I was born the same year that my dad started his carpet business. He and his partner Phil were successful from the start. They grew their business at the rate of about one new store a year. When I became a teenager, they opened their 13th store. Everything seemed so perfect.
Except apparently it wasn’t.
When I was about to graduate high school, my dad decided that he wanted to leave his business.
I was genuinely surprised when I learned that he was going to sell his share to Phil and go back to owning only one store (albeit a giant carpet warehouse). When I asked him why he decided to go this route, he explained that with the business expanding at the pace it did, he had become a manager. He was no longer an entrepreneur. He didn’t like that at all.
There are all sorts of reasons why someone might want or need to leave their business. Here are the top five reasons I hear about most often:
1. Mission accomplished: Some entrepreneurs start their business with a specific exit strategy in mind. Indeed, those high-tech startups you hear about in Silicon Valley all began with a plan for how the founders and their investors will cash out.
Some entrepreneurs start a business with a specific goal in mind and when they achieve this goal, they feel it’s time to close the door and move on to something else.
Whether it’s cashing out while the getting is good or closing the doors because you’re ready, if you have done what you set out to do, then it just might be time to move on to the next thing.
2. It’s boring and/or no longer fun: My dear old dad fell into this category. Look, if you are going to take the risk and put in the hours that starting and owning a small business requires, then it better be something you enjoy. And when the time comes that it no longer is, then that’s the time to call it a day.
3. It’s not working: A business may not work for someone for all sorts of reasons – maybe it’s not bringing in the money it once did or maybe conditions have changed such that running the business is more effort than it’s worth. If for whatever reason your line of business is no longer working, this too is a sign that closing up shop probably is not such a bad idea after all.
4. It’s too stressful: Businesses change and people change. The stress of a small business may be something that is easier to handle when someone is younger, a time when one is more willing and able to deal with such pressures. Or it may be that a business that was easy to run at one time is no longer so easy to run. .
5. It’s just time: Sometimes the end of the road simply is what it is. And that’s perfectly fine. What will you do next? That’s the exciting part. On to a new adventure. Lucky you.
And dad? Boy did he love owning that one big store. In fact, it was his favorite time ever in business. He was an entrepreneur again.
About Steve Strauss
Steven D. Strauss is one of the world's leading experts on small business and is a lawyer, writer, and speaker. The senior small business columnist for USA Today, his Ask an Expert column is one of the most highly-syndicated business columns in the country. He is the best-selling author of 17 books, including his latest,The Small Business Bible, now out in a completely updated third edition. You can listen to his weekly podcast, Small Business Success, visit his new website TheSelfEmployed, and follow him on Twitter. © Steven D. Strauss.