I have interviewed over 165 entrepreneurs and one of my conclusions is that failure is a common element of each success story. Knowing when failing is the better option is one of the characteristics that make an entrepreneur.
On one hand, you hear people say that you should never ever give up which on its own is a pretty stupid statement. On the other hand, you hear people use the word pivot as they talk about trying something, failing, then moving on to the next thing.
There is no set number of failures before you should give up. – Check out our article on how to avoid failure in business.
It has more to do with developing a greater assessment of your situation.
Duh, but really. Many people start a business without asking the customer the most fundamental question. Will you buy my product? Before you give up on your business, do market research and find out what customers want. Are you offering something that is not already out there? If you are offering something that is already out there, is your solution much better?
This is a tough question to answer because it requires a lot of soul-searching. When you study your competition, do you get the feeling that you are more innovative? If you are only as good as your competition, your business will fail, even if you try to undercut their prices. You have to be significantly better to beat your competitors. If you can’t be, you have two choices. The easier of the two is to quit. The much harder option is to fight until you can offer something truly superior to what’s already out there.
Yes, you have to start small. Even Facebook started small, only focusing on Harvard students. If you can’t even get a small group of people to love your product, there is no chance that your business will succeed.
Passion in itself is insufficient for success. Being passionate doesn’t mean that every moment is like a wild ride that never ends. No matter how much you love your business, there will be ups and downs. Passion helps you get over the downs, and there are many. Without passion, you will most likely fail. If you are not getting pleasure out of your business, it may be time to try something else.
It is also important to know that passion is not always required. There are many businesses out there that are successfully run by entrepreneurs who are less than passionate about their own companies. I would prefer to own a business I am passionate about, but it is not an absolute must.
If you thought this through, you must have set yourself some business goals. Did you want to get 100 new paying customers in the last 12-months or 5000 new users? How close did you come to your goals? Traction is critical in any business. The benchmarks you set for your venture should give you an idea of your progress.
Progress is not only measured in profit or revenue. If you are a venture-backed startup, you might measure progress regarding users and churn.
This is not about one particular skill. To understand if you have what it takes is to know if you are willing to fight on. If you don’t have the skills required, can you build the team that does? If you don’t have the right connections, can you hustle to open the right doors?
You can’t think your way to success. You have to take action and inspire others to help you reach your goals.
Even if you are smart with the right product, it will still take years of struggling to succeed. Are you willing to live with the pain?
Businesses get in debt all the time. Although it is best to avoid it, there are times when debt makes sense. If you just received a large order and you need to take on a loan to fulfill your order, it might make sense to take on debt. But, if the business has been slow and you have been reluctant to cut costs, don’t take on debt to keep your business afloat.
A happy customer is one that returns to your business again and again or refers you to others. If your customers are raving fans, they might be able to pull you through some tough times. It’s a good sign if your customers are recommending you to others. But, if they couldn’t care less, you just found another potential reason to move on.
There is an excellent team behind every successful business. Does your team make you want to fight on? If your team is less than perfect, what can you do to improve it?
It’s OK to have stress in an entrepreneur’s like, but not if it overwhelms you. There is stress in every business. Some deal with it better than others. Know yourself and know your limits. If the pressure is ruining your life, it is time for a change.
Some of the most successful businesses were founded by two or more founders. If your cofounders let you down and refuse to pull their weight, you will be fighting an uphill battle.
At the time you have started your business, you might have had a very different idea about business. What you once thought was going to be fun turned into a constant source of frustrations you might be better off doing something else.
If your life would be better without the business, quit.
Step back from your business and look at it objectively. Based on what you know about your business and your situation, what would you recommend an entrepreneur to do?
No business is worth sacrificing your marriage or family life.
In the comments below share your thoughts on giving up. Have you ever had to give up on something? How did it feel? Did anything positive come of it?
photo credit: Chilled Gazing
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