In episode #21, Wilco shares his thoughts on what’s a good time to cut your losses if you’re working on something.
Hey, hey, you entrepreneurs and marketers. It’s Wilco here, and today, I’m actually fairly happy, especially considering the fact that I just pulled the plug on a project that we’ve been working on for over a year. Boom. We’ve been working on it for over a year, and I stopped … I canceled … I deleted the whole project pretty much, which is not something that you usually do, right, especially after a year’s worth of work.
Now, it’s not something that we’ve been working on like every now and then, and been dragging on for a year. No. This is actually a project that I had a full-time developer on for over a year full-time, day in, day out, and besides the developer, obviously, various other people were involved as well like a designer, an architect. Like there’s various people involved with a project like that. Yeah. I decided to stop the project, to remove it from our business future, and it was actually not an easy decision to do, but I do think is the best thing to do.
Last weekend, my wife is away on Sunday, and usually, I don’t work on Sundays, right? I usually hardly work on the weekends. I try to keep that work-private balance in shape, but last Sunday, my wife was away, so I figured to carve in some time to really just rethink every decision that I made recently. Basically, I took a notebook and just sat outside for I think like four, five hours. Something like that where I just wrote out everything that we’re working on like new projects, old projects, like goals. Everything, right?
The beauty of doing that offline is that you can really do a deep dive into your mind. That’s what I like to call it because always, when I’m online, I’m like, “Ah, I have some kind of a cool idea,” and I start doing research, and I start reading. All of a sudden, I’m distracted by something, and like I don’t really do a deep dive because I’m always distracted by outside influence, by outside factors like things that I read or whatever, right?
It just helps me a lot to sometimes just go offline, and just do nothing there, and write in my notebook, right? If you see my notebook, in like four, five hours, I probably write like seven to, I don’t know, 10-ish pages full, which isn’t even that much because most of the time, it’s actually thinking of what to do. Anyway, I was thinking like, “All right. One of these projects, and what do we do with it?” I realized, like I said before, that we needed to pull the plug.
Now, when do you cut your loss? Like what’s a good time to cut your losses if you’re working on something. We’re all working on something, right? It could be a new project that you’re working on. It could be a customer that you’re trying to close a deal on. It could be, I don’t know, a new funnel that you’re creating, a new sales page you’re creating, a new offer. It could be anything, right? Whatever you do, you are doing something.
Assuming that most of your tasks aren’t done in one day, you’re working on that for a long period of time, right? You’re working on that for multiple days, multiple weeks, multiple months, or even multiple years for some, right? Usually, when you get started, especially when people spend money on a day, half of the … There’s a tendency to keep on working on whatever, right, because they were already invested in that idea. They’re already invested in the thing that they’re working on, so they can’t really back out.
I would actually say that that’s not a wasted case. There’s quite a few scenarios that it’s actually the best decision to actually pull out even though you have been working on it for a long time and even though you spent a lot of money in it, et cetera, et cetera. In fact, actually, I remember multiple times that we had a piece of software. As you probably know, we create various software products that we had a piece of software pretty much fully ready to market, right, and we still pulled the plug.
One of the examples was actually a … It was a push notification tool, so you can actually create various kinds of push notifications. This was back in the day. We started working on it back in the day before there were any other like platforms like PushCrew and all the other push notification platforms. Back then, we were the first when we started building it.
However, by the time that we actually got to market it before … by the time it was actually finished, there were already various competitors out there. Like I don’t mind competition. Not at all, but I like to create things that no one else does, right? I like to create things that are so unique that it’s like a new opportunity in the market, and it makes it so much easier to sell.
When we released UpViral, there was nothing of the kind where it’s like, “What? You can create viral campaigns and add them into your sites? What? This is awesome.” Everybody jumped in it, right? It was the same for ConnectLeads, for example. First time you were able to connect your Facebook lead ads into your auto-responder. What? ConnectAudience, same thing. ConnectRetarget. You can do behavior re-targeting on Facebook. What?
