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When Is It Time to Pull Out of a Startup Investment? An Investor Reveals What Signs You Shouldn't Ignore. If your chosen startup is not doing as well as expected, you are faced with a dilemma. So how do you know if it is time to pull the plug?

By Evgeny Kireev Edited by Maria Bailey

Key Takeaways

  • Align your investment strategy with your goals 
  • Determine the company's vision and long-term prospects

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

In the world of investments, it's just as important to know when to exit as when to enter. My experience as an investor and entrepreneur has taught me that both types of decisions must be based on informed and strategic choices. If your chosen startup is not doing as well as expected, you are faced with a dilemma. So, how do you know if it is time to pull the plug?

If you do pull out of an investment, you'll be selling your shares or redeeming your capital before its intended maturity date. Remember that investments are inherently volatile, meaning their value can fluctuate, sometimes significantly, over time. So, if you do decide to pull out of a startup, be aware from the beginning that you might not recoup the same amount of capital that you initially invested.

Related: Here's What's Brewing in the Minds of Startup Investors

Align your investment strategy with your goals

The investment journey is a voyage on the unpredictable tides of the financial markets, in constant flux, rising and falling on a daily basis. This variability is precisely why experts advocate adopting a long-term investment strategy as key to weathering the market's ups and downs. By opting for a long-term approach, investors have the opportunity to ride out market turbulence and capitalize on the overall growth trajectory.

The duration of your investments should be aligned with your goals and your investment strategy, but it is crucial to keep a close eye on the ever-changing landscape of the current market performance. This vigilance will help to determine if and when you should consider withdrawing from the project.

Knowing when to exit

The decision to pull out of an investment is an important and permanent one, which needs to be made as rationally as possible and after doing the necessary research and analysis. Here are some key factors that you should carefully consider when assessing the situation and your options:

Determine the company's vision and long-term prospects

If the company's vision still aligns with your investment goals and demonstrates good growth potential, you may want to stay invested for longer. Take a close look at its current performance — whether it is achieving its strategic milestones and whether it's well-prepared to overcome any challenges that may lie ahead.

Market conditions and trends

Being well-informed about current market dynamics in the relevant sector will help you understand if it's safer to cut any losses now or if it's worth riding it out in the longer term. Consider the potential returns you aim to achieve from your investment and the timeframe for achieving them. You can use these criteria as a benchmark in this decision-making process.

Review your own personal goals and objectives

You should already have clearly identified these qualities as part of your overall financial strategy before deciding where to allocate your capital. If a startup is no longer meeting these goals, then it may be time for a change. However, before taking this important step, do some thorough research to determine if the under-performing startup still holds potential for future success.

Future prospects and risks

Market volatility

If the market is in an unfavorable phase, yet the intrinsic value of the asset remains unchanged and is expected to recover when the market rebounds, then exiting now might not be the wisest decision. However, if the business itself has deteriorated or the asset's underlying value is much less than its market price, then you should seriously consider selling.

Risk level vs. risk tolerance

If the startup has become too unstable for your liking or is making slow to no progress toward your objectives, it may be wise to consider pulling out. Extreme market shifts may indicate that the asset's future performance is unlikely to recover, or the company may lack the necessary agility and pivot capabilities to respond strategically to external factors beyond its control. Either way, it's unlikely to remain viable and profitable in the long run.

External life factors

Life happens to all of us, so it may be that your own situation has changed, and you need to adjust your strategy. Your initial investment was guided by a specific plan. Still, if your circumstances have changed significantly since then, the key is to adapt your strategy to align with your modified financial goals.

Related: Exit Strategy Through the Eyes of an Angel Investor

Always have a plan

Ultimately, all investment decisions should always be rooted in a plan that evolves in response to the dynamic financial landscape. One effective approach is to closely monitor prevailing market trends. This analysis enables you to gain insights into your potential returns and whether they remain consistent with your investment objectives.

In essence, the decision to pull out of an investment should be a carefully considered one, founded on a deep understanding of the company's potential, market conditions and your own financial goals. It is essential to make an informed decision, not an emotional one, and you must have a well-thought-out exit strategy in place.

By understanding when and why you should pull out, considering the company's prospects, and evaluating the associated risks, you can make informed and strategic choices that increase your chances of achieving the goals you set when you invested in the first place.

Evgeny Kireev

Entrepreneur Leadership Network® Contributor

Investor, entrepreneur, and motorsport enthusiast.

Cyprus-based investor, entrepreneur and motorsport enthusiast. My passions for innovation and thrilling adventures go hand in hand.

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