Thinking of Quitting? Don’t Let Survivor Bias Ruin Your Life

You may have missed Alyson Shontell‘s piece asking an answering the question When You Should Quit Being An Entrepreneur? I marked it when it first appeared earlier this year, then left it in the back burner. If you’re an entrepreneur, especially if you’re engaged in a startup and not yet rolling strong and on your own, it’s a good piece to read. After musing about multiple pivots and startup failures, she concludes:

While we’re not trying to encourage quitting, more founders should ask themselves tough questions. Maybe it’s time to help someone else make their dream really big. Tomorrow’s companies depend on it. Plus that corporate experience could be what makes your next startup a success.

That relates to a really interesting comment added to my April 20 post on the myth of persistence. The comment, signed by faxauthority, was:

Most common phrase I hear from successful entrepreneurs: it was all about persistence.

Most common phrase I hear from failed entrepreneurs: I’m glad I got out before all my money ran out…

That comment is a great illustration of survivor bias. We hear only from people who succeeded, never from people who failed.

Have you read Seth Godin’s The Dip? Here’s a quote:

The old saying is wrong-winners do quit, and quitters do win

Do I sound negative about entrepreneurship here? I’m not. My wife and I own a multi-million-dollar company we started ourselves, without outside investment, that has 40 employees, profits, and no debt. But I am negative about sloppy thinking in entrepreneurship myths. On this one I’m with Alyson, faxauthority and Seth Godin.

(Image: It’s suppose to represent a bottomless pit. Y’know, where the money goes, when an entrepreneur sticks with a bad business?)


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