Business Productivity

Decision time: Should I stay in business

- September 19, 2010 3 MIN READ

Six months after launching my new business I was confronted with devastating news. My dad was diagnosed with a brain tumour, and lost his life just one month later.

I had only just turned 23, and losing my dad in this way shook me to the core. The way I think, act and behave was changed forever.

Give up or stay in business?

I suddenly found myself at a crossroads and didn’t know which way to turn. I suffered a loss of identity, direction and passion. I went from being totally fired up about my new business to wondering whether it was worth pursuing at all.

You don’t need to go through trauma of that magnitude to find yourself asking the fundamental question about whether staying in business is the right thing to do.

Maybe your business isn’t as profitable as you’d like. Maybe you’re not getting the praise you deserve. Perhaps your relationship is on the rocks.

Flying solo in business is difficult enough. If things aren’t going as planned or factors in other parts of your life change, how do you decide whether to draw the final curtain on your business or keep going?

Playing the ‘what-if’ game

Sometimes it feels like the fate of our businesses lies beyond our personal influence. The ‘what-if’ soundtrack starts playing in our heads. You know the one, I’m sure. It goes a bit like this:

    Want more articles like this? Check out the decision making section.

  • What if a contract arrives tomorrow that turns my business around? What if it doesn’t… how long til I run out of cash?
  • What if my lesson in life is to go through hardship in order to understand what ‘really’ matters in life? What if I’m actually not meant to learn that at all and my persistence with this goal is preventing other opportunities from turning up?
  • What if the struggle is simply to prepare me for better things yet to come? What if it’s a sign that this will never work and I should get out as soon as I can?

Stop right now.

Re-claim your power

Playing the ‘what-if’ game achieves nothing other than a growing sense that your business and your life are outside of your control.

Knowing whether or not you should persist with your business isn’t as simple as looking at the financial statement for the year or conjuring up imaginary best- and worse-case scenarios.

It has more to do with intangible factors that, fortunately, you do have a whole lot of influence over.

For soloists, it isn’t just about the business, it is about how much resilience you have and whether or not you have the persistence to do what it really takes to make it work – even in the face of adversity.

It’s all about you

Instead of wondering ‘what if’, sit quietly when you’re at peace and try asking yourself ‘Do I have what it takes’?

The answer will come. Maybe not immediately, but it will come.

Be decisive

If the answer is yes, make your decision and stick to it. No ifs, no buts and no going back.

Your only option now is to do whatever it takes to be successful. That might mean acknowledging that in order to achieve your big dreams you need more education, extra emotional support or to change your strategy.

Want to know what it took for me to decide to continue on after going through the most gut-wrenching and traumatising experience of my life?

I decided to do what Dad would have done. A resilient farmer, he taught me that when bad stuff happens, you pick yourself up, dust yourself off, adapt to your new circumstances and get on with the job.

And you know what? As soon as I made my decision to stay in business, my focus, passion and direction came back in to play. Big time.

Have you ever found yourself at a similar fork in the road? How did you decide which path to take?