“Quitters never win and winners never quit.” Right? No. In business today, winners quit all the time. The key is to do it quickly and strategically. So a better quote for business might be one from Will Rogers: “If you find yourself in a hole, the first thing to do is stop digging.” In other words, quit doing things that are obsolete and don’t make sense in today’s world. Doing so will lessen the impact of the old legacy asset quagmire that I talked about last Friday in “Business Quagmire or Business Opportunity?”
Why are we so invested in this don’t quit mentality? Any of us who’ve played sports has heard that famous Vince Lombardi quote more than once. You’ve probably even heard coaches yelling it at halftime. Well, it may be true in high school sports, but in business winners quit doing things that seem difficult or drain energy and don’t help achieve company goals. Winners replace those counterproductive things with fresh new campaigns, ideas and passion. A number of today’s most successful (even established) companies have made quitting a fundamental part of their culture.
A good friend of mine was one of six direct reports to Steve Jobs at Apple. I asked him what was magical about Steve Jobs and he said, “What everyone misses about Steve Jobs was his uncanny ability not to launch a product just because Apple had developed it.” Jobs was willing to chuck the R&D and write off a product rather than clouding the energy of a launch. My friend told me that Apple actually had a TV that has never seen the light of day for this very reason. Apple stops doing things when they appear to have friction.
Here’s a couple more examples: Apple stopped selling Fitbit activity tracking devices and removed Bose audio products from their retail stores. They didn’t explain why, they just quit selling those products. You don’t have to explain why. You don’t have to send out a press release. It’s ok to just quit. Any company that prides itself on innovation also has the ability to quit fast and quit proud.
The fast-growing outdoor recreation industry, as another example, and one that has been recession-proof in the new millennium, is very good at quitting old products. New products are designed each year for everything from surfing, to skiing, to rock climbing, and sell like hotcakes while sales of the old products slowly decline. As a result, the question every product manager in the outdoor industry asks each year is, which products are we going to quit?
What about your business? What about your personal life? If you quit looking at things the way you always have and use a fresh outlook, who knows what could happen.
So tonight at home or tomorrow at work, ask yourself:
- What can I quit doing to better reflect the passions of my customers?
- What can I quit doing to make my employees lives (and my life) better?
- What can I quit doing to increase the efficiency of my business?
- What can I quit doing to make my family time more productive and effective?
Don’t get overwhelmed, just try to quit a few things each week and I guarantee you’ll eventually come up with an innovation or find a business model that makes your company more than just a successful business; a model that turns your business into a positive force in the world. You’ll also create an aura of engaging energy that people will want to be around. You’ll start attracting and meeting a different, more vibrant and passionate group of individuals. Perhaps the best part of quitting the things that cause unnecessary struggle in your life and business is that your family and friends–and even your dog–will find you a lot more fun to be around!