The 3 Rules for Dropping Projects
It’s an unwritten law of entrepreneurship that for every project you stick with, there are at least three you’ll quit or never start.
In my case, there’s the car blog, the car Instagram, the inspired quotes Instagram, the animated quotes app, the anti-stress course, and hundreds of deleted article ideas — and those are just some of the least public of my failures. I quit my Substack newsletter after six weeks, quit as editor of Better Marketing, and quit another newsletter to write a book, which I then quit to write another book. I’m now on book #3 and have given up announcing. Quit, quit, quit.
On the plus side, it is only out of this flaming pile of failures that a handful of lasting, rewarding projects were able to emerge. Projects like Four Minute Books or my writing course, which pay the bills and align well with my long-term mission of being a writing-focused writer.
On Shark Tank, one of Kevin O’Leary aka Mr. Wonderful’s most common pieces of advice is to “take that idea behind the barn and shoot it.” He has no qualms about telling people with six figures in sales to drop a product that’s already dead but doesn’t know it yet. But how can you tell? What do you do if you don’t have Mr. Wonderful yelling in your face?
One mistake we make is that we try to evaluate each new idea on its own merits rather than relative to what we’re already doing. Everyone wants 100,000 Twitter followers, but unless you have indication to believe tweeting would be a better use of your time than your current project, you shouldn’t start posting memes on a whim. Similarly, while writing a book is hard and takes forever, it could be the right move at the right stage in your career.
To help you determine what to drop and what to rock, here are three lessons I’ve learned over the years. I try to live by these rules, and they’ve made my life a lot easier.
1. Don’t be afraid to drop what’s not working for something that might.
I canned my newsletter because after going hard at it for six weeks, it amounted to 1% of my annual income while taking 50% of my time. It was obvious it wasn’t working because even a…