​Scoping the Exit Issue

There has been a great deal written about entrepreneurs in terms of their motivations and life cycle. Existing research helps us to understand how and why entrepreneurs enter the commercial world. The literature also tells us, towards the end of the life-cycle, why and how entrepreneurs exit. What is less well known is what internal and external factors lead up to exit. Relatedly, it is unclear whether there is typically one main motivation for exit or whether a number of different motivations are in play. By focusing simultaneously on internal and external environments, market cycles and changes, as well as the availability of talent and labour, we can begin to build a richer picture of how these different factors combine. Together with an account of differences in individual styles, and changes in the work environment and wider societal culture, this can provide more insight into what happens between these two points (entry and exit) in the entrepreneurial life cycle.

With success and failure in commerce being divided by a fine line, exploring trends that can provide insight into these outcomes is continually paramount in entrepreneurial education. Analysing macro performance, micromanagement and the ecology for a firm gives us opportunities to compare sectors, geographies and cultures. What makes a success in one industry, in one country, doesn’t automatically guarantee success in another. Many different factors (including personality traits, industry characteristics, the governance and macroeconomic context, changes in technology, capital constraints, tax structures and incentives, and jurisdictional variations) interact in different ways. This means that some entrepreneurs thrive even in recessions where others may fail in favourable market conditions. Equally, local governance and regulation continue to have an impact on successful businesses as will ever shifting appetite to create wealth and successful entrepreneurs.

By continuing to research all these factors we can start to unravel the mystery of the forces that create an exit, be that voluntary sale or liquidation or through bankruptcy or enforce closure. Is there one main factor, or a number of different reasons, that create the final mechanic of the process that results in an exit.

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