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When to Put a Bullet in a Business

April 4, 2013

You went into the venture with the highest of expectations. Then, you invested time, money and considerable effort. You may have a company that has been in operation for years. Now tough times have hit and you need a solid objective means of determining whether to pull the plug. Consider a few factors before you make the decision and watch out for thoughts that seem logical but actually distract you from good reasoning.

This, too, shall pass

You need to determine whether your business is caught in a permanent downtrend or just the bad stretch of a business cycle. In the former situation, you may be making the best buggy whips on Earth, but it is likely time to wind things down or steer your business in another direction. I encountered a classic example of this situation when internet-based companies started taking business away from mom-and-pop travel agencies.

One owner of an agency was working 60 hours per week and making less than she would bagging groceries. I asked her why she continued in the business and she replied that it was all she knew. While I was sympathetic to her situation, she did not have a good reason for staying in business. She could have to work for someone else and made more money with fewer headaches. Or she could have used the internet to help her evolve into a new business. (more…)