How to know, and how to make it a positive decision

We have to face the facts. Not all new businesses work out.

I could read you a lot of scary stats right now, but suffice to say this entrepreneur business is hard.

That’s literally what being an entrepreneur is all about: taking risks and failing.
Failing and getting up and doing it again.

Failing forward.

But how do you know when it’s time to give up?
To give up on your entire business or a particular project.

And how do you give up without feeling bad about your decision?

In this episode, I’m going to dig deep into my failures, and how I knew giving up was the right move.

Tune in to learn:

In this episode we cover:

  • How to let go of something you’ve invested time and money in
  • Knowing the warning signs
  • Techniques to test whether giving up is the right move
  • How reliable is your gut?
  • What is the Point of No Return?
  • What are the positives of giving up?

Thanks for your contributions, Anuradha Sawhney and Louisa Tew.


Listen to the podcast below:

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Buy the book:

Confessions of a misfit

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About Nick:

Nick has worked in digital, video and content for over 20 years and now co-owns, with his wife Jess Milne), a four year old content production company called TEN ALPHAS where we create content for large corporate and government organisations.
Nick has has set up 5 businesses in his career and been involved with other ones at senior management level.
He is also an actor, director and producer in film and theatre and so has developed many creative projects, all that have a finite life, for good or for bad!
Nick completed his Masters in Screen Arts and Business at AFTRS the Australian Film, Television and Radio School in 2015 and his thesis was on The Art of Perseverance in Australian Feature Film Making
The average feature film takes 7 years to make. The filmmaker is essentially a business owner and requires great perseverance to not give up.

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We have to face facts.


Not all businesses are going to work out. I could read you a lot of scary stats right now, but suffice to say, this entrepreneur business is hard.


That’s literally what being an entrepreneur is all about. About taking risks and failing. Failing, getting up and doing it again, failing forward, failing fast, however you want to say it but the truth is, sometimes we don’t know if this is the first fail or the last fail. And sometimes we don’t know whether it’s the right time to give up, to give up on a particular project or your entire business. How do we give up without feeling terrible about our decision?



In this episode, I’m talking with Nick Bolton about how to identify the signs that maybe it is time to give up and how to feel good about that decision. Hello, my name is Kate Toon, I’m the author of Confessions of a Misfit Entrepreneur, How to Succeed in Business Despite Yourself. Today, I’m talking with Nick Bolton from 10 Alphas. Nick is actually a very old friend of mine. We met in our early 20s when we were both fresh off the boat from the UK, working digital media and having lots of fun times together. Since that time we’ve both gone to leave our corporate and agency lives and set up our own businesses. Welcome, Nick.


Nick:Hey Kate! How are you doing?


Kate:It’s good to have you here. So, yes we had, we did lots of fun things back in the day. I think we were both playing at being adults back then, weren’t we?


Nick:We were trying to yes, failing at times as well. Yes, but –




Nick:That was the late 90s, early 2000s, the digital dot com and crash.


Kate:It was all taking off, well it was kind of crashing and taking off. We were kind of [inaudible 00:08:11]. I working at Ogilvy, what was the name where you were working?


Nick:Red Com. That was part of, it got acquired by Ogilvy in the end, we have a sort of web dev and live streaming part of it, yeah.


Kate:Yeah, it was quite ahead of its time. It was, well let me read out your bio now so everyone can understand what you’re doing now. So, Nick has worked in digital and video and content for over 20 years, gosh we’re old. And now, co-owned with his wife, Jess Mil, a four year old content production agency called 10 Alphas, where they create content for large corporate and government organisation. Nick has set up five businesses in his career and has been involved with others at senior management level. He’s also an actor, director and producer in film and theatre and has developed many creative projects, all that have a finite life for good or for bad. Nick completed his masters in screen arts and business at I don’t know how to say that. The Australian Film and Television School. Afters? In two thousand – is that right? In 2015 and his thesis was part, was on the art of perseverance in Australian feature film making.


So, perfect to talk about perseverance and giving up. The average feature film takes seven years to make. The film maker is essentially a business owner and requires a great deal of motivation and perseverance not to give up. Nick has also been appointed film maker in residence at the iAccelerate Start Hub, set up by the university of Wallington, advising the start up residents on all things content. His latest documentary is a sister project to his thesis and is called the Art of Start Up Perseverance, where he follows the start ups on their journey and has witnessed many owners struggle with giving up.


So, really, I couldn’t have picked a better person to talk about, when we talked about the episode, I said I’m going to call it Giving Up and you said you should call it Perseverance because it’s kind of the opposite. But, it’s a perfect segway in to your documentary and your thesis. Great to have you here. Look, what I usually do is start with a definition.




Kate:And I usually read something off the computer but I’m pretty sure we don’t need to do that today because I’m pretty sure that people know what giving up means. But I guess, it sounds, as I just said, super negative. So, are there better phrases we can use?


