With the current business environment, small business owners are definitely struggling and “giving up” may start to look like a better and better option. While only you can decide when enough is enough, I heartily encourage you to consider staying in the game as long as possible.
For one thing, small businesses are the engines that really drive our economy, so just by keeping your doors open you are helping the economy to recover. Second, if you have been in business for more than 5 years, you have already beaten the odds, since 95% of small businesses fail by their fifth year. If you have come this far, maybe it’s worth trying to keep your small business afloat a while longer.
Inspiration from Winston Churchill and Abe Lincoln
Whenever I feel like having a pity party because one or more of my small businesses is floundering, I always turn to the examples of two inspiring leaders: Winston Churchill and Abraham Lincoln.
Consider Winston Churchill, who survived two world wars, much criticism (as well as praise), and the turmoil of British politics for many decades. He was definitely a maverick, and suffered the indignities that are often heaped upon such characters. When invited to give a commencement speech at Eton, a well known private school in England, Churchill endured the 20-minute introduction, and then stood up and said:
“Never give up. Never give up. Never, never, never.”
Then he sat down. In just nine words, Churchill captured the very essence of his indomitable will to succeed. Do those words ring a bell for you?
And then there is Abraham Lincoln, who demonstrated a similar sort of stubborn persistence that eventually led to success. Although many of us are familiar with parts of Lincoln’s political career, many are unaware of how many failures he suffered before he became President. Here’s a short chronology of Lincoln’s career:
1831 Failure in business
1832 Defeated for Legislature
1833 Failure in business again
1834 Elected to Legislature
1835 Sweetheart died
1836 Nervous breakdown
1838 Defeated for Speaker
1840 Defeated for Elector
1843 Defeated for Congressional Nomination
1846 Elected to Congress
1848 Defeated for Congress
1855 Defeated for Senate
1856 Defeated for Vice President
1859 Defeated for Senate
1860 Elected President
While Lincoln wasn’t recorded as saying, “Never give up on what you want,” it’s clear that he never did. Twelve defeats and major life losses marked his life, yet Lincoln never faltered in going after what he wanted.
Feel Inspired About Your Small Business Yet?
So if your small business has hit a bump in the road, be it a minor pothole or a major road hazard, think of Lincoln and Churchill. Perhaps by comparing the scale of your problems to the scale of the problems these two men faced, your business problems will shrink into perspective. In this time of economic correction, we need more small business owners with Churchill’s spirit and Lincoln’s will to step up and lead the way to recovery. So perhaps Churchill’s commencement comments can become a battle cry for your small business (as it has become for mine):
Never give up. Never give up. Never, never, never!