To Quit or Not To Quit

The Dip BookSeth Godin’s book The Dip has some inspiring lessons for people at all stages in their career or business.

Its message is quite simple: all new projects and businesses will hit a dip – that point in time when reality sets in and the excitement of the new project has worn off.

Suddenly it all seems too hard, and you wonder whether it’s really worth it.

Many people quit at this point. According to some statistics, 97% of people who start an online business do.

The trick, though, is to identify whether it’s a dip or a dead-end. And the difference is whether your project or business has genuine potential, or just seemed like a great idea at the time.

It’s not just the dip that causes such a high percentage of people starting out online to quit. Having the wrong expectations is a huge driver of those who drop out.

But even if your expectations are right, you’ve done your research, and you’ve taught yourself the new skills you need to learn, you’re still going to hit a dip.

Which happened recently to two projects I worked on.

So the first and most important question (in both cases) was: is this a sound project? Is it something that can succeed, or does it lack the potential we thought it had?

As long as it’s a sound project, then the second question to ask is whether you have the right skills and tools to make it succeed.

If the answers to both those questions is ‘yes’ then you need to question what you’re actually doing – your tactics – to see how they can be changed to improve the results.

This is where the hard graft (pushing through the dip) starts – you need to put your head down, develop and test new tactics and keep going until you get it right.

If the answer to the second question (tools and skills) is ‘no’ you can still do something about it, by acquiring the tools and skills you need. As long as you have the time and budget to do so.

But if the answer to the first question is negative, then it’s time to quit – before you waste too much money.

And there’s nothing wrong with quitting.

It’s a far smarter choice when you’ve determined the project has no legs than grimly holding on until you’re broke.

So how to deal with the dip? Answer those two questions I set out above with brutal honesty and either make the corrections that you identify or quit.

Just don’t hang in there out of a mis-guided determination to succeed against the odds.


Martin Malden

What do you think?

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Eric Buckley May 4, 2010 @ 8:33

    Hi Martin,

    Very timely and helpful information for me. I have recently gone through the same thing … as you know.

    .-= Eric Buckley’s last blog post: Website Planning – Site Structure and Navigation =-.

    • Martin May 4, 2010 @ 12:48

      Hi Dude,

      You’re welcome – glad it was helpful! 🙂



  • Paul May 4, 2010 @ 15:39

    Nice article. It’s a fine line between ploughing on with a never quit attitude and continuing to waste time and energy on a project that has no chance of succeeding. Anyone who has engaged in creating things knows the feeling when you reach the point of questioning yourself about the validity of a project.
    I wasted a long time on a project that didn’t suceed. Looking back I can see now that it was all wrong, but at the time I was in my own bubble and the more effort i put into making it work the more reluctant I was to abandon it. Sometimes it’s hard to be rational about things we have invested so much of ourselves in.

    • Martin May 4, 2010 @ 16:13

      Paul, hi,

      That’s a very good point. I’ll put my thinking hat on and develop a follow-on article with some thoughts on how to assess a project that’s in that state effectively (and objectively).

      Thanks for triggering the idea..! 🙂