Nick:I reckon there are because I look at everything in chapters. You know, a business is a chapter in your life. It’s a stage in your life and when you move on to new chapters through out it, giving up suggests that you are giving in, you’re conceding to someone or something. But I think a lot of business, sometimes come to a natural end. It might be for really good reasons. When you do close a business down, I’ve actually found a huge sense of relief from it because the stresses have gone, you’ve removed them from your life. It’s knowing when the stresses get too much on us I think.


Kate:Yeah. Certainly.


Nick:One of the things, I have a mentor in my life, is as long as I’m enjoying it, I feel like I’m adding value to the community that the business operates in and of course, you’re surviving financially, then they’re pretty good reasons for having the business. If you’re not doing any of those three, then change or stop.


Kate:Yes and you made a point there, everything comes to an end at some point. I mean, you know, friendships sometimes, you know, fall away and the whole idea that it’s all a journey. Yes, I used the word the journey, forgive me. And that it’s just a stage, I like the idea of chapters, you know, in the book of your business life. I think that’s nice. But I guess, my question here, which is off script, Nicholas, so forgive me, is you say, I believe I talk about this in the book, the three factors that you need to have. Do you enjoy it? Do people want it and can you make money from it? Those three things I think are important. But the problem is, for a lot of the time, you don’t have all three.




Kate:You know, sometimes you’re enjoying and people want it but it’s not making any money or you’re making money and people want it but you’re not enjoying it anymore. So, that’s I think, when people aren’t sure if that’s the point to give up, do you know what I mean, or to move on. What do you think to that?


Nick:I think they’re all three things that you need to take into consideration. We’re jumping on a bit but there’s obviously the gaps feeling but also lots of analysis that you can do. You know, so obviously the financial thing is a very black and white, easy one to do. It’s easy to work out whether you’re losing money or not. But, there’s pros and cons as well.


Kate:Yeah. We’re going to come around and talk about that a bit more towards the end I guess. I’ve jumped ahead. I shouldn’t have done.


Nick:That’s fine.


Kate:But, you know, I guess that’s what people will be thinking in their head. Hey, those are great three things but I haven’t got all of them. So, don’t worry people, we are going to come to this. We’re going to give you some ways to analyse it. I’ve often thought about giving up or changing or moving on, but it can be really hard to give up on something or even, as you call it, change direction, especially if you’ve invested a lot of time or money or emotion in that thing. It feels like a failure. Let’s be honest. How do we get over that feeling?


Nick:Well, there’s three things individually. Time, like my dad gave me some great advice when I first left university. He goes, with your job, if you dread getting out of bed in the morning, it’s time to move on and I’ve always kind of lived by that. If you enjoy what you do, you happily give your time to it. If you don’t, then you begrudge spending time on it and time goes very slowly, so it’s very easy to assess the time you’re spending on it. Now of course, time relates to money as well. With every business I’ve done, I’ve always, I’m not a gambler, I’m very opposed to it. On the occasion, I do go to the races, I’ll say all right. I’m going to take 50 bucks and I’m just going to have fun with it and when that’s gone, it’s gone. It’s my entertainment to spend, right? But I don’t gamble anymore and it’s the same with small business.


You know, I’ve always had a certain amount of money that I’ve boot strapped it to get it started and I’ve been happy to have the loss of the opportunity cost of, you know, big fat salaries that you could earn elsewhere. But I’ve always had a, I’ve been very disciplined in the amount of additional capital I’m going to put into a business and knowing to pull the plug on that.


The last thing, with emotion, you know, I guess it’s the experience coming in, having done it several times now. I could happily close down 10 Alphas this afternoon if I wanted to. I really could.




Nick:I could move on to other things quite happily. It’s just a chapter in my life. I’m immensely proud of what we do and I’m extremely positive about the future but, you know, my dad’s ill at the moment and if I had to move back to England, should I want to? But, you know, I have enough confidence in my abilities to do many different things, whether that’s running another business or going to work for someone else. It’s just a chapter in my life.


Kate:I like that. I hope you don’t mind if I pause here because I want to talk back on some of those points. I think, you know, the time and the money thing I think is interesting but the point is is you’ve already spent that time and you’ve already spent that money. You’re not going to get it back. It’s gone. So, you know, you can keep on going and pouring more time and money into it but actually, if you drew the line on it, it’s done. We all make mistakes, we all make rash expenditures and we regret them but it’s not coming back. So, keeping going with it just because you regret spending the money on it isn’t a good reason.


Nick:I’ve had to write off five figure sums before.




Nick:Which were causing me a lot of stress and then when I did write it off, it was actually very liberating.


Kate:Yeah. I think you’ve hit on something so important though. I think that a lot of people and possibly not you, their business is very much tied up with their own identity. They are their business. Their business is them. I would say that I fall into that category. You know, I’m very emotionally attached to my business. What I’m trying to do now and now I’m 10 years in, is really try and create a bit of detachment so that the business is not me. The business is something I do but it is not me. So, therefore, if my business fails, it’s something it’s something that I’ve done that failed, but I have not failed.


