Students speak out

Goodbye is all we have : Remaining the True Entrepreneur

Justine PatrickA good idea is only good or remains that way (in the entrepreneurial world) if there is a clear exit strategy.  For emerging entrepreneurs, million dollar ideas have the potential to grow and expand exponentially yet, there are only two conclusions to the story.  Go public or be acquired.  This may not be the fairy tale dream that becomes the paramount focus once and if the cash starts flowing in but, it is the eventual reality for most if not all true entrepreneurs.  Often in the hustle to secure investors or develop a concise business plan, entrepreneurs fail to understand the strategic necessity of the end game.

While inherent to the journey of the entrepreneur is risk and taking advantage of opportunity, does it not therefore seem to be a formidably bad omen or even bad juju to entertain the idea of what happens when the parties over?  No.  As everything has its cycle or at least until medical science indicates otherwise, this too is true for pet projects and game changing ideas.

An entrepreneur by definition has a fairly short life span.  The brilliant idea, the initial steps towards inception/production, then the two options.  A three act story.  Beginning, Middle and End.  If this does not occur and the organization continues, they morph into their very close cousin, the small business owner.

For most small business owners, it takes a significantly high amount of entrepreneurial spirit to do and sustain their claim to fame. Small businesses contrary to popular belief are not what it means to be an entrepreneur. Additionally, this does not in the truest of definitions reflect the nuances of what it means to be an entrepreneur. The entrepreneur is the idea guy or sprinter in the business race.

Often throughout the lifecycle of the entrepreneurial project the lead gal(s) or guy(s) either from poor planning or external circumstances fail to stay for the whole ride.  She, he or they are cut from the company due to structural changes, management decisions or the inability to drive project growth.

To be an entrepreneur is to have the curtain close, have proverbial the credits start rolling at the end of the film.   That is where the magic lies.  The true entrepreneur has by definition the latitude to recreate and resurrect themselves.  New ventures, new investments, strategies and partners are the bed and breakfast for the entrepreneur.

So with all the potential ‘newness’ that is out there for the entrepreneur to tap into why then are endings so important?  Why is not just easier to focus on the first half? The specifics of when it is appropriate for your organization to transition to their denouement may vary but, successful startups (the money-making kind) place considerable value in devising a feasible exit strategy in the early stages of the company.

The exit strategy emerges as the way out for entrepreneurs.  It allows them to pursue alternative areas of interest or in some instances ultimately decide if they wish to remain an entrepreneur or transform into a small business owner.

The added bonus to a structured exit strategy is that it fosters an increased possibility of having a seamless transition for the company to move to the next stage, possibly even extending the overall idea’s existence.  An exit strategy is the financial and organizational will for that pet project grown drawn on that bar napkin. Though it’s drafting may not inspire sunshine and smiles, it could be like that rich old uncle and provide considerable financial gains to the entrepreneur.

So, as you get that first phone call from that major investor, think about the red rectangular neon sign and how it should be just as much a part of the business plan as securing the next million dollar contract.

And remember the end is just the beginning.

Justine Patrick is a first year graduate student in the Masters of Entertainment Industry Management program at Carnegie Mellon University. When not studying or watching movies (yes that is part of her homework), she spends her time concocting smoothies and juices in her juicer that looks like a small transformer.


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