Persist, Pivot or Quit?

2 min readFeb 25, 2015

Everyone preaches persistence, because quitters never win.

And when persistence doesn’t work, we’re taught to pivot to something better (just to persist with that until you pivot).

Figuring out when to persist, pivot or quit is however a massive challenge and never an exact science. The challenge is compounded when we have to do it in an agile, “fail fast” way too, because that’s survival.

I’ve not figured out a pattern or a blueprint to make these decisions, but in the last year I was twice faced with this challenge and made two very different decisions.

The first time was last year when I decided to shutdown my startup. The business was doing okay and there was enough validation and good signals to suggest we can turn it into a business. But my heart had been sucked out of it and I was burnt out. I didn’t think or feel I could persist, so I quit.

Fast-forward almost exactly a year. We launched Receiptful on 5 November 2014 with the grandiose assumption that e-mail receipts are a missed marketing opportunity (and that everyone will realise that soon after our release).

We sent 250 receipts (in total) in the whole of November and had no idea whether we were actually doing the thing we wanted to say we could do for our users: use in-receipt marketing to make them more money.

So throughout December my mind (fuelled by self-doubt and uncertainty) entertained ideas and thoughts that would hedge this possible impending doom that we were facing. Instead by mid-December we had validated that we actually made some of our users some additional revenue and a couple of days before Christmas, The Wutang Clan became a customer. So I persisted.

Today we’re set to send more than 40 000 receipts in February and we’re growing really well.

But even with the benefit of this hindsight, I would’ve had every right as an entrepreneur to start tweaking the business and / or pivoting parts of it in December.

Now I know that this would naturally have been a very bad decision.

You might read that and feel that the answer was obvious: the only ever-present consideration in both those decisions was me and my intuition.

I’ll be the first to admit that I lead both my professional and personal life with a heavy dose of intuition. And I know that my intuition had a big influence on both of these decisions.

But even knowing that and being conscious about when to listen to your gut, doesn’t mean that it becomes an easy decision when you’re in the moment and have to decide:

Do you persist, pivot or quit?

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Currently working on Conversio (@getconversio). Previously: Co-Founder / CEO of @WooThemes. Also: New dad & ex-Rockstar. More at