Small business management: When is it time to move on, dig in?

when its time to say goodbye

Persistence. We all admire it and without a doubt, it is one of the biggest attributes a small business owner needs to achieve success.

However, sticking with a failed strategy too long can cause your entire venture to fail. So the question small business owners are always asking themselves is this: Should I give up on this or does it need more time?

It’s not ab easy question, but there are a few ways to answer it or perhaps it would be better to say that there are a few different approaches you can take when you’re wrestling with this question.

Know what takes time

There are some aspects of building a business that clearly take time and you need to understand what they are in your industry or in your community. If you have experience, these areas are probably well known to you. But many new small business owners are venturing into personally uncharted territory. In this case, there is no substitute for working with an experienced mentor.

Having an experienced and successful business leader in your corner can help you sort out the aspects of your operation that will take time and those that should be abandoned quickly. If you can get free advice from a SCORE mentor, that’s fantastic. If you can’t find a good fit via that route, consider hiring a coach.

You must see this expense as an investment in your future and a way to prevent you from making costly mistakes. If a good coach can help you safely navigate around some money holes, it will be money well spent.

Also, I assume that you’re reading articles and blogs, and finding advice or ideas in those places. If you encounter some impressive success stories where everything fell into place quickly for the owner, be skeptical. Those are often untrue or fail to include many important details.

Long-term, industry-leading success comes from a long string of good decisions where the business owner is repeatedly making incremental 1-percent improvements. Overnight success is virtually always preceded by months and years of hard work.

Throw the spaghetti against the wall

When you have the opportunity to try a variety of strategies to improve your operation or solve a problem, give them all a chance via a short and inexpensive trial run. Then analyze your results and decide how to proceed.

Understand that the “losers” aren’t necessarily bad. When you do comparisons like this, it should result in prioritization more than elimination. Invest in your most promising strategy or procedure first and once you have a good idea of its full potential, then give your second-place finisher a bigger trial run.

The beauty of these kinds of comparison tests is that they teach you a lot. You’ll learn some unexpected lessons that you’ll ultimately be able to apply elsewhere in your business.

Online marketing warning

I wanted to take just a moment to give you a special warning about “all things digital.” If there’s one truth about the Internet that I think we could all agree on it’s that things get “over hyped” in a nanosecond.

Further, the power and the reach of the Internet naturally create expectations that are too big and prove to be unreasonable. We read blogs about how a person starts selling via an affiliate program and within four weeks is making $10,000 a month. Most of these are untrue…or at best, omit important facts.

Of all the lessons I learned in economics classes (and life) here are two that are unshakable:

  • There’s no such thing as a free lunch, and
  • If it seems too good to be true, it is.

Making decisions based on those two truths will also help you know when it’s time to move on and not throw good money after bad.

Let me share one specific piece of advice regarding content marketing: It takes time to build traffic to your website. If you publish the best piece of content on a given topic tomorrow, don’t expect your website to blow up with visitors. It takes six months to a year to realize the benefits.

Are you dealing with something right now that has you wondering whether it’s time to move on or dig in? Ask yourself these questions:

  • Have I turned to a trusted mentor for guidance?
  • Have I tested this against its alternatives?
  • Have I been sucked in by hype?

Persistence is great, but don’t persist yourself out of business.