Sometimes you have to shut it down.

Every entrepreneur has their doubts at some point. The battle to keep your business alive while you try to find the next sale or opportunity can be difficult. Even a successful business that tries to venture out into a new market or offering a new service does so while the entrepreneur holds their breath. Will the decision bring new found riches or will it drain the company coffers forcing the team to regroup and reconsider their options? Unfortunately there is no easy answer.

As one who suffers from “shiny objects syndrome“, I can attest to what I think most entrepreneurs do when they attempt to take advantage of an opportunity. New ideas begin with an emotional response to something. The emotion is the fuel for an Excel spreadsheet or a back of the napkin analysis that then gets used to create a plan that seems destined for nothing but success. As the results prove out, an entrepreneur will convince themselves and others that more time is needed, or tweaks are needed, to ensure success. There does come a time however when the results speaks for themselves and decisions need to be made. If you read this thinking about an opportunity that didn’t work out, read this paragraph again and think about an opportunity that did work out. That’s the funny thing about being an entrepreneur. At any moment anything can happen. That’s part of the excitement of running a business and part of the fear of not knowing what the outcome will be.

The popular ride sharing service, Lyft, expanded into the scooter business across several major cities. Lyft and announced a few days ago that they would be shutting down the service in several cities and laying off some of their staff. It was thought that investing some money into a new market would help Lyft find new customers (or riders). It turns out that maybe they invested too broadly and have now made the decision to scale back their service offering in smaller markets and instead focus on the larger markets where they have a strong presence and customer base. The challenge of dealing with the unique municipal regulations surrounding scooters in various cities made it difficult to grow their customer base and ultimately lead to the decision that will see some cities lose the Lyft scooter service. As a popular and successful service that continues to grow, Lyft is not immune to the realities that exist and undoubtedly will use the experience to help them make better decisions on how to grow in the future.

It’s important to be honest with yourself. Every entrepreneur walks a fine line each day between falling on their sword and reaching the moon. Entrepreneurs are charged with the task of making something out of nothing by corralling people and resources to take advantage of an opportunity. Sometimes the opportunity looks better on paper than the results prove out. Other times the results prove out better than what was put down on paper. The best entrepreneurs know when to cut their losses or double down and there are no rules for how this is done, but there is one guideline: be honest with yourself and the results.

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