I was asked a question last week during a coaching session – “when do you know that it’s the right time to give up on your business, rather than to keep pushing?”.
My first reaction (my inner Tyler Durdan) was an emotional one – NEVER. NEVER GIVE UP.
And we’ve all heard this, right? “The only way to fail is to stop trying.”
But on reflection, I’ve given up on a lot of things! And I consider these decisions the complete opposite of failing – instead, they have helped me make space in my life, business, and mind, for even greater success.
Here are some of the things I have proudly given up on:
#1) My consulting company Hello Sailor Consulting.
My very first business!! And be it ego, pride or just pure hustle – I really, REALLY, wanted to make it work.
The model? Like most consultants and freelancers – I was selling my time, delivering growth marketing services to several different tech startups.
I was working long hours, earning less than I had been in my day job, and I felt pulled in a million different directions by my clients (i.e. bosses), working on their goals and purposes.
There was no defining moment when I decided to give this up, more like an elongated grating away of my passion, energy and bank balance until I realised, I wasn’t doing what I loved – and that didn’t serve anyone. So I stopped – and to this day, I don’t do consulting, freelancing, or even 1:1 coaching (outside of my Creator Mastermind program).
Now, one of the things I value most is complete ownership of my time, and the ability to focus it on my own business.
#2) My profitable program – Social Mastermind.
I launched my Social Mastermind in 2019 – a high ticket membership, coaching a select group of entrepreneurs how to grow their businesses on social media (my zone of excellence!).
It was a thriving program – the workshops were fully attended, and my members were seeing strong growth in their businesses…
BUT – I was exhausted.
This was my 5th online program launch, and I didn’t yet have a strong team and system to support this growth – I was physically and mentally drained.
I remember one day, I got a cancellation request email from one of my members, and I felt…RELIEF.
I was so relieved that I had one less member on that program, who I needed to invest time and energy in and that’s when I knew something was very wrong.
And actually – that’s when I realised I was on the verge of burnout.
I’ve learnt that energy management is even more important than time management, and that I need to prioritise my self-preservation, over growth, impact and financial gain.
So, I “gave up” on this program, and shut it down the following month.
#3) My swimwear brand – Oh Buoy.
I had so much fun starting this business – finding and sourcing swimwear and inflatable manufacturers and setting up my first eCommerce store.
I had sold a few items, kicked off social media – all up, was having fun ‘creating’, in the early stages of this business.
But it wasn’t long until I had a fresh batch of samples delivered to me…
One particular swimsuit that was delivered that day was a white full-piece costume, printed with a giant Madonna face across the torso.
I remember trying this swimsuit on, and turning to look in the mirror with that big Madonna face staring back at me…
And just thinking “what the hell are you doing Lauren, this isn’t you, you don’t care about this”.
And that was the truth!
I started the business because I saw an opportunity, I had seen other people starting up eCommerce brands and being successful, and I jumped on the bandwagon!
But this business was in no way aligned to my purpose – I was unfulfilled, and KNEW that I would not have the energy to build this into something sustainable.
When I was 12 or 13, I read my first Buzzfeed article, called “13 pieces of advice from 90 years olds”.
And the piece of advice that stuck with me?
“It’s never too soon to get out of a bad relationship”.
That’s served me well in relationships… but also in business. If it’s not right, if the model isn’t working for you, or you’re approaching burnout, or it’s just not aligned with your purpose, there is NO shame in pivoting!
In fact, I think we should celebrate the bold decision making required to stop, pause, redirect, and start again.
So when to keep fighting?
If I boil it right down, two things keep me going…
- Is that I’m working towards something greater than myself.
I have this big bold vision, that REQUIRES me to keep fighting – to take Future Females to EVERY country in the world that needs us, and to reach gender equality in entrepreneurship – to create an impactful movement, with a legacy for generations to come.
And this vision? Not only scares me in a way that constantly propels me into action, and to think bigger and more creatively – it’s also in complete alignment with my personal passion, and purpose for being.
2. I’m living the life of my frickin’ dreams.
I’m writing this on a plane (my designated ‘flight mode’ blogging time!), on the way to spend an afternoon at a wine farm to celebrate my Head of Marketing’s engagement (yay Flora!). And then I’m going to work a few days from a houseboat, before competing in my second ever triathlon.
I can’t imagine any other business or career path that could deliver this for me.
Looking back at my career, I’ve so often been the martyr – sacrificing many holidays or social opportunities to put in extra hours at work – to “get ahead”.
But that’s not what life is about – it’s about collecting experiences, memories, and having FUN!!
As entrepreneurs, Founders, CEOs, we have earnt the right to design and live the EXACT life that we want to – and should never feel guilty at enjoying (and celebrating!) the successes we achieve on our journey.
It doesn’t mean it was easy to get to this point, but I knew what I was working towards, and that’s why I kept (and keep) fighting!
So – to summarise…
There is NOTHING wrong with giving up – in fact the sooner you can decide, the sooner you can get yourself back on the right path – towards your bigger purpose, and dream lifestyle.
I always say – “be committed to your vision, but agnostic of the approach.”
We are all experimenting, learning, pivoting, and doing our best to create meaningful impact. There will be bumps along the way, and times we just decide to stop, invest in ourselves, re-centre, to then keep going 🙂
Ultimately – I couldn’t be happier for what I’ve given up, because of what it’s allowed me to gain.