Exit. Sometimes, it’s time to get out. MTI (a company that I co-founded) was running well, making money and growing. However – we were aware that the business environment was changing. Looking ahead, we felt those changes would not be favourable to us and so explored our options for exit. Ultimately, we ended up selling the business. I have no doubt that we sold at the right time – even though it felt very strange at the time.
If you are building a project where the motivation is profit, it’s important to keep the concept of exit at the back of your mind.
Exit can influence how you set up your project. I keep my projects in completely separate buckets – whether they be legal entities or simpler structures. There are lots of reasons for this – but a key one is that I am able to exit any individual project without having to unpick it from another. There is nothing to stop me running Nero’s Notes from the same company as the anti money laundering and training consultancy, but it would make understanding how each business is performing much harder and if I were looking to sell one or other of the elements, it would be very difficult to agree a value.
Exit should always be an option. When completing a review of a project, all possible outcomes should be considered. From expansion, to continuation, to exit. Time is precious, and it is foolish to keep doing something that is not working.
There are many well-worn phrases around failure:
“If you don’t make mistakes, you don’t make anything.”
This is my favourite. I have pursued lots of different avenues and projects that turned out to be mistakes. Each of them has taught me something, some of them have been fun.
The key is not to let mistakes go on too long and be too costly. The review process has to be honest and ruthless. If exit is the right course, then decide upon it and take it. Obviously, if you have a saleable asset, things are complicated, but mostly, these miss-steps are simply things that you need to stop doing.
Measure, think, decide and move on. Some things don’t work out and that’s OK. Try to learn from the experience and see it as a a milestone on the journey