15 Ways Successful Entrepreneurs Know When To Give Up or Keep Fighting

Have you ever considered giving up? How do you know when giving up is more beneficial than pushing on?

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.

I recommend that you read The Success System That Never Fails.

The question is when do you give up and when do you keep pushing ahead.

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.

There is no standard answer that fits all entrepreneurs, but consider the following if you consider giving up:

Do you offer a product people are willing to pay for?

Duh, but really. There are many people who start a business without answering the most fundamental question? Will you buy my product? Before you give up on your business do market research and find out what customers are looking for. 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?

Are you better than your competition?

This is a very hard 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.

Do you have a small group die hard fans?

Yes, you have to start small. Even Facebook started small, by 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.

Are you passionate about your business?

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.

Are you making progress?

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 key 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 venture backed startup, you might measure progress in terms of users and churn.

Do you have what it takes?

This is not about one particular skill. To know 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 actually 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?

Are you digging a financial hole?

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.

Are your customers raving about your product/service?

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.

Does your team help?

There is a great 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?

Is the stress ruining your life?

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 stress is ruining your life, it is time for a change.

Can you rely on your co-founder(s)?

Some of the most successful business were founded by multiple entrepreneurs. If your cofounders let you down and refuse to pull their weight, you will be fighting an uphill battle.

Does the business mean to you what it meant when you have started it?

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.

Would you be happier without your business?

If your life would be better without the business, quit.

If someone you cared about came to you in the same situation, what would you recommend they should do?

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?

Is the business destroying your personal life?

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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George Meszaros is the editor and co-founder of Success Harbor where entrepreneurs learn about building successful companies. Success Harbor is dedicated to document the entrepreneurial journey through interviews, original research, and unique content. George Meszaros is also co-founder of Webene, a web design and digital marketing agency.
2017-10-04T15:10:33+00:00 February 7th, 2017|Articles, Business Success|14 Comments
  • pipipaw

    If QUIT, will be a TOTAL LOST of the efforts and hard-earned money. Is it worth to quit?

    • It really depends on your situation. There are times when quitting is the better option.

      • Thomas Allan

        I agree with George here. Quitting doesn’t always mean giving up. Quitting can mean giving up part and pivoting in a new direction that might work better for you.

        • Thomas, Thank you for stopping by and for taking the time to comment. What kind of business are you in?

          • Thomas Allan

            I’m in education. Not in North America but in Asia. But I try my hand at graphic design and web design as well, and pretty much whatever I see opportunity in. 😉

            Thanks for the shout out.

          • Sounds good, Thomas.


    I have had my business for over two years, it’s going well, I’m fully booked and I’ve just put my prices up slightly. The only issue is, I cannot fit more clients in to my week and i already work 50+ hours weekly. Which I would like to cut down.
    I don’t earn a good wage at all, barely enough to pay the mortgage, with working all of these hours.
    Everyone is telling me not to give up, but I cannot carry on, the work life balance is terrible. But I need to work those hours to get by

    • To put it simply, there are only two ways to increase the revenue of any business.
      1. Increase your profit margin (increase your prices or lower your expenses).
      2. Increase your revenue (increase the number of customers).
      If your customers are not willing to pay more, and you are unable to increase your profits, you might not have a viable business.

  • Jeckib

    Hi George.
    Am impressed by this article since am struggling to make a decision. I feel like am digging a financial hole. Am always overwhelmed by the challenges at the business. I feel i need to change but I fear new ventures. Am in real estate property management a very demanding business. Not in US but Kenya. In Kenya Some people are poor payers and some landlords are very demanding. Balancing that becomes hard. It takes away my joy. Sometimes the non rent payers are more than the commission gained. I would like to have more detailed advice on the same. Because am at the cross road.

    • Thank you for sharing, Jeckib. Cash flow is an essential part of a business. I would do anything in my power to ensure that you get paid and that you get paid on time. Sometimes the best option is to fire slowly to pay clients and focus on better-paying clients. It is often the best option to fire the most demanding clients and focus on better quality clients.
      When you say that working with some of your clients “takes away your joy” is a very important point. If you are unhappy with a business you have to consider some important changes.

      • Jeckib

        Thanks for your advice George, I will first try the firing method though coming up with new strong clients is a challenge. Besides, knowing their character is until you do business with them.

    • Kamau Gichuru

      Hi Jeckib, your question was insightful. Moreover, I’m also from Kenya, and my dad has over 30 years of experience in debt collection. In regard to the poor payers, he comes in handy in refining that for property management agents. Have you considered such?