Duff O'Melia

To Quit or Persevere

It takes real guts to abandon a strategy, especially if you’ve gotten super good at the tactics. That’s precisely the reason that switching strategies is often such a good idea. Because your competition is afraid to.

I agree with him. Abandoning a strategy is often a good idea.

His post brought to mind a few questions I’ve thought about in the past along similar lines. When do you quit? How do you know if your current strategy really should be abandoned, or if you’re just quitting before your strategy had enough time to succeed?

We’re often given seemingly conflicting advice in life:

  • “Never ever ever quit.”
  • “Embrace change and be willing to change strategies because the path that you’re on might not be feasible.”
  • “It’s not possible to fail if you don’t give up.”

I’m not really sure how to generically know if it’s time to change strategies. I am, however, capable of coming to a conclusion for a specific business instance. Soapadoo.

Is the whole strategy of Soapadoo flawed? Should I stop spending time on it and instead devote time to another business? Soapadoo clearly isn’t viral yet and it hasn’t become the dominant reviews website on the internet. It’s generated revenue but it’s not yet profitable. Should it be scrapped?

My answer is no. Certainly not. Here are some reasons why:

  • Soapadoo hasn’t been around very long.
  • Most businesses take time to develop and succeed. Sam Walton said that Wal-Mart, like most overnight successes, was 10 years in the making.
  • It often takes time for a business to adapt and change to the marketplace. This refinement can often cause a business to become remarkable/viral. Ward Cunningham has spoken about “waiting for insight”. Insight often takes time.
  • I haven’t found another website yet that’s completely focused on reviews and keeping things simple without bloat.
  • I haven’t found another website yet that allowed bloggers and other reviewers to aggregate a subset of their posts onto a review site that’s highly Googleable.
  • I haven’t found another review site yet where reviewers could benefit financially.
  • I haven’t found another website that effectively combined the idea of a social network with reviews.
  • As a consumer of the site, I find it personally useful to read reviews written by friends and others I respect. I’ve also found it useful to be able to email a link to a Soapadoo review to those looking for recommendations.
  • This business has a really low capital burn rate.
  • If Soapadoo isn’t profitable a year from now, I’ll certainly consider spending less time on it in favor spending time on more profitable ventures.