One of the most difficult challenges for any entrepreneur is knowing how long to stick at something before it’s time to call it quits.
We’ve all heard the stories of the entrepreneur that was about to throw in the towel and give up, but decided to stick with it for one more day, to give it one more try and BINGO – they hit the jackpot!
It’s a nice idea, and there is no doubt that without persistent energy and effort, few things would ever come to fruition.
However, there is often a fine line between being persistent and being bloody minded; between faith in your idea and blind stubbornness.
As entrepreneurs, we risk falling in love with the concept and losing perspective of what the market is telling us.
How do you know when you need to stick with it and keep pushing through the inevitable challenges we will face, and when it’s time to put a fork in it and say, we’re done with this strategy?
It’s a good question and one I’d like to explore with you this week.
After fifteen years of working alongside entrepreneurs and helping build hundreds of businesses, I have noticed that one of the traits the most successful entrepreneurs share is an ability to determine whether an idea is worth persisting with or not.
One of my favourite sayings is “If the horse is dead, get off.”
The truth is when many entrepreneurs enter my world, they do so flogging the proverbial Dead Horse!
If you have been pushing out an idea or offering for some time and experiencing little or no traction, it might be time to take a step back and consider a change of horse.
To help you work out whether it’s worthwhile continuing to persist and push on with your idea, or if you are better off changing direction, give up on your current approach and pivoting, here are three questions the best entrepreneurs I know would ask themselves to evaluate which way to go.
Have you given it enough time to work?
It’s important to set a realistic timeline for the progress of your idea or offering. People routinely over estimate what they can achieve in a month and completely underestimate what they can do in a year. Patience is a virtue but it’s important to set milestones to measure and monitor your progress. If it’s not gaining the expected traction, that could be a warning sign.
Is the market looking for what you’re offering?
One of the most common issues for an entrepreneur who is not enjoying success is that they are in love with their idea more than the market is. The first key question you need to answer is – Does your offering solve a problem? The launch point for any great idea is finding a problem that’s keeping people up at night. It doesn’t matter how good you think the idea is, if it’s not solving a problem the market is looking to fix, then finding a buyer will be difficult.
Are people willing to pay the price?
It’s one thing to have found a market that is interested in your offering, but this will be of little value to you if those people don’t have the means to pay. The development of a solid offering requires you to find people with both a need a solution to a problem and that have the means to pay for it. No matter how great your idea is and how much benefit it can deliver, if people can’t pay for it, you don’t have a business.
One of the common traps we can fall into is falling in love with our idea. When you get overly emotional about a concept, you feel like it’s your baby and the idea of killing it is unthinkable.
But as entrepreneurs, we need to remove the emotion and look at the thing we are offering to the marketplace objectively. Persisting because you don’t want to feel like a failure is nuts.
Failure is part of business growth. We must constantly be testing and measuring ideas. Some will fly, many will not; that’s just a fact. But if you allow yourself to become emotionally attached to every project, then chances are you will hang on to bad ideas longer than you should, only compounding the challenge of letting it go.
If you recognise that you’ve been flogging a dead horse, do yourself a favour and get off. The sooner you let go of an idea that’s not working, the sooner you can start developing one that will fly.