Postmortem Part 1: The Curtin Rises

If you’re anything like me, you started your business knowing that one day you might lose it but at a certain point you figured that you lasted long enough that you were pretty safe. Of course, you’ve gotten a few dings and dents along the way but you figure that you’ll never face something worse that what you’ve already faced. Well, you might be wrong. I was. This series is going to be the story of how the frst company that I founded almost six years ago grew until it imploded. My goal is to be both frank but also objective, honest but also sensitive to those involved.

In the beginning, there was a silly boy with a Medieval Literature degree, or rather on his way to earning one, doing little Word Press sites and other projects for local business. He was one measure happy to every four measures of naivety but still did well. In time, he learned, grew, and expanded his little freelancing gig pipeline into a business with staff and even a brand book. That boy was of course me and of course he, like Bruce Willis in The Sixth Sense was already dead and all the signs were there…. if you knew what to look for.

Business was seemingly booming. After having let go of an underperforming sales rep, a new rep had been hired and was going gangbusters. Leads were converting to proposals and then to deals faster than I ever could have thought possible. Volume was increadible! What could go wrong!

We had to keep up with the influx of work, so off to job faires and I went. Within a span of just over a quarter we went from a team of two and half to around ten and things seemed to be cranking away! Hell, things got so crazy, we ended having a Customer Service team to deal with client inquiries.

We were already dead and just didn’t know it. All the signs were there. I should have known and more expereince managers would have known that a company of ten having to dedicate more than one fullt-ime staffer to customer service probably has a problem. More on that next time.

  • Dave Hunt

    Good start to an interesting story. I am curious to find out what went wrong. For my story, I am not a business owner, but rather a lowly employee (automation engineer and systems integrator) who has seen a couple implosions. I am concerned I made a crucial mistake a couple of years ago when I left a small, but stable company after 16 years because it just wasn’t growing and the pay was not keeping pace. (For the record, the pay was not that bad.) I left after 16 years to work for a company that is dug into the gas and oil industry which is booming (but not very diverse or technically challenging). I joined this company at the height of its growth where the division I hired into went from just 15 people to close to 80. After working there nearly 2 years we are now at roughly 40 people and struggling to stay busy. The future is cloudy. I remember my previous employer saying “getting big” is not necessarily a good thing. Maybe he was right. What do you think?

  • JEWie P. Neuton

    Michael your check bounced. Call me or Khionne ASAP! J