This post is based on episode 90 of the ProBlogger podcast.
Over the past couple of weeks I’ve talked about two of the most important things you’ll ever do as an entrepreneur:
- starting, which is all about acting on your ideas rather than just thinking about them
- persisting, which is all about not giving up when things get tough.
Unfortunately, not every idea you have will be a success, no matter how long you try to make it work. And so I’d like to wrap up this little series by talking about when you might be better off quitting.
Digging in the wrong spot
In last week’s post I told you about the Cavanagh brothers, and how they earned themselves a fortune in gold by not giving up when so many other had. It’s a great example of persistence, but only because they were 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 moved up the creek with the rest of the miners instead of wasting all that time and effort.
Like it or not, some ideas will have you digging in the wrong spot. And no matter how long you stick at it, you’ll never find the gold you’re looking for.
But how can you tell when you should quit and move on rather than dig your heels in and keep going?
As I said last week, there have been times over the years when I’ve felt like quitting. And to help me decide whether I should quit or keep going I asked myself four questions.
1. “Am I enjoying it?”
Does the blog, project or business you’re working on give you energy? Is it something you enjoy?
Now I’m not saying you should quit immediately if you answer either question with “No”. (That’s why I ask myself the other three questions I’m about to tell you about.) But if you feel that what you’re doing is sucking all the energy and joy out of your life, it may well be worth considering.
2. “Am I good at it?”
Take an objective look at the work you’re doing. Do you think you’re good at what you do? Are you producing a high-quality product or service? (It’s probably worth asking other people what they think at this point because it can be hard to be objective about your own work.)
If the consensus is that you are good at what you do and you are producing a high-quality product or service, then it might be best to keep going despite everything else.
3. “Is there demand for what I’m doing?”
You might be feeling a little despondent about your blog. But try to forget about that for a moment and think about its potential. What could your blog be like in the future? Is there a demand for what you’re producing? And is that demand likely to grow?
You might not be having much luck with your blog right now simply because you’re a little ahead of the curve. Wouldn’t it be worth sticking with so that when everyone else catches up yours will be the blog everyone comes to for help and advice?
Of course, if there isn’t a demand for what you’re doing, or that demand will eventually peter out because you’re blogging about something that has disappeared or is about to (e.g. Google+), then it may well be time to quit.
4. “Are people responding to what I’m doing?”
What do other people think of your blog? What are your audience numbers like? Are you getting lots of comments? Are your posts getting shared on social media?
Now’s the time to look beyond the feedback you’re getting from people and at the cold hard facts (or stats) such as how much traffic you’re getting and how much you’re earning.
Let’s face it: If you’ve been blogging for 10 years in the hope of becoming a full-time blogger but still aren’t earning enough to quit your day job, it may be a sign that you need to think of something else. I know of many bloggers who probably should have given up years ago because they’re investing all their time and energy for very little reward.
Weigh up all the answers
The idea behind these questions is get an overall picture of how you and your blog are doing? I like to associate each question with a word:
- “Am I enjoying it?” – energy
- “Am I 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 answer when deciding whether or not you should quit.
For example, a lot of bloggers quit simply because they don’t enjoy it and it’s sapping their energy. But they may be oblivious to how good they are, and how many people are hanging off their every word.
An alternative to quitting
If you’ve asked yourself these four questions, and quitting still seems like the best option, I’d like you to ask yourself one last question before you pull the plug: “Could I pivot instead?”
Yes, it might be time to quit this blog, project or even business. But chances are it still has a lot of value, and you may be able to use some of it in another project.
I’ve met a lot of successful entrepreneurs over the years. And I can’t think of any who have achieved their success by travelling in a straight line. Most (if not all) of them have done it by pivoting and changing direction.
I believe that to be a successful entrepreneur you need to be able to not only persist with the task at hand, but also spot new opportunities and quickly change direction to pursue them.
Over to you
Are you thinking of quitting something? What were your answers to the four questions? And could you pivot rather than quit completely?
Let’s talk about it in the comments.
Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash