Knowing When to Quit your Business

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Knowing when to quit your business is a question that all business owners must face one day.   We could quit because our business is taken from us, or we retire, or we choose to take another path, or we simply Quit and Stop.  Information about knowing when to quit your business will arm you with options.

I have been in the same company for 34 years.  I have also been part owner in 2 other companies that are no longer trading, one I called it quits on, and another was quit on me, while I was still a partner.  So the question is when should You call it quits.

I have faced the question of “Is it time to quit”, many times over the last 34 years.  I have read other articles like “Knowing when it is time to sell, quit or restructure your business” and “How to know when to quit as CEO

But then I also read or see inspiring thoughts like the story of Colonel Sanders – KFC. Plus so many other inspiration business stories, which are easily found on the internet.

So when is it time for you to call it quits?

Personal Life Lesson

At 19 years of age, I had been blind for almost 12 months.  I had been tested, poked, lived in hospital, hourly eye drops for weeks on end,  had no friends visit (fear was the reason I later found out). Life seemed pretty bad.  In fact it went from bad to worse.  My mother signed for the surgeons to remove my eyes, I was given the pre op, then …..  Well I thought I saw space ships, so I locked myself in a cupboard – obvious protection from alien invasion for a 19 year old girl.  But what it was, was life showing in my eyes.  The operation was called off, and today, I have 20/20 vision, but not as most people have it.  I won’t go into why my vision is different, as I can do almost everything anyone else can do that has great eye sight.    For this, I credit my surgeon Dr David Tamblyn and God.

Now you probably wonder why I gave you this story.  This is because at 19 years of age, I learnt a massive life lesson.  I learnt that while there is hope, desire and energy – don’t quit and don’t be afraid.  Pretty massive life lesson.  At the age of 20, I decided to “Quit” or deferred my music degree at Adelaide University. Simply reason, physically, I could not deal with trying to see, being treated as stupid – because of loss of vision, not due to my IQ level(which is definitely very far from stupid) and the daily discrimination.  This is part of the reason I am so dedicated to the RSB.  However, this decision to stop and review for a while ended up taking me on a new path.

Quitting can lead you to other opportunities.

During the time I stopped I worked in bars, restaurants and then one day I said –NO MORE BAR WORK.  The next day, I filled in a casual position as a receptionist for 2 weeks.  During this time, I did what I though was my job, I followed the instructions on a telex to contact industry representative businesses, offer them a onetime offer for XYZ, and without knowing it, I sold 80 main frame computers in one day.  So I was offered a job in sales, with training.  This lead to being in IT, trained from Chip burner, programmer, sales, software, etc.  2 years later, I resigned and Accede began its journey.

Quitting can also take you nowhere.

About 20 years into my business career, I decided to be a minor shareholder in a company called Kiddoodles – they made wall murals for children, sold via home party sales.  About 12 months into this venture, the company needed more funds, the 2 major shareholders refused to invest further, so the company was closed.    I ended up paying out about 20K, to settle the debt that I had a part personal guarantee on (none of the other owners would pay, and I did not want my name destroyed), and this company closed.

What did I take from this experience – Experience?  Did it take me anywhere new – No!

Should you quit because of Emotional reasons, or rejections?

If you asked this question of Bill Gates, Colonel Sanders or a range of other success stories, they would all tell you – No.

We all have bad days.  When you look at this image, do you see the sun coming through the storm or a storm brewing? The fact is we don’t know, only your emotions are giving you the answer in your head.

As I have faced this question many times, I can explain that Logic and information about Knowing when to quit your business – is essential.  Here are some steps that really matter.

Step 1. Get out of your rut.

Even if this means having a walk in a park, or reading something inspirational.  Deciding such an important decision in a rut – is not the place you should be. Now, sometimes, you can’t because of health reasons, if so, see a doctor and resolve the medical issue.  If there is no resolution, then the decision may be taken out of your hands already, and you really just need to take the best steps for you financially.

Step 2. Is there Hope?

This is a big question.  I am assuming you have a business plan, you have a budget, you know your cash flow projections, you know your costs.  Based on having this information, you need to logically work out what went wrong – why this went wrong, what you have power over, what you don’t have power over and now, what ideas of hope there are.  If there is No Hope, then once again, your decision is made, and you need to work out the best way to exit the situation you are in.

