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When not to be persistent

Last week I wrote about the value of persistence and cited quite a few examples of successful people who evidenced this over some period. Persistence can be of huge value.

But is it always the case that one should be persistent?        No, there are instances where it is wise to pause, quit or pivot.

The concept of pivoting comes from Lean methodology (Eric Reis), where an entrepreneur has brought a concept or product to market and feedback from the market has shown that there is little appetite for the product. The entrepreneur then faces the choice of digging his heels in and persisting, or making some key changes in response to the market. (This could be in features; quality, pricing or benefits).

Eric Ries and Steve Blank have correctly argued that you should have an articulated test for progressing with a certain business model, e.g., >25% of users use our site every month.  If you pass the test, then persevere; if not, pivot.

 

The key to answering this question is to acknowledge the human reality that everyone thinks their own baby is beautiful.   You loved your start up idea, which is why you founded it.  It’s hard for your ego to say that your idea is bad, and/or you don’t have the skills to execute it.

So the key test is: have you persuaded a new investor, new employee, or new client, with no historical relationship to your business, to invest time and/or money in your firm?

If so, that’s a sign that your business is likely worth persevering with in its current form.

If three months have gone by and no new investor, employee, or client has joined you, that’s probably a sign you should pivot (if you have cash left) or shut down (if you don’t). Thanks to David Tetin for these keys.

How do you know when it’s time to give up? Here are 3 signs that might help you decide.

Your quest to solve a problem takes over all other aspects of your life.

If you feel that you’re not enjoying life to the fullest because you can’t stop thinking about your situation, it might be time to reconsider the reasons you continue trying.

Working toward a worthwhile goal should be elating and exciting. Lack of excitement about achieving what you think you want probably means that you’ve become used to striving and never arriving. It’s “what you do,” and this routine doesn’t serve you.

You start to feel poorly about yourself.

Not being able to achieve your goal might result in self-doubt about your abilities. You might wonder whether there is something wrong with you.

In most cases, a venture, job, or project that hurts your self-worth isn’t worth it.

You’re the only person who shows interest in solving the problem or reaching the goal, but the outcome also depends on other people.

As indicated above, we all “kiss our own babies”. To a start-up entrepreneur, his start up is his baby. This is as it should be, but it may so colour your perspective that you don’t respond to the feedback from others, and “persist” when you should pause and reconsider.

Here’s to the character to persevere when needed, and the wisdom to pause, pivot or stop when necessary.

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