You can be on Entrepreneur’s cover!

Advice From the Greats: Deciding When to Retire a Product Here's what sports icons like Michael Jordan, Wayne Gretzky and Derek Jeter have said about the subject.

By Daniel Wesley

entrepreneur daily

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Elsa | Getty Images
Derek Jeter

Sometimes, even the greats have to retire. Take, for example, the Gmail messaging service Google Talk: That veteran product has been around since 2005, but Google is discontinuing it because it believes its Hangouts service has a better future and will be a stronger business-messaging tool to put up against rivals such as Slack.

Related: Google Suspends Modular Smartphone Project

Google was wise to do this, and its action illustrates how CEOs of huge companies and small startups alike sometimes have to retire a product or service to make time and space for something better.

All the money in the world can't buy more hours in a day, after all. If an exciting potential new venture sprouts up but brings with it tons of tasks, most business leaders won't consider trying to pile it onto an already full plate.

Newer businesses also often outgrow or outpace their original concepts, so their resources and focuses need to be shifted to the projects gaining steam. One of the worst things a business leader can do is allocate resources to products that do nothing to move the company's needle in a positive direction.

In short, when you narrow down your list of products or services, you'll have the time, space and peace of mind to devote resources to what's most productive.

Related: Is it Time to Give Up? Here's How to Know for Sure.

Certainly you might hesitate to retire a product you've worked on for a long time, but sometimes that's the best option. Athletes especially understand that while retiring is difficult, it's eventually necessary. So, we turn to the sports world for some of the best quotes uttered by athletes who knew it was time to leave the stage -- er, arena.

1. Jeter

"The last thing you want to do is finish playing or doing anything and wish you would have worked harder." -- Derek Jeter

Business connection: You might not succeed and become the next billionaire-entrepreneur, but if you give 100 percent of your effort, no one can ever say you didn't try your hardest. Unfortunately, you can't devote your best work to your business if your focus is split among too many products or services. So, direct your best efforts toward the projects that produce the best results and hold the most potential.

2. Jordan

"I've missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I've lost almost 300 games. Twenty-six times, I've been trusted to take the game-winning shot and missed. I've failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed." -- Michael Jordan

Business connection: While you might view retiring a product or service as a failure, every failure gets you one step closer to success. Whether it directs you to do other things or shows you what you need to improve so you can succeed, every outcome serves as important evidence you can use to make future decisions. If a failure occurs, it's up to you to focus on the positive effects of the loss.

3. Pelé

"Success is no accident. It is hard work, perseverance, learning, studying, sacrifice and most of all, love of what you are doing or learning to do." -- Pelé

Business connection: You have to genuinely love and be passionate about what you're doing in any facet of life if you want to be successful. Most of us possess the ability to persevere, but we rarely exercise it to its fullest. Sometimes, pushing yourself to be successful means sacrificing the old way of doing business -- it might be the only way to move your company in the right direction.

4. Gretzky

"A good hockey player plays where the puck is. A great hockey player plays where the puck is going to be." -- Wayne Gretzky

Business connection: Change is normal -- especially in business. When considering product retirement, CEOs often have to consider where their businesses are truly headed. Think about where you want your business to be in five years and how you'll position yourself and your employees to get there. If you don't, you might get scored on and knocked out of the playoffs before you make it through the regular season.

5. Favre

"You're never guaranteed about next year. [When] people ask what you think of next season, you have to seize the opportunities when they're in front of you." -- Brett Favre

Business connection: When you narrow down your products or services, you save on one of the most precious resources you have: time. Time is nonrenewable. Never waste a moment on something that won't help your business move forward. We have only 24 hours in a day, and splitting ourselves into five people isn't possible. So, why waste one second on something with no future or purpose?

In every business, there comes a time when some expenses will outweigh income. Most CEOs of companies, both large and small, will have to choose when to shut down a project to focus on other ideas due to simple economics and time management.

Related: How Long Should You Push Before Giving Up?

As your business develops, you may find there's a different way of doing business, so shifting your focus toward more productive services is the best option. If you clear out the parts of the business that take up the most time but produce the fewest results, you'll have the time to dedicate to the work needed to get your business from newborn to thriving adult.

Daniel Wesley

Founder and CEO of

Daniel Wesley is a Florida-based entrepreneur whose degree is in nuclear medicine. His work has been featured in many distinguished publications, including Entrepreneur and Time magazine. He is currently the chief evangelist at and founder of personal finance site


Want to be an Entrepreneur Leadership Network contributor? Apply now to join.

Editor's Pick

Side Hustle

He Took His Side Hustle Full-Time After Being Laid Off From Meta in 2023 — Now He Earns About $200,000 a Year: 'Sweet, Sweet Irony'

When Scott Goodfriend moved from Los Angeles to New York City, he became "obsessed" with the city's culinary offerings — and saw a business opportunity.

Personal Finance

How to Get a Lifetime of Investing Experience in Only One Year

Plus, how day traders can learn a lesson from pilots.


94% of Customers Say a Bad Review Made Them Avoid Buying From a Brand. Try These 4 Techniques to Protect Your Brand Reputation.

Maintaining a good reputation is key for any business today. With so many people's lives and shopping happening online, what is said about a company on the internet can greatly influence its success.


Save on Business Travel with Matt's Flight's Premium, Only $80 for Life

This premium plan features customized flight deal alerts and one-on-one planning with Matt himself.

Science & Technology

Here's One Reason Urban Transportation Won't Look the Same in a Decade

Micro-EVs may very well be the future of city driving. Here's why, and how investors can get ahead of it.


I Got Over 225,000 Views in Just 3 Months With Short-Form Video — Here's Why It's the New Era of Marketing

Thanks to our new short-form video content strategy, we've amassed over 225,000 video views in just three months. Learn how to increase brand awareness through short-form video content.