Secret Diary of an Entrepreneur: Did I get it wrong?

At the start of the year, I figured this could be a great time for a new venture. Now I'm not so sure.

Last Updated: 31 Aug 2010

Generally speaking, I'm an optimistic kind of girl. I think you have to be in this line of work. So when at the start of the year I was trying to decide whether to plough ahead with my new venture, I took the view that although things were tough, there must be a good opportunity for people with the nerve - and the cash - to invest. Figuring I had both, I decided to take the plunge. But as we approach the end of the year, I'm starting to wonder whether I was a bit too bullish...

I must admit, I thought back in January that things would look a lot more positive by now. My feeling was that all this recession hysteria was a bit over-blown - ok, so the first half of the year was always going to be a bit horrid, but I figured that by the end of the year the economy would be picking up again and everyone would be starting to think about cashing in on the recovery (which would leave early movers like me sitting pretty). Unfortunately, it hasn't really worked out like that. Things are just as slow now as they were earlier in the year. And the difference is, people now seem a lot less optimistic about what the recovery will look like, so they're even more cautious about spending money. I'm still feeling confident - but if buyers aren't, that doesn't really count for much, does it?

Maybe the new business has more fundamental problems. But either way, the fact is that it still isn’t making enough money. So now I have to decide what to do about it. I’m reasonably confident that if I was to spend a bit more time on it, I could help Ace (my new sales guy) get it moving a bit faster. But is it really the best use of my time? Does it actually make more sense to focus all my energy on the core business (which is doing ok, but not brilliantly), because I know for a fact that the model works? Or is there such a big upside to the new venture that it’s worth a punt? To be honest, having tested the water, I’m less convinced of that now.

Obviously the nuclear option – canning the whole thing – would be difficult and upsetting for all concerned, including me. But as I’ve said before, I’m not proud: I think that knowing when to get out of something is just as important for an entrepreneur as knowing when to get into it. Besides, the situation has changed since the start of the year (and therefore so have the odds). Calling it quits now isn’t necessarily an admission that the original decision was wrong.

Either way I need to do it soon. I live in constant fear of becoming one of these tragic people who spends so much time weighing up every possible point of view that they find it impossible to actually commit to anything. I've got a friend like that – whenever we meet up, she works herself up into a frenzy trying to decide whether sushi, a salad, or a full-on lard-fest curry is most in keeping with her current state of mental health (and if she's like that with her dinner, I dread to think what she's like at work). There's nothing more dangerous to an entrepreneur than analysis paralysis. Do it or don't do it, but either way get on with it.

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