When to Give Up on Your Startup/Product

One of the hardest things you can do after trying to get a startup or product off the ground is to simply give up and call it a day.

After all, you’ve put an awful lot of blood, sweat and tears into it, and you have probably done this for months, if not even years!

As a life-long software developer, I’ve always had side projects going, some from small ideas to others that I have truly invested a lot of time and money into. We all seem to fall down this same path and who doesn’t want their own company, doing exactly what they want to do?

But every successful business decision comes with knowing when to simply just stop.

It may seem unusual to some that stopping is so difficult, but it really is one of the most difficult thing you can do. You always thought it had so much potential, you saw all and only the good things in it, but now you’re wondering if it’s time. Has it really run it’s course?

All successful businesses had to start at some point and they too would have, and did, go through their ups and downs; so you keep asking yourself, “maybe you should just keep it going for a while longer”.. But the problem is that you will always fall back to this and simply keep recycling this concept of “never give up”! You were always taught that “you fail when you give up”.

While that is a great attitude to have, it sometimes does more harm than good.

(Google are somewhat renowned for shutting down projects..)

Most large businesses know when to stop a project, they usually base it on some kind of metric in comparison to what they can measure as success. Usually these are based on the amount of outgoing money, investment, or other similar justifications, by comparison to what it’s worth to the business. Sometimes it’s merely a fad they were trying as either a PR stunt, or to outwit a competitor. Regardless, giving up your dream startup or product you’ve worked so hard on is so much harder done as an individual.

There comes a time when the time is now and you should just bite the bullet. But perhaps it’s not quite time for your unique situation..

I’ll try my best to put these down as bullet points below, to make it easy to come to a In Summary for anyone thinking about giving it all up.

  1. Personal / Family problems
    It’s causing problems in your personal / family life.
    Before giving up on your baby, have you thought of putting it on hold while you regroup and sort out your priorities?

  2. Customers won’t bite
    You’ve been trying to get customers for ages now, but nobody sees value in your business like you do.

  3. Money
    You can’t afford to run it anymore and it is starting to ruin your life.

  4. Nobody wants to work on it with you
    This usually means it’s not a great idea you are holding on to.

  5. Flogging the old horse
    You need to adapt to change, most businesses didn’t start out doing what they now do.

  6. **You never take onboard feedback
    ** This is a real killer to any business. You will always see your product as amazing, even when others don’t.

  7. Lost the passion
    You have lost the passion for doing the business and it’s time to move on.

  8. Better competitors
    Competitors keep appearing with better, more advanced offerings.

  9. You are a weak leader
    You are a weak leader and can’t motivate a team or others to help you build the business.

  10. Failure to monetise
    You still are not sure of how to monetise the business model, this is simply unsustainable and you need to rethink a lot of things.

  11. No growth
    You can’t see any stable growth over a measurable period of time.

  12. No roadmap
    You don’t have a clearly defined roadmap, or are not able to rapidly deploy what customers are asking for.

While there are most definitely a lot more things to consider and take into account when deciding when to stop your own startup or stop working on that amazing product of yours, the main thing to do is try and remove the emotional attachment from the decision, as that will almost always let you down and drive you down the wrong path.

Good luck with your business ventures and I really do hope that after reading this you have either decided that you’re not quite ready to stop or that you have identified where you could focus some attention to find some success in your business life.

Either way, make the right choice and live well!