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. There are good reasons, in the life of many entrepreneurs, to contemplate an exit strategy. 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.

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. 

Should you call it quits in your business?

Entrepreneurship can be a rewarding journey. But struggles and failures are very real for most entrepreneurs. Your business might be hemorrhaging money. Or your family life could suffer due to the demands of your business. Some entrepreneurs just get bored with the business. The business they started turned out to be something entirely different. Think about an entrepreneur who starts a restaurant because he loved to cook for friends and family. But the realities of running a restaurant was not at all what he hoped it would be. The business you once loved is a constant source of stress and worry. Some entrepreneurs sacrifice their marriage. Others pay with their health. In the end, for many entrepreneurs giving up is the only good option.

Is it time to close your business?

Entrepreneurs quit their business for many reasons. Consider the following if you consider giving up on your business:

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

Duh, but really. Is your business idea any good? 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 than the current solution?

Is there any demand for your product or service?

You might have a great product or service, but that in itself is not enough. If there is no market demand for your product or service, your business won’t get very far.

Do you have the right pricing?

Pricing in any business is tricky. Are you able to charge enough to run a profitable business? A profitable business is simple math: More money should come in than goes out of the business. Simple math doesn’t mean simple business. Many entrepreneurs are struggling to find the right pricing for their products and services. If they charge too little, they can’t stay in business because of the lack of profit. If they charge too much, their business will fail because of the lack of customers.

Are you better than your competition?

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.

Do you have a small group of die-hard fans?

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.

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.

A business can have raving fan customers by the following:

  • Never drop the ball. If you make a promise, follow through at all costs. Businesses disappoint customers all the time when they fail to live up to the promises they make. Don’t let that happen to your business.
  • Provide consistent quality. Whether you are offering a service or a product, consistent quality is a must. Consistency removes the guesswork for your customers. Do you have a favorite CPA who always does your taxes on time? Customers prefer to do business with service providers that provide a consistent service.
  • Keep customers informed. People want to know what is happening. You can call, email, or post information about your products or services to keep your customers informed.
  • Admit and correct errors. Customers understand failings if you handle it correctly. If you ignore customer complaints, they will ignore you. Happy customers come back to do more business with you. Unhappy customers will warn the world about your business.
  • Get everyone on board. Entrepreneurs can’t do this alone. To have raving customers, you need your entire team to back you up. Train your team to make sure everyone is on board.

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 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.

Do you have what it takes?

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?

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.

Does your team help?

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?

Here is how to make sure you have the best possible team in your business:

  • Clearly define roles and job responsibilities. Your employees need to know what they are supposed to be doing.
  • Help your employees to channel their strengths to move your business forward.
  • Get your team members excited about being part of the team.
  • Take employee input seriously. Understand that you don’t know it all. Listen to input and use it to move your business forward.
  • Challenge your team and reward them. Acknowledge their successes with praise.
  • Mentor junior staff members. If possible, partner them with more experienced team members.
  • Don’t allow problem employees to damage your business, team, or reputation. Firing people should be the last resort, but if you have tried everything else, it might be the only good option.

Is 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 pressure is ruining your life, it is time for a change.

There are several ways entrepreneurs can effectively handle stress:

  • If you are feeling overwhelmed, practice gratitude.
  • Connect with other entrepreneurs regularly. When you meet entrepreneurs who are struggling with similar problems, it can help you put things into perspective.
  • Intense workout sessions are a great way to deal with stress.
  • Find your sense of balance and Zen with deep breathing exercises and meditation.
  • Journaling is an effective method to deal with things that are bothering you.
  • Delegate early and delegate often. Entrepreneurs who think that they can do it all fail. It’s that simple. If you want to succeed, you can’t micromanage every little detail of your business.
  • Give yourself a break. Even if you love your business, you need time away from your business. If you don’t allow yourself to take time off, you will burn out and ultimately fail. Schedule vacations and getaways in advance. That way, you get them on your calendar in advance, and you can work your schedule around them.

Can you rely on your cofounder (s)?

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. If you want to be able to rely on your cofounder, you must partner with someone you can trust. Steer clear of people who abuse their power to exert control over others.

Give yourself enough time to find the right business partner. Finding the right partner is a challenging process.

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

At the time you have started your business, you might have had a very different idea about the 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.