When to call it Quits?

Arnold Waldstein, a reader of this blog, wrote a post called When is it Time to Call is Quits?  Quitting can be defined as to leavevacateexit, depart from, withdraw from, abandon or desert.  You can quit almost anything.  You can quit eating sugar, quit the book you are reading or quit the project you are working on. Quitting should not be tied to failure but thought of as shifting paths.  

In the start-up world, there are more businesses that will fail than succeed.  Hard to believe it could be yours if you are deep in the daily weeds because of course all great founders believe that theirs is going to be a success.  Those are the type of founders that investors want to back.

I have seen businesses fail and it is painful for all parties involved but sometimes when you look at the landscape, it is time to quit.  The growth has stopped, the money isn’t there, the investors have lost faith, etc.  It is extremely painful.

I have quit many things over the years and there are times when I think I should quit half the things that I do but I never look at it as a failure but more of an evolution.  Decisions around quitting just push you down a new path.  That path might be brighter because of what you have learned from your past.  It might be the wrong path so you hang left and go down another.  I really do believe if you can get it in your head that quitting is just part of the road map of life, then it changes the conversation around exiting from something.

It is those small mental shifts around hard decisions that can make the light at end of the tunnel look much brighter as painful as making the decision to close shop.


Comments (Archived):

  1. Pointsandfigures

    somewhere in the process of building an IKEA cabinet maybe?

    1. Gotham Gal


    2. LE

      My dad would always tell us (and this is back when doing assembly was more difficult) ‘it’s designed for the common man so it should be a piece of cake for you’. Or something like that. I remember the concept, not the words. Think about that all the time.So he provided perspective. Perspective frames the issue and gives you a way to approach future similar problems and accept current problems.As an investor, a parent, a friend one of the most helpful things you can do is provide perspective for someone who hasn’t been there.Support is ‘you can do it’Perspective is ‘here is why you can do it’.

    3. Susan Rubinsky


  2. Steven Kane

    this is a super important topic, and discussed too rarely. but izhar armony of CRV told me once that he does not want to invest in entrepreneurs who say “never say die.” because such people have no perpsective and celebrate abandoning reason and judgement. sometimes it is the best decisions to “say die.” if one is a venture investor, one is playing very longterm, very broad, very unemotional (in the big pisture) portfolio theory, so some percentage of deals dying is expected. not fun. but expected. and so much easier to deal with. if one is an entrepreneur, one is playing a super small number of deeply deeply concentrated bets. much much more emotionally involved too. so it is much tougher but much more important to carefully consider whether to “say die.” staying too long with a lost cause may cost one another opportunity, another bite at the apple. as an entrepreneur you don’t get that many bites at the apple.

    1. Gotham Gal

      Love the apple bite analogy

  3. awaldstein

    I love this line:”It is those small mental shifts around hard decisions that can make the light at end of the tunnel look much brighter as painful as making the decision to close shop.”So true and obviously on my mind.Big thanks for the call out of my post!

    1. Gotham Gal


  4. BillMcNeely

    I would add be sure you are quitting on logic, not emotion.When I was given the choice to stay or go at Marine Officer Candidate School. I choice to go on logic. The bottom of my feet had peeled off and I had mono. I was not going to make it through the toughest week and it was time to tap out.There have been several jobs where in the moment I just said fuck it and left. That was the emotion of the minute.Lastly be ready to accept the consequences of quitting. When I came back to my college campus people assumed I had made it and I was going to be the first Marine Officer to graduate in decades from that school. I had to be ready to tell folks I had not made it and the reason why.When I applied with the Army I had to explain and show evidence supporting my decision. The Marine Corps had hit me with the Leadership reason for dropping. That’s the kiss of death for an aspiring young officer.

  5. Pranay Srinivasan

    The 2 things that keep me going:- Devoid of current pain (you only think of quitting in times of pain!) – Do you still believe in and love the business and the venture and the vision?- Is the business working? Are customers buying, are goods delivering, is the team performing, do people *care* about your biz?- Then dont quit. Else, quit.A lack of skills / money = find someone.

  6. Twain Twain

    @gothamgal:disqus — Thanks to female leadership like yours and other women who don’t quit (such as Niniane Wang, Susan Ho and Leiti Hsu) … NVCA is getting serious about stopping the sexual harassment and discrimination that happens in technology and is preventing innovation and representation.https://www.recode.net/2017