Quit Your Business Now Unless You Can Answer “Yes” to These 3 Questions

by | BiggerPockets.com

[This post originally appeared on Entrepreneur.com.]

Today, I want to say something a little controversial: The business you are building may be the wrong one.

Yes, I know you’ve spent hundreds or thousands of hours on it. But, I’m here to tell you that it might be the wrong business for you. As the famous quote from Stephen Covey goes, “If the ladder is not leaning against the right wall, every step we take just gets us to the wrong place faster.” So, how do you know if your idea is heading up the ladder on the right wall?

Do you simply start climbing and see what happens? I don’t believe so. Not only will you be wasting years of your life that way, but you’ll wear yourself out in the process.

So, here are the three vital questions every entrepreneur should ask about the business he or she is trying to build. If you ask them of yourself, and then answer them honestly, you’ll be sure that you’re climbing the right ladder.

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1. Do I want to be doing this in ten years?

Remember the first few months of your last girlfriend or boyfriend? The fun, the excitement, the giggles? This is often known as the “honeymoon phase” and it’s great but it’s not real.

What’s real is the life that comes after the honeymoon phase, when emotion is not the driving force that makes or breaks the relationship. The same is true for business ventures. Every business is exciting in the beginning, but let’s be honest: None of it is real. The feeling won’t last.

Related: What the Classic “3 Little Pigs” Fable Can Teach Us About Building a Business

Many people start businesses because they believe they’ll become rich. And, truth be told, many businesses do make their owners wealthy. But what most wannabe entrepreneurs fail to grasp is the absurd amount of time between starting a business and exiting that business. It’s usually not six months or a year. It’s more like a decade, or longer.


I recently wrote a book on investing in rental properties — and as much as it pains me, I know that most of the people who buy this book won’t be “in the game” next month or next year. They are in the honeymoon phase, and soon it will be gone when the illusion of “easy money” is gone and they realize this is a long-term business and not a quick way to get rich.

For those who stick it out past the emotion, however, an incredible life can be made.

So, ask yourself: Is your love for your business idea stronger than the honeymoon phase? If you contemplated being forced to stick with this business for the next 20 years, would it still be something you would want to do?

2. Does this actually accomplish my life’s goal?

What is your ultimate goal in life? Is it one of the following options?

  • More time with the kids
  • More trips to Europe, whenever you want
  • A million dollars in the bank
  • Fulfillment from your day-to-day work life

Next, ask yourself: Does your current business model lead you toward that personal end goal in the most efficient way possible? Many people start businesses because they are trying to accomplish some kind of goal, but quickly lose focus of it. The business then becomes more about the money than the final destination.

For example, in my real estate investing world, I see many people get into the game because they want to generate passive income, spend less time working and more time enjoying life. Somewhere along the road, though, they end up working 100 hours a week trying to hold on to their real estate empire, thereby accomplishing the exact opposite of what they set out to do.

Take a look at your business and follow it out ten years: Is it really helping you accomplish your life’s goal? If not, change how your business operates or change your business entirely. There is no sense waiting 20 years to find out you never left the starting line.


3. Have I run the numbers?

Remember that honeymoon phase I mentioned earlier? Let’s revisit the analogy: During that honeymoon phase, it’s easy to overlook some of your significant other’s flaws. You see his or her nagging as affection, those annoying quirks as cute nuances, that explosive anger as passion.

Related: 5 Life-Changing Tips for Growing a Business While Working a Full-Time Job

In business, entrepreneurs put on the same blinders. To overcome this tendency, it’s essential to take a good, hard look at the math behind your business. Does your business funnel really support the kind of success you hope to achieve? Is your cost to acquire a customer realistic? Is there enough demand in the marketplace?

What’s amazing is the number of entrepreneurs who knowingly refuse to run the numbers on their business, instead believing that hard work and passion will get them to their destination.

It won’t.

So, ask yourself: Have you honestly examined the numbers behind your business model and determined that, yes, indeed, you can achieve every goal you’ve set?

If you’ve asked yourself these questions and can’t answer with a resounding “yes” to these three questions, your business likely won’t survive. You’ll be part of the vast majority of businesses that fail, and you’ll never accomplish the goals you set. So, before you take another step in your business journey, sit back and ponder those questions.

The answers will tell you a lot.

Entrepreneurs: How would you answer these questions? Any other questions that are vital to ask?

Let me know with a comment!

About Author

Brandon Turner

Brandon Turner is an active real estate investor, entrepreneur, writer, and co-host of the BiggerPockets Podcast. He began buying rental properties and flipping houses at age 21, discovering he didn’t need to work 40 years at a corporate job to have “the good life.” Today, with nearly 100 rental units and dozens of rehabs under his belt, he continues to invest in real estate while also showing others the power, and impact, of financial freedom. His writings have been featured on Forbes.com, Entrepreneur.com, FoxNews.com, Money Magazine, and numerous other publications across the web and in print media. He is the author of The Book on Investing in Real Estate with No (and Low) Money Down, The Book on Rental Property Investing, and co-author of The Book on Managing Rental Properties, which he wrote alongside his wife, Heather. A life-long adventurer, Brandon (along with his wife Heather and daughter Rosie) splits his time between his home in Washington State and various destinations around the globe.


  1. Timothy Godfrey

    Great article. I guess I am among the 4 billion or so investors who want to make my own real estate business a reality, and among the 3.5 billion who are in the “getting educated” phase. I can answer with an unequivocal “Yes!” to the first two questions. The third is the hardest, especially when you pinpoint with “Is there enough demand in the marketplace?” I would love to start with flipping, then get into wholesaling, and finally into buy-and-holds when I have enough capital. But what is the best way to research what sort of investing my area will or will not support? Any good articles on this?

    As always, though provoking stuff…thanks Brandon!

    • chris carollo

      @Timothy Godfrey

      I’m a buy and hold investor that is typically rehabbing “grandma’s house” that was built in the 60’s and not rehabbed since. 3 Bed/2 Bath Chicago suburbs for the most part.

      For research.. Take a look at what a house/community that you want to invest in. Use Redfin, Zillow, Realtor to figure out what a house sells for and what it would cost you to hold the house-Mortgage,Taxes, Insurance, etc. Then take a look on Zillow.com for what similar houses are currently available to rent and at what price. Does that difference look like a good return against your down payment/closing costs/vacanacy, etc. If so, you might have a winner or at least be able to narrow down to where you want to invest.

      For example their are some communities where I invest where the property taxes can effectively be double from one city to another. This has a big impact on what cities we chose as the increased holding costs don’t translate to an increased rental amount! Good luck!

  2. Harold Lieb

    Thanks for insightful article that persuades to rethink of some business ideas in my head. So far I thought that every business that is profitable suits me but after reading this I turned on my inner filter and know what I want. By the way I have researched new way to accomplish data room due diligence, this is about online access to documentation.

  3. Peter Mckernan

    Hey Brandon,

    Great article and it’s awesome that it was posted in Entrepreneur.com! This rings very true for me since I am starting my own business and I’ve been chipping away at it for over a year now. The crazy thing is that I currently work within an environment that is not conducive to long term happiness. I have been set on this path for awhile now, and I know the road is long and lonely! I am just looking for gas stations while en route.

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