Arianna Huffington Knows When to Fold 'Em and Move On
With the announcement that Arianna Huffington is leaving the Huffington Post, a company she co-founded, and would be starting a new venture called Thrive Global, a health and wellness startup, it made me think back to those moments where I also decided it was time to move on. This meant leaving one venture behind to pursue what could be the next big thing in my life.
It wasn't that long ago that I was working on a company called Organize. While once very successful, we had drifted. We were bleeding money with no end in sight. I had a warehouse full of inventory and a loyal staff, yet something wasn't working. We couldn't get the sales we needed to survive. I decided that this venture needed to end.
It's hard to leave something you've created, but there will always come a time when it's time to leave. Here are some of the reasons why I was started to feel that way, and how I picture Arianna Huffington started feeling since she sold her company. You may be experiencing these issues right now as well:
I was in an industry that was becoming so standardized and there didn’t seem as though anything disruptive could happen to reignite the impact that I could make there. Instead, I was seeing other industries that had opportunities going untapped, while the future of the business I was in didn’t show the same sustainable growth potential. Since the benefit that I was previously providing was disappearing, I knew I should be moving on to something else where I could use my creativity and desire to help others improve their businesses and their lives.
When you've got money in the bank to last you a while, there is less and less a point to working for the man instead of building your own business. I remember when I sold my first company. It was an amazing feeling but hard at the same time. Now I have a different purpose with my money.
Time and focus shift.
It dawned on me that I was spending more time researching and exploring credit card processing and online invoicing (which would become my next venture) than I was putting toward my current venture. Every extra minute I had I spent looking at what this new big thing could do for me. It took my mental and physical time away to the point that I wasn’t paying attention to my existing business like I should. In essence, I felt like I was cheating on my existing business because the possibilities out there were where I wanted to be.
This seemed to be the case for Arianna Huffington as well, she noted in a recent interview: “When I decided to create Thrive Global, I thought it would be possible to build a startup and continue as editor in chief of the Huffington Post. Today, it’s clear that was an illusion. As Thrive Global moved from an idea to a reality, with investors, staff, and offices, it became clear to me that I simply couldn’t do justice to both companies.”
No fun factor.
The business just didn’t feel fun anymore to me but, instead, was like an obligation I had to fulfill since I had already put so much into it. There was no excitement. I needed to move on because, in many ways, mentally I already had.
I started to see a slowdown in our revenue due to what appeared to be market saturation. It wasn’t that our marketing wasn’t working or we weren’t engaging with our audience, it was just simply a fact that the industry I was in had become commoditized. The business model just wasn’t sustainable in an environment where technology was changing so rapidly that significant shifts in usage and device preference were affecting the industry. When it was certain trends would continue to slow our revenue, it was time to jump ship.
Competitive spirit on fire.
When I started feeling others could beat me to something that had significant potential, I wasn’t going to let it pass me by. I knew at that point it was time to move on and jump into the exciting world where there was so much buzz and activity already percolating.
Work and life is about realizing when to close one door so that you can open that next one waiting for you. It's scary to leave the business you know (especially if that business is your baby) and leap into the unknown. Arianna Huffington had already started to explore and build that next big thing while still in her previous role. I did the same thing because it minimizes the fear and eases the transition.
If I had stayed with my former business, I would have been unhappy and bored, not the success that I’m experiencing now. Keep that in mind when you evaluate if it’s the right time to fold and start again. In my experience, it will pay off.