As a coach, I’ve witnessed a lot of suffering in business. Some of it is normal and transient, but a lot is persistent. The continuous suffering is almost always due to indecision in the face of a universal dilemma.
We’ve all heard the saying “Winners never quit,” but seldom in conjunction with its complement, “Don’t flog a dead horse.” The two sayings define a common dilemma: Do I keep going, or do I quit?
One saying tells us to never, ever, ever give up. The other tells us to quit wasting time and resources on a lost cause. Either choice might work for you. What will NOT work is getting stuck in the middle.
You wake up every morning dreading the day.
Cash is always a problem.
You don’t take a regular paycheck.
You don’t know your costs or what it takes to make a profit.
You can’t seem to hire or keep good people.
You bid jobs from a position of fear and desperation.
You are in the middle. That’s no place to be, at least not for the long haul, because it results in a lifetime of challenges.
Being stuck in the middle is a result of indecision, and the solution is to make a choice. One option is to stay the course and fight your way out.
The second option is to quit. However, because quitting is frequently perceived as a sign of failure, friends and advisers are usually reluctant to recommend it — even when it is the right choice.
When making your decision, it is important to recognize that “not quitting,” by itself, isn’t a winning strategy. You have to quit the right things to avoid staying in the middle. To win, you have to recognize what winning is and relentlessly pursue those things.
Take a regular paycheck for the work you do AND draws for the risks you take.
Know how to attract and keep good people.
Keep books and know how to use them.
Have effective marketing and sales processes.
Bid with confidence and appropriate margins.
Command mutual respect with customers.
Delegate to good people who run the business with written systems.
Quitting Doesn’t Mean You’re a Failure
We are conditioned to believe that quitting means failure. It does not. Deciding to quit is a form of winning. You win when you choose your future. You win when you act courageously and decisively.
Neither are you a failure if you simply don’t like business. You are not a failure if you choose to stop doing what you don’t like or what doesn’t suit you. You are not a failure if you don’t like the risk, the stress and the hours required to run a business.
The only true failure is the failure to decide.
You Must Decide
Winning at business does not happen naturally or by accident. The middle, on the other hand, does. Indecision and inaction will deliver you to and leave you stuck squarely in the middle. To avoid a life of persistent suffering, you must decide either to move out of the middle or to quit.
Quitting does not always mean shutting down. You can always try to sell your business, but that is a topic for another article.