This is always a tough topic to deal with as an entrepreneur and business owner. The financial and emotional investment that you have made is considerable, and it feels to you like you are standing in quicksand. I’m not going to quote Hemmingway and tell you bankruptcy is gradual and then sudden, as I think his work is given way too much credit. But I will tell you that you need to ask yourself certain poignant questions to decide if you should go on or pivot. Most often it is financial distress that forces you out, but not always. This constant financial pressure can wear you down over time. This then extrapolates into something even more sinister; the loss of passion for what you do.
The thought of going to the dentist to kill the day is now more exciting to you than going to work. You are caring less and less about your clients, and your employees are starting to notice. Usually, the process is gradual. But there comes a point when, as a business owner, you finally accept that there is nothing you can do to make things better. You begin feeling a sense of dread when going into the office. While there are no forms to fill out or lawyers needed, you have just filed for emotional bankruptcy.
So is there a way out of this situation, and if so what may it be? Business strategist and the author of The Pivot Map, RM Harrison, has devised a formula to help you find an alternate path when it feels like you and your business have reached the end of the road. Ask yourself the following 5 questions and then decide if it is time to develop a new business model.
- You’re no longer motivated by the work you do.
- The thought of going to work makes you annoyed, or even angry.
- You no longer have a plan to grow the business.
- You realize you don’t like your clients very much.
- No amount of money feels like it’s enough to keep going.
Soul crushing questions no doubt. If you answer yes to any of these questions you are in a bad place. If financing is the issue, bankruptcy may be the best alternative. If you have lost the passion, maybe pivoting on the business model is an option. A lot will have to do with the size and scope of your business, and the effects it may have on your employees. According to Harrison, there are several ways to revamp your business plan.
- Define what success means to you. Consider what you most enjoy about your business and identify your favorite clients, and try to expand in that direction.
- Determine the type of impact you want to have. You can make a living following your passion, but you can never lose sight of what your clients want. A subset of questions will help you answer this.
- Who are your best clients?
- What problems are you solving for them?
- How do they benefit from working with you?
In an impassioned statement by Harrison, she puts into words what I think most entrepreneurs believe. “We choose entrepreneurship, so we can earn on our terms and create a life we love,” says Harrison. “If your own business doesn’t give you the freedom to do that, then what’s the point?”