When you entered into the topsy-turvy world of entrepreneurship, you did so knowing nine out of ten startups don’t survive. Sure, some of them may cling onto the ropes of survival a little longer than should, which is great on paper, but it’s a terrible waste of time, money and effort in reality. It’s a waste of resources and talent that could have otherwise been ploughed into another idea. We know it’s not easy calling time on something you’ve worked so hard at, to throw in the towel after going eleven rounds against the odds, but sometimes that is the best thing you can do.
Think of it in poker terms. To win, you’ve got to know when to fold. The same goes for your startup, especially when it makes financial and strategic sense. No, the call to a bankruptcy lawyer won’t be fun and, no, saying goodbye to the baby you’ve given so much blood, sweat and tears to won’t be fun, but it will probably work out for the better. When the signs are there, it is usually a good time to move on. The trick is being able to spot the signs.
So, without further ado, here are the best tell-tale ways to tell if you should start a new game:
1. The Value Has Been Lost
The moment you realise there is no real value there for your audience, you need to accept you are fighting a losing battle. You’re fighting for a business that won’t be able to deliver the revenue or profitability that makes it worth fighting for. In order to have a successful startup, you need to have an idea that’s either innovative, one that improves the lives of people, or something that allows people to solve a problem. If your business does not do either of these, then it is time to find one that does.
2. The Risks Are Too High
Risk is always going to play a role in the life of an entrepreneur. It’s part of the startup game in some form or another, and it’s something most entrepreneurs thrive off. The reason we are happy to put up with this side of the coin is simple: the rewards are worth it. So, if the risks start to really outweigh the possible returns, and money is pouring out with any obvious turnaround in sight, it is probably too risky to continue. Instead of being excited by the challenges ahead, you wake up feeling anxious and scared, not sure how you will survive or pay yourself. That’s not what it’s all about. So escape and try something new.
3. The Progress Is Super-Slow
Most startups accept they need to have a long-term outlook in order to succeed. It’s part of the process, but one that will make all your hard work worth it. If, however, the business plan you are working from starts to choke and splutter and falter, leading you to nothing but dead ends, constant U-turns and paths that are going nowhere fast, you might want to listen to that little voice on your shoulder and concede. If you don’t, you will just end up wasting time, effort and money, all of which could be used in another venture.