Startups: Know When To Exit | William Nozak | Harper’s Hut Shaved Ice
How do you know when to enter a specific field, venture, or partnership? I think it is that personal knowing, that you can make whatever it is that you are undertaking, work. Jumping from ledge to ledge is scary, energizing, full of unknowns, fulfilling, and dangerous. What a mixture of emotions an entrepreneur navigates to get from point A to point B. The internal management of this “sauce” propels an entrepreneur like a sling shot. The pay off is fulfillment and of course greater earning potential. It has risks. You might land back at square one, in bankruptcy court, or even worse. Once you have taken the plunge and given business both hemispheres of your brain it does not get easier. Markets change, products are duplicated, customer-needs change, smarter competition enter the sector, assumptions become invalid, and pain points evolve. Not only do you need courage to start, succeed, and then thrive, you also must have courage to exit.
You made the jump, maybe not your first try, who cares, none of us do. Some do. You created a beautiful business, a great product or service. Outstanding. Or maybe you got lucky and built a mediocre business, product, or service. Either way, you connected the dots, found a product-market-fit and succeeded; profited. But it was not your love or you got bored, so you took those skills that helped you elevate an unknown business to profitability and you built other businesses. Say you bought a franchise and created another service company. You transcended from business owner to investor. This can work, does work, should work. If you have replaced yourself with leaders. If you have not, how will you track the market, innovate, iterate, improve, and exit when the time comes? You will not.
If your first business was a stepping-stone to businesses with greater volume or profit margins, great. You could be a serial entrepreneur, very different from a typical entrepreneur following the Hedgehog Concept. Regardless, businesspersons in your sector watch and learn from your wins and losses. Not only are you paying for your own education, likely, you are paying for the competitions as well. Without a true leader or innovator involved in the venture your market share is unprotected from wolves, vultures, and companies that are passionate about the segment. Capitalist markets turn this way. They churn. Sears was once the largest retailer in America. I have not shopped at sears since the 80s. A great philosopher once said rarely are things created from whole cloth. Certainly, your competition is one or two steps behind you. If you no longer are engaged in your business or have minds that are, exercise your genius and know when to exit.