That emotional detachment is really important. I think the other thing you mentioned there, which is super important, is the confidence and I think obviously a lot of us, you know, many people listening to this don’t have oodles of confidence. That comes with time and experience. Is that confidence to say just because this didn’t work or because I’m choosing to move on from this, doesn’t mean that the next thing I do won’t work. I am, is that literally your attitude kind of?


Nick:The first three or four businesses I was involved in, I was always with other business partners.




Nick:10 Alphas, I started on my own and I absolutely love doing it on my own because I enjoy that pressure of every decision being on my back and not having to second guess what the other partner or partners were thinking.




Nick:And then, when my wife joined the business, and we’re now, you know, co-owners, what was interesting running it with my wife is that our values and our ethics are completely and utterly aligned. Our ulterior motives for running the businesses, our lifestyle choices are totally and utterly aligned. And so, when stuff does go wrong with other partners, it’s kind of like your personal ulterior motives sometimes cloud or direct the way that you want the decision for the business to go.




Nick:And that has caused conflict with my partners.


Kate:yeah. I did an episode recently about joint ventures and working with others. I’ve tried a few times, not in terms of running a whole business, but even just projects. I know have only one successful joint venture, which is with Belinda, who I do the other podcast with but it’s not a financial thing and it’s much less emotional. It’s a realisation of mine that I made very early on that I do not play well with others. I want to do it on my own, I’d rather it be my decision. I think you’re so lucky that you and your wife have the same background. That is golden. Do you know what I mean? And you don’t want to press a pillow on each other’s face at the end of the day.


That’s lucky and I think that’s really important and that confidence that you do get from doing it on your own, you know, yeah, it failed but it’s going to fail the way I want it to fail, thank you very much. Not because of something you’ve done.


But listen, as you said, you’ve run a number, because I have to stop here and just say something before we go on. I haven’t really given up on anything yet. Do you know what I mean? All I’ve done so far is take on more and more and more. I guess, to a degree, I’ve stepped away from being a copywriter, that chapter of my life is kind of closed. I don’t do really, well any, copywriting for other people now. That was a hard door to shut because that was all my identity. We’ll come back to that. But I’ve never given up on anything yet. I kind of want to so this episode is kind of therapeutic for me.


Tell me, what are the warning signs that you find that things might not be working? Beyond the obvious. No one is buying it. For example, you launch a course and no one is buying it. How do you know if your pricing, your marketing, how long do you give something before you, and I’m going to use the phrase, before you give up?


Nick:It’s very easy with your business to be stuck in the day to day. And with my current business, even though, when I started it was just me. Yeah, I still had a business mentor who I still use today who I meet with once a month and I would do a business report that was very similar to the one I did with Viacorp, which was 70 people. People think that’s a bit excessive isn’t it? It’s just you and I say well, not really because it’s forcing me to analyse the business in black and white and present it to someone else who can give me a different perspective, whether I take that perspective or not is not the point. But the fact that she made me question it was a good thing.


And through that analysis, I would see things, you know, revenue drops or if I’m not doing, not doing enough lead generation or not doing enough business meetings or not getting enough proposals out, or assessing why sales weren’t happening. There’s also macro stuff. I mean, in my game, there’s a squillion content producers as there are in, you know, copywriting as well. It’s very competitive.


Also, as your company gets bigger, culture and staff turn over I think is a really big one. I mean, the first four or five years at Viacorp, we hardly got rid of anyone and then when it started getting really difficult, the staff turn over started increasing a lot and I think that’s a really good barometer or the bigger end of town. But I do try and just, because I’m specifically talking small business, you know, one or two people here. The internal happiness barometer, I think is just really important and if you’re not happy doing it, for whatever reason, identify why you’re not happy with it. Set yourself a time in which to fix it, that could be a month, it could be six months, whatever it might be and be true to that. Work your damn hardest in that time period to try and fix it, review it and if you’re still not happy and you still don’t think it’s going to work, then maybe it is time to give up.


Kate:I love that. I love everything you’ve just said. I think that is so spot on and a few things there that I thought were quite good in terms of measuring and seeing is, you know, one of them are your competitors doing well? So, in that example I had that you don’t launch a course on, I don’t know, Facebook ads or whatever and it doesn’t sell. But if your competitor’s courses are selling, it shows that there is demand and that people do want it but maybe yours isn’t quite right. Maybe your pricing isn’t right or whatever. So, I think that that’s really important. I think the happiness barometer is really important but I would also say there are periods in running a business where you’re not happy.


Nick:Sure. Yep.


Kate:You know? So, there are periods where you have to just shut up and get on with it. And it’s not great and it’s miserable and you do sometimes, if you have to push on through, I mean, I think one of the reasons that I’ve had relative success is I push through those dark times and didn’t give up because like, well, I don’t know if I set up myself – I’m a bit of a, someone who likes to flagellate themselves and go oh poor me, I’m just going to keep on going. But I like this notion of setting a time to fix it and being true to it. I think that’s interesting. I think there are always going to be periods in your business where you’re not loving it but it’s how long those periods last. Like if it’s an entire year where you’re like, I hate my business, that’s not good. If it’s just a couple of weeks, that could just be burnout and you maybe need to just take a step away, maybe, you know, focus on another part of your business, have a holiday, you know, take up paddle boarding.


