Would you walk into a house and not know how to get out of it? 

Equally, when you go into a new building, an aeroplane, a training venue or a hotel, what things do they have in common? 

You are informed where the exit is. Normally as a primary measure. 

Last week I sat on a couple of presentations, very strong, at Cranfield University’s Business Growth Programme. On this occasion these two businesses were entering a scale up phase of their business cycle. 

Both entrepreneurs were strong, dynamic and focused characters. 

Both knew where they were going. Until I enquired about exit strategy. 

We know that there are only a few processes (the best paper here is Weinberg and DeTienne, 2014, A critical review of research on entrepreneurial exit).

  • Is it a harvest, you sell the crop?
  • Is it a stewardship, you sell the crop, but you want to look after it for a while
  • Are you planning to pop the crop through the liquidiser?

We know that these are the three choices for the entrepreneur. Of course, you can be forced through regulation, bankruptcy etc but we are talking about the entrepreneur’s own choice. 

In both cases the magic question remains outstanding: both had walked into the metaphorical house but neither had been shown, or thought about, how to get out. Articulating the question really helped to position exit as something that needs thinking about before going in, before start up. The process to exit will, of course, take many turns during the journey but you need to know how to get out. Death isn’t the answer! 

It’s a crazy thought but the same stands with many facets of our life. Entrepreneurship is no different. 

We’ll head into the New Year and really start to unpack more journeys, more process and more motivations. In the interim enjoy the festive period and really do think about how exit might look and feel, whatever your role, discipline, type of employment or sector. 

Feliz Navidad! 

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