I believe the goal of every entrepreneur is to start a business that is relevant and valuable. Over time, you share the message, grow the customer base, and ensure that you’re offering people what they are willing to pay for. The dream is that someday, someone will think so much of what you’ve done, they’ll offer you a great deal of money to acquire what you have, and make it bigger — what those of us in the entrepreneurial world call an exit.
In July of this year, I was involved with an exit in one of our (TAG’s) largest companies: Launch Consulting Group. As we moved through the process, the excitement and sense of accomplishment was euphoric. But as the process wound down, I was introduced to feelings I had never experienced.
Rather than being jubilant and ecstatic, I found myself melancholy and lonely.
As a partner in TA Group Holdings , I’ve had the benefit of several exits, but never an exit that I have been so intimately involved with. The beginning of Launch dated back to 2005. 14 employees and $2 million in revenue. No strategic lines of business or McKinsey model business plans. We went to work every day to help our customers build things they would need to improve their business. Over the last 17 years we grew to 500+ employees and worked with some of the coolest companies in the country.
Now it belongs to somebody else.
As a way of sharing, I went through the traditional process of grieving: Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, and finally Acceptance.
I never realized what a huge part of our identity work is. Be it a entrepreneur in a startup or team member in a big corporation, work is a part of who we are. I love the work. I live for the work. And what I realized when I got to the stage of acceptance was that entrepreneurs are meant to create, build, sell… and re-create.
My dear friend, Hayes, would always tell young, bright, verbal, talented people, “you are born to build things inside a company or by starting your own — and if you’re not doing that you’re cheating your community of the talents you were given.”
The end of one year and the beginning of a new one almost requires each of us reflect on the past and plan for the future. The idea of New Year’s resolutions has been a part of my life as long as I can remember. The other reality that’s equally embedded is that my resolutions are generally broken within the first 10 days! What the heck?!
The healing comes with the pursuit of the next thing. And I’m working on that right now. I hope you are too.
What is your next thing? Please share and I’ll commit to encouraging you.