Don’t Quit Too Soon

Don’t Quit Too Soon
Some people fold after making one timid request.
They quit too soon.
Keep asking until you find the answers.
In sales there are usually four or five “no’s” before you get a “yes.”
Jack Canfield

There are a number of reasons why a business folds and closes its doors. But many of them quit too soon. They become discouraged. They are tired of being told “no” or “I’m not interested” when making a sales call. They listen when others tell them that they’re never going to make it, that they are foolish to keep pouring good money after bad.

Starting a business is easy. It’s sticking it out and growing your business that is hard. Staying in business takes patience. All of us have had days, weeks, or even months when we’ve wondered if it is worth it. No matter what we did, few people seemed to be interested and even fewer were buying. Money is tight. Inventory is sitting on the shelves with expiration dates ticking down to the wire. During that period of our business, it’s all to easy to just throw up our hands and say, “Enough is enough! I quit!”

But if you are truly a “Creative Entrepreneur”, you know that even if you quit, you’ll be back sometime, some day. And that is exactly the reason you shouldn’t give up. It’s much harder to restart your business later than it is to change from a growth mode to a maintenance one and patiently do whatever it takes to stay in business.

A Personal Example

I operate my business with no full-time employees. I made that decision early in the game and created ways to grow the business and profits without depending on employees. That’s great as long as I’m around and am healthy. But a few years ago, the flu turned into pneumonia that wouldn’t react to antibiotics and I ended up in the hospital for two weeks. Recovery at home was slow and operating my business was tiring. It would have been all to easy to just pull back into my shell, like a turtle does when disaster strikes, and give up on the business.

But I knew that once I was feeling better, I would regret it. I would want to be back in business. And, I also knew that if I gave up at that moment in time, restarting would be difficult. Of course, for several months I was too exhausted to maintain the pace I previously had. But Instead of closing my doors, I simply shifted down and went at a slower speed. Friends and family helped me fill the essential orders. My grandson took over the creation of my apartment gifts and discovered that he loved doing it. Explanations were made to loyal customers who were willing to wait. And, I discovered that if disaster strikes an Internet business, a message of explanation can easily be placed on the website. Of course, I’m sure I lost a few customers but I also saw how loyal many of my existing ones were.

Disaster can strike at any time. A husband becoming very ill. Death in the immediate family. Hurricanes. Tornadoes. Earthquakes. And even a pandemic. They can all slow you down. These will be times when you feel that you’ve reached the end of your rope and simply want to give up.

But unless you’ve made the decision to go out of business permanently and know that you won’t want to start it up again later, do what you can to slow down the pace, put as much as possible on automatic pilot. Patiently do as much as you can, without stressing yourself out, to maintain what you have created. Call on others to help you–or if you’re discouraged–find someone to mentor you and help keep your spirits up. You’ll be amazed at how much others are willing to help and how understanding most (but unfortunately not all) customers can be. And, then when the disaster ends, you can switch to the growth mode once again without having to start all over.

Have you ever been tempted to close your business during a down time or a disaster, but had the patience to stick it out? Do you credit that to the existence of your business today? I’d love to hear your experiences as well.

Another Personal Experience

After I sent this out today, I received an email from Cherylann Stachow — Owner of Boodles of Baskets in Canada — which adds to the story.  She gave me permission to share this with you.

Joyce, what a great article!  I’ve had a few of these moments as well. One that I remember the most was at the beginning of my business. I received a contract for a Great Lakes cruise company. We were to create gifts for passengers in cooler bags, as well as bathroom amenity trays.  Things went very well for the first few cruises, but then the company, tragically went bankrupt.  I was left with a lot of inventory and bills.  My suppliers were wonderful. Some waived off the debt completely, others, gave me extra time to pay.  It was a great learning experience. The most important thing I learned for my business, is no matter what, I do not move forward on a contract without receiving payment in full. I do not order one thing until I am paid.  I know not everyone likes to insist on payment up front, but  I have never had a customer go elsewhere because I insist on 100% up front, and I am protecting my business from being vulnerable.
When it first happened, I too thought of shuttering my business, but I love what I do, and I couldn’t see myself doing anything else, so I had to find my way through.  I am thankful every day that I did.