Even though entrepreneurship requires a hard push, set boundaries at the outset of what you will and won’t do.
As you are pulled by the commitment side of the tug-of-war, ensure that you establish financial boundaries. This is a critical element of success. You must set limits for the amount of resources and energy you are willing to exert to win.
If you have not achieved success when that threshold is met, you must step back and evaluate the situation in light of your rules. Do the rules allow for layoffs? Do they include getting more funding? Reducing salaries? Whatever the stipulations of the rules, remember that you created them when you were clearheaded. You must have the discipline to do the hard thing and stick with it. You can’t let your partner or advisors tell you to go a little further when you know it’s time to stop.
Most of the major disappointments I have had in my career have been when I have chased something for too long. In 2000 the Web 1.0 took a horrendous downturn. Despite the terrible market conditions, I held on to a very unprofitable business knowing, just knowing it would turn around. As I passed the thresholds established by my rules, I knowingly ignored them. Why? Because my partner and our prior success reassured me that we could pull out of the nosedive we were in.
There is no disgrace in delaying or even postponing the game because the field is too muddy. And since you’re the ref, you can decide. To persist just for the sake of persistence is a slippery slope.
When I blew out my Achilles tendon, I was determined to get my ankle working at all costs. If my physical therapist told me to do 10 reps of exercises, I did 20. I knew that if I just worked a little harder then the tendon would heal faster, right? Soon, I was doing aggressive rehab and pushing past all the barriers.
Less than six weeks after the initial injury, I tore my Achilles tendon a second time. Going through the second surgery and rehab after failing to follow the rules was much worse than at first. It would have been a better decision to ratchet back and abide by the rules of rehabilitation, rather than rewrite them around my expectations.
Next time, Rich shares another experience that drives home the idea of setting and respecting boundaries in small businesses.