And maybe, you know, you need a bit of distance between you and your business. But if it’s long term and you’re just really not enjoying it, what’s the point? You may as well get a job for the man.


Nick:That’s right.


Kate:Yeah, cool. So, setting a time and sticking to it. And what do you think, you know, a small business person, not some big lumbering corporation, would you say sort of six months is a reasonable amount of time to give something?


Nick:Yes, I think but also just check in, I think the monthly review for me, are the best things I’ve done with my business. You know, sitting down with a mentor and analysing what you’ve done in that month. You very quickly see the areas where things are lacking, you know?


Kate:Yeah. And if you haven’t got a business mentor, because not everyone has, one of the things that I suggest is, you know, at the very least, find one business buddy that can keep you accountable, who is on similar level to you, maybe has a similar sort of business maybe in a different industry and just say that once a month, you’ll sit together, you’ll unpack everything you’ve done and just have someone else say, why did you do that? You said last month you were never going to do that again? You need someone to say that to you sometimes.


Nick:It needs to be someone impartial. Like you do it to your partner but probably someone impartial is much better.




Nick:And just the very action of speaking for 20 minutes, they might not ask you any questions, but just you ramming on for 20 minutes, unlocks so many thoughts in your brain.


Kate:It does. Hearing yourself talk about your business is quite a weird thing, isn’t it? Like you start talking, and the similar themes will start coming out again and again and again. It’s very interesting. Okay, so let’s say that we’re in this zone where we’re kind of feeling that something is a bit icky, it’s just not quite right, maybe we’ve got that gut feeling that we want to change tack. You know, we don’t want to just react and make a rash decision. What are some of the techniques that you have used in the past to check if you’re going to make the right decision?


Nick:I use the qualitative and quantitative.


Kate:Oh look at you, you got a qualitative and quantitative. Oh, he’s not professional. Yes, go on.


Nick:A pros and cons spreadsheet and do it for the different options. If I stay doing this, what are the pros and cons and if I do something else, what are the pros and cons. And you know, you very quickly see that one column is bigger than the other. The problem is if columns are both –




Nick:I do go and speak to trusted mentors and have the heart to heart. I also then, I go on a really long walk.




Nick:The Spit Bridge to Manly walk is a favourite of mine because it’s about three hours and you end up in the pub as well which is always good for a bit of introspection. I just think for three hours. I just kind of get a, it’s almost meditative in a weird way. I just usually come to a conclusion, one of the things I also do is I perform the old and wrinkly test.


Kate:What’s that?


Nick:When you sat in that nursing home and you look back on your life, and you think well, what if I had, well I’m glad I did that or I wish I’d done that. And –




Nick:Yeah, it makes it just forget the pros and cons, it’s like what’s the bigger picture, what would be proud of? You know?


Kate:Yeah. There’s an idea around trying to write your eulogy and you know, Nick was a this and he did that and you know, you don’t want to have on there Nick was really quick at replying to emails. You know, that’s the best thing you’ve got on your eulogy, you know? Yeah, I think that’s a really good one. I think the long walk is good, letting your brain slip sideways. There’s this idea around eureka moments, actually don’t happen when you’re in your business. You know, when, oh I forgot what his name was, Archimedes discovered water displacement. It was when he was getting a bath.




Kate:It wasn’t when he was in and you know, when most of the big discoveries in science have happened, it’s when someone has knocked over a beaker. Not when they were intensely studying. It’s that brain slip time that sometimes gives you the moment where you have your ah ha moment.


Nick:We’re down to the south coast now and my commute into the city is over an hour, and to go through the National Park, there’s no internet.


Kate:How lovely.


Nick:Yeah, but it allows me to meander. My brain to meander and I often come up with my best ideas during that time.


Kate:I’ve just actually taken all the work related apps off my iPhone so that in the morning when I walk my dog, which is usually about six AM, I do listen to podcasts but I also, can again, have that slippy sideways brain and again, that’s when some of my ideas come up. Often too many ideas and then I get back to the office and go, I can’t do any of them because I’ve still got to finish that thing I was doing yesterday. Now, what you’re going to tell me an anecdote about being drunk at a party, come on. I want to hear this anecdote.


Nick:Yes, you need to go and speak to your advisors, mentors, best pals, but you’ve also got to be firm in your own belief in your own vision. I heard you’re married too and a film maker, an editor, an Oscar winner editor told me this when we came back post production. He goes feedback is a bit like being drunk at a party. If you are at a party and someone goes, Nick I think you’re a little bit drunk, you should go home. You go, no mate, I’m fine. I’m just enjoying myself. The second person might go, hey Nick, I think you’ve had a bit too much, you really should stop. No mate, I’m fine. But if a third person says, Nick I think you’re a bit drunk, you should go home. Then maybe you should go home.


