Growing up, my family strongly frowned upon quitting just about anything. It was a concession that you were no good at what you were doing and that you were unwilling to push through a barrier to succeed.
I would like to posit a different view. While there are times that quitting is indeed giving up on something that you could be much better at, there are many things in life and business that quitting can make you more successful. Sometimes it's important to focus on the things that make you the most money, bring the most prosperity or bring you the most happiness. It’s also equally important to stop focusing on the things that don't bring you these things.
You know, sometimes it's funny how inspiration will strike. Yesterday was an extremely difficult day for me to focus from a productivity standpoint. I was dealing with some personal things and just a general malaise. It was also super cold for this former Arizona resident. I just couldn't focus on the work I needed to do, even though I had no choice but to keep plugging on. I've spent this whole week debating about taking it off from podcasting and adding content to my site. I have my productivity system setup to handle weeks like this with at least 1 or 2 podcasts and articles waiting to be published.
Prior to writing this, I got off the phone with a really good, long-time client of mine. One of the things that I've always appreciated about him is his ability to know when to quit (I call it “crying uncle”). That conversation led to this article. I have been thinking about him and how he runs his business ever since.
It's been an interesting week for me. There are a few things I’ve had to “quit” to ensure positive movement in my life (oh ice cream, I miss you so). I have a fun podcast that I had been doing with a buddy of mine. I'm a big soccer fan and that podcast focused on that fandom. I actually started it with the goal of learning podcasting for Wapiti. I started The Business Growth Podcast shortly after and started offering podcasting services to my clients just after that.
Those business applications aside, the soccer podcast was kind of a getaway from my day to day with my fast-moving, busy company and a fairly large family. I could disappear for a couple hours and have an amazingly fun time chatting about soccer over in England into a mic and then broadcast it for anyone that cared. My favorite team “across the pond” is Tottenham Hotspur and my buddy’s favorite team is Arsenal. If you’re not familiar with English soccer, this happens to be a very bitter rivalry which made for a fun conversational topic.
The downside? Doing a podcast takes a lot of time. With Wapiti, I have a system down so that I'm not wasting tons and tons of hours. But each one of these episodes can take a bit of time to put together:
Once all that is done, I can look into social media sharing and interaction. You can see how time consuming this is and I tried to quickly distill the process down. So this fun podcast (and it was a lot of fun) was taking anywhere from four to eight hours out of each week. If we had been trying to earn money on that podcast, it would have easily been a full-time job for at least one person.
We recorded our last episode and let all of our listeners know that we appreciated them and this was the last episode. Sometimes in life it's really, really hard to move on. I was actually sitting with him in front of the microphones getting ready to record our final episode. I found myself saying, “What if we release an episode every couple weeks and we don't do the transcription?”
Sometimes, even if something is enjoyable, you need to move on and “rip off the Band-Aid.” Circling back to the client I spoke to today; he used to offer a bunch of services in approximately 10 different areas. He found that of those 10 different areas, probably three of them brought in the majority of his income. The rest either made him very little, nothing, or even potentially lost money.
As he spoke to me about cleaning up his marketing to remove these other services, I couldn’t help but think he was “shooting himself in the foot” and eliminating too much of his business. I realized through the conversation, however, that he was probably making a really wise decision as he shared what he knew of his expenses and income in each. He was not afraid to get rid of the chaff. He was not afraid to cut loose the things that weren't making him money. He was willing to consolidate. Since I've been working with him, I’ve watched him expand and contract his business a few times. He remains nimble and keeps up with the changes in business. I respect that and he remains agile and ahead of the curve precisely because of that.
I want to encourage you to look at your life and to look at your business. Eliminate the things that are interfering with your ultimate goals and desires. Look at your life both personally and professionally and look at the places where you spend your time, money, and energy. Ask yourself if it is ultimately taking you to your end goal or if it is distracting you from it. If it is a distraction, it MUST go.