When you feel like quitting
Most startup founders experience rough patches that can seem never-ending. After years of dreaming and planning for business success, the obstacles and setbacks that are part and parcel to growing a company from the ground up can become so overwhelming you start to feel like calling it quits.
Just when a milestone appears to be right around the corner, a new obstacle surfaces and, with it, another setback. Discouragement can easily undermine your confidence, making you question whether accomplishing your startup goal is even possible. If you are experiencing trepidation, you are not alone. Most successful entrepreneurs faced similar hurdles along the road. Those who succeed refocus and look for opportunities to grow from each failure.
Here are five steps you can take to keep moving forward when you feel like giving up:
1. Connect with other entrepreneurs
Vince Lombardi famously said, “It's not whether you get knocked down; it's whether you get up.”
The most relentless obstacle all entrepreneurs must face is fear. You gave up the relative security of steady employment and a paycheck to follow your dream of business ownership. You entered the startup world highly motivated and optimistic, unaware of the curveballs you'd. There will be failures at one point or another, exhaustion, frustration, and there may be many moments during which you'll be tempted to cut your losses. However, instead of quitting, start connecting with other entrepreneurs. They've all been through one iteration of what you're going through or another, and it can be constructive to commiserate.
If you're a struggling business owner, having the support of friends, family, and fellow entrepreneurs who've been there, done that, and managed to keep going can make all the difference. It's difficult to encourage yourself when you feel you're fighting a losing battle. But involving yourself with a network of colleagues and supporters means you don't have to try to climb out of tough situations alone. Reach out for help.
Find a small group of like-minded startup founders (a mastermind group) who meet for the purpose of helping one another solve their current business challenges, brainstorm ideas, and offer mutual support. Join a networking group where you can build relationships with other entrepreneurs. Reach out to a colleague with a positive mindset who's already achieved some level of success and learn what they're doing right.
2. Reconnect with your original motivation for starting your business
Most entrepreneurs think about giving up when their business is not growing as fast as they had expected, not keeping pace with competitors, and not making enough money, No business can survive long if you're just in it for the money.
Yes, making money is necessary for a business to thrive, but there needs to be a more significant meaning that drives you. A higher purpose drives passion that setbacks can not exterminate. Pursuing money is not a meaningful purpose, and therein lies the rub. What difference did you set out to make in people's lives through your business?
It doesn't matter how unexciting you may think your enterprise is. Even a trash hauling business can make an impact when it's run as a purpose-driven business. When business is slow, it's easy to begin mulling over whether it's time to give up. As an alternative, shift your focus from yourself to others. Reconnect with your original motivation to start your company and focus on the impact you want your business to make.
3. Focus on seeing problems as opportunities
By focusing on the problem—for instance, your business is not currently making enough money—all you end up with is anxiety. The most effective way to shift the focus away from the problem is to refocus on finding opportunities. You can do that by measuring your marketing metrics, one of the most often skipped steps among new business owners. Measuring your marketing metrics can give you a new perspective of what's hindering your growth. For starters, take a look at your website numbers—they can help you determine where you need to direct your focus. For example:
▪ Number of new visits to your site = 1,000
▪ Number of subscribers = 5
▪ Bounce rate = 90 percent▪ Average time visitors spend on your site = 4 seconds
These indicators are critical to finding solutions to your business's stagnation or decline.
Are you resistant to change? Learn to pivot. The entrepreneur who isn't in tune with the ever-changing and evolving needs and demands of their customers won't succeed. Your corporate team will be changing and evolving, as well. Fashion trends, commerce, government, social attitudes—the world at large is continuously shifting.
4. Assess your marketing tools and strategies
When the digital revolution changed the rules for marketing goods and services seemingly overnight, many businesses, both large and small, hesitated to abandon traditional marketing and advertising practices. Their doors were shuttered within a year or two.
When business is slow, it's time to assess your marketing efforts. Get out of your comfort zone; learn how to use the right marketing tools and strategies, and watch your sales climb much faster. Some resources critical to growing a business include:
▪ Content marketing (SEO website content, blog content, and a strong social media presence)
▪ An automated lead capture system
▪ An autoresponder email marketing tool
▪ A sales funnel
▪ A lead-generating website
▪ Conversion tools such as adding a pop-up widget to your site to build a database of email addresses of customers and potential customers, and use it to send out promotions and conversions to increase your conversions.
5. Make sure you have an anchor
Diminishing sales can be your business's metaphoric storm. Having a fundamental anchor represents security and stability. Consider the rock climber who doesn't worry about falling because he or she has the benefit of being anchored to a belayer. Do you have a belayer or safety be you can count on when your business plan goes off-course?
Sharing experiences and concerns with others who have navigated similar obstacles is among the most beneficial form of networking out there. Make sure someone is guiding your next step when your nose is too close to the rock to see your opportunities.
You may be much closer than you realize to achieving your dream of startup success. Remind yourself what got you here to begin with the next time you feel like quitting.
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