When to give up on a product?


I'm getting ahead of myself here because my product hasn't launched yet, but I thought about this and would appreciate the thoughts of this community: Imagine this:

You're launching a great app (or any product). Your research indicated that it fills a need, albeit a niche. Now, having observed the sales for a reasonable time, you see that the sales don't really take off; in fact, after the initial flurry of friends' purchases, the sales don't do anything much. You're understandably disappointed. How do you decide between putting more money into the product (advertising etc.) versus calling it quits?

Marketing Sales Launch

asked May 30 '12 at 14:56
Top digital marketing agency for SEO, content marketing, and PR: Demand Roll
  • What did you decide? – Frenchie 10 years ago
  • @frenchie I mentioned getting ahead of myself, because I'll launch in 2-3 weeks - but I wanted to get some thoughts about how to act if it tanks, and the answers are fantastic. I picked yours as the accepted one because of the focus on constructive critique, especially when including Bart's comment. – Torben Gundtofte Bruun 10 years ago
  • http://blog.asmartbear.com/good-startup-ideas.htmlTorben Gundtofte Bruun 10 years ago
  • That's a very good blog, lots of good ideas in there. How's your product doing? – Frenchie 10 years ago
  • @renchie: thanks, [very close to launch](http://golfbravo.net/blog/nearing-launch) and I'm very excited! One bug left to squash, then it's off to the App Store! – Torben Gundtofte Bruun 10 years ago
  • ok, very cool! Is it a free app or a paying app? – Frenchie 10 years ago
  • @frenchie: It'll cost $1 because making it free does not make [financial sense](http://golfbravo.net/blog/why-am-i-doing-this) for this one. – Torben Gundtofte Bruun 10 years ago
  • ok, good choice! Good luck. – Frenchie 10 years ago

3 Answers


Entrepreneurship is about solving TWO problems: value creation and value distribution. If you've initially "marketed" to your close friends, then you've never gotten real customers and so you never really distributed your product. That's ok. But let's go straight to the meat: do you have a viable product for which there's a demand?? The best way to tell is by simply observing what your friends are doing with it. Are they using the product? How often? What do they do with it? Are they talking to you about it? In other words, if you have a product that creates value, then DON'T QUIT. If on the other hand, people aren't using it, or usage is declining fast after an initial curiosity, then you haven't created something of value; quit.

If you have a product that creates value but you're evidently not able to distribute it yourself (and that's totally fine), then I'd recommend you find a person to manage the distribution instead of you continuing with business development.

So the answer to your situation will come by looking at reality and answering this simple question "Do I have something that creates value?" Good luck and let us know.

answered May 30 '12 at 16:35
4,166 points
  • Besides quitting, another option is to identify and fix problems with the product – Bart Van Heukelom 10 years ago



When your heart's not in it anymore, call it quits.

answered May 30 '12 at 15:44
1,471 points
  • Enthusiasm is an important aspect of course, but just as important is to not sink a lot of money into a lost cause. – Torben Gundtofte Bruun 10 years ago
  • Torben: No. Enthusiasm is everything. You'll start to lose that when you see the signs of it becoming a lost cause. It's just a matter of seeing that happen and getting out before its too late. – Lkessler 10 years ago
  • Enthusiasm could be a false positive and lack of enthusiasm a false negative. I'd say try a vacation if enthusiasm is the issue (and you've been working like a slave for half a year or more). – Scott Wilson 10 years ago


There's a really interesting book called The Lean Startup by Eric Ries, which discusses this point in detail. He calls it the "Pivot versus Persevere " decision. The book lays out a framework for making a data-driven decision.

The premise of the book is that the linear model of product development - spending a lot of time planning, designing, implementing a product, without releasing a product to test market acceptance and product-market fix - leads to wasted time and money. This can be avoided by creating testable hypotheses and incrementally releasing products and/or features which test these hypotheses. The first releases might be minimal viable products which, while not complete, offer a way to test the initial assumptions ("leaps of faith") and enough value to interest customers.

answered May 30 '12 at 22:53
Scott Wilson
250 points
  • It would be great if you could summarize the important points in your answer. I realize the book goes into way more detail than you can here, but it would be helpful if you highlighted a few of the key points. Without the additional details, your post is more of a great comment than it is an answer to the question. – Zuly Gonzalez 10 years ago
  • Scott: I agree that Erics book has good insights here - added the link to an article that discusses it. Hope you don't mind. – Jim Galley 10 years ago
  • If you're reading and posting on this site, you might as well go ahead and read _The Lean Startup_ asap. – Mike Nereson 10 years ago

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