You worked long, sometimes fruitless hours to make your startup a reality. Endless meetings, pitches and late-night work sessions later, it's hard to imagine walking away. Or is it?
We asked nine successful entrepreneurs from YEC what exactly it would take for them to walk away from their startups. Here's what they said:
1. Realizing Someone Else Could Do It Better
I am always cognizant of the fact that good founders don't naturally make good managers, executives or leaders. We have to work at it and try our best to evolve with our companies as they grow from startups into small- and medium-sized businesses. Responsible founders owe it to their stakeholders to always check themselves by asking, "Am I the right person for this job?" If the answer to that is no and the gap can't be closed, then it is time to consider moving on and begin succession planning.
2. Losing the Passion Completely
To walk away from my business, I would need to have reached a space where the passion I once felt was gone completely. I'm not talking about those moments in business where you're burnt out, tired and don't feel like producing a single other thing, but rather those moments where you stop and ask yourself, "Why am I doing this?"
If I reached that stage, I'd begin looking at how I could exit the business in such a way that would still preserve the essence of the business and the passion and power that it currently has driving it forward. If I couldn't do that well, my team and clients would suffer, and I couldn't deal with that. For me, it all boils down to that: the business has to feel good and do good in order for me to stand strong behind it.
3. Learning Much More About Myself and Business
Besides an income, the most important thing for me in continuing to work on my company is the constant challenge and learning it provides. I have no idea what I don't know, but every week I discover something new. I can't imagine walking away unless I was presented with an opportunity that would stretch me more than I'm being stretched now—along with the tools to help me understand it through mentorship, training, and an amazing team to work with.
4. Walking Away Would Be the Last Resort
I couldn't imagine completely walking away from admitted.ly. I absolute love what our team is building and, most importantly, love my team. I can't imagine not wanting to work with them. That being said, I also know when to let go. If an idea isn't working out, I'd never stick with the idea just because it somehow works in my head. Instead of totally walking away, I'd just walk down a different path with my team. I know that we're flexible enough to abandon our initial idea, but also creative enough to dream up another amazing idea to work on together.
5. Having the Chance to Start Something New
We almost sold our business a while back because we got carried away with the idea of someone writing us a big check. The more we thought about it, the more we realized that selling to (and working for) the other company would force us to give up the lifestyles we had built for ourselves along with years of potential revenue, growth, control and excitement from owning our own company. If I were going to walk away today, I would want to know that I have the resources (both financial resources and the right team members) to start something new and equally exciting.
6. Being Unable to Pay Employees
Although every startup business will have a lean period when it is hard to pay the bills, it is not morally or ethically acceptable to avoid paying employees. If I were unable to pay the workers who are giving me their support and offering their skills to help my company grow, then I would give up on the business.
Even if I am still working on paying loans and other debts to creditors, I feel it is my responsibility to ensure that my employees have a safe home environment, food on the table and a way to care for their children. If I ever discover that I will not be able to pay my employees in the future, then I would give them the appropriate recommendations and fair warning that the business will come to a close so that they could find another position.
—Jay Wu, A Forever Recovery
7. Being Given a Significant Payout
If I am looking for an excuse to walk away from my startup, then I’m in the wrong business. I absolutely love what I do; that’s why I do it. Sure, if someone offered me a significant payout, it might be time to move on, but until then, I’m not going anywhere!
8. Lacking the Ability to Do Well
If I ever became physically incapacitated and could no longer do a great job operating my company, I would hand over the reins to someone else. Short of that, I don't see anything convincing me to give up control.
9. Having an Opportunity to Do More
I really love my business and lifestyle, so it's hard to imagine walking away from it. But if I were to do so, it would be for an opportunity where I believed that I could make a bigger positive impact than I do now. We only have one life to live, and I want to be a good steward of the gifts I've been given.