Exit, Stage Left

A topic that’s seldom come up on this blog before, though one that is incredibly important, is what to do when a business fails. We’ve already established that things will go wrong, and that there’s a good chance that your business might actually fail. We’ve even discussed how to know when it’s time to pack up your things and quit.

But it’s not exactly quite so cut and dry as that. See, you can’t just get up and walk out the door, making obscene gestures to every one of your team members on the way out (though it may be tempting under certain circumstances). This is unprofessional, rude, and could come back to bite you somewhere you don’t want to be bit in the future.

Remember, every team member you have now, may be a team member again in the future. Yes, things didn’t work out this time. But who knows what the future holds? You may need to call on these people again, and in most circumstances, you want them to actually answer your calls rather than hit the ever-popular ignore button.

ONE LAST HURRAH: This may not seem like a great time for an office party, but believe it or not it actually is. For some of these people, who have grown quite close to each other (and yourself) under your employ, this may be the last time they see each other. Ever. The kind of bonds co-workers can form amongst each other can come pretty close to that of a family, and no family likes being split up. Giving them one last social situation in which to enjoy each other’s company and say a proper goodbye, will go a long way towards endearing them to you further, making them more receptive should a time come where you need to call them back in for a new project.

GOODBYE AND THANK YOU: This shows a great deal of respect and admiration for your team. Greet each and every team member individually (by name), shake their hand, and thank them for all their hard work, before saying goodbye. You don’t need to say any more than that. Each member of your team will appreciate the gesture, and remember it should you come a’callin’ again in the future.

ENSURE YOUR TEAM IS PAID: As shocking as it may seem, when some businesses go under, they don’t pay out their staff the money they’re owed. This is a great way to build a lot of resentment, which is something you want to avoid at all costs. Make sure every single one of your team members has been paid every dime they’re owed, so they have no reason to hold a grudge against you later.

BE THE LAST TO LEAVE: It seems like such a small thing, but people will pick up on it. If on the last day of work you run out the door an hour after arriving, everyone will notice, and everyone will have something to say about it. There’s an old saying that goes, “The Captain goes down with the ship.” Well fortunately you’re in no danger of drowning, so there’s no harm in sticking with this one. It shows to your staff that you cared deeply about this business and that you’re sad to see it go.

This is a horrible situation to be in, but it does happen. Stick to these few simple rules, and you’ll be surprised how many of your team members will be willing to come back when you’ve regrouped and started back down your path to PIE.