I recently met an author of several books and also had a startup some years before. She lamented how her beauty product was probably too early – timing, indeed, is an important factor in startups. She also shared how many of her books failed to be commercial successes.
Knowing what my own book was about, she asked me, “When did you know it was time to stop?”
I get asked this a lot. Perhaps everyone believes an author on startup failure knows the moment. Perhaps I know the signals, the omens of impending startup doom. That, sadly, is not true at all. It’s not true because there’s no answer. It’s up to the entrepreneur(s).
Steve Blank used a comparison in “Venture Capital is ‘Liquidity Ponzi Scheme” that I often use: “entrepreneurs are like artists”. Both can accomplish great things and be wildly successful. Both can be wildly misunderstood, too. Both, likely, must overcome the roller coaster of ups and [many more] downs before finding success (if ever).
Entrepreneurs and artists are driven by a mission and passion. That’s what keeps entrepreneurs and artists going.
Entrepreneurs, like artists, see the world in their own ways ("different"). Often, they misunderstand or meet odds and antagonists all over. To entrepreneurs and artists, the challenges are opportunities.
When I looked at the author, I responded, “you stop when you’ve lost the passion” referencing what happened at Body Boss. We had lost the passion to keep hitting and overcoming challenges.
A Google search of “failure” and entrepreneurs returns thousands of results, and indeed, entrepreneurs. Jack Ma, founder of China’s Alibaba, is one such example of extreme grit and persistence – his failures are well-documented. When entrepreneurs ask, “when do we know when to quit?”, they are looking for reasons to quit. Many are looking for outside influences to signal to stop when the true answer lies within.
You’re going to run into challenges (opportunities) as an entrepreneur or an artist, no doubt. What will keep you going is passion and a belief in your mission.