I understand that nobody likes a quitter. Everyone believes the captain should go down with his ship.
But is this really a healthy attitude for someone running a new business? Especially when you’re spending other people's money at a ferocious clip? Sometimes you need to be smart enough to figure out how to quit when you're ahead--even if you're actually way behind. How, exactly, do you know when enough is enough?
There really isn’t a simple answer for every situation, but there is a rule that I have found to be useful in almost every case. I call it The Rule of 3 Ds and 3 Fs.
The 3 Ds are pretty simple. There are some things you’ve got to Do, Determine and Discuss. The Fs are Facts, Feelings, and Family. Here’s how they tie together.
The main thing you’ve got to Do is to face the facts. If you can do this, you’ll be well on your way to the right conclusion about your situation. In good times, denial may be one of an entrepreneur’s greatest strengths. No so when things head south. Refusing to look at unpleasant facts doesn’t make them disappear. They don’t vanish. They just wait, and often, they get worse.
Once you do face your particular facts, you’ve got to have the courage and the wisdom to deal with them. In some cases, that means that you need to close the doors. Sometimes, as the leader, you need to help your team and your employees reach these same conclusions. You’ve got to give your people permission to make the hard calls.
Next, you need to Determine your feelings about the situation. If any of these ring true about your company, on a consistent basis, it’s time to go.
Of course, if you’ve ever run a business and you haven’t experienced these feelings at some time, to some degree, then I doubt you were really an entrepreneur.
The last task is to Discuss your decision with your family and consider their feelings. Starting and running a business is just as tough - maybe tougher - on your family as it is on you. And because your family isn’t typically active in the business, it’s even harder when things start to go south and they can’t do much--other than watch helplessly while you suffer. Here’s the most important advice I can give you:
When things are really rotten and we have no place else to turn, sadly, we often don’t turn to our families - we turn on them. We take a lot of crap out on them, for no reason other than that they’re there. This is often the most real and devastating damage caused by a failing business. It’s the most critical reason to get out when the time is right and to not prolong the agony.
Sometimes, enough really is enough.