“A quitter never wins, and a winner never quits”. – Many have been misled by this all time famous quote. Stories of successful business people have been told many times without any or much of those who failed trying. A winner never quits; truthfully and realistically, a winner knows when to quit.
Nobody loves to think of themselves as failures or a quitter, but what is the “big” purpose in clinging on to something that isn’t fulfilling and no longer serving any needs?
I have heard of cases of startups struggling to get their first customers, desperately looking out for financial freedoms and losing their heads over why they must quit after all the struggles. These stories are not different in many part of the globe. My personal experience was once not different from those who failed trying. I used to beat myself up with the quote – “the temptation to quit will be greatest just before you are about to succeed”.
I had some few friends who had told me to get myself another job. Some even turned me down when I needed some financial supports. It initially broke my heart because I felt mocked at and had no support from them as much as I did with their endeavors. Some nights, I would cry and wonder what I was doing wrong and other nights I knew all didn’t seem quite hopeful. I comforted myself to good quotes and motivational business books. But as the situation tortured my emotions, I found the solution I needed –to start all over.
If I wanted to succeed, I had to reevaluate the present situation then, and analyze my business prospects. That was it; I had a viable business idea with a relevant solution but;
a. I was not out there to meet with my target groups with my products.
b. I had too many services that meant the same thing (I was doing everything but doing it wrong).
c. I had no money and it became my focus (getting it became a priority)
d. I had a brand that had no voice. (Could not communicate what I was doing to those I was doing it for)
e. I was too emotionally involved in the business (focused on not Losing all I had invested)
f. Among many other reasons. (managerial, operations and team issues)
The drift here is realizing there is a problem and you have the solution or you are absolutely clueless. Going back to the drawing board, reassessing the initial plan and making the final evaluation was critical for my business success. I failed, yes, but today my story is different.
It will take a toll on your mental health. Every business is different even though they may be categorized in the same industry. So is every other entrepreneur; they possess different wits, runs their businesses differently, but serve similar purposes – solving problems. Nobody sets out to start a business and decides to fail. It is never to early to decide to quit or too late either. When it is the right time, you would notice all the indications and that toughest decision, would be solely yours to make.
The big businesses have such moments too. They have been too many cases where known and respectable brands went down the mud. Most times, it is not because the businesses weren’t profitable; which is one of every businesses focus but because it failed to identify with its target consumers and march up to the competition. Like in the case of Nokia which failed to recognize the high drive of new technology and the shifting consumer demand that came with it. What happened with Nokia was no secret, and many other successful brands have fallen in similar circumstances.
In 2016, some brands like Samsung also had their explosion year. With their brand perceived as a public hazard and had to recall most of their product from the markets which negatively affected their brand and ultimately, made some good losses.
Countless entrepreneurs have also had their equal share of business failures.
Dear startups owners, failure is a big part of business. Sometimes it’s just a norm and must be expected. You would make few mistakes, fail at your first businesses or with your best ideas. You have got to prepare for some massive failures and have the guts to call them experiences and rebuild on them. You will even run into huge debts and never recover from most of them.
Here’s a few entrepreneurs who failed before successfully making it;
a. Reid Hoffman – LinkedIn is his success story but he failed with a socialNet, an online dating site.
b. Vera Wand – Failed to make the U.S. Olympic skating team, a couple turned downs before becoming the famous fashion designer for her high end- end wedding gowns.
c. Prince Kofi Amoabeng – encountered many failures but today makes his success story with the UT Holdings..
d. Jeff Bezos – One of my personal favorites, had several failed business ideas. Amazon, today is one of the biggest online business success stories. He redefined/ redeveloped the idea into what has become the biggest marketplace – Amazon.
You do not have to be afraid to fail, terrified to try again or to do something else. It is what entrepreneurs do. They fail, fail good and build the best things out of their failures.
This is a proof that, at some point, businesses are faced with all kinds of challenges that would threaten their reputations, profitability and growth. Hence, certain drastic business decisions have to be made to savage the situation. Which in a few cases, a close down, a sell off or a total rebranding and repackaging is the best solution.
Here is some truth you must know about when it is time to quit. Absolutely, no one knows when that right time is to quit. Only you can make that decision but not everyone is in the position of making all that decisions by themselves. Some may need a little guidance, and while others just figures it out with a positive drive and attitude.
Here are some ways to help you through on taking that big decision.
BEFORE YOU CALL IT QUIT
There is no one you need to prove wrong or impress by holding on to something that isn’t producing any results. It is better to dare to try and fail, than to never attempt at all. Before you call it a quit, consider some of these steps.
1. Identify the problem
To call a spade a spade, you must first know what a spade is. Identify the problem. Ask the questions. Some times, the issue is identifying the challenges that are the causes of the situation. If the problem cannot be identified, the need to quit or take a strategic decision will not be possible. Find the root of the problem.
2. Give it one last shot
Before you make that final decision, do things differently one more time. When you have realized the problem, it would be necessary to try again differently. Give it another chance. If this fails, you would know what the next step should be.
3. Get opinions
Quite most often, we lack the best judgements. Don’t be afraid to ask for help or an opinion from networks or other stakeholders. Conduct surveys if you have to, to find solutions. Engage your customers if your business have any. Indulge employees or teams assessments.
4. Have a backup plan
If plan A fails, there are many alphabets to choose from. Have a plan B.
Because businesses do not set out to fail, most do not have a backup plan to quit or a reevaluation is never in their business plans before a launch out. Just as much as there’s a plan to succeed, there should be a plan when it doesn’t succeed or fail.
5. Psych up for the mental breakdown
It is a mental race. If you do not buckle up with the right attitude, it is easy to have a mental meltdown. It is not an easy decision to make. Prepare yourself mentally and emotionally to take up the challenge.
“Win as if you were used to it, lose as if you enjoyed it for a change.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
HOW TO KNOW WHEN TO QUIT.
1. Conviction – You know it is time
Some business experts says, conviction is not enough; but before conviction, there must have been several considerations and reconsiderations. You do not need to go back and forth. When you find yourself at the crossroads, as an entrepreneur, all it would take for you is making a solid business decision. Alternatives may have already been tried out.
2. Stagnant – no growth
Usually, I would advise startup owners to re-strategize or revise plans if the business isn’t making any profits than just existing. But when all has been done, and the business is still experiencing no growth, it is time to move on. Sometimes, it takes a good fall to really know where you stand.
3. Focus on resources already invested
When you have considered the possibilities of a shut down but the only thing holding you back is the resources- the time, fortune, commitment, hard work etc invested, it is a sign nothing can be done. It is absolutely devastating to lose all you had invested in your business but make the best choice to save your mental health. “I will not give up” no longer becomes an option.
4. Lack of focus
If you begin to lack motivation and inspiration to continue to do what you love (the work you do), it is also a sign that, you are not meant to be doing it. Passion and focus is one key to keep doing the same things successfully. When you are no longer interested in the same routines or business, it is that time to consider doing something else. Some times, lack of uncertainty can cause you to lose focus and when you have doubts, you push yourself less to do the things required to succeed.
5. Fear of being labeled a failure
No entrepreneur is immune to failure. The moment you begin to see yourself as a failure and perceive others would refer to you as one, you have already lost. You know the business isn’t doing great, you know there’s no way saving it, and you know it is over but for the fear of going down as a failure you are still stuck in there with the “no show” business. Get out already!
Try again if you have to. There are so many problems in the world, find another great idea and hit the markets again. You learn from your failures and not from your success.
“Failure doesn’t mean the GAME IS OVER, it means try again with experience.” – Len Schlesinger.