One of the hardest parts about being an entrepreneur is knowing when to call it quits. Fledgling entrepreneurs spend years trying to figure out if they are on the right track while digging deeper into debt and living life with full-blown anxiety.
To those who have never tried business ownership, entrepreneurs can look like they love the torture of it all, but it’s just that it takes a special kind of person to ride the wave of the unknown.
But when does the wave-riding become too much? When does it start to become more than you can justify investing in?
Entrepreneurs can justify staying in business much longer than they should, but it’s not always easy to justify walking away from it. Here’s how to tell if you should give up your entrepreneur lifestyle and go back to working for someone else.
1) You’ve Run Out of Money
Whether you have maxed out your credit or your investor up and left town, if you’ve run out of money, it’s time to scale back on your plans to scale your business. You can’t hobble your way to success and money means that you don’t have to hobble.
If you have employees, your first instinct might be to cut back on their salaries, but a 360-degree view of feedback would tell you that’s a terrible idea. You need some of your employees to shut down.
Instead, look at ways you can cut expenses other than human-related expenses so that you can run a skeleton crew to finish things out properly. Running out of money means that you have no runway to get your business off the ground. If you are getting close to running out of money, now is the time to consider your return-to-work options.
A lot of entrepreneurs just go from one business to another, but if you are bad with money, even the best business idea won’t do well in the market. Money makes the world go around and makes your business sustainable.
2) You Can’t Self-manage
If you struggle to motivate yourself to take action, have no follow-through, and need a million strategies and tools to help you stay the course, it might be time to consider that what you really need is a boss.
So many entrepreneurs find out the hard way that while they want to have lots of autonomy and be in charge of their own time, they suck at trying to get things done when they don’t have someone standing over them telling them what to do.
It’s not a bad thing. Not everyone can be a business owner. It will feel worse than it really is. There need to be high-quality employees to work at these businesses. If you can’t self-manage to get things done, it’s time to consider a return to corporate.
Whether you have been trying to get your business off the ground for 4 minutes or 4 years, if you keep putting things off, nothing is going to get done. Consider where your strengths are – if you insist on being in business for yourself, hire someone to help keep you on track; otherwise, head back to the hill and get yourself a job.
3) You Can’t Take the Heat
If there’s one thing that every entrepreneur knows, it’s that the punches just keep on coming. If you are someone who can’t handle the stress and responsibility of having to put out fires in one area while knowing how to light a spark in another, entrepreneurship isn’t right for you.
Business owners need to wear many hats, and sometimes those hats are on fire – perhaps literally. It’s time to go back to corporate if you find yourself wishing someone else could just fix your problems.
You might have thought that you were cut out for managing employees and managing entire workloads at your old job, but that doesn’t mean you are going to be a successful entrepreneur. People who succeed in this business are able to see the big picture while appreciating the details required to move things forward.
It doesn’t mean that you are a bad person. It’s amazing that you decided to give entrepreneurship a try. Sometimes it takes trying something to find out that it’s not for you. There’s no shame in being wrong about an assumption. It becomes more and more difficult the longer you delay making the decision to go back to your roots.
4) You’re Tired of Being in Charge
For some entrepreneurs, the responsibilities associated with being in charge of every aspect of a business is just too much. The dream of having more time and freedom that is often promised along with entrepreneurship turns out to be false for so many first-time entrepreneurs.
You’ll end up working more hours, doing more difficult things, and have very little time left to do the work you were hoping to do because running a business takes up so much of your time.
Many people don’t realize how much time they will lose by starting a business. A lot of times, entrepreneurs will keep pushing harder and harder, hoping to have more time later on, but for so many people, that just doesn’t end up happening. If you are exhausted and feeling like you thought you’d be doing something different or better by now, it might be time to pack it in.
If you are second-guessing your decisions, the best way to test your theories about whether or not you are meant to be an entrepreneur is to hire people to do all the things that don’t get you paid. Spend time doing the thing you are known for and outsource the rest.
5) You Can’t Find Your Footing
Your business might be making money and you might be building a great customer base, but if you aren’t happy with what you are doing and are feeling the pressure to find something that makes you happy, it might be time to reconsider your career path. Not every entrepreneur is happy – a common misconception. The grass is not always greener on the other side, no matter how badly we want them to be.
As an entrepreneur, you might live in a constant state of panic, fear, worry, and dread. That’s not a fun place to be. You might not like the product you are selling. You might not enjoy serving your customers. Whatever the reason, if you don’t think it’s an external issue, you might consider going to get a job instead of looking for a different way of being an entrepreneur.
6) The Truth Hurts
It’s so hard for entrepreneurs to admit that they are in over their heads. Don’t let your thoughts stop you from going down the right path for you. Nobody gets to decide what is best for you except you.
If you feel that getting a job would be a better fit for you, then you need to act on that thought. There’s no doubt that deciding to leave behind your business and venture out to find a job is going to be a scary prospect and there’s no doubt that it’s going to hurt when you have to say goodbye to a thing you built in the world, but it might be for the best.
How can you know if that is true? After a flop or failure in your business, it might be hard to trust yourself. It’s important that you continue to look for signs that you are on the right path and recognize that you might have to make a few wrong turns before you get where you are going.
And remember that you can change your mind again at any time if you find that you’re not cut out for corporate life after all.
7) One Foot In and One Foot Out
Rather than throw in the towel altogether, consider what splitting your time between a part-time job and a part-time business might do for you. If you aren’t cut out for the hustle of building a full-time business, but still want to let loose on your creative side, you might try your hand at both.
A steady, secure paycheque might take the edge off of the entrepreneurial lifestyle you have and want, but being a business owner lets you do things your way in a capacity that is more realistic.
There’s no right or wrong way to do any of this. It’s important that you realize you get to decide how and when to make the change. Some industries are more difficult than others. If you are struggling to make things work, you can also find a way to make your business and job work for you.