“It’s always too soon to quit!” - Norman Vincent Peale
Peale was an American author with the mindset of a typical entrepreneur. His kind of perseverance is hardwired into the DNA of almost every business owner, but sometimes, it may be to a fault.
Entrepreneurs may be likely to have a stick-with-it attitude, but there’s a reason why 51 percent of new businesses won’t make it past their fourth year.
The successful entrepreneur knows when to press on and when to give up because quitting doesn’t necessarily equate to failure. It’s often just the end of one chapter in a larger story.
But let’s be clear. There’s a difference between a rough patch and a dead end. The key is to understand and be able to recognize which scenario you are facing.
Fortunately, there are ways to tell when the ride is coming to a full stop. Simply step back and take an objective look at these five signs.
1. You’ve stopped investing in your business
In the early days, things were exciting. You were happy to scrape by without a salary as long as you were building something sustainable. But somewhere along the line, you started pocketing profits at the expense of growth, and that’s a problem.
Subconsciously, you may be acting on what you know to be true in your heart. This business, as it stands now, is no longer worthy of your investment. It’s time to take a hard look at what is happening. If the thought of throwing good money after bad crosses your mind, it’s probably time to shut the doors.
2. You think your employees are to blame
There’s one lesson everyone learns in their first week of being an entrepreneur: You simply cannot do everything yourself. Not successfully, anyway.
This is why you should have aligned yourself with people who have expertise that you do not. These people should inspire you every day. Aside from poor performance, a mismatched skillset is the number one cause of failed hires, according to CFOs polled by Robert Half Finance.
If you’ve been trying to run a business with the wrong people, you may have fallen too far down the rabbit hole to recover.
3. You’re paralyzed by a fear of rejection
In business, regardless of industry, you will face rejection. You may launch a product that you think will fly off the shelves, only to find out that you can’t pay people to take it off your hands. Rejection.
You may find the perfect candidate for your job, but they turn you down for a better offer from your competitor. Rejection.
It’s everywhere in business and life, and you should know how to turn these obstacles into motivation.
Successful entrepreneurs didn’t get to where they are by following the path of least resistance. If you’re taking too many “safe steps,” your heart may not be in this.
4. Your best employees are leaving
There’s a gaping hole in the boat and everyone is jumping ship. But you barely notice because you’re too busy with your bucket in hand. This scenario happens all too often – because it’s hard to take an objective view when you’re so closely tied to your business.
But you can bet that your employees will see the iceberg before it hits. If you notice more than one of your star employees leaving at the same time, there’s a chance your business is in trouble.
5. Your mission becomes unclear
Most businesses start with a clear vision. Sometimes, especially after years have passed, that vision gets cloudy.
Instead of making proactive decisions that support your company’s mission, you start reacting and making hasty decisions. Profit becomes your company’s new mission, and that’s clear to everyone.
You could have landed here as a result of how you’ve handled a rough patch, or it could be the product of a disorganized plan. Either way, it’s difficult to recover when your entire company has lost its way.
A turnaround at this point would require a massive rebranding investment that may or may not be worthwhile.
If you’ve nodded your head in agreement to all or most of these signs, it may be time to throw in the towel on this business. Just remember that this doesn’t mean the end for you as an entrepreneur. Giving up on a business isn’t the same as giving up on yourself. Many successful people have had to cut ties with previous ventures in order to move on to greater things.