Leaving Your Business
Am I ready to move on from my business?
A couple of months ago, I chose to move on from Young & Connected, a social enterprise I co-founded with three other young professionals in 2012. Starting a business is hard work, and after creating something you consider your baby, walking away certainly isn’t easy. Leaving Young & Connected was tough, yet knowing that I’ve made the right decision allowed me to focus on the future.
Being a good entrepreneur isn’t just about bringing great ideas into reality, but is also about knowing the best time to walk away. A good entrepreneur also thinks carefully and strategically about whether or not to walk away and whether or not it’s the right time.
Here are the five questions I believe every entrepreneur should think about when considering whether to move on from a business they started.
How happy are you?
The best entrepreneurs are passionate about their businesses, products and services. If your business makes you unhappy for some reason, it is important to think about whether or not the passion can be revived in the long term – it’s difficult to convince clients to be excited about your business if you aren’t.
Is the business achieving its strategic goals?
It is important to start a business based on specific aims and objectives, and even more important to continuously analyse and adapt them based on SWOT and SLEPT factors. If your business is doing badly and you have lost sight of your goals, then perhaps it is time to re-evaluate how viable your business will be moving forward. If your business doesn’t look like it will achieve its goals anytime soon, think about whether you can successfully achieve some new goals. If neither is possible, then it is perhaps time to move on.
Is it worth investing more money in your business?
This is one of the trickiest questions. Most business owners think the best thing to do is to invest more money to save an already failing business. When it comes to financial investment, it can be easy to continue spending without return, plummeting further into debt. Think about how you can turn things around without further financial investment. When you have exhausted all of your free avenues, think about whether or not further financial investment will have a tangible return and how long it will take. This will allow you to make well-informed decisions about financial investment.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
Be very honest with yourself on this one. Picture yourself in five years’ time. Where does your business fit into this image? If you can picture yourself achieving your long terms goals by taking a different path, starting a new business or doing something else, then moving on may be the right decision.
Are there specific factors within your business causing the problem?
Is it your team? Perhaps it’s time for a new team. Are you targeting the wrong market? Change your target audience. Introduce a new product, change your business name or find a new mentor to support and inspire you. You may not need to walk away completely – making a small change to your business could sometimes improve the situation.
Deciding whether to move on from your business can be difficult, but the most important piece of advice is not to regret your decision. It can be a very liberating experience if treated with the right attitude. There’s no point thinking about what could have been. Instead, think of your future as a blank canvas, and continue to paint it with new experiences.
In my case, I look back and feel so proud of what I achieved in my time with the Young & Connected Team. I will always be a co-founder of the business, and that is something that will never change. I relish the experience I have gained and am excited for a new chapter and adventure in my entrepreneurship journey. I hope you will be too! Tweet me at @WinnieOudemans to tell me about yours.
By Winnie Oudemans