Like anything we love, once we have invested ourselves, it often becomes very difficult to know that it’s time to move on. Letting go is never easy, especially when it comes to the time and money we have invested in our idea. Seeing that your idea isn’t working, before it’s too late, is a skill every entrepreneur must learn.
There are a number of ways to know when the right time to throw in the towel has arrived. Here are 5 of them:
You Were Wrong About The Need.
When we are totally convinced that the solution we have is the right one – for everyone – it is easy to become disappointed by the outcome. Companies spend millions to find out exactly what they should do to make their customers happy – and they still get it wrong. The customer is always changing and trends are shifting constantly. It isn’t to be right, and you might be wrong five times, but the truth is that you only have to be right once.
But it is important to look at the success of your business objectively (as an outsider looking in). It is easy to get too attached to your business working that in fact you might start losing money hope it will work.
Silver Lining: You can always adapt what you are doing, you can change your service or product once you better understand what your customer really needs. Sometimes it takes a couple of failures to learn what works.
You Aren’t Growing.
There are two ways to see this.
One way is that you are happy that you aren’t growing, because more growth often means more stress. So, the business you have started is making enough money for you to be comfortable and you are happy. Nothing needs to change. And you would rather react to your customer changing when or if that happens than to grow and create change. An example of this is a psychologist, or the friendly local café on the corner. They have their days full already, there’s no need for any further growth.
The other way to see it is that you need to grow in order to break even (meaning your business makes as much money as it spends every month), or you have borrowed money from the bank or from an investor (a person who believes in your idea and gives you money, usually for a part of your business). So you need to make the sales in order to pay back the amount of money and to start seeing profit (the amount of money that your business keeps after you have paid everything).
Entrepreneurs begin business for four reasons: they want to be their own boss and make as much as money as that want or can, they want to grow a big business, they want to build a business and sell it, or they want to create a business that helps people.
So, not every entrepreneur needs to grow their business for it to remain successful. But if you do, and your business isn’t growing, or perhaps you are losing clients – you need to either change what you are doing, or move on to your next idea.
Too Many Sleepless Nights
Being an entrepreneur is an emotional rollercoaster on a good day. You really have to know yourself to be able to start a business, and if you don’t – your business will show you that you need to know yourself to succeed.
Although, even when you know yourself well, it doesn’t mean that your business will always be easy to run. Entrepreneurship is about relationships. You need to manage the people who assist you to make your business possible, and you need to establish and maintain healthy relationships with your customers. This isn’t always easy. Some people can be difficult. And plans don’t always go the way we planned.
Or maybe it is a leadership problem. Maybe you were wrong about the person who you began the business with (your co-founder) and the two of you aren’t a good fit. Who leaves? Who stays? What happens to the business?
The stress of running any business (this is also true for employees) will have an impact on our personal lives. If you are waking up every morning and hating the idea of going to work for a long period of time, for whatever reason, you need to seriously consider a change. Your happiness is important.
You Are No Longer Passionate About It
When we begin a business we have a fantasy of how we will feel when the business is sustainable (has been making profit for a good amount of time). Maybe the fantasy we have is that we will be able to help people in a way that really means something to us. Maybe we thought that it would make a certain amount of money. But mainly entrepreneurs begin their business because they are deeply passionate about the work that they will be able to do when that business is up and running.
And things change. Our interests change. What we want from our work changes. Our priorities in our personal lives change. And suddenly we just aren’t as excited about the work we are doing, and it becomes unfulfilling.
An interesting thing that happens when you do what you love is that what used to make you excited becomes just another day at work. The fun of it, sometimes, disappears. And if you need that to be happy, then it’s time to follow a new passion or try something new.