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Accepting Defeat? When to Throw in the Towel

Defeat is never easy to face. While even the most successful businesses will experience defeat at some point, for a young startup, defeat can feel like a hole that sinks the ship. Ucraft Brew recently experienced yet another defeat, walking away from the Nevada Governor’s Cup with no winnings. The pitch went well, the judges had a great feedback, yet at the end of the day things just didn’t pan out.

So what do you do when throwing in the towel seems like an enticing option? Do you do it, or do you keep going? While I haven’t quite figured this out yet, I think there are three big questions to ask yourself before deciding.

  • Are you still passionate about the idea? It’s important to do some self-reflecting and ask yourself whether you’re still passionate about what you’re doing. It will take a high level of passion to overcome the skepticism you will inevitably face after a defeat, but if you’ve got it, there really isn’t much you can’t get through. The greatest companies in the world were all started by ordinary people with extraordinary passion for what they were doing.
  • Is the risk worth the reward? In the beginning of a business when you’re first starting out, it’s easy to get caught up in the dream. You envision grandiose possibilities where the rewards vastly exceed the amount of effort it takes to achieve them. However, the more you begin to invest – time, effort, and money – the better you begin to understand the risks versus the rewards. While you may be able to recoup the money you’ve invested if you keep at it, you’ll never get back your time or your effort so it’s important to evaluate if what you’re doing is still worth it to you.
  • Are you (and your team) still committed? While passion and commitment may be related, they are not the same thing. Being committed to your business is accepting that you will have to meet certain obligations to keep things moving forward. This might mean having to give up that weekend getaway you had planned to instead stay up all night to re-write your marketing plan. Maybe even more important than this is to determine whether your team is also committed. It’s going to take a lot effort on everyone’s part to keep doing what needs to be done, but if anyone has run out of steam, the engine stops running.

The key now is to give these questions some thought (preferably not when venting over losing out on $25,000). I know Ucraft Brew could work, but are my team and I the ones who will make it work? If I can’t definitively answer yes to the first three questions, then the answer to that question is already clear.

Do you have a motivational speech you would like to share? Feel free to comment below.