When All Else Fails

Many entrepreneurs come to the point where they must make a decision as to whether or not to continue with a particular enterprise. Things just don’t seem to be working; the breakthrough always seems to stay just around the bend. The entrepreneur’s business and personal finances may be in a shambles but the great idea that the entrepreneur has been passionately pursuing still seems to be a star in the heavens worth pursuing. The question will arise in the entrepreneurs mind, “Should I just give up?”

For those that are in this position, there are a several questions that you may want to ask yourself, the first being, “if I stop working on this idea for right now, am I really giving up?” one person can’t really answer this question for anyone else, but there are things to consider when you feel that you are behind the eight-ball.

First of all, what have you learned? To be an entrepreneur with a dream often means learning many lessons, some of them quite hard. If you begin to peel away the layers of your situation and analyze them, you will very likely find many things that could have bene done differently. These are lessons learned at a high price, but they are lessons that many other entrepreneurs have also learned. I once heard a successful entrepreneur who has hailed as an overnight success say when speaking to a group” Sure, I was an overnight success; it only took me 27 years to get there.

Second, once you have peeled away the layers of your experience, you will be left with the core of your idea. Do you still have a passion for that idea? Your passion could still be a wonderful idea, but perhaps you will be able to see a better way of pursuing your passion. Quite often, that first pursuit (or second or third, sometimes it takes time!) is not quite aiming in the right direction, or at the right market or the right approach.

Perhaps you have not found the proper situation, or partner or timing for your idea. I am reminded of the story of Colonel Sanders of Kentucky Fried Chicken. In 1956, Harlan Sanders had perfected his recipe, but he was 66 years old and broke. He had an idea; to get restaurants to use his recipe for a small fee. Four years later, 400 franchisees were using his recipe and Kentucky Fried Chicken was on its way.

The key to being a real entrepreneur, in my mind, is not whether you continue working on a particular situation, but whether or not you are able to take something away from a situation that is not tenable, and create something new and more passionate to pursue with all your energy. Sometimes, that means stepping back, doing what you have to do to keep your life organized, and then re-launching. The true spirit of an entrepreneur has a long term dream, and the commitment to that dream sees them through.

One thought on “When All Else Fails

  1. Good counsel, Kevin – and helpful encouragement for all of us to keep our dreams alive, while adjusting our plans and efforts to capitalize on the realities we face. Your message is especially timely since so many of us have impulses to re-think, tweak, or even radically re-invent our businesses and our roles as we look forward to the new year and decade. One thing I’d add is to remember we do not have to do all the thinking and re-visioning alone — rather, we can seek out ideas and support from colleagues, other entrepreneurs, friends and acquaintances, and even professional advisors (!) who can widen our perspectives and help us see beyond our blind spots to those possibilities that may really be just beyond the bend. They just might help us “do what needs to be done,” too!

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