A note from our Executive Director, Ben MacMinn.
“Quitting is not an option…” “Quitting is the easiest thing to do…” “Never try quitting, and never quit trying…” “Once you learn to quit, it becomes a habit…” “Quitting lasts forever….” I could probably write this entire blog from quotes on how quitting is bad for you. As a kid, it is ingrained in our brain. “Push through. Get to the end. Failure is not an option.”
But I am here to tell you that these childhood myths are simply not applicable as an entrepreneur. The other day, someone asked me, “When do you know if it is a good time to quit pursuing this business.” As I worked through my answer to this question, I realized that we are engrained not to quit. But then I realized that sometimes, quitting is the most important thing we can do. For some businesses, there truly is a time to call it quits. Today, I want to take a look at quitting and how to know when it IS the right time to “throw in the towel.”
We all start our ventures because we want to do work that matters. As our ideas pivot along the way, the questions we were able to answer at the beginning of our business venture now have different answers. While this list isn’t all-inclusive, I’ve proposed some questions on the why, what, who, and how that I think all entrepreneurs need to answer, and if they can’t, it might be time to consider quitting.
“Why am I doing this?”
For an entrepreneur, it’s easy to put your head down and push through the hard work. That’s what entrepreneurs are known for–tenacity, grit, perseverance, hard work. What isn’t so easy to come up with is the “why?” At some point in our lives, I am sure we have all asked ourselves why we are doing something. The “why” in what you do is what creates passion and purpose, and if you have no desire to pursue your venture, quit doing it.
“What problem am I solving?”
All businesses are seeking the solution to a problem. Whether you are selling hotdogs or creating a platform for global eCommerce, you are always trying to meet your customers’ needs. Sometimes, it’s easy to realize that your business solves an imaginary problem when thinking through this question. Then you’ll know that it’s time to stop and reconsider.
“Who is benefitting from this venture?”
Too many times, people start a business without asking the fundamental questions of their customers. Does this widget help you, and will you buy it? Founder’s syndrome is a real thing, and it can be difficult for an entrepreneur to put themselves in their customers’ shoes. Is it for somebody else, or is it really just for you? If it isn’t for your customer, it may be time to quit and start fresh.
“How does this business start and grow?”
We have all heard the quote, “Rome wasn’t built in a day,” and neither was every large-scale business you see. Apple did not start as a trillion-dollar company. It started in a garage in 1976 with a simple idea. Starting small is the key ingredient behind how ventures start and become successful. All entrepreneurs need to have the ability to think of their business on a smaller scale.
I’m not saying that you should quit if you can’t answer these questions, but if you spend a significant amount of time trying to find the answer and still can’t find it, you should set aside some time for further consideration. And if you eventually decide it’s time to quit, do it. It doesn’t make you the “quitter” we learned about in our childhood. It makes you self-disciplined, smarter with your time, and will eventually open up opportunities to start other things.