In the past few weeks, I’ve talked about two of the most important things you’ll do as an entrepreneur:
starting, which has to do with acting on your ideas, instead of just thinking about them
persistent, which means not giving up when things get tough.
Unfortunately, not every idea you have will be successful, no matter how long you try to make it work. And then I would like to end this short series by talking about when it would be better for you to give up.
Digging in the wrong place
In last week’s post, I told you about the Cavanagh brothers and how they made a fortune in gold by not giving up when so many others did. It is a great example of persistence, but only because they have been rewarded for their hard work.
If they didn’t find any gold, it would be a story about how they should have given up and gone up the stream with the rest of the miners, instead of wasting all that time and effort.
Like it or not, some ideas will make you dig in the wrong place. And no matter how long you pursue, you’ll never find the gold you’re looking for.
But how do you know when you should stop and move on, instead of sticking your feet and moving on?
A matter of time
As I said last week, there were times over the years when I felt like giving up. And to help me decide whether to give up or continue, I asked myself four questions.
1. “Am I enjoying it?”
Does the blog, project, or business you are working on give you energy? Is it something you like?
Now, I’m not saying that you should stop immediately if you answer any of the questions with “No”. (That’s why I ask myself the other three questions I’m about to ask you.) But if you think that what you’re doing is draining all the energy and joy out of your life, it may be worth considering.
2. “Am I good at this?”
Take an objective look at the work you are doing. Do you understand you’re great at what you do? Are you producing a high-quality product or service? (It is probably worth asking other people what they think at the moment because it can be difficult to be objective about your work.)
If the consensus is that you are good at what you do and you are producing a high-quality product or service, it may be best to continue, despite everything else.
3. Is there a demand for what I am doing?”
You may be feeling a little discouraged with your blog. But try to forget that for a moment and think about its potential. Is there a demand for what you are producing? And does this demand tend to grow?
You may not be having much luck with your blog right now simply because you are a little bit ahead of the curve.
Would not be worth staying with that when all else caught you a blog that everyone is looking for help and advice?
Of course, if there is not a demand for what you are doing or that demand will eventually end because you are blogging about something that has disappeared or is about to disappear (for example, Google+), then it may be time to stop.
4. “Are people responding to what I’m doing?”
What do other people think of your blog? How are your audience numbers? Are you getting too many comments? Are your posts being shared on social media?
Now is the time to look beyond the feedback you’re getting from people and see the facts (or statistics) like how much traffic you’re getting and how much you’re earning.
Let’s face it: if you’ve been blogging for 10 years hoping to become a full-time blogger, but you’re still not earning enough to quit your job, it could be a sign that you need to think about something else.
I know many bloggers who probably should have given up years ago because they are investing all their time and energy for very little reward.
Weigh all answers
The idea behind these questions is to get an overview of how you and your blog are doing. I like to associate each question with a word:
“I am liking it?” – energy
“I am good at it?” – quality
“Is there a demand for what I’m doing?” – potential
“Are people responding to what I’m doing?” – results.
And it’s important to look at all four answers when deciding whether or not to stop.
For example, many bloggers give up simply because they don’t like it and are using up their energy. But they may not realize how good they are and how many people are missing every word.
An alternative to giving up
If you asked yourself these four questions and giving up still seems like the best option, I would like you to ask yourself one last time before pulling the plug: “Can I turn instead?”
Yes, it may be time to close this blog, project, or even business. But it is likely that it still has a lot of value and you can use part of it in another project.
I have met many successful entrepreneurs over the years. And I can’t think of anyone who has achieved success traveling in a straight line. Most (if not all) of them did this by turning and changing direction.
I believe that to be a successful entrepreneur you need to be able not only to persist in the task at hand but also to identify new opportunities and quickly change direction to pursue them.
Are you thinking about giving up something? What were your answers to the four questions? And could you spin instead of giving up completely?