When to pull the plug on your project?

Like many of you guys here I've had quite a few side projects that never grew enough to keep them going.

Right now I'm evaluating what to do with one that I've running for the last 10 years with not much success. The income that I get from there is enough to pay the server and have some extra money for small things.

But the questions that I always try to answer, and sometimes I can't, before pulling the plug on a project are the following:

  1. More/less/better features would make a difference?
  2. Is my marketing strategy bad? Should I invest more in this?
  3. More SEO?, it's worth it for this product?
  4. I've some customers, but are they the right audience?
  5. Is too expensive or too cheap?
  6. I'm too early or too late to do anything?

Before someone comments "You need to talk to your customers", let me tell you that I do it, but even doing that sometimes is hard for me to answer some of those questions.

I don't know if any of you struggle with similar questions, but it will help to hear what you've to say, share experience or advice.

  1. 5

    I read an advice yesterday that may apply to your situation: ask your customers "why do you think I'm going to fail?". It should cut the bs and give you valid points.

    1. 1

      That could be a good thing to try. Maybe 1 out 20 customers could tell you something value, but it's worth to try.

      Thanks for your comment 🤗

  2. 2

    Hey buddy!
    I can only imagine how you may feel frustrated at times, but I just wanted to take a moment to tell you that whatever you're doing - it is phenomenal!

    It is not easy to work a single thing, let alone multiple side hustles.

    I find asking these two questions to customers very helpful -

    1. What would your work/life be like without xyz (your) product?
      This will tell you what problem you're exactly solving for them.

    2. What can/should I do so that you will refer xyz product to someone else?
      Gives you the focus area of product better, I feel!

    Anyway, I hope more and more success comes your way and you figure everything out in the best manner possible!

    1. 1

      Thanks for you words man. I've had those questions asked and the response was good. But I don't see any more traction yet. That's why I don't know what's going yet.

      Thanks for your comment 🤗

  3. 2

    Your customers will be the best persons for these answers.

    You should be proud of what you do, at the same time, be ready for the reality, move on.

    1. 1

      Yeah, as I said in the post I do talk with my customer, but I'm not sure how helpful is it in this particular situation.

      Thanks for your comment 🤗

  4. 1

    It sounds like this project is no longer a burning passion for you? I had a similar project that I was running for around 5 years, it had a few customers but I only managed to get a few more when I put lots of effort into marketing it via Twitter and blogging etc. In the end I stopped working on the project and last year I set myself the goal of selling it. I was no longer passionate about turning this project into anything bigger but why waste the opportunity for someone else. I sold the project for a small sum on indiemakers and have since moved onto another project I am more passionate about.

    1. 1

      Yes that true, I'm not super passionate about the project as I used to. But it's always good to have something you can play around with it.

      I thought about selling it too.

      Thanks for you comments 🤗

      1. 1

        @gdi3d I just created creativestockexchange.com as a place to put up projects that you’re thinking of sunsetting. Lmk what you think.

        1. 1

          Cool, thanks for sharing it!. I'll keep it in mind.

          You should add it as a product in your IH profile.

          Just two notes about the site:

          1. Being redirect to another when I click on "Submit your project" doesn't feel right.
          2. "Pay me to broker your deal safely" it's not something I would do. People don't know who you are and I don't think they will give you their money to secure the transaction. An escrow service could be use or let the two parties figure it out for themselves.

          (I think this is MVP, so please don't take it the wrong way 👍🏻)

          Thanks for your comments 🤗

  5. 1

    This is a tough one. On the one hand, there was a great podcast where Courtland Allen basically says your startup doesn't fail because of a competitor or the market, it fails because you give up.

    On the other hand, maybe the idea isn't good. The problem is you don't know if there's one change/pivot that'll make it more compelling. The only way to find out is to keep trying.

    The questions I have are:

    1. Do you enjoy working on the product? This is the most important factor. I had an idea that I spent 2 years on and still think has huge potential. But I didn't enjoy working on it so I couldn't invest enough in it to make it a success.

    2. What are you learning? E.g. you tried a new marketing angle. It didn't work. What was the analysis on why? Or you released a new feature. No one uses it. Why is that? Are you learning so that you can continue to improve? I had another project that ended up going nowhere, but I learned a lot from it that I put into my current project.

    3. Do you still have ideas on new things to try? If you're 100% stuck and things aren't working, then it's probably time to pack it in. If you have 100 ideas of things to try, then you should probably keep going. Worst case, they don't work out but you will learn something.

    1. 2

      You make a good point when you say "maybe the idea isn't good" and that's one of the problems I've faced before. Sometimes is hard to come to that conclusion, not because you're gonna fell bad about it, but just because you have mixed signals.

      My customers really like the product and they use it every day, and I know that they recommend it their colleagues.

      About your questions:

      1. Yes, I enjoy it.
      2. I built it years ago and it was a HUGE milestone in my learning. Now I just keep it working and i'm not adding many features.
      3. Yes, and I'm trying. My main focus right now is to bring more customers to have new opinions about the product and then make a decision.

      Thanks for your comment 🤗

      1. 1

        From what you just said, I think you should keep at it. You clearly like the product and you have some users who prove that some people also like it.

        The question is, what can you do to change things? Do your customers know other people who may like the product? Is there something in their workflow that can be improved? What have you done to market it so far?

        All ideas need iteration to really work, which is why being able to enjoy working on it is so important.

        1. 1

          Yes, I'm not too eager to kill it or sell it. For now I'll focus on trying to get more traffic and customers.


  6. 1

    Yeah it breaks my heart to read this but I'm glad to read that you're kind of embracing the dark side here a little - I think it's healthy to ask this question. My buddy got me to read this book called The Mom Test... and I wonder if it applies here. This is my grain of salt "what would I do in the same situation" comment - I would go back and talk to the customers to see if what I'm building truly solves a problem that the customers are having - maybe there's something there underneath what you built that solves a problem but maybe it's different than what you expected. This is only a grain of salt comment because I've never started a startup on my own (always been a part of someone elses startup)

    1. 1

      I've heard about "The Mom Test", actually there's a podcast here on IH where the author talks about it.

      The problem with my customers is that they would never use a more complex/advanced application for their business. Even if it would be better for them.

      And that's the thing that I still don't understand. Maybe they are just a bunch of customers like that, or there's a lot of them and I'm not able to reach them yet.

      But don't worry, I'm not sad or anything. As long as I can pay the server I'll have it running because it doesn't take time away from me and it's a good toy to try new things.

      Thanks for your comment 🤗

  7. 1

    This comment was deleted 14 days ago.

    1. 1

      Yes, sometimes it's hard to know what goings on and I don't want to pull the plug without knowing the answer. At least not yet.

      Thanks for your comment 🤗

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