There are things in life that are inevitable, love, death, taxes and the failure of a business. Knowing that doesn’t make the pain any easier to deal with so if you are facing the decision of when to quit and when to hang on, I have four pearls of wisdom (ahem, at least in my mind) for you to consider.
Did you give it your best shot?
Hindsight is 20/20 and when making the decision to close your business you seem to see all of your mistakes with the clarity of a blinking neon sign. The question is have you seen your successes? If you are not yet at the point where you can see your failures and successes with the same type of objectivity, then you are not ready to quit. This decision is like the end of a marriage, the pain is unavoidable but the lessons are so worth it.
Why are you quitting?
Being an entrepreneur is not for the faint of heart so when you make the decision to leave you need to understand why owning a business is no longer in your plan. If you’re leaving because you have discovered that you can’t deal with the constant unknowns of being in business for yourself, because your brilliant idea was in the end not so brilliant or because it’s not where you can do your best work then you’ve taken inventory and have come to an informed decision. If you are quitting because it’s hard, you don’t like having to find customers or you should be a success already I would ask you to take another look. Are you leaving because things aren’t going your way or because you think it’s the best strategy?
If you haven’t given this some thought, then maybe I can understand the rush to quit. Long-term thinking isn’t your forte and in that case maybe a 9 to 5 is a better fit for you. But if you have spent the time, taken the shot and now realize that you will need an exit plan then you are fully capable of returning to your dream a little later or acknowledging that you tried it and it didn’t work. If the decision to quit is a knee jerk reaction to not winning a big account or not making your forecast, then you have bigger problems my friend.
How you leave is more important than what you’ve done
This is my best advice and I know that a lot of people won’t agree, but I’ve always thought that the measure of a person’s character is how they leave a situation. It’s easy to be all in when everything is going your way and you are having all the success you can handle, what’s difficult is to leave in a graceful manner when everything is going wrong. Very few people exit situations gracefully, but I truly believe that there is a lesson or a point to every situation. Maybe I learned that I am not as charming as I thought I was or that I wasn’t as smart as I believed, but if I haven’t learned something, anything I haven’t made the most of the situation and I am leaving in a way that doesn’t leave anything for the next person.
So knowing when to fold is as good as knowing when to go all in, but if the decision seems right and you’ve asked yourself all the tough questions then you are about to do something very hard and very brave…walk away.