Like whenever we release something, I want to make sure I’m the first doing that because it makes the marketing so much easier, right? It makes the marketing so, so, so much easier. Whenever I create something, and it’s already out there, and like the second or the third one, I’m like, “Mm,” like I don’t want to do that, right? I don’t want to be competing anyone else. I don’t mind competition, but I just want to be first, and then people can try to compete with me, but I’ve already positioned myself as the number one tool or the number one leader in that certain thing that it does, right?
My point being is that I’ve pulled the plug on various tools even though we spent months, and months, and months of work, of time on development and design on those kind of tools. Like I said, just yesterday, I pulled the plug on a project that we’ve been working on for over a year.
Now, in this case, I’m hoping we might be able to use, let’s say, 20% of that in like a different twist or different angle or something like that. At this point, I cannot really share what this specific tool actually did, but the point I’m trying to make is that at some point, it’s good to cut your losses and not look at whatever you put into it.
What I see people do is they continue … Like I said, they continue because of what they invested in it because they feel they need to do that, right, because … Let’s say, yeah, I’ve already spent $10,000 in this, so I feel that I’m wasting $10,000. That’s not the way to look at it, right? At every point in time, you need to look at it like, “What’s the biggest advantage that I could … What’s the biggest opportunity that I have right now?”
Often times, it is to continue whatever you’re doing with that because whatever you built so far is actually … If you would switch to something else, you would have to start over, and it would actually take … It would actually be a slower path to wherever you want to go, right? Usually, the reason why you need to continue what you’re working on is because the thing that you built so far, the thing that you’ve been working on so far up to today, that makes it the easiest and the best possibility, the best advantage that you have at that point, but it doesn’t mean … like you don’t have to look at what you invested in. You don’t have to look at how much time you spent time in it because that’s all irrelevant. All that matters is what actions you take from today onwards.
If you realized that whatever you’ve been working on, you’ve been working on it for a year or whatever and it’s actually … like it’s outdated already. It’s not going to get you to the level where you want to go regardless of what you do with it. You can be flogged … They would basically be flogging it that harsh, right? I’m not sure if that’s a good saying in English as well, but that’s how we say it in the Netherlands.
Like if the project is not … it doesn’t have any potential, then you can just keep on working and finalizing it, but it’s not going to do you any good. If that’s the case, you might actually be better off to just delete it regardless of what you did so far and just start something else which will be better.
Now, I’m not sure if it’s going to make sense for all of you. I hope it does for some. At some point, it actually does make sense, like I said, to just pull the plug even though it might hurt, your bank account might hurt, your ego as well, which is not a nice thing, but that’s okay because as long as you believe in your long-term goal and you know like the easiest route to go from here, where I am today at this very point, to whatever your goal is, if the easiest route is to do that, using your tool, or your thing, or your project, or whatever it is that you’re creating, do it. Go for it, but if not, then stop and go the other direction.
That’s one thing that’s important to add. There’s always an exception because I also see a lot of people who are trying to create something online who are trying to build a business, and if that’s the case, then it would actually be worthwhile to just stick with your idea because I see so many people that they’re switching too easily from one project to another without having … see any project through.
If you haven’t seen any project through, if you haven’t had any success in line, then I would actually encourage you to keep on focusing on what you’re focusing on. But if you already know what you’re doing and you already had success in the past, then you are … you should … okay to make that decision to either switch to a different one and just let whatever you were working on slide and just pull the plug.
Sometimes, you can even repurpose parts of it, right? It doesn’t mean that you have to throw away everything, which I’ve had to do multiple times, because I did have to throw away a thing, but sometimes, you can repurpose anything. Now, I’m not sure if this is making sense for anyone out here, but I just wanted to throw this out there because if you are working on something that you feel is not the right thing to be working on, but you’re just working on it because you are … you’ve already invested so much time into it, then I highly recommend you to just go offline, take a notebook, write down all the pros and cons, write down all your ideas. Just stand still for a couple hours and really ask yourself whether continuing is actually the best decision or not. I hope this helps, and I hope you all have an awesome day.
"I like to create things that are so unique that it’s like a new opportunity in the market, and it makes it so much easier to sell."
"Whenever we release something, I want to make sure I’m the first doing that because it makes the marketing so much easier."