Careers · Quitting

When is the Right Time to Quit?

Cecilia Domenighini Marketing

September 4th, 2014

Every entrepreneur experiences challenges that make him/her question whether it's time to quit and try an alternate career, especially if you start listening to different people and advice. But as stated by Bill Bradley 'Ambition is the path to success. Persistence is the vehicle you arrive in.' and the general rule is that entrepreneur never quit!

In the latest FD blog post I just read, Rahim Fazal, the founder of Involver, company acquired by Oracle, says that knowing when to quit is important too. In the darkest moments as an entrepreneur, perseverance and a positive attitude play an essential role in the development of any enterprise. But, how does one know when it's the right time to quit the startup or persevere? 

Rob G

September 9th, 2014

@ Marwan:  ....ergo winners are idiots? :-/ ... i think not.   Winners quit all the time, lose occasionally and are typically experienced enough to know when to quit (never easy when its your business). losing (i.e. failing to win) provides valuable lessons in developing strategies to increase the odds of winning - embrace it, learn from it. 

Christina Tseng Product Marketing, Management Consultant

September 9th, 2014

This is copied from James Altucher but there isn't a good way to link it: 


Every step of the way I was willing to give up if I didn't see some form of traction. Sometimes that meant more users. Sometimes that meant more profits. Sometimes that meant more technology that I really liked and ideas implemented that people wrote great reviews about. 

Perseverance is like a fire that needs oxygen.

Love is the oxygen for perseverance. You can love it. Users can love it. Partners can love it. Investors can love it. There are a lot of sources of love. Businesses and humans need love to live.

Ultimately, you create value for people and that's how you build the love.

Business is just the delivery mechanism of that love.

Soura Bhattacharyya Co-founder, CEO at Lattice Innovations

September 9th, 2014

My philosophy (in my first month in a startup):
Start with the acceptance that you may fail. Then plan to make any failures survivable. In the face of an unsurvivable failure, take stock and move out.
Early exits are easy, it is much tougher to look back dispassionately after 5 years of trying (and early market success) to realize that things are not working out.
Finally, don't live someone else's dream (such as your co-founders').  

Dimitry Rotstein Founder at Miranor

September 4th, 2014

Ah, okay. Well, the general rule of thumb, as told by my mentors, is 3 months. If there is no progress (in terms of traction or R&D) after 3 months despite intense effort of moving things forward, then it's time for a pivot. If pivot ideas are exhausted, then it's time to start something else. If the startup must have investment to proceed, then give it 6 months before giving up.
Of course, there are also unambiguous reasons for quitting, like bankruptcy - can't argue with the fact that you can't pay the bills that must be paid. Or if the team breaks up, and there is an unsolvable IP conflict, then what can you do.
More subjectively, I've seen a lot of cases where startup was in a rut (not hopeless but the team lost motivation), and then something more exciting comes along, then perhaps it's a good idea to make a switch. After all, we're in this for excitement - to do important and interesting things.
Ultimately, however, it's up to everyone to decide this on a case by case basis. Usually, you just feel it when you're ready for a change.

Max Martinez Creator

September 6th, 2014

I guess the most simple answer to this question is when you stop believing in it. However, I do believe that every situation is different and different questions needs to be asked when making that decision. I've personally never have thought about quitting, but here are some questions I'd ask myself if making such a decision.

-Are you happy with your life and what you are doing?

-Who is your competition and are you trying to outdo the wrong companies?

-Are you making or losing money? 
Obviously, if you are making money, chances are you won't want to leave, but maybe you are putting in too much effort for too little of a gain. If you are losing money to the point where you are facing serious life crises, such as bankruptcy or losing your home or car, quit because you aren't going to get anywhere dealing with all that other crap on the side too.

-Do you use your product or service? If you don't, why would anyone else? If you do, why isn't everyone else?

-Do you have options to go somewhere else?

These are just a few I could think of and I hope they help anyone in a tough time.

Kelly McIvor Product Commercialization | Mobile Strategy | Opportunity Developer

September 9th, 2014

So. I have a little more philosophical way to approach this question. it stems, I think, from the basic drive that compels entrepreneurs to action in many cases - regret. An entrepreneur doesn't want to experience the regret of one who had an idea and didn't even try. Worse. that the idea (in the future) is now a part of many people's lives and the entrepreneur 'gave up' before that happened. Entrepreneurs want to at least 'try'.
From personal experience the point at which the entrepreneur can  give up is that where they have a 'story' that explains their original vision, their level of effort, and exemplifies the work that went into it. Once you can say, "We tried, we really did." then closing shop is - mentally - pretty straightforward. If the options have worn thin then you may be at the end. 

David Pong Business Development Manager - Canada at FileMaker Inc

September 12th, 2014

I just recently left this position to look at a startup (negotiating) and to go back to development/consulting.  In a previous company with 2 others where we had over 100 staff, it got to a point where the fun stopped.  I look at any position, there has to be a fun aspect.  It has to be enjoyable, otherwise it will be a grind.

When it's a grind, your passion and commitment will not be the same.  Life is too short, take all the energy and do something where your not asking.  The fact that your asking is a sign.


September 11th, 2014

When to quit?  Humm,  just put them on the shelf.  Dust them off when you are looking for something and see if you might find other avenues to execute.     I use old projects that did not make it to remind me to be steadfast in my due diligence.    There are endless reasons why a project does not make it out into the marketplace.   If it does not go, use the opportunity to learn, and not make the same mistake twice.  

Cecilia Domenighini Marketing

September 4th, 2014

Sorry if I wasn't clear. From the blog post, I am asking when a specific startup.

John Shiple

September 5th, 2014

Read up on Zombie Startups - " a company on life support, making just enough money (usually with concessions from the employees) to stumble along.  There's not enough money to grow the business, but the economics aren't quite dire enough to close the place down.  These are 'zombie companies' - the walking dead." -

It's the closest to what you're asking about. Here are some links:
Lots of thinking and discussion on this topic.