Kate:Yes, I think that’s very true and if you vomit on someone, definitely go home. Or you snog someone inappropriate. No, that’s true. You know, I have a little group that I’m in, a little sort of semi master mind and you know, often people are saying Kate, don’t do anything new. Stop doing new things. A couple of people said that to me and it was kind of irritating because I’m like don’t tell me what to do. You know, if I want to do something new, I’ll do something new but then so many people have said it to me, I’m like you know what? I really do just need to consolidate what I’ve got, so I am the drunk at the party, I need to go home. Taxi for one, Kate Toon needs to go home.


Now, I’ve got some questions from members of the Misfit Entrepreneur group. You are a member, Nick, and it’s great to have you there because we don’t have as many blokes as women, and bring more blokes. Find some blokes, get drunk at a party and tell them about the group. So, Louisa2 says what’s the difference between giving up and giving in?


Nick:Yeah, that’s a good one. I sort of mentioned it a little bit earlier. Giving up I think is, giving in is conceding. It’s not on your own terms. You’re kind of losing in the negotiation, in the battle, you’ve lost your willpower, you’ve lost your fight. Whereas, giving up is calculated. It’s on your terms and giving up isn’t necessarily a bad thing either. It could be, you know, well I’m making a completely sound rational decision here to go and change tack or do something different.


Kate:Love that. So, one’s a choice and the other is kind of almost like you’re defeated in a way. Yeah. I love that. I think that’s really clear. Okay, next question is, I’ll never say this name right and forgive me, Anrada Sorni, and she says, we’ve talked about this but I think it’s worth going over again. What is a viable amount of time you should give a business before realising it’s better to give up?


Nick:Yeah, and if we say specifically, you know, small businesses, sort of one to five to 10 people. I think it should be three months or six months at the most. You’re nimble, you’re flexible, it’s very quick to change things at that.


Kate:I do.


Nick:And the decision making is all yours. You know exactly what resources and budget you have, yeah, get out.


Kate:Yeah, although I would say you have to have at least given it a good old shot before then. Don’t start a business and give it up, three months later. I think, you know, that’s still start up mode. It takes at least a year or two kind of, well it took me, to kind of find your feet and get rolling too. Right?


Nick:Absolutely right. Look, the first year I say is a bit like backpacking around the world. You need to double your money and half your clothes. Half your backpack, you know?


Kate:Yeah, yeah.


Nick:Yeah, just expect the worst and it’ll be worse than that. But longevity a lovely thing. You know, and like I’m four years in now and I just feel I’m in this lovely phase where we’ve got all our processes lined up, the projects are being developed really quickly and well and everyone is working well together. You know, because we’ve gone through those year one and year two pains, you know, where you can’t afford anything. It does depend how long you’ve been into your business as well.


Kate:How many businesses you’ve had before. Like maybe the reason this business is doing so well at the four year mark, which is quite an early stage for it to do so well is because of all the things that you did before then, all the lessons you’ve learned, all the things you’re doing differently. But you had like four factors that you could think about here. You mentioned that there’s a financial part, could you just take us through those? The financial equation and then the partnership costs.


Nick:Absolutely, so the financial is the easiest one because it’s very easy to work out whether you’re not making any money or not. I think a lot of it has to do with your personal circumstances as well. Usually the start up, you start it on the side, the side hustle to give you the trendy term.




Nick:You might start it because you’ve been made redundant or you might have the fortune of your partner earning a lot more income to cover things. So, it’s very easy to start and if it’s a low capital base as well, that certainly helps to it as well but there comes a time with your personal circumstances that if you’re not bringing much income into the family, you’re other partner is going to get the shivs.


Kate:Yeah, totally. I’ve had that, many of my business colleagues that’s been the situation that the partner has almost said, hey look I’m going to give you an ultimatum. If it’s not working by the end of the year, then you need to stop. You know, some people are appalled by that but I think it’s only fair. You know, unless you’re going to also, after you’ve had your partner take a year off and you be the bread winner and let them play at doing what they want to do, it is a give and take. You can’t just have your little whatever it is and expect your partner to go out and do the nine to five while, you know, not that I was saying doing the nine to five is necessarily harder than having a small business.


But, yeah, I think that’s fair enough. Okay, we have another question from Anrada. Forgive me if I’m saying it wrong. Am I saying it wrong?


Nick:Anaradi Sorni. May I?


Kate:Anarada Sorni, you’re saying it much nicer. So, we talked about money and I guess, you know, money is interesting and we have different salary expectations and we all have different demands on us, you know, mortgages and whatever. Should the decision be based purely on money or whatever factors are at play?


Nick:Absolutely not. I’ve already mentioned about the getting out of bed in the morning thing that my dad told me. I want to spend a bit of time now talking about my thesis, the Art of Start Up Perseverance and the Art of Feature Film Making Perseverance because when the first film, I interviewed 40 film makers as to perseverance in film making. I analysed four types of perseverance, which I think all play a role in start up. Great –


Kate:I love this. I’m excited to hear these so there’s four different types of keeping on keeping on. Okay, right.


Nick:I’ll list some and then explain.


Kate:All right, I’m ready. Tell me.


