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Is the dream still worth it?

A while ago, I had to give someone some stern advice - to give up on their dream.

One of the toughest questions for an entrepreneur to handle is - is it still worth it? Is that dream that you’ve been pursuing worth putting in any more of your and your investors’ money, and, more importantly, any more of your time and energy? I’m not talking about a good plan let down by execution - that can be fixed. I’m talking about an idea that just isn’t going to fly because it’s wrong. Bad idea, no market, impossible to make the numbers add up - there is a myriad of reasons why some ideas won’t work. But sometimes people keep plugging on, refusing to face reality. Loss of face, loss of self-confidence, not wanting to let other people down - these are powerful disincentives to call it quits, along with the old problem of thinking sunk development costs must still have some value:
  • ‘We’ve invested too much, we can’t throw it away now.’
  • ‘It’s got to work, it has to. It just needs more time.’
To succeed in any big undertaking, you usually need drive, ambition, persistence, guts, and a certain pig-headedness. But some ideas just don’t work, If that’s the case, you need to be able to face it, accept it, and then take appropriate action. It’s called ‘cutting your losses’. It’s not just about money. Your personal energy, abilities and your time are finite resources - you don’t want to waste them flogging a dead horse. Put yourself to positive use on the next big idea.

First posted March 9th, 2008