HOW TO DECIDE WHEN IT'S TIME TO STOP AS A STARTUP FOUNDER

Updated: 6 days ago

Article source: WAHID TASHKANDI TASHKANDI, startup daily.


We’ve all seen it: the devastated face of a founder in the Shark Tank being told their business model isn’t viable after spending hundreds of thousands of their own money on it.

It’s always a mixture of pain and horrible, horrible clarity. They knew they should have quit, or pivoted, or reiterated a long time ago. So why didn’t they? We tend to view our startups like we view getting married or having kids: a lifelong commitment.


But really, they’re more like getting a hamster. Businesses are on a different lifespan to humans. Half go under within 5 years, and 96% are done in 10. The corporate world is a “when in Rome” situation. You have to adapt your timelines to the accelerated business lifespan, rapid cycle through MVP, launch, and failure, and start all over again with a new idea (if you’ve got the stomach for it).


A horrible amount of successful (and that’s a keyword) business leaders will give you the same hackneyed advice: never give up. What you don’t hear – perhaps because it makes for slightly less exciting journalism – are the failed founders who tell you “I gave up and it was probably the best decision. I lost money, but I could’ve lost a lot more”.


If your company is floundering, cashflow is flowing out rather than in, and you’re not gaining any traction, it’s time to make a scary decision.


Bailing is better than failing. But how do you know when to jump?