New venture: Go or go for no

It is messy in the middle. Exactly at the point when you have invested all your time, money, or reputation and yet lack progress, cash flow, etc. That’s when the pain of failure becomes ubiquitous. Fatigue sets in. Team members, investors, your family members or other stakeholders show impatience, or uncertainty. The challenges become confusing. What do you do?

You know challenges almost inevitably require more than predicted – that persistence and perseverance are critical ingredients of entrepreneurs. So should you persist and pivot – or pull out in the messy middle, and accept the pain of failure?

Rosabeth Moss Kanter offers 12 key questions to guide you in your decision:

  • Are the initial reasons for the effort still valid, with no consequential external changes?
  • Do the needs for which this a solution remain unmet, or are competing solutions still unproven or inadequate?
  • Would the situation get worse if this effort stopped?
  • Is it more cost-effective to continue than to pay the costs of restarting?
  • Is the vision attracting more adherents?
  • Are leaders still enthusiastic, committed, and focused on the effort?
  • Are resources available for continuing investment and adjustments?
  • Is skepticism and resistance declining?
  • Is the working team motivated to keep going?
  • Have critical deadlines and key milestones been met?
  • Are there signs of progress, in that some problems have been solved, new activities are underway, and trends are positive?
  • Is there a concrete achievement — a successful demonstration, prototype, or proof of concept?

Pain may very well be a precondition for success – but beware of the fact that most new ventures fail – know when to cut your losses and move on.