Step 3. Assess the Viability of your Hope Ideas.

Sounds easy, but this takes time, logic, energy and often external support.  Each idea you have raised, you should have written down.  Now it is time to review each idea.   What do you need to do with your business to enable this idea to be successful?  Each of these steps needs to be assessed and in the end you will clearly see what option you need to take. Once again, if none of the ideas are viable, your decision is clearly made, and you need to take the best steps to exit your business.

Step 4. Plan and Implement this change.

Well the decision is now over.  You actually have decided to plan and implement this new idea and so you are moving forward with your own business.

What about when it is time to Retire?

As my husband is older than I am, this question has also been raised by us over the last 10 years.  We had plans and ideas about retirement that have been taken through the washer.  So is retirement quitting – Yes. But quitting is not bad, it can be the fact that you quit this path, to walk another and that is what retirement really is.

You need to plan how and when you wish to retire.  Does that include selling your business? Can you sell your business?  What are you planning to do in your retirement?  These questions you need to clearly answer.

What if is just TOO much.

I don’t think there a long term business owner that has not felt this at some stage in their business career.   The facts are simple.  Can you change what is Too Much?  Do you have control?  Is this something you have elected to take on for the short term in hope of success in the long term? Can you alter the plans and get through this?

I always find that if we are going where we want to go, we can carry a huge load.  However when we are “slogging” each day,  quite often what is often a basic load in success or hope times, is just too much in these times.  So make a change.  The change should not be to quit until you have gone over the emotional steps above.

What if you aren’t achieving the success you expected?

Now, this is the best question to be asking.  If the success you expected is not being achieved, the first question you need to ask is why?  The answer of why may be:

  • That you need to adjust your plans
  • learn a new skill
  • you need a skill employed you don’t have
  • your market research did not support reality
  • an outside force has come into play, that you now have to deal with.

Whatever the reason, you need to go back over the steps, review, decide, plan and finally implement.  This could be quitting or it could be making a change, or taking a new path with the existing company.

What if you just don’t have the Energy (cash) to continue in business?

I have been here many times.  Each time I have reached this point, I have reviewed the facts and made a logical choice.  However I will admit that each time, due to keeping cash flows, budgets, plans and good accounts I have had the ability to make a choice.

Choice 1 Example of Closing the Doors, but getting something out of it for the future.

I was part owner in a company on Kangaroo Island that due to a GFC and Fires could not bring back a positive ROI.  After all options were considered, the only logical option was to close this business.  However, the knowledge and information learnt on this business venture began a new option for Accede.  This was the beginning of us considering creating products that would service this unique situation. It became the inspiration to beginning product development at Accede.

Choice 2. Example Getting Smarter

Grants, what a nightmare! Yes they can help but how to get them.  After a mass of nightmares and loads of time and money invested into drain of what not to do, I found the answer.  Someone out there knows how to get this and if we pay we can access to these funds.  So, I got smarter.  I employed BDO and they assist us in gaining the grants to R and D.  I have also learnt that I can’t do everything, so I worked out my strengths and my weaknesses.  I have now partnered with People and companies that take these essential weaknesses and lead them to strength. Some of this will mean some loss of ownership and others mean a cost.

Choice 3. Example making the move while you can.

A recent hit to Accede in August of 2015 was that we lost over night $156K in debtors and wips.  What a hit in all ways.  I did the exact steps above. Plus, I added that into my goals the ability to sell Accede in the future.  I have been able to plan and implement the planned change.  Now, success is in the plan.  What we are doing now is following this plan and reviewing your progress regularly.

Non Choice – this is made for you.

If this is I the case, then you don’t need to ask this question.  All you need to do is to try to work out the best way for you to exit.

So what is the answer to “Knowing when to quit your business”?

  • Get out of the Rut
  • Keep your plans and paperwork up to date
  • Review regularly
  • Make decisions and

Enjoy being a responsible business person.

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13 Commentsto Knowing When to Quit your Business

  1. Wayne van Elsen says:

    A great article to refer back to when it “all becomes too much”.
    Thank you for a very insightful article that is quite apt at this time in my life. 🙂

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