It’s only failure if you stop trying

“If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. Then quit. There’s no point in being a damn fool about it.“ – W.C. Fields

I was very interested to read Brad Farris’ recent article Quitting is for quitters: How to keep going when everything tells you to stop.

In the piece, Brad rightly argues that if your business is suffering, you should try a new tactic.

“…doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results isn’t persistence — it’s insanity. 

how to know it's time to quit

However, I want to argue that perseverance is not always the answer. In the business world, there are several reasons why quitting can be a good thing. Here’s a few ways for how to know when it’s time to quit:

  1. Your business is seriously affecting your health
  2. You don’t enjoy running your company
  3. You want to pursue a better opportunity
  4. You have the opportunity to sell
  5. You’re not making any money

Health Concerns

According to a survey by the American Psychological Association, 77% of Americans regularly experience physical symptoms caused by stress. These can include:

  • Low energy levels
  • Headaches
  • Insomnia
  • High blood pressure

In small doses, stress can be helpful. But chronic stress is extremely harmful and should be avoided at all costs. If your business is causing you undue anxiety, it’s time to make a change.

Lack of Interest

“I’d rather be a failure at something I love than a success at something I hate.” – George Burns

If you don’t feel passionate about your business, it becomes difficult to dedicate the necessary time to it. This can ultimately lead to the failure of your company.

In his article, Brad advises us to reflect on change:

“What’s different for you? It might be something that you are doing differently, or it might be something that’s changed in the environment around you.”

To reignite your entrepreneurial passion, you need to figure out why you lost it in the first place:

  • Have sales slumped?
  • Do you feel unable to improve the situation?
  • Are you feeling overwhelmed?
  • Have you lost interest in the company?

If you’re feeling overwhelmed, hiring another employee could leave you free to pursue the areas you enjoy. However, if sales have dropped because of a dramatic market shift, they might not recover.

If you can’t rekindle your passion and drive, it could be time to quit and find a new challenge.

New Opportunities

Rather than running away from a difficult situation, Brad advocates finding a silver lining:

“…if you flip it around and ask, ‘What opportunities are available to me in this challenging situation that I wouldn’t otherwise have?’ you might discover some good things.”

I wholeheartedly agree with Brad on this point. However, quitters are not always running away from a bad situation. Quitting can give you the freedom to pursue new opportunities.

Life plans can get in the way of business—whether you’re retiring, or just want to spend more time with your children. Sometimes, it’s better to quit your company and follow a different opportunity.

An Offer You Can’t Refuse

Selling an existing business can be highly lucrative. There are five major stages of business growth:

  1. Startup stage
  2. Early growth
  3. Established stage
  4. Mature stage
  5. Decline

If you view your business as an investment, then selling out could be the right decision for you. Offers to buy can be surprisingly high, particularly when your business reaches the established and mature stages.

Don’t miss out on viable exit opportunity if you feel it’s the right time.

You’re Not Making Money

In his article, Brad shares his father’s advice:

“…sometimes you need to know when to come in out of the rain.”

For Brad, holding out a little longer was a feasible option. However, this isn’t true for everyone. For some business owners, persisting with a failing company could lead to serious financial woes. If you can’t realistically afford to continue, it’s time to quit.

Although perseverance is important in business, sometimes it can pay to quit. Remember – Bill Gates cut his entrepreneurial teeth on doomed company Traf-O-Data, and Henry Ford stood at the helm of 5 failed businesses before founding Ford. Quitting isn’t always for quitters. Sometimes, quitting is for winners.

Have you quit a business in the past for one of these reasons? Was it the right decision? Do you have signs to watch out for how to know when it’s time to quit?










Photo credit: Alan Cleaver


This post was written by John Philips from are a reseller of SSL certificates from the likes of Comodo, GeoTrust and VeriSign. Find him on Twitter and Google+.


  1. John, I’m so glad you wrote this for us. I got a lot of comments about the “other side of the coin” since I published my article and you did a great job articulating that.


Speak Your Mind