There are many reasons that may make you feel like throwing in the towel. Sometimes the market may not be where you want it to be. Other times your product or service may not be where you had intended, so you get anxious or a little unsure. The first thing to understand is that ups and downs are part of the cycle for any business. You have to constantly evolve in order to adjust to changes in the market or its conditions.

There may be instances where a trough in the cycle causes you to wonder if it’s worth it to keep going, or to cut your losses. Things people said before – the words we knew were not true when we were confident – come back into our thoughts, trying to feed the seeds of doubt. This is the time when you have to dig deep. Pushing through problematic times is often a prerequisite for success.

You’re kidding yourself if you don’t believe it

Get up, get back on your feet

You’re the one they can’t beat and you know it

Come on, let’s see what you’ve got

Just take your best shot and don’t blow it

— Styx, “Fooling Yourself”

Sometimes it’s a mental obstacle blocking your path to success. Ask yourself a few questions. Why do you feel like giving up? What were you trying to accomplish in the first place? How did you feel about getting to that place? If you felt you could get to that place, why is it different now?

Sometimes, visualizing where you want to be gives you the extra boost when you are experiencing a sluggish period. Visualize where you can be, see it as it is already yours, and keep pushing until it comes into fruition.

Once you have done some soul-searching, answered the questions above, and visualized where you want to be, do a top-to-bottom evaluation of your company – evaluating your people, processes, and technology in use. Do you have the right people in the right places? Are you utilizing your personnel at optimal capacity? Are you keeping up-to-date with the trends in your area of business? Are your processes running fluid, with fail-safes, backups, and secure networks?

After a careful analysis, you will have a better outlook at where the value lies in your company. There are times when a business started off in one area only to find their niche in an altogether different arena.

“Expect problems and eat them for breakfast.”  Alfred A. Montapert

You are going to face obstacles in business – that’s its nature. When you get up with the attitude of looking forward to facing the challenges, it changes the progression of your day. Instead of when a problem occurs it throwing your mood off-kilter, the expectation of it keeps the flow of your day from interruption and your mood from leaning towards agitation. There are days when one problem after the next will appear, and rather than seeing it as an annoyance, view it as a challenge to master.

“The only constant in life is change.”  Heraclitus

Berkshire Hathaway, one of Warren Buffett’s many companies, started in the textile industry. Mr. Buffett had the privilege of acquiring it on the way down. Throughout the years, with careful planning and strategic moves, he was able to turn it into one of the largest and most trusted companies in the world. His saving grace was investing in the insurance industry and transitioning the core of the business away from the flailing American textile industry — a masterful pivot. Determination, ingenuity, and preparation in business go a long way towards gaining success.

My moment came during the recession of 2008. My wife and I have two businesses working out of the same office, and we had more space than needed, which was making cash flow very tight. We were also slow in downsizing staff, which put us in a hole even further! When the recession hit, nobody knew how long that it would last, and it seemed it would never end. My wife and I had to have the “are we going to have to consult a lawyer about bankruptcy because we don’t know how long the recession is going to last” talk.

Instead of folding, we decided to remain persistent. We didn’t break our lease like many people were doing at the time, taking the high road and honoring our commitments. That cost us dearly, but we decided to keep pushing forward. I remember my wife and I sending out our Christmas letter that read, “What’s worse than having one entrepreneur in the family when going through a recession?” “Having TWO entrepreneurs in the family going through a recession!” Have to keep a sense of humor.

It was a rough battle, and yet here we are seven years later and doing well. The course of events even resulted in me pivoting my business into providing new services – helping small to medium-sized business owners and it is the most rewarding work I’ve ever done! When one door closes…another one opens!

Before You Throw in the Towel

Before you call it quits, make sure you’ve viewed all options and alternatives. Maybe you give up what you are doing today and pivot your business. Examine your business top to bottom, check your people, processes, and technology. Find that new strategy, and wake up each day ready to hurdle every obstacle in your path. Keep pushing! Chances are that you’ll find yourself in an even better place than you had expected.

Brian’s Musical Inspiration:

RIFF:  “Fooling Yourself (The Angry Young Man) was a second radio hit off of Styx’s seventh album, “The Grand Illusion”.  Released on July 7, 1977 (7/7/77), it became their breakthrough album, reaching TRIPLE PLATINUM certification (3 Million sold). The first hit off of this album was “Come Sail Away” which reached #8 in 1978.





I’ve met many people – including CEOs and other top executives – who seem to live in the past. Whether it’s regretting a mistake or wishing for the way things used to be, it’s a negative source of energy that will drain you and your company.

Mistakes happen, but we learn from them and we move on. At least, that is what we should be doing. Wishing you or your company had done something differently isn’t going to change what you can do in the future to improve your situation.

Or maybe your business changes, your entire industry changes, or the economy changes in a big way (e.g. The Great Recession) and you haven’t adjusted to the new normal. Today, more than ever, a disruptive technology or business model like Uber, AirBnB, Amazon, etc., can make even the best CEO or executive yearn for the days of old. But if you’re sticking with what you’ve always done and not rolling with the changes then you’re going to be run over by the competition.

Get an outside perspective

Sometimes you don’t or can’t realize something’s wrong. However, someone from the outside might see what you can’t. That’s why joining a peer group is a great idea, because we may not even realize we’re the source of negative energy.

If you don’t have an advisor or peer group to tell you what the signs are to look for when there’s no excitement in your office, then you might want to look hard in the mirror and realize the problem is you. Your employees are looking to you for leadership. Even when you don’t know they’re looking at you, they’re looking at you.

Take ownership

It’s bad enough if employees are down in the dumps, but if you’re the CEO, everyone’s feeding off your energy. A fellow CEO once told me he was having a hard time going to work, as his employees were actually BORING…no zest for anything!

I told him it’s evident he’s “showing up” differently than he was in the past.  He has minimal or even negative energy, therefore his employees reflect that same energy back to him.  “Frankly,” I told him, “it’s you.” Once a CEO realizes how their energy affects their employees and takes ownership for it, then the company can rebound.

Don’t stay stuck for long

I have to admit that on more than one occasion, I’ve fallen into this trap of living in the past.  Now if I find myself start heading down that path of negative thinking, I mindfully tell myself to knock it off. The past is in the past.

If I hear the CEOs and executives I work with going down this negative path, I tell them it’s okay to have a pity party, but you need to make it quick so you aren’t dragging anyone down with you. This is one party where you don’t want to invite any of your employees or your team members. Make it short, and move on!

Don’t look back, ooh a new day is breakin’
It’s been so long since I felt this way
I don’t mind ooh where I get taken
The road is callin’, today is the day

I can see, it took so long just to realize
I’m much too strong not to compromise
Now I see what I am is holding me down
I’ll turn it around, oh yes I will

It’s a bright horizon and I’m awakin’ now
Oh I see myself in a brand new way

— Boston, “Don’t Look Back”

Once you put the past behind you, it is like a new day is breakin’. You will feel like a new person after you realize that living in the past has been holding you back and holding you down. When you finally realize and admit your negative energy is part of the problem, then it is a bright horizon and you can see yourself and your company in a brand new way.

So today you find you are looking in the rear view mirror on any topic, acknowledge it, learn from it, then rip off the mirror and start looking out through the windshield. The road ahead is much more exciting.

Brian’s Musical Inspiration:

RIFF: This is the title track and first song on Boston’s second album. Their debut album is one of the best selling of all time, so there were great expectations for this one. The song is about looking ahead and making the most of your time on Earth.