The hardest part of building a business is knowing when to stop and try something else. One of the best pieces of advice I ever received was to never ‘get married’ to an idea, since there will always be more ideas out there.
If someone wants to buy your company or, for whatever reason, you need to shut it down, then just do it. Don’t be sentimental.
Of course, that’s easy to say when you’re not the one spending 16 hours a day building the business and pushing for that dream to become something tangible.
Here are a few key things that should be kept in mind when making the decision.
In the past I’ve said that business is personal to me. It has to be. Often, that can be a fantastic thing and push you to work harder than you ever thought you could.
Sometimes, however, it can get in the way of the cold, hard facts that you need to see in order to make the right decision.
If you are emotionally over-invested in your business, you will struggle to make the rational decisions needed when analysing the success of what you are doing.
It’s hard to remove yourself from the decision, but, as a leader in the business, you need to decide what’s best for the company as a whole, not yourself as an individual. This becomes more important as you hire more people.
At one of my previous companies we had huge growth. We were taking on hundreds of thousands of users and things looked positive. We kept spending money, acquiring users and showing ‘traction’.
The superficial growth got in the way of the facts. We weren’t generating any revenue out of the users, and the users themselves weren’t staying on our platform for longer than a few months. The churn was high, the revenue low and the product flailing.
We were emotionally invested and couldn’t see that we had not achieved real traction.
What does a crisis look like? Well, imagine you’ve hired 14 staff members and your business has one key client that pays all your bills. This client has now decided to leave you.
At this point, you get to test your grit. There is no right way to react in this scenario. You will either choose to retrench staff, take a pay cut and continue to build your business in the hope of gaining new clients, or you’ll choose to walk away.
If you choose to keep fighting, the chances are good that your fight will be long, hard and gruelling. But, if you come out of it, you’ll be better off.
Vision is Everything
Building a business is hard. Anyone who tells you otherwise is a liar. So, when times get tough, it’s easier to walk away than stay and fight for your company.
I can’t think of a successful business that didn’t have its moment of crisis when founders wanted to sell, leave, or simply didn’t have enough money to pay anyone in the business.
Failure is a very real threat for an overwhelming percentage of businesses.
However, for me, quitting is the easy out. If you are building something that you truly believe in, you have to deal with the highs and lows and push on. If your vision is worth fighting for, fight.
If you aren’t quite sure about your vision and the future of your business, then maybe you shouldn’t keep fighting. Perhaps it’s time you cut your losses and move on.