Our lives took a real turn three years ago this week. It was on July 25, 2016 when we printed the final issue of the Similkameen News Leader, a weekly community newspaper I had owned and operated since February 2004. Our future was still very much undecided at that time. All we knew for sure was that closing our business was going to bring about a lot of changes in our lives although we were not all that certain what kind of changes were going to take place.
Business Was Bad
There was no good way to say it. The last three years we spent in the newspaper business was very stressful and equally difficult. With a corporately-owned competitor, social media growing in leaps and bounds and changes in the newspaper industry that we could not keep up with, something had to give. Looking back on it, I’m glad the decision was made to close the doors when it was as there was no indication at the time that things were going to get much better.
Our Last Issue
I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t somewhat saddened by the way things ended. We tried to keep things light and upbeat in the editorial content of the final few issues but by the time the final one rolled around, I was ready for it to end. I needed a break from the six and sometimes seven days a week I worked on producing a weekly newspaper. Brenda needed a break from having to try to chase after outstanding bills that we probably knew were not going to be paid.
The Midlife Career Change
We went away for our first-ever holiday days after our last issue hit the street. Our office closed the day after our final issue and was open off and on for the following month. When we returned from our holiday, we were refreshed, rested and ready to proceed with the remaining business related to shutting down our business. That proved to be a massive job moving files, computers and office equipment to our home. Some of these items still sit in storage.
Eventually we got around to thinking about what our next step would be. For awhile, it was to move away and start over somewhere else. What we didn’t realize at the time was that we were already over two years into our new careers without seeing it. I had started freelance writing in January 2014 to help cover some of our bills when business with the newspaper got soft. Bren was also canning interesting jams, jellies and other preserves that we vended on weekends.
When we had that ‘ah-ha’ moment it made us realize we were going to be okay as we had already launched our new business ventures and were well into our next career path. That honestly took away a lot of worry and before we knew it, our struggle was over. The downtown Similkameen News Leader office was vacant by 5:00 PM on August 31, 2016 and our third quarter transition was in full swing. We haven’t looked back much since then.
What We Carry Forward
I have to admit that the third anniversary of the closure of the Similkameen News Leader sort of snuck up on me but I’m not saddened by it like I was in previous years. If anything, the date of our last day in business – July 26, 2016 – marks the beginning of what both Brenda and I have been able to accomplish as entrepreneurs since then. I am proud of what we have been able to do by making use of the transferable skills we picked up in the years we were in print media.
What I don’t do much of these days is dwell on what we had when it was successful and how things fell apart thanks to several influences beyond our control. I still meet people in town who tell me they miss the News Leader – about once or twice a month these days – and that makes me appreciate what we did with that business. I’m also wearing my News Leader shirts more frequently. They have a way of reminding me that everything worked out as it was meant to be.
What Does It All Mean?
Well, for me, I learned that closing a business is not really a failure. If anything, it was a good business decision. As I like to say, we had to stop the bleeding sometime and we did it at probably the right time. It also showed me that both Bren and I are smarter entrepreneurs than I thought we were with the two home-based businesses we continue to operate to this day. Brenda’s is JamBusters! and it has always held its own without us having to support it in any way.
My business is Looseink Freelance Ninja. I have clients in 40+ countries around the world and keep adding to that monthly. You could say we are successful because we didn’t take closing the News Leader as a hit. Instead, we looked at it as freeing us up to concentrate on our individual ventures. It also means that you can do the same. If you need some direction on how to make that happen, I have written an eBook on the subject. It is titled “Surviving Midlife Career Changes.” It is available at Amazon by clicking HERE.
My name is George Elliott. I have been in the Media Industry since 1978. I spent 23 years in Broadcasting and worked in a total of six different radio stations located in southern British Columbia Canada during my career. In 2000 I switched gears and moved into the Print Media Industry at a small town, local weekly newspaper. In 2004 I bought the paper and operated it with my wife, Brenda until July 2016 when we closed it. I launched a freelance web content and article writing business from my home in January 2014.