When You Should Quit Being An Entrepreneur

hand over mouth upset worry

Photo: HidingInABunker via Flickr

I just read about a company that is on its third pivot. When is enough is enough?The founder is young and sharp. He’d be a valuable asset at any other tech company, but he can’t seem to throw in the towel.

Some pivots, of course, work.  Path is a great example.  So are Fab and Turntable. But most don’t.

So what’s a smart, young entrepreneur to do when they realise their startup is failing? When should they call it quits and crawl back to corporate America? Or at least to someone else’s successful startup?

The Gowalla founders took heat for getting acqui-hired by Facebook and shutting down the product. But really they were smart.  They knew Foursquare had crushed them and they joined one of the best companies in the world.  They weren’t afraid to realise they had “failed.” Part of being business savvy is knowing how and when to make that incredibly tough call.

“Failures” are inevitable and they’re a good thing. They’re what make the startup world tick. If startups didn’t fail, others wouldn’t survive. A Facebook cofounder said if the company had been started today it would have been toast.  It wouldn’t have been able to hoard enough necessary talent because everyone wants to have their own startup now.

There are a lot of pivots going on; a lot of talented people are working on small ideas that will never become big businesses. At some point (soon) they will run out of cash and have to ask themselves,  Do I keep trying to force a company or do I temporarily lay my entrepreneurial endeavours to rest?

While we’re not trying to encourage quitting, more founders should ask themselves tough questions. Maybe it’s time to help someone else make their dream really big. Tomorrow’s companies depend on it. Plus that corporate experience could be what makes your next startup a success.

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