Why its OK to quit your social enterprise

Why its OK to quit your social enterprise

I quit my first business when I was 15. It was an eBay store, Sweet Talk. Reselling 10p books I bought at my local library and over stock car chargers from my Dads shop. I loved it. Keeping track of the finances, paypal, speaking to customers.

I’d read Rich Dad Poor Dad and had been truly bitten by the entrepreneurial bug. Then GCSE’s started and I found it was difficult to balance the two. So Sweet Talk closed.

I quit my latest business a couple of months ago. This was meant to be the one. I’d had a bit of an epiphany in my final year of architecture at uni and realised that I was passion about using design to make a positive impact. Luckily I had a friend who shared the same idea and we decided to set up together. We were then asked by a friend who ran a charity with the same mission to join and set up a social enterprise with the charity.

It could not have been more perfect. We were setting up with a well established organisation. One that we loved, with a great reputation and experience.So we started our social enterprise.

The first months were amazing, we were moving forwards fast. Had projects opening up, got an amazing office space for free.

Then a big project fell through and suddenly we were re-examining the business model and looking at taking a very different direction. The only problem was I wasn’t comfortable with this

I tried convincing myself that I could work around it. Did lots of research looking at both sides, still wasn’t convinced. Raised my objections to my colleagues who had answers for every problem I could see, still didn’t feel right.

Then the thought hit me. Maybe I could just quit.

I felt guilty.
I’ll be letting everyone down!
I was afraid.
What will I do next? What if I’m wrong and its a huge success?
I felt like I was giving up.
Maybe if I try harder to like it or to convince the team of my point.

But in my gut I could feel it wasn’t right and it was time to move on. Speaking to my family and friends I realised that it was fine. The world wasn’t going to end on this decision.

It is easy to feel as though there’s something wrong with you for wanting to quit. All the stories we see are of successful people who never quit. No matter what. That’s why they are a success we are told.

Our culture is obsessed with perseverance, productivity and positivity.

Entrepreneurship embodies all this. It is the holy grail. The solution to all the worlds problems.

“winners never quit and quitters never win”
Quotes like this don’t make it easier
But its okay to quit
 quitting can be good
quitting isn’t the same as giving up.

Sometimes that path just isn’t right for you….
 It didn’t feel right for me, I didn’t believe in the new vision and story. I felt that there was a better way to achieve our social aims, and we were focusing on the wrong problem.

 But the path was right for my colleagues who are still continuing on. And I’m sure they will succeed. It just wasn’t for me.

Adjust….
Like Blake Lively who recently closed her online shop Preserve because “it wasn’t making a difference in peoples lives,’ social and ethical businesses can feel like everything. You personally invest in the vision. You want to save the world and it is a blow to realise it’s not quite what you want or even agree with.
Things had changed and with the information I now had, I could make a new decision.

To step out of the way…
Although conflict can be good, I didn’t want to be the “no” person. I realised if I couldn’t be passionate, it was better to get out of the way and allow people with that drive to continue.
…. pass on the baton. 

I have always been a believer in trying things. That’s one reason I’ve kept working for other social enterprises (as well as needing to pay the bills!)

Being able to see other ways of doing opened my eyes. I could work out what suits me and transfer learnings between the organisations.

I learned so much from the social enterprise. I learned a lot from leaving too. I learned that the method is as important to me as the problem the business is trying to solve. (Check out my next blog post for more learnings)

So if you’re thinking about quitting your business, job, project or whatever else. Think carefully about it and then go with your instinct. It’ll steer you right. And if you later realise it wasn’t the right choice. You can change your mind.

Quitting is not giving up.
It’s an opportunity to start again.
This time with more info.
Here are some great articles on quitting

 dog_manager

 8/10 businesses fail within their first year so quitting is more common than we think
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