Eternal optimism suits entrepreneurs well, giving them the courage and energy to pilot their ventures through the usual trials and tribulations of beginning a company. However, not all startups will make it. Everyone knows this. So if the odds are obvious, is there any harm in taking a moment to think about the unthinkable? To ask, “What if this doesn’t work?”
Depending on whom you speak with, talk of pulling the plug might be taboo. No one wants to spend too long reflecting on the odds of not making it, however one chooses to define success. But a brief consideration of what failure might entail can spare the dreamer / tireless worker unnecessary anxiety and heartache when – I of course mean if – things turn sour.
Ask Yourself What You’re Willing To Sacrifice
When a startup comes onto the scene we call it a launch. A number of our metaphors liken inspiration to a rocket taking off. How much thought do we really give to preparing for something going wrong?
Before climbing aboard your star-bound ship, ask yourself what you’re willing to sacrifice and what you’re not. Everyone holds themselves to different standards. People will pass judgement regardless, but if you’ve asked yourself this question and answered honestly (as best foresight allows), you’ll be able to live with your decisions. You are after all the only one that has to live in your skin.
Set Clear Limits
Money often does the work for an entrepreneur here. When it runs out, the jig is up. No savings, no investors, no profits, well the choice has been made for you. Again, certain things can be determined before reaching this point of no return. Will you use your own money for your startup? Family money? You’ll find plenty of people to advise you either way, but you’re the one who lives with the consequences. Setting boundaries early makes the heartbreaking decisions easier to accept. Sort of.
Acknowledge When You’ve Crossed The Threshold
Remember that optimism mentioned earlier? Don’t ignore what the number are telling you. From the time the Titanic struck the iceberg, sinking was a mathematical certainty. Even the demise of a company affords an entrepreneur choices about how to act. How founders respond to the tough breaks will decide whether or not people do business with you again – this group includes employees, investors, customers, everyone involved. Neglecting reality will make you untrustworthy and only add to the damage toll.
Before Taking Another Step
If you’re thinking about closing shop, the first question to ask is: “Have I tried everything?” Are you sure? Are you really sure? Chances are, if you’re a true blue entrepreneur and pondering a halt to your project, you’ve been torturing yourself repeatedly with this question. It doesn’t hurt to ask one more time. Mistakes can be learned from, life can go on, but doubts are hard to put to rest. Leave no room for “What if’s” to sabotage sleep.
Phew, That’s Done
Now back to planning for your success you go. Did that hurt so bad? Seriously, there are a ton of sources that talk about the importance of having initial plans, the difference between businesses that succeed and fail, but recommendations to even entertain the thought of what failure might mean before starting… What say you?