Should I Stay or Should I Sell?

For many entrepreneurs, it’s hard when deciding to sell part or all of their company. The New York Times piece, “Why It’s So Difficult for Entrepreneurs to Head for the Exit,” had a Q&A with, Paul Spiegelman about his reluctance to sell a company he built from the ground up. His story serves as a mirror for those in the same position. For Spiegelman and for fellow entrepreneurs, selling a company often goes beyond a paycheck.

Spiegelman considered handing over his company to investors for the sake of growth and fresh capital. Though he saw the advantage of an outside investor, the possible damage to the brand of his company was too big a risk. For those in the same position, it means looking at yourself as much as you look at your business.

There are some coaching tips to help those who are in the process of making one of the hardest decisions as an entrepreneur:

  • Ask yourself what you want as an entrepreneur. Do you think it’s time for you to move on? Do you have any interests beyond your company you’d like to seriously pursue? Is there more you want to do with your company?
  • Weigh the risk vs. reward of selling part or total control of your company. For instance, it could be useful to have outside investors with useful capital and new ideas. But it also might mean less or no say on company strategy.
  • Consider the doubts about selling. Would you regret it? What would you not want to have happen to your company if you were to sell? Would you feel better leaving it in the hands of a relative? Do you still want to work part-time?

Speigelman made his decision based on what he wanted for his company. In a decision like this, find out your priorities and be confident in your final decision, even if your answer is “no.” Sometimes capital is not a “good enough” reason to sell.

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