As a business coach and consultant, you can be darn sure that one of the phrases that knocks me to my knees each time I hear it is: “I have no choice. I have to quit.”
It actually gives me physical pain when I hear of a colleague or former classmate leaving their entrepreneurial dreams behind because they feel that they have no other choice.
And way too common.
As many of you know, it’s the reason I became a coach in the first place. I was minding my own business, building my homeopathic practice with the support of my coach and mentor, Pat Mussieux, when one day I found myself lamenting to her that yet another of my colleagues had closed the doors of their practice and was going “back” to their “day job.”
And, as the story goes, she gave me a few moments to feel sorry for my colleague and to feel sorry in general that this sort of thing happens, and then she “charged me” with the ultimate challenge: “You could sit here and be sorry about it, or you could take up the cause and do something about it.” And the rest, as they say, is history, for on that day a coach was born, and I haven’t looked back since.
I’ve had the honour, and the privilege, of meeting some pretty damn fine business people over these last several years, and throughout my learning and growth I have kept my ears open each time I have heard of someone else leaving their business or closing the doors of their shop…I am a curious person by nature, and I wanted to get a sense of what was really going on for them…I wanted to understand why they were quitting, what was at the root of it, so that I could watch for patterns, habits, behaviours, anything at all that might be sign post in my own clients that would perhaps indicate that they, too, might be heading down “that road.” Here’s what I have discovered (so far) about why people quit:
- They are tired. Let’s face it, running a business is like caring for a toddler – one that never sleeps! You have to analyze every move, assess every nuance in the market, and constantly monitor every single thing you put into the business (every dollar, every marketing effort)…and watch what comes out (every dollar, every closed deal)! It’s bloody exhausting, and can feel rather thankless at times, especially in the early days.
- They feel alone. Ah, this is one that hits particularly close to home for me. I know the loneliness of the entrepreneur – it’s a very specific type of loneliness, that feeling you have when you look around at your usual support system (mom, sister, best friend from high school, women in the book club) and realize that, when they ask you, “how’s work?” And you reply with something like: “Holy crap, yesterday I had this amazing sales call with a lead I met through BNI and she pitched me this concept about how I could catapult my ROI from 35 to 70% by Q1 of 2016 without investing a cent of my reserve fund – you know, that $250K I have tucked aside for new projects – and I thought I was going to pee my pants with excitement” that they have no idea what the hell you are talking about. The blank stare, that vacant nod, and the vague smile and segue into little Johnny’s soccer game…that’s what happens when you’re hanging out with people who don’t “get it.” And that truly can be an isolating, and depressing, place to find yourself.
- They’ve no idea what to do “next.” They are fresh out of new ideas. They’ve hit a plateau in their business that they simply cannot see their way past (or around, or beyond.) They wrack their brains trying to “think their way through it,” but nothing comes. Nothing. Zilch. Nada. So they quit because the problem, it appears, is insurmountable.
- Their “real lives” get in the way. This happens mostly, I am saddened to report, to women. The pressure to get Johnny to soccer, to help with this or that fundraiser at the school, to head the PTA, feed the cat, clean the house, and otherwise take care of all things “personal” in the family simply becomes too much and something has to give. So they quit the business. It seems like the easiest thing to do.
- They run out of money. In my interview with Carol Frink (the only woman I have ever met that lives, eats, breathes in numbers…kinda like me and chocolate!), she raised a rather harrowing statistic that most businesses fail because they quite simply run out of money. Now, I admit, this astonishes me…but I have never really understood why people think they can start a business without money to put into it. I mean, it takes money to make money, right? But let’s face it, even some of the most astute business people on this planet have lost it all at one time or another (some more than once) and while some can find the means to get back up on the horse, others simply cannot.
Now, I am sure that there are other reasons people quit their businesses, but these are the primary ones I have come up against so far in my own travels. And, to be perfectly honest with you, I have danced with each and every one of them myself from time to time – sometimes more than one of them at once!
And here’s why I haven’t quit…yet. Because when I do quit, I want it to be for 6th reason that people quit their businesses: They’re “done.” Sometimes an entrepreneur throws in the towel because they are quite simply finished. They’ve done everything they set out to do. Accomplished all their goals. Made their dreams come true. And that was that. And now they’re off to new places, to reach new goals, and dream new dreams that have nothing to do with business whatsoever…for now, anyways.
So here’s your homework for the next 7 days: perform an “I Am Ready To Quit Audit.” If ever the thought enters your mind that you’d rather dump this entire business in the trash can and grab the next flight to Vegas, pause for a moment and check in with yourself. What’s really going on for you in that moment? Are you overwhelmed? Tired? Just feeling like you’re banging your head against the wall? Acknowledge how you are feeling. Thank that feeling for coming up. And make a choice: will today be the day you quit? Or are you going to get back up on the horse again tomorrow? Because you do have a choice. And each day, you get to make it again.