Know When to Quit, Pivot or Persevere (FS017)

We all face what Eric Ries calls the hardest part of any startup: deciding whether to quit, pivot or persevere. Why is it the hardest part? Because most of us don’t know what the hell to do!

In this conversation we walk you through our own experiences with pivots, quits and perseverance.

By the end you’ll be setup with 3 tactics to help you know what the right decision is for your business and when to make it.

You’ll also get a surprise blogging pro tip from Corbett and an answer to a listener question about free vs paid stuff online. Enjoy!

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We’d love to include your business and question in the show. Let us know what you’re struggling with.

Show Notes

How Scott Dinsmore Re-Launched his Blog and Doubled His Readership“Sometimes you have a website that just isn’t going exactly where you want it to or is growing at a sluggish pace.”

The Dip by Seth Godin“Winners quit fast, quit often, and quit without guilt—until they commit to beating the right Dip for the right reasons. In fact, winners seek out the Dip. They realize that the bigger the barrier, the bigger the reward for getting past it.”

Rick Perry’s list botching — let he who’s really nailed their presidential debate throw the first stone.

How The Wrong Metric Sinks Your Business (& How The Right One Saves It) (FS011) — Think Traffic“What if you built a website with a ton of traffic only to realize it could never end up supporting you?”

Good Life Project: Seth Godin On Books, Business And Life – YouTube — around 16:50 it get’s into the stuff Caleb talks about. The whole interview is excellent.

Chain Smoking Your Projects — great insight here from Austin Kleon. More from him on this topic here.

Freakonomics » The Upside of Quitting — a stellar exploration of quitting through the lens of illuminating situations and rigorous economics.

Shaq’s Kazaam and Jordan’s Space Jam are two great examples of a pivot. Or, was this actually a way to quit? naw, you don’t think you’d call this perseverance would you?

Shittin’ in tall cotton“When you have to relieve yourself outdoors, nothing makes better toilet paper than a few cotton bolls… The implied meaning is that things are going well for you, or that you have joined a group of elite folks.” .

Ron Conway is an angel investing superstar. Here’s some data he collected from 500+ startups. It’s not gold standard research, but he found a fail rate of 40%, and entrepreneurs are 20% more likely to succeed on their second venture. Again, small sample size and highly culled (to be speaking with Ron), but interesting stuff regardless.

Gary Vaynerchuk VideosCorbett’s interview, Caleb’s interview, his Web 2.0 talk on this page is phenomenal, and A rant from the heart, hip and head video (this is where he talks underestimating DNA). Again, I’m not proud of enjoying him so much recently, but I can’t fight it. The dude’s great.

Build a Better Blog in 31 Days — this is the book Corbett mentions in his blogging tip.

Successful Entrepreneurs Focus Better and Quit More Often — Think Traffic“This leads to one of the biggest mistakes that entrepreneurs make: before too long they are overwhelmed by how many projects they have going at once.”

big yellow taxi – Joni Mitchell in concert 1970 – YouTube. And if you really want a proficient jam session, check out this crew.

Closing Thought:

Everything you say ‘yes’ to brings down the quality of every other ‘yes’ in your life.
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  • Jen Hansard

    I loved this podcast (maybe because I can relate on multiple levels). I spent two years pushing my first startup before my biz partner and i made a major pivot into our second startup (it branched off of the first and just seemed natural to create a niche website). Rather than abandon the first project, we thought of it as sister company and have always had plans to revamp it and build them both up together.

    The second startup took off like crazy- maybe because we learned so much from the the first startup? Maybe the timing was right? Maybe we were more focused?

    As hard as it was to step back from our first startup (it was our baby and we were very emotionally attached!), it has been soooooo good!!! It’s so tough deciding whether to pivot, quit or persevere….yet I am so happy with the decision to pivot.

  • Roger

    Great topic.

    And man, I really wanted to like this episode. But it was so boring. I liked Chase’s intro monologue, but the other voices fell flat. Not sure what it was. Maybe because I had already read Lean Startup and The Dip that there was nothing new. And I know Corbett, you did an awesome job with LYL, but that guy – well, its just not as great of an example as Nerd Fitness is in terms of serving your audience.
    In terms of pivoting- some great examples are: Appsumo, Groupon, Yelp, and Fab. Some did announce their pivot, others just went with what their markets were telling them to do with no apologies.
    Well, this is all from an arm-chair-preneur, so I’ll just shut up now.

    • Roger

      Feel free to delete this comment. I must be in a dip.

    • Chase Reeves

      I hear you, Roger. Good feedback.

  • Gabriella

    Great podcast. Really enjoyed it. I especially liked the quote about saying yes to something diminishes the quality of every other yes. And the other quote about doing the best you can do instead of comparing yourself to everyone else. Thanks guys!

    • Chase Reeves

      Thanks, Gabriella!

  • DK

    Another good ‘un – thanks chaps – wonder how the podcast would fair if you only had 30mins to focus the collective brains? I found adding time limits (like 10mins when I was doing podcast interviews) ensured brevity, only the good stuff was explored and was considerate to the listeners time. Feedback offered with no expectations, with respect and a deep waist bow sirs!

    “Everything you say yes to brings down the quality of other yes’s in your life” was worth the price of admission alone… onwards!

  • Tom Ross

    Love this session. Chase, I’d like to offer you free UK accent training.

  • Kiri

    Another great topic. I’ve always heard such conflicting advice on this : ‘never give up’ and ‘stay the course’ vs ‘keep iterating’. So glad you addressed this. The most difficult thing is that you may never truly know whether quitting pivoting or persevering is the right decision until after you’ve done it. But the comfort is that all the failures and lessons you learnt to get to that point will stay with you forever.

  • Martin

    Gentleman, I’m afraid of listening to this podcast! I’ve been debating quitting blogging lately and getting a real job. Gulp.

  • Neil Matthews

    Love Chase’s English accent, but the funniest thing was hearing an American say “twat” excellent.

    Do you have as much fun making the podcast as it sounds?

  • metz

    Do you ever wish you could see into the future and know how things will turn out, so you can stop throwing energy at things that aren’t going to amount to anything?

    Well, A quitter never wins and a winner never quits! :) We must expect the unexpected, life is a gamble.

    I found this post shared on, the Internet marketing social site, and I “kingged” it and left this comment.

  • Pingback: Part 2: The Tools, Books, Systems and Resources That Helped Us Most (FS021) — Think Traffic

Up Next:

Part 2: The Tools, Books, Systems and Resources That Helped Us Most (FS021)

Last week we started a conversation about the tools, resources and systems that have been the most helpful to us. This week we conclude that conversation with a slew of killer resources. Again, if you or someone you know suffers from Infoprepassionprodlearning Syndrome, this conversation is the healing balm to get you:

The Sparkline — a blog for independent creatives and entrepreneurs building matterful things.

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