How does this end?

Contemplating the end of your business

The documentary “Shut Up and Play The Hits” opens with an interview between the writer Chuck Klosterman and LCD Soundsystem’s James Murphy. The documentary captures the band’s final days and last concert at Madison Square Gardens.

Klosterman asks Murphy “When you start a band do you imagine how it will end?”

This kept going through my mind as Cabel Sasser from Panic, presented an incredibly raw and emotional talk at XOXO.

Cabel described a period where he suffered debilitating anxiety over contemplating the end of Panic. He tried to come to terms with how his business would end.

When we start businesses, most of us don’t think about how it will end. But at some point we are faced with the mortality of the thing we’ve created and we all deal with it differently.

Asking how it will end is simultaneously healthy and unhealthy for a business owner. Having a defined point on the horizon for your business is healthy, future obsessing is not.

In the 90's there was no shortage of companies that would look at Microsoft’s roadmap and pick a spot 2 years out, they would then build a product that was a feature on the roadmap. Their hope was that when Microsoft hit that part of the roadmap, Microsoft would decide it was better to acquire the feature than build it. If Microsoft didn’t they would shutter the company and pick another spot 2 years out and try again.

These people had a clear site of the ending at the beginning.

I’ve always contended that my goal with Teehan+Lax was to build a company that I want to come work at everyday, until I don’t.

Barring a disastrous financial event (knock wood), we (the partners) will get to control the end of this business. There may come a day where I don’t want to come to work at Teehan+Lax anymore or as the Breakfast guys say “our exit strategy is retirement”.

I think about the end.

When things are frustrating and work isn’t fun.

I think about the end.

When the work isn’t as good as I think it could be.

I think about the end.

When I can’t see what’s next.

I think about the end.

But I come to a similar conclusion that Cabel did… maybe this is the best time of our lives. Maybe we just push forward, shifting and adjusting, pursuing the things that make us happy.

The end will come but I can’t worry about that now.