There are times when most of us feel stuck or lost without knowing what to do further and we start to question everything from why we started this in the first place and why do we continue doing it. We just keep doing more of what we have been doing in the past and getting the same results. Not being able to break this cycle and come to a conclusion is the worst feeling of all and it drains out energy.
Develop Self Awareness
Psychology offers an explanation for this kind of behavior under the name entrapment- it happens when someone feels they are unable to get out of a situation because they have already invested so much in it, in terms of time, money and energy.
Imagine you have an old car, which needs some fairly costly repairs. You get those done but immediately something else goes wrong. Now do you pay for the next set of repairs on the grounds that otherwise you would have wasted the money you have already laid out? Or do you get rid of the car? There is no right answer for this situation simply because every situation is unique and no solution fits them all. The process of entrapment is such that you can easily end up spending far more than the car is worth simply because you are trying to ensure that the money you have already spend was not wasted. The same analogy applies to businesses, relationships and many more situations. We keep investing more and more in the business without making a realistic assessment of the situation.
Know your limits
Perseverance is the biggest strength and weakness of an entrepreneur. Some think founders should keep pushing forward and go down with their ship. The other option is to quit, but often we think of quitting as being the same as failure. Unfortunately, as an entrepreneur, if you sink too far, you’ll have a difficult time getting back up to the surface. If you don’t push far enough, you may always wonder ‘what if I pushed a bit more’.
Entrepreneurs keep going even if others say, it’s impossible, you should give up, it’s a waste of time and money. And also undertake an element of the risk that can ultimately bring huge financial rewards or failure. Although failure can bring rewards in terms of experience and insight which can be expensive but invaluable education.
Every individual has their own limits of investing time and energy into something and one should be aware of their own threshold.
A lot of factors cause hindrance in taking a leap like the shame and social bullying attached to going back to job hunting or not being able to succeed at something new.
Be kind to yourself
Give yourself some time and lay down the facts about your business, the cost involved in it, the profit margins, losses and scope and have a realistic viewpoint. I believe every individual is subconsciously aware of the reality where they should take another chance or fold their cards. Mostly it is hard to accept the facts and make peace with it. Judgments and opinions of other people haunt us but mostly the fight is to only prove it to ourselves and not others. The hardest pill to swallow of all is self-acceptance.
Let’s take this opportunity to address the fact that there should be no shame or guilt attached to leaving your start up and going back to joining a job. You tried your best and things didn’t work out, it’s okay, don’t hit yourself for that. Don’t attach your self-worth to your business’ success. If this didn’t work out, something else will. This is not the last resort.
A wise person is not who keeps trying again and again but one who knows when to stop. We have been engulfed in the culture of toxic positivity by these motivational gurus who do not highlight enough the importance to leave a situation when it doesn’t work out for you.
The self-acceptance should be such that you should feel comfortable about sharing your decision with others. Until and unless you have completely accepted the fact that you want to move on, telling others will not be easy because somewhere you will be afraid of their judgement and their opinions.
There can be a lot of reasons to want to start fresh, keeping in mind that everyone has to do a self-assessment of what they feel is right. Most important of all is to be self-aware of how you truly feel about the venture and people you are working with. If you are going to start fresh, understand why you chose to do so and take those lessons with yourself to the next step.
Be your own Best Friend
Whichever of the options you choose, whether to shut down and move forward or to keep pushing, there is no doubt the decision is going to be stressful and difficult.
In these difficult circumstances, you should talk honestly and openly with your advisors, co-founders, and investors. You also need to keep your employees, who will probably be most impacted by a shutdown or a decision to leave, informed — since they could find themselves without a paycheck to support their families.
In the end, you need to take care of yourself and your family and stay sane. You may end up realizing that shutting down a startup that isn’t working may end up being the best decision you can make for your health-mental, physical, and financial. Sometimes knowing what to do is knowing when to stop.