One of my favorite questions to ask entrepreneurs is “What’s your exit strategy?” Now, this isn’t because I actually want them to share with me an exit strategy, far from it, rather I want to hear that they don’t have a strategy and are looking to build an enduring business that changes the world. Or, at least solves a problem they really want to solve (candy, vitamin, or pain-killer).
When an entrepreneur says that they want to sell the business in 24 months for at least $6 million, which is exactly what I heard from someone at a networking event tonight, I think to myself that that’s an approach to business I never want to be a part of. Yes, a number of entrepreneurs do operate this way, and some are successful, but it isn’t the norm and isn’t the most fulfilling.
My favorite entrepreneurs are the ones that are focused on the startup journey, and not the startup exit. Self-actualization, from the world of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, is the ideal goal. It takes time and a number of experiences to reach that understanding, and I wouldn’t even characterize myself as being there yet, but from what I’ve read and my limited experience, I believe it to be true. The happiest and most fulfilled entrepreneurs focus on the journey, and not an exit.
What else? What are your thoughts on the startup journey and the startup exit?