Nick:Creative perseverance, personal perseverance, professional perseverance and financial perseverance.




Nick:Creative perseverance is your dreams and visions and hopes. And you know, we all start off with great expectations and then unfortunately, the you know, the budget and the resources and the time frames and collaboration with other people, whether that’s investors, stake holders, whatever it might be, can dampen those creative dreams, you know? And how do you stay true to your vision or adapt your vision? Okay, so starting your business is always, not always, is usually around a passion. So, you know, staying true to that.


Personal perseverance is you as an individual is how are you feeling physically and mentally and both of those, you know, your health and wellbeing is critical to running a business properly. But it also, one of the key findings that came out of the film making documentary, was the role that having the utmost support with your partner in the process. It really is because if your partner is giving you the shits, am I allowed to swear?


Kate:Yeah. You’ve did it now, love.


Nick:Well, if you’ve not explained the business fully and properly, and gone through those pros and cons with your partner so they’re fully aware of what you’re going through, you know, it’s a horrible place to be if they’re not happy with you.


Kate:Yeah, I actually did an episode on this about partner support with Sham, my husband, who obviously you’ve met, and just how important it is that not just that they’re kind of like, yes, you do your thing and kind of let you get on with it but they’re a little bit invested in it as well and they understand the highs and lows that you’re having. I’m not saying you need to pour your heart out to your partner but they need to get what’s going on and understand. They need to be able to walk in your shoes so I think, the personal perseverance is health, wellbeing and support, right?


Nick:Absolutely. Whereas professional perseverance –


Kate:Yeah, okay.


Nick:Is all about feeling that you’re not out of your depth. You know, as a business owner, you’ve got to be on top of legal, HR, admin, finance, sales, marketing, product development, research, blah blah, you know? And then, you know, it’s very easy to just feel out of your depth and how do you stay on top of it and then what do you outsource and then don’t have the budget to outsource it and you know, it’s all those sort of factors and just trying to get on top of all of that.


And then the financial perseverance is probably the obvious one. I mean, you know, you have to invest your own capital to get it going. You invest your time boot strapping it for free to get it going, you pay everyone else before you get paid, and you know, if there’s investors then they get paid before you do and there’s the opportunity cost of not taking the big fat salary. You know, all four play in a role as whether you give up or not.


Kate:Yeah, that’s fascinating. I’m sort of sitting here as you’re going through it trying to apply it to my own situation and wondering, but I’m going to have to take a pen and paper after this and actually kind of go through this myself because I think that’s a really great way of looking at it. And I think as well, you know, not all of those four will be there all the time. You know, your creative fire is often what gets you going and then after awhile, it’s not new, it’s not exciting, it is just day to day and you’ve got to try and find other reasons to keep going, you know? So, that’s interesting as well.


And as you said, having that monthly audit, where you maybe measure yourself again, do your pros and cons, look at those four elements and go, am I still on track? Is this still worth doing?


Nick:Yeah. Three of them might be good and one of them might be bad and so then you’ve analysed which one needs some love and attention.


Kate:Yes. So, true. That’s it, that’s it. Like I would say at the moment for me, although it probably doesn’t look like it, the creative part is a little bit empty and everything else is perfect. You know what I mean? Money is coming in and whatever but I feel like I need – And that’s why for me, it is important for me to do these little shiny objects sometimes and they’re maybe silly and whatever because that’s what keeps me going. If I just really was grown up and did all the things I’m supposed to do, I would have given up a long time ago. So, it’s you know, it’s good to listen to your heart but I guess one of my biggest guides in my business life has been my gut.


Sometimes when it just feels wrong and I know it’s wrong, I mean, I’m not one of these woo woo people who’s very, you know, heart centred, I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with that but I’m just not, I’m very practical. But often, I just get this nagging feeling that this doesn’t feel right anymore. I don’t want to do it. And often it’s after the point when I’ve agreed to do it. I then have to back track and go, yep, I know I said I would come and do this thing with you, it’s often joint ventures, again. There we go. It’s often when someone says hey, why don’t we collaborate on this and I’m like yeah and then afterwards I think I don’t want to. [inaudible 00:41:57]


Nick:It’s definitely on a day to day basis, most definitely I’d like to think, I guess it comes from my acting background in that I closely observe people and what they’re like and what their characteristics are like and would like to think I’ve got a reasonably good barometer on gut instinct with people. On the larger side of things, like giving up on your business or not, yes it plays a role and that’s where the heart to heart comes in and the long walk comes in, but you’ve got to do the pros and cons exercise as well. You’ve got to look at the four types of perseverance. It’s got to be, the qualitative stuff is the heart to heart and the long walk and the quantitative stuff is the pros and cons, yeah?


Kate:Yeah, you’ve got to be practical. I would say I’m a very, I’m lead by my emotions and my business is very, you know, I’m an emotional about my business and I don’t think emotional is a dirty word by any stretch, but you know, there’s a part of my heart that would love to sack it all in tomorrow and go live in a hut but the practical part of me goes nope, you know, you’re going to keep going with this, you can tone down that a little bit, do a bit less of this but you’ve got to keep going because your financials and your this and whatever, so yes. It has to be a bit of a gut and bit of brain, a bit of both. A bit of both.


