How do you know when to give up on an idea?

This is a question I've been struggling with recently. For my current product (☒ ) I've given myself the following milestones:
- ✅1 week to hit the 10 "I'm interested" signups - done (got ~15-20 signups pre-launch although there's no revenue associated with these since it was just printer owners entering their email)
- ⌛1 week to hit the first customer sale (each print is priced at $4.99 which I think is very cheap)- in progress, no sales yet although I've just launched today
- ✅ Just made my first sale and off to print + deliver it now! 🎉
- ⌛2 additional weeks to hit 10 customer sales - in progress (2/10)
- If all of the above are not hit by the 1 month mark, shift focus onto the next idea but keep the domain active just in case it takes off in a year's time for whatever reason

My question:
How do you create your launch milestones for new products and know when to shift focus away from the idea? For people who do this a lot: is the above a reasonable framework or am I missing something critical that I'm not considering?

Note: I'm doing the 12 startups in 12 months thing (might even create more than that) so I'll be launching a lot of these, first time building these many business ideas at once.

I give up when I run out of viable actions I can take. "Launching" is one marketing strategy, but it doesn't scale. You can't be launching every week.

I like this business idea. I just think the problem is that when you launch, people like the idea but currently have low intention of printing something. You need to catch people when they have high intentions of printing.

I would try SEO. I would target the long tail of keywords of people looking to print something in New York. Scrape a list of the most popular models and generate pages for each, e.g. "3d print MODEL in New York".

Then move on to your next business idea and let time be your friend.

Fair enough, and thanks for the advice here + glad you like the idea! SEO does make sense as a more scalable marketing strategy, but I'm doing some soul searching at the moment after reading your comment and I think, in my half delirious state (have been up all night babysitting 3d print jobs for a customer and doing the delivery myself) I've come to the conclusion that PrintSwarm isn't even the type of business I want to run as a solopreneur:
- Very customer support / legal heavy which means lots of $$$$$ down the drain at scale. I've realized this product is a minefield for issues with:
1. printers not working/having maintenance issues causing delays or poor quality prints that disappoint customers
2. customers sending crazy complex 3d models to printers leading to 10+ hour turnaround times even for a physically small model
3. delivery drivers screwing up the address and going to the wrong place
4. the wrong print being handed over to the wrong driver
5. customers/printers demanding (rightfully so, I would do the same) refunds or payments for all of the above issues, essentially forcing me to incur Stripe processing fees for $0 in revenue
6. customers requesting to print illegal stuff like gun parts and printer owners not realizing what they're printing, then inadvertently enabling a murder when the customer puts the parts together and kills someone (ok, extreme scenario but still, I could something like that happening => lawsuit city)
- High engineering workload: not initially, but if I ever want this to scale to a lot of users that I might gain through SEO or other means, need to build a matching algorithm not unlike what DoorDash, Uber does to match orders from customers with printers (instead of drivers with riders/food) based on operating hours, location, estimated print speed, cost, materials/filament available for a given printer vs. what the user requested for materials, etc. Also need to take into account geo features/road serviceability like bridges when offering delivery as there are laws against delivering locally across a bridge especially in NYC. I like hard engineering problems, but I also just spent 5 years of my life working these exact kind of logistics/matching problems and realized I really don't want to do it again haha.
- Touched on this with the support point but low margin as physical goods are being delivered and delivery fees hurt bad (will have to eat or charge the customer $7+ per order with DoorDash/Uber/Relay)

So given all of this I may just let this one die and shut it down entirely to move onto the next thing that has better margins and be happy that I generated some revenue. Why am I posting this as a WIP comment? Dunno, just felt like I needed somewhere to dump my thoughts now that I've gotten into the weeds of the business and talked to customers, used the product myself => got some conclusions I didn't have before.

Anyway, I'm not making any decisions on keeping the biz or not until I get some sleep, so going to do that now and thanks again for your comment which spurred some thoughts on my end 👋

I'm glad I could be your sounding board. 😁

Those are all excellent reasons to kill this idea and move on.

I usually give up on most ideas when it starts feeling like a chore.

Some ideas I've paused but continue working on it since there's potential to make some money. So at the end it depends, if people pay for it or use it a lot or has that word of mouth effect, then I def don't quit.

I usually do a form of cost-benefit analysis before making any decisions.

  1. Does the project bring me joy?
  2. Is it connected with my larger vision and mission?
  3. Is it aligned with my values -- the project AND how I operate it?
  4. Is it aligned with my positioning?
  5. Do I already have paid customers who still require fulfillment?
  6. Is this taking out more energy than it's fueling me?
  7. Am I resentful about the project?
  8. Do I dread sitting and working on it?
  9. Is it taking away time and energy from other projects that are more lucrative, joyful, or aligned?
  10. Am I getting out of it what I set out to? (If I started for business, am I making a profit? If I set out for pleasure, do I find pleasure?)

Congrats on your first sale, Ben! Give up only when there's no traction.

Thanks! This one is killing me because I know revenue is not easy to come by and I hit it on my first try effectively which is a bit like winning the lottery - just feel like it's not the right type of business to run for the kind of life I want to have:…

=> leaning towards killing it and moving on. I'm making a decision on Tues