Start Up Blog

When to quit

Posted in entrepreneurship by Steve Sammartino on February 8, 2010

This is the fifth of my crowd sourced blog entry ideas as suggested by Cameron Reilly. Cam wanted to get my thoughts on the following: When to call it a day. When to close up shop.

This is one of the most difficult propositions as an entrepreneur – when to stick and when to quit? My view is a simple analogy. When the startup or business feels like a bad romantic relationship you’ve had. The type of relationship you knew you had to get out of, but couldn’t. The type of relationship you had an unhealthy addition to, or found it too hard to leave emotionally, or was scared of the financial losses and asset split associated with leaving it. When your business feels like that, it’s time to leave. If you view your business as a relationship you have with it, then it will become clear if it’s over. Because we all know that feeling. And we usually know the truth deep down in our hearts when things are just not right.  When your startup feels like that, it’s time to shut up shop.

Here’s some simple sentences that may also help you know if it’s time to quit:

It’s time to quit when, you’ve lost interest in the project, and your only doing it for the money.

It’s time to quit when, you only keep going because of the time and money you’ve already invested.

It’s time to quit when, you can’t sustain yourself or family on the income it provides, or the little time it leaves.

it’s time to quit when, you’ve had enough and would have a less stressful life in a job.

It’s time to quit when, you’ve run out of money, time or desire.

It’s time to quit when, you know who can achieve more moving onto the next project.

It’s time to quit when, your not quitting because the newness has worn off, but the business is genuinely not working.

it’s time to quit when, you achieved multiple set milestones set and they still didn’t pay off financially.

it’s time to quit when you no longer believe in what your doing.

It’s time to stay the course when none of the above applies.

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9 Responses

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  1. Christine Dunaway said, on February 8, 2010 at 4:57 pm

    Nice read!

    Christine Dunaway (@fddlgrl via twitter)

  2. Blake Jakopovic said, on February 8, 2010 at 11:03 pm

    I disagree with “It’s time to quit when, you’ve run out of money, time or desire.”, because of the volatility and high risk of startups, they often come very close to the line between not having money and having money. I have seen many people who have touched that line and have bounced back, after reviewing their plan and strategies.

    I think that it can be shortened to “It’s time to quit when, you’ve run out of desire.”, because time is relative to priorities, which are relative to desire, and money is explained above.

    • Steve Sammartino said, on February 8, 2010 at 11:13 pm

      Actually Blake, your comments are quit valid, I think your iterations improve the idea of when to quit.

      thanks for the input.
      Steve,.

  3. Josh Moore said, on February 10, 2010 at 4:37 pm

    I think that the only time to quit is when the pain of going forward is more than the pain of going back or elsewhere.

    We all do things based on pain and pleasure. If the pain is less (long term) going forward then we should continue. However if the pain is not worth it long term then it is time to change course.

  4. TC2 said, on February 10, 2010 at 5:35 pm

    A very difficult question, and possibly only possible to answer with all information specific to the startup to be closely examined.

    However, I would say that from my own experience, of failed startups and now one that I’ve stayed the course on, I would suggest the following:

    It is time to quit when:
    1. You’re no longer passionate about it ie. no burning desire to continue
    2. You’re only staying in it for financial reasons

  5. sharel said, on June 28, 2010 at 9:43 pm

    Thanks for this great post,

    i guess you can never know, you got to trust your intuition…i also wrote a blog post about quitting in startups which was inspired by Seth Godin, and others, I will love to hear what you think about it… http://sharelomer.blogspot.com/2010/06/kung-fu-of-quitting-like-attracts-like.html

    Thanks,
    Sharel

  6. Ray William Johnson III said, on January 23, 2012 at 8:24 am

    You shouldn’t do a startup in the first place. It’s fake and gay.

  7. Joe said, on April 5, 2012 at 6:33 am

    I’m leaving my startup. Too much time and effort for insufficient ROI, not enough pay to compensate for the substantial risk of being so close to the line.

    For me I knew it was time when I was interviewing a prospective member of our team and I felt like telling him to stay away. When you can’t honestly recommend others to work in your company, it’s time to go.


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