Now, we’ve talked before about this when we were setting up the interview about having a point of no return. What do you mean by that?


Nick:It’s a point where the thing becomes a reality and a responsibility. So, it’s actually a phrase that filmmakers use because in making a film, you start with development so coming up with the script and stuff and then trying to get it financed, stage two. Once it’s financed, you go to pre-production, you produce it, you do it your edit, marketing and distribution, it’s the seven stages and most, when filmmakers get to finance, that’s their point of no return because they are now dependent on someone they’ve been tasked with money and they’ve got to make it happen and it’s quite a strange feeling. It was originally just an idea, a pipeline, a dream, a passion and now it’s a reality and it’s responsibility.


Apply that to starting a business, the typical processes, you start with an idea and you work it, you go okay, I’m going to form a business, whether it’s just a [inaudible 00:44:32] or whatever it is and then most people start with side hustle doing it whilst they’re working full time and then, they might boot strap it and then they go full time and then they might get age of investment or venture capital, that’s generally how it sort of works.


A lot of start up really are just an idea, it’s very trendy to have a side hustle at the moment but to be honest, it really gets serious when you go full time, that’s your point of no return and it’s definitely when you get investment because you’re now beholden and accountable to someone. You know?


Kate:Yes, I see that. I think, you know, many of the people who listen to this, they may not go to the stage of angel investors and venture capitalists but it is that leap from this is something I’m doing to supplement my income and because I enjoyed it to this is my income and I have that with a lot of copywriters in my community that maybe they’re working three, four days a week and they’re doing a bit of freelancing on the side. You know, and their business maybe isn’t taking off and that point of no return is both a positive and a negative because also, once you fully commit to something, you kind of start doing it properly. There’s something about saying I’m doing this now that makes it more successful. If you’re constantly like you know, well I’ll do a bit, I don’t know. Do you know what I mean by that?


Nick:Being involved in the start up hub, I accelerate and speaking to those business owners all the time, all of them say that the day they give up their full time job and go full time, the business does accelerate. Yeah, and you just somehow make it happen and you forgo that holiday and the new car for year one. You know? But you just financially make it happen.


Kate:Yeah, and you know, I always think what’s the worst that can happen? We can always go and get another job, do you know what I mean? Nothing ventured, nothing gained and that’s, we’re going to come back to this, but I wanted to just say about the kind of shame element of this because I’m not sure we’ve actually got a question to cover it. But, oh no I think the next one here is from Gary, I think Gary Cooper made a really nice point about how most of us, if someone says oh I’m thinking about giving up, we’re all like no, come one, you’ve got this. He says it’s difficult. The problem is most of us want to be encouraging to someone who asks about this and even if in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary, we often find ourselves egging someone on when objectively maybe they shouldn’t be. The trouble is we so want people to succeed, especially if they’re our clients, friends or family.


This is so true. What do you think about this one?


Nick:Coming from my creative field, and you’ll know this a bit as well, having been a playwright, you know, you’re in the foray afterwards and everyone says, oh that was great and you know it was rubbish.


Kate:Yeah, I hear you.


Nick:The art of giving constructive feedback is so difficult, knowing when to give it and how to give it. You’re absolutely not doing anybody any favours by saying keep going and yes it will be fine without some constructive advice on how to do it.


Kate:And without fully understanding their situation. If it’s making you ill, if you’re not earning any money. The thing I was going to say about the shame element, is honestly no one cares.




Kate:You know, everyone is so self-obsessed and busy with their own lives that it would be a passing thought and a week later they won’t even remember. You know, so you’ve launched this, in my world, you’ve launched this course or you’ve booked this workshop and you only sell one ticket and you’re so ashamed that you’re going to have to cancel the workshop and give the money back. No one noticed and no one cares. And when you launch a workshop the next time, no one remember that the last one was a flop. You know? The only person who beats themselves up about this is you because you think everyone is going to judge you and that you’re a failure.


But most people, if you do give something up and then afterwards you feel relieved and the financial pressure is gone, most people will slap you on the back and say well done you, you are so brave to have made that decision. Actually, they’ll be proud of you, not ashamed. Do you agree?


Nick:I’ve got another analogy too with my films and theatre shows is critics reviews, I’ve been very fortunate, some projects I’ve done, tremendous reviews in the Sydney Morning Harold and you know, you start strutting around like a peacock and thinking you’re amazing. And then I’ve also, I can remember one stage show got absolute tortured and I mean just like, I was like let’s just stop doing this. When that feedback is given in the public domain and you know that everybody has watched it, has read it, the world is a very small place. When it comes to business, I don’t stress it so much because when things do go wrong, you know, we’re not solving more world peace or trying to [inaudible 00:49:49] content making. You know?


