3 Compelling Reasons to Quit Your Startup & Begin Fresh

When things aren’t going well in an early stage startup, in the spirit of perseverance, 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’.

Ultimately the decision rests with the founders themselves.

Keeping in mind that ‘failure’ can be a hugely valuable stepping stone and learning experience towards building your next successful venture, here are some signs that one might want to consider wiping the slate clean instead of drowning.

1. The Team Sucks

It happens more often than not that when bootstrapping and getting started, we don’t put enough focus on the talent (or lack thereof) we are surrounding ourselves with. At first, it seems harmless to bring on almost anyone, but down the road, things can sour quickly. If you wake up every day dreading working with your team or are constantly frustrated, have a conversation with them to see where the tension lies. If things don’t improve, it may be time for a new team.

This was the case personally for my last startup, where I wholeheartedly avoided answering the phone when my co-founder called. It lead to stress and a massive loss of productivity. Ultimately, we needed to part ways. It was one of the better decisions we could have made, and a huge relief.

Lesson Learned: Only build a startup with talented, competent, trustworthy people. It’s basically a marriage, so everyone should like each other too. Avoid compromise here.

2. We Dread Waking Up

Every day we wake up and drag ourselves out of bed. We’re 30 minutes late in the morning when meeting the team, and we spend the first 15 minutes avoiding them. We’re not excited to start, and not motivated to get through your to-do list. This has been ongoing for some time now. While this could be related to reason #1, there are a lot of reasons one could be feeling this way. At this point it’s time for a gut check.

First, figure out where this is coming from. Too often we go through these feelings without being self-aware of it and just expect it as a norm. Try and grab it and tackle it. If it’s not working or can’t seem to figure out what it is, have some conversations with people you trust – this can really help us be introspective and think of problems differently. Last, if things still aren’t working out, consider it may be the case that there is no passion or motivation for the project anymore.

This is especially problematic as a co-founder or leading staff member. As a leader we’re is expected to create the vision for the future and bring enthusiasm and passion to the job. If we can’t do this, we can’t expect our staff to, and it’s the first step in the wrong direction.

Lesson Learned: Keep ourselves in check by dealing with a lack of motivation and passion early before it goes too far and starts negatively influencing our work, team and morale.

3. We’re Not Willing to Fully Commit

A lot ventures start on the side of someone’s desk as a side project. This is a great way to test the waters and get some validation without a whole lot of risk, but in the long run will hinder the startup and possibly lead to failure. While there is no perfect recipe or exact answer for this, many entrepreneurs agree that if you want to make your startup successful, it’s got to be a leap of faith with both feet in. By putting our livelihoods and egos on the line, we are significantly more motivated.

If the team has been working on the venture for a significant amount of time but no-one has taken the jump, it’s a good time to do a check to see if this is an idea everyone truly believes in.

Lesson Learned: Starting a company can be a lot of risk. If we’re not willing to fully commit, it may be a sign.

There’s No Black and White Rule

There are a lot of other reasons we might want to start fresh, but keep in mind that everyone has to do their own assessment at what they feel is right. The most important thing is to be self-aware of how we truly feel about our ventures and the people we are working with. If we’re going to start fresh, understand why we chose to do so, and take those lessons with ourselves to our next venture.