This Is How Successful Entrepreneurs Recognize When to Move on
The game of entrepreneurship can feel like a never-ending round of Chutes and Ladders. Just when you think you’ve reached a new level, everything you worked for suddenly takes a turn, and you are faced with the daunting task of toughing it out or letting it all go.
And sometimes, even when things seem fine, those in charge walk away willingly. Here's a big example. Instagram cofounders Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger recently decided to separate from their cyber baby and move on to their next innovation. Though this news came as a shock to many, including those within the Instagram camp, it’s not uncommon for business people to shift gears to create something new. (Some are considering the move Systrom and Krieger's way of separating from Facebook while the tide is still high.)
Every now and again, even for those who are considered the most successful in their industries, entrepreneurs must take heed to the shifts and changes around them and make the tough decision to start from scratch and build from the unknown.
Although many new and seasoned entrepreneurs may have not yet experienced the success Systrom and Krieger have -- starting with social powerhouse Facebook buying the company for $1 billion back in 2012 -- there are many lessons one can draw from their story, as it pertains to building a company to new heights and passing the company off into new hands.
Lesson 1: Look at your industry as a game of chess, not checkers.
If you’ve been paying attention to the news this year, you've seen how Facebook has been scrutinized in the media and by members of the government due to privacy and security scares. Tech companies, including those who host social platforms, should take heed to the warning set forth by the cracking down of social giants and assess what measures they may be missing to avoid the same ill-mannered fate.
As an entrepreneur, a large part of your duties should include research. You need to be in tune with current news and happenings in your industry as well as complementary industries. Studying trends will help you create a plan to avoid a social catastrophe that may damage your company’s image and reputation. Perform your due diligence, and dig deep to find out what the driving forces of your particular industry have been for the past ten years. Google may be your best friend now, but consider networking with others in your business community to get their insight on current information.
Based on Facebook’s trend of purchasing any social-based application that gains overnight notoriety, consider looking at your business from the lens of a potential buyer. Even if you have no desire to sell, you cannot deny the characteristics that make companies attractive to those who have the capital to spend. Use this history to prepare your business for favorable and unfavorable industry trends.
Lesson 2: Focus on the opportunity but don’t ignore the opposition.
Opposition is not always a negative when it comes to business. When you observe competitors in your industry, you may be able to pinpoint where you rise to the occasion and outperform them. On the other hand, you may discover where you fall short. Your capacity to see areas of improvement in your own operation, based on the shortcomings of others, is critical to your growth and sustainability.
Many entrepreneurs see competition as a negative, but this is not the case. Having competition shows you where you excel and where you need work. It tells you what your market desires for you to give them. You cannot gain an advantage over your competition playing it safe and sticking to a routine plan. You must be inclined to venture into new territories that may present the opportunity for you to leverage your current offerings to create something better.
Pay attention to the plight of your competitor. What you see as their issue today may become your issue tomorrow. Furthermore, your next best success may be the tipping block that makes your current competition irrelevant.
Lesson 3: Frequently review your Plan B.
The only thing that is certain in business is that change can and will happen. As an entrepreneur, there are ways you can prepare for it.
Maybe it seemed like a surprise to us that Systrom and Kreiger are jumping ship but because of their sudden business success. They probably already had their plan of exit in place from the day their company was purchased. Being in business is like riding a rollercoaster ride that turns your life upside down. You may feel like it's a never-ending cycle of wins and losses, but at some point or another, all things must come to an end. Determine what possible “ends” may present themselves to you, and be ready to act based on what outcome is in your favor.
Don’t let success fool you. You need to have a ready-to-use backup plan in place “just in case.” Success leaves clues. Whether you choose to stay in your current industry or not, planning for down seasons in business can be a fool-proof strategy. If your business is doing well, build your Plan B strategy using those attributes. Also, take into account those things that created issues or prohibited exponential growth in your company. Use what you know and prepare to pivot when the times comes.