Kate:Yeah. yeah. And most people are going yeah, me too, I’ve been there, that happened to me. The more that we talk about that, I mean that’s the whole ethos of this Misfit Entrepreneur Group is to be honest about our failures and stop pretending that everything is brilliant and wonderful because sometimes things do go terribly wrong. I think it’s that grace regardless of the good feedback or the bad feedback. Just keep it answered and not being swayed by when things are going brilliantly and not being swayed when things go bad, which is hard to do.


Let’s finish on a positive note. What are some of the positives of giving up? You’ve mentioned now that you’ve moved on from several businesses for various different reasons –


Nick:Well, I’ve been lucky that a few of them were very successful and so, you know, that was lovely. But the ones that haven’t, all the projects that haven’t, the ones that finished badly, I usually took a very long time to close them down because you want to make it work, you know, you do have that shame. And yet, as soon as you do make the decision to shut it down, it’s a huge relief and yet, the monkey is off your back and you know, you feel lighter. I also mentioned earlier that when I have written off debts in the past it is strangely liberating. So, don’t stress that and money does come in from another source somehow. You’ve also got to remember that, you know, running your business does wonders for your CV.


You know, basically before running a business I was account manager, account director of agencies basically, you know? But now, having run business I’ve, you know, I have competence, I’m not saying I’m good at but I have competence in legal, HR, finance, sales, marketing, all the aspects of a business. If I was going to go for another job and get down to the last two and one has run a business and one hasn’t, I bet the one who has run a business gets the job.


Kate:Yeah, I agree. Although I think I’d probably be pretty unemployable but I look at, I mean you knew me in my working life. I had held quite senior positions in agencies, I was on the board of one agency. Look at the person who I was then doing that job. I didn’t have a clue compared to me now. You know, even about digital marketing which is what I was employed to do. I didn’t, you know, I remember, I didn’t even know what a blog was. I was sitting there being account, digital director of a large agency – You know, but being a small business owner, really puts you through the whatever it’s called, the mill. You learn so much and all those skills you can take on to another job if you choose to. And if you choose not, your next business will be so much better, as you’ve just proven with 10 Alphas. You know?


Nick:Just remember the old etat –


Kate:It’s an evolution, isn’t it?


Nick:The less emotional you are about it, it’s just a chapter in your life.


Kate:Yep, like that. Turn to the next page, people. Do you have any final advice for people who are listening to this who are thinking, you know, maybe I’m at the point where I’m going to not give in, I’m going to give up and I’m going to –


Nick:To use another creative analogy and when, you know, I often go and see short films or very low budget feature films or you know, independent theatre and you know, it might be a crock of shit but I still look at them and go, out of the budget and resources that they had, which is usually very little. IE, they’ve done it all themselves pulling favours, have they exceeded their expectations? Have they shown that they can develop something better than what the resources are available? And it’s a bit similar with running a business. You know within yourself whether you are putting the effort from a hard work perspective and a smart work perspective. You know whether you’re starting work at nine thirty rather than nine and coming off the porch to walk the dog rather than five or whatever it might be, you know?


You actually do know within yourself whether you are giving your whole into it and your best. And if you are giving your whole and your best, I’m not saying work, you know, 100 hours a work, I’m just talking about smart work. If you know you’re doing it and if that’s, not enough, then I don’t really think that’s your fault. We should have, should be … Don’t beat yourself up about it.


Kate:Yeah, you can only do what you can do. It may not just be about hard work, maybe you know, you know that you’re not willing to put yourself out there. I always love that out there thing. You know, and you know, like people like oh I never get any work, it’s like well have you been to a networking event? Have you sent your email? No no, I haven’t done any of that. Well, you know that you haven’t. But, you know, if you’re flogging yourself, if you’ve done everything that you think you can do, if you’ve tried your very best then that’s fair enough and just remember as well, if running a business was easy, everyone would do it. And most people don’t. Think of everybody you know, I’d say probably about of 100 people maybe 95 of them have a job. Running your own business is hard, that’s why not everyone does it.


So, there’s no shame in trying and failing. No shame at all. Yeah. Okay. Well, we’re done Nick, thank you that was so wonderful. I’m going to be listening back to this with a pen and paper and working out what the hell I’m going to do with my life. This may be the last episode because I’m going to give up. No, I’m joking. I’ll keep going.


So, thanks to you for listening to the Confessions of the Misfit Entrepreneur Podcast. If you enjoyed this episode, please head to the blog post for the show and show your appreciation. It will make Nick and I weep salty tears of joy and also, please for the love of all things furry, subscribe to the show so you never miss any of my future ramblings and if you have time to leave a rating or a review, that would be wonderful. Of course, if you like the show, you’ll most likely like the book. You can buy it online at or on Amazon and of course, you can also head and join the Misfits group on Facebook. Finally, don’t forget to tune into my other podcast, the Hot Copy Podcast with the delicious Linda Weaver and the recipe for SES success where I talk about all things Google-y. Thank you very much, Nick, well I’m sure this episode will be super popular. Thanks for being on the show.


That’s it for this – That’s it for this week, Misfits. Keep on keeping on. You’ve got this.