No one particularly will like this subject, but it’s a cold, hard reality that at some time you should quit a business. I frequently tell my coaching clients to keep at something and not quit, but there does come a time when I would say ‘now it’s time to throw the towel in’.
This can occur for many reasons. If you absolutely hate your business and hate what you do, it might be time to leave and if it’s making reasonable to great money, then that exit may well be selling the business. If a huge competitor opened up around the corner, as much as you’d hope your customers will stay for your exceptional service, chances are they will be drawn by the giant who has buying power, a massive marketing budget and flash signage. Perhaps your industry is changing … such as has happened with film development, DVDs and a myriad of other industries. If you don’t change, you may well find yourself closing.
So, how do you know it’s time to change?
My greatest indicator is your Profit & Loss statement and if you are running a loss for at least six months, despite doing everything you can, getting assistance, doing marketing, then it might be time to make some really tough decisions. Now, before you do this, have you really done your best? Have you put in every effort? Not doing well, but refusing to spend a cent on advertising, not having a website or not changing how you do business is not giving it a fair go. If you are, however, completely unwilling to change then be honest with yourself. What worked before will not necessarily work now. People say they don’t need a website and in the past they got away with that, but times have changed. The same goes for advertising, social media and other online strategies. You have to keep up with the times otherwise you will get left behind.
There are exceptions to my 6 month rule; I had a client years ago who had a stroke (he is in perfect health now) but for a few months his business had to run by itself with his family running things. Things suffered a little and one of his largest customers at the time went bankrupt. In this situation, because his health did return and he had a solid business, he was able to replace the lost customer, I would not have suggested quitting. Sure, it was a tough time, but not a quitting time in these circumstances. Be honest with yourself – have you exhausted every avenue and things are only getting worse and there is no reasonable expectation of an improvement?
There are some reasons why you should not ‘stick at it’. If it’s ego, or ‘what will people think of me’ or the feeling ‘I failed’, or simply this was your ‘baby’ then my advice is be a bigger person than that. Move past the ego and ‘what will people think’ mentality and be practical about this. If you lose your home, take out another loan (and lose that money) or go bankrupt that is a far worse thing than simply having a failed business. Businesses close down every day – be brave about it and don’t let ego get in the way.
If it’s time to close the doors, then close the doors. First, talk to a business advisor or your accountant to get a ‘second opinion’ and just ensure there isn’t some aspect you’ve missed. If the advice concurs, I know it will be hard, but in a few months, even a year, you will be in a much better place. A hugely struggling business doesn’t just affect you financially, it drains your finances, it’s hard on relationships, and it causes you stress and unhappiness. Move on and resume your life.
Check out my related blog “Alternatives to quitting a business”.