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Leaving Your Startup - Some reasons why enough is enough
by Startacus Admin
Entrepreneurs know that running a startup isn’t just a huge part of your life; it is like a relationship. It takes hard work, dedication, consumes nearly all of your time, and drains your bank account.
Just as with relationships, startup journeys have their problems, their ups and downs, their bumps in the road. Bailing because the going gets tough is a bad move in either case; however, just as with relationships, there might come a time when you are forced to accept a stark truth: that it isn’t working out.
The end of a relationship can be ugly, messy, expensive, full of tears, and have long-lasting effects. If handled well, however, it can be a smoother - if still sad - transition back to being single. Lest you think this has become an article about getting a divorce, we’re saying that the same can be said of waving goodbye to your startup.
There are plenty of considerations. Are you shutting the startup down? Are you selling? Leaving your co-founder to take over? Whatever the specifics of your leaving, here are some of the ways to identify when enough is enough.
This may be a harsh way of putting it, but sometimes a founder will be faced with the realisation that the business has grown beyond his or her ability to run it. Perhaps the business needs a shakeup, operations need to be changed or improved, and you don’t have the necessary skills. It might be viable to simply hire someone with those skills, but if the business has reached the point where you are - again, harsh - redundant, then you need to face up to it.
Your business is your baby (keeping the metaphors fresh), and you have to put it first. If the best thing for the business as a whole, your employees, your co-founder/s, your customers and investors, is for you to step aside, then perhaps it’s time to do just that.
Out of love
It happens sometimes. Nothing in particular changes, yet despite your best intentions, you find yourself falling out of love with your startup. It could be that a break would do you good and you would come back feeling fresh and back in love. But maybe not. As above, the loss of motivation that comes with falling out of love is likely to negatively impact the business and all those involved. In this case it may again be time to move on.
As we’ve said, running a startup takes hard work and dedication. This amount of dedication can result in all sorts of exhaustion. It can be emotionally exhausting, draining your will to carry on, perhaps taking you away from family. It can exhaust your real relationship. It can exhaust your personal finances. It can exhaust your relationship with co-founders and your patience with employees, etc. You need to prioritise - do you really want your marriage to break down because of your startup, or the startup itself to break down because you can no longer work with your co-founder? Whatever the case, you might want to read this article on how to buy out your co-founderandif your co-founder left, who would own your businessto consider the ramifications of a co-founder split.
An entrepreneur can’t exist without vision - this is the reason your startup exists and didn’t instantly fall to pieces. That vision can’t be turned off, so it’s entirely possible that without meaning to, you start thinking about an entirely new venture. You may find yourself getting excited about that and losing focus in or dedication to your current business. If this becomes the case then, again, it may be time to think about moving on.
Another possibility is that you used up all the vision you possessed starting the business in the first place. A startup needs to stay ahead of the game, pivot, innovate, etc. If you find yourself unable to do this, or perhaps your lack of vision is holding your co-founder/s back...you guessed it: it might be time to say goodbye. If worried about this, perhaps it would be wise to read our previous article on why your startup will fail, to counteract any possible issues asap.
Unbeatable competition/Failure to innovate
So far, we’ve had reasons to leave your startup, but not necessarily to shut it down. But there are times when this may be the only viable option. When your business fails is a fairly obvious example, so we won’t bother talking about that. When someone else starts doing something similar to you, but better, is a good example. Look at Blockbuster. They were top of the film rental food chain when the founder of Netflix proposed a deal to run the Blockbuster brand online. Now where’s Blockbuster? By laughing the Netflix founder out of the room, Blockbuster made a potential partner into competition, and it contributed to their own burial.
But it’s not just the competition - they failed to innovate. Netflix started off posting films out to people, which was all well and good, but when they went digital and streamed TV shows and films directly and instantly to people’s homes, that’s when they truly took off. Had they not come up with that innovation, they would still be just one of many film rental companies.
So, if there is competition that you simply can’t beat, or you can’t innovate enough to stay ahead of the game, you might need to consider bringing your business to a close. Also, don’t laugh in the faces of other, smaller startups coming to you with opportunities - they might just be the next Netflix. if you are worried about this - then read our previous article on researching your competitors to keep on top of the game.