of the office.
2. Nina will move up to Customer Care position for the Christmas months.
3. Product Data entry specialists (2) have unfortunately been let go
4. Gerry will no longer be employed full time by RedStores. I expect that we will remain with RedStores project thought as either an advisor or consultant, although that is not decided yet.
5. Shawn will move to PearlsOnly on full time basis (….)

PearlsOnly:
In terms of PearlsOnly, our biggest projects that will take overriding priority to any other projects will be: accounting system. The reason being is that some of the decisions that I had made with regards to RedStores.com where based on estimates and not on real data. Basically, without an accounting system, we can easily make bad decisions and not know about it till much later. Some of those ‘bad’ decisions I did make. And so, to ensure that we make GOOD decisions J, we must complete the accounting system.

Office:
With this move, there will be quite a few office changes. For one, I’m happy to be moving to 10th floor and to see your smiling face more frequently. Some of you will be moving to different places. Eileen is doing a great job co-ordinate this effort and will let you all know her office plans.

What I am hoping to achieve with these changes, is to ensure that our main company, PearlsOnly is strong, stable.

If you have any questions, please feel free to email me.

Paul