When to stop your start-up or break-up with your business.

In the business world, the norm is to start-up loud and then shut-down quietly. Except when it comes to Laura Beck, the founder of Stripedshirt.com. Her so-called Indie-No-Go, Kickstopper campaign is teaching us a few things about failing, the right and wrong way, and why sometimes, breaking up with your business is the only option.

Just about every business blog, article, and website you see out there tells you the same thing: when it comes to business, you have to be willing to stick with your start-up, through the good, the bad, and the garage full of unsold t-shirts. Without arguing that perseverance isn’t a key part of success, some businesses aren’t meant to succeed, and knowing when to quit could save you an immense amount of time and money.

It’s So Hard to Say Goodbye

After five years of barely selling 1000 shirts, Laura Beck decided her break-up was long overdue. In fact, as she stood looking at her garage (still full of boxes of striped shirts) she realized something important: she should have shut-down her start-up a long time ago. Her PR video of what she’s calling her Indie-No-Go has been going viral, but it’s the warning signs she ignored on her path to t-shirt bliss that need attention.

The Warning Signs Were There All Along

  1. She was never all in. Laure could have dedicated so much more time to starting up her start-up than but was never really fully committed wanting it to be part-time work and passive income.
  2. She had overly complex tech issues. From the web platform down to the shopping cart, things were out of control from the beginning, glitchy even. The lesson learned here was: simplicity is key for a start-up website.
  3. Her pricing was backwards. She based my pricing on a cost basis rather than market basis because she didn’t know better. Now she does.
  4. She had a focus group of 1. Surprise! It was all her. She started the business because she wanted to do it, for herself, to create a product she wanted. That was the full extent of market testing and it totally backfired. There were pivotal moments when she thought would sell out the boxes in her garage, but it never actually happened.
  5. She had no accountability. She started stripedshirt.com on her own, with her own money, out of her own account, and didn’t bring anyone in it with her. The result was a lack of consistent drive and accountability. She had no one there lighting the fire under her, so it was easy to put off tasks and quietly go about ignoring the signs. That desire to succeed and that energy you get from someone who is as invested as you are may have changed the outlook of Stripedshirt.com from the very beginning. Not having that certainly did.

Is There A Right Way to Fail?

Maybe there is no right, or wrong, way to fail, but there are definitely warning signs that you may not be on the right path. The quicker you realize those signs, the quicker you can move on to something else that has a better chance at success.

The business world is dog-eat-dog, rough around the edges, survival of the fittest, so failing is pretty easy. Failing the right way, to save yourself some time and money, not quite as simple. So keep an eye out for the warning signs and don’t be afraid to shut-down your start-up if your business break-up is overdue. The best part about it: you get to take the lessons with you into your next venture.

Read the original INC article published on June 27, 2016.