Below members of Forbes Coaches Council offer advice for deciding on when to let go of your startup.


From left to right: Terra Bohlmann, Daphne Scott, Sherry Swift, David Taylor-Klaus, Janet Zaretsky, Nancy Marmolejo. All photos courtesy of the individual members.

1. Give Yourself A Timeline 

When you start feeling stressed out and question if your startup idea is going to work (or not), it’s time to put a timeline in place to produce results. You’ll want to put a specific and measurable metric in place that you strive to achieve in a specific time period. Then, the decision point isn’t about feelings, but rather it’s about facts. (Example: three months to sell $60,000 in products.) – Terra BohlmannBrightBound 

2. Start With The End In Mind 

Knowing when to quit and let go is a master skill. We can get caught in very enticing cul de sacs for a lot of seemingly good reasons. In lieu of having an established exit strategy in advance, it is easy to get caught in all of the rationalizations for hanging on and skipping over our own body wisdom that tells us to let go. Remembering that ending isn’t failure is always good too. – Daphne ScottDS Leadership Life 

3. Don’t Trash It, Pass It 

There is value in your startup idea, but perhaps you’re not the one to facilitate it. Before you quit, ask yourself, “Does the idea add value?” If the answer is “yes,” it could be that you have been the visionary behind the startup, but what you need is talent and partnership to move your idea forward. This is why it is so important to surround yourself with people who have different talents. – Sherry SwiftSwift Transitions, Inc 

4. Know The Difference Between The Dip And A Hole 

Read Seth Godin’s “The Dip: A Little Book That Teaches You When to Quit (And When to Stick).” Before a pivot, it’s important to know whether you’re approaching/experiencing a natural part of the cycle (the dip) or are facing a dead end. Knowing the difference is what makes pivoting/quitting a strategy rather than a tactic. – David Taylor-KlausDTK Coaching 

5. If You’re Doing Everything Right, Keep Going 

Ninety-five percent of all startups fail. The question is, did they quit too soon? Likely. If you have a startup and have done all your market research, are well-funded and have a great team, and are following your plan — you need to keep going. Enlist a coach, a strategist and experts as you need. When you are all aligned, make sure you capture all the lessons learned! – Janet ZaretskyThe Zenith Business 

6. Make Sure You Know What’s Not Working 

In addition to examining the financial aspects of the business, what else is happening that can be feeding into the company’s struggles? Just like couples who have to look deeply at themselves to save a relationship, what else is happening in and around the dynamics of your company? Look at leadership styles, communication styles, sales philosophy, values, mission, goals and teamwork. – Nancy 

This post was originally published by Forbes Coaches Council (Top coaches offer insights on leadership development & careers) via 

Forbes Coaches Council is an invitation-only community for leading business and career coaches. Do I qualify? 

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