No one likes a quitter, but knowing when to quit can make you look like awfully smart. Just take a look at some folks who didn’t know when to say when – a common tragedy among athletes who can’t retire (Brett Favre, Michael Jordan) and politicians who don’t know how to gracefully exit (Rod Blagojevich, Mark Sanford).
I started my own business earlier this year. I did it while working full time at a job I plan to keep. Overall, I like my job but more importantly, I like having a reliable paycheck. I knew my business would not be a money-making venture – at least in the near or immediate future – but I did hope it eventually would pay for itself.
I’ve already invested thousands of dollars in building up my business, a Web-based venture that relies on community support, and will have spent hundreds more by the end of the year in upkeep and maintenance costs. But the most taxing part has been finding the time necessary to foster my business’ growth, both in actual man-hours spent on the Web site and in marketing it.
Although I’m not on the verge of quitting, I have spent a lot of time lately trying to figure out what my tipping point is. Just when do I say I’ve given my best shot at entrepreneurship – and valiantly quit?
Here’s what I’ve been asking:
What have been my sacrifices and are they worth it? Is it worth losing hours of sleep every night on a struggling business? How about spending money that could be going toward my ever-shrinking retirement fund or toward college funds I have yet to start for my children? What about the hits I’ve taken to my self-esteem as I build up my business? Is it getting harder to answer friends who ask me the inevitable, ‘How’s that business going?’
Do I have alternate sources of funding? I’ve already decided against looking for small business loans or anything that would require unnecessary risk. I’m now starting to look at grants specifically designated for start-up businesses. It’s a time-consuming process, both in the actual application and the wait before learning whether I’ve been picked – among the thousands of others against whom I’m competing.
Do I have support? Does my husband share in my dream? My friends? What are the reactions of strangers with whom I share the story and mission of my business? This support can take me far – and leads me to my next question:
Does this endeavor make me happy? Does my business still excite me? How much pleasure am I getting out of it? The last thing I want is for my passion to morph into pain.
More often than not, entrepreneurs find a ton of setbacks, frustrations and sacrifices on their way to making their idea become a profitable reality. I’ve experienced a string of minor victories, ones that keep me soaring emotionally. Still, I’m not at the point where I hoped to be by now. Will things be any different a month from today? How about in another six months? A year? Will it all be enough to make a difference? Will I know if it’s time to call it quits?