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In Business and Investing, Quitting Can Spell Opportunity

Nov. 9, 2015
Personal Finance
In Business and Investing, Quitting Can Spell Opportunity
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By Jeremy Office

Learn more about Jeremy on NerdWallet’s Ask an Advisor

For people in large, stable corporations, there’s safety and security in resolutely sticking to a well-designed career track. But for plenty of entrepreneurs, long-term success means embracing the idea of quitting.

In the common vernacular, quitting is generally associated with failure. A quick Google search reveals the following motivational trifecta:

  • “Winners never quit, quitters never win.”
  • “Pain is temporary, quitting lasts forever.”
  • “Remember that guy who gave up? Neither does anybody else.”

But as the founder of a financial planning firm, I know the entrepreneurial spirit wouldn’t survive in a land without quitting. Quitting doesn’t necessarily mean you don’t care or you don’t have drive; it frequently means quite the opposite.

When quitting is right

I began my wealth management career at a world-class firm. I learned much there, but I knew I wanted to help take our practice to the next level. When I became involved in leadership, I tried to push boundaries and effect necessary changes.

But I soon realized I couldn’t. So I had to quit. That wasn’t easy for someone who constantly pushes his team and family to always try their hardest and live a loyal, dedicated life.

In embracing my newfound quitter status, I founded my wealth management firm on a promise of putting my clients first. I knew a limited product toolbox was not enough for my entrepreneurial clients, and I wanted to be able to offer more. I now have the opportunity to do so. And it’s all because I quit.

Quitting for the right reasons means knowing your time would be better spent doing something that gives you a greater chance for success. As an entrepreneur, you’ll explore paths that often lead to dead ends. Sometimes you’ll take a few steps forward only to have to turn back or pivot.

In these cases, don’t just put your head down and forge on. Stop, think strategically, understand your limits and quit when you know that the path you’re on isn’t right. Celebrate that you have the power to explore other options.

As entrepreneurs, failures are the best lessons you can encounter. Quitting gives you the opportunity to start anew, but with more wisdom and a heightened sense of awareness. Your goals will become more refined, and you can innovate and grow.

Financial planning two-step

The same philosophy around quitting can also apply in the context of wealth management. Financial planning isn’t a set-it-and-forget-it endeavor. It’s a dynamic plan that ebbs and flows with your personal goals.

Sometimes, it’s necessary to make significant changes to your financial plan. Maybe you wanted to buy a home in Hawaii, but you’ve changed your mind. Quit working toward that goal and replace it with another. Or maybe you thought you’d sell your business in five years, but you’ve got some interesting projects in the pipeline and you’d like to hold out a bit longer. In that case, it’s fine to abandon your five-year goal.

When shouldn’t you quit? When it means walking away from a sound overall investment strategy. For instance, when the markets rumble and you’re tempted to sell all your holdings: Is that really what is best for your financial goals? Quitting in that case could ultimately derail your long-term plans. Have a candid conversation with a financial advisor about what you’re thinking. Holding tight and looking to the future may be your best bet.

The bottom line

Whether it’s in business or investing, winning for the sake of winning isn’t what makes you a winner. The true winners have the strength to strategically quit — and even fail — in order to ultimately enjoy greater success.

Image via iStock.