I-frequently get asked:
How do you know when to give up on a business and walk away?
Wow. I know that a lot of people around the world are feeling challenged in our current economy and some may be at the very point of asking this question and making this decision. But, as I give my answer, I want to reframe the question to how I have learned to think about it from my own experience, as well as from the concepts I have adopted from Dr. Bucky Fuller. So, instead of saying, I give up! I look at it as changing my focus.
As things change in our businesses, the opportunity we once had (or thought we had) may be declining based on new market demands, changes in technology, in the law, or in the wide array of things that can affect a business.
As those opportunities decline, there is usually a new opportunity that also emerges from the changes that caused the decline. If you are paying attention, the marketplace will give you signs of what direction it places value on so that you can choose to tweak (or dramatically change) the course of your business to pursue this new opportunity.
Now, Ill be the first to tell you, we dont always read the signs right, or make the best choice, but the beauty of business is the ability to correct our course, quickly.
To help me see what these declining and emerging opportunities are in times of change in a business, I will often ask: What part of the business IS working? (even if collectively, the whole things is not) to see if there is an opportunity to really just focus on what the market is supporting and then adjust the course of the business based on this information.
Many times, this process is also helpful for successful businesses to employ to help them maintain their focus on growth and profits.
As far as businesses that are struggling, many people want me to tell them I can guarantee a specific outcome. But, the reality is: Will this reframing of your situation always work and guarantee your business a whole new era of success? No. But, will it help you do the work to evaluate what your opportunities are before deciding to throw in the towel? Absolutely.
If you have decided that you are no longer able to continue with your business and youre ready to walk away, take a moment to reflect on what you learned from the experience of operating this business. Dont open and close a business as if it is a simple project to be crossed off a list when completed. Instead, I recommend you take everything that worked, and did not, and use it as a point in which to transition into your next opportunity.
One last tip: Dont try to operate your business alone. And, by the same token, dont make the decision to close your business on your own. Ask for your teams input and suggestions, as well as mentors or business coaches who understand business and finances.
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