When to drop an idea?

Listening to some of the entrepreneurs describe their ventures on Tuesday at SCT, I found myself wondering at what point some of these people would call it a day – the ideas felt flaky and the financial viability unclear.

The trouble is that it’s very hard to let go – you’ve sunk your emotional capital into the venture; people know what you are doing; you’ve probably invested your own capital and you may have even taken money from friends/family. Just another week/month/customer/project/deal will make everything fine.

So do you stop only when the money runs out?

It’s easy and rationale to say no and that you should stop well before. But the reasons I would advance are as follows

  • Many people are in business to get rich. So why keep flogging a dead horse when you can switch your energy and remaining funds into an alternate strategy. After all, you haven’t just got one idea have you? The longer you delay, the longer until you get rich.
  • It shows bad management to pursue a strategy you cannot fund to the next major milestone with contingency and so ploughing on in the absence of adequate funds to execute a strategy is reckless. Investors will (should!) respect you more for taking a decision to stop pursuing a route that you’ve identified will not deliver, since it’s a matter you should be regularly reviewing. Admittedly your peers may be more critical
  • Whilst we hear of people getting lucky breaks in business, it’s not to be relied upon. Better to get with your “hope” still in tact albeit a little dented and to take on a new challenge, than to completely demoralise yourself and forswear the thrill of entrepreneurship
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