When Should I Quit My Business Idea?

Running a side business while working can be grueling, especially when it comes to long-term growth. We start with big dreams and aspirations, and at first, put lots of time and energy into building our side business. We hope that someday we can support ourselves and work on our own terms. We want to improve our lives, be independent, and have quality time with our family.

But success usually doesn’t come instantaneously. And when reality doesn’t match our expectations, the first impulse is to quit. Knowing when to quit and knowing when to stand and fight is difficult to discern. So, we ask ourselves silently more often than we care to admit:

When should I quit my business?

A lot of valid side businesses are kicked to the curb before they get a chance to grow. We are always the most enthusiastic about a business venture as soon as it launches. But how do we fare when it comes to sustained effort after we launch or product or service?

Here’s a list of things we owe our businesses before we concede and throw in the towel:

  1. Tell our friends and family.
  2. Tell our colleagues.
  3. Find other people in our industry who can promote our business venture to their audience.
  4. Go to local events and promote.
  5. Attend regional conventions, industry conventions and promote our business.
  6. Go to online forums where our product or service would be of interest and promote.
  7. Promote our business on social media. Use hashtags to fuel discovery.
  8. Conduct online surveys to see what our target audience needs that our service provides.
  9. Email marketing. If you don’t have an email list for your business, you are not allowed to quit yet.
  10. Using market research, Make videos and post them on YouTube or Vimeo. Answer questions your product audience might have.
  11. Using same research, write blog posts that will help your target customers. Write tutorials to help them solve problems they face (may or may not involve your product or service). Answer questions that you receive from other channels.
  12. Podcasting is how blogging was ten years ago, and video was five years ago. You can get in and, you got it, answer questions your audience may have.
  13. Ask for referrals from past customers.
  14. Email past customers a coupon code for their loyalty. Tell them they can share it with friends.
  15. Run a contest that gives away a small prize in exchange for email subscriptions or social media mentions.
  16. Sponsor industry events, either locally or regionally. Get your business in front of people.
  17. Call local press, radio stations, news stations and see if you can get coverage. If those fail, call the local alternative weekly newspaper.
  18. Last resort: Pay per click (these can be expensive, and may not be worth it).

The point of all this is that we often abandon ship before trying everything we possibly can to grow our business. If you have tried all or most of these, and you still have flatlined or negative growth, and you have put effort into your business for more than five years, then you have my full permission to quit. Otherwise, you’re still in a place where you’ll always wonder, Maybe if I did this or that, this business could have succeeded.

Small businesses take an average of five years to take off. Incremental growth during this period is still growth.

We shouldn’t pull the plug on our business ideas too quickly. Most of the time, the business is suffering from malnutrition. This means that it isn’t receiving much effort in the present day, and has laid fallow and forgotten.

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Sometimes years of sustained effort. But once you hit the point where growth starts to expand, that’s the time to really step on the gas.

Don’t abandon your your business ventures too quickly. Give them a fighting chance to make it in the crowded marketplace.