Exit Strategy vs Exit Hope

It was approaching midnight on a misty December night. I was on my final two-hour leg of a nine-hour drive to visit my ailing mom.

As the countryside faded behind me, and city exits approached, I knew my destination was near. I hoped to reach my destination soon.

I saw my exit. I was confident it was my exit – I’d driven this highway a thousand times as a teenager.

I changed lanes to exit and started slowing. But to my surprise, and terror, I hadn’t noticed the construction signs and reduced speeds on the exit ramp. The mist limited my visibility, and I hadn’t used a GPS, confident that I knew where I was going.

As I slid across the icy, gravel-littered road, my mind bounced between terror and self-disappointment.

Fortunately, my car skidded to a stop on the shoulder, inches from construction barriers.

As I relaxed my white-knuckled grip on the steering wheel, I reflected on what just happened. Why did I fail to safely and successfully exit the highway?

I was confident that I knew where I was going, and how I’d exit the highway.

But I was complacent, relied on old information, failed to plan ahead, and ended up losing control of my car.

Many startup founders have a similar experience when attempting to exit. Optimistic founders may believe that if they build a valuable business, someone will eventually come along and buy it.

But failing to formulate a path and plan for eventual acquisition can lower your exit multiples, cause missed exit opportunities, and reduce your attractiveness to potential acquirers.

John C. Maxwell said “Hope is not a strategy. Hope fits with vision, but we must have a strategy and a process to make our vision become a reality”.

We hope to get seed funding, we hope our startup business model works, we hope that our minimal viable product is validated, we hope for product market fit, and as founders we hope to exit our startup (at some point).

For each of the above we must define strategy and use a process to convert our visions into reality.

Successful exits are life changing events founders. They are the culmination of years of hard-work and thousands of decisions. Those decisions directly contribute to your exit value.

If you plan for retirement and plan for camping trips, why are you not planning for an eventual exit?

BOSS Startup Science provides the process and helps you build your strategies.

If you want to learn more about building exit strategy, register here and use the code BCP123.

Or, join us next week to learn how to construct an Exit Strategy that will inform what to build from the beginning. Link to be posted shortly.