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mirza's avatar

Should i carry on with a project that seems to destined to fail?

Asked by mirza (5042points) September 26th, 2007

Me and my friend are working on this web project – lets call it X. Now the problem is that there are already alot of other projects available online similar to X and some of them even have better features than X. Also even X’s competition has not been able to successfully make the concept famous.The whole tech-industry seems to think that the concept is pretty much pointless.

So is it worth to carry on with such a project (which we even as creators are doubting the actual usablity due to slow internet speed and better competiton) ?

PS. this is kind of a really important question. so please answer wisely?

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16 Answers

kevbo's avatar

Shoot. There’s a book out there about making smart decisions around quitting jobs & projects and arguing that there are a number of good reasons to do so. Can’t remember the title.

I would say that unless you’re going to make it a goal to figure out how to make X work like it should then drop it. This is assuming you have the power to make this kind of decision. If, on the other hand, this is coming down from above, and your decision making power is limited, then go through the motions, get it done good enough, and move on to the next project.

bob's avatar

It sounds like you’ve done your homework and already decided that it’s a slim-to-none chance of success.

You could be wrong. But it’s hard to say without specific knowledge of the project and lots of knowledge about what it takes to get these kinds of projects going. Try to find someone in the industry you can trust, tell them about your project, and see whether they think it’s worth doing.

kevbo's avatar

… or you could argue that the project is good but not ready for prime time and should be shelved until Y circumstance changes or manifests itself (large enough user base, broadband penetration, whatever).

Perchik's avatar

I think that if you as the creators, feel that it is going to fail, then I don’t see a point in continuing.

tinnion's avatar

You have to have a fundamental belief in what you are doing when you’re in business. If you think you are on the wrong track then change is necessary and yes hard decisions have to be made.

If it’s not your money and you can live with consequences (no loss of reputation/job etc) then stick with it. You could also hold out for a little while longer – you never know an idea may come to you in a weeks time that can that fixes everything.

Good luck.

samkusnetz's avatar

you should continue with the project only if there is some other value to its completetion other than commercial success. eg. experience of doing it, useful tools for other projects created in this one, etc.

gooch's avatar

The answer lies in another question. Why are you doing this? If for learning and fun then see it through. If not scrap it.

Wilhelm's avatar

It seems like you’ve already made up your mind. Maybe instead of trashing the project completely, you could try repurposing it for something else. Don’t waste your time and energy on something you just don’t have the heart to do.

rovdog's avatar

I understand this question all to well. I feel like I deal with this constantly. I have no clear answer for it either. I think an important question is “How do you know it’s doomed to fail?” None of the reasons you gave absolutely doom it to failure. Did you begin the project thinking it would succeed and then realize all of this? You must have seen some potential in it, or have been interested in it, otherwise it seems unlikely you would begin it. If you think it has no value whatsoever, then I think you should quit. Otherwise, it’s a question of priority- what better thing could you be spending your time and perhaps resources doing? Not to get religious on you here but I try to be guided by a principle in the Bhagavad Gita which says that “action is your duty, reward is not your concern.” Now, if the project will make you bankrupt it makes sense not to act, but barring that, as others pointed out here, there are other things to gain from doing a project, even if you are convinced it won’t succeed.

cwilbur's avatar

Take a hard look at the costs and benefits. It looks like you’re fairly convinced that the project won’t be a commercial success, in part because there are a number of technical and social obstacles to overcome, and a number of competitors with more features. Figure out what it would take to make it successful, and if you can’t invest that much in it, then take the good parts and walk away.

This sounds really cold and calculating, and, to be honest, it is. The less you invest in a project, the easier it is to walk away; if you believe that the project will fail, it will hurt less to walk away now than if you invest another year of your time and efforts into it. On the other hand, if you can articulate exactly what it needs to succeed, and you have a chance at making it succeed, you should weigh the sacrifices you’ll have to make against the rewards of success.

And of course there are other things you might gain from the project—but that in itself is no reason to continue with a failing project, unless the things you gain from that failure are worth the frustration and pain.

ironhiway's avatar

Post it notes were the by product of a failure.

Paablo's avatar

The main Questions are will this failure cost you more than you will gain by learning if your “projected failure” is really a failure.

I tell the guys who work for me that if you start a project with the thought your going to fail and this is going to suck then you will achive that goal.

Try reinventing your project to achive success with it. At the veryleast analize it to determine why it failed and apply those lessons to your new project that will achive you great success.

but with out more info on the exact project my real comment should be could you be more vague?

robmizelldotcom's avatar

I’m going to quote Steve Jobs on this…

“emembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.”

If you don’t do it, you might regret it. I’d much rather regret doing it then not. Also, it’s not the idea, it’s your ability to sell the idea. There are a lot of photographers out there that take pictures of people, but the ones that sell their product the best make the money and are successful.

cirrina's avatar

Let’s look at it from another angle. There’s a circular problem here—startups need passion, dedication and belief from all their founders. If you think it’s going to fail, that pretty much answers your question. I’d say if you have a partner you work well with—which is an excellent start—listen to your gut and find something you do believe in for your next project!

Quogg's avatar

I’m going to agree with ironhiway on this one. Through the ages there have been many instances where a superior product was beat out of competition by an inferior product due to various reasons (VHS got to market before Beta-Max, Windows has more marketing power than Linux, iPod had more status attached to it than the Creative Zen). The fact that X has many competitors will make things more difficult, but a bit easier (if there are better features out there, then implement them!). What this will come down to is a combination of marketing and accessibility, both of which fall on your team.
Don’t stress about the technology restrictions. If we should know anything its that tech always moves forward.
If nothing else, chances are you will learn something. I learned about servers by breaking them and then fixing them.
Taking all this into account though, if you aren’t behind the concept of the idea (circumstances be damned) then its going to fail. If the original idea does not get you excited, then you won’t push as hard to force it to fruition.

gorillapaws's avatar

So it’s been over 4 years, what the hell was “x”?

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