On Wednesday, I asked the SPI community to share their answers to a very important question, a question that most entrepreneurs come across at least once during their journey:
How do you know when it's time to move on?
Nearly 100 comments came in and I must say, I'm very impressed with the knowledge and experience that my readers are willing to share.
After reading through all of the responses, I noticed a few common themes throughout:
- Knowing when to move on is never an easy thing to do, and it's something that a lot of us struggle with at some point.
- The “when” is different for everyone. There's no definitive answer, no universal “golden rule” and most people have their own personal set of criteria for when it's time to move on.
- Moving on does not necessarily mean failure. Several people see it as an opportunity and a learning experience instead, and I completely agree.
- Before moving on it's smart to re-examine what your goals are and ask others who may be able to help or at least give you some advice or an outside perspective first.
Here are a few comments (or parts of comments) that really stood out to me:
David from The Diving Blog said:
“First, I never flat-out kill a project. I prefer to “table” it. Maybe the timing isn’t right, or I’m missing some key insight that will pull everything together. Put it aside and maybe look at it once a year to see if you have a new perspective on it…”
Mike from How to Be Amazing says:
“…I think it’s good to review these questions from time to time about whatever it is we do…
- Am I doing any good?
- What’s it costing me, and can I continue to afford that?
- Am I personally getting a benefit?
- What would be the cost of stopping?
- What’s the emotional context of wanting to give up?
- Am I seeing any success at all?
- If I keep going at this level, is that OK, or do I have to make it big?”
Andrew from Andrew's View of the Week explains:
“It is really all about risk management. All enterprises have a risk of failing and you need to take that into account when starting out. Before launching into something I always think about what will I consider a success.
Success can be hard to measure. It could be a certain income over a period of time. It could be something else, like a certain number of page hits or something. The trick is to find something measurable. There has to be an objective measure and you must take your emotions out of the decision point.
Next I decide what I am willing to invest to hit that success goal – thinking in terms of time, money, emotional investment, and think about what I am not going to do to get this project done. When I’ve hit the investment limit it’s decision time.
If I’ve hit it right I’ll achieve success before I hit my investment limit. Then it is time for a celebration and think about the next goal.”
Sarah from Common Sense Marketing said:
“…A lot of the time, though, it’s about a gut feel. I think all of us know deep down inside whether we’re on the right path, or whether we’re investing time and effort into something that’s a bad fit for any one of a number of reasons (poor timing, wrong skill set, bad expectations, etc)…
…I think it takes time to learn what that gut feeling means (and even longer to learn to respect it), but for me, it’s one of the best indicators of whether or not a project will be successful – even if it hasn’t yet started to pay off.”
Jackie from Money Crush says:
“In general, I think that if you’ve either reached your self-imposed limits, or have exhausted all the avenues you and others that you’ve brainstormed with can think to try, it’s time to move on. In the case of something that you don’t have much passion for, I’d argue that you shouldn’t be wasting your energy on it in the first place. But if you are passionate but just discouraged or distracted, regroup and press on.”
Jayson Foxx from JaysonFoxx.com says: [Editor's note: This site is no longer active.]
“I know that this is something most of us struggle with on a recurring basis. For me it’s simple. It comes down to these key points:
- Don’t make a personal judgement
- Don’t become married to an idea
- Don’t take it personal
- Let the market do the talking
- Let the numbers make the decision for you (if the CTR is 1 in 200 or 0.5% minimum, it’s a good indication to give it a go)
- Choosing ‘NO’ for an idea is not necessarily bad. It was however, just an idea (and saying ‘NO’ could save you more in the long run. Don’t be afraid to say no if the numbers don’t support your idea)
- The reality is that most ‘ideas’ don’t work…and that’s ok.
- If you end up making a ‘NO’ decision that’s ok. You could always end up selling what you have on Flippa or Sedo and recoupe your costs, and quite possibly more.
Finally I leave you with this quote:
“Success is not built on success. It’s built on failure. It’s built on frustration. Sometimes its built on catastrophe.” Sumner Redstone
Don’t be afraid to say NO!”
There are a ton of other fantastic comments, but I can only share so many highlights here in one individual blog post. I recommend reading over the comments in my last post to get even more thoughts about this.
My biggest takeaway from my own experience and from reading about the experience of others is this:
Only you will know when it's time to move on. Whether it's gut feeling, the numbers don't add up, or you're just tired and lack the passion you once had—whatever—it will be a personal decision that you (or you and your business partners, if applicable) will have to ultimately make on your own.
I wouldn't throw something away or put it aside without first evaluating goals and remembering why I got into whatever I was working on in the first place. You do have goals set in place, right?
Also, I definitely recommend seeking someone else's trusted opinion first because we all know how “tunnel visioned” we can be when working on our own projects, and there may be something obvious that only someone on the outside could shed light on, but again it all comes down to you.
To finish up, just remember this—those who have something to potentially move on from at least gave themselves a chance to succeed. They tried something—and that's huge, and because of their experience they will be that much more ahead of those who don't take any action at all.
Thanks to everyone who participated and shared their thoughts and personal experiences.
Cheers, and have a fantastic weekend!
P.S.—I will be in Los Angeles for Blog World Expo next week, and if you're around town I'd love to meet up with you. I'm planning an SPI community meetup on Friday, November 4th at 7:00pm. Click here to get the details and RSVP via Facebook, and no—you don't have to be attending Blog World Expo to hang out!
P.P.S.—If you are attending Blog World Expo next week (or are planning to! Use this link and discount code BWESPI20 to get 20% off your ticket!) [Full Disclosure: As an affiliate, I receive compensation if you purchase through this link.], my presentation is at 1:45pm on November 4th in ‘Room 411 Theater'. (Theater!? Nice!). I hope to see you there! And for those of you interested, here's a quick video explaining exactly what my talk will be about. Any comments? Enjoy!