The big dipper

I wouldn’t normally blog about a book but  Seth Godlin’sThe Dip’ explores   one of the most difficult and profound questions in life  – knowing when to quit and when to keep going. If you don’t know of Seth, you should – he’s a marketing legend! Challenges are constantly around us  but when the going  gets tough with  a hobbie,  job or startup should we give up or keep going?  Don’t be afraid to give up when a situation is  no longer  a challenge or after much effort it’s not growing. Good things will happen!

I gave a talk a couple of weeks ago to a group of PhD students about the how a business idea literates and that sometimes you have to give up on a product/idea. After the presentation one of the PhD’s approach me and said that their Pharma startup has been working on a product for 10 years. They’ve  just run out of money and the product is only just going into clinical trials. Unfortunately they don’t know if the product will pass. Nightmare situation ! Give up or keeping..

On the same week one of my family asked: “when are you going to give up”, referring our startup. This is a very good question. One which I have tried to answer in previous posts – Knowing when to quit flogging a dead Startup. This is probably the most difficult question of all for a founder. And That’s probably why they asked. NOTE: They’re already  a successful company founder 🙂

Seth is so right – it’s really hard to know when to quit or when to keep going. Success maybe just around the corner but that corner could just another shoulder obscuring the next climb. During my employee career I sometimes found it easy to stop pushing new boundaries and settle into a comfort zone. I believe it so important to keep pushing forward  and knowing when to quit if  your not moving forward.  However it’s not always easy to let go of something you have put so much effort and dreams into, like a startup or a new job.

You will know when something has run its course but are often too afraid of change to doing anything about it. Unfortunately change will eventually be forced upon  you if you settle for too long. The problem is the ego gets in the way of quitting – doubt kicks in. What will people think if I give up, ‘he’s a looser’ or ‘she’s a quitter!’, etc. The Dip is about  seeing the challenge for what it is – a  test, a learning experience and something that should be ultimately rewarding. It is there to be overcome one way or another – just get over it!

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3 Responses to “The big dipper”

  1. Ben Says:

    Hi Nick,

    Interesting topic. I’ve just finsihed the dissertation, Yes! But funnily enough that was one of the main (and most importamt) lessons a couple of the most successful of the entrepreneurs I interviewed had learnt from their experience.

    “getting the balance right between when to persist and when to stop is crucial”

  2. Nick Barker Says:

    Hi Ben!

    Excellent – I’ll save the ‘well done’ until you get your mark – failure or success 😉 Clearly giving up is really a hard question.. You kept going!

    Failure is part of learning and success, so keep failing 😉 Don’t lose faith!

  3. “Startups are damn hard”, but rewarding.. « Nickpoint Says:

    […] For me knowing when to quit is the hardest question for any startup founder! Unfortunately startup founders often become obsessed by achievement at any cost. They become like sports people who over-train and leave little time for recovery. This leads to burn out or diminishing returns. A vicious circle of in frustration and bitterness is then formed. Sometimes you have to take a break to see the bigger picture or quit to succeed!!  […]

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