What to Do When You Feel Like Giving Up on Your Small Business Dream

Having coached hundreds of small and solo business owners over the years, I’ve noticed certain roadblocks that can slowdown or stop a once enthusiastic start up from building a successful business and the life they dream about. So how do you succeed in your business without giving up when things get difficult?

One of the problems I’ve noticed often is that a loss of motivation can make you feel like giving up. If you’re experiencing this you may feel alone, but I guarantee you you’re not. I’ve never met a successful entrepreneur that didn’t have that feeling many times, including me. Wanting to give up can trick you into thinking that you no longer like what you’re doing or that you made the wrong decision when you started your business. It may seem to rob you of your passion for your work. It may erode your confidence and try to convince you that you don’t have what it takes to succeed. At that point it’s easy to just do the minimum to save face or to start looking for the next best opportunity that you can try for a while—something that will get you excited again.

When someone who is feeling this way comes to me for help the first thing I do is try to put their mind at ease by making them realize that not only are they in good company, there are actually some facts about business building that, once they’re aware of, may start to make them feel better.

I explain that business building is a learning curve. At the beginning you are trying to master all sorts of new skills, like how to run a business, how to create a productive marketing plan, how to manage your time effectively, what type of clients to pursue, how to handle the financial end, how to integrate your many work hours with your family life and much more. It’s not just about doing what you do well. That’s just the tip of the iceberg. And during this period you may be making little money.

As you climb the learning curve it feels like you’re climbing a mountain. For example, I’ve seen people who had a fear of technology completely ignore mastering the crucial technology aspect of their business, like website development, online marketing and necessary software because they thought it was too difficult. Then they wondered why they were not making progress. It takes courage and patience to climb the curve.

Seth Godin talks about this in his book, The Dip. He says that in the beginning it’s fun and exciting to start a business. You have big dreams and you feel confident you can make them a reality.  The Dip, he says, occurs between starting and mastery or “the long stretch between beginner’s luck and real accomplishment.”

It can hit you like a ton of bricks. So what do you do about it? First of all recognize it for what it is—you’re climbing the curve. This is the stage when you need to learn from an expert, a coach or a mentor who’s achieved what you want and who will keep you headed in the right direction, stop you from getting sidetracked or discouraged, hold you accountable and teach you the strategies and shortcuts you need. Next you need to know that once you get to the top of the curve you will start sliding down the other side. Wahoo! This is where you reach a breakthrough and your business starts to make real money. It just takes lots of patience to get there.

Think of an Olympic athlete. How many years of training and how many disappointments did they experience before they made it to the Olympics? Why did they make it when others who had talent didn’t? Two things: perseverance and belief. Make a written, signed commitment to yourself from day one that you will keep going at full speed even when you feel like giving up. Pull it out when you are ready to throw in the towel.

Next, spend some time sitting quietly with your eyes closed and see, in great detail, what your successful life will look like. How will it feel? Do this regularly and you’ll find you can taste success and that your belief in your goal becomes stronger and stronger. You will no longer feel like a victim who is overwhelmed and incapable to creating the life you want because you can see it, feel it and taste it and you know it’s just a matter of time.

Finally, find a group of people who care about you and won’t judge you. Make a verbal commitment to them that you intend to achieve specific goals. State the goals clearly and ask them not to let you give up. Tell them you need their support because building your own small or solo business isn’t always easy.

So let’s review. When you want to give up:

  • remember that you’re on the uphill part of a learning curve
  • remind yourself that you’re not alone and that you can talk to others who are experiencing the same thing
  • find an expert, coach or mentor who will fast track you through this period
  • make a written commitment to yourself to keep going full tilt even when you don’t feel like it
  • find a group of loving people who will support you and hold you accountable to stick to your guns.

You need support; you need people around you who have your best interest at heart. And you need to take a breath and keep putting one foot in front of the other to continue climbing the curve.

  • Codi
    Posted at 18:25h, 28 January Reply


    This is such great information and motivation to keep people in line and focusing on their goals and dreams. Every business owner has their ups and downs in business. Those who keep their eyes on the gold, always come out on top.

    Thank you,

  • Marcus Sheridan, The Sales Lion
    Posted at 09:01h, 31 January Reply

    Good stuff Janis. Having gone through all the aforementioned stages with my own business, I can really appreciate this important topic. I especially appreciated how you said:

    I’ve seen people who had a fear of technology completely ignore mastering the crucial technology aspect of their business, like website development, online marketing and necessary software because they thought it was too difficult. Then they wondered why they were not making progress.

    I think maybe the biggest problem of small/new business owners is exactly that of ‘Technology’. Frankly put, those persons that don’t embrace technology are quickly left behind, scratching their heads, wondering how it all happened.

  • Wende Sanders
    Posted at 23:18h, 05 February Reply

    Janis, thanks so much for this article. As usual, you are so on point! As I journey through the learning curve, I’ll be sure to reflect on your suggestions and implement them. Thanks for providing such valuable content on a regular basis; you are an inspiration!

    Wende Sanders

  • Joe
    Posted at 01:27h, 08 January Reply

    Thank you for this. I’m definitely going through “the dip”, sitting here toiling over my business. I feel like giving up, but some part of me realizes this is a natural reaction. Your article helped me put this into better perspective. Thank you.

Post A Comment