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How to know it is time to quit the business

By Peter Theuri | June 24th 2020

Business success, we have been told time and again, requires that you never give up. Business guru Chris Kirubi says if you quit on the process, you are quitting on the results. “Success is a slow process, and quitting does not speed it up.”

But one of the calamities in business is trying to stick in even when it is not working. This, in the long run, only leads to disappointments, regret and losses that could be impossible to recover from. Many businesses have collapsed because the owners have refused to let go at the indication of fatal downturns in fortunes.

And as we know, time wasted is never recovered.

“It’s the only thing you can’t buy. I mean, I can buy anything I want, basically, but I can’t buy time,” said Berkshire Hathaway founder Warren Buffett.

Success requires you stop kidding yourself about what isn’t working. It requires knowing when to go and when to stay. It requires to know when to give up on a dream and when to persist.

But often, letting go may be just what you need to succeed or thrive. Here are signs it is time to let go of a business venture:

1. When you have tried various methods and they have failed you

If you have been in business long enough to try different methods of operation and they have all frustrated you, it might be time to quit. Plan A fails. Plan B does not yield better, and plan C equally frustrates you. It might be ideal time to accept that the venture might end up giving you worse results than you are already experiencing.

 The failures should be lessons learnt and a wise business person is careful not to repeat some of these mistakes.

 2. When you have to, time and again, justify your failures

If it has gotten to a point where choices and results are so bad you have to keep on justifying every decision and every outcome, then it means things are not working. And even if business involves a lot of resilience and desire to keep going in the face of trouble, and making mistakes in the process of seeking perfection, justification points at failed implementation. It is time to quit when nothing feels like it’s working right and you have to keep on explaining to yourself, and to partners.

3. You are not making tangible progress

You have been in business for years. Yet you do not have anything to show for it. You have not expanded, your asset base is at the same level years on, you are stuck to one employee and your net income does not show any signs of getting better. Perhaps it is time to think of something else to do.

4. When you feel you should be doing something else- you have alternatives

Business and passion are inseparable. The best in the industry succeed because they are doing what they love.

 You cannot perform if you are in a venture that you don’t enjoy being in. It is not like entrepreneurship will always be an exciting roller coaster ride, but what you are doing should excite you.

If you are holding onto something that does not make you happy, it is time to give it up. Sticking in is bound to hurt your energy and suck away your motivation. You will have wasted your time, energy and valuable resources chasing something that does not give you joy and satisfaction.

Go to the alternative that is available and that will fulfill your desires.

5.  If competitors are all running down

It may be argued that collapse of competing businesses should present an opportunity for a business person to expand theirs and grow to serve the new markets. On the contrary, collapsing businesses should reveal where the poisoned chalice is. If the trend is that every business in the industry is showing signs of weakness and falling to its knees, then there is every chance yours is bound to go the same way.

Sometimes, the external business environment will not be suitable. It may be about the markets waning, or government policies being punitive, but if other big players are all collapsing, perhaps it is time to rethink one’s prospects and survival.

6.   If you are running into losses

To make losses was not the reason you joined business. You started your venture to make profits and make a livelihood out of it. Losses mean that all the time, energy, expertise and resources you are pumping into the business are not being rewarded at all. It is reason enough to plan to quit. “Knowing when it’s time to cut your losses and move on is one of the most useful and underrated implements in the entrepreneurial toolbox. Refusing to quit when necessary is equivalent to staying put on a sinking ship. You’re doing the best thing for yourself and the rest of your team when you put an end to a failing initiative before it can become a full-fledged disaster,” says investor and entrepreneur David Kleinhandler.

7.   Your health is deteriorating

Research has shown that mental health and mortality have a strong correlation with the amount of autonomy we have at our job, our workload and job demands, and our cognitive ability to deal with those demands.

When job demands are greater than the control afforded by the job or an individual’s ability to deal with those demands, there is a deterioration of their mental health and, accordingly, an increased likelihood of death, a study by Indiana University Kelley School of Business showed.  

If it takes a toll on your health, you may not stick in. It may be time to quit.

8. You are not enjoying it

When the thrill of the workplace goes, it might be time to quit. A business prospers when the people running it have the drive and the enthusiasm, the fire still burning to see the business grow.

Just because an activity is “productive” doesn’t mean it can’t be fun. The hobbies you do outside of work should always be rooted in what you’re passionate about. If you find it truly enjoyable and rewarding, stick with it. Simply sitting still can do wonders for your brain. It increases creativity, improves your decision-making skills and can even force you to come up with innovative solutions to existing problems, according to Warren Buffett.  

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