Never give up! Is this always true? | The Chameleon Guide
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Never give up! Is this always true?

As business owners, we are often urged to never give up.

I recently watched the film Eddie The Eagle. He was a class act in never giving up. He had a dream of going to the Olympics and he didn’t stop until he got there. It made me think about whether giving up is ever an option, or whether there are times when you should throw in the towel?

We all know the stories about those people who achieved success with despite multiple setbacks:
J.K. Rowling’s first Harry Potter manuscript was rejected by 12 publishing houses.
Gone With the Wind was rejected by 38 publishers.
Apparently, Walt Disney was turned down 302 times before finally getting financing for his dream of creating Walt Disney World.
And of course, the famous story that Colonel Sanders was rejected 1009 times before finding a taker for his chicken recipe.

As Churchill said

‘Never, never, never, never—in nothing, great or small, large or petty—never give in, except to convictions of honour and good sense.

My issue is that people forget the ‘good sense’ bit of the quotation. And this for me is the nub of the issue.

The number of times I see people posting questions on social media about their business and if they should give up only to be told in no uncertain terms, that they never should. ‘The gold is under the last shovel that you didn’t dig’, ‘The moment you’re ready to quit is usually the moment right before a miracle happens. Don’t give up.’ And so on.

Yes, I know I’m a jaded old cynic, but my issue is they spout this nonsense without questioning whether that business is any good or not.

When should I give up?

If it’s a rubbish business idea, then yes, give it up. Is there really a market for your ingenious combination umbrella and potato peeler?

You might, of course, have the right business idea, but you’re simply going about it the wrong way. Or you might have a good business idea, but not have the right temperament to be self-employed. There are so many factors at play that need to be looked at before you say to someone ‘Never give up’.

This is what struck me about Eddie the Eagle. He constantly came at the problem from different angles. He tried and failed at many sports before he landed on ski jumping when he discovered there wasn’t a British ski jump team and that anyone could become an Olympic ski jumper. When he realised he needed help, he managed to persuade an ex Olympic champion to help train him. And despite the massive obstacles put in place by the Olympic selection committee he finally succeeded in achieving his dream. It’s a really life-affirming film, I recommend it (and Hugh Jackman being in it doesn’t hurt).

This, to me, is the point of never giving up. If it isn’t working, then you have to look at different ways to make it work.

What should I look at before I give up?

So if someone asks, as one Facebook poster did, ‘I’ve been running my business for two years without any success – should I give up?’, I would argue it’s the wrong question.

It prompted a litany of ‘No, don’t ever give up’. Which really irritated me (see above!).

My response was more measured and consisted of asking him a series of questions:
1. Is there a market for your product?
2. Are you solving a problem or providing a service or product that people actually need?
3. Are you marketing it the right way?
4. Do you know how to sell?
5. Are you pricing it correctly?
6. How much is it costing you to run your business?

There are lots more, but these are the sorts of questions you should ask and answer before you blindly carry on doing the same thing in the hope that something different will happen.

There is a chance that you’ve been misunderstood like JK Rowling or Colonel Sanders, and that you may strike lucky with a dogged pursuit of what you’re doing now, but I’m not totally convinced it’s a winning strategy. Get some advice from people who can look at what you do with a dispassionate eye. It may be with a few tweaks, you’ll have cracked the code and off you go. Or it might be that it’s a dud and you should walk away from it and try something different. That’s not giving up, that’s being realistic and changing direction.

So, I think the answer is as a small business owner don’t give up on your dream if you feel strongly enough about it, but look for different ways to make it work. Or actually, realise it wasn’t for you after all – I don’t think there is any shame in that at all and can be the braver decision.

Or perhaps I’ve got it completely wrong and should go and lie down in a bed of fluffy feathers, stroke kittens and buy some rose tinted spectacles?

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About the Author:

About Karen Espley, blogging for The Chameleon GuideKaren Espley of The Chameleon Guide works with ambitious small business owners on her Profit Accelerator Programme. She brings pragmatic and real world advice in a group setting to help her clients make a significant difference to their business through increasing profits and running a highly effective business.

Offering workshops and group profit programmes for companies wanting to